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Friday, August 14, 2015

Mrs. Lo's Top 10 HAWAII Must Do's!

Mrs. Lo’s Top 10 Hawaii Must-Do's

These are my Top 10 Must Do's for Oahu, Hawaii, in no particular order.  Actually, they are in the order of when we visited them, during our trip last month.  If you click on my blog (here is the link), I have posted photos from every spot.  We stayed at the Disney Vacation Club’s Aulani Resort, which was magnificent, but my top advice if you stay there is: enjoy the resort for a few days and then get OUT and explore this beautiful island!  We were very fortunate, my first cousin, Nestor, is the former Parks and Recreation Commissioner for Honolulu, which included the entire island of Oahu; and he acted as our tour director all week.  It was literally like traveling around with the mayor, he knew everyone (including the mayor).  His best advice to any Parks Director:  “Be nice to everyone, especially the ‘little people’, they are the ones who will tell you what is really going on.”  Great advice, Cousin Nestor.  Enjoy! <3 Mrs. Lo

10.  DVC Aulani/ Character breakfast at Mahakiki.  A Disney character breakfast is a breakfast buffet, which must be secured many months advance, wherein various Disney characters come over and greet you as well as pose for a photo and an autograph.  

We have now been to all of them, from Orlando to California to Hawaii; there are quite a few. The character breakfast at Aulani is by far the most unique.  In addition to the usual breakfast fare like the Mickey waffles, you will also get traditional Hawaiian food and even Japanese breakfast food which includes marinated meats. 
 And of course, you will have your picture taken with Hawaiian Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy!

9.  Hike Diamond Head.  Oahu's Diamond Head volcanic crater is one of Hawaii's most recognized symbols and is totally worth the hike. Warning: this is for those who consider themselves physically fit. 

 My oldest son jogged up to the peak and back, twice, and barely broke a sweat. However, Mrs. Lo and Michael got up to the 99 stairs and decided it was time to take a shaved ice break. 
 Definitely go at your own pace.  This extinct volcanic crater is more than 3500 m wide and 760 feet high. 

The panoramic view from the top is extraordinary.  
There is also a State Park and Monument at the site.

8.  The Iolani Royal Palace.  Nestor took us here, as the Palace is a national historic landmark.  Interesting fact: Iolani is the only official state residence of royalty in the United States. 

 It was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s last two monarchs King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani (1882-1993).  The palace is absolutely magnificent and there is a wonderful museum there, it is a must do!

7.  Hanu’ama Bay/ Snorkel - Nestor also took us to the Gorgeous and historic Hanu'ama Bay, also a State Park, where we were able to snorkel all day.   Hanauma Bay was The playground for the royalty of Hawaii, as well as the setting for the Elvis movie "Blue Hawaii."

Hanu'ama Bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967.  Formed within a volcanic cone, today Hanauma Bay offers a pristine marine Eco system.  First time visitors watch a video before entering the park so they can learn about the marine life, preservation, conservation, and safety rules.  After watching this video, which is quite informative, can you take a tram down to the bay. 

There, you can swim, rent snorkel equipment and enjoy one of the most pristine and beautiful snorkeling spots in the world!

6.  Luau.  Be sure to attend a Hawaiian luau while you are there. We went to the Paradise Cove Luau, which I would highly recommend.  We were seated with other families at long benches and then went up to get the Hawaiian food buffet style. 

 The traditional Hawaiian dances were beautiful and we also were thrilled by the "chief" from Samoa who was a fire dancer and, yes, he both danced with the flaming sticks and swallowed the fire!  I couldn't help but think of Lilo and Stitch the whole time.

5.  Swap Meet at Ahola Stadium.  Nestor took us here as well.  He saw me picking up souvenirs every which Way but loose and said Cousin, you are overpaying let me take you to the swap meet.  
It is held at the famous aloha Stadium, where the pro bowl is played.  It is Hawaii’s largest open air flea market, with the best deals in town. 

Be prepared to negotiate - for me it was the most fun part.  That and saving money on Beautiful handmade  jewelry and art items, as well as picking up some beautiful dresses super cheap. The most I paid for any dress was $10!

4.  Macadamia Plantation/ Pineapple Plantation.  Nestor also took us to the macadamia plantation outlet, on the North Shore, and we toured the Dole pineapple plantation. 

 Tropical Farms is the name of the macadamia plantation outlet. There, you can take macadamias and put them on a tree trunk and split them open with a rock. 

You can sample flavored macadamia nuts from mocha to salted to chocolate.  The setting is beautiful, with lush mountains in the background and roosters running around the farm.

3.  North Shore/ Food Trucks.  The North Shore is where surfing legends  have been made, with over 7 miles of pristine beaches and many important surfing championships taking place here.  

Waimea Bay is probably the most famous, said to be the birthplace of big wave surfing. It is Also a beautiful place to relax and take pictures.  The other must do on the North Shore is the food trucks, which is where you will find the best food. 

We loved the Shrimp truck, absolutely positively the best garlic shrimp  ever!

2.  Visit Pearl Harbor.  Pearl harbor is a national historic landmark.  It actually includes four different sites that you can visit: the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, the USS Missouri and the Pacific Aviation museum.

 It is also an active naval base, so it is busy place and it's not really possible to do everything in one day. Everyone who has visited Pearl Harbor will tell you it is a truly really moving experience.  
See as much as you can, it is an important and very moving part of our history.

  1. GO SURFING!  Definitely try surfing and definitely try it with professionals. We took surfing lessons and the teachers were outstanding. 

     The kids were able to surf right away, they were both naturals.  
    They started out on the smaller waves but we can't wait to come back again and try the bigger waves!

Kids grow up so fast, it's important to spend family time together. For us, Hawaii  was the perfect vacation. We stayed at DVC Aulani for free and got our Disney fix, we got to see family, we learned about history, and we were able to be very active -- which is great for our kids, as well as relax -- which is great for us parents.  If you choose Hawaii, I hope you have a great vacation!  <3 Mrs. Lo