After traveling for quite some time exploring Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii, we were really looking forward to staying in one place for a while. So our next stop was to stay and relax with family for one week on Oahu. In traditional Hawaiian fashion, we received a lei greeting at the Honolulu airport by my Brother Frank and my two oldest nephews; Dominac and Marcel. It was great to see my oldest brother and his family after not seeing them for a couple years. As a Master Sargent in the U.S. Army, my brother has seen a lot of the world and is now finishing off his service with a 3 year stay in Hawaii. Not a bad place to be!
Weekly Fireworks on Waikiki Beach – Oahu, Hawaii
With several weeks of non-stop travel from a Atlanta to the Seattle and Geocaching Block Party, then Maui and then the Big Island of Hawaii, we needed to relax and catch up on some rest. So we spent the first day visiting with family, then that night we went down to Waikiki Beach to the Hilton Hawaiian Village where they have weekly fireworks shows over the water.
It was a bustling Friday evening on Waikiki Beach, and the weather was perfect. So we took a seat on the soft white sand, looked up past the swaying palm trees and watched the sunset. Then after a few more minutes, the fireworks began out over the ocean.
Family History on Oahu
My brother Frank and I have always had a connection with Oahu. Our mother traveled over to Oahu from LaGrange, GA in search of adventure and a new beginning when she was just out of high school. Growing up, she would fondly tell us of her time on the island and how she was in the Ms. Hawaii pageant in the late 60’s.
People may wonder where I get my killer dance moves from, well I’m happy to say I got them from my mother, who was an Authur Murray Dance Instructor while she lived on Oahu for 8 years. She married and had my two oldest brothers, Frank and Chris. She would later return to LaGrange, GA where she has been since.
I was hoping that during my first visit to Hawaii that I could bring her back, but timing just didn’t work out. Hopefully she will be able to come back and smell the fresh, beautiful flowers similar to the ones that welcomed Liz and I here on Oahu. Mom you were with us in spirit as we explored this beautiful island!
Beach Time at Ko’Olina, Oahu – Hawaii
After a day of rest, we packed up the car and headed to the one place that will bring everyone joy and happiness in Hawaii; the beach. During time here in Hawaii, we hadn’t gotten in as much beach time as we would have hoped. So we were looking forward to a full day of chilling at the beach. At Ko’Olina, on the south west side of Oahu, they have a number of calm, manmade lagoons that make for very easy swimming. This was perfect for my two youngest nephews to enjoy, and it was quiet nice to be able to lay in the shallow waters knowing that waves were’t going to bash you close to shore.
A Morning Visit to Pearl Harbor, National Historic Landmark
The next day my brother Frank and one of my nephews, Marcel, headed down to explore Pearl Harbor. During our trip to Oahu, this is the one site I was looking forward to checking out, and it is a popular destination for all tourist who travel to Oahu. Being an important part of our nation’s history, you can feel the significance as soon as you walk through the gates. I had always wanted to see the U.S.S. Arizona, which sank during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but after walking through and seeing all the different memorials, I no longer felt the need to see it up close. As a final resting place for so many fallen soldiers, it felt more respectful to see it from a distance.
For free, you can walk the grounds to explore the memorial as well as some really great exhibitions. These were so well done that we could have easily spent hours wondering around looking at the exhibits about that fateful day, and our involvement in the war. A must see for all who travel to the island.
Strolling along Waikiki Beach
After grilling out the night before, we spent the next day strolling around the iconic Waikiki Beach, which was also the parade route my mom once took in the Miss Hawaii pageant! So of course, we had to take some photos of what it looks like now for her.
It was Labor Day weekend, and so the Waikiki Beach was hopping! A lot of the beach-goers had some impressive set ups with grills, chairs, tents, hammocks, etc. and it was apparent that they were going to be there all day long having a great time with friends and family. It was a great to see all the families out grilling, playing beach games, and of course surfing.
During our walk, we saw a number of great statues that line Waikiki Beach. Surfing legend, The Duke, is a statue that you can’t pass by and not snap a couple of pictures. Waikiki Beach is also the perfect place to explore some very old and historic hotels. One of the first hotels ever built in Hawaii was located here in 1901. Also Diamond Head makes for the perfect backdrop to this gorgeous and iconic beach on Oahu.
Pineapples, and more Pineapples at the Dole Plantation
As the kids were away at school it was time for the adults to head out and explore the island. My brother Frank and my sister-in-law, Toni, had never been to the Dole Plantation and it was something that Liz and I wanted to check out while on the island. So we headed out to the middle section of the island on this beautiful, sunny day.
Being the Dole Pineapple Plantation, of course they are known for their pineapples, but Liz was excited for their Dole Whip ice-cream! The plantation also has a large gift shop and tons of tasty baked treats, spices, and jams. They also have one of the world’s largest mazes (shaped like a giant pineapple) and beautiful gardens that you can explore on foot, or on their Pineapple Express train.
Oh and of course, there is a really cool geocache hidden on the grounds too. This was my way of introducing Geocaching to Frank and Toni, and I think they might be turning from Muggles into Geocachers. While here we walked away with a great experience at the plantation and an appreciation for the growing process of pineapples. Did you it takes 2-3 years to grow one pineapple? Think about that!
North Shore Tacos and Smoothies!
The next day Liz and I borrowed a car to explore the North Shore of Oahu, home of world class surfing! We stopped off in the small surfing town of Haleiwa. This historic surfing town is right up Liz and I’s alley. We loved the cool laid back vibe it was giving off. We started off our day and trip here with a fresh smoothie from Waialua Bakery and Juice Bar. This was a really cool find! They had a funky vibe with a lot of cool local art all over the walls, and fun sayings. Everything is organic and locally source by friends and family, as they tend to do here on the islands.
We asked the lady behind the counter her favorite smoothies and she whipped them up for us. I had a special loaded with all kinds of fresh fruits, and Liz had a coffee flavored smoothie with coconut milk and yogurt. I would choose this over coffee any day, it was amazing!
A Visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center is a MUST!
After walking around and exploring the town of Haleiwa and having some of the best fish tacos I have ever had by a couple of Brazilians in a food truck, we made our way up the shore to the town of Laie, home of the Polynesian Cultural Center.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is affiliated with BYU-Hawaii, and the campus is right next door. The center works hard to preserve the different cultures that make up Hawaiian heritage, and do a wonderful job at educating and entertaining the public. It’s like a cultural theme park, and it’s a lot of fun to visit! Another way that the center helps the community is that many of the employees at the PCC work there while in school, and some of them come from far away Polynesian islands on scholarship so that they can share their culture and get an education.
The Polynesian Culture Center is broken up into areas, based on the different cultures and islands. Some of these include Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Hawaii. Each area gives you insight into the different cultures and traditions, including art, foods, history, dance, music and song. They also share with you some of their beliefs and legends. There are also a lot of hands on activities and ways that you can participate too! It is an amazing experience and a great way to end our stay in Hawaii. We walked away wanting to go to all of these places and hopefully we will be able to step foot on some of other islands as well one day.
Saying Goodbye to family and the U.S.
Well that is it for our visit to Hawaii, and our stay in the USA for quite a while. When will we return? We don’t know. That’s a crazy thought to have, but at the same time it’s exciting. Exploring some of the more popular islands of Hawaii was an experience that we will never forget. But it was made even better by the time we got to spend with my brother, sister-in-law and my four nephews. Frank, Toni, Dominic, Marcel, Marco, and Alex; you guys made our time on Oahu so special. We had a lot of fun and it is so great seeing these once little guys turning into men.
Frank and Toni you guys are the best!
And We are Off to Asia!
Even though Frank and I may be 18 years in age difference we have and always will have that close bond. Saying goodbye to family and the U.S. is a strange and hard thing to do, but knowing that there is a big world out there calling our names to come and explore, is something that we can not pass by. Thailand and Asia, here we come.