We have been looking forward to our about our trip to Hawai’i. Of course we can’t take the RV to Hawaii so we made it a true vacation where Chris took off a week of work and bought airline tickets. We originally were going to fly out of Los Angeles, but we bought the girls tickets to the Museum of Ice Cream for Christmas and the exhibit wasn’t until February and that’s when we planned to go so we flew out of San Francisco instead. It actually worked out perfect because that’s the best time to visit to see the whales and waves.
On Tuesday, February 13th, we boarded United Airlines flight #1175. You may remember hearing about this flight on the news. Yes, that was our flight. The engine blew off in mid flight. It was the scariest thing we have experienced together as a family. Thankfully we landed safely in Honolulu and we were unharmed. They refunded our money so there’s that.
In order to visit the USS Arizona memorial you have to reserve your ferry boat time 6 months in advance. Click here to reserve yours today. Guess what, I didn’t know this until 3 weeks before we were visiting. I was so disappointed but learned I had two other options. First option is to wait until the morning of the day we want to visit, get up at 5:30 am, leave at 6:00am and be in line to get one of the 1,300 walk up time slots that are held for that day. That option was difficult because our itineraries were packed full. But I was willing to do this because the only reason we chose to visit Oahu was to see the USS Arizona! The second option is to try to get online at 7:00am when they open the online ticket inventory for the next day. Here’s the thing, the only time we could do the Pearl Harbor visit was either our first day there, after we landed (around 2:30pm- last tour of the day is 2:45pm) or the last day, on our way to the airport around 9:00am). I decided to try this second option and if it didn’t work out I’d have to do some rearranging. Guess what, when I got on at 7:00am the day before, there were only 4 tickets available for the whole day and it was for the 2:30pm- SOLD! I purchased them and like that we were all set. I was so thrilled…until our engine blew off on our flight over. As you would imagine, an engine shut down will cause for some delays in deplaning. So we declined news report interviews because we had to rush to pick up our rental car and get to the Pearl Harbor Historic site for our ferry boat ticketed event. I need to mention that they very clearly state on the USS Arizona tickets that you MUST arrive 15 minutes early and you will NOT be admitted if you are late.
We arrived right at 2:30pm, we were literally running to the ticket window. Chris and the girls went up to the ticket counter while I ran to the bag check area because you are not allowed to take anything except a bottle of water and camera. As you can imagine, the lady at the check in window did not know like the fact we were late. She was not going to let us in until Chris asked if she had heard about the United plane that had an engine blew up and then explained that we were on it. She let us squeeze on to the last, 2:45pm, boat ride. We were emotionally exhausted after the scary plane ride and then visiting the resting place of 1,102 sailors and Marines killed in the Pearl Harbor bombing.
We headed to our condo to check in and relax.
We stayed at Turtle Bay which is on the North Shore. We chose this location because we wanted to be away from all the tourists. Waikiki is where most people stay at the big high rise hotels and condos. We did go down there one day to check it out and we were happy that we chose to not stay there. To us it looks like any other city. When you stay up on the North Shore you get to see how the locals live and get to eat at food trucks instead of chain restaurants.
There is a cute area with food trucks over on the northeast side of the island. We enjoyed Seven Brothers. They are known for their coconut shrimp!
On Wednesday, which happened to be Valentine’s Day, we explored the Dole Pineapple Plantation, it was still raining but that didn’t stop us.They have the famous Dole Whip, need I say more?
They have a cute train ride that takes you on a tour of the farm, that grows more than just Pineapple.
Chris opened an oyster and found a pink pearl. That was my Valentine’s Day gift- which is perfect since I love anything from nature. I’m not a bug jewelry girl, so the pearl itself is way cooler than having it set in a piece of jewelry.
We made it to the beach and it just drizzled on and off throughout the afternoon.
We hiked to a secluded beach from Turtle Bay- hiking with all your beach gear isn’t as fun as with just a camel back but it was worth it. We saved a fish stuck in a tide pool crevice, chased crabs, and played in swimming holes. Great family day.
On Thursday we started the day with a movie set tour at Kuala Ranch. This is the site of Ka’a’awa Valley, known as Hollywood’s “Hawaii Backlot,” to see where over 50 movies and TV shows were filmed. We saw the Jurassic Park fallen tree, Godzilla’s footprints, the “penguin” road site from 50 First Dates,the road site from You Me & Dupree, and numerous Hawaii Five-0 and LOST areas. We saw props from Jumanji and Jurassic Park. We also learned about an amazing WWII army bunker, built entirely into the side of the mountain range.
We headed to the Polyenseasain cultural center, located in Laie, at lunch time and ate at Pounders. Pounders is right outside the PCC so it’s a great place to eat lunch before you spend the next 9 hours exploring the PCC- which is similar to walking around Disney all day. Pounders has a make your own pizza bar with a pizza oven named ‘Tina’ isn’t that cute?
The PCC tickets I printed out had a coupon for a free dessert at Pounders, so we took full advantage! I even cut out the other one and gave it to the couple next to us so they could order a free dessert also.
Then we explored the cultural center from 1pm-9pm. I highly recommend this activity and Luau with a great show at the end. The center is divided into 8 villages, each representing island throughout Polynesia. It reminds me of Epcot, world showcase, where everything in each village is just like visiting that island. You are immersed into the culture. You learn of their heritage through dance, music, games, food and many other surprises. They do a great job of having you learn and join in on all the activities. PCC provides scholarships to the 75% of the employees that are students at the adjacent BYU- Hawai’i campus.
The night activities include the Luau and a show. The girls and I got up on stage and learned a hula dance. After the luau and hula show we went to watch a musical called Ha- Breath of Life. We got a behind the scenes after the show.
On Friday we started our day with a cool dip under a waterfall. By cool I really mean cold; 65 degrees cold. The waterfall was in Waimea valley. There was a lovely hike back to the falls with beautiful native plants and trees.
The girls wanted to learn how to surf on this adventure and what better place to do that than in Hawaii, specially the North Shore of Oahu in winter when surfers from all over the world come to surf the tallest waves in the world. We signed them up for private lessons at Turtle bay and were please with their instructors. They have a blast and got the hang of it quickly! Of course they took them to a cove with calm waves. It was actually Hidden Beach where one of Abby’s favorite movies, Hunger Games, was filmed. Here is a picture of the Lightening tree, it’s a Banyan Tree, in that movie.
We checked out a different beach and the girls did some wave jumping and watched the sunset.
On Saturday we stopped by Wakiki before our 1:30pm flight to Maui. Here are some pictures of our walk along the shore in Wakiki. You can see Diamond Head in the distance from here.
Weird but note worthy
The funky Banyan trees are everywhere; their roots grow vertically from their branches.
The rainbow eucalyptus, or Mindanao gum, was one of my favorites!
There are free range chickens all over the island.
I found our license plate on our rental funny. We do love the rainbow on all of them though.