Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Oahu, Hawaii

My husband and I visited Hawaii (Maui and Oahu) during our Honeymoon.  It was amazing!!!  But, we were also exhausted from everything else we had going on in our lives at the time - including planning the wedding.  So, we didn't have a lot of time to research all the fun things we could do.  My husband had been on this trip 10 years prior.  It was a high school graduation trip with his parents.  So, we pretty much duplicated the things he did 10 years before our honeymoon...  We enjoyed the islands a lot so we joked around about trying to go there every 10 years.  Well, for our 10 year anniversary we went to Hawaii :-)  This time we took our kiddos and we spent a lot of time researching!  Here's the introduction to our November 2013 Hawaiian vacation experience.  I have broken down specific activities into separate blog posts.

One week is really not enough for this vacation - especially when you consider how much money you are investing in the flight alone!  So, we planned on needing 10 days of vacation.  Why?  From Michigan, you lose a full day on the way there and another on the way home due to flying time and the time difference (there is a 5-6 hour* time difference between Hawaii and Michigan!)  You also need some time to recover from the long day of travel and adjust to the time difference once you are in Hawaii.  Don't forget the recovery time needed when you get home.  I didn't include that into my vacation time but I did need to consider recovery time in my planning since I have school aged kiddos.

There are so many islands to choose from but we like Oahu and Maui.  Oahu has a lot more action and Maui is very relaxed (I have heard that Kuai is also relaxing).  We love the variety!  This time we decided to fly into Oahu and spend the first 6 days there before ending our trip on Maui.  More days were spent on Oahu because we needed that extra time to adjust and there was more that we wanted to do there than on Maui.

Note:  we rent a car on both islands.  There is a lot that you can do via busing and paid tours but we like to have some free time to explore on our own.  It is not hard to drive around on the islands so I highly recommend it.  

We prefer to stay on Waikiki Beach (even though the parking rates are high).  There's a lot that we can walk to from that area.  In my opinion it is the most "tourist driven" area on the island.  

We also decided to purchase Go Oahu Cards.  After exploring the options they gave it provided us with a lot of savings!  Plus, Costco was offering a great deal on the cards!

I love to capture things that are different than what we have at home!

Two-story modern McDonalds.

Love the "local" menu options (yes - even Spam)!

Had to try this.  Our vote was a big NO!!  Yuck!  I wasn't expecting it to be a hot pie!

We love Crush!!!  Pineapple was great but the calories were frightening!

Hard Rock Cafe!  We love the food and collect the pins :-)
This was walking distance from our hotel on Waikiki Beach.
LOVED the guitar display!!!

Our hotel:  Outrigger Reef on the Beach

The pool is way better than the beach water on Waikiki!

The Shore Bird Restaurant and Beach Bar.  You cook your own meat on a large grill.  There are many spice options.
I know, cook your own food while on vacation?  It is fun though.  And many seats have a great view of the beach.  I love the salad bar!

I love this place!!  Unfortunately it closed at the end of 2013.  A large developer purchased the land.
What was it?  It housed many little shops where you could negotiate pricing for a variety of souvenirs.

My kiddos had a great oyster/pearl experience in the Market Place.
The lady that helped them showed them a traditional blessing of the oysters.
Meaning of the Pearl
White:  Happiness
Pink:  Love
Lavender:  Prosperity
Black:  Wisdom

They were so proud of the pearls they received in each!
My daughter's was pink and my son's was white.
The necklace options were too pricy for an 8 year old so we had my daughters glued to this.
She loves it!

My son loves symbolic souvenirs.
"The Makini Helmet:  Commonly referred to as Ikaika or strong helmets, these tiny replica were worn by a select group  of Hawaiian warriors who were entrusted to protect the High Chief.  These Hawaiian guardians were called Makini warriors. We honor and celebrate them with our collection of guardian helmets."
I always wondered what these looked like in the shell...

Hmmm...  I didn't expect to see "shells" in Hawaii that weren't "made in the USA"....

Dole Whip!!!  He couldn't wait to get the spoon ;-)
Time to head to Maui!
Well, I will be sharing a few more posts about our Oahu adventures first.

*Hawaii does not participate in daylight savings time but Michigan does.  The time difference of 5 or 6 hours depends on the time of the year.  

  • For our honeymoon we booked our flight to land in Oahu on arrival and to leave from Oahu on the way home.  To get from one Island to the next we booked a flight from Oahu to Maui and then later a return flight from Maui to Oahu.  I really wanted to avoid the extra flight for our more recent vacation.  Many online travel services do not give you the option I wanted (fly into Oahu, later fly from Oahu to Maui, then fly home from Maui).  Costco travel had the option to do this but the pricing was really ridiculous.  We eventually booked our flights through Solar Tours.  I have no idea how my husband found this company (during one of his many searches online) but they had the best rate and gave us the flight schedule we were looking for.  The only problem that we had with them... The airline changed our flight times by 5 minutes.  Solar notified us that they canceled our flight and that we would need to select a new flight!!!  Thankfully we were able to get onto the same flight (with the five minute difference) but it was stressful and absolutely not necessary!
  • Jellyfish:  We were told that they come really close to shore during a full moon and that there are a lot of them.  It might be a great opportunity to see some but I would be more concerned about staying out of the water during a full moon!
  • No sign of Christmas!  It was crazy to look on Facebook to see my friends chatting about Christmas.  In Michigan there was even a snow day where school was canceled!!!  I kind of missed the Christmas spirit but I hated the idea of returning to the cold!
  • Hotel rooms:  The better the ocean view the more you pay.  I have stayed in partial view rooms and full ocean view.  The rooms were all great!  The view... I wasn't in the room much to really benefit from the higher price...
  • Plan to go over on your budget!
Other places on Oahu to consider:
Maybe we will visit there again in another 10 years!!  So, I'd love to hear your experiences!

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