We’re back home, and we had a great trip to Oahu. It was rainy most of the time, but we didn’t let that slow us down. We found out very last minute that we will be going back for 6 months very soon. I’m very excited, but also overwhelmed with everything I have to get done before we leave. Before I get into that, let me tell you about Waikiki:
Staying in Waikiki
We stayed in a condo close to the canal, at 444 Nahua. I was immediately disappointed. It was clean, which was nice, but there were some half-broken furniture items (one of which, my 4 year old ended up shattering before we left), and random end tables all over the place. It was livable, but not anything to rave about. The cleaning service was the only thing I couldn’t be happier with. Those girls did a great job and were super nice! The view of the canal was nice, but I wouldn’t open the doors to the lanai, because the spacing in the bars was too wide, and I was afraid one of the girls would shimmy through and fall. There was A/C, which we needed to sleep, since we’re from a cold climate. The location was nice, because it was in the middle of Waikiki so we could walk to most things, like the beach. We preferred Kuhio Beach to Waikiki Beach, mostly because of the crowds. This place was a little too far from the zoo for walking, unless you are in-shape and use to walking long distances. I only took a single stroller, so my 4 year old had to walk on our first visit to the zoo. I felt so bad because her tiny little legs were so exhausted. Next time, I’m buying a double jogging stroller on craigslist while we’re out there.
Being in a one-bedroom condo for 2 weeks with my girls wasn’t ideal. We should have tried to find a two-bedroom on craigslist, now that I know what I could have gotten for the same price. It was such a tiny place and they were so bored whenever we had to be inside. I even bought them a couple of toys while we were there to help keep them occupied. There’s a Ross in Waikiki, which is worth checking out if you need anything, like toys or a cookie sheet and oven mitts.
We rented a car, which was a little pricey, but well worth it. I drove all over the island and saw most of what I wanted to see. We would spend the morning in Waikiki, then get in the car and drive up to Ko’Olina Lagoons or Kailua Beach. It was great and I can’t imagine only getting to see Waikiki. It was nice, but very crowded, and I didn’t always feel safe walking around by myself with my girls.
The first time we walked to Waikiki beach, we took our little light-weight stroller, and learned that strollers are hard to push through sand. We felt like dumb main-landers, but we just had the wrong stroller. I saw several families later with their jogging strollers on the beach, and they didn’t act like it was difficult, or like it was something they’d never done before.
The food situation was something I thought might be challenging, since I was trying to spend as little as possible and we’re all a little picky. I did most of our shopping at Food Pantry because it was close and convenient. I suggest driving outside of Waikiki for groceries if you can, because everything is so overpriced in Waikiki. What worked best for us was buying little snack containers to pack snacks in, like crackers, granola, and cereal. I also carried around granola bars for all of us everywhere we went. I swear, my girls were hungry every 5 minutes because they were burning so many calories running around outside. Instant Oatmeal worked best for breakfast, sunbutter (we have a nut allergy) and jelly sandwiches for lunch, and spaghetti, frozen pizza, and chicken nuggets for dinner.
Farmers Markets are your friend. If you see one, be sure to stop. Sometimes there are vendors who sell food for cheap (comparatively), and they offer a variety of things. I loved finding these vendors and turning it into dinner out. It was easy to find things our girls liked and they would get several small servings of different things. Everybody wins! Just don’t let them talk you into buying dresses for your 2 adorable little girls (like I did). Save your money for the Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium for those types of things, otherwise you’ll be kicking yourself later.
I bought a membership at the zoo, and I’m so glad we did. It paid for itself within those 2 weeks. It’s like a botanic garden with animals to look at. They did a great job of making this zoo focused on kids. You don’t have to walk far to see something that engages them, and they have a playground. There’s a petting zoo, but the only animals I saw that you could pet were the goats. It’s all set up nicely and made so that you don’t have to go through the whole zoo for your kids to have fun.
There’s also Bishop Museum in Honolulu, which offers a few different types of things. There Hawaiian Hall is amazing, and they did a better job of catering to kids than I was expecting, with little centers set up with some hands on activities. The really cool thing about the museum is the shows/presentations that are included in the admission price. We watched a lava flow and a hula demonstration. They weren’t really age-appropriate for my 1 year old, and maybe a little over my 4 year old’s head, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. I bought a membership here as well, because I know my husband would really enjoy it and want to go too. We missed the planetarium shows, but I plan on going back for those.
Kailua Beach was the first beach we visited, and by far my favorite. The sand is awesome for playing in. Our girls spent hours digging and moving sand around. There are some reefs fairly close, which my husband enjoyed while snorkeling. It wasn’t crowded at all, but there were still some kids for my 4 year old to play with. Just make sure not to over-pack stuff to haul to the beach. You really only need a towel or 2, sunscreen, water, and a snack. I usually packed too much for our beach excursions and regretted it.
I also preferred the Windward Mall to the malls closer to Waikiki. It had bathrooms we could easily get to with a stroller and plenty of stores to keep our interest. They even had a farmer’s market inside on the day we went, which is where we got lunch for about $2 a person.
Byodo-In Temple was one of the last points of interest we visited on our trip. It was gorgeous and I’m glad we didn’t skip it. I was afraid our girls would be bored and misbehave, but they did great and loved feeding the Koi. I loved the calmness of this place. It was so peaceful and embodied tranquility. As much as I enjoyed going, I look forward to visiting without my children so that I can fully relax.
We stayed in a beach house on the windward coast for our last 3 nights. (We overpaid, because I didn’t check craigslist.) It was more homey than our Waikiki condo and the girls liked having a little room to move. Unfortunately it rained the entire time we were there, so being on the beach ended up only having an aesthetic appeal. We were warned about jellyfish and the water was super murky because of all the rain. The beach house was very close to Kualoa, so we stopped in. This is a place for tours, almost any kind of tour you’re seeking….horse, bus, boat…. There’s really no point in stopping unless you’re going to invest in one of their super cool tours, so we hopped on a bus for their Movie Tour. It was a good choice for that rainy day, but their are 2 other tours we want to go back and check out. I suggest reading up on this ranch before going, if you enjoy learning and experiencing a little Hawaiian History.
Our favorite place up at North Shore was Shark’s Cove, and we didn’t even make it to the actual cove. We stopped at a big tide pool and experimented with snorkeling for the first time. One of us stayed with the kids in a sandy, shallow area, while the other wondered around looking at a variety of reef fish. It was so much fun, and our girls loved it too because they could see some fish, urchins, and snails without sticking their heads under water. It was winter, so the water probably would have been too rough to get in at the cove anyway. We had a blast in our little tide pool. You have to have some kind of reef shoe though, with all the sharp rocks.
Waimea Valley is a great adventure away from the beach and gives you a different appreciation for the island. It’s an easy trail through the rain forest for people with young children. We easily pushed our stroller the whole way. I liked that they put out signs with names for the different plants. With as much as admission cost, it’s a good idea to make this at least a half-day activity.