Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Great Hawaii Christmas Vacation Blog!

The one thing we have always wanted to do as a family is to go on a tropical Christmas vacation. And this was the year we got to do it. Oh yes.

Day 1 - Travel Day




We departed mid-afternoon from Edmonton and Santa was kind enough to see us off. We had an uneventful flight to Vancouver, where, unfortunately, Weather Armageddon had hit, delaying pretty much all the departing planes. Having suffered horrible delays on our last Hawaii trip, we took this all in stride and accepted that it could be a long night. Our flight was delayed by about 90 minutes, which gave us the chance to sit down and enjoy a meal.




The Vancouver airport has a very lovely aquarium. And the fish were delicious. (I'm kidding.)

We boarded the plane on time ("on time" = 90 minutes late) and everything was looking good to get us to Hawaii by midnight. And then we sat on the ground for an hour and 10 minutes. So, instead, we landed just before 1 a.m. local time and, well, just go ahead and convert that to Mountain Standard Time. I'll wait. And then we had to get out one piece of checked luggage, get our rental car and drive to our hotel. We finally crawled into bed at 2:30 a.m.



Day 2 - Shopping!



We slept until about 7 and my lovely wife and I walked to the corner store to buy some groceries. After a walk to the beach we decided to do some shopping along the streets of Waikiki, which led to the decision to hop the trolly for Ala Moana mall and some serious shopping. It was a highly successful trip: a really cute dress and several pairs of high-heeled shoes. And you should have seen what my girls bought! (Rimshot!)

We also saw a great hula show at the mall. Very entertaining. My lovely wife and my younger daughter got their picture taken with one of the dancers.



At one point while at the mall we looked at the clock and realized we has only been in Hawaii for 13 or so hours, which kind of blew our minds considering the circumstances.

After shopping, we made a short stop in the hotel pool, had supper and went to bed.

Day 3 - Thar Be Whales! And Turtles! And Seals! And Dolphins!



This was an absolutely amazing day!

We went whale watching. We had seven whale encounters. It was fabulous. The crew on the boat said it was the best whale excursion they had had so far in this young whale watching season. We figured the day had already peaked and we were fine with that.

Then we drove up to Electric Beach and snorkeled. There were lots and lots of fish. And we found a sea turtle lounging about in the reef eating lunch. Very cool. And we figured now the day had peaked. And we were very fine with that.




From there it was off to another beach where a Hawaiian Monk Seal was having a snooze on the sand. Yup. Just lying there. They do that, apparently. So we figured, OK, now the day had peaked. And we were absolutely fine with that.



Finally, on the northwest tip of the island we saw a large number of frolicking dolphins offshore, playing and jumping (yes, there is a dolphin in that picture above.) The kids were absolutely thrilled. And yes, the day peaked.

It was all fantastic.

Day 4 - Surf's Up!

We started the day by going to the local farmer's market, which was absolutely insane. Very busy but it had an enormous variety of food, fruits, veggies and everything from cheese to natto. We spent way too much money there. But it was a fun experience.



After dropping off our purchases it was off to the north shore to see the Giant Waves Of Doom. And people surfing them. It was wild! We have never come here in December before and had never seen the enormous surfing waves. Crazy.




There were also sea turtles. This guy was the only one on shore. The rest were bobbing in the waves.



And I took this picture at sunset. It's one of my faves.





Day 5 - Beach Day


We spent six hours on Waikiki beach. It was glorious.

And Santa came by. With a fiddle.



He's dropped some weight since we saw him at the Edmonton airport.

During our walk around Waikiki we found a bakery that not only was on Cupcake Wars, but won!




And, seriously, these were the best cupcakes we have ever had.




Day 6 - Diamond Head and Luau


We decided to spend the morning hiking to the top of Diamond Head. The park was so busy at 10 a.m. that we had to park off site and hike into the park. A pre-hike, if you will. The actual park hike up the mountain isn't too bad. There are lot of steps - a 99-step climb at one point and 75 at another point plus a lot of winding trails up the side of the volcano. But it's totally worth it for the view from the top.



The evening had us out at the Paradise Cove luau on the west side of the island. This was really fun and the food was excellent (as you can see from the picture the luau had the very traditional Hawaiian dish, "fried chicken".)

This luau was different than any we had done before in that they had pre-dinner activities that included spear chucking, lei making and getting (temporary) tribal tattoos. It was a great way to spend the time before the dinner and the show.



And the show was fun and had a Christmas theme. A good day all around.




Day 7 - Christmas Day!

We did it! Christmas Day in Hawaii!

Unfortunately, it was cloudy, cooler and drizzling for a good chunk of the day, but considering it was a thousand degrees below zero at home, we didn't complain, stuck it out and around 3 o'clock it cleared up a bit.




Christmas dinner was Korean BBQ on the beach. Delicious.

Day 8 - Zoo and Aloha, Hawaii

As a general rule, zoos are awesome and you can't go wrong with a trip to the zoo. The Honolulu zoo didn't disappoint. The kids were so excited to see the animals and we had the neat experience of watching and listening to the lion roar.




We got to the elephants just as it was feeding time. Our elephants were far more interested in eating the cardboard box in which their food came.

After that, we did a nice drive up the east coast before saying goodbye to Hawaii and heading for the airport. Where we were greeted by the news that our 11:30 pm flight was delayed an hour because President Obama was departing from his Hawaiian vacation this evening and that apparently grounds all other flights for a certain window before and after his departure. So, Mr. President, if we miss our connecting flight in Vancouver tomorrow morning, it's your fault.

Random thoughts:

Wheel of Fortune must be hysterical in Hawaii, given that the Hawaiian language uses about six consonants and has a vowel to consonant ratio of about three-to-one.

"Pat, I'd like an N."
"There are seven N's."
"I'd like to buy a vowel - a U."
"There are 19 U's!"
"I'd like to solve the puzzle."

Also, there is a highway called the Likelike Highway. It better have a Facebook page, so I can "like" Likelike.

So, as I write this from the departure lounge of the Honolulu airport (which doesn't have free wifi ... Boo!), I can say this was an absolutely fantastic trip. We did lots of things we didn't do the last time we were in Oahu, which was nice. Time to start planning our next adventure. Aloha!

EDIT: Now with our vacation video!


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