Posts Tagged ‘Hawaii’
Close Encounters with a few Cute Green Sea Turtles in Oahu
While we were visiting Oahu recently we had a close encounter with a few curious and fun green sea turtles. The kids loved seeing such amazing creatures in their natural habitat and it was a highlight of our trip!
Did You Know
- The Hawaiian word for sea turtle is Honu.
- A typical adult green turtle can weigh from 200-500 lbs.
- The lifespan for green sea turtles is around 60-70 years.
- All sea turtles are protected by federal and state law.
- You may NOT feed or harass sea turtles.
Hiking Makapu’u Lighthouse
This trail is the second most popular of all hiking trails on Oahu following Diamond Head. It is an easy to moderate hike up a paved trail and when you reach the top be prepared to be blown away! The views are some of the most stunning and memorable you’ll probably see on the island. The views overlook the Makapu’u Lighthouse, Koko Head, the windward coast, and the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai. Below you’ll see the giant tide pools and if you’re lucky (like we were) a pod of majestic whales! If I could only hike once while in Oahu, this would be the one I’d pick!
Know Before You Go
- It tends to be dryer and warmer on this point of the island and there is virtually no shade.
- Arrive early to avoid crowds and a full parking lot.
- Bring water.
- Wear comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunglasses.
- Gates open at 7am.
- If you wish to start your hike earlier, you can park your car on the side of the road and walk in.
- The hike climbs approximately 500 feet up to a viewing platform.
- It takes about 30 minutes to reach the top. There are amazing views the whole way up and plenty of places to stop and take it all in!
- It’s free to park and free to hike!
There are some giant tide pools at the bottom of these sea cliffs and brave souls climb down and swim in them. While this may look fun and attractive, it is NOT recommended. It’s dangerous not only to make the climb down, but the ocean is unpredictable and strong waves tend to smash over the barrier reef onto the shelf area.
The Makapu’u Lighthouse is on the very southeastern most point of Oahu and sits 600 feet on top of a sea cliff. You can see three different sections of ocean from one point making a beautiful panoramic photo!
From Waikiki, it’s about a 45 minute drive. You hop on the H-1 South. It will turn into Hwy 72, but still part of the Kalanianaoli Hwy which follows the coast. You will follow H-1 past Koko Head, Sandy Beach, and up towards Makapu’u Point. Turn into the Kaiwi Scenic Shoreline area. In the area you’ll also find Sandy Beach, Hanauma Bay, and the Halona Blowhole.
Visiting Waikiki with kids is no doubt one of the most popular things to do while vacationing in Hawaii. Over spring break we had the opportunity to visit Hawaii and we needed to figure out where to stay. We wanted do this trip on a budget ( yes, that is totally possible) and I scored a great deal bidding on our airline tickets to Honolulu. We were hoping to find a great deal on our Oahu accommodations, too, so I started researching all of our options. We’ve stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village several times before, but for this trip we were hoping for a condo that had a full kitchen to help offset some of the cost. Eating out in Hawaii really adds up so this was a way to help us stay within our budget! We also knew that we wanted to be right near the beach, not a few block off. After looking at many condo rentals we decided on The Ilikai, as it checked off everything on our list: view, pool, location, a kitchen, and space (not to be confused with the Ilikai Marina. They are two different buildings)!
Comfortable Room for the Whole Family
We booked room was 1441 which offered some of the best ocean and sunset views in Waikiki Beach. It was about 650 sq. ft. and had a full kitchen (no dishwasher), one bathroom, and sleeping arrangements for 5. We would have preferred a bedroom, but the studio worked out fine for us. What really sold us on this room was the view! The spacious balcony was the perfect place to drink coffee in the morning and eat dinner at night! We loved watching the boats come into the marina as the sun was setting.
Did I mention the view! This is what we woke up to and went to sleep to! It’s where we ate all of our meals. It’s where we enjoyed a nice glass of wine watching to sailboats come and go. It felt like it was our home, not a hotel/condo.
Great Location for Exploring all of Oahu
The Ilikai has both privately owned condos which are rented out either personally or via property management companies and hotel rooms. The lobby looks like any hotel lobby with staff, a bell service, and a concierge. It is located on the far end of Waikiki directly between the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the Modern. This is our preferred location because we like being a little bit away from the hustle and bustle, but still within walking distance to all of it. It sits right on the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon with is a public lagoon on the widest stretch of beach in Waikiki. Our view was of the marina and Ala Moana Beach Park and the popular Magic Island. To get to the heart of Waikiki it’s about a 15-20 minute walk.
The pool at the Ilikai was a clean and spacious pool and we never had trouble getting a chair. You’re provide clean fresh pool towels when you check in, but you may not take them to the beach. There is not a pool bar/restaurant, but it does have clean bathrooms and showers.
The Big Debate Condo vs. Hotel
Since we’ve only stayed in hotels in Hawaii we wanted to give staying in a condo a chance! We found this to be the best value for our family and we’re so happy with our choice! When thinking of booking accommodations think about what type of traveler you are. Do you like to be pampered and taken care of the whole time? Would you mind doing dishes or laundry? Do you like room service? Do you mind cleaning up after yourself? Do your kids need amenities or kid clubs? Do you like to be left alone? Personally, the biggest con for me was the laundry. There is no washer and dryer in the unit, but there is a laundry room on each floor. Otherwise, the pros far outweighed the cons and the price, location, and quality of our stay were all well worth it!
- A Fully Equipped Kitchen! We saved a lot of money by cooking our own meals and keeping snacks on hand for when we were out and about.
- More space to spread out!
- Comfy beds and pillows.
- The balcony was perfect!
- The view was amazing! You would easily pay double or triple for that view in a hotel.
- No Towel Exchange or Laundry Room in the Unit (this was a big deal for me. We were only given 5 bath towels and 3 beach towels so we had to use the laundry room a lot.)
- No maid service. It’s a nice touch to come back to the room and have everything tidied up.
- No refilling of toiletries.
How We Booked
We booked our room via Waikiki Beach Rentals and had a seamless experience. There are mixed reviews on TripAdvisor on the site, but our experience was flawless. Everything is done online, we never actually talked to anyone regarding our stay, but the directions were easy to follow and we didn’t have any bumps along the way. There are no hidden fees and all rates are posted online. Another bonus about booking through them was their policy on late checkouts. If the unit is not occupied the following day you may check out as late as 8:00 PM TOTALLY FREE! We had a late flight home and we were fortunate to be able to utilize this perk. It really gave us an extra day in paradise!
Things to Do in Oahu
Oahu is the perfect place for a family vacation. Unlike other tropical islands, it’s gives families the option of doing city activities, water activities, hiking, and historical tours all within a few hours of each other. Some of our favorite things to do on the island:
- Pay respect to fallen soldiers at Pearl Harbor
- Visit Lanikai Beach
- Hike Diamond Head
- Hike Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail
- Go for a scenic drive
- Kayaking to the Mokes
- Eat delicious malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery
- Snorkel Hanauma Bay and/or Sharks Cove
- Attend a Luau
Disclaimer: Waikiki Beach Rentals has no idea who I am. I paid for this room in full and this is my honest review of our stay!
Picture this: a long stretch of sparkling white sand, water as blue as you can ever dream it to be, palm trees swaying in the back yards of million dollar homes, lush and tropical foliage everywhere, and two of the most pictured islands (The Mokulua Islands) off of the Oahu coast. It sounds amazing, right?! It is!
The Mokulua Islands are about a mile off of the shore of Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach. The other island that looks like a pancake is called Flat Island. On your tour you can paddle to both of them. I say both because you can only go on the shore of one of the Mokulua Islands, the other is off limits. A protective barrier reef is between the shoreline and the islands which allows for easier paddling to the islands and if you’re lucky, like we were, you may even see some sea turtles swimming around you!
How it All Began
Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks is a little shop in a strip plaza that offers kayak rentals, SUP rentals, guided tours and more. We arrived at the shop and rented two tandem kayaks to venture out to Flat Island and The Mokulua Islands on our own. We got a map and had to watch a short video on safety, but it was quick and painless and the staff is really helpful. The shop is located a couple blocks from the beach so the friendly guys at the shop loaded our kayaks on a cart and we were on our way!
It takes a little bit of time to walk the kayaks to the beach and get them in the water. The most difficult part will be dragging the kayaks through the sand to actually get them in the water.
Before you leave make sure you have everything you need: a dry bag, back rests, life vests, sunglasses, sunscreen, and your cooler.
Tip: Notice the cooler? We picked it up from Walmart at the beginning of our vacation. We love to keep cold drinks in the car when we’re exploring! The morning of our kayaking adventure we picked up some snacks, lunch, and drinks and had an awesome picnic on the Mokuluas!
Kayaking to Flat Island
This is the first destination you’ll reach. It’s a strait shot out from Kailua Beach Park. You’ll want to land just past the sand bar where the bird sanctuary sign is. Birds nest on this island so you must stay within the roped areas.
Tip: Bring water shoes, the rocks are rough on your feet when you’re exploring the island.
Kayaking to Mokulua Island
There are two Mokulua Islands, but as I mentioned, you can only land on the one on the left when viewing it from the beach. From Flat Island it takes about an hour and a half to get to Mokulua Island. You’ll go over beautiful coral reefs and might even see a honu (sea turtle)!
The closer we got to Mokulua the larger the waves got. I think the most difficult part was riding the waves into the beach. As a rule, when kayaking in ocean waves, you want to keep your kayak perpendicual to the waves. If you’re parallel to the waves you are more likely to get flipped over. It’s easier said then done, but we were beginners at this time and managed just fine!
Once we were on the island we got out our picnic lunch. We found a great little spot and ate and then the kids enjoyed swimming around in the beautiful crystal clear water!
Know Before You Go:
- You can not get a permit to go on the islands on Sundays.
- You don’t need to be super fit to kayak, but you do need to be in relatively good shape and able to swim.
- Wear Sunscreen.
- Bring Sunglasses.
- Wear a Hat.
- Wear your bathing suit.
- Bring a waterproof camera! All of the photos above were taken with my Canon Powershot D20. I believe there is a newer model of this camera!
Visiting Hawaii (Oahu) with Kids – Hilton Hawaiian Village
Choosing the right area to stay in can be a tough decision. Between the famous North Shore and Turtle Bay area, the beautiful and peaceful Ko’Olina area on the Leeward Coast, the breathtakingly stunning Kailua area on the Windward Coast, or the infamous Waikiki Beach area in Southern Oahu the choices are endless.
After hours of searching hotels and trying to decide the best fit for our family we decided to stay in Waikiki Beach -a bustling beach city full of life! We chose Hilton Hawaiian Village because of it’s sprawling grounds, multiple pools, lagoon, and wide beautiful stretch of beach. It’s also within walking distance to shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Did you Know: The North Shore is an infamous spot that attracts surfers from around the world, but those big waves do not happen in the summertime. They are in the winter months (November-February). Summer waves are gentle making it a perfect spot for beginners.
On our recent trip to Maui we decided to stay at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa for the second time! A couple years ago my husband and I stayed here and fell in love with the resort and knew when we returned with our kids we’d want to stay again!
One of the most popular beaches on Maui is Kaanapali Beach and Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa is perfectly situated at the end where black lava rock meets the ocean. This popular snorkeling spot known as Black Rock is one of the many reasons we love this resort! When you combine comfortable rooms, expansive grounds, an amazing pool, and a beach that offers both a sandy bottom and amazing snorkeling with a beautiful tropical reef and fish you have to perfect recipe for an unforgettable Maui vacation!
Where to See Amazing Views of Diamond Head Crater and Waikiki
If you have a little bit of time to spare and want to see amazing views of Diamond Head Crater, Honolulu and Waikiki consider driving Round Top Drive! It’s hard to believe that only minutes away from the bustling city, but here you can get some of the most magnificent views in all of Oahu!