Aloha from Hawaii | Days 1 & 2

Jun 14, 2015

The time has finally come to blog about our family trip to Hawaii in March... I've been both anticipating and dreading writing this up. We spent 9 glorious days in paradise and every one of those days was filled with fun and exciting activities. Which means I have a novel's worth of writing, not to mention over 100 photos I want to include. I am thinking that in order to cover all I want to, our Hawaii trip is going to be a series of posts. Otherwise, it'll be far too overwhelming for me to write, never mind for anyone to attempt to read!

This trip to Hawaii has been an on going joke between my father in law and I for a long time now. One day, Bruce told me that his dad said it was time to start planning our much joked about getaway and I could hardly believe it. I truly thought it would never in a million years happen, but the stars aligned, my father in law retired, and we headed to Hawaii.

The weeks and months leading up to the trip were busy ones. On top of saving every spare penny we could, there was lots of talks with travel agents, much internet research to figure out which excursions and adventures we wanted to include and let me tell you, packing for a family of five to be gone for nine days... wow. It was intense. But all the planning made for an incredible vacation that we will not soon forget.

We flew out bright and early on Sunday, March15th. I was so nervous about how all the children (especially Man Cub) would do on the flight, but it ended up being a non-issue. We chose to bring Beebs and Man Cub's carseats on the plane with us which was the best decision. Sure, it was a pain to haul them through the airport, but it meant that Man Cub didn't even try to fight sitting on the plane. He's use to traveling in his carseat for extended periods of time so he was perfectly content to be buckled up in his seat and play or watch movies or eat. And we flew Hawaiian Airlines which meant we had plenty to eat during our flight. Breakfast, snacks and all the yummy tropical juices we could want. I packed backpacks full of things to occupy the kiddos and the flight ended up being a breeze. I even got a nap! Man Cub struggled a bit with take off and landing, but he just whimpered and held my hand. He wasn't disruptive to the other passengers at all. And by mid-afternoon Arizona time, we were landing in Hawaii, ready to start our vacation. 

We were greeted at the airport by our shuttle company and each of us got a beautiful orchid lei. Man Cub wouldn't wear his, so I got two. They smelled so yummy and were so, so beautiful. We then drove through Honolulu and into Waikiki, where we were dropped off at our hotel- Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk. I LOVED our hotel! We had talked about renting a condo or beach house sort of thing, but I mentioned that I would love to stay in a hotel, where there was someone else to take care of things like breakfast and making beds and tidying up bathrooms. I am so glad that is the route we took. Our hotel was great- beautiful salt water pool that we made use of several times, a nightly cocktail reception where the kiddos could get chips and veggies and dip and a soda every afternoon. The breakfast buffet was incredible, complete with a made to order omelette bar and our room was fantastic. Clean, comfortable and well kept up. Our hotel was right in the heart of Waikiki... we could see the beach as we walked down the hall every time we came and went. Several people commented to us before leaving that Waikiki was so touristy and "just like being in California". Well, as someone who goes to California often and loves it there, I have to say I disagree. Yes, we had access to a lot of the same stores and restaurants, being in the heart of the tourist area, but I have yet to see water as clear and blue and beautiful as that in Waikiki anywhere in California. I actually really liked staying in the touristy area. It was really nice to be able to walk out of our hotel room and get the kiddos familiar things to eat. Plus, with public transportation, we were able to get anywhere we needed or wanted to go very easily. Eventually I'd love to go stay in a different area of Hawaii, but for our first trip and being that we had young children in tow, this was perfect.

After checking in (and being served fantastic tropical fruit juice while while doing so), we got ourselves settled into the hotel, then explored the area around us a little bit. We went down to the beach and found a perfect little inlet where Tom, Bruce and I could relax in the sand and the kiddos could play in the shallow water, though at this point, Man Cub was still pretty unsure about the ocean. It took him a few days to decide he liked the water, and then we couldn't keep him out of it. After some time at the beach, we got dinner and just hung out. A nice low key day to start us off.

Monday was one of the few days that we hadn't planned an excursion through our travel agent. Bruce had looked into lots of different activities and decided that Monday would be a good day to visit Hanauma Bay, a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park. We took the bus to get there. That was an adventure. Apparently I am unfamiliar with how city buses run (and I've ridden many in my lifetime!) but this one was so crammed full of people. My pregnant self and all three children shared one little space and it was less ideal traveling conditions. But we arrived in one piece, and after a short wait in line and a little video to explain the importance of the park along with the rules of being there, we headed down to the bay. It was magnificent. Seriously breathtaking. And I thought that before we even got in the water! We staked out our space on the beach and Bruce rented some snorkeling gear. 

I never considered not snorkeling, but I have to say that in doing so, I was going waaaaaay outside my comfort zone. The beach is my happy place... the ocean is not! I typically don't go into the water more than ankle deep and I tend to feel quite claustrophobic with my face in the water normally... and that is without snorkeling gear on. Bruce and his dad went out first and took Sunshine with them while I got the two little ones settled in on the beach. Then it was my turn. I put on the gear, posed for a picture and then went into the water. It definitely took some time for me to get use to the gear... not like Sunshine who caught right on! Eventually I figured out breathing without panicking and I ventured farther and farther out with each turn I took. By the end of our snorkeling day, Bruce and I made our way out to spots where the ocean floor was a good ten feet down. This may not seem like much to most people, but keep in mind- ankle deep. I don't usually go in more than ankle deep. Deep water terrifies me, so this was a huge accomplishment. 

I'm so glad I didn't let my fear of the ocean and deep water keep me from snorkeling. It was truly magnificent. Definitely one of my top activities from the trip. I wish we'd be able to go more than just once. We saw so many beautiful fish, sea urchins and even an eel. The coral was fascinating (though I swam around nervous that I was going to scrape my what-then-felt-huge belly on it!), the water was so crystal clear. There truly are no words to describe the beauty beneath the ocean's surface. Sunshine had a blast snorkeling, being that she is a little fish herself. And eventually, just as our day was coming to an end, Bruce and I were able to convince Beebs to give it a try. She's not a strong swimmer yet, so we each held on to one arm to kept her afloat, but she quickly figured out the snorkeling gear and we were able to take her to several spots where she was able to see loads of beautiful fish. She loved it, especially the shimmery rainbow fish we saw throughout the water, and I am still so incredibly proud of her for trying something so new and different. Bruce had his GoPro with us almost every time we ventured out, so we got some fun videos and photos. Of course, the camera doesn't do justice to the beautiful colours of all the fish but I love that we have these memories recorded. 

We headed back to our hotel after a long day of snorkeling with some pretty wicked sunburns. Nice way to start off the trip, eh? We put on sunblock, but not enough for how much time we spent in the water, with our backs facing the sun. It was ok though... the Dole pineapple whips we had for dessert that night helped ease our pains. That and a LOT of aloe gel.

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