Hawaii – The Barefoot Nomad https://www.thebarefootnomad.com Travel. Tech. Family. Fun. Fri, 15 Jun 2018 22:40:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Snorkeling and the Beach at Hanauma Bay in Oahu https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/hawaii/snorkeling-and-the-beach-at-hanauma-bay-in-oahu/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/hawaii/snorkeling-and-the-beach-at-hanauma-bay-in-oahu/#comments Tue, 14 Aug 2012 17:52:37 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=2878 A few months back, we had the pleasure of spending time in the Hawaiian Islands with some friends. It was a hectic and fun vacation that ended much sooner than we would have liked. The day after our epic road trip around the island of Oahu, we finally got the chance to don our masks and snorkels and check out Oahu's premiere snorkelling destination, gorgeous Hanauma Bay. With the wind in our hair and the sun overhead, we buckled the kids in tight and drove our convertible Jeep the short trip from busy Waikiki to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

At the suggestion of our hotel's tour desk, we arrived at the park around 8:30 a.m. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve only...

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A few months back, we had the pleasure of spending time in the Hawaiian Islands with some friends. It was a hectic and fun vacation that ended much sooner than we would have liked. The day after our epic road trip around the island of Oahu, we finally got the chance to don our masks and snorkels and check out Oahu’s premiere snorkeling destination, gorgeous Hanauma Bay. With the wind in our hair and the sun overhead, we buckled the kids in tight and drove our convertible Jeep the short trip from busy Waikiki to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu, Hawaii (Photo by D Ramey Logan)

At the suggestion of our hotel’s tour desk, we arrived at the park around 8:30 a.m. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve only lets in a set number of people daily and if you arrive after that number is reached you won’t get in. We were told repeatedly that if you don’t get there by 8:30 a.m. you might as well stay home however even after we left for lunch people were still streaming in. We have no idea if that is the norm or not but when we got there at 8:30 the parking lot was almost empty. That logic might apply more at certain times of the year and perhaps even on weekends so take it as you will. Of course, it’s still probably not a bad idea to get there early anyway as it gives you more of the day to enjoy the sights.

As we pulled into the large lot and paid the attendant the $1 vehicle fee, our excitement for the morning was almost palpable. We had already been on the island for a few days and I hadn’t donned a mask and snorkel yet. Snorkeling is definitely one of my favourite ocean pastimes and we had heard good things about Hanauma Bay. I’m not sure if the kids felt my excitement or they were excited on their but I could tell they were all ready for a nice morning of beach activities. As we paid our $7.50 per adult entrance fee (kids under 12 and locals get in free) we ran to the theater just as they were shutting the doors.

Watching a movie presentation about the bay is mandatory before being allowed access to the water. Luckily, the presentation was entertaining and went by quickly. The entrance to Hanauma Bay is high on the bluff overlooking the bay, with a long walkway leading down to the water. Visitors can either walk the paved path or take a tram. The tram costs $0.50 to ride down and $1 to ride up. We decided to walk down and then treat ourselves to a ride on the way back up. As we walked down the walkway there were some gorgeous lookouts of the bay and its turquoise water. The kids were excited to splash in the ocean and start building sand castles on the beach.

Hmm, maybe I should rephrase that last sentence to destroying sand castles on the beach. After the kids have an inspired creative moment deciding what form, design or shape they think we should build, I’m usually left to complete the sand castle alone while they run about and cause mayhem. I used to find it hard to make something that’s only around for a brief moment of time however the joy on the kids’ faces as their destructive momentum takes them from an almost shy, “whoops I think I cracked it”, to a full on mad frenzy of sculpture destruction makes it worth it. The sand sculpture they gleefully destroyed at Hanauma Bay was a caterpillar on a leaf that my daughter requested.

A Minute Before the Mayhem

A Minute Before the Mayhem

After the sand caterpillar was thoroughly destroyed, my buddy and I quickly slipped into our masks and snorkels and headed for the open sea. By sea, I mean a shallow tranquil bay with almost more people than fish. In truth, Hanauma Bay didn’t have amazing sea life however it was still a fun place to snorkel. The coral wasn’t overly colorful, the fish weren’t crazily abundant and the place was getting pretty crowded by the time we left, but I got to see three green turtles up close, a few puffer fish and a very large and annoyed moray eel.

Snorkelling at Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

I also got the opportunity to snorkel with a friend, which I never realized how much I missed. These days, Micki and I usually take turns watching the kids while the other snorkels. With two people out together you tend to go longer, see more and get to share your discoveries as they happen. The look on my friends face as the eel slithered towards him was priceless. As was my bewilderment later while I feverishly tried to swim backwards when I peered into a large hole in the coral just as a large and surprised turtle was swimming out. That experience alone was worth the admission. I still don’t know who was more surprised, me or the turtle, but I chuckle every time I think back to it.

I can just imagine the turtle lounging in the ocean with a few of his turtle buddies later that night shaking his head and going “Dude, there I was down in Coral point 3, you know the one in the middle of nowhere on the right side with the large hole in the top? Well, there I was finishing off a nice little meal when I decide to head up to see what’s going on in the world. I’m being all slow and careful like trying to navigate the opening since my shell is nearly as big as the opening and just as I peak out this gangly human with these huge eyes is like inches from my face. Man, I almost shat myself right there on the spot. I think I gave him an even greater surprise though. Man, that dude was moving! Ha ha, pass the sea grass dude

With yet another strange sea turtle experience I’ll end this post. We had a great morning exploring Hanauma Bay with good friends and good weather. With the sun on our heads and the wind in our hair it was now time to see where that Jeep could take us for the afternoon. That, my friends, will be a post for another day.

Happy travels from us here at The Barefoot Nomad!

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A Tacky Good Time at the Hale Koa Luau in Waikiki https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/hawaii/a-tacky-good-time-at-the-hale-koa-luau-in-waikiki/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/hawaii/a-tacky-good-time-at-the-hale-koa-luau-in-waikiki/#comments Tue, 17 Jul 2012 08:51:24 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=2546 On our last night in Oahu, we stumbled onto a luau at the Hale Koa Hotel. Though the authenticity of their Polynesian cultural experience is up for serious debate, Waikiki's Luaus can be a cheesy good time if you're willing to let your hair down a little.

We picked up some last minute tickets for the evening's luau and set in for a fine night of over the top tourist tackiness and family fun.

A luau is a great way to sample traditional Hawaiian food, watch the hula girls and fire dancers and to enjoy a ...

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On our last night on Oahu, as we walked back to our hotel to kill the remaining hours before our flight, we stumbled on a long line of men and women dressed up for a Hawaiian night out. They were in line for that evening’s luau at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki.

We weren’t exactly dressed in our finest, but walked to the ticket counter to see how long the show lasted and how many clamshells the luau would cost us.  It turned out to be a decent price ($48 per adult) and the timing was perfect.

Happy at the Hale Koa Luau in Oahu

Cheesy smiles at the Hale Koa Luau in Oahu

The authenticity of the Polynesian cultural experience in commercial luaus is up for debate. On the other hand, we heard that Oahu’s Luaus can be a cheesy good time if you’re willing to let your hair down a little. We picked up our last minute tickets and set in for a fine night of over the top tourist tackiness and family fun. The Hale Koa luau had all that in spades and more.

The Hale Koa puts on a great luau for kids. We were greeted with a shell lei and a decent Mai Thai. The little ones were given some delicious fruit juice. The lovely gardens were filled with fun activities, including making a flower lei bracelet, creating a warrior head band made of palm fronds, blowing conch shells, getting a removable tattoo and learning to twirl Poi (balls on a rope) originally practiced by the Maori from New Zealand.

Learning to Make a Flower Lei

Concentrating on a Flower Lei

One thing the Hale Koa pre-show had plenty of was humor. Cousin Dennis hosted the pre-show demonstrating all the activities around the yard and then rapidly climbed a coconut tree in the classic tribal style. He was quick witted, comical and had everyone smiling along with his antics. Everyone from the pre-show demonstrations was smiling and laughing, including the hula dancers and the tribesmen.

Hale Koa Tree Climber  Waikiki Hawaii

Climbing a Palm Tree

The pre-show ended with the removal of of the roast pig from the imu (underground oven). Traditionally, an imu was a hole dug in the ground, lined with head size lava rocks and with a fire of kiawe wood. Banana tree stumps were typically used to line the imu to prevent burning and to help steam the pig. The pig was then stuffed with hot rocks and wrapped with banana leaves for around 12 hours. At the luau, the pit is a permanent large mound of rock and concrete, however the pig is still prepared in the traditional style.

Removing the Roast Pig from the Imu Hale Koa Luau Waikiki Oahu Hawaii 640

Removing the Roast Pig from the Imu

Traditionally called an Aha ‘Aina, the luau was a gathering centered around a feast to celebrate a successful harvest, the birth of a child, or a victorious battle. It included games of skill and competitions of bravery. The luau show at the Hale Kona Hotel is more of a dinner theater with a luau theme.

Native Hawaiian Glenn Medeiros (of Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You fame from the late 1980s) put on the dinner show with equal doses of cheese, humor and patriotism. Because the Hale Koa Luau is a military hotel, there was a lot of commentary on military service in the show and an over the top, but touching tribute to those who’ve served at the end of the evening.

We were expecting the dinner show to focus on Hawaiian history, but instead it featured many different styles of Polynesian entertainment, including Tahitian hula, Maori haka and of course, a Samoan fire dancer. The show was professional and the dancers talented. We would have preferred to see more of the entertaining Cousin Dennis and less of Glenn, but the show moved along at a good pace. The young fire dancers were especially talented and both of our kids watched the fire dancing demonstration with fascination.

Fire Knife Dance at the Hale Kale Luau

Fire Knife Dance at the Hale Kale Luau © offwithyourtv Flickr

Supper was more than ample for the average guest, with huge plates of Kahlua pork, Mahimahi fish, chicken, sweet potato, seasoned rice and fried banana. Servers dropped prepared plates on our tables as we watched the activities. Side dishes included everything from fresh fruit that was cut up and stacked all around the table to cucumber salad, seaweed and the obligatory poi.

Poi is a gloopy, purplish, slighly sour paste made from the taro root. The taro is cooked, mashed with water and then fermented. Poi is a common dish that Hawaii locals seem to love.

Poi Hale Koa Luau menu

Gloopy, Gloppy Poi © arnold | inuyaki Flickr

For a vegetarian, the meal was definitely lacking. Micki ended up eating fresh fruit from our table and the sweet potatoes. She went away more than a little hungry. She also learned the hard way that the little bowl that looks like bruschetta topping is actually lomilomi, a native Hawaiian dish made with salmon, onions and tomatoes. Not a fan of salmon she took a giant bite and was more than a little surprised at the flavor. The line “Who adds raw fish to bruschetta?” became our in-joke for the remainder of the evening.

The final course was a simple but delicious desert of either coconut cake or pudding. The kids, who were a little hungry themselves, sweet talked the server into seconds.

Extra alcoholic drinks could be purchased from the center bar, but since we were leaving in a few hours we decided to skip them. From what we heard, most are $7 a piece so we were happy we stuck with the pitchers of water they served.

The evening finished the same way it started, with photo ops of women in coconut bras and beefy tattooed men (one of whom looked exactly like The Rock).

All in all, the Hale Koa luau was a cheesy good time, even though it wasn’t in our travel plans. It’s exactly what you would expect of a commercial luau in the middle of Waikiki, Oahu. We were thrilled we had the chance to take in an Hawaiian Luau and the kids were so tired that the flight home was quiet and restful.

All About The Hale Koa Luau

Reviews said that you must be a member of the military or sponsored by someone to attend the Hale Koa luau. We’re not military and we just walked up to the ticket counter and purchased tickets, so it doesn’t seem to be enforced.

Where:  Monday nights at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki.

When:  Seating for dinner is at 5:30.

Cost:  $48 for adults, free for kids under six. Tickets included two free alcoholic drinks, pre-dinner show and activities, supper and the supper show.You can buy tickets at the Hale Koa Activities Desk, by phone (808-955-0555) with a major credit card or at Special Services ticket outlets.

Reservations:  To guarantee a seat, a reservation is a good idea, but we walked up just before 4:30 and bought four tickets at the ticket counter on the ocean side of the hotel.

More info:  Hale Koa Hotel or phone 808-955-0555.

Cons:  The Hale Koa Luau isn’t on the beach, so if you’re in the mood for a luau on the sand with the surf crashing in the background, this may not be the one for you.

Pros:  Great entertainment option for families, much cheaper than other Luaus and located conveniently in Waikiki.

Other Oahu Luaus

GermainesGermaine’s Luau. $72 for adults, free ages five and under. Located 45 minutes from Waikiki, with free transportation from Waikiki hotels. Tickets may be cheaper from your hotel reservation desk than the luau’s website.

Paradise Cove. The Paradise Cove Luau is set on 12 acres along the ocean on Oahu’s leeward coast near Ko Olina. Prices range fro $86 to $149 per adult, depending on your choice of seating, number of drinks, and perks like a lei greeting and souvenier photo.

Polynesian Cultural Center Ali’i Luau. The Ali’i Luau is located on 42 acres on Oahu’s North Shore. Tickets are $91.95 for adults. Oddly, this place is owned by Mormons, and we’ve heard that the revised Polynesian history displayed here reflects it.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s Aha ‘Aina, a Royal Celebration Luau, is an oceanfront affair. Tickets cost $169 for adults.

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Rockin the Road Trip! Beaches, Fun And Sun On Our Drive Around Oahu https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/hawaii/rockin-the-road-trip-beaches-fun-and-sun-on-our-drive-around-oahu/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/hawaii/rockin-the-road-trip-beaches-fun-and-sun-on-our-drive-around-oahu/#comments Tue, 10 Jul 2012 17:25:33 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=2436 We love the road trip. There's something about being on the road that makes anything seem possible. With the sun on your face, and the wind rushing past, any turn can bring a new adventure.

We rented a Jeep, rolled the top down, tossed some sunscreen and swimsuits in the back, and set out to find adventure on a family drive around Oahu.

Oahu's coastline has crystal clear water, beaches around every turn and a backdrop of lush volcanic slopes. We spent most of our drive staring out the window going "Oooh - ahhh... look at that!" The scenery alone, which ranged from aquamarine ocean to soaring cliffs to sleepy seaside towns like Waimanalo, made our road trip...

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We love the road trip. There’s something about being on the road that makes anything seem possible. With the sun on your face, and the wind rushing past, any turn can bring a new adventure.

We rented a Jeep, rolled the top down, tossed some sunscreen and swimsuits in the back, and set out to find adventure on a family drive around Oahu.

Palm Trees Swaying in the Breeze at Kailua Beach, Oahu

Palm Trees Swaying in the Breeze Kailua Beach, Oahu

Spectacular Scenery

Oahu’s coastline has crystal clear water, beaches around every turn and a backdrop of lush volcanic slopes. We spent most of our drive staring out the window going “Oooh – ahhh… look at that!”  The scenery alone, which ranged from aquamarine ocean to soaring cliffs to sleepy seaside towns like Waimanalo, made our road trip worthwhile.
Drive Around Oahu Beautiful Shoreline Ocean

Oahu’s beautiful shoreline

Macadamia Nut Farm

Since driving through Queensland’s macadamia nut orchards, Charles and I have had a secret (well, not so secret anymore, I guess) dream to own a macadamia nut farm, so a stop at the Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm was a given. The kids laughed like maniacs as they tried to smash open macadamia nuts with a rock.

Crushing Macadamia Nuts at Macadamia Nut Farm Oahu Hawaii Road Trip

Kids cracking open a macadamia nut

It’s a pretty touristy spot, and packed with buses, but the macadamia nuts in the gift shop are out of this world delicious. We (meaning me and the kids – sorry about that, Charles) ate an entire package of cinnamon and caramel macadamia nuts in about ten minutes. Yum.

Kailua Beach

Kailua Beach Playing In The Sand Oahu Hawaii Driving Around Oahu

Playing in the crystal clear water at Kailua Beach

We spent a few hours in Kailua beach, just playing in the soft white sand and trying out paddle boarding. Kailua Beach is famous for hosting President Obama on holiday, but is surprisingly laid back and local. The water is crystal clear, the sand is as fine as you’ll find almost anywhere and the gentle breaks are great for families.

Pro Surfing on the North Shore

North Shore Oahu Surfing With Jetski Road Trip 2012 Pro Pipe

Surfing on the North Shore

We were lucky enough to stop by during the 2012 Pipe Pro surfing competition at the Banzai Pipeline near Haleiwa, on Oahu’s North Shore. The beach was packed with locals and surf enthusiasts, making for a great vibe while we watched the world’s best surfers battle monster waves.

Check out this amazing video of the competition.

Shave Ice

Matsumoto’s grocery in Haleiwa is said to have the best shave ice on Oahu. Since this was a claim that we couldn’t leave untested, we had to check it out.

Matsumoto Shave Ice Oahu Day Trip

Shave ice at Matsumoto’s

Our verdict: Not quite as yummy as Costa Rica’s luscious Trits ice cream concoction, but well worth a stop.

Shave ice is similar to a snow cone, but much finer, and topped with syrups like guava, pineapple or coconut. Try it with azuki bean paste and condensed milk. We had ours with soft serve ice cream buried in the middle.

The Dole Pineapple Plantation

Outside the Dole Plantation Oahu Drive

Micki and the sleeping beauty at the Dole Pineapple Plantation

The Dole Plantation brings cheesy tourist attraction to a new level, with a gift shop the size of a football field, a pineapple maze and pineapple mascots. That said, we enjoy cheese as much as the next person, though we were too cheap to buy any of the pricey pineapple themed trinkets.

Loving the Jeep

Barefoot kiddos loving the Jeep

By the end of the day, we were stuffed full of shave ice and macadamia nuts, had sand wedged everywhere it shouldn’t be, and were wowed by Oahu’s coastline.  We’d do this road trip again in a a second.

Essentials to Bring. Water, sunscreen, towels, camera, sunglasses and sense of adventure!

Our Route

We took a circle route along the Western (windward) side of Oahu, starting and ending in Waikiki.

You can drive around the entire island in about four hours, but our drive took about two and a half hours (plus stops), as we didn’t hit the Western side of Oahu.


View Larger Map

More great Oahu road trip destinations

Oahu is much more than its most famous landmarks Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor. There are many great places easily explored in a day trip.

  • The leeward (West) coast. A collection of small towns, quiet beaches and beautiful scenery punctuated by the Wet n’ Wild Hawaii water park, the luxurious J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa, and the new Disney Aulani Resort. Check out the official Hawaii tourism site for more info.
  • Punchbowl National Cemetary of the Pacific. The final resting place of approximately 35,000 soldiers, situated in an extinct volcano in Waikiki.
  • Halona Blowhole Lookout. The lookout is located off the Kalanianole Highway  north of Hanauma Bay and only about 15 minutes from Waikiki. If conditions are right, waves enter the lava tubes from the ocean and can shoot up to 30 feet up from the blowhole.
  • Polynesian Cultural Centre. This place gets decidedly mixed reviews, has an expensive entry, and would have taken up a good chunk of the day, so we decided to skip it.
  • Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. You can almost always see turtles and colorful fish just off shore. Get there before 9:30 am, as admission is limited, and it can fill up fast. $7.50 admission per adult. We found Hanauma Bay so gorgeous that we’d recommend staying for at least half the day.
  • The Byodo-In Temple at the Valley of the Temples. Located in one of the most peaceful parts of Oahu, the temple is a replica of the 900-year-old Byodo-In situated in Uji, Japan.
  • Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. We thought our little ones may be too active for such a solemn excursion, but we’d love to visit on another trip.
  • Sandy Beach. About 35 minutes from Waikiki, the great waves at Sandy Beach are renouned for sending novice boogie boarders and swimmers back home with their tails between their legs.  Use caution; this is not the place for children or weak swimmers.
  • Eat Like a Local. A huge plate lunch (rice, macaroni salad, and meat usually pork) or a Loco Moco (hamburger, steak, and egg over rice) should only set you back under $8. For dessert, try a hot malasada (a Portuguese doughnut).

Honestly, there’s nothing much better than a road trip on one of the world’s most beautiful tropical islands. Do you love the road trip?

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Micki vs Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Kailua Beach, Hawaii https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/hawaii/micki-vs-stand-up-paddle-boarding-on-kailua-beach-hawaii/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/hawaii/micki-vs-stand-up-paddle-boarding-on-kailua-beach-hawaii/#comments Wed, 02 May 2012 19:42:24 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=1706 Every once in a while I get it into my head that I’m a hardcore adventure sports person.

This is kind of the equivalent of Elmo entering a mixed martial arts cage match. Possible? Maybe. Wise? Probably not.

I love all the so-called adventure sports: kayaking, snowboarding, rappelling, windsurfing, scuba, and so on. It’s a one-sided relationship. I love them, they kick my a**.

In the last few years, we’ve seen paddle boarders of all shapes and sizes on almost any body of water we visit. It looks like my kind of adventure travel:  fun, serene, and above all, fairly easy.

Micki vs Stand Up Paddle Boarding Kailua SUP

Proof! I’m Standing Up! (from Charles’ iPhone)

Charles and I decided to lose our stand up paddle boarding (SUP) virginity in Hawaii. Given that stand up paddling (Hoe he’e nalu in the Hawaiian language) originated in Hawaii, Oahu seemed like a great place to start.

The theory is simple:  You stand upright on a specially designed paddle board (a very stable, modified surfboard) and use your paddle to propel yourself through the water.

The scene was perfect. Oahu’s famous Kailua beach, white sand, turquoise water, palm trees, and a soft ocean breeze. I was ready: bikini top double knotted (girls, you know what I’m talking about), slathered in sunscreen, with Charles watching the kids build sandcastles.

I grab the paddle board’s tow strap, and pull it out into the surf, all 15 clunky feet of it. Kailua’s waves are small, but they’re coming in fast, and I work furiously to get the board out past the breaks before the board and I get slammed into the shore. Somehow, I manage to get past the breaks and into calmer water. And I’m still holding onto the paddle, through some small miracle.

Now the fun starts. Fodors says “even novice stand-up paddleboarders can get up, stay up, and have a great time paddling around…“.

F*** you Fodors, is all I have to say. F*** you all day long.

I slide on top of the board. This is relatively easy, given that the stand up paddle board is stable, and roughly the size of a small boat.

Problem:  Kailua’s soft ocean breeze churns up the waves until they’re choppy and unpredictable. Now, apparently, I’m expected to both stand up (seriously?) and paddle while the board is pitching around like a freshman at his first keg party.

I decide that sit down paddling is a darn good idea. After about 10 minutes of this, I decide to go halfway, and try crouching on my knees paddling. Not so bad, though my legs are shaking after about five minutes of balancing on the choppy waves.

You know how surfers pop up from a lying position to standing? I decide to try this. Bad idea. I pop up, the board goes flying out behind me, and I find myself face first in the waves, making fast friends with a turtle swimming by me. I say good bye to my turtle buddy, and go for attempt number two.

This time it’s a slower approach. I plant my feet in the middle of the board, and ease up into a standing position. Success! This lasts about two seconds, before the waves plant me firmly on my arse again. Having a small taste of victory, I try this about ten times in a row, until I’m exhausted.

I decide to try lie down paddling. This is the best idea I’ve had all day.

All I can hear is the rush and roar of the waves. Below me, the ocean is a surreal turquoise. The sun is warm on my salty skin. Nothing exists but this perfect nothingness of water and wind.

A group of happy kayakers glide by, breaking the tranquility.

I’m refreshed, and up for one more go. The waves are calmer. I place my feet as wide as possible on the board, and, suddenly, I’m up. It’s shaky, completely lacking in grace or coordination, but somehow I’m up and paddling. Ten minutes later, I’m paddling past Charles and the kids on shore, showing off my new skills.

Tip for Beginners

Try paddle boarding for the first time on a lake. A very flat lake. Even better, try it on dry land. While your paddle board is bolted to something.

Where

Kailua Beach Park, on the East side of gorgeous Oahu, Hawaii. Kailua is famous for hosting the American President Barak Obama and family on vacation. A thirty minute drive from Waikiki, Kailua beach has a mild shore break, and fine, soft sand, making it a great choice for families. The Mokulua islands sit a few hundred yards out in Kailua Bay.

Getting There

By car:  From Waikiki take the Kalanianaole Highway to Kailua Road, and follow the signs to Kailua Beach Park. There are some stunning mountain views along this route. About 30 minutes.

Highly Recommended: For a more scenic route, head east from Waikiki on the Kalanianaole Hwy past Hanuama Bay, and through Waimanalo Beach. The ocean views along this route are world class, and worth every extra second. About 45 minutes.

By bus:  From Waikiki, catch the 56/57 local bus at Ala Moana Centre at the beach side stop. Buses come by about every 25 minutes. This will drop you off in Kailua town. There’s a bus (70 Lanakai) that runs out to Kailua beach, but it only runs every hour and half, so it may be faster to walk the 15 minutes to the beach. About 50 minutes to Kailua town, plus 15 minutes walking.

Equipment

We rented our stand up paddle board and paddle from Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks.

Cost

$49 for a half day rental ($59 for a full day). The only downside is that you’ll need to drag the paddle board on a trailer about 200 meters from Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks’ storage area just off the beach.

Money Saving Tip

Check the flyers and tourist magazines that are on almost every street corner in Waikiki and Kailua town. A few of them have 15% discount coupons for Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks on Kailua beach.


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Kamloops to Waikiki, a Mini Adventure in the Making https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/canada/kamloops-waikiki-adventure/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/canada/kamloops-waikiki-adventure/#respond Sun, 11 Mar 2012 08:06:20 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=735 This winter we decided to make it a work season. We usually enjoy celebrating Canada's coldest season simply by not being here. Hockey lovers, skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, cross country skiing lovers and all those other winter pastime people are pretty much crazy in our minds. Sure, if you're stuck here anyway you should make the most of it and provided the weather is nice all of those can be quite enjoyable. We however, would much rather be just about anywhere else during the season of snowstorms, windchill warning days and "the greyness" as we like to call it.

Since we were trapped here for the winter and Micki's contract was scheduled until May we decided that a short warm vacation was in order. We never knew how much of an adventure we'd have before we even got on the plane though...

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Snow

Photo by Kozumel on Flickr

This winter we decided to make it a work season. We usually enjoy celebrating Canada’s coldest season simply by not being here. Hockey lovers, skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, cross country skiing lovers and all those other winter pastime people are pretty much crazy in our minds. Sure, if you’re stuck here anyway you should make the most of it and provided the weather is nice all of those can be quite enjoyable. We however, would much rather be just about anywhere else during the season of snowstorms, windchill warning days and “the greyness” as we like to call it.

Kamloops actually gets a lot of sunshine compared to Vancouver and the lower mainland however we’ve found this winter to be abnormally bad. To be honest it’s the main reason we don’t live in Vancouver or the coast right now. No matter the temperature, if we can’t see the sun we don’t do well. Vancouverites will usually disagree and say that the warmer temperature is worth it and you usually only need a light jacket (correction, rain jacket) to get around most of the year. Though I could go on about that all day, this post isn’t about that.

As I was saying earlier Micki and I decided that we would stay in Kamloops for the winter this year. Cole is really enjoying his friends in Grade 1 and we decided to put some money away for our next awe-inspiring adventure. Micki had a nice contract in place and we rented a nice house in a nice part of town. Kamloops is great in that it has almost every amenity and store you could want but due to it’s size you can pretty much get anywhere in under 20 minutes. Kamloops also has the distinction that it has water access, is surrounded by mountains and that we can get to 4 different lakes within 30 minutes door to door in the summer. It’s also on the Coquihala and is only 3 hours from Vancouver and less than 2 to Kelowna.

Since we were trapped here for the winter and Micki’s contract was scheduled until May we decided that a short warm vacation was in order. I’ve posted about our love of the quickie all inclusive 1 or 2 week all inclusive vacation before and we were thinking that we would just do one this year. There’s nothing we love more than spending months on the road really getting to know a place and it’s people however this year we didn’t have the time or luxury. It’s almost sad that when our bank account is at it’s highest we’re landlocked to a desk.

I shudder to think what other travel bloggers think of all inclusive resorts but frankly I just don’t care. After months of making meals, cleaning up after 2 young kids and generally following a boring pattern of day to day living the thought of premade meals and buffets with something everyone can agree on without having to lift a finger or spend an extra dime sounded quite appealing. It wasn’t our 6 month travel plan of last winter but it would go a long way to making winter living tolerable. Besides, all you can drink fruity alcohol concoctions is a reason in itself for all inclusive travelling and my poor liver has been unemployed for far too long. 😉

So that all being said, we started our search for the best deal. Around that time we had been talking with some friends from Calgary about going on a joint holiday together. They were some of our closest friends while we lived in Calgary and to be honest we haven’t spent nearly enough time with them these past few years. As all great adventures start, this one started with a “Hey, we should all go to Hawaii” post a few months previous on Facebook. We didn’t think they were serious but it turned out they were ready and willing to go.

When we touched base next it became a plan of sorts to head out together towards the end of January. As a group we discussed other possible locations but it sounded like we were the only ones wanting to do a Mexican or Caribbean all inclusive holiday. After a few more days our dreams of being served free Margarita’s by a pool evaporated. In it’s place was the one location we had all originally commented on, Hawaii.

Micki had been there years before she had ever met me but for everyone else we were Hawaiian newbies. It’s always been on my list of places to see (and hell maybe even a possible future home) however I always thought I’d go for a few months, check out a few of the islands and then decide how much I liked the place. That definitely wasn’t happening on this trip though it was an excellent double opportunity to “get my feet wet” as the saying goes.

Within a few weeks we had agreed that we were heading to Waikiki. Definitely not the best place to get a true island feel but for the 10 days that we were going it would serve quite nicely as a base for touring the island of O’ahu. One of the nicest things about Waikiki and Honolulu was that it was direct flight from Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham is actually a little closer to us than the Vancouver airport and it has the added benefit that we don’t need to pass through TSA with the kids which is always a hassle. Instead, we could cross the border hours before take off in the comfort of our SUV. That really appealed to all of us. Unfortunately, things never go quite as smoothly as planned while travelling…

The first problem was that Micki’s contract ended somewhat abruptly right before Christmas. She had another 4 months to go however the company decided to let go of any contractors not working on mission critical projects. Unfortunately, she was working with several teams at the time and was therefore not in the right group. Financially it wasn’t a big deal for us however we had to make the call whether a short, rather expensive vacation for the amount of days travelling was worth it. It wasn’t so much that we didn’t want to go to Hawaii but now we had the opportunity to go for a much longer time for not a lot of extra money.

One of the first things we learnt while travelling was that the longer you go, the cheaper it is relative to staying home. Of course it costs more when you include lost income but for the most part, rent, food and transportation are the biggest costs while you travel. Whether you stay for a week or a month the airfare doesn’t really change. Insurance will cost a little more but if you’re fit and healthy insurance doesn’t cost that much to begin with. The cost of staying in a nice hotel for a week is fairly similar to renting a decent condo for a month and the condo has the added plus that you can make your own meals. The cost of eating 3 restaurant meals a day for a week is probably more than self catering in a condo for a month and even if the price was more you would still need to eat regardless if you were on vacation or at home.

We got an amazing price for all of us to fly out of Bellingham but right from the start we knew that this would be one of our most expensive trips minute for minute. When every minute that Micki took off equalled a minute of not getting paid it made sense to do a quick,  adventure packed, expensive mini vacation since we would be getting the most for our buck. Once the gravy train was derailed though, 10 days in paradise looked like a money losing proposition.

In the end, we opted to keep to the plan anyway. There were just too many reasons to change it at that point. The biggest were that we were looking forward to spending time with our friends, it would have cost a premium to change our flight plan, we would have had to do something with our cat for the month, the place we’re renting in Kamloops is costing us decent coin to begin with, etc, etc, etc…

By booking a few months in advance, we ignored one of our principal traveling mantra’s. To never book too early or lock ourselves in too tightly. I know a lot of people think differently and plan months and sometimes even years in advance. A lot of time they’ll quote you how much they saved by booking early or how it guaranteed them so and so and how it gave them such piece of mind not having to worry about it. Knowing that we’re locked into something so far in advance has the opposite effect on us. We see it as a limitation. By booking too early we’re forcing ourselves into committing to a set agenda that may or may not be relevant in two or 6 months from then. More often than not changing or cancelling a reservation can have serious costs associated with it.

For the most part this mantra has proven effective for us. There were a few times  (like looking for a place to sleep around Christmas holidays in New Zealand a few years back that almost left us sleeping in our car for a few days) where it would have lessened our stress if we’d booked ahead but on the whole I think we’ve done well. Of course, you have to realize that we’re not pack animals. Usually when the herd heads right we head left. If we were planning to hit Mardi Gras or someplace specific at a time when we knew it would be crazy busy we would of course book ahead. Hawaii in late January would have been busy but not on the scale of too busy if you get my meaning.

So now that we had confirmed our travel plans, there wasn’t much more to do than wait for our trip to get here and do a little reading on all O’ahu had to offer. It was shaping up to be a nice trip and we were looking forward to sitting on a beach and having a long catch up with good friends. The biggest hurdle we had yet to face was the Coquihalla.

For any of you that aren’t familiar with this area, the Coquihalla is a section of highway created years ago to speed the travel of those wanting to get to the west coast a little quicker. Because it wasn’t considered a necessary highway and basically took you a similar route as Highway #1 (the Trans Canada highway) when they built the road they chose to finance it’s construction using tolls. Though toll highways are fairly common in the states, there aren’t that many in Western Canada. Though the  toll was removed a few years ago, the Coquihalla is still there and is the quickest way west. In winter, it’s also known as one of the most dangerous routes in Canada.

We knew from what we’ve read and from people we’ve met that the road can get a little treacherous in the winter time. With that in mind we watched the weather network religiously the week leading up to our departure. There was bad weather coming a few days before and a few days after but up until we left we were to have a nice ride to Bellingham. We were always ready to leave a day earlier if it looked like the weather would go sour but thanks to 3 different weather sites we would be in the clear.

That was totally true right until the point we woke up to see a winter wonderland the morning of our departure. Well, it would have been a winter wonderland scene if we could have seen farther than the end of our driveway. Kamloops was in a full on blizzard! Everything was booked by now and we needed to leave regardless of the weather if we even had a hope of making our flight. With that in mind, we got the car and kids ready (as well as a ton of extra winter wear in case things went sour) and took off. That was minutes after I severely twisted my knee on the ice while chatting up our neighbor less than a minute from pulling out of the driveway.

Between the blizzard and my swollen knee it was an interesting departure. Now as I look back I see similarities between this and our crazy Philippine departure a few years ago. That time we got t-boned on the way to the airport during a freak blizzard that wasn’t supposed to exist either. That is an epic post I should talk about someday but getting back to this trip I’ll just say that we made it to Bellingham in one piece with an extra hour to spare.

It was a nightmare of a drive I have to say though. We literally saw two accidents happen right before our eyes as well as at least 4 other vehicles sitting in a snowbank. We hit snow, ice, sleet, black ice, freezing rain, driving rain, regular rain and even hail in those 3 and a half hours it took to get to the border. At one point we were literally pushing snow with our bumper. I’m glad we took the 4×4 and not our car otherwise I’m doubtful we would have made it.

I’ll be posting our adventures in Hawaii and Waikiki in the next few posts but I’ll leave you with a few lessons I learnt from this adventure:

1. Never book too early or over commit yourself without knowing all the costs.

2. Don’t drive the Coquihalla during a snowstorm.

3. Never trust a weather forecaster

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