We joined the Olesons and took a family vacation to Hawaii this year.
After months of anticipation we were off. After a 5 hour flight we arrived at beautiful Waikiki to meet up with Joel, Virginia, Scott and Jared. We hung out at the beach next to our hotel for about 3 hours until our room was ready. We wanted to dive right into the water but since we were still in our normal clothes we had to be content to wade instead. After we unpacked we hit Walmart to stock up for the week and to eat L&L Hawaiian barbecue. Yum
Our first full day here and it's Sunday. We were off to church in the beautiful tabernacle that looked like a cross between an old Catholic church and a temple. There was room for 900 in the chapel and it housed two gyms. Sunday school was offered in 8 languages (some of them I'd never heard of before). After church we drove around the island checking out lookout points and visiting the Valley of the temples where we explored the Byodo-In Buddhist temple. While we were hiking around the ground the kids were able to see their first Banana tree.
Today we visited Pear Harbor. We had a two hour wait before we could take the ferry to the memorial of the Arizona. While we waited we explored the museum and hung out on the grounds. Some of us listened to the audio tour. (Everyone under 12 ended up running around barefoot playing tag in the grass). After our visit to the Arizona we went to check out the battleship Missouri. Everyone had fun there exploring the ship trying to imagine living elbow to elbow with your shipmates and metal walls. After we got back we went to the beach and finally got to enjoy the water. After cleaning up the kids were set up with pizza and a movie while us adults walked across the street to splurge on a yummy dinner at Ruth Chris's stake house.
We were off to visit the Dole pineapple plantation. We learned that pineapples grow on bushes, take about 1 1/2 years to mature and are considered ripe when the "eyes" are the same size from top to bottom. We took a train around the plantation, ate the yummiest pineapple ice cream and took a trip through the worlds largest maze. After the plantation we drove to the north shore to check it out. While we were there we went to the botanical gardens about an hour before it closed to hike up to the waterfalls. The kids toughed out the hike (which luckily had cold water stations along the way). The waterfalls were dry but we were warned before we got there. The plants were beautiful and we were able to see an ancient Hawaiian compound which was interesting. Once we were done we went over to the temple on the way home to visit the visitor's center. We took the loooong way home around the coast. Windy and beautiful but slow with not many options for food. (We were never so happy to see a McDonald's in our life.)
Today we hit the local swap meet to buy all our souvenirs (including Ukuleles for the kids) and then drove up to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We realized as soon as we got there we realized we should've got there right when it opened there was so much to do! We saw shows where men started fire with sticks, showed us what you could do with a coconut, performed on drums and of course danced. We had an all you can eat Luau where we tried purple Taro root for the first time (tasted like a sweet potato). The kids weren't too sure about their purple taro root hot dog buns at first. Afterward we saw the spectacular night show called Horizons complete with fire dancers.
After running all over the island we took this day to just relax at the beach. The kids loved the warm water and the mild waves. While the tide was still low we enjoyed trying to snorkel some and wade out farther than we ever could back home. We ate lunch on the beach and hung out until late afternoon. After we cleaned up we hit Wall-E at the movie theater and realized just how sunburned some of us had gotten that day.
Today was fourth of July and we had planned to snorkel but since some of us were miserably sunburned we decided to change our plans. Instead we went to the local zoo and then hit the aquarium after lunch. That night we watched fireworks sitting on the beach. Even though we had been getting drizzled on intermittently we were able to see the fireworks so clearly we were able to see 3 firework shoes all the way down the beach.
Today we were off to Maui. Joel and Virginia braved the ferry ride with a 5:00am check in time. We flew instead. We both got to Maui before lunch and again had to wait for our hotel room to be ready. We were both pleasantly surprised to have a room right on the water. We loved sitting out on the balcony and listening to the waves lap the shore. Maui was much less built up and more relaxing. That night we ate at a terrace restaurant with a view of the ocean with a live singer and hula dancer to entertain us. The boys even took an impromptu hula lesson in front of all us diners.
We were off to church again today visiting a small ward building that overlooked the water. After we changed we hit a great snorkeling beach to get the kids used to snorkeling. You could literally walk out past the first wave, drop into the water and then watch the fish. They were everywhere! For most of us this was our favorite snorkeling experience. It was relaxing and we got to enjoy the fish as long as we wanted. Ashley didn't snorkel but she got comfortable being in the ocean with a life jacket and floaties. We met up with Joel and Virginia for dinner and to play silly games with the boys. We had them turn off their games and TV and it was probably the most fun the kids had just hanging out together:)
Today we took the loooong drive to the much talked about Hana. There were beautiful waterfalls along the way that we stopped off at, enjoyed for a minute, took a picture of and then continued driving. We saw lots of waterfalls, black beaches and found out that the little animals that we kept seeing on the trip were mongooses. We ended up getting separated from Joel and Virginia and without reliable cell service we couldn't get a hold of each other. We each experienced the all day drive our own way and then met up at outback for dinner. Yum.
Finally we got to do our snorkeling trip. We took a boat out to Molokini crater to experience snorkeling at a wildlife preserve. There were tons of fish and the water was so clear that you could see them while sitting on the boat. Taylor and Jeff tried SNUBA diving (a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving) and loved it. I hung out with Jacob and Ashley trying as much as I could to keep my head under while holding on to both of Ashley's hands. I figured that she did really good just being in the water with me. She had her mask and snorkel on the whole time though she wouldn't put her face in the water. She said that she could see the fish on top of the water (which she could). We all loved snorkeling. The boat fed us a barbecue lunch and then we were off to snorkel at a place called turtle town. We saw sea turtles though their wasn't as many fish at this site the crew were allowed to feed them so they surrounded the boat where Ashley and I were in the water. After we got back to the hotels us moms hung out with the kids to enjoy the last day at the pool while the Dads were swapping pictures on their laptops.
We said our goodbyes to the Oleson's and started the long trip back home to California. After many hours and a few movies later we arrived back home to our real life. Home to smog, traffic and responsibilities. At least we have our memories of paradise :).