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India was adventurous and the Maldives were luxurious.  Hawaii was a little bit of both blended together.  It was beautiful but not as beautiful as the Maldives.  It was adventurous but not as adventurous as India.   A great blend of both! I loved the interesting terrains – mountains, waterfalls, rough oceans, calm oceans. The landscape was ever changing and always interesting.

Sidenote: It was hard to leave the kids so soon after returning from our other trip.  We received reports that Jax was misbehaving which really cast a sadness over the trip for me. I had a little meltdown every day about that. One crying session was in the middle of the airport and dozens of people were staring and asking if I was okay.  Ugh! Anyways, that was really hard and I just wanted to be home with Jax during some moments. Sarah did a great job but Jax was missing us and having personality conflicts with Ethan and Sadie, I think. It was hard on everyone – Jax, Sarah, and myself. I asked my mom to take him for the last day of our trip and he did great with her. I wish I had made the change sooner when I realized Jax was struggling! My mom had McKay though and I was worried about wearing her out.  Anyways, maybe it was just too soon?  It was this time or never so we went for it.

We arrived in Oahu Friday morning.  We went straight to Pearl Harbor.  It was very somber and quiet.  For some irrational reason I have a terrible fear McKay is going to be a soldier in a war one day. (I’m crazy, I know!)  So I teared up a few times thinking about the deaths of so many loved sons and fearing the future for my own.





I’m really happy to went to Pearl Harbor. We didn’t stay long or do much but it was interesting to see and understand more about what happened that day.

We stayed in Hilton Village on Waikiki Beach. The hotel had over 6,000 rooms.  It was huge.  I felt lost in the masses.


Parking was really challenging in Waikiki.  It took us about 20 minutes to walk from the parking garage to our room.   We had planned to grab lunch, drive around, hike Diamond Head, and then meet up with family for dinner.  However, check in took over an hour!  Parking for lunch took us an hour!  Lunch took us another hour!  Therefore, we didn’t have time to hike Diamond Head.  The crowds were really overwhelming for me.

We ate at Duke’s Restaurant and it was fantastic!  I ordered the Korean Street Steak Tacos. Loved them!!!  It was my third favorite meal I ate during our trip. I’ve been researching recipes and I’m going to attempt to make my own this week. We also ordered a Hula Pie for dessert and I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend it!  It was huge and Ben and I never imagined we’d eat the whole thing.  Well, we ate every bite! It earns the Best Dessert we had in Hawaii award!





My Korean Street Steak Tacos.


Ben’s Macadamian Nut crusted Chicken. It was good, too.


Oh, Hula Pie, how I miss you!


Mission accomplished! Happiness felt!


We walked through the shoppes and bought a few presents for our friends back home.



The parking we finally found was wacky!  The guy loaded up our rental into this car elevator and parked it up on the 4th floor in a tiny parking spot on the side of a building.


That night we ate another amazing meal with my Aunt Carol (my mom’s sister), uncle Mark, cousin Keely, and her husband Adam.  Keely and I were close growing up but they moved to Hawaii in 2005 and I haven’t seen her since.  I was so, so, so happy to spend some time with them!  It was a highlight of the trip for me.



My other cousin, Jennan, couldn’t make it so the next morning we stopped by her work for a quick hug and chat. It was wonderful!


Then we found a Filipino donut food truck where we bought some sweet treats!





The trip turned into a Best Restaurants of Hawaii tour.  We didn’t really do much.  We were always planning our next meal and restaurant.  It was fun, but fattening and expensive. I feel like most of the dialogue so far has been about food and it’s only going to continue….be warned!

We flew to Maui on an noon flight. We went straight to a swap meet. The swap meet is a craft/souvenier show they do each Saturday on each island.  We had planned to go to the big one in Oahu but it was closed due to a college football game.  Darn that sport of football!  :) Therefore we tried to get to the one in Maui but it was just shutting down when we arrived.  We still walked around and picked up a few things – shirts for the kids, Christmas ornaments, and duck whistles.

After that we headed to Mama’s Fish House Restaurant.  It’s has a reputation for being the best restaurant in Maui.  It didn’t disappoint!  We loved every bite!  It’s also nestled in a private little beach cove and the ambiance was spectacular!  They brought great breads to the table and a panang curry soup that I could have made a meal out of!  We ordered a great salad but I failed to take pictures. I ordered a raw tuna dish marinated in a ginger, lime soy sauce type of marinade.  To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Ben ordered a crab stuffed fish of some type.  I’m not sure exactly but it was top notch!  I liked his a little more than mine but both were outstanding!







After Mama’s we went to our hotel.  We had one free night leftover from our Hyatt credit card sign-up.  They just built a new resort in Maui so we decided to use our last free night and check it out.  I wish we could have stayed there the whole time!  It was stunning! Ben liked Fairmont Kea Lani more but I preferred this Hyatt.  The check in was so different from the Hilton at Waikiki! The Hyatt had mandatory valet parking (which I loved and I don’t think it cost much and made things so much easier getting in and out of there!), they gave us leis, and invited us to sit while they got us lavender lemonade and we sipped it while they used their ipads to check us in remotely.  I’m still dreaming about that lavender lemonade! It gets the Best Drink in Hawaii award!  Someone walked us to our room and taught us how to use everything and pointed out special features – the TV that could be moved so it could be viewable from any location in the room or balcony, the different shades, how to get into the bathroom (it had sleek and tricky doors) the personal water bottles to prevent the consumption of plastic water bottles, the reusable bag to use instead of getting plastic bags from stores, etc.  The list goes on but I’ll stop there.  I loved the Hyatt! Some resorts/hotels are just a place to sleep.  This was a destination in and of itself! It wasn’t a huge room but it was so luxurious, functional, and stylish!



Entrance to our room. Hyatt does their lighting so well!


Left: entering our room, the bathroom is on the left. right: the bathroom, toilet and closets are on the left behind doors.








The shower is directly behind the bed. You can open or close the white sliding doors.


The water bottles they give to all their guests.


We changed into our bathing suits and went for a walk on the beach.  It was overcast so the sunset wasn’t spectacular but we enjoyed our exploratory stroll.


Then we showered and went to their restaurant for dessert. Brownie and ice cream in the center bowl, caramelized macadamia nuts in the little dish with a dish of chocolate fudge sauce. Yummy! I gained a few pounds from all these desserts! So worth it, though!


The next morning we left early and headed waaayyyyy across the island so we could be in Hana for church at 10AM.  I was so sad to leave so soon!  Check in at 5PM; check out at 7AM.  :(


Leaving the Hyatt.


We stopped at Athony’s Coffee Co for breakfast. We ordered breakfast sandwiches to go but they weren’t great. Also the staff was hostile and seemed unkempt. I wouldn’t return.

The hotel staff had told us to stop by to see if Jaws (the huge waves) were breaking on our drive to Hana.  We thought we followed their directions.  We found a little dirt road and then a little parking lot which had a path with dense trees.  We followed it for 5 or 10 minutes wondering if we should turn back.  Finally we saw an opening ahead with a sitting chair at the edge of a monstrous cliff and a beautiful view of the roaring ocean below!!!  It wasn’t the stop we were looking for but it was breathtaking!  I could have sat there for the whole day just in shock by the scene in front of me. It was amazing!  The pictures don’t do it justice!  I almost think I shouldn’t post them because it was so much better in person.  I didn’t have my wide angle lens (it was in the car) so I only had a partial view and I just completely failed to capture the essence of this spot.  It felt like you were on the edge of heaven with limitless thoughts and peace spread out before you.  I wish we had gone back later!  We’ll probably never find it again.  Oh I loved it! DSC_1676



We hurried off to Hana.  The drive took what felt like forever! It was beautiful but slow and tedious.









We happen to be there on a fast Sunday and we loved the special feeling in this little Hawaiian branch.  I hope to do another blog post about church where I’ll talk more about it:)

We had rushed to Hana and after that we slowly took our time driving and exploring.  I don’t have a clue of the names of the places we stopped.  If something looked interesting we would pull over.  Some of the pictures:









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Can you spot the sea turtles? I think there are 8 or 9 in this picture.



The sea turtles were really neat they come to this one spot to rest each night.  There were a total of ~25 when we left at sunset.  The night before they had 47 total!

We went to Flatbread Company for pizza for dinner.  It was some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten!  We liked it so much we went back again the last night:)



Half Kula Pork and Pineapple; half pesto, sausage and tomato. Yum!

We checked into the hotel late that night ~8 or 9PM.  We were pretty tuckered out!  The hotel was beautiful! It was more spacious than the Hyatt but I thought the Hyatt was more creatively and luxuriously done.







We went out for breakfast at Kihea Caffe and ordered a nice, fattening breakfast!

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We went walking afterwards and somehow one thing led to another and before we knew it we were at a sales pitch about timeshares so we could do a helicopter ride for only $125 bucks. I think it was worth it?!?! It ate up two hours of our day but we had a $300 discount off the helicopter ride the following day.  Anyways….on our walk…..



We got back to the hotel mid-afternoon and went for a lazy sit/nap on the beach.


Ben walked off with my camera while I was napping and took some creative shots:





Then he came back:


We watched our first good sunset.  The other nights had been cloudy.


Then we showered and went to Ko’s restaurant.  It was in our hotel but had the #1 Maui Restaurant of the Year award so we decided to try it out. It didn’t disappoint!  I ordered a steak and Ben ordered the most amazing lobster tempera you could ever imagine!  I ate most of his meal!  I think it was the best thing I ate in Hawaii!  The dipping sauces were outrageously flavorful and the lobster was absolute perfection!!!


It took us a long time to decide! So many good choices!


Me waiting, wishing and hoping!

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Oh we slept well that night!  Fat and happy we were!

The next morning we had signed up for the hotel’s complimentary outrigger canoe experience.  We ate a quick breakfast and then met up with the canoe leaders on the beach. We had a blast on the canoe!  It was an hour long but we saw the whales, sea turtles, corals, and other sea creatures.  There were 6 of us in all in the canoe.  The captain or whatever you’d call him let everyone jump out and snorkel around for a few minutes.  The water was too cold for me but Ben joined in and loved it.  He was a few feet from the sea turtles which kept surfacing all around him and the captain kept diving and picking up sea urchins and putting them in his hands.  It was really neat!







We sat on the beach for a few hours after that.  I had expected the whole Hawaii experience to look like this:


In reality we had very little sunny weather and down time when we were able to be beach bums.  I enjoyed the fun times but also the down time.


We checked out in the afternoon and went for the helicopter ride.  It was way better than I expected. It was something Ben had really wanted to do but it wasn’t on my Hawaii bucket list. I’m so happy we were able to do it!











Very fun!

After that we had dinner at Da Kitchen. I was crying about Jax and didn’t enjoy the meal much. Perhaps it was my sad, worried mood but I thought the food wasn’t great. We went shopping after that, returned the car, and we were at the airport by 9:30 for our 11PM flight. I was so ready to get home and be with the kids again! We had a great time. Some days were better than others. Overall, it was a great, memorable trip.:)


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  • January 20, 2014 - 3:50 pm

    Joe - Great post as usual.ReplyCancel

  • January 21, 2014 - 2:12 am

    Shannon - What a beautiful place to vacation! I loved the pictures of all the food you ate too. It sure was making me hungry and wishing I’d had that instead of a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.ReplyCancel

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