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.
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.
The little guy being independent.
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.
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.
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.
Spiny sea anemone.
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.
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.
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.
Makapu’u Beach Photo Credit: WPPilot
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.
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.