We just took the best family vacation ever! Awhile ago, Matt and I got talking about where we (he and I) would like to go for our 15th wedding anniversary. Somehow the we (us) got changed to we (the whole family). We found some pretty decently priced tickets out of Portland, emailed his aunt and uncle who live in Hawaii and our decision was made.
The Monday before spring break we drove to Portland and stayed in a hotel since we had to be at the airport nice and early. Thanks to Matt's traveling, the hotel was free. They would let us park our car there for $50 for the entire time instead of paying an arm and a leg at the airport (thank you, Marriott).
We made it to the airport Tuesday morning and since Matt is an MVP member, he checked in separately from the rest of us. As I am checking myself and the kids in, Matt says he is upgrading my seat to first class (thank you, Matt)! I'm almost 100% sure that my flight was a bit more relaxing than his. I sat at the front of the plane. My family sat on the very back row. I enjoyed free movies, a fruit plate and macadamia coconut french toast. Everyone else got a snack pack, drinks and a cookie.
Once we landed, we got our rental car and headed off to Costco to stock up and then to Ray and Dede's. What a beautiful view!
We spent the rest of the day at Waikiki Beach. The kiddos weren't too sure about all the salt in the water. It was fun to watch the surfers and the massive waves.
We knew we needed to get to Hanauma Bay early. We ended up being one of the first groups in. Matt and Ryan spent lots of time in the water. It was pretty windy so Maddy and Cade ended up spending most of their time in shallow water checking out the fish there. They saw lots of colorful ones. Matt and Ryan saw bigger fish in the deeper water including an eel.
After Hanauma Bay, we went to the Dole Plantation. Matt and I went there last time and were looking forward to some pineapple bread. We were quite disappointed to find out they don't make it anymore. We all enjoyed the famous pineapple ice cream though. Maddy had been wanting to do the pineapple maze there. As soon as we walked into the maze, one of the kids said "I'm going this way" another said "well I'm going this way." Matt said okay. Not okay. It took us quite a while to get everyone back together again.
When you start the maze, the cashier hands you a card showing where to find some hidden boxes. There are 8 in all. Once we were all a group again, we started hunting for these boxes. Almost 1 1/2 hours later and finding 6 of the 8 clues (including 1 clue 2 extra times), we decided to go on the train ride. It wasn't an active growing time for most of the plants so we didnt' see too many but did get to see some pineapple and mango.
I wanted to do the garden tour and I think Cade enjoyed it more than anyone. It is now an audio tour. Everyone gets a hand held device that you punch numbers into and then hold it to your ear like a phone. Cade had to hit every single stop so he could use his 'phone.'
One our way back home, we stopped by Laniakea Beach to see if we could see any turtles. Lucky us saw 5! The Friends of Sea Turtles group is often here putting red ropes around the sea turtles so no one can touch them. Cade sat on a rock and kept waving to the biggest turtle. Not quite sure what he thought the turtle would do.
As we were driving down the road trying to find a place to turn around, I looked out Matt's window and saw whales spouting. We could just see their backs and the water get blown up from the surface.
Pearl Harbor was our first stop on day 3. We had a bit of a wait until we could get into the mandatory movie so we walked around the museums. It was interesting to see pictures of people at wartime at the entrance of the museum and then to see updated info and pictures of them now (or when they died) at the exit. We had talked to the kiddos before we got there about the importance of Pearl Harbor and why we are quiet. I was really surprised how well they did. Just before we got on the boat to head back from the memorial, we saw oil on the surface of the water. One of the volunteers said the oil was never drained from the ship so it will continue to rise for many many years.
We went to Pali Lookout. The kids were quite amused with how windy it was. There is so much wind, the bees can't fly so they are all laying on the ground.
We stopped by Turtle Bay. Maddy definitely enjoyed the more calm water and less populated beaches so this was a favorite for her.
On our way out, we stopped by to see if any of our turtle friends were still on the beach. The same big one Cade was waving to was still there.
We started off day 4 hiking Diamond Head. We kept hearing how difficult it was but we all made it to the top just fine. Gorgeous views! The boys favorite part of the hike was the scorpion we saw in one of the tunnels on the way down.
After our hike, we toured the Ioloni Palace. This is the official residence of King Kalākaua and Queen Lili'uokalani, who were the last in a long line of ruling Hawaiian royalty. When the government took the building over, they sold everything so not to have any connections with the previous rulers. They are in the process of restoring the palace to how it was under the king and queen. We were not allowed to take pictures inside. Bummer because it was beautiful.
We finished the day at Ala Moana Beach where the boys got some air.
The kiddos knew the whole trip that we were taking them to the Sea Life Park. What they didn't know was that they were going to do the Dolphin Encounter. Everyone got to get in the water with a dolphin. We danced with it, kissed it and it kissed us. Ryan even got to tickle it. We all fed it except for Maddy. There was no way she was going to touch the fish that the trainer ripped in half! The kids also loved the sea lion and dolphin shows.
Of course we couldn't NOT go to the beach. We dropped by Ala Moana Beach again. My camera battery died so no pictures. I'm sure they would look like all the other anyway.
We hadn't been able to do much with Ray and Dede because they had been preparing for the Scottish Festival on Saturday. We had to stop by and check out their dancing. They did great! The malasadas were pretty good too.
One of the things I wanted to do while in Oahu was to see a waterfall. We walked/hiked to the waterfall in the Waimea Valley thru the gardens. Maddy and I enjoyed the waterfall from the side of the pool while the boys got in the water. I am pretty sure this is where the majority of our bug bites came from.
This peacock was trying to impress the female at the gardens. He would shake his tail feathers whenever she came close. She never even looked at him.
On our way back from the falls, we stopped by Matsumotos Shaved Ice (which according to Matt's GPS is 'how to lose your tomatoes'). There was a pretty good sized line so one of the workers came outside to take our orders. Immediately the boys both said they could handle a large. Their eyes were definitely bigger than their stomachs because neither boy finished. Everyone tried the ice cream in the bottom of the cone. Matt and I had condensed milk on ours. So yummy! There is an option of having the shaved ice with Japanese red beans. One lady who ordered it said once you try it, you will never have it any other way. Apparently the beans are boiled in sugar. I think Matt would have his with beans if he were to go back.
Sharks Cove is probably one of Maddy's most memorable spots. Shark's Cove has some calm waters because of the natural rock wall. The kids loved looking for crab and trying to catch the little fish.
We were all down pretty close to the water when the people on the little hill not far off starting yelling "they're jumping!" Maddy ran up the hill first with me following right after her. She got to the top just in time to see a humpback whale completely out of the water! I got up just in time to see just the splash. She knows she is not allowed to discuss this as I stood their for 40 more minutes with my camera trying to get my money shot. Of course I saw nothing but some fins and tails and water spouting.
My cousin, Tiffany, and her family live in Hawaii. Locals get some amazing discounts to the Polynesian Cultural Center so she totally hooked us up. (Thank you, Tiffany!) Some of the major islands are represented here. Our favorite shows were about Tonga and Samoa. Ryan got called out of the audience to help in 2 of the Samoan shows. He got to shave a taro root in one and in the other drank coconut juice.
The guy in the picture with Ryan is also one of the main fire dancers in the big evening show. If you ever saw 'Man vs Beast II', he was also on there racing a monkey up a tree.
This guy was part of the Tonga drum show. He called 3 volunteers up from the audience. All 3 were very good sports but the guy from Japan was hilarious! He ended up knocking one of the drums over and putting a big hole in it.
On our last full day we decided to hit some of our favorite beach spots. We went to Hanauma Bay and realized once we got there that it was closed on Tuesdays. We headed to the Blowhole and then decided to hit the aquarium.
The boys then went to Waikiki Beach so Matt could play on the boogie board and Maddy and I walked around the main street. There are lots of vendors selling a wide range of things. As Maddy and I were wondering, I noticed a shopping cart with lots of parrots on it. I pointed it out to Maddy and when I did a little lady came from behind me and starting loading the birds onto Maddy. I thought I would snap a few pictures. Then the gal started putting them on me. When we were done, the lady informs me our little picture session would be $10.00! I was planning on tipping her a few bucks but not that much! When I told her no she got as in my face as she could. She said, "do you think we are out here begging for money? Just give me $5.00!" I had Maddy grab Matt's wallet thinking I would just grab the ones and say that was all I had. Maddy saw a $5.00 and said, "give her the money! Give her the money!" She wanted out of there.
We also hit Magic Beach again. And Ala Moana Beach again.
Saturday morning we all got up nice and early. Matt and the boys were going to Hanauma Bay and Maddy was going to help me straighten the apartment up. Just before the boys left, a giant cockroach ran across the kitchen and into the bathroom. Maddy decided right then that she was not going to shower that day. I wasn't the happiest camper that Matt left without taking care of the creature. I'm thinking we were lucky to only run across one.
This trip was probably my all time favorite. We had a great place to stay and so many things to do. Thank you, Ray and Dede! Hopefully you will have us back.