6 Things I learned in Hawai’i

I loved so much about Hawai’i.  Not the least of which was visiting my sister and nieces.  But some things surprised me about Hawai’i and I wanted to share those thoughts with you!  I loved visiting a state in the US that was so different and because of its distance from the mainland and/or its unique history, has maintained so much of its Polynesian heritage and held tight to the characteristics that make it so wonderfully distinctive.

Here is my list….

1.  Everyone called me “Auntie”.  I heard this a dozen times or more from Hawai’ians – as a sign of respect in their culture, a woman (I cringe to say “older”, but let’s face it, I AM older than those who called me Auntie) who is older is afforded this lovely term of endearment.  I would imagine this is similar to women being called “ma’am”.  Now, I am guessing with how foolish some people are, some women would be offended by this title – but clearly they do not understand the honor.  An Auntie is a mother – but better!  Someone who can nurture and love; direct and give advice.  They are the favored adult as they offer much of what a parent does, without the harshness that should befall parents as they train their children.  Being called Auntie was a treasure.

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I am the Auntie of these two adorable princesses!!  Here we are at the beach at Hickam AFB!

2.  While I did see some stray kitties here and there, chickens roam the island at will! This was fun to see, as all the hens had chickies following them around this time of year!  They were fun and adorable and we got to see a lot of Hay-Hays!

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Hay-hay!!!!

3.  I don’t believe there are any squirrels in Hawai’i – but they have the mongoose, which takes its place as they island scavenger.

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I didn’t get an mongoose pictures, but here is Char with one of the resident kitties at Hanauma Beach.

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Sable meets a kitty that lives at Kualoa Ranch

4.  This makes sense but I hadn’t thought about it before in these terms – the cost of things in Hawai’I are really high. Of course, that is somewhat a reflection of the tourist economy, but it more so a reflection of the cost to import all these everyday goods to an island stuck literally in the middle of the Pacific!

I have some group space reserved on a Hawai’ian island cruise for June 2021 on Norwegian’s Pride of America.  This is probably one of the more expensive cruises most people I know will take, but there is a good reason for that.  This particular ship, Pride of America, is one of the only sea-going cruise ships registered in the US.  That is really important to note because of regulations for vessels registered in the US – the crew MUST be Americans (who demand a higher wage, require health insurance, workers’ comp and so on and so forth) and the registration is much more expensive than the typical cruise ship registrations in the Bahamas (where most US market cruise ships are registered).  Add to the US regulations for US registered vessels, and you have the high cost of goods needed to outfit such a cruise weekly – once these things are examined, it is easy to see why Hawai’i is so expensive.  For the traveler considering either a Hawi’ian island cruise or a trip in general, you have to ask yourself is the cost worth the trip?

5.  Black Sand Beaches are hard to find!!!  This was one of my desires, but it just didn’t work out!!!  This leaves something cool for me to seek out when I go back in 2021!

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I’ll be searching for those black sand beaches when I go back….but clearly, there was nothing to complain about!!!!

6.  All beaches in Hawai’i are public!  This is so cool and neat to think about – even the fancy hotel BEACHES are public (not the pools and amenities) so you can go to Aulani on O’ahu and even if you are not staying at the resort, you can still swim in the cove that has so many neat tropical fish and snorkel there!

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Hanauma Bay

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Beach and cove at Aulani

I really enjoyed my trip tremendously and look forward to the next!  I would love to hear about what YOU found interesting about your visit to Hawai’i!  Explore the world, learn from your surroundings, and bring home the best souvenir available; a new perspective!

 

 

Dole

One of the cool places we visited during our trip to Hawai’i was the Dole Plantation.  The grounds of this beautiful farm were luscious, well manicured and a delight to enjoy for a few hours.  There was a FABULOUS gift shop with all manner of hand-made, authentic Hawai’ian gifts as well as the “cheap” touristy baubles you may expect to find.  And of course – there was DOLE WHIP!!!!!

At the Plantation, one can get lost in the “World’s Largest Maze” – this was gorgeous – and the maze was made out of hibiscus plants!!  Also, you can tour the Dole Plantation botanical gardens (which we did not do in the interest of keeping the toddlers with us entertained) and you can also take a 22 minute train ride tour of the plantation.  Char and I did the maze (again, no toddlers – we would probably still be searching for them) and we all did the train ride!

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Such beautiful gardens….and Char and Sable make it even more beautiful!

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This maze was gorgeous!!!

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This lei gets around!!!

The beautiful red soil of inland O’ahu seems perfect for growing not only pineapples, but also sugar cane, bananas, veggies of all sorts and fruit!  In fact, I am not sure what wouldn’t grow there!!!  The train tour highlighted many of these plants and told the story of the Dole Plantation as well as the rich history of cultivation on the island.  It was fun and informative!

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This old machinery was pretty cool looking!

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Banana groves

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Check out that gorgeous soil!!!

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Sable on the train wearing her fancy Hawai’ian gear!

Something else I noticed a lot of on the island as a whole and certainly at the Dole Plantation, was the initiative to use green energy – Dole has a small solar farm on the Plantation and I would guestimate that somewhere between 20-40% of the homes on the island also use solar energy.  I mean – why wouldn’t you????  Every home in the military communities near where my sister lives have solar arrays and businesses do as well.  I haven’t had a chance to research the incentives or company practices for solar, but I love seeing communities embrace the advantages of green energy!

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Visiting the Dole Plantation was super fun day and a stop in O’ahu that I would certainly recommend for anyone!  It was easy going, informative, entertaining and worth the money for the tours we took!  I think when my family returns in 2021, we will definitely go back to the Dole Plantation!!!

 

Hanauma Bay

As I ventured around the island of O’ahu, I could easily see how import the preservation initiative is there in Hawai’i.  There is definitely a lot of development, but the afterthought of that development is on the minds of Hawai’ians and those who visit.  The conservation effort and protection of the ‘aina, or land, is viewed as a matter of Hawai’ian kuleana (responsibility and privilege) and I wanted to highlight one of the efforts I saw on this short trip.

We visited the amazing Hanauma Bay State Park.  This bay has a long, beautiful history that includes use by native fisherman to the recreation of kings.  In the mid 1900s, this location gained fame as a fabulous snorkeling area due to its unique horseshoe bay shape and volcanic rock coral beds.  This area is home to species of fish that are only found in this sweet little bay.  By the early 1990s, efforts to “save” this bay from over exposure to humans and maintain the rarity of its ecosystem spurred a conservation effort whose results are seen today.

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The snorkeling here is nothing short of amazing!  I saw more species of fish here than I have anywhere else!  And we even saw an octopus that was beyond amazing!!!!  I tried to get a video, but my phone in a water-safe bag just didn’t do the trick as well as I would have liked!!!!  Our video isn’t the best quality, but you can see the really awesome octopus we saw!  Thanks to my videographer, Char!

One of the fabulous initiatives at the Hanauma Bay State Park is the request that those who enjoy the park’s gorgeous swimming area adhere to the upcoming Hawai’ian Reef Safe sunscreen law that will take effect January 1st, 2021.  Hawai’i is the first state in the US to ban the sale of sunscreens containing the coral-harming chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate.  With my own reef safe sunscreen in hand, I enjoyed the beautiful snorkeling in this gift from mother nature!!

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There are so many ways we can help maintain the glories of this earth and still enjoy them.  Using Reef Safe Sunscreen is an easy choice to make.  Also, making sure we pack out what we pack in, we didn’t feed the fish (although I wanted to) and we did not step on or remove any coral from this reef.  Here are a few more pictures from Hanauma Bay.  I look forward to returning here with the rest of my family and enjoy once again the majesty of this gorgeous place!

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A Hui Hou

If you know me, have read this blog or follow my Facebook business page, you KNOW that I am a huge Disney fan!  I won’t bore you with the particulars, but let’s just say I take every opportunity available to do anything remotely Disney related!  And when I found out I was going to be able to visit my sister in Hawai’i, I immediately found out how we could make a visit to Disney’s Aulani a reality!

For three amazing days and two fabulous nights, we felt like queens on vacation – gorgeous beaches, fabulous pools, no shortage of activities and sunsets beyond compare.  We enjoyed meeting characters, the lazy river, snorkeling and a sense of calm and rejuvenation – which by itself was miraculous while traveling with two toddlers!!!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I will seriously go over the recommended blog parameters.  I kept taking so many – because it is SO beautiful!!!!  I would love to share with you my favorite pictures from Aulani – descriptions in the captions.

I love how Disney gently weaves the history, culture and Hawai’ian experience throughout this incredible resort – from the shave ice stations, to Dole whip…..yes, mom – DOLE WHIP, to the exposure of Hawai’ian words and folklore into the very space surrounding guests.  As with all my experiences with Disney so far, I feel enveloped in the theme of Aulani and have to say A Hui Hou…..until we meet again!

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Koi Pond with the lobby in the background

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Main pool at Aulani

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View from the 11th floor towards the garden/pool area

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Lagoon 1 – Aulani’s beach area – Fabulous snorkeling and if you are staying at Aulani, there are free beach toys, boogie boards and beach chairs! Paddle boards and snorkel gear for rent.

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View from one of our balconies – and Char’s first shave ice! AND the 5 beautiful leis we received at check in!

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You know you’re a tourist in Hawai’i if you have leis in your fridge! They were just too beautiful not to keep!

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Enjoying the lazy river!

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Sunset from the infinity pool.

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Sunset looking over the beach

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#thisleigetsaround

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Char playing her Ukulele at sunset…so perfectly cliche!!!

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Stunning sunset off Sunset Point

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Sunset Perfection!!!

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My plate loaded up for our character breakfast.

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OK – this is stinkin’ adorable….half a banana swimming in a bucket of blueberries eating a goldfish!!!

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All us girls with Mickey – Look at the smiles…THIS is what making memories is all about!!!

 

 

 

Heaven on Horseback

Today (Monday), was a very special day for us!  Today, the “big girls” got to hang out!  Char and my sister, Becky and I, got to spend most of the day together – we did some shopping for our Aulani trip and then headed across the island to take a dip and go for a horseback ride.  It was a fabulous day!!!

We decided to stop for a swim before we took our ride and stopped at a beach at Kane’ohe Bay called Chinaman’s Hat (named for the distinctive basalt rock feature in the bay).  We took a dip, got some great photos and Char climbed some trees!

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Afterwards, we headed across the street to Kualoa Ranch for our 2 hour horseback ride.  The Kualoa Ranch is UBER famous for the beautiful setting and stunning views!  You would recognize this place as the setting for hundreds of small and big screen events – Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Lost, Tour of Duty, 50 First Dates, Godzilla, Hawai’i 5-0….and so many more!

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I can’t even tell you how many pictures I took!  And with geography like this, you can’t go wrong!  I will share my favorites with you – but if you ever come to O’ahu, check out the Kualoa Ranch – they not only have horseback riding, zip lines, ATV tours, Jurassic tours on a cool bus and so much more, BUT this is a working cattle and horse ranch that has been in the same family for 8 generations.  They are eco-friendly and on the National Register of Historic Places.  A definite MUST SEE!!!  When we come back here in 2021 we will absolutely come back to Kualoa Ranch!  Oh, and if you’re curious – my horse’s name is Reckless (said to be named after a general and not his demeanor), Becky rode Hollywood and Char’s horse is named Mercury.

PS – the lighting in some of these photos is just stunning!  All mother nature and camera phone – you can’t fake beauty like this!

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