Friday, January 29, 2021

A Trip to Hawaii - July 2019

Summer family vacation is in the books! (And it was a good one). We picked our destination several months ago... after much discussion. Everything from Colorado to Europe were thrown in the ring, but a Hawaii vacation won the vote.

Hawaii may have been my last choice. I know, I know. Who turns down Hawaii?! I have been lucky enough to visit Hawaii several times and we have even done a family vacation there, so I was pushing for a mountain trip. Maybe Colorado! In an RV!! We could take the dog!!! Nope. I couldn't sell it. I lost 3-1.

Our last Hawaiian family vacation was in Maui (which I love). This time we decided to explore Oahu. (The teens like a little city life with the beach and Oahu has both). We had spent a day on this island on our last trip, so we had already seen the amazing Pearl Harbor and some other tourist attractions. However, this being the third largest Hawaiian island, there is lots to see!

Randi is our little tour guide and researches everything perfectly! Prior to the trip she had read blogs, yelp reviews, and travel sites. We had lists of ideas and suggestions.

We stayed in Ko Olina at the Marriott. We love staying in the Marriott suites because there are enough bedrooms and bathrooms and each unit has a full kitchen and laundry. (We stayed in their sister property on Maui). Plus, you can usually find them listed on VRBO or Air B&B at a fair price. (They are time shares that owners rent). Bonus - you still get to enjoy all of the resort amenities.

One of our first adventures was checking out the North Shore. Rainy and cooler, we wrapped ourselves in towels as we watched the surfers dance across the huge waves. They are pretty remarkable! 

This sweet girl found the best places. On her list was a little coffee shack that happened to be right across from the beach we were visiting. The Sunrise Shack was a darling, hippy styled shack right off the road. They had açaí bowls, coffee and juices. I loved it's colorful vibe.

The North Shore is home to the cute surfer town, Haleiwa. The streets are lined with one of a kind shops and restaurants. It's a friendly, walkable town with lots to see and buy! We visited this area a few times during our eight day trip and loved it each time.

On our last day, we ventured up there again and waited in a very long line to get the famous Matsumoto Shave Ice. (It's Obama's fav). It definitely has a cult following. It was good, but not my favorite. Maybe I didn't order right?

Because I'm a Parks and Rec major I have to take a second to rave about their city and state parks. I was very impressed! The above pictures are Queen's Beach Park in Waikiki. We also found ourselves here a couple of times during our trip. (Mostly because Cade loved the waves at Queen's Beach). We were able to find free parking both days at the park and walked the grounds to the beach. The parks were clean with huge trees everywhere providing lots of shade. (Seriously. Look at those trees)! All of the beaches and parks we visited were well staffed, clean, and had fun events on the calendar. 

Iolani Palace was a state park we visited. Randi and I peeled away from the beach one day and learned a little about the colorful history of Hawaii. With your admission you can listen to an audio self guided tour. We enjoyed the history lesson and the grounds were beautiful.

During most of the trip, we were all together. (My teens are old enough to do things without us, but they wanted to be with us and we with them). However, on two occasions Randi and I left the boys at the beach. While they did some body surfing, we checked off some things off her list! 

Ono Sea Food is a little hole in the wall with amazingly fresh and delicious poke. The line moves quickly and the limited seating opens up fairly quickly too.

Hawaiian Crown was another little hole in the wall with the absolute best pineapple juice I have ever had. Cute little shop with smoothies, juices, bowls, and fresh pineapple.

Leonard's Bakery is also a must. We stopped at the store front one evening and the line was crazy long. We just happened upon this food truck when we were visiting the area of Lanikai. This bakery is famous for it's Malsada's which are similar to a beignet or donut. They were pretty damn good!

The BEST place we dined, however, was Haleiwa Joe's. This place was jaw dropping beautiful with fabulous food and great customer service. There are no reservations, so get there early. We arrived shortly after they opened and only had to wait a few minutes. If you have to wait longer you are invited to grab a cocktail and walk the lush, tropical grounds.  There are two locations, so be sure and visit the one in Haiku Gardens.

Mr. C played ball for UH, so we made time to visit his old stomping grounds. It took him a little while to get his bearings, but we finally found the baseball field and his old dorm. School in paradise? I may get a little distracted!

Some other places we visited:

Sandy Beach - Where I made the mistake of getting in the water. Those waves tossed me around like a rag doll. It's a miracle I made it out with my suit still on!

Hula Grill - Right in the heart of the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. This a nice place for lunch or dinner. It's right next to Duke's  - another good place for a tasty meal.

Monkey Pod Kitchen - This yummy restaurant was walking distance from our hotel. We had dinner here twice we liked it so much!

It was a great trip! We drove all over that beautiful island and still wanted more! Although I'm pushing for a mountain vacation next time, this was a perfect family vacation. I don't think any of us would be sad if we did it again! (In fact, Cade has already asked if we can go back in October! (Not going to happen).   He also informed me he is moving there)!

We took a red eye home (which we didn't love). As amazing the trip was... there is nothing like coming home! We arrived in Phoenix right as the sun was peaking over the mountains. Happy heart.