Tag Archives: hawaii vacation

Hawaii Vacation: Dining at Star Noodle, Lahaina


The last time I wrote, we had just experienced an amazing Kaanapali sunset. With my bathing suit still wet and sand still in our toes, we headed to dinner. Because in Hawaii, you can show up to a restaurant in flip flops and salt water in your hair. No problem.

When we decided to make Maui a destination on this Hawaii vacation, Mikey and I knew we wanted to visit Star Noodle in Lahaina. He and I are big fans of Top Chef, the reality TV cooking show on the Bravo network. A couple seasons ago, Chef Sheldon Simeon made it to the top three finalists. We rooted for him, knowing that he hailed from Hawaii, was Filipino and came off as a cool, laid-back, humble kind of guy. Typical island-guy persona.

Our dinner there did not disappoint. The menu showcased a number of house-made noodle dishes and Asian eats like kimchee, ramen and udon.


We started with a couple share plates — a vietnamese crepe (pictured below) and miso salmon (not pictured).



Although we didn’t order it, the Filipino “bacon and eggs” also caught my eye. Described as crispy pork, poached egg, tomato and onion, it sounded delicious. It’s one I’d order for sure if we ever go back.

I had the Lahaina Fried Soup with Fat Chow Funn, ground pork and bean sprouts.



Mikey had the Hot and Sour with chili lime dashi, smoked proscuitto, shrimp, cilantro, thai basil, bean sprouts and fried garlic. And sadly, I can’t remember what Mom and Dad ordered because I was too busy chowing down on my own dish. I also downed two glasses of this honeydew yuzu juice. I ordered it non-alcoholic, but there is the option to booze it if you choose it.



What we all remember and will never forget was the trio of desserts we ordered — specifically the malasadas (portuguese donuts).



These malasadas were warm, soft, fluffy — not to mention covered in sugar and accompanied by a trio of dipping sauces, including butterscotch and chocolate. The only problem was that there were only three. And while Dad was caught up talking to a local next to us at our communal dining table, Mom, Mikey and I each snagged one for ourselves. We then proceeded to order another round, so that Dad could have his share, and we could indulge in a little more. The gelato and mango pudding were yummy too, but the malasadas really shined. I still dream of them till this day.

We left Star Noodle as happy campers. From there, it was back to the condo for some R&R. We were scheduled to pack up and check out of our condo the next morning and prep for the quick jaunt back to Oahu.

Maui treated us well. I just wish Star Noodle would open up a location in St. Louis. We could use a legit noodle house.



Filed under Food, Travel, Vacation

Hawaii Vacation: Kaanapali Sunset

If you’ve kept up with my Hawaii vacation posts, you know that the purpose of dragging these posts out as long as they can go is not to give you vacation envy. It has seriously become a form of therapy in an effort to counteract this brutal winter that just won’t leave!

Something else I’ve found therapeutic — HGTV’s Hawaii Life. Have you seen it? It’s a TV series that documents the home-buying process in Hawaii for a wide range of families, lifestyles and budgets. Every episode is littered with breathtaking scenes from all over the Hawaiian isles. But more importantly, there are properties featured that Mikey and I could actually afford. Just something to keep in mind if we ever want to make that possibility a reality.

And so the recap continues…

Day 7 (continued)

Our day at Mount Haleakala was beautiful, but exhausting. All the changes in air pressure really do affect your body. And since Dad was the trooper who drove us around the whole day, we decided to stop back at our Aina Nalu condo to rest up for a bit.

Dad took a little snooze, while the rest of us planned out the evening agenda. We’d gone all day without our toes in the sand, so we made an executive decision to head to the beach.

Maui is known around the world for its magnificent beaches. Kaanapali Beach is one of them, and if you’re visiting Maui, you’re most likely to stay on this beach if you choose to lodge on Maui’s hotel row. As we drove north from Lahaina to Kaanapali, we found the trick was figuring out where to park. We eventually got suckered into paying for parking at the Whaler’s Village shopping center. From the parking lot, we walked through the outdoor mall to get to Kaanapali Beach — and what was soon to be the most gorgeous sunset I’d ever seen.

Mikey and I splashed in the waves for a few minutes until the setting sun behind us was just too pretty to ignore.


Splashing ashore


Ready for photo action!


Beach was cleared out for the most part, giving us lots of space to lounge.


Out mish mash of footprints


Picture perfect photo opp


He wears lobsters on his shorts. He’s the most interesting man on the beach.


Sun gleams gold


Is there anything more serene?


Spotted: two love birds


An orange-gold intensity


Just a sliver of sun merely seconds before setting. How’s that for alliteration?


I can almost feel the warmth.


Highly saturated orange gives way to neon pink.


Not your average pink and blue


Boat sets sail on Kaanapali


And of course, with social media, you’re never alone.

1 Comment

Filed under Travel, Vacation

Hawaii Vacation: Mount Haleakala

haleakala summit

Day 7: Mount Haleakala

Most people are quick to think that Hawaii is purely a paradise of sun and sand. And well, it is. But beyond the beach, high up in the mountain country of Maui, you can get a completely different perspective on the Land of Aloha. Mount Haleakala is Maui’s highest peak, where temperatures drop to anywhere between 40 and 60 degrees fahrenheit. It is also a massive shield volcano that formed more than 75 percent of the island of Maui. Visitors can drive up to the summit in Mount Haleakala National Park, which is exactly what we did on day 7 of our Hawaii vacation.

If you have any plans to visit Mount Haleakala during your tropical vacay, you ought to bring some pants and a fleece jacket. Although if you forget, you probably won’t stick out like a sore thumb. Mikey braved the cold in shorts and a t-shirt, and we saw a few other tourists rocking shorts and sandals in the midst of the subarctic temperatures. Who really thinks about fleece attire when you’re packing sunscreen and swimsuits, anyway? (Um, me and my always-prepared dad. Mom and Mikey not so much.)

From the moment I stepped out of our rental SUV at the first Haleakala visitor’s center, I knew something was up. I felt funny. And it wasn’t the chill in the air. It was altitude sickness. It shouldn’t have been a surprise. Nausea had quickly become standard operating procedure for me while in Hawaii. It happened first during our surfing lesson, a second time during the Road to Hana drive and a third at Mount Haleakala. Wonderful.

After quickly perusing the displays at the first visitor’s center, Dad recommended I sit down and take it easy. It helped, and minutes later, we hopped back into the car to stop at the second visitor’s center. There wasn’t much to see there, so we didn’t stay long. We did encounter some friends in the parking lot though.

haleakala chakur partridge

A chakur partridge in search of food

chakur partridge

Looking fierce with those fiery red eyes

haleakala summit

The only photo Dad managed to take of me while nauseated. Pictured here is a ribbon rock. It forms when lava shoots up into the air and freezes before landing, forming this solid curve.

Once in the car, the rain clouds came to greet us. And unlike tropical rain that comes and goes and actually counteracts the oppressive humidity, this rain was cold. We decided to wait out the rain before driving the home stretch of road to the summit. Luckily, we had plenty of snacks to keep us entertained.

The rain eventually ceased, and by the time we reached the summit, I was feeling much better. My body was adapting to the altitude, and I could finally enjoy some of the scenery — massive clouds in motion right before our eyes. Red rock emitting the only source of warmth from the hard earth below us. It felt like we were standing at the edge of the world.

haleakala summit

Taking the stairs was quite an undertaking at that high altitude.

haleakala summit

Big cotton balls in the background

haleakala summit

We were lucky to see blue skies when we first arrived. Darker skies settled in a few minutes after this.

haleakala summit

Mom and Dad at the summit

haleakala summit

It took this cyclist six hours to reach the top. Wow.

haleakala summit

Aloha from and elevation of 10,023 feet!

haleakala summit

Pondering the meaning of life

haleakala summit

Simply heavenly

haleakala summit

It was amazing how much heat this stretch of rock was emitting. I stood there for a long while trying to warm up.

haleakala summit

A twisting road leads back down to the second visitor’s center behind me.

One of my favorite Haleakala sights is the silversword, a plant endemic to Mount Haleakala. That means this is only place in the world where this plant grows. The blade-like stems at the bottom reminded me of succulents, and the flowers that extended north reminded me of purple coneflowers, but with much shorter petals. It was cool to stand face to face with something so rare, and we were lucky to have been there at the right time to see many of them in bloom.






Close, but no cigar.


I win with my tippy toes.



By the time we piled back into the car, my altitude sickness had pretty much worn off, but unfortunately Mom was coming down with it. She dozed off, while Dad navigated the winding road back down to the warm island breezes that we came to Hawaii for.

While my Haleakala experience got off to a rocky start (no pun intended), I’m glad we did it. If I did it again, I’d like to go at sunrise and get some great pictures. In fact, that’s what many of the tourist sites recommend. But realistically, we knew our inability to a) get up before the crack of dawn, and b) get out the door in a timely fashion, so we didn’t even attempt an early rise that morning. If we had, it would have been a 2am wake-up call.

Many of the tourist sites also mention the option of riding a bike from the summit back down to the visitor’s center, but my adventurous side was wary of the all-to-real possibility of biking straight off a cliff. Would be a cool experience though — if I were a little more brave. Fact is, I’m usually willing to try new things, but lounging on the beach is, has and always will be my strong suit.

Next up: the most amazing sunset my eyes have seen…

1 Comment

Filed under Travel, Vacation

Hawaii Vacation: Road to Hana and Oheo Gulch

The last time I posted, we were bracing ourselves for a massive snowstorm. Said massive snowstorm came and went, but winter is still gracing us with presents every day. Wind, rain, freezing rain, sleet, ice, black ice, wintry mixes and the most-talked-about phrase of the season, the polar vortex. How many different words do you really need to describe downright cold? And so recapping our Hawaii trip continues to be my saving grace as the first month of the year closes out and February rolls in.

Day 6: Road to Hana

All the tourism sites tout the Road to Hana as a must-see, must-drive, must-do. So naturally, I put it on our to-do list. My dad wasn’t so sure though. Everything he had read and heard said the Road to Hana was an arduous trip, and a long one at that. He preferred to spend a full day seeing other Maui attractions, but my persuasive daughter powers persisted, and in the end, Mom and I convinced him to give the Road to Hana a go.

If you aren’t familiar, the Road to Hana is a 68-mile stretch of highway along Maui’s rugged eastern coastline that boasts a whopping 620 curves and 59 bridges. The drive is a total of two and a half hours without stopping, but the whole point is to make numerous stops. At various points throughout the drive, you can see waterfalls, hike through lush tropical forests, gawk at rainbow-colored eucalyptus trees, stop at a roadside fruit stand, view the ocean from a high-in-the-sky overlook, watch windsurfers dominate the waves and so much more. To do it all in a day is literally impossible.

In true Sarusal fashion, we got a late start in the morning. We eventually hit the road, headed toward the town of Paia, where we dined for lunch the day before. Minutes later, that’s where the Road to Hana officially began. I spent most of my time with my nose in a tablet, trying to figure out which stops would be best for us to check out. Not the best idea when you’re sitting in the back seat, rounding 620 turns every which way. Motion sickness quickly settled in.

The only cure was to actually make a couple stops, so I could actually get my bearings. We pulled over to the side of the road at one point, where some tourists were embarking on a trail. We only stayed a few minutes to get some fresh air and did the same near an arboretum not much farther on the drive.

Our first actual stop where we saw something worthwhile was the Keane Peninusula. Nothing but craggy stretches of volcanic rock, extending off into the distance beside a vast blue ocean. Mikey and I immediately came upon some black crabs that blended seamlessly into the rock. Good camouflage.

Less than a mile from this stopping point, there was another picture-worthy site of the Keane Peninsula where more cars were gathered to watch the waves pound into rocky terrain. We captured some of our best photos here. Words can’t describe how stunning it was. I could’ve stayed there all day.

Once Dad and I had our fill of photographs, we hit the road again and made another little stop at an overlook.

road to hana overlook

road to hana overlook

Then, it was back at it again until we came upon Waikani Falls, also known as Three Bears Waterfall. Dad was getting very irritable with the other tourists at that point. Many of them were blatantly avoiding the “no parking” road signs, making it difficult for other cars to pass. We found a parking inlet around the bend from the falls and walked on the side of the road until Waikani Falls came into view.

We spent a good deal of time at Waikani Falls. Took lots of pictures and witnessed an angry local call the cops on all those tourists who were illegally parked until we eventually decided it was time to move on.

At that time, it was starting to get late in the day. We decided to forego the rest of the stops on the Road to Hana in order to make it to Oheo Gulch before close.

Oheo Gulch is a series of swimming pools, fed by waterfalls. It is part of the National Park Service, so expect to pay a $10 fee per car upon entering the park. You may also hear Oheo Gulch referred to as the Seven Sacred Pools. But there’s nothing sacred about them. Locals will tell you the name is just a marketing tactic. Props to the copywriter who came up with that one.

We didn’t spend much time at Oheo Gulch, but it was a great way to end the day. With all the twists and turns and braking and accelerating on the road, it was nice to be on solid ground. Mikey and I swam through some of the pools. (Careful climbing on all those rocks. They’re slippery suckers.) And as is always the case, Dad took pictures and Mom found a breezy area to catch some quick zzzz’s.

Although many tourism sites will tell you to avoid driving back at night, Dad thought it was a piece of cake. You get the benefit of less cars on the road. Dad ultimately admitted that Road to Hana wasn’t nearly as challenging as everyone says it is. The tourism sites probably have to say it is, so that off-islanders know to use extreme caution. But to someone like Dad who grew up on an tiny island, he didn’t think much of it. It was a lot like driving on Guam.

Dad got us safely back into Paia. We were all starved at that point and found a little Thai restaurant, called Bangkok Cuisine in Kahului to fill our grumbling tummies.


Overall, I have to say that the Road to Hana wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Yes, part of the reason for my poor experience is because I was nauseous the whole time. (Seems to be a theme for the trip as evidenced by my surfing post and the Haleakala post that’s in the works.) Or maybe it’s because we’ve done coastal drives before. In fact, that’s a common activity back on Guam. “Hey, let’s go drive around the island.” And driving around Guam is better because you can literally drive around the entire island in less than a day. Aside from the nausea though, I wasn’t overly wowed by what we saw on the Road to Hana, with the exception of the Keane Peninsula. Now maybe that’s because we didn’t make nearly enough stops as we would’ve liked, which brings me to my next point…

Would I ever drive the Road to Hana again? Maybe, but leaning toward the side of no. The only way I would do Hana again is to spread it out over a couple days. I’d need to stay overnight somewhere to break things up. To do it in a day is frankly, too rushed. And next time, I absolutely positively need to remember to bring the Dramamine.

Next up: visiting the summit of Mount Haleakala.


Filed under Travel, Vacation

Hawaii Vacation: North Shore Tour

Day 3 (continued): Kahuku & Sunset Beach

Since I had to bail early on the surfing lesson, Mikey finished up the last half hour without me.  Soon after, my body finally exited its state of nausea and replaced it with hunger. Time to eat!

Kahuku Food Trucks

We loaded our belongings into our Jeep Liberty rental and headed north into Kahuku. Eventually, an open area along the left side of the road opened up. Home to food trucks, fruit stands and little souvenir shops, it was a perfect place to pop in for some outdoor eats. We settled in at the Kahuku Shrimp Thai Food truck, and I ordered up a hearty helping of pad thai. Dee-licious.

kahuku shrimp thai food truck

kahuku shrimp pad thai

kahuku shrimp food truck stop

kahuku shave ice

We also perused the souvenirs housed in the colorful wooden cottages next door to the food trucks. They offered a great selection of sarongs and traditional Hawaiian wood-carved keepsakes.

Kahuku Farms

With full bellies, we packed ourselves back into the Jeep and headed south along the North Shore road to our next stop — Kahuku Farms. Mikey, Dad and I love to go beach-hopping. The beaches are usually our number one priority when traveling to Hawaii. Mom likes it too, but she likes visiting the fruit stands and farmer’s markets along the road even more. Because, let’s face it, St. Louis isn’t really known for setting up fruit stands along the side of the road, and if St. Louis did, the selection would certainly be lacking in the tropical fruit department.

Kahuku Farms wasn’t far from our lunch spot. So we pulled over to take a gander.

Star fruit and mangos and kiwi, oh my!

The ever-exotic dragon fruit

Pineapples lined up saying, “Pick me! Pick me!”

Bananas on a wire

Mom was very pleased with her purchase. Although I can’t remember what her purchase was. Cassava something?

The sweet spread of Kahuku Farms fruit I enjoyed for breakfast the next day.

The sweet spread of Kahuku Farms fruit I enjoyed for breakfast the next day.

I was particularly wowed at the star fruit and dragon fruit. I’d never actually seen them in person. And I had never actually tasted dragon fruit. (Minus the dragon fruit infused beer that Michelob Ultra used to make.) There was also mango, papaya and jack fruit the size of my head. And to represent the Midwest, there was even corn on the cob for sale. We left Kahuku Farms with a few Ziploc bags of sliced fruit — kiwi, mango, papaya, guava, pomegranate seeds, pineapple, star fruit and dragon fruit. They were perfect for munching at the beach or in the car.

Sunset Beach

Next stop:  Sunset Beach. The last time we were at Sunset Beach was six years ago. The experience then was much different from the experience we had this time around. The beach was pretty packed. (We were nearly lonesome the last time.) The surf was way, way up. (The water was almost pool-like the last time.) And short periods of rain kept creeping in behind us. (The sun was working overtime the last time. We were hard pressed to find a shady spot.)

Nevertheless, Sunset Beach is still one of our favorites. It doesn’t matter how or when you go. You really can’t complain when you’re in this kind of paradise. And the waves provided great photo opportunities for Dad and me.

sunset beach 6

sunset beach 4

sunset beach 5

sunset beach 19

Dad McGuyver’d a sun blocker with our beach towel.

sunset beach 1

Wave at its peak

sunset beach 3

It was fun watching these guys brave the waves.

sunset beach 14

Can’t take credit for this awesome photo. Dad was the guy behind the lens.

sunset beach 15

Looks like fun

sunset beach 16

Like a big ole glob of toothpaste

sunset beach 17

Here it comes!

sunset beach 2

Hang loose!

sunset beach 7

One with the ocean

Mikey and I spent a good deal of time swimming. Quite a workout, considering how powerful the waves can be. It took some muscle to stay in one spot. In fact, a girl from the group next to us was caught off guard by one of the incoming waves and fell under for a few seconds. She came up gasping for air and in a good deal of shock. Her friends were there to calm her down though. Just goes to show how close an eye you have to keep on those incoming kahunas.

sunset beach 11

sunset beach 12

sunset beach 13

After swimming, we camped out in the shade for a few minutes. A short spurt of rain came through, causing us to break out the beach umbrella. In true Hawaiian form, the rain stopped by the time we got the umbrella set up. And then a colorful surprise peeked through the trees.

sunset beach  10

Mikey guarding our station

sunset beach 18

Hanging out at the beach underneath a shade tree. This is the life.

sunset beach  9

Somewhere over the rainbow…

A few minutes later, the sun began to set. And what better place to be at sunset than at Sunset Beach.

Unfortunately, there were low clouds blocking our view of the sun just as it set over the Pacific. But Dad managed to snap some good ones.

sunset beach 8

Photographer/videographer setting up his shot

sunset beach 19

Group pic minus our photographer

And that concluded Day 3. We drove the long road back to Lola’s house and hit the hay to rest up for the next day — snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.

Leave a comment

Filed under Photography, Travel, Vacation

Hawaii Vacation: There Goes My Pro Surfing Career

Surf Lesson 11

Day 3: Surfing

The decision has been made. When I die, I want to come back to earth as a surfer girl. I don’t know what my fascination is — other than surfers are just cool. It may also have to do with the reality show on MTV, Surfer Girls, that I watched religiously back in college, circa 2003. Does anyone remember that show?

When planning our Hawaii trip, Mikey and I immediately saw this as an opportunity to check the surfing item off the bucket list. We’d never stepped foot on a surfboard before, but Hawaii, with its world-renowned waves, was the perfect place to do it. And that’s what we did on Day 3 of our trip.

A few weeks before departing for the Land of Aloha, good old Groupon featured a voucher for the Island Style Surf School on Oahu’s North Shore. The deal was for a private two-hour lesson for two. We pulled trigger, bought the Groupon and booked the lesson over the phone once we arrived in Hawaii.

The site of surfing lesson was Chunn’s Reef, one of the many amazing beaches located on the North Shore. When it was time for our lesson to begin, we spotted our instructor, Felippa, and after introductions, she began the process of walking us through the safety instructions, surfing do’s and don’ts and how to paddle, pop-up and ride the wave on our boards. There was a lot to take in, especially her explanation about the currents. It didn’t help that rain clouds were quickly moving in, but eventually it was time to walk to the water’s edge and paddle out to some waves.

Chunns Reef

The beautiful scene upon our arrival at Chunn’s Reef

Surf Lesson 10

Skies darkening

Surf Lesson 2

Surfing 101

Surf Lesson 1

Walking through the motions. Like yoga on a surf board.

There were a number of other surfers out that morning. Everyone had to take turns catching a wave. I spent a decent amount of time paddling out, getting comfortable with how to maneuver my board to go left and right and generally trying to stabilize my board and prevent it from drifting away from the group.

Surf Lesson 8

On the watch-out for waves

Surf Lesson 9

Paddle, paddle, paddle

As Mikey and I tried our first waves, the rain came. The winds were creating strange patterns with the current, but we still kept at it. Felippa kept a close eye on all our surroundings to ensure we were getting waves us beginners could handle.

And of course, Mikey, being the super athlete who excels at every sport whether he’s played it before or not, soon popped up on his board and rode his first wave. I eventually followed suit on my third try. Not bad! And although I probably only stood up for three seconds, I could feel and appreciate that momentous rush of rapid paddling, then giving way to the wave’s momentum — your signal that it’s time to pop up and ride out.

Surf Lesson 3

Looking good!

Surf Lesson 4

A close-up. And a good facial expression.

Surf Lesson 7

Hopping off

Surf Lesson 5

Easy does it

Surf Lesson 6

Almost up!

Shortly after, things started to go sour for me. Don’t let surfing fool you. It’s a major upper body workout. Paddling out was exhausting my little (let’s be honest — weak!) arms. While Mikey was catching his waves, I was trying my best to relax and catch my breath. But in doing so, the lull of the ocean kept steering me away from the group. And that constant lull was also making me feel weird. Nausea was kicking in. Ugggghhhh.

Mikey asked Felippa for a time check. We’d been in the water for an hour and a half. So I made the decision to paddle back in and get my body back to normal. Mikey stayed in and caught a few more waves. He also spotted two gigantic sea turtles underneath him while out on his board. I was jealous. (He got to surf with sea turtles!) But I was glad to have my bearings back on solid ground.

So as it turns out, I’m not very good at surfing. Even though the waves were bitty, my body wasn’t too happy with the up-and-down motion of the ocean. Which sucks. But at least I tried it, and I got up on the board. And that’s not to say I won’t try it again. If I ever get the opportunity to do another lesson at a cheap, affordable price, I would definitely get out there again. Besides, I invested in a rash guard (an athletic shirt for water sports). I need another excuse to wear it!

In the meantime, I’ll continue to get my surfer fix by watching movies like Blue Crush and Soul Surfer. My body might just be better suited for the couch.


Filed under Travel, Vacation

Six Years Since Hawaii

The hubs, The Bear, the parental units and I just returned from a three-day stay at the Lake of the Ozarks. As much as I want to rave about how amazing it was to escape the everyday work routine, I am already on to the next thing. (Photos and recap from the Ozarks vacay are still to come, but as for the next thing…) It’s our upcoming vacation to Hawaii!

A vacation to the Land of Aloha is long overdue. My paternal grandmother lives on Oahu, along with aunts, uncles and cousins, who I haven’t seen in about six years. It’s high time for our return, and to say that I’m excited is an understatement. I am pumped. And extremely thankful that our family members have not followed our footsteps into the Midwest and chosen to stay in the tropical locale where our family originated. It gives us reason to go back and reconnect.

All of this excitement takes me back to the last time we visited Hawaii. It was 2007. Mikey and I were about a year out of college. We weren’t even engaged yet. It was the first time I was introducing a boyfriend to Lola (that’s the Filipino word for “grandmother”, FYI). I remember we did anything and everything while there. (Oh, and introducing Mikey to Lola went swimmingly, in case you were wondering.)

We hiked the top of Diamond Head, a famous volcanic crater that overlooks the Pacific Ocean at the end of Waikiki.


Visited Punch Bowl Cemetery, a 75,000 or so year-old crater and memorial site to men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces — many of whom passed away during World War II.



Let the water tickle our toes as we walked the stretch of Waikiki Beach.


Beach-hopped along the North Shore, while soaking up the sun and splashing in the waves of Sunset Beach, the Banzai Pipleine and Waimea Bay.






Took a few history lessons on the USS Arizona and USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor.



Drove to the windward side of the island to Kailua Beach, where we walked on the softest sand I’ve ever set foot on and watched wind surfers travel the open seascape.



Immersed ourselves in the Polynesian cultures of Tonga, Samoa, Aeotearoa,Tahiti, Fiji and Hawaii at the Polynesian Cultural Center.



Ate like true islanders at an authentic luau.


Watched hula dancers shake it and fire dancers not drop it like it’s hot.



We did so much during our last Hawaii trip that I wonder if this upcoming visit will live up to the last. One thing that will be different is our itinerary, which includes a three-night stay in Maui. That’s a whole other island for us to explore. But really, let’s face it. You could stick me on a beach with beer, food and sunscreen for the entire duration of our visit, and I would be content. Heck, that’s what I’ll probably be doing the whole trip anyway.

Note: I can’t go without giving credit to my Father Photographer for a number of these photos. He’s rarely photographed, but always behind the camera, freeze-framing all of our family memories.

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel, Vacation

I’m having a Gen Y moment.

My parents are in Hawaii right now. Hawaii, as in, sun and sand and beaches and breezes. The land of Aloha where us island folk can buy Spam and rice at the gas station — or better yet, at McDonald’s! You see friends, herein lies the problem. I’m not there with them. And it kinda feels like this guy in the Toyota Venza commercial. Actually no, it feels exactly like this guy in the Toyota Venza commercial.

Parents? Out having fun? What?

Well, their island escapades are making me all nostalgic about the last time I was in Hawaii. That was when Mom and Dad brought us kids (Mikey and I) along. There, we stayed with family and spent a lot of time beach-hopping around Oahu. Makes for a much cheaper vacation. Beaches don’t cost a thing.

We checked out the Banzai pipeline. Waves weren't massive like they are in the winter. But they were still pretty rough, even standing at the shore.

We swam at the picturesque Waimea Bay.

We walked the beaches of Waikiki. Probably the rockiest of all the beaches we visited, but who's complaining?

We cooled off in Sunset Beach's stunning turquoise waters.

We spent a few hours at Kailua Beach on the windward side of the island. A lot of wind surfers and the finest, whitest sand I've seen. Kailua was my favorite.

We also did some touristy, sight-seeing stuff too.

Dad: You guys wanna take a picture by the sign? Mikey: I don't know, Larissa might not be able to see over the sign. Me: Silence. Insert growl face.

We visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

And brought out the big guns on the Mighty MO. (Where the WWII peace treaty with Japan was signed.)

And we spent a day (and evening) at the Polynesian Cultural Center, learning about island traditions from Tonga to Tahiti.

I was so determined to put this nostalgia behind me that when I called my parents up last Friday, I coerced them into a binding, unbreakable agreement that said we would return to Hawaii in 2013 and not only see Oahu, but see Maui and the Big Island. Annnnd, maybe I’ll make an addendum to add Kauai to the itinerary. I don’t have their signatures or fingerprints or anything. But now, it’s on the Internet, so that makes it official, right?

In all sincerity, I hope Mom and Dad truly enjoy the rest of their stay in the land of Aloha… even though I know they’re sulking in agony without me. 🙂


Filed under Family, Travel, Vacation