That title might seem a little awkward.

Let me explain:

Last December, we announced to our kids that we were taking a family trip to Hawaii. But since this was a big deal, we decided we wouldn’t go with the boring approach of simply wrapping the tickets, so as they were playing with their just-opened presents downstairs, we quickly set up a Hawaiian-themed breakfast.  When we invited them upstairs, it was a little taste of Hawaii.  We quieted them and played a song we wrote to the tune of “Mele Kalikimaka.” We changed the lyrics (“to say Merry Christmas to you”) to “on our trip to Hawaii, Oahu.”

There was no letdown to the hype when we traveled there three months later.

We flew Hawaiian air and were impressed. The prices were among the lowest, the seats were a little roomier than the average airline, and our 9-year-old twin boys probably enjoyed the all-you-can-drink beverage service at the rear of the plane about as much as anything else on the entire trip.

We landed at Hawaii International airport, rented a car, and drove to the North Shore. We liked it so much, we spent most of our time there.  A few recommendations nearby:

Ted’s Bakery. Even if your home base is Waikiki, this is worth a drive to the other side of the island. If you go there in the morning, try some of the huge and delicious pastries.  Stay there through lunch for some of their specialty plates and sandwiches. And don’t leave until you’ve tried a slice of the macadamia nut cream pie or the chocolate haupia (coconut cream) pie. I’ve heard the cakes are amazing, but I couldn’t separate myself from my very unhealthy but wonderfully tasty relationship with the pies.

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Waimea Falls. Waimea means “Valley of the Priests,” and for hundreds of years, this land was lived on and cared for by a priestly line. Approximately ten years ago, it was purchased by a private company who now charges a reasonable fee for patrons to walk on a paved path through beautiful terrain and botanical gardens to a 45-foot waterfall.  Some of our group swam across a small lake to the falls, while others waited on the shore, enjoying the scenery.

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Turtle Beach. Turtle Bay on the North Shore is a well-known resort, and turtle (or “honu”) sightings are a possibility there.  A more sure bet is to the south (near Waimea Bay, 1.5 miles north of Haleiwa) at Laniakea Beach—also known as Turtle Beach.  Nearly every morning, our boys begged us to go see the turtles again, and nearly every morning a turtle or two was laying on the beach.

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Haleiwa Joe’s. Mom and Dad needed a little alone time, so we left the kids for an evening and enjoyed the fare at one of Haleiwa’s finer restaurants—a polished but breezy eatery where “sandy feet are welcome.” We enjoyed the Ka’ena Sunset Salad, coconut shrimp, and New York steak.

North Shore won our hearts, but there are a few must-sees at other locations on the island. Of course, Pearl Harbor, Polynesian Cultural Center, Mormon Temple, Dole Plantation, and Waikiki Beach are premiere attractions for the approximately 5 million annual visitors.  But try these two lesser-known and very cool places:

Lanikai Beach. Not to be confused with Laniakea Beach mentioned above, Lanikai (meaning “heavenly”) Beach is a ½ mile beach east of Waikiki in the town of Kailua. Ranked “one of the best beaches in the world” by U.S. News, Lanikai Beach has virtually no tide and is renowned for its crystal clear water and soft, white sand.  The kids enjoyed swimming, playing volleyball, and building sand castles; Mom and Dad just enjoyed relaxing in their lawn chairs, watching the action.

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Maunawili Falls. Slightly northwest of Waikiki is the Maunawili Valley which hides a 3.2 mile trail more natural than the one in Waimea. Be prepared for a more challenging, potentially muddy experience which culminates in a water hole and waterfall. Wear a pair of sturdy walking shoes.

After a week in paradise, we reluctantly returned home. However, a little paradise is recaptured every time we overhear the kids talking about how much they loved the trip.

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www.waimeavalley.net, www.haleiwajoes.com, www.tedsbakery.com, www.polynesia.com, www.kailuachamber.com/beaches, http://www.portaloha.com/SecretsOfHawaii/Laniakea.htm.

 

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