It’s been five months since my last blog post. I’m sure most of the readers here have given up hope of new content by now! There have been so many things I’ve wanted to write about, and yet I haven’t found the time to do so. I would really love to share about our new home and the renovation process and design ideas we have. I also would love to put up an updated guide to Byron Bay with all the new discoveries we’ve made since moving here. (I’ve also missed four of the kids’ birthdays, but we’re just going to have to skip those since I’m so far behind!) But first, I’d love to share about our trip to Hawaii back in May for my mom’s 60th birthday.
I love that my mom decided to have a destination birthday celebration. It ensured that all five of her kids (and their partners/children) came to celebrate with her. What more can you want for your birthday than to spend a week on holiday with your whole family?! She chose Hawaii because it was a perfect (sunny) half-way destination between Seattle, where my mom and siblings live, and us here in Australia.
Before meeting my family on the island of Maui for the week, we decided to spend a few days in Honolulu first, since we had to fly in and out of Honolulu anyway. It was a nice way to shake off any jet-lag and to adjust to our new setting before meeting up with my family. To be totally honest, I think the decisions also had to do with some surfer wishes to surf the famous Waikiki surf breaks, which we did quite eagerly the afternoon we arrived!
Apart from one afternoon where we rented a car and drove up to the North Shore, we spent most of our time in Waikiki. It was a really quick stay, but it was worth squeezing it in before we headed to Maui. Here’s a recap of some of our favourite spots. I’ve also listed some tips from a friend who used to live in Honolulu. We didn’t get to do everything on her list because of our short visit, but I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re planning a longer visit.
- Bills for yummy Australian-style breakfast. (Not very Hawaiian of us, but I can never resist the ricotta pancakes!)
- Shave ice from Island Vintage Shave Ice on the main street in Waikiki.
- The Hideout Restaurant at our hotel served good coffee and food. Over the three days, we ate there for breakfast, lunch and dinner and enjoyed all our meals.
- Michael has a college friend who lives in Honolulu, and we met him and his family at the Maui Brewing Co. for a relaxed dinner. They have foosball tables and other games in the dining area, so the kids were super happy to play while we waited for our food.
- Shrimp and rice from Giovani’s Shrimp Truck on the North Shore. We’ve been told it can be very crowded here, but it wasn’t when we went, so we found a picnic table easily and received our shrimp straight away.
- First things first, surf the famous Waikiki breaks! At the time we were there, in late May, the waves were long and gentle and super fun. You can rent boards from several different surf board kiosks along the beach. They mostly offered long (9 foot +) boards, but you wouldn’t have wanted any shorter out there.
- Rent a car and drive to Waimea Falls on the North Shore. Bring a swimsuit so you can swim in the falls. It’s a 20-minute walk from the carpark to the waterfall, but it was nice to stretch our legs. (You can grab lunch at Giovani’s Shrimp Truck about 15 minutes away.) Across the highway from the entrance to Waimea Falls is one of the famous surf breaks on the North Shore. (At the time we were visiting, there were no waves on the north shore. It was so serene, it was almost hard to imagine this stretch of coast with massive waves pounding the beaches.)
- We stayed at the Laylow Hotel in Waikiki, which was located a few blocks from the beach, but worth the distance for the more boutique hotel experience. The Hideout Restaurant at the Laylow was one of the best restaurants in Waikiki and we were happy for the ease of it. We didn’t mind the 10-minute walk from the hotel to the beach.
TIPS FROM A FRIEND WHO USED TO LIVE IN HONOLULU:
- Byodo Temple in Kaneohe is so beautiful. Haleiwa Joes is a yummy place for dinner nearby, you’ll have to wait because they don’t take reservations, but you can kill time in the adjacent botanical garden.
- The Polynesian Cultural Center is great. Totally worth it. You could spend a whole day there if you go to the luau here. Good shopping too. The after-dinner show “Ha the Breath of Life” is quite good — kids can go down after to meet the performers on stage.
- Koko Head Stairs = bragging rights and awesome views. Just go slow and keep kids close at the top so they don’t tumble down the hill. Carry water and wear hats and proper hiking shoes.
- Keana Farms has excellent zip lining on the North Shore. The entrance is near Giovanni’s shrimp truck.
- My favorite store in Honolulu is Owens & Co, it’s a small shop in Chinatown with beautiful, carefully selected goods. My favorite store in Kailua is Kailua General Store, which has the best shave ice on the island.
- A couple of my favourite restaurants: The Pig and the Lady in Chinatown (Vietnamese) and Uahi Island Grill in the small touristy town of Kailua, on the windward side. Uahi has Hawaiian food. The purple sweet potato pie there is not to be missed. Kailua also has a bustling farmers market on Thursdays that could be fun for your family. Pig and the Lady has a great booth there.
- While you’re in the city, take the kids to a restaurant called Yogustory. It’s Filipino, I think. Order at least one plate of the ube pancakes—bright purple, made with sweet potatoes. Everything else is delicious but these are something I’ve never seen elsewhere.
- Everyone loves Lanikai Beach, but it’s often crowded and has no waves. I’d skip it and park at a beach near Sea Life Park. I don’t see it identified on Google maps, it’s a local place. Great tide pools for little ones, and surfing just around the bend. They have campsites too. It’s just north of the Makapu’u Lighthouse—definitely look for it. There’s also a very beautiful religious site in this area, you can walk to it from the parking lot, it’s called the Ku Heiau, look for black stones arranged in a circle like mini stone henges. Good for your kids to bring leis that they can drape on the stones. Sea Life Park is fun — the aviary was our favorite part.
- Drive south on H1 from Honolulu. Lots of people like snorkeling at Hanauma Bay but it’s hit or miss, depending on crowds. Go late or early for best luck. Continue on Kamehameha Hwy east and look for the parking lot at Lanai Lookout—it’s on the right, just past the entrance (left) to the Koko Head Rifle Range. Park there, walk across the hwy, walk east in the drainage ditch until you reach the guardrail. Step over the guardrail, walk down into the short canyon, you’ll find the entrance to a short lava tube that passes under the highway and opens onto an amazing cliff side lookout. It’s safe for kids, just don’t venture out onto the cliffs because of rogue waves. This is a quick detour, 30 min max on your way to the southern windward side near Mokapu’u. It’s very cool.
I’m hoping to get a recap post of our visit to Maui up next. Hopefully this week! Thanks for sticking around, if you’re still here. 🙂 x