When I lifted little Michael’s car seat out of the back seat a few days ago, I noticed some grains of soft white sand from the beach at Waimanalo in the bottom of the car seat base. I instantly wished we were all back in Hawaii. We were lucky enough to visit paradise over spring break this year. Michael’s parents have their 35th wedding anniversary in April, and they flew family and friends to Honolulu to celebrate. They also treated us to a spacious and beautiful ocean view suite at Hilton Hawaiian Village on Waikiki. We had an absolutely magnificent time, and we are so grateful to my in-laws for all the memories we made there as a family.
Little Michael did a really good job on all of our plane rides. Michael’s parents were very generous, and our little one had his very own seat. It was so nice to be able to lay him in his car seat when he fell asleep.
Our plane touched down in Honolulu around 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Little Michael was relaxed and contemplative as we waited for our luggage.
We wasted no time getting into the aloha spirit. Our jeans were one of the first things to go upon arrival. We had flown out of Cincinnati, and it was 21 degrees on the morning of our departure. It felt great to trade our jeans for shorts and flip flops. After we settled into the hotel, we went to grab dinner with Michael’s brother at Cheeseburger Waikiki. I ordered a pina colada with fish tacos, and both were delicious. We were feeling pretty drained after dinner, but we did manage to squeeze in a quick sunset stroll on the beach before turning in. I still remember how amazing it felt the moment my bare feet touched the sand. We had a whole week ahead of us in paradise with nothing on the agenda except having fun and relaxing. Michael even went in for a dip! He’s right in front of the white boat.
It wasn’t quite dark yet, but the almost- full moon was shining brightly as it rose above Waikiki.
We went back up to our room and gave little Michael a bath in his portable tub. As you can see, he’s all tuckered out. Our little family was sound asleep by 9 o’clock.
I caught a glimpse of the moon again on the following morning while enjoying Hawaiian coffee on our balcony.
Michael slept through every night of our trip except for one. He usually fell asleep between 9 and 10 and would wake up around 5 or 6. The next morning, Sunday, we were up and ready to hit Waikiki Beach.
Our little one seemed to love the warm, tropical climate in Honolulu. I think he particularly enjoyed being in short sleeves without having to bother with pants or socks.
He only went into the ocean once. He’s used to his soothing, warm bath water, and the cooler ocean water splashing him from the waves was not agreeable to him. We will have to get him used to water outside of bath time!
Since we were all still adjusting to Hawaii time, we made Monday a relaxing day. Staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village made it easy to take it easy! The resort was amazing for several reasons. First, our suite was like a very nice, large one bedroom apartment. We had a beautiful bedroom with plantation shutters which, when opened, offered views of Waikiki.
The suite also had a sizable living room with a huge TV and a balcony looking out at the ocean.
Little Michael loved to sit outside with us and take it all in.
We spent every morning on the balcony sipping our coffee and admiring the beautiful ocean.
If you wanted to cook your meals in the hotel room, the kitchen left nothing to be desired. From measuring cups and mixing bowls to baking dishes, pans, pot holders, plates, and silverware, the kitchen had it all.
Second, it is conveniently located on Waikiki Beach within walking distance of dozens of neat shops and restaurants. The Wailana Coffee House is a tasty diner just a few blocks from our hotel. On Monday morning, we ate breakfast here and browsed around some of the shops.
In addition to the stores and mall just a short walk away, the resort had plenty of shops right on the property, including several ABC stores, Maui Divers jewelry, and SoHa Living. After breakfast, I was in heaven browsing through SoHa Living, which contained a plethora of seaside and beach cottage offerings. Michael patiently waited with our little one while I looked around.
For the rest of our “take it easy” Monday, we continued to stroll through some of the shops on the resort.
We eventually headed back up to our room so little Michael could eat and take a nap. I was able to do some laundry, and it was so convenient to have access to a washer and dryer. We go through quite a few burp cloths and baby clothes each day. I don’t know what I would have done without the laundry facilities. The hotel even provides detergent!
Our Monday concluded with a delicious dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Michael’s parents took our whole group out to celebrate their wedding anniversary. We really enjoyed going out to dinner. Our steaks were cooked to perfection and we got to visit with family.
For dessert, everyone was treated to strawberries flambe!
After dinner, we had a lovely walk back home with little Michael in the stroller. We enjoyed the gentle island breeze. As we walked, I had fun gazing down at Michael as he peered up at all the trees we were walking under. He was mesmerized by the leaves and branches.
On Tuesday morning, Michael picked up the rental car we would have for the next three days, a Jeep Wrangler.
When Michael came back to the hotel with the Jeep, we headed out to meet the rest of our group at the Dole Pineapple Plantation.
Michael made some new friends in the garden. They loved being fed the fish food!
More doves were huddled under the pineapple plants.
Before we left the Dole Plantation, Michael picked out this adorable souvenir for our own little pineapple! Little Michael loves his soft pineapple friend.
Next, we headed over to Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in Haleiwa, on the North Shore. Michael and I each had the spicy shrimp and split an order of garlic shrimp. There was a long line, but it moved quickly enough, and the tasty shrimp was well worth the wait. Shave ice was the perfect dessert after the spicy shrimp. We intended to go to Matsumoto’s, but the line was long and parking was tight, so we ended up going to San Lorenzo’s Shave Ice a few stores down. Michael ordered a shave ice. I was feeling a bit drowsy by this point in the day and indulged in a refreshing iced coffee. The coffee came in an aluminum can with a plastic cup full of ice cream. The canned coffee was made in Hawaii and had superior flavor. I need to find a place to buy it on the mainland!
Once we were cooled off and refreshed with our icy desserts, we did some sightseeing along the North Shore. Michael’s brother rode with us, so we had good company in the car. The vantage point from Shark’s Cove offered breathtaking views.
On the way back to Honolulu, Michael took us on a scenic drive along Kamehameha Highway. I gazed out the window in awe as we passed by Oahu’s coastline and spectacular mountain ranges with their cloud-covered peaks.
On Wednesday, we were ready to venture out again. We began our island adventure with lunch at Uncle’s Fish Market and Grill on Pier 38. We enjoyed fresh Mahi mahi with diver’s scallops and giant shrimp. The atmosphere was very nautical since it’s located right in the middle of Honolulu Harbor. I snapped a picture of Michael in front of some shipping containers.
After lunch, we headed back towards the North Shore and stopped at a macadamia nut plantation in Kaneohe called Tropical Farms. We had a terrific time at this unique and whimsical spot situated between Kamehameha Highway and the Pacific Ocean. In addition to growing macadamia nuts, Tropical Farms has a huge country store and several smaller shops selling all things Hawaiian. They have a giant crate filled with freshly harvested macadamia nuts and encourage visitors to crack open a sample.
Chickens and chicks are scurrying all over the property, and they love to find the tiny pieces of nuts that have fallen among the cracked shells.
We stopped by Aloha Pearls while we were there. I was so excited to finally find a black pearl ring. I’d been looking for a very simple setting on a sterling silver band, and this was it!
The country store had all sorts of flavored macadamia nuts, and we bought two bags, one was cinnamon roasted and the other flavor was plain, just roasted and salted. They tasted very fresh and delicious! I also got to try a sample of freshly brewed macadamia nut coffee, which was a real treat.
Shave ice was the next item on the agenda after we left the macadamia nut plantation. Michael found a cute ice cream and shave ice shop, Angel’s, in the little town of Laie. While we were there, we learned that President Obama stopped here for dessert with his family after playing a round of golf and getting a hair cut.
Little Michael was asleep while we were eating, so the only company we had was this chicken. We couldn’t get over how many chickens were running around the towns on Oahu. Many of them have a bunch of fuzzy chicks in tow. After the refreshing shave ice, we ended our day with another scenic drive back to Honolulu. We had a blast cruising around the island with the top down.
Thursday was our final day with the rental car, and we decided to make the most of it. Michael found several amazing spots for us to visit and planned out an exciting day for the three of us. We began our adventure with a trip to Manoa Falls and the nearby Lyon Arboretum. They’re just a short drive from Waikiki. The drive was interesting because we went through some very nice residential neighborhoods after we left the city. The houses reminded me of George Clooney’s house in the movie The Descendants. It soon became apparent that we would not be hiking the trail to Manoa Falls, however! Michael was smart and asked a family returning from the falls if our stroller would make the trip. The dad said he did not recommend it. He had seen some people carrying their strollers and struggling all the way up the trail. It was a warm and balmy day in the Manoa Valley, so we opted to try out the arboretum instead.
The Lyon Arboretum contains over 200 acres of towering trees, gardens, and plant life. We barely scratched the surface.
I was enthralled with the trunks and root systems of the trees. I had never seen anything like this before.
This lizard was hanging out on one of the trees. He looked kind of like an anole and kind of like a gecko.
We also spotted this sign alongside the trail:
The trails in the arboretum were similar to the trail to Manoa Falls in that they were not very stroller friendly. Since Michael and I were taking turns carrying little Michael through the magnificent trees in the beautiful but very humid valley, we only hiked for about half an hour. We stopped and enjoyed the shade under a gazebo on our way back to the car.
This little guy hopped up to us and seemed very disappointed when it became evident that we did not have any treats to offer him.
Our next stop was Mount Tantalus. This incredible scenic overlook is also not very far from Honolulu. To get to the summit, we drove on historic Round Top Drive, which dates back to 1892. The winding route consists of a series of switchbacks with each turn offering an ever-increasing panoramic view of Honolulu and Waikiki. Much of the road is adorned with an impressive canopy of trees. There’s a park at the top of Mount Tantalus where the scenic overlook is located. We were surprised at how few people were up on the summit. The weather at the top was perfect; a light breeze was blowing and the temperature was at least ten degrees cooler than it had been in the valley. Little Michael had just woken up from a nap when we reached the summit. This actually happened quite a bit- he would fall asleep in the car seat, and then whenever he woke up, he would find himself in a new and unfamiliar place. You can tell by the look on his face that he’s a wee bit confused. He handled all of our sightseeing like a champ, though. He’s a great traveler!
Diamond Head looks so small from the vantage point on top of Mount Tantalus.
The gate at the front of the park was open when we left, but we had to laugh at this sign. I would definitely not want to leave a message and wait for a call back if I found myself locked in!
After taking in the spectacular views, Michael drove us back down Round Top Drive. Our next two stops involved revisiting places we enjoyed during our visit to Oahu back in 2011. We stopped for lunch in Kailua, a cute little town about 30 minutes outside of Honolulu. The last time we were in Kailua, we ate at Cinnamon’s, which is a casual restaurant frequented by the locals. Since it was closed in the middle of the day between lunch and dinner, we were happy to try out some curry at Champa Thai.
Our next stop was Waimanalo Beach on the east side of Oahu. It is by far my favorite beach! Michael found it the last time we were in Hawaii, and we were both excited about returning to this picturesque and pristine beach. At Waimanalo, the lightly colored sand feels extra soft under your feet and the water alternates between beautiful shades of sea foam green and blue. The nearby islands and mountains in the background contribute to the picturesque setting.
Both times we have visited Waimanalo we have enjoyed how uncrowded and quiet it is. Little Michael fell asleep in the Jeep after lunch, so we let him rest in his car seat on the sand. I think the sound of the waves kept him asleep.
We were treated to a lovely sunset as we approached Maunalua Bay on the drive back from Waimanalo.
The Rainbow Drive-In was our final stop on Thursday. Michael and I had spent the months leading up to the Hawaii trip remembering and looking forward to specific foods you can only find in Hawaii. The plate lunch at the Rainbow Drive-In was one of them. It comes with three types of meat: Hawaiian BBQ beef, Mahi mahi, and chicken, plus heaping portions of rice and macaroni salad. Our food was just like we remembered it, and we savored every bite.
Friday was our last full day in Hawaii. We spent the day relaxing under an umbrella on Waikiki Beach. Little Michael was a happy camper!
Michael’s parents treated us to a fun family dinner at Benihana on our last night. After dinner, we spent the evening with everyone watching the fireworks from his parents’ balcony. It was a great time to sit and visit with family. Since it was also St. Patrick’s Day, I made sure our little one was wearing green.
We also took in one last Hawaiian sunset.
I cannot express how grateful we are to Michael’s parents for such an amazing vacation. We had a happy and relaxing time and made wonderful memories.