When you picture “paradise,” what place usually comes to mind?
My mother, Curtis, Olivia, and I were all lucky enough to spend last week in Oahu with my lovely aunt and her boyfriend. Let me just say that it is truly as breathtaking as everyone says and even more beautiful than I could have possibly imagined.
A 30-minute drive to the airport, 6.5 hours from Logan to San Francisco, an hour layover, 6 more hours to Honolulu, and one more 30-minute drive to the condo and ALOHA, HAWAII! Everyone took a little bit to get settled and freshen up before we were right back out the door. Exhaustion be damned, we were going to the beach for the sunset no matter what!
For our first full day, we start off with a hike up Diamond Head to get a bird’s eye view of the tropical paradise we were in. As far as hikes go, it honestly doesn’t get any easier than this. There is a clear path to follow and a whole bunch of stairs at the end, but the top is a sight to see. Although the top is full to the brim with tourists, the views are gorgeous! The shave ice reward following our descent isn’t too shabby either.
After a well-deserved stop at Waikiki Beach to cool off from our hike, a few of us got to experience our first luau. I thought it was fun! I was advised by a few to skip it during this trip, claiming it was just a tourist trap and not really worth it. While I understand what they were saying, I think the experience is enjoyable and would recommend it. It is downright hilarious watching everyone attempt to hula dance, the food is quite yummy, and the hula/fire dancers are unbelievable.
This day is one of the parts of Hawaii I’ve been the most excited about: a tour through Kualoa Ranch (where they’ve filmed countless movies/TV shows such as Jurassic World, Kong, Lost, etc.).
On our way, we made a quick pit stop at Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. Seriously, there’s no such thing as too many scenic view stops when you’re in a place as lovely as this.
Kualoa Ranch is literally the most exquisite place I have ever seen in my entire life. I will forever remember that moment, standing out in the open in dinosaur valley, absorbing the beauty I was surrounded by. This is, without a doubt, an Oahu attraction that should NOT be missed!
Aside from the tremendous beauty, we were able to explore the Indominous Rex paddock set from Jurassic World – the actual movie set! When Liv realized where we were, she quite literally squealed in joy. There is also the Field of Bones set from Kong, a perfect location to take all sorts of pictures. The icing on the cake with this tour was our wonderful tour guide, George. He is hilarious, incredibly knowledgeable, and as personable as they come. In fact, he even dabbles in acting! You can see him play the father in Hawaii Five-O (season 6, episode 7) that gets kidnapped in an attempt to make a high school football player throw an important game. Be sure to check him out!
Day Four has us spending most of our day at Sea Life Park. They have this program where you get to interact with the dolphins in all sorts of ways. Liv and Curtis got to feed the whalphin (the only bottlenose dolphin/false killer whale hybrid in the world, according to the workers) as my Mom, my aunt, Brenda, and I got changed and got in the water.
What an experience!
It starts out pretty simple: photo ops kissing/being kissed by Maui (the male bottlenose) and the cradle pose. Then the real stuff comes. I swam out in the water and put my arms straight out while the trainer counted down from 3. Before I knew it, Maui and Hi’iaka (the female bottlenose) were coming up on either side of me and all I had to do was grab onto their dorsal fins for a ride across the pool. After that was the move that scared the crap out of me the most: the foot push. Basically, you are floating in the water, belly down, with your knees locked and your toes pointing down. Then the dolphins (or in this case, one dolphin and the whalphin) come up from behind you, place their noses against your feet, and push you up so you’re standing out of the water. It was crazy! Finally, a quick belly ride ended our Royal Dolphin Swim.
Aside from the Dolphins..
I know Liv was disappointed to not participate in this activity, but after doing it and seeing how hard it actually is and how much my Mom got beat up by the dolphins (accidentally, of course), I’m pretty happy she sat this one out. They’re powerful animals and one quick swipe of the tail can, oh I don’t know, break your foot or something like that… But she should definitely do it when she’s older!
Oh, they also have an interactive bird cage where you go in and there are lovebirds and cockatiels everywhere. They just fly over to you and eat the food sticks you’re given, no fear whatsoever. It seemed a little lame at first glance, but it was actually quite funny being in there.
Holokai Catamaran is a big sailboat with a funny crew of three guys that took us out on a snorkel/sailing tour. The first hour is spent in the water by the coral reef, surrounded by amazing schools of fish and several gigantic sea turtles. I shrieked like a small child when I saw the turtles! It was freaking amazing! They were huge and would come up to the surface right next to you. It was downright incredible.
The next hour and a half was not as fun – the sailing portion of the tour. This was the day I discovered I get sea sick… No actual vomiting, but nausea to the extreme. The only good part of this part was on our way back in, we saw two humpback whales! It was a welcomed distraction from the crappiness I was feeling on such a beautiful day.
Oh, and we went to a Polynesian Magic Show that night! Very entertaining, but LOUD.
Our last full day!
My aunt has a friend that is in charge of the diets of over 800 animals at the Honolulu Zoo and she graciously offered us a behind-the-scenes tour. We got to see where they prep all of the meals, learn a little about what some of them eat, and then we were off to the interactive section of our tour. The giraffes were first. I obviously knew they were big animals, but in person, HOLY COW. They’re enormous! We got to feed them and pet before doing the same to the Galapagos tortoises.
How lucky are we?!
WHAT A WEEK.
It’s been non-stop and jam-packed with adventure! We made one final stop at the beach for some boogie-boarding before we were off to the airport for the long journey back home.
Get to Hawaii
There aren’t enough good things I can say about this week. I am blessed beyond belief to have family members that showed me such an unbelievable time in just a few short days. Although I wouldn’t exactly call the trip relaxing, it was full of more beauty than I could have imagined and I will remember it for as long as I live.
Needless to say, I can’t wait to go back!
Embrace adventures, soak it all in, and every moment, Decide Bliss.