Stop – Vacation Time!
Way back last year, I decided I really wanted to go to Hawaii. Maybe it was because I was getting a little claustrophobic because of the entire pandemic thing, or maybe it was because we haven’t gone anywhere out of Colorado for the past 10 years. Oh yeah, I was feeling the need to get away from home. And even though Covid was making it nearly impossible to go anywhere, thankfully I am a planner and I planned a Hawaiian vacation for my husband and myself.
I had even planned for my son and his new bride to have their honeymoon in Hawaii, but sadly, they haven’t gotten to go yet, thanks to both having Covid. #CovidSucks
Don’t worry, they will get to go….we just don’t have concrete dates yet. But I look at our trip as a planning session for them to make sure they have as incredible time as we had.
Getting To Hawaii
Planning on how to get to Hawaii was the most challenging. I have never had to jump through so many hoops just to take a vacation. First, we had to register with the state of Hawaii through their Safe Travels program. This is a requirement right now to visit Hawaii. You need to upload a lot of information, including your drivers license number, your flight information, the hotel you are staying at, and of course your negative Covid test information.
After you get all of your information uploaded successfully, you get a QR code that you MUST have on your phone if you plan on doing anything in Hawaii, including checking in to your hotel.
Then once you get ready to get on the airplane for the final leg of your journey, you have to get cleared with the airline. They call it “PreClear” and you get a fancy little arm ban which basically says you are good to go, and you are negative for Covid.
We had gone through the process of getting vaccinated as well, hoping that our little vaccine card with preempt all of this, and we would be able to go mask less too. Oh dare to dream Lisa, dare.to.dream. No, being vaccinated meant nothing, other than the fact it makes me feel invincible to Covid. But the mask mandates are still in place on Oahu (where we travelled to) as is the social distancing, and reduced capacity for almost all excursions and restaurants. But it’s ok, because we got to go to Hawaii!
Waikiki Resort Hotel
First stop after landing was our hotel. I had booked our room in November and I got a really good deal. Actually, our flight was cheap too! And our daughter and her husband were kind enough to pay for our plane tickets. I am still in awe over this, and forever grateful to the both of them for this incredibly thoughtful gift. Thank you, Seth and Katie!
And the surprise to me at this point of our trip, when we checked in we had to show that QR code in order to stay at the hotel. So, if you are thinking you can get to Hawaii, and quarantine in your hotel room for 10 days – think again. You have to have a negative Covid test, and a safe travels account, AND a QR code in order to check in to your hotel. Thankfully, both my husband and I both had our QR codes on our phone.
But once we got checked in, and got to our room, it felt like our vacation was now officially underway!
And the Waikiki Resort Hotel was an awesome place to stay. Our room was on the 17th floor, and we had a partial view of the ocean. It was beautiful and perfect!
And the hotel itself was amazing too. Not too fancy, and not too shabby – this hotel was just right for us. I was super impressed.
Ok, I have never been to a beach like this. It was BEAUTIFUL! They had just completed a beach restoration by bringing in new sand, and it was gorgeous. Fun fact, one of our tour guides from an excursion let us know that the new sand wasn’t even from Oahu, it was from Maui.
How on earth did they get the sand from one island to another?
However they did it, it is beautiful.
There are lots of bronze sculptures along the beach which was helpful for me to determine where we were in relation to our hotel.
And there are so many dining options. I think my favorite place for dinner was Cheeseburger In Paradise. We had to wait a bit for a table, but this place was worth the wait. We ate here twice, and both times I had the Island Cheeseburger with onion rings. It was delicious!
And the photo opportunities at the beach did not disappoint.
I could not stop myself from taking picture….
There were just so many beautiful things to capture.
And even though there were a lot of people, and it was a lot nosier than we are used to because of where we live, I think staying in Waikiki was an excellent choice for our first trip to Hawaii. It was mostly clean, and very safe. There was definitely a large police presence. But I guess that makes sense because of all of the tourists.
Sadly, there was also a LOT of homeless people on the beach. It was really sad. But I would think it would be better to be homeless in Hawaii than it would be in Colorado.
Places To Visit In Oahu
And because we were tourists, we had to visit all of the typical tourist spots. It may sound cheesy, but our first outing was a submarine ride with Atlantis Submarine Tours.
This was so cool. We dove down to 110 feet and got to see the going-on’s under the water.
It was awesome. We learned about how they have sunk things in the water to make new reefs.
We also got to see a sea turtle taking a nap on a sunken ship. Pretty cool.
North Shore Tour
Now this was not the excursion I had ordered. In fact at first I was a little ticked off. You see I had pre-planned every excursion, and paid for them 6 weeks in advance of our trip. Because I didn’t want to run the risk of not being able to do anything while we were in Hawaii. So I set up each excursion super far in advance.
And I had signed us up for a circle island tour with Pineapple Express. But the driver of the tour ‘forgot’ about us and left without us. So if you are planning a trip to Oahu, I would not advise you to book a tour with Pineapple Express. I think I was swayed by the offer of a free pineapple after the tour. However, another tour company took us on a tour of the north shore of Oahu.
And I have to tell you the driver was incredible. I have no idea of what tour company it was, or even his real name. He referred to himself as Kentucky, and we were all named for the state or city from which we came. My husband and I were ‘Denver’. It was silly, but super fun.
This tour took us from Waikiki to where the big waves happen up on Oahu’s north shore. And while we were supposed to get the chance to snorkel with turtles, an accident on the only road in our out of the north shore had us end up at Shark’s Cove.
It was really pretty, and there was a lot of old lave flow to explore. It was incredible.
We also stopped along the tour to see some of the more prominent tourist spots including Mokoli’i island. But it is also known as Chinaman’s Hat.
We even saw a monk seal napping on a beach. That is something I will probably never have the opportunity to see again, because the Monk seal is endangered with only around 1400 of them left in the wild.
Then we stopped at Tropical Farms of Hawaii and got to sample some wonderful coffee and Macadamia nuts. They were delicious!
If you are planning your first trip to Hawaii, I would highly encourage you to do a circle island tour. This way you can see multiple places, and get a little more information from your tour guide while you get to enjoy the scenery without wondering where you are.
This was a full day excursion, and even though it wasn’t the one I had paid for, it was great.
Well, this was the excursion I was most looking forward too. To be able to see where the Jurassic Park movies were filmed, and drive an ATV through the movie sets – I was stoked. However, even though when I booked the tour they said they had pick up from Waikiki, they did not. And it would have cost us over $200.00 to get here by Uber or Taxi. So sadly, I had to cancel our reservation.
But we did get to drive by the ranch on our circle island tour.
My suggestion to you is if you really want to go to Kualoa Ranch, make sure you book your tour at least 2 months in advance, and plan to rent a car – or wait until they start to offer transportation to the ranch again. Or plan on spending at least $200.00 to get there. For me, that just wasn’t a cost I could justify.
Le’ahi (Diamond Head) State Park
Diamond Head (Le’ahi) Summit Trail is a 1.8 mile trail located near Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. It was a fairly easy hike, with LOTS of stairs.
But once you got to the top, and took a look around you – it was soooo worth it!
We got to the park using a shuttle service that included our admission to the park. This was definitely money well spent to be able to see Oahu from this vantage point. My advice is if you are planning on doing this hike – get there early! We signed up for the 6:20 AM shuttle and the amount of people was fairly low, which in my opinion is a good thing.
There were some people that were n a hurry, and would walk up on your ass like they were driving to work. But you simply move to a viewing point and let them pass.
And then once you come back down, be sure to stop at the food truck and get a Pineapple Whip! It is delicious!
Oh wow, this was incredible to be able to visit. Again, I had booked our Pearl Harbor tour online, and probably spent more money than I needed to. But that’s ok, it was worth it to us.
Being able to see the Arizona, and learn more about what happened was a little emotional and very somber.
We also learned that there are only 2 sailors still alive that were on the USS Arizona. Only 2! And after our trip to Pearl Harbor, our tour guide took us on a tour of Honolulu. It was very informative as well as fun.
We even got to see the only palace in the United States as well as King Kamehameha statue, Hawaii’s first king. The statue of him is beautiful. And it’s actually in the opening credits of the TV show Hawaii Five-0.
Lets Go To Hawaii!
Well that is my overview-book report on our trip to Hawaii. I can cross this off of my bucket list now! I even got on a paddle board, which totally was a surf board in my opinion.
And no, that isn’t me. I was practicing taking pictures of surfers, and this unsuspecting surfer lady just happened to be at the right place, the right time for my photo paparazzi practice.
Overall it was an incredible trip. The only bad thing that truly happened is my husband was helping me back on the surf board and his wedding ring flew off into the ocean! We searched and searched for it, but it was lost to the ocean. I look at it as an offering to the Menehune. But we totally left an offering of food for them in our hotel room too.
It’s ok though, because we found a very appropriate replacement ring for my husband from a company called Rings by Lux. They had a beautiful ring that when I saw it, I knew this was perfect for my husband.
It’s made from Tungsten, so it’s super hard and durable. And it has recycled Koa wood from Hawaii, along with a guitar string in the center. So appropriate for him, and it’s lovely! It’s also very affordable. Not something we had planned on replacing, but stuff happens right?
All in I ended up taking around 1100 photos during our trip. And no, I won’t subject you to looking at all of them! But I do want to get some prints made from the images I captured. And I am going to get a canvas style print of one of the photos.
I am leaning toward this one:
I love this picture. And I actually took it with my phone. Add in a little editing work in Lightroom mobile and I am happy. Or maybe this one:
I don’t know, there are so many pictures to choose from!
But I am also going to replace my photos of my horses, and random horse things in my wall collage that’s in our loft and replace those black and white photos with some of these photos of our trip.
I just think the Hawaii photos are more appropriate for this area of our home. And every time I walk out of my bedroom, I will be reminded of that one time we went to Hawaii….