As we come to the end of our 10-day trip to Hawaii, in summary, I can only say that I am far from ready to come home!
It's been such an awesome holiday- the perfect blend of beaches, food, scenery, relaxation and adventure. We had three nights staying at Waikiki on Oahu Island and a week on Kauai Island at Poipu beach.
A friend asked me if Hawaii has been everything I thought it would be and my answer was that it has actually been better than I imagined! To be honest I think part of he reason why, is because as a destination it actually wasn't high on my list of places to visit.i was even to visit Hawaii at some stage but we chose it because it seemed to tick all the right boxes (great beaches makes for a perfect winter escape, not too far to fly, no stopovers required, easy to get around and see quite a lot when we could only take a short amount of time off work). On reflection, I think sometimes it can work in your favour when a destination isn't necessarily high on your bucket list, because you don't have an endless list of must-see places and must-do experiences (that can sometimes leave you feeling a little underwhelmed if you've been dreaming about them for years). Instead every great experience is a nice surprise!
So here are some of my observations and highlights from our Hawaii trip:
Waikiki was a pleasant surprise. To be honest, I was expecting brash and busy. And while Waikiki does have a little bit of those traits in her personality, as a destination, it was actually far nicer than I had imagined. The beaches may be fronted by resorts and the water packed with swimmers, surfers and SUPers, but there is a reason people flock here - the beaches are stunning, the sunsets are superb and there is plenty to do. Especially as a family holiday destination, Waikiki makes a lot of sense. In saying that, I wouldn't choose to stay there for a long time! It's nice to fly in and get a taste and then head somewhere a bit more remote - of course entirely my opinion.
As a second island to visit, I cannot say enough positive things about Kauai. In fact I don't think I have anything negative to say! The landscape and scenery is spectacular! So many roads you are driving right along the beach but the entire island is framed by ancient, volcanic, mountains in shades of fluorescent green. There are so many different beaches to choose from, calm, relaxing, quiet beaches, family beaches that are great for kids, surfing beaches, rugged beaches, secret beaches. And everywhere you go the water is crystal clear. Sigh!
One of the things I did have high expectations and hopes for was a sailing trip along the Na Pali Coast. And of course that was the one thing that was shot down in flames! Coast guard rules - you have to be two to sail and of I course Samuel is 10 days off his second year milestone. I took the news really well (read: I pouted like a teenager for a good while and started dropping hints about helicopter flights because I REALLY wanted to see the Na Pali Coast. But we are supposed to be travelling on a bit of a budget - because the Aussie dollar is so horrendous we have spent way more on accommodation than we had planned to so we are trying to be fairly budget conscious while we are here. So we compromised! Adam found a hike that seemed fairly achievable and would take us along the beginning of what is the very long Na Pali Coast trail, with the promise of great views of the rugged coast. It was two miles from Ke'e Beach to Hanakapi'ai beach and then you have to walk back, so about six kilometres return. I'll admit I was a little skeptical how Samuel would go the entire way but apart from a minor meltdown leaving Hanakapi'ai beach (he just wanted to keep swimming) he was an absolute trooper. As was Adam who did most of the walk with Samuel on his shoulders. The photos speak for themselves. This was an absolute highlight and I highly recommend it!
FOOD TRUCKS! How great is food from roadside food trucks? At home it's a bit of a new revolution but in Hawaii and especially Kauai it is very much embedded in the island lifestyle. It's easy, it's affordable, it's everywhere, and it's delicious!
There is something very special about American hospitality and friendliness we have definitely experienced that again here in Hawaii. In checking our bags in for our Hawaiian Airlines flight we had a woman come and help get everything ticketed and calculate all our baggage for us, even though it's a self service area. In every restaurant, everyone goes out of their way to interact with Samuel and say hi - in fact everywhere we go people stop to chat to him. And then on the beach yesterday we had been frolicking in the water and lying on the grass for about an hour when a lady went out of her to way to walk over from the other side of the beach to us just to come and say that she had got so much joy watching us play and interact with our child. And she just wanted to tell us that! Well I don't think that's ever happened to me before but I may have shed a little tear. And it's those kind of interactions that make travelling so special.