by Jeanne DeFauw
Last Christmas, we were lucky enough to travel to Oahu, Hawaii. Escaping the bitter Colorado winter for the warm beaches of Hawaii was the best Christmas gift ever. My husband and I had traveled to Maui after we were engaged, and were excited to be able to take the kids with us this time. Taking the kids was an interesting experience, though. They did well on the long flight, but the first night was rough. We were all tired, and trying to find our friend's condo, finding food, towels, etc was tough.
The next day, we woke to sunny skies and amazing views. Here are some highlights from our trip. I hope you can use them on your family vacation to Oahu.
1. Kailua Obama and family were also spending Christmas on Oahu, so we were in good company. (ha!). I had read they were staying in Kailua, so we had to check it out. I can see why they chose it! The beaches and views are incredible. Many of the beaches in Oahu are too rough for kids. Waikiki is a zoo. Kailua provided a respite, with its gorgeous white-sand, uncrowded beaches. The little town has delicious restaurants. We recommend Uahi Island Grill for lunch.
2. We spent Christmas on Waikiki Beach. I didn't want to cook and Waikiki had plenty of restaurants. After a leisurely brunch, we found a spot amongst the thousands of people enjoying the water and sun. There were tide walls, providing safe places for kids to swim. The vast amount of people was overwhelming, but it's not a bad way to spend Christmas day.
3. Dole farm. It's a drive, but well worth it just for the Dole whip, train ride and maze. We went twice. The Dole Whip is that good. If you have time, drive there via the North Island highway. The views are incredible and well-worth the extra time in the car.
4. Honolulu You can skip Honolulu. Really. It's large hotels, crowds, just ugh. We only went for the airport.
Our boys made it to the top of Diamond Head, despite being terrified the long-dormant volcano would suddenly become active and we'd have to run away from hot lava! My boys were 3 and 6, and made it up and down. It took a while, and they whined most (all) of the way. But they did it. The views are amazing and the crowds are thick. I wonder how some of the people didn't have heart attacks. Many tourists were in inappropriate footwear and wore luxury handbags. Parking is crappy. Their is a shave ice truck at the bottom, but watch out for the bees! They're everywhere shave ice is.
A luau was high our list of things to do. The Sea Life Park was located about 20 minutes from our condo, and has ocean animal habitats as well as the luau. Two birds, one stone. The animal exhibits are similar to Sea World. There is a dolphin cove show, interactive exhibits, turtles and birds.
After about an hour of looking at the Sea Life Park, we ventured over to the luau. The stage is in front of an amazing ocean view. Dinner was a buffet with traditional Hawaiian fare. The kids didn't care for it (they're picky eaters!), but managed to eat some cake at the end. The entertainers put on a good show, with some (reluctant0 audience participation. Coconut frond hats were weaved for the kids. We left early (kids were tired), but would love to go back!
The Oahu shoreline is very diverse. Some beaches have smooth sand, some are rocky. The waves at most of the beaches are quite strong, so always listen to the lifeguard! Our favorite beach to explore was the Wawamalu beach, near Sandy Beach Park. This beach is not for swimming, but for exploring the black lava rocks. Our oldest son is fascinated with volcanos, and he loved imaging the history of the rocks. iF you also have a budding geologist, I recommend stopping by this beach. And you don't have to pack a swimsuit!
Now, in the short winter days I can look back and think about our Hawaiian family adventure.
Have you been to Oahu? What was your favorite spot?