Hawaii – day 7: Last Day

As much as it would be nice to be home, it was hard to leave Hawaii. Checkout was at 10am. Thankfully the resort offers a place to store your luggage since the flight was much later in the afternoon.  We dropped off our luggage and took a trip to Costco for Hawaiian shirts for those who wanted and didn’t get one, and the much desired Macadamia nuts covered in coconut and chocolate. Yes we bought and devoured more than I should admit to.

We went to a sushi place for lunch. The sushi came around on a conveyor belt and you could choose from the belt or from the menu based on the color sections. We each got several different plates and enjoyed the sushi immensely. It was the best sushi we’d ever eaten. Probably because the fish was fresh.

We took a drive around the North Shore, saw the blow hole and some beautiful scenery, before heading back to the resort to pick up our luggage and head off to the airport.

It was hard to say good-bye to Hawaii and hello to work the next day but we managed. Would we go back – yes! But if we could avoid all the travel delays it would be a much louder YES!

Hawaii – day 6: Shopping, Souvenirs and Surfing

Shopping and Souvenirs and Surfing

After the surfing yesterday, the boys decided that they’d need rash guard shirts before they could go out on the surfboards again. So off we went to Target to see what we could find. We didn’t find any good shirts there but were able to get some little stickers for the car. We walked next door to Sports Authority and found some appropriate surfing shirts. We were then off to the stadium for some souvenir shopping. There were a lot of vendors. Some with good prices, some with not so good prices. We came back with a few goodies and spent a lot of time finding the perfect Hawaiian outfit for baby Ethan.

After our morning of shopping we took off to get some lunch and then go surfing. We went to a burger place for lunch that Mike thought was supposed to be the best Kua ‘Aina, (more like 2nd best). Back home to the resort to change into swim clothes grab the surfboards and hit the beach.

I read while Amanda splashed around in the water and the boys were surfing. There were a lot of local families at the beach with picnics and their chairs. We were there for a while, long enough that the sun started setting making the sky look like a beautiful water colored painting of pinks and purples. Amanda and I took pictures of the sunset as the boys finished out the night surfing. Then it was back to the resort to return the surfboards, clean up and pack for checkout the next morning.


Hawaii – day 5: Surfing and the Polynesian Cultural Center

Early Morning Quick Surfing Trip

We received a call early in the morning from Mike of Boarding House surfboard rentals. He met as at the front of the resort with 2 surfboards. After the boys changed into their suits we took off for the beach about 20 minutes away from the resort. After much trying, there were a few good rides on the boards before we headed back so they could change and we could go to the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Polynesian Cultural Center

coconutWaterWe took a beautiful scenic ride to get to our destination. On the way there was a man selling coconut water so we stopped to get a fresh drink. Before we even left on the vacation to Hawaii, many people recommended visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center. So Mike had our tickets set up for the Luau and the evening show Breath of Life. We started off by exploring the island nations of the Polynesia. Our favorite place to visit was Tonga. The main guy doing the presentation made us laugh. He was so funny. We learned how coconut milk was made – amazing to see how what you drink on a daily basis is pulled from the coconut. We saw a guy climb a tree – fast, really fast. and were able to sample a much needed, ice cold mango drink.  It was a HOT day! After visiting the different places, learning that Honolulu and ukulele are most likely to be pronounced wrong by main land Americans and learning about the Hawaiian dance we were off to see the “Rainbows of Paradise,” Hawai’i’s only water-borne show.

We found a place to sit on the lawn, since all the benches were already taken. When the show started, the emcee asked where everyone was from. When it came to the East Coast most of the noise came from our area. It was pretty funny that we were all sitting together.


We were next to some New Yorkers. They were the first to comment on the fact that those from the East coast seem to gravitate to the same places. It reminded us that we did, in fact, end up in the hot tub at the resort with people from New Jersey.  While we were sitting their watching the boat show a mother duck and her little ducklings walked past us on their way to the water. A short time later one loan baby duck started looking for his mother. I was reminded of the book from my childhood by P.D. Eastman, Are You My Mother where the little bird was looking for its mother. The poor baby duck was quacking up a storm and looking everywhere for his mom, I hope he found her. After the boat show we were off to the 3d movie of Hawaii (in air conditioning – yay!) and then off to the Luau.

pigWe chose the traditional Luau so that we could experience the tastes of Hawaii. After we were seated and eating our purple Taro rolls, the emcee got up and told us what we’d be eating that night. We took a walk out to the pit where our roast pig was covered with blackened palm leaves. It was then taken out of the pit by two men and carried into the pavilion. The luau was buffet style. We could choose from Spicy Kimchee, Hauula Tomato and Goat Cheese, Poi, salad, Lomilomi Salmon (yum!), fresh papaya, pineapples, steamed fish, mango chicken, Kalua Pork, Teriyaki marinated Strip Loin, steamed white rice, Honey Roasted Molokai Sweet Potato & Roasted Coconut (yum!) and Poi. There were some pretty yummy dishes and some that I wouldn’t want to eat again (Poi) but all in all we had a good time and enjoyed the flavors of the islands.

Before the evening show we took a bus ride to see BYU Provo and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Hawaiian Temple. We were able to get out of the bus and walk around the grounds of the temple as well as go into the visitor center. The feeling in this sacred place was peaceful and serene. It was a good place to be and reflect on what is important, as the sun was setting.

temple family_temple

We returned to the Polynesian center and made our way to watch the evening show. It was an interesting way to learn about the people of the Polynesian. There was dancing and a story and  some amazing fire effects. It was a great show.  I recommend going early to the Polynesian Cultural Center and taking time to see everything. Even with as much as we saw, there was still more we could have seen. It was a great experience.




Hawaii – day 4: Pearl Harbor & Independence Day celebration

Pearl Harbor – Take 2

memorialSaluteWe awoke early to take a return trip to go back to Pearl Harbor. We knew that we’d have to get there early in order to be able to take the tour of the Arizona Memorial. When we arrived, it looked like everyone else thought they better arrive early. Michael parked the car while the rest of us got in line. When we got to the ticket counter, we were lucky enough to get an 8:30 tour. We walked across the bridge, over the oil slicked water, and into the memorial. We passed soldiers raising and saluting flags and then folding them. One for every soldier whose life was lost on that ship. Apparently this only happens on Independence Day.  We then went to the wall where the names of those who lost their lives were listed. It was very emotional. Even now as I write this I’m getting a little teary eyed. It breaks my heart that so many have died so that I can be free.


memorialSaluteEndWhat an experience. It was very humbling to see the place where so many lives were lost and know that just below us was where many soldiers lost their lives for our country. What a way to reflect on all the freedoms we have because of people who were and are still willing to fight for our rights. And what better day for those reflections than the day that we celebrate American independence. We also had a chance to see the anchor from the USS Arizona. It was interesting to me that it was cast in the city of Chester, PA, a city not far from home, in 1911.

USSArizonaPlaque USSAZanchor

We left Pearl Harbor and went back to home to enjoy some time by the pool and the Independence Day fun that was going on in the main area. We spent time relaxing by the pool, eating grilled burgers, corn on the cob, and potato salad. Alex and Christopher also participated in the pie eating contest. I’m not allowed to post pictures, I was technically not allowed to take any but… well I have a few. Let’s just say, Alex looked like he took a bath in his pie. Christopher, though slow, was quite clean after his pie was finished.

Relaxing on lawn chairs while waiting for the fireworks to start and then watching those fireworks, was a great way to end our day.

Hawaii – day 3: Surfing, Turtles and Pineapple Ice Cream

Off to the North Shore of the Island

We were up early Wednesday morning for a drive to the north shore to meet up with a surfing instructor for Amanda and Christopher. Alex, who had some instruction on surfing from friends when he went surfing in California, wasn’t feeling well. We had a pretty drive and met up with Bobby from Uncle Brian’s Surf school. Bobby got bright yellow shirts for his 2 students, viewed the waves where we were and then told us to follow him to another location. We drove a few miles away to a pretty little beach with some nice looking waves. Bobby got the surfboards set up on the beach and gave his students some instructions on how to get up on the boards.

surf1 surf2 surf3 surf4

After their on the beach instruction it was off to catch some waves. There were a few falls, and some amazing rides. They did great. It was so fun to watch them.

Turtle Beach

When the surfing instruction was over we went down the road a little way to see the turtles on the beach. They were so close to us. With every wave we saw at least one turtle. Little heads stuck out of the water, turtle shells bobbing. We took a lot of pictures and enjoyed the sandy beach for a while before heading to the Dole Plantation.


Pineapple Ice Cream

Though we went to the Dole Pineapple plantation, we didn’t spend the time in the maze, riding the train or doing the tour. The wet tired kids weren’t as interested in that as they were the pineapple ice cream. And frankly, anyone who hasn’t tried it – must. It was so fresh and so tasty. We sat outside at a shaded table and enjoyed the beautiful day along with our ice cream cones and a shared pineapple cheesecake.

From there it was back home to shower, change and have some lunch before heading to Diamond Head so the boys could take a hike.

Diamond Head – The Hike

Amanda and I were not in the mood to go on a hike, we were tired. So the boys headed out to hike to the summit of Diamond Head Crater. A 0.8 mile hike one way with steep stairways and switch backs. The first steep stairway has 74 concrete steps leading into the first narrow tunnel. The second set of stairways has 99 steep steps. Finally there are 52 stairs to the third level of the Fire Control Station. The brochure suggests allowing 1.5 to 2 hours for the hike. Amanda and I were parked in the shade. Our plan was to read/rest for a little while and then walk around the area. You can imagine our surprise when the boys came jogging down the last part of the trail after a mere 45 minutes. And yes, before you ask, they really just jogged down the last part. They weren’t tired or out of breath. Sweaty but happy boys. Rested but happy girls. A good afternoon for all.

Hawaii Five-0

Yes, we watch Hawaii Five-0. Yes we had to take a picture of places we’d seen on the show, why do you think Christopher wanted to go up Diamond Head Crater… So we headed into the city to see the King Kamehaeha (Hawaii’s first king) statue in front of Aliiolani Hale – home of the Hawaii State Supreme Court and across from Iolani Palace. We took a few pictures, walked around for a while and had some slow going trying to get out of the city during rush hour.  By the time we were back in Ko’ Olina we were tired and ready to relax for the evening. So that’s just what we did.


Hawaii – day 2: Pearl Harbor, Submarine Ride and the Best Burgers

Pearl Harbor, briefly visited

After a filling breakfast made in our kitchen we were off to Pearl Harbor. We didn’t have too much time because Michael and I had an appointment with the timeshare people so they could try to convince us to buy what it is that they were trying to sell this time.  When we got to Pearl Harbor, after a brief incorrect turn – thanks Siri, we started walking around reading the signs. I admit to being choked up many times as I read of soldiers going out on December 6th for a night of entertainment not knowing that it could, and for many of them, would be their last night on Earth. I also read of how many were getting ready for church before the bombing took their lives. Mike was off to get us tickets to go to the Arizona Memorial. But when he returned we realized that we would not be able to make it to the memorial and back in time for the sales pitch. So we decided to come back on July 4th.

Waikiki and the Submarine

During our meeting, the kids were off to play in the sand and swim at the pools. I’m sure they had more fun than we did. 🙂 When we returned, it was off to Waikiki for a submarine ride. We had some extra time to walk around in Waikiki before our ride. We found a shop with fabulous cookies, the Honolulu Cookie Company. Let’s just say that their marketing department did a great job when they placed many different cookie samples in the window. We pigged out on samples and then filled a box with each of us choosing our 5 favorites. We also wandered by a shop where they were letting you choose and open your own oyster to get a pearl for “Only $14.99” what a bargain right? Mike encouraged Amanda to try it. She got a gorgeous silver pearl with her pick. As you may imagine, that enticed the rest of us to want to do the same thing. Michael has determined that they are the best at getting you to buy something. As now not only do we have pearls, but we have settings. We did manage to say “no” to the chains they were selling. This technique must work really well as later we saw many places doing the same thing.

We walked out the pier to board the boat that would take us to the submarine from Atlantis Adventures. It was about a 10 minute ride from the boat to the submarine. During that time we got to see a nice view of that part of the island. We exited the boat and got into the Atlantis XIV submarine. It’s the world’s largest hi-tech passenger submarine, and holds 64 passengers. We were able to see fish, sharks and a couple of turtles. We also saw a plane wreck that has become a reef for the wildlife as well as some other manmade reefs. Diving down as deep as 104 feet we watched the leaching of the color as we went further and further down. Everything looked blue and even the colors of our shirts, and my nail polish, changed.

Since we were in Waikiki, the boys (all 3 of them), wanted to go and take the long hike up Diamond Head Crater. Following Siri’s directions, (will we ever learn), I dropped the boys off so they could “walk” to their destination. Amanda and I took out our phone cameras and proceeded to take photographs of the surfers way down at the bottom of the hill. We also started snacking on our cookies – we were hungry. My phone rang and it was the boys. Apparently it was a lot longer walk than Siri lead them to believe. Amanda and I drove off to pick them up and take them to the actual destination. By the time we got there it was after the last time they would let hikers go up the crater. So we turned around and went on a search for food.

Michael had seen an ad for the “best” hamburgers in Honolulu so we googled to see if we could find something nearby. We found a place called Teddy’s Bigger Burgers. Let’s just say, I’m not surprised that so many people gave them good reviews. The juice from our burgers dripped everywhere and the flavor of the burgers was amazing. I had an avocado bacon burger, I swear they had at least a half an avocado in there. Michael a volcano burger and though I have no idea what was in it, I wasn’t about to taste it. Alex and Christopher had Hawaiian Style burgers and Amanda had an original burger. We shared shakes and fries and we were stuffed by the time we left. I have to say that I’m a little happy that they don’t have Teddy’s Bigger Burgers here, they would be a hard temptation to avoid.

A relaxing evening poolside ended our busy day.

Hawaii trip – day 1: An overview of the island by plane

Hawaii Here We Come

Early June 30th, we were up before dawn ready to start our much awaited adventure to Hawaii. We were up before 4am and out the door to the airport. This would be a long flight with one short layover in Salt Lake, but we were prepared. Or so we thought.

We arrived at the Salt Lake airport with just enough time to grab a quick lunch and get to our gate. When we sat down to eat, we got a call from Delta. Our flight was delayed. Ok, so at least it wasn’t cancelled. It was only going to be delayed a couple of hours, or so they thought. Apparently there was a mechanical error that would not allow the plane to fly over the ocean so a part needed to be replaced. One was being flown in from LA. The gate attendant assured everyone that the part was easy to replace and we should be able to board in no time. No time came and went. Michael stood at the window to watch the repair progress. There was much scratching and shaking of heads by the mechanics. After a 7 hour delay, we were told that the plane was not going to be able to fly over the ocean but they could take us to LA where we would switch planes and once again be on our way. Only one glitch remained, they would have to take the extra fuel out of the tank before we could leave. We boarded the plane and waited, and waited, and waited. I was by the window and watched more of the head shaking scratching that Michael had seen before. After watching half of a movie, Jack the Giant Slayer, we were finally able to leave Salt Lake.

Looks like we made it

We finally arrived in Hawaii, got our luggage, rental car, and made our way to the Ko’Olina beachclub resort. It was 11pm when we got there. Tired, hungry and ready to sleep. I have to say that the staff there was amazing. They provided us with some sandwiches and drinks at no charge and made sure that we were all set with anything we needed.

Up and at ’em

Still on Pennsylvania time, Michael and I were up early and wandering the beach in front of our building as the sun was coming up. It was a beautiful morning, slight breeze and some humidity (not like PA). We took some pictures and walked around the resort exploring. After the kids were up, we went out in search of breakfast before our plane ride over the island.

Up up and away


Siri led the way to the place we were supposed to meet our pilot for the morning. Well Siri actually got us a little lost. With some help from google maps we got on the right track and went to meet  Gene, our pilot from Flight See Hawaii. The plane, a Cessna 182 Skylane holds 4 people, including the pilot so we split up.I went with Amanda and Christopher. Amanda had the co-pilot seat, Christopher was in charge of pictures and I was just happy to see the awesome view. Gene flew us over the island and pointed out places that we might want to go back and visit on our trip. He pointed out places that tended to be crowded and places where the locals go. He was very knowledgeable and personable. It was a great trip. Even the little air bubbles were fun, for most of us. After we landed, Michael and Alex took their turn. Because of the trade winds, they saw a few different areas we didn’t see. It was fun to combine our photographs and see everything.


After our amazing flights, we were off to buy groceries for the week and get some lunch. We found a store similar to Whole foods, and a Costco where we stocked up on fresh fruits and food that we could make for breakfast. The kids got to pick where they’d like get lunch. Now if you know our kids, it won’t surprise you to know that they picked a place we don’t have here, a place that they, of course loved. The place was called Ramen Ya. It’s a Japanese noodle restaurant that serves Ramen noodles. But these noodles aren’t the salty things that college students buy by the case load. These bowls were HUGE and filled with yummy goodness. I learned, however, that eating noodles with chopsticks is something that I’ll need more practice doing. By the end of our meal, I was no longer flinging juice across the table. I think that’s improvement. 🙂 Here are a couple of our bowls.

ramenYa ramenYa2


A dip in the pool

After lunch and putting groceries away we were off to the pool(s) and the beach to relax and play in the sand. It was a great way to end our first day on the island of Oahu.