Vacation to Paradise

 
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

Well, I’m back. Back from the most amazing place I’ve ever been in my life. Granted, I’ve not been many places, but still. I’d be willing to bet that Oahu, Hawaii, really is paradise on Earth. My family (parents, brother, sisters, husband, son) and I rented a house right on the beach just east of Honolulu. If you are familiar with Oahu, it was on Kalaniana’ole (Kah-lah-knee-ah-nah-oh-lay) Highway between Diamond head and Hawaii Kai (kah-yee). Sort of in the Aina Haina area.

 

The house was amazing. http://hawaii-beachhomes.com/Unit.mvc/Details/38777 The website photos don’t even do it justice. Neither does the description. It was absolute perfect for the 8 of us. And we are a pretty high maintenance family with a lot of “needs”. They had thought of everything.
 
 
I should back up for a second though. The United plane ride there was actually pretty good considering we were in the air for 10 hours total. Flying to Chicago first at 6am means getting up at 3:45am to get to the airport on time. And even though we were completely packed and ready to go the night before, most of us still didn’t sleep much. My brother spent the night at my house so he could just ride with my husband, 2 year old son, and I to the airport where we met the rest of my family. I just couldn’t get comfortable though, even on the couch. My mind wouldn’t shut off. My son did fantastically on the plane though. Both to CHI and then to Honolulu from there. In CHI we ran him through the airport during our layover in an attempt to get out all of his energy. He discovered the moving side walks there.
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

There were these crazy disco lights overhead.

  
He slept on the HON plane quite a while. The whole mood of the plane was so much different going there too than it was coming home. People were up just hanging out socializing in the various areas of the plane. The attendants were all really happy.
 
 
The ride home was another story. Because we didn’t leave until 4pm, we were on the night-time flight. It was really bizarre to see the sun set and rise again all on the same flight. My son had a few major meltdowns. It was a combination of being over tired, wanting to get up but not being allowed to, and just being two. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the portable DVD was a total lifesaver. Most of the people around us didn’t really care (thank goodness for headphones and that sound doesn’t travel far on those planes), but he really bugged one of my sisters. She’ll probably be over it in a few days though. My husband and my mom got stuck next to a very boisterous woman who though the movie Red was hysterical, and forgot that even if she’s wearing headphones, people can still hear her laugh 10 aisles down. I found it quite amusing. We also packed an entire bag of new toys for our son and he barely touched the stuff. Just wanted the MMCH DVD. And he’s not even much of a TV watching kid at home! Maybe that’s why it worked so well on the plane.
 
 
So when we finally got there at 2pm local time, we went and got our rental cars from Alamo (I drove a 2011 black Ford Escape, my mom drove a silver 2011 Dodge Nitro, both were pretty sweet), then off to the house where we took an hour or two to settle in.
 
 
Like I said, the house was so sweet. Completely updated, right on the beach, had a great pool and hot tub outside, all the tubs inside were Jacuzzis too (and I don’t think any of us even used them!). Security system, flat screen TVs, fully stocked (except for food) house, including beach stuff.  My husband, son, and I got the master bedroom. Balcony overlooking the ocean, full bathroom, huge closet. In fact, the closet was so huge we actually set up our son’s crib right in there, so he had his own little room. Funny, I know, but it worked out really well. We rented a crib, video monitor, high chair, gates, beach stuff, and stroller from Paradisebabyco.com. They were fantastic. Had everything set up for us when we got there, including the organic baby bedding that came with the full sized crib. They came and picked everything up too, the morning we left.
 
 
After we settled in, a few of us went grocery shopping at Whole Foods. I was really excited about going here, because I’ve heard great things about that place. It was awesome. My sister called it my Mecca. I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing when I walked in. We have Wegmans here, which is really great, but Whole Foods is like the entire organic section of Wegmans times 1000. Loved it.
 
 
Came home and ordered dinner, which itself was a challenge. Apparently to get anything delivered, you have to order food through a delivery company. Then they place the order with the restaurant and go get it for you. Yeah, $90 for 2 large pizzas and a salad. And of course they don’t hold a candle to our New York pizzas. But it was a quick meal and that’s all we needed. We then ran to Walmart in Pearl City after that for a few non-grocery things. Never try math or shopping when you haven’t slept for 24 hours straight. It’s really quite amusing to watch 4 adults have to think hard to figure out what 6 times 7 is.
 
Day 2 we went to lunch at this great little dive near Diamond head crater called South Shore Grill. I tried fish tacos. They were good! Then off to climb the crater ($5/car to get into the park). The climb wasn’t too bad. A bit of a challenge with a 2 yr old who wants to be independent, but we made it to the top, 700+ feet high. The climb itself is something like 540 ft. Amazing views. The huge volcano crater was really gorgeous.
 

 

Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

The little guy being independent. 

 

Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

View of Honolulu from the top edge of Diamond head crater. 

 
After that, we came home and relaxed some more. I attempted to grill pizzas and almost died when the propane tank caught fire because the regulator either wasn’t connected properly, or was defective to begin with. My father was chilling in the hot tub, my brother was next to me with the empty fire extinguisher, and everyone else was in the house without a clue what was going on outside. So there was me, poking at the flaming knob on top of the tank with the grill brush, trying to close the valve and put the fire out. *Poke* “LEFT LOOSE, RIGHT TIGHT!” *Poke* “LEFT LOOSE, RIGHT TIGHT!” *Poke* “LEFT LOOSE, RIGHT TIGHT!” Finally got it closed, and the fire out, and went inside and had a heart attack and mental breakdown. The home rental company agent was absolutely appalled when she found out and apologized profusely. She also brought over a brand new fire extinguisher the next morning herself.
 
Day 3 I woke up with laryngitis. My son and I stayed home while everyone else went jet skiing in Hawaii Kai then snorkeling at Hanauma (Hah-nuh-muh) Bay. We needed a day to rest since we both had caught quite a nasty sinus infection. My son also got pink eye, which myself and my husband both caught later on. My son and I went and picked up my dad after he jet-skied and the three of us drove around the east coast taking in the views, which are just spectacular. A must-do there for sure. We scoped out the good and bad beaches for boogie boarding after dad had talked to the jet-ski guy.
 
 
My son and I decided to play in the water in front of our house before everyone got home. And I left my phone in my pocket. Yup, ocean phone. As soon as I realized it, I took the battery out without pushing any of the buttons. Rinsed it off thoroughly in fresh water, took out any little pieces, covers, and cards then vacuumed the heck out of it for a good 20 minutes straight. I put it in a bag of rice overnight before turning it back on the next day. It was a bit squirrelly for the next few days but now it works great. Amazingly. I wish I had some isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to rinse it in after the water wash. I think that would have really helped with any corrosion. We will see how long it lasts! I backed up everything before I left, and saved all my photos and videos elsewhere so I should be ok. 
 
 
That night we all went out to dinner in Waikiki at the Tiki’s Grill & Bar. Food was awesome but $$. It was very tourist-y, so the atmosphere was a little campy, but I liked it. Had a little bit of family drama on my dad & brother’s birthdays, but it had been a long day, and the traveling was really catching up with us all. One other little tidbit…while looking for parking (which is nearly impossible around Waikiki – park at the zoo if you can), I thought to try the hotel that the restaurant was in. So I pulled into what I thought was the garage. Turns out, it’s the valet parking and was super cramped. While trying to squeeze through, I got stuck waiting for a car of tourists to realize someone was trying to get past them and that they needed to shut their car door (they were parked on the right side just standing there with their doors open) so I could get by.  I didn’t want to honk, because it was a really small parking area and would have been super loud. Finally the valet went over and shut their door for me. So as I creep by them, I hear a slight muffled *thump*, but didn’t think anything of it. Then my brother turns to me and says “You know you just hit that guy’s elbow with your mirror right?”. Hilarious. I had seen the guy with his chicken wing sticking out (standing there with his hand on his hip) but thought I had plenty of clearance. Apparently not. Sorry dude! Thank goodness for tinted windows! And keep your chicken wings tucked in when hanging out in valet parking areas.
 
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

A ship and the Arizona Memorial.

 
 
Day 4 We all went to Pearl Harbor (free). It was a nice relaxing morning. We went over to the Arizona memorial (also free, but you need to get there super early to get tickets otherwise they sell out and you have to wait forever). Not much to say about Pearl Harbor other than, everyone who goes to Oahu should take the time to see it. Stuff like that really gets to me, but it’s an important part of history, and my grandfather had been there when he served so I wanted to see it.
 
 
We came home and got some really delicious Korean barbecue (Hibiscus Korean BBQ, West Hind Drive, Aina Haina) for lunch at which point I threw out my back picking up my son.
 
 

Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

 

 I decided to try and work it out by going snorkeling that afternoon with my mom, brother, and sisters back at Hanauma Bay that afternoon. We rented our equipment from Snorkel Bob’s on Kapahulu (Cap-ah-hoo-loo) Ave in Honolulu this time, for $9 for 24 hours. They had rented it from the bay last time and said it was junk. Bob’s is absolutely the way to go. The equipment is practically new, they fit your flippers and mask to you, and it comes with a gear bag and anti-fog goo. The bay was free that day too (normally $1/car to get into the park, and $7.50 per person to snorkel after you watch a video on being safe and taking care not to touch the reef).
It. Was. Amazing.
 
 

Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

Spiny sea anemone.

 

Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

They don’t even get out of the way!

 

 
 
Probably my most favorite part of the entire vacation. Snorkeling does take a bit of getting use to. Especially in the ocean and over a reef, where you can’t just stand up when you need to fix your gear. But my family has always been extremely water oriented and I picked it up pretty quickly. The coral and fish were incredible. And huge! I could reach out and touch fish 3 feet long as they swam around me, paying me no attention. These huge colorful tropical fish. The reef had pockets of sandy spots throughout them, so when I need to fix my gear I just swam to one of those spots to stand up. It’s a little tricky with the waves though, and we all inevitably caught a bit of coralitis (scratches from coral) on our legs. There were a ton of spiny anemones in all of the crevices too. Really just a magical time in a totally foreign place. Saw our first wild chickens there at the bay. Just wandering around like the turkeys do here.
 
 
Drove around the east coast again to show the rest of the family the beaches that dad & I had scoped out the day before. The drive really killed my back though that had been nicely loosened up being in the water and by the time we got home I couldn’t even move.
 
 

Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

Top: Normal eyes. Bottom: Crazy sick eyes.

 
 
Day 5 The pinkeye showed up. I woke up and couldn’t even open my eyes they were so nasty. I’m still treating them with silver and heat (it’s been about 5 days), and son and I are just about cured. Husband’s got so bad that he had to go get a script for antibiotics as soon as we got home yesterday. I attempted to find a chiropractor day 5 morning, but no one wanted to work acutely on a tourist who would only be in town for a few more days. So I had to take matters into my own hands and do a lot of stretching and exercise and Advil. 4 every 4-6 hours really did the trick. My doctor’s office called in a script for a muscle relaxer for me but I didn’t even need it by nighttime. Anyone who knows me knows I hate taking medications too. I much prefer to ride things out or treat with natural remedies. But I didn’t have weeks to lay flat on my back, and the plane ride would have killed me to suffer through that. Not to mention I couldn’t lift anything, and between the 3 of us we had 3 carry on suitcases at around 35 lbs each, one checked monster suitcase (47.2 lbs on the return flight!), and 3 backpacks (20 lbs each?), carseat, and a 25 lb kid.
 
 
I had really wanted to go to the Farmer’s Market at Kapi’olani Community College back near Diamond head Crater that morning, but with my back being as bad as it was I just couldn’t do it. 
 
 
We went to Chinatown for lunch, which was quite hilarious. The lunch at Golden Palace was very authentic, and not what most of my family is use to eating. You have to be pretty daring to try foods that you have no idea what is in them, and still don’t even after tasting them. Then we walked around after that and found the various fish and meat markets with things like whole pigs out front being processed, and the fishes that we had just swam with on ice in the cases.
 
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Makapu’u Beach Photo Credit: WPPilot

 
That afternoon we went boogie boarding at Makapu’u (Mock-ah-poo-oo) beach. It’s this fantastic little beach across from Sea Life Park on Kalaniana’ole on the east side of the island. It’s tucked in to this little volcanic rock bay and pretty much surrounded by mountains. There is a lighthouse up on the mountain on the right side, and a gorgeous view of the ocean way up by the road. It’s got a pretty strong rip current there though that you can really feel even close to shore. We chatted with the lifeguard and he said the rip will pull you right out and around the end of the island. We didn’t go beyond where we could touch and made sure to stay in line with our land marker (a telephone pole). The waves were perfect for boogie boarding though. We had an absolute blast and it was my second favorite part of the vacation. This beach is not suitable for little kids. I did sit on the sand with my son on my lap so the waves could wash up and get his feet wet, which he loved. But those waves knocked US off of our feet several times.
 
 
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

Breakneck beach AKA Sandy Beach. Beautiful but dangerous.

 
  
We drove past Sandy beach several times (the beach just before Makapu’u on the South side), and although it’s a fairly large and extremely popular beach, especially with the teens and 20 somethings, it’s also extremely dangerous. The slope of the land there is so steep that the waves just slam you down into the sand. The locals said that tons of people get paralyzed and/or drown there every year.
 
 
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

Roy’s amazing scallops.

 
 
That night mom, brother, sisters, and I went to Roy’s Restaurant for dinner in Hawaii Kai. Fantastic 4 star Hawaiian fusion restaurant. I got the scallops and I’ve never had them done more perfectly. We ate outside right by the ocean, and there was a local musician performing. On our way back to the car, we stopped at a gallery and met a local artist Barry Power. He and his brother Steven have some amazing artwork for sale there and at the Wyland Galleries. He send us home with some gorgeous prints of both artist’s work. The perfect evening to a wonderful day.
 
 
Day 6 My sisters went parasailing that morning in Waikiki while the boy and husband and I went back to Whole Foods for a few items. There are a ton of grocery stores around the island. Foodland, Safeway, Costco, Walmart, Whole Foods, and little mom & pop groceries. Definitely didn’t have to go far to run and grab a few fresh items. Lots of variety too. I had presumed that because we were so far from the rest of the states, variety would be a problem, but, at least on Oahu, it definitely wasn’t. They carry all of my favorite organic foods. Actually, they had even more than Wegmans.
 
 
That afternoon dad and brother and I went to eat sushi at Hana Sushi, while sisters went to eat at Cha Cha Cha Salsaria both in Hawaii Kai (Keahole (key-ah-hole-aye) St.). The sushi was great. Each item of two or three pieces was served on a colored plate that came around on a conveyor belt next to your table. So you just grab the plate you want, eat it, then grab another, and another until you are full. Then the waitress adds up the plates at the end. There is a picture menu with prices and names of each plate, so you get an idea of what you are eating. The sushi is being made fresh on the other side of the belt and the chef was constantly putting out new stuff. A great way to try lots of different things without having to buy an entire roll. My sisters said Cha Cha Cha was good also.
 
 
Later that day we decided to try a few new beaches that were recommended. The first was Waimanalo (Why-man-all-oh) beach further up the east coast. It was ok. Small short beach, so the waves crashed up high. Not good for kids. I lost my sunglasses there when a wave took my sister and I and tossed us around. My sister also lost her sunglasses and had a moment of “this is it. I’m going to die.” Lots of homeless people live there in a tent city. It was sad to see the number of homeless around Oahu. There are tons. From the minute we got out of the airport I saw a man walking along the side of the road with his shopping cart. There were people begging for money down at Waikiki. There was a huge line of people waiting for the meal wagon in Chinatown. I had heard the numbers of homeless was quite high there but you don’t realize it until you see people struggling everywhere. Yet at the same time there a multi-million dollar homes everywhere.
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler | Musings of a Modern Hippie

Lanikai Beach Photo Credit: Travisthurston

 
 
The other beach we went to was Lanikai (lah-nah-kaye) beach in Kailua (kaye-loo-ah) on the east side of the island. This beach isn’t even on a lot of maps, and there is no parking other than along the side of the road in the neighborhood. Beach access is various little public paths between people’s houses, but it’s so worth it to go there. The sand is insanely soft, the beach is very gradually sloping, shallow, and the waves are virtually nil. Perfect for small children. And we swam with sea turtles! Not 20 feet away from us. It wasn’t crowded either, even on a holiday weekend. Absolute perfection for swimming and snorkeling with kids. This is one of the top rated beaches IN THE WORLD and I could totally see why. 
 
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

Mountain View from H3.

 
 
We drove home through the mountains on H3 and it was yet another gorgeous view. That’s one thing I would never get use to there. The breathtaking views. Rugged, tough, almost violent mountains on one side, powerful, insanely blue, rolling ocean on the other.
 
 
Day 7 We went to the Dole Plantation up on the North end on our last full day there. It was great! Lots of good souvenirs in the gift shop. Took the train around the plantation ($8), which my son loved, but the pineapples had been harvested already and the fields were resting so we didn’t see much on the ride. There was still a lot of plants that hadn’t been harvested yet though like sugar cane, and papayas. And the little decorative pineapple plants everywhere. I SO want a baby pineapple plant! We also walked around the gardens ($5) and saw all the plants and flowers there. That was neat. We didn’t do the maze ($6) because the sun was just too hot that day and there wasn’t the breeze up there that there is down on the southeast coast.
 
 
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

Little pineapple oasis.

 
 
For lunch we went to Breakers Restaurant in Haleiwa (Hah-lay-ee-wah) on the North side. The Hawaiian burger was just delicious. Something about the teriyaki sauce and a slice of pineapple on anything makes it extra tasty. Then we walked to a Wyland Gallery to see more of Steven Powers work on display.
 
 
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

Baby pineapples!

 
 
After that we drove to the North shore to check out the world famous surfing beaches. When “they” say it’s not surfing season, they really mean it. There were bigger waves in Hanauma Bay! The north side was completely unremarkable. There were a lot of plantations and farms in the area, but mostly it was definitely the less flashy side of the island. We drove back around the entire coast on Kamehameha (Kah-me-hah-me-hah) Highway just to see the view. I have to say, I loved the southeast views the best.
 
We weren’t able to make it to the far west side of the island between Pearl Harbor and Haleiwa. That side is mostly forest and nature preserve, but it would have been nice to at least drive along the coast, although the very western most tip is not paved and there are no side roads to bypass that area.
 
 
We went to dinner at The Shack, back in Hawaii Kai on Keahole. Great dive bar right along the Kuapa (Koo-ah-pah) Pond waterway. We just missed the taping of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch – After the Catch show there. The captains will be there in 3 days.  Good prices, good food, and lots of it.
 
 
Came home and packed up mostly everything before bed.
 
 
Day 8 Finished packing and putting the house back in order. Left by 11am. We decided to kill some time by going to the Ala Moana (Ah-lah Moe-ah-nah) Shopping Center in Honolulu. Big outdoor mall with lots of souvenir stores. No A/C other than in some of the stores, so if you are in a hurry, or have to carry your kid, or get a tickle in your throat because you are still sick and have to cough up a lung, or are wearing jeggings in anticipation of a cold airplane ride home, you will sweat your face off. Especially in the crowded food court. I totally splashed a guy on the side of the road when we were pulling into the parking garage here. And like the hotel valet garage in Waikiki, I didn’t realize it until my brother said something. Hey, I’m use to driving my crunch-mobile, not a big beast of an SUV. There also may have been two incidences involving the house mailbox while I tried to swiftly back the car into the driveway so as not to get hit by oncoming traffic. I can neither confirm nor deny those incidences though, but if the mailbox is loose at 5019 Kalaniana’ole, I have a suspicion why.
 
 
Returned the cars, got to the airport, and came home.
 
 
Reasons I’m glad to be home:
  1. Vacations are always so busy and rushed because you are trying to cram in as much as possible.
  2. My body does not deal well with stress. Physical, emotional, mental. I got hit with all sorts of stuff all at once because of it and it really took it’s toll on me. I’m glad to be back home in my safe, virtually stress free, controlled environment.
  3. Traveling with family is…well…you know. Really great, and really awful.
 
Reasons I want to be back there:
  1. The weather. Perfect ALL the time. Ok, except for the 5 minutes it rained almost daily. But the rain was even nice rain. Not the torrential downpours we get here.
  2. The ocean. Man do I love the ocean. Always have, always will. I could spend the entire day playing in the ocean.
  3. The views. Those mountains are incredible and just beg to be climbed. The ocean is so inspirational.
  4. The people. Everyone is so much more relaxed and friendly. People say please and mahalo (mah-hah-low), aloha and aloha. They let you in when you need to change lanes. Like immediately. With no finger flipping or swearing. Put on your turn signal, someone backs off to let you in. Simple. Nice. Even the traffic, while constant and fairly heavy, kept moving because no one was speeding up to prevent someone from cutting in, then slamming on the brakes because the person cut in anyway and now everyone is just sitting still being mad. Everyone just moved casually and that kept the traffic flowing along. Yes, there was the occasional Grumpy Gus and Roni Roadrage, but they were not the norm.
  5. The island jams. I’m going to miss the reggae radio stations! There is nothing like that here on regular radio and my car doesn’t have a phone plug to connect to Slacker or Pandora. Guess I’ll just have to play them at work. There is nothing like cranking up the island jams, while cruising around with the windows down, taking in the views.
  6. The food. I absolutely love tropical food. Yeah, they have it here too, but it’s not nearly as good.
  7. The house. My house looked so small coming home. And a girl could really get use to hopping into the pool at the end of the day, then jumping over to the hot tub.
  8. The palm trees. Because they just add to the ambiance.
 
 
I’m sure there is more. And I’m sure there are bad things about living there. But I like to think about the good stuff. And boy was it.
 
 
Here are just a few more pictures of our amazing vacation:
 
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie
 
Hawaiian Vacation with a Toddler - Musings of a Modern Hippie

The morning that we left.

 

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