Friday, May 31, 2019

Airport Codes: HNL (planned by my teens)

I remember the first time I took the kids to Hawaii. It was the first trip we took since I had become a flight attendant. Christian had just turned 11 Micaela was 9 Alina was 8 and Rylee was 6.  I saw the glares, heard the sighs of relief from passengers as we passed their rows. I get it, a Mom traveling with her four little kids, on a six-hour flight, alone! It isn't exactly how anyone wants to start a vacation. It's been 7 years since that first flight and yet I'll never forget what someone said to me before we deplaned, "Your children are so well behaved. I was worried when I saw you board but I think they did better than me!" My kids are great travelers, they're actually just really great kids so I can't really claim to be the traveling child whisperer but I will be writing a blog post on how to travel with kids and teens soon so stay tuned for that.
So there we were with another smooth flight behind us finally in Oahu!
We were lucky enough to be traveling with a friend who's family lives in Hawaii. They not only offered to pick us up, they offered to let us use their car while we were in town.
You don't necessarily need a car in Oahu if you plan on hanging out in one spot and doing a day trip or two but it's definitely helpful if you want to see the whole island. Alternatively, you can always hop on a bus, it obviously takes up a little more of your time but it's super cheap.
Having been to Oahu before I chose Waikiki as our base. It's pretty central and in my opinion the perfect spot for teens and tweens. I even felt comfortable letting the kids walk around without me.
Since we got to our hotel before check-in our rooms weren't ready but they offered to hold our bags while we went to find a place to eat! The kids chose M.A.C 24 (Modern American Cuisine) and funny enough I had been there before. It's located inside the Hilton Waikiki and only a block from the beach. Voted the best breakfast, best late-night find best restaurants for brunch and best gourmet comfort food just this past year. Oh and they're open 24 hours a day which when traveling with teens is always a plus...since they're always hungry!  After lunch we got into our rooms, quickly changed and walked to the beach where we spent the rest of the afternoon!

Dinner was at Cheeseburger in Paradise and the cheeseburgers were definitely paradise!
It was the perfect low key first day to get into vacation mode
Day 2
We were up and at em' early (thank you time change) and believe it or not the kids chose M.A.C 24 again for breakfast! Seriously their pancakes are to die for. We tried their blueberry, strawberries and cream and mochi pancakes. Along with the Loco Moco and Benedict breakfast. Feeling really hungry? Try doing their M.A.C daddy pancake challenge. Three 14" buttermilk pancakes weighing in at 5lbs with your choice of signature topping... Finish by yourself in under 90 minutes and it's free! Good luck this is just the regular blueberry stack. 

After breakfast, we packed up the car and headed to the North Shore.
First stop was the Dole Plantation where the kids planned the Pineapple Express train tour. A twenty-minute tour of the plantation followed by the Giant Pineapple Maze scavenger hunt.


Normally I would skip doing things like that because I get lost going home but we split up into two teams making it really fun. 

If you go to the Dole Plantation without trying their Dole whip, did you even go?

Haleiwa for lunch and shopping:
Haleiwa is a cute North Shore community with shops, food trucks and of course an Instagram worthy photo op!  Make sure to try the Garlic Shrimp from one of the food trucks and some shaved ice from literally any of the shaved ice establishments.

Photo Cred:Christian

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Waimea Bay where the rocks are high and the waves are strong. Making it a perfect beach for some cliff jumping. The kids first heard about this spot when I came to Oahu in 2010. The story goes a little something like this. A long time ago in a faraway land, their mom was afraid of heights haha... Still, am actually.  And for whatever reason, I wanted to jump off the cliffs that day. So I climbed the 32 feet up to the top of the cliff and prepared to jump. I saw person after person successfully jump. But I just couldn't do it. Every time I got to the edge my heart would race and I would step away. Guys, I was up there for over an hour before I decided I better just climb down. As I walked down one of the locals stopped me, and told me it was bad luck to climb down and that I had to jump off. So there I was literally stuck between a rock and a hard place, "You should just take the Oni ride, have you heard of it?" Someone asked. "No, but if it gets me off this cliff I'll take it!" I said. Before I knew what was happening, I was in the air, having been picked up by one of the locals... And right before he jumped off the cliff. He said, "My name is Oni by the way!" It. Was. Terrifying. But I survived!
Sadly Oni was not there the day I brought the kids but regardless it was a fun day.

It was a fancy double arch dinner and an early bedtime for everyone!

Day 3
Two words for you:
Portuguese Doughnuts otherwise known on the island as Malasadas. They are really large donut holes rolled in sugar and often filled with custard. The most popular is Leonard's. Parking is tricky and the line can be long. But, don't worry the line moves as fast as it took my kids to eat an entire box of Malasadas. Get two!

For day three the kids went back and forth between hiking up to Diamond Head or just relaxing on the beach. So while they worked out the plan I took a quick detour to Starbucks. And I think strolling downtown next to the sea breeze would convince just about anyone to take that beach day.

Around 3 pm we went back to the hotel, grabbed snacks from one of ABC stores and up to our rooms to get ready to visit the Polynesian cultural center. If you aren't familiar with the ABC stores you will be by the time you leave any of the Hawaiian islands. Part gift shop, part grocery/convenience store. It's your one stop shop!
The Polynesian cultural center is an hour away from Waikiki. Quite the trek just for a luau if you ask me so we booked the Ali package and it was totally worth it. From the Polynesian Village tour via canoe to the Hawaiian Journey Movie experience and the Ha breath of life show. We loved it!
The luau is buffet style and having been to more intimate beach side luaus before, the kids said they preferred the latter but that the food was still good at the PCC and I would have to agree with them.

Day 4
Never underestimate your kids! That is what I learned on this trip! Not only did they plan a fun and relaxing vacation so far, they even planned a cultural day. 

Photo Cred:Christian

We got to the Pearl Harbor Visiting Center early to collect our free Arizona Memorial tickets and purchased the Passport to Pearl Harbor tour which included a documentary film with actual attack footage as well as a ride on a US Navy Shuttle boat to the Memorial (conditions permitting).

Think your kids wouldn't be into a history lesson on vacation? Think again. All the kids said this was one of their favorite things we did!

After Pearl Harbor, we drove to a tee shirt shop I came to on my first visit here called 88 tees. Their flagship store is hidden, messy and dark. But, something about the quirky tees with the Yaya character just captures Hawaii for me.

After I treated everyone to a tee or two we went back to the hotel for a free afternoon for napping, swimming and a late lunch at Shorefrye. It's right next to the Waikiki resort so it was convenient had a little bit of everything and hit the spot! Dinner was at Buca so Beppo followed by a stroll along the beach. 

Photo Cred: Alina

Last Day
We spent the morning downtown shopping for souvenirs saying goodbye to the beach and enjoying some seriously good milkshakes from Volcano Shakes which I just learned is now permanently closed.

Photo Cred: Micaela

 Until Next time, Aloha

Fireworks Every Friday Night