ALOHA! Just two weeks ago, myself and my 2 teenaged sons, Matt and William, returned from our amazing trip to Hawaii! If you follow me on all the social media things (which I hope you do!), much of what I’ll write here you’ll already know from my NUMEROUS posts during our 10 day Hawaii adventure, but please read this anyway – because I’m a writer and the more people read it the better I feel about myself (yes, I know, I see a counselor for this issue;). If nothing else I know my mom will read it (HI, MOM!).
Our first stop in our adventure was Oahu, specifically the Ko’Olina area. Our flight was blissfully uneventful and Delta did a fabulous job on our 9 hour journey. Every time it started to feel long there was hot towel service, a meal or the beverage cart to break up the time. And we were in coach! Truly lovely service and I was very impressed.
Ko’Olina is about 30 minutes from the airport depending on traffic, and it’s a truly lovely area, all developed fairly recently. We stayed at the Marriott Ko’Olina Beach Club using Marriott reward points and it was quite a bargain. If you have some points you’ve been waiting to use, definitely check it out. Also important to note, there’s a Costco in this area and guess what? The prices are the same as your Costco at home! So if you need last minute flip flops and sunscreen, this is the place!
Our one bedroom villa with full kitchen was perfect! Food in Hawaii is quite pricey so having a kitchen to prepare breakfasts and a couple of dinners was a big deal. My boys get tired of eating out on vacation so a kitchen is always a plus for us. There was also a washer and dryer in our room which was important because we all only brought a carry-on roller bag and one smaller bag per person. It is a timeshare resort and we were told to stop by the Aloha desk for our gift (which I’m sure was accompanied by a sales presentation) but we didn’t do it and felt no pressure to do so.
The grounds are gorgeous, the restaurants were all good and actually quite reasonable by resort standards. There was a pancake breakfast one morning for $15, all you can eat including juice or coffee, and the shave ice by the ocean is spectacular. You could actually stay here several days and never leave the resort area!
But we’re in Hawaii! We need to explore!
Our first big adventure was the Pillbox hike near Lanikai beach. Wil (17) had read about this online and was really excited for this somewhat unpublicized hike. It was a little challenging for me, but so worth it when we got to the top! It is a very narrow path so be aware – this isn’t Diamond Head with it’s railings and steps. Also it was very hot the day we went, so going earlier would be advisable.
We had an amazing dinner at Au Lani (Disney’s resort in Ko’Olina) at Ama’Ama’ and the food and entertainment were very good, but the meal was $300 for just the 3 of us so keep that in mind. I’m glad we went once, but it is over priced, in my opinion. But we really did enjoy our evening! As Disney Vacation Club members, Au Lani is a choice for us so I was doing some pre-emptive research and I could definitely see us returning here someday!
The next day we were up bright and early to do Diamond Head! Actually, I kid. Getting two teenagers out of bed early to do anything is a fool’s errand so we got out of bed relatively early;).Diamond Head was gorgeous and a super fun day! Definitely something everyone should do once. The views are just amazing.
But my favorite part was after the hike, eating shave ice at the base and getting along. Because we did NOT get along on the drive to Diamond Head. Turns out a mom and her two teenagers are going to get into it a couple times on vacation. Something about being human and jet lag and also, too, being human (yes, I said that part twice;). Meltdowns on vacation are inevitable and if they don’t happen to you I’m convinced you’re not a human family and I shall be suspicious.
Another fabulous meal was at Monkeypod in Ko’Olina right by our resort – truly great service, live music, and reasonable prices. We were able to get a reservation just a few hours in advance and were seated right away (which was good because we were “We Hiked Today” STARVING). The truffle fries are to die for.
Our next adventure took us to the North Shore and what an amazing drive! We saw coastal views and countryside and farmland. Far more the “real” Hawaii than our adventures near Honolulu, and it’s the Hawaii I love and why we were here. We drove through several beach towns and came to Haleiwa which has a great area to paddle board so the boys were off to do that. I found a great spot to sit in the shade and also ran into the Oahu Canoe Club who took out a huge canoe and did some sort of chant in Hawaiian (I think!) when they brought her back onshore. Kind of a neat moment to happen upon and why I love going off the beaten path!
With really only 3 full days on Oahu, we did a lot in a short time and we missed a few things that we will have to catch next time, Pearl Harbor being the biggest one. But I was getting fatigued from all the driving and it became clear our pace was wearing us out, so we spent more time on the beach than I had originally planned. But with a beach like this it’s easy to see why!
Up next: inter-island flight to Kauai!