Hawaii – Looking back and Day 10

Wow, it’s now six weeks post Hawaii.   It’s taken me this long to be able to revisit the trip.  My partner got over it all fairly quickly but I found it took a couple of weeks before I could bring myself to talk about it.   Hawaii is a place of beauty and this is what I will ultimately remember – but my sheer exhaustion from dealing with my son’s anxiety induced meltdowns needed more attention short term.   We’ve also gone through a lot of self reflection with considering how we could have done things differently…..but also realising that we were simply doing the best we could.

Again, these photos are of the good parts.   The not so great parts will remain undiscussed.

So here it is: Day 10.  The last day.  I wrote this while waiting for the plane home from Honolulu airport

It’s been drizzly for the last few days but this is OK for our indoor loving girl who wants to go to an art gallery in Honolulu. So Mick, Sam and I decide to hire a car and explore the south half of Oahu.    I’m still so grateful to Mick for doing all the driving here.   I am getting used to being on the other side of the road, but I would a little more time before I’d be confident to actually drive on that side.

As our decision to hire a car was late there are few cars available.   But our concierge finds a Chevy Camaro at the neighboring Sheraton Hotel.   Yep, that will do!     It’s a bit more expensive than the regular hire cars, but it will be fun.      We have done some of this route previously in the bus, but I’m glad to have our own transport so we now have the flexibility to stop and take photos.


Mick enjoying the Camaro

First stop is snorkelling at Hanauma Bay   Sam has never been able to manage a regular snorkel so we get him a dry mask.   Mick and I hire regular gear.   Unfortunately, Sam is frightened of the whole experience, has a meltdown and needs to leave the water.   He ends up sitting on a towel for a little while while MIck and I do the snorkelling.    I remember snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef a couple of years ago and recall being really disappointed at how little colour and fish were around.    This is the same.   It’s all grey with few fish.      Perhaps we didn’t find the sweet spots of the snorkelling areas?    I don’t know.     But given the amount of money we spent on it, I wouldn’t be listing it as a ‘must do’ experience.

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Hanauma Bay

As we’re driving further, we see a lookout spot.  We’ve seen a few lookouts which are nice, but not necessarily requiring a visit, so we aren’t inclined to stop.   As we go around the corner, Mick and I are gobsmacked at the beauty of the beaches, cliffs and village which would have been seen from up there.   While we’re debating going back to the lookout,  we find a lovely wave beach.  This must be the one which the life savers at Sandy Beach suggested to us.    We didn’t swim, but stopped to grab a few photos of the beach and cliffs beside the road.

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Beach at the south end of Oahu and the towering cliffs across the road

Decide that we really have to turn around and go back to the lookout.   It’s glorious.


south Oahu

Please forgive the dodgy Photoshopping.  But joining photos was the only option for this scene

We then set out to find the Byodo-In temple.   Sam loves Buddhist temples, and judging by the photos, this one is beautiful.    Real life doesn’t let us down.   It’s a gorgeous building set at the base of soaring volcanic mountains.   Just.Wow.

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From here, we head across the island and back to our rooms.    We find Alice who reports that her art gallery was closed and she then entertained us with stories of bus breakdowns, getting lost and sunburn.   She’s ended up just having a quiet afternoon chilling in the rooms and the resort pool.

A quiet night in sorting and packing is our last evening.   Looking forward to getting Sam home and back into a routine.


A trip to Hawaii – back on board after a hiccup

Day 9 – back on board

So there’s been a gap in my blogging.  Sam started to really miss home, familiar foods, his computer and routine and basically had a three day meltdown.   There were occasions when he could come up for air, but suffice to say, the last few days have been quite a struggle for all of us.    A 7 night holiday may have been OK for him, but the 10 days we booked were just far too long for him.   I think that any future holidays with Sam will have to be brief and in Australia.

Today started out in a more positive way.  He was talking about how he’d miss his friends from the support unit at school and I suggested we host a Halloween party and invite them.   He picked up the idea and ran with it.  For the rest of the day he has been mostly positive.   I have no idea if this party will happen, but he’s certainly enjoying planning it.

I won’t be doing a travel blog about the past few days because it’s all been far too fraught.   Instead, I will just post some photos taken during the good patches.

moonlight cruise sunset

A couple of shots taken on our moonlight catamaran cruise

daytime view

daytime view of the city and mountains from our hotel

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A local bird.  I took this shot for Alice the bird lady

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A couple of shots taken in Waikiki Zoo.

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View from Waikiki beach.   I can’t get over how blue the waters are – and the incredible view

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Alice and I had so much fun in our obligatory Hawaii bird photos!


Alice in new bikini at dusk

Sam in what we call “the magical garden”.   He loves it  

 Sandy beach.   Sam, Mick and I headed over here for a much needed bodysurf.  But the life savers warned us off going in.  Very disappointed.

A trip to Hawaii. Days 4 and 5/10

Day 4 – On the move

We’re up with lots of time to spare so that we can make our flight from Kona to Honolulu.    Taking more photos of lava en route to the airport.   Can’t have to many pictures of lava, right?

lava outside beachclub lava along road to Kona

Everything running like clockwork: hire car returned, checked in and just 20 mins to kill until we board the plane.  Flight is smooth and we find a shuttle bus to our hotel without issue.

boarding plane hawaiian islands

We’re staying at the Waikiki Parc Hotel, one street back from the beach, but we can’t check in yet – so we buy lunch from the ABC shop and eat on the beach.   Sam is getting pretty tired by now, so we get back to the hotel as soon as we are able.   He has a nap and we are able to have a swim in the ocean later in the day.

Dinner is at Denny’s.    We don’t have Denny’s in Australia but it seems to fit the bill for a family friendly restaurant which caters for plain eaters.    After dinner we head out to the shopping precinct.   Everything is open and there are lots of fairy lights and tiki torches – it’s just lovely.    After having a look around we settle the kids in their room (Sam with TV and Alice chatting to her friends via Facebook) and Mick and I sneak out for a couple of cocktails.


Day 5.   Beaching and shopping

Back to the beach after brunch – again at Denny’s – and we finally get Alice into the water!    She’s always been very dubious about ocean swimming so it’s excellent to have her in with us.

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Alice in ocean

After the beach we catch a one of the tourist trolleys to Ala Moana shopping centre which Alice has been dying to see.    Sam is getting a bit cranky so we feed him some McDonalds (familiarity is very soothing for him).    We discover that with the exception of a store which sells nice tea and American Apparel, the Ala Moana centre pretty much just has more of the same as the Waikiki shopping strip, so we probably only need to return once.

I’ve been told that shopping in Hawaii isn’t as cheap as it used to be.   They aren’t kidding!    With the exception of jeans, I haven’t found anything cheaper than Sydney prices.   There are a lot of exclusive labels too, so that will save me some money – can’t quite imagine myself in Chanel.    The other thing saving me money is the fact that the stores are full of autumn clothes and I was hoping for summer buys.   With luck I may find some cheap summer sale stock, but I’m not holding my breath.   I have asked Alice to make sure I don’t buy anything with a Hawaiian print on it (a sarong being an exception) and she’s asked me not to let her buy anything with a ruched top.

Kids are happy to eat fruit and sandwiches in the room for dinner, so Mick and I sneak out again for a couple of cocktails served with some really lovely appetisers at the bar of Roy’s restaurant.  It’s a lovely, balmy evening for it.

While I would have liked a room with a view of the ocean, I don’t at all mind our view of the city and the mountains behind.  It’s especially pretty at night.

hotel view

A trip to Hawaii. Day 3/10

Day 3. Touring the Big Island

Shouldn’t have had those late beers last night.   A bit fuzzy today.

Ignore fuzziness and head out for a drive.  We’re active again today.   Up and out early for a drive around the Big Island heading clockwise around the island from Waikoloa.   Mick is driving again and I’m getting used to being on the other side of the road.

The area up to Waikoloa is barren and dry with lava flows but as soon as we ventured North of Waikoloa we found green.   At first we’re experiencing warm temperatures and rolling green hills, then the scenery starts to become more tropical as we round the top of the island towards Honoka’a.    Where we find rain.  The scenery is not unlike the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island’s rainy green goodness.  Honoka’a itself is a lovely old town with lots of clapboard shops.

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We tried to find Waipi’o Valley lookout.   Despite our best efforts, we fail.  Remember how we couldn’t find our resort due to non existent signage?  Well, this was the same.    Signage here is still crap.   I saw one couple who had an A4 folder with plastic sleeves containing info on what they wanted to see  – next to highly detailed, home printed maps of how to find it.   This is a brilliant idea which I would suggest to anyone planning a trip here.    We give up and continue down the West coast.

A bit further down the coast while looking for food, we did stumble across this lovely bit of coastline.

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Next stop are the Akaka Falls State Park – which were surprisingly easy to find   Sam is limited in his ability to do stairs, so he and I did the short route while Mick and Alice did the long route and saw the larger of the two waterfalls.    Wild jungle and cascading waterfalls – Just  how how I imagined Hawaii would look.

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We are starting to run short of time so start debating Volcanoes vs the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens.    Had there been hot lava, we would have done the volcano, but as it’s just a bit of steam, we decide on the gardens instead.  We all enjoy this immensely, but Sam is particularly enthralled with the country of origin for each plant.   And he also likes the “Tiki Head”.

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After a very late lunch at Hilo we decide to drive the Saddle Road route back across the island to Waikoloa.   The road immediately starts climbing into the hills and the temperature drops to about 60’F with fog and drizzle.   By the time we’re mid way across the island we find ourselves in the lava fields between volcanos Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.   It’s absolutely fascinating.   The majesty of the two mountains on each side of us is breathtaking.   And I love all the all the smaller vents who’s tops have been blown off and the lava flows snaking around them and covering large sections of land.  It’s a scene which will stay with me forever.   I really wish I had photos but a) my photos wouldn’t have done justice, b) it was really cold and rainy, c) no safe place to pull over.    The first photo below is of the lava fields and the second is the greenery as we descend back into Waikoloa

lava 1 into waikoloa

We get back to the rooms at about 4:30 and Sam, Alice and I pass out for an hour before dinner at the Lava Lava Club on Waikoloa beach.   We booked at a perfect time at the restaurant to enjoy yet another gorgeous sunset.   Food was lovely and the evening was a perfect one for the memories.

lava lava sunset lava lava alice lava lava sam DInner at the Lava Lava Club lava lava cocktails

A trip to Hawaii. Day 2/10

Day 2  Chill

There’s nothing like a 12 hour sleep to refresh the body.    We wake up and consider the day while the kids are still sleeping.   I decide to wake Alice after 15 hours of sleep.  Today will be restful.   We’re not going far or doing much.

Mick, Sam and I head to Waikoloa Beach while Alice takes herself shopping.   The water at the beach is blue and warm.    We have a delightful soak.   The sand is course with a a lot of black bits of lava ground through it.   There’s a great looking restaurant by the beach called Lava Lava Beach Club and we book a table for tomorrow night so that we can watch the sunset.     We grab a shot of Sam and Mick.

Waikaloa beach Sam and Mick muscle men

The afternoon and evening consists of the resort pool, dinner in our rooms while watching a spectacular sunset and the two grown ups later sneaking out the adjoining Tropical Ale House.


A trip to Hawaii. Day 1/10

I’m taking a break from my usual craft/sewing updates to blog about our family trip to Hawaii.    If stories about travelling with teens aren’t your thing, ignore the next 10 days of updates.

Day 1.   Sydney > Honolulu > Kona.     Chaos

Departure from Sydney Airport on Hawaiian airlines was smooth.   As was the flight.   Well, mostly smooth anyway – just a little turbulence.   Alice sees me watching Pitch Perfect on the flight and laughs at me.   Kids didn’t sleep but Mick and I dozed on and off.

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The connecting flight 12006598_474784392682080_909454849771197452_ofrom Honolulu to Kona is due to leave 2 hours after arrival in Honolulu.  Mick and I had been wondering how to keep the kids entertained for two hours at the airport – this turned out to be an unnecessary concern.   We sat on the tarmac in Honolulu for a good 20 mins before being allowed to disembark.   We then joined a very long queue to get through security. Hour one of waiting done.  Got very lost in Honolulu’s domestic terminal.   Departing flight is getting closer and can’t find where to put the bags.   Or ourselves.   Asking people for help was partially effective and we eventually we manage to get through the gates to the departure area.   Woot – see a Burger King where we can feed our hungry teenagers – and especially Sam who didn’t eat for the whole flight.   Check watch – forget food – flight leaves in about 20 minutes.    Departure gate is not written on boarding passes and the flight information boards are out of order.   Fuck Fuck Fuck.

I’m rather pleased to note that despite being tired, hungry and extremely flustered, Mick and I have managed to stay civil with each other.  Very proud of ourselves.

imageWe eventually stumble upon departure queue just before the flight departs and find our seats.   We get to and enjoy the flight.   There’s a lot of cloud coverage of higher peaks on both Oahu and the Big Island, but we’re fascinated by the black lava scars on the Big Island.    We land, collect bags and catch shuttle bus to collect our hire car.

So the hire car place – Thrifty/Dollar car rentals has a really, really long queue.   We’re hot, tired and hungry but succumb to the queue.    After about 45 mins of queuing with little progress I decide to go across the road to Avis and get a quote.   I’m served immediately.   Care hire is more expensive but at this point, I’d give my right arm to continue on our journey towards food and rest.   Gave right arm and headed off to find the Aston Shores Resort at Waikoloa.

Really, really glad Mick is driving.   Being on the other side of the road scares the shit out of me.   It’s nearly as scary as the early days of teaching Alice to drive.   Hang on to door handle and try not to look too terrified.   Compliment Mick on his driving skills to try fake confidence.    At least we’ll be able to feed, water and rest the troops soon.

We manage to head in the right direction, but there is little in the way of signage and we have only basic maps.   Lost.  Turn around, head back.   Ask a lady for help but she’s got no idea.   Ask the sentry guy at another resort for help but he has little idea either.   Mick eventually has the brilliant idea of blowing the data on his phone and using GPS.  Why didn’t I think of this?    Meanwhile Alice is catching some air because she’s feeling car sick and tells us that she has held back on complaining about the fact she’s about to die of hunger.   Yay for considerate teenagers.

Eventually find the resort and are in the resort lobby.   By this time kids are falling apart due to lack of sleep and food.   Alice is quietly crying and Sam is having a meltdown.    And I’m trying not to giggle at the ridiculousness of it all.

Things improve substantially from here.   Resort rooms are bigger than our house.   And there’s a kitchen which can fit more than one person in at a time.  We dump our luggage and head off to Queens Marketplace for dinner.   Find a restaurant called Romano’s Macaroni Grill where we begin to understand the large serving sizes for which the US is famed and had a most delightful girl serving us.   Sam was able to order a kid’s meal and pronounced his chicken strips and fries to be the best he’d ever had.    Both children perked up remarkably with feeding and watering, but crashed into their beds at 8pm.   We weren’t far behind.