My husband’s family has a penchant for Hawaii. We enjoyed a few memorable vacations there and it has always left us with a feeling of chill and contentment. Hawaii’s “hang loose ” culture commonly expressed by many with their vibrant “shaka” signs, was exactly what we wanted to revive in ourselves this year end.
Roughly an hour’s drive from Waikiki, North Shore is famous for its premier surfing competitions during the peak winter months, including the famous Vans Triple Crown held between the months of November to December. It is also home to various vacation homes, the luxurious Turtle Bay Resort (where my SIL held a nice Pre-Wedding reception:)) and Haleiwa Town. Here you can shop, eat like locals and cool off with rainbow flavoured shave ice.
Skydiving above the North Shore was breathtaking. My son and I did it through http://www.skydivehawaii.com. We took our leaps of faith at 14000ft. It was so surreal, I still can’t believe we did it. Care to watch my video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgpyLJoXEB8
A destination all unto itself. Lanikai is described as the “most beautiful” of all Oahu beaches and ranks as one of the best beaches in the world. Gorgeous homes keep this public beach partly hidden but once you get a glimpse of it via the alleyways, you will be mesmerized. The protected lagoon is like a big, tropical swimming pool ideal for children. Nearshore reefs allow for good snorkelling. Reef fish and sea turtles are commonly seen. Caution. Turtles may bite.
The beaches of Waikiki constitute one of the world’s most impressive stretches of sand, surf, and tropical sunshine amidst high-rise hotels, high-end shopping, and restaurants. Waikiki has something for everyone, and perhaps the center of it all is the Royal Hawaiian Center on Kalakaua Avenue.
We always stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber. Apart from its unbeatable location, their spacious rooms are ideal for families. This place is good value for money. Check it out http://www.waikikibeachcomberresort.com/
Hanauma Bay is not so much about the beach as it is about the marine life nature preserve, and the amazing snorkeling experience! As it lies at the bottom of a volcanic crater, the lava rock tubes have created a suitable home for hundreds of Hawaiian fish species. Note: Each visitor is required to watch a 10min educational video before descending to the Bay. Fish feeding is prohibited and try your best not to hit the corals. There is also a cap of 3,000 visitors each day while the park is closed on Tuesdays.
The Halona Blowhole is a scenic area with steep sea cliffs and great views. The blowhole can be seen from the lookout point, which is located right on the highway.
The blowhole is an underwater lava tube with an opening on both sides of it. The water from the ocean enters the tube with each wave and as the tube becomes narrower, the pressure in it increases and the water shoots up into the air above the lava terrace, sometimes up to 30 feet (9 m).
Halona means “peering place” in the Hawaiian language. The views from here are beautiful. On a clear day, you can see the islands of Molokai, Maui and Lanai. In the winter months, between November and March, humpback whales can be spotted offshore. Many sea turtles frequent the area as well. The azure blue water is so clear that it is easy to spot them from the lookout point.
To the right of the blowhole is Halona Beach Cove. It is off limits but you will notice some people brave their way through the slippery cliffs. Climb down at your own risk!
Diamond Head Crater
Just a few minutes from Waikiki is this commanding presence. You will need to enter the Diamond Head park from the eastern side, through a short tunnel that will bring you into the center of the crater. Here, you can start your 560 foot ascent. It is one of the most rewarding Oahu hikes, offering amazing 360 degrees views when you reach the top. Though it may appear to be a challenging all day climb, it really only takes about 40 to 60 minutes to reach the summit.
More to See in Oahu
Pictures by Polynesian Adventures
A working cattle ranch, Kualoa was once considered a sacred place on Oahu. Undoubtedly picturesque, it became the backdrop for a number of Hollywood films including Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young, Pearl Harbor, Lost, Hunger Games, and many more. Tours via http://www.kualoa.com/ allows you to explore the ranch by ATV and/or Horseback. Interesting myths and legends that surround the area add more colour to their rich Hawaiian Heritage.
Although it is not the most known of Maui’s beaches, Kihei is centrally located, more laid back, and not as touristy. We arrived at peak season but didn’t experience the hassle of crowds. Not many know the secret of Kihei – where many locals prefer to reside. It also boasts of vast, sandy beaches with good facilities. A variety of great accommodations, restaurants, shops and markets are easily accessible. People also say the nightlife is much more fun here.
A highlight during our Hawaiian Holiday was our stay in the Maui Coast Hotel. http://www.mauicoasthotel.com/ Conveniently across Kamaole Beach Park, this hotel offers the same modern amenities as the bigger chains while maintaining a cozy, homey ambiance. We definitely rested while we were here. The kids appreciated the bikes provided, allowing them to venture around Kihei on their own.
Free transfer services within Kihei and Wailea is also available.
I discovered this hidden gem of a restaurant called 808 Bistro https://www.mauihawaii.org/restaurants/808-bistro/. While the family decided to sleep in, I was raring to have good breakfast. The concierge gave me two choices. Either try TA’s #1 Kihei Cafe http://www.kiheicaffe.com/ (though it gets very busy and servings are ideal for sharing) or this quieter place that’s also popular with the locals. Since I was alone, I decided to check out the latter. The ambiance felt very warm – staff were friendly, efficient and the food was delicious. Not heavy on the pocket as well. It was a great day thanks to that pleasant breakfast 🙂 I read that their lunch and dinner selections are delectable as well.
Road To Hana
Ka anapali Beach
This former retreat for the royalty of Maui is now one of America’s famed beaches. Three miles of white sand and crystal clear water play host to a number of resorts and high-end condominium villages. Also fronting Kaanapali is the open air Whalers Village, a world-class shopping complex housing a variety popular brands, restaurants, a renowned whaling museum and free Hawaiian entertainment. This is also the destination for golf enthusiasts with two championship golf courses, the Royal Kaanapali and the Kaanapali Kai.
We arrived just in time for sun-downer cocktails. The vibe was busy and fun – every corner had some action going on. If you are looking for a quiet respite, this is not the place. This is the Waikiki of Maui. Expect accommodations to be pricey as well.
A must to see here is the daily cliff diving ceremony off of the beach’s northernmost cliffs known as Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock. Held every evening at sunset, a cliff diver lights the torches along the cliff, diving off of Black Rock in a reenactment of a feat by Maui’s revered King Kahekili.
Lahaina is a historic town that has been transformed into a Maui hot spot with dozens of art galleries and a variety of unique shops and restaurants. It’s a very touristy place so brace yourself for the crowds and queues during meal times.
Haleakala National Park
Don’t miss the chance to get a mountaintop “natural high!” Rising over 10,000 feet above sea level, Haleakala is one of Maui’s most awe-inspiring sites. We had to wake up at 3AM to catch the Sunrise Tour, but it was definitely worth the effort, chill and slight discomfort as we zigzagged our way to the summit. Witnessing the breaking of a new day at the top of this majestic mountain was rejuvenating. It’s lunar landscape was a surreal site – amidst its desolate expanse, it was fascinating to see how life could still survive – most notable is the silversword plant – it can live up to 90 years and only flowers once in its lifetime then dies.
You are also rewarded with a hearty breakfast overlooking scenic views.
Read more about it as you plan your trip: http://www.gohawaii.com/maui/guidebook/topics/haleakala-sunrise/
A short drive from Kihei is Wailea known for its beautiful crescent-shaped beaches and acclaimed golf courses. The luxurious resort community also boasts of opulent hotels such as the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa and the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.
Ka-anapali is the place for shopping but The Shops at Wailea also has an impressive selection of world-class restaurants and boutiques.
More to See in Oahu
Helicopter Tour around the Island
Considered by many to be the finest beach on Maui and definitely one of the most popular tourist beaches, Kapalua Beach is a nice crescent of golden sand lined with palm trees. Kapalua Beach borders Kapalua Resort yet there is plenty of room for everyone on this large beach which provides prime swimming and also an excellent sunbathing and relaxing. This is also a favorite beach for kids, and a nice lawn backing the beach provides a great place for a picnic. The best snorkeling is on the north side of the bay.
Mahalo Hawaii !!! Til we meet again!