One thing that J.O and I learned when we first decided to start “tramping” (traveling contractor work) outside of the midwest is that when in warmer climates, we didn’t have to visit our home state of Minnesota as often: especially in the winter months. For some reason, people became more interested in coming to visit us in California verses when we were in Iowa…weird, huh?
This same concept has been proven true while living in Hawaii for work. As you may have read in my earlier post, HERE, we had a good friend visit us in January and have been able to meet up with many old friends who have come to the islands on vacation. It has been fantastic! Our most recent set of visitors proved to be my favorite and for obvious reason; they were my parents.
It had been over nine months since we had seen mom & dad last and it was wonderful to have them here for two full weeks. As you may or may not know, my family has been vacationing to Hawaii almost every year since 1995; however, we have always gone to the Big Island (hence our love for jumping over to Kona whenever possible). Although my parents have had the occasional layover here on O’hau and have left the airport to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial, they had never vacationed on this island. It was fun to be able to show them around.
The time share that they have on the Big Island (Shell Vacation) was able to set them up in one of their sister hotels in Waikiki. They were in the Shell Vacation Waikiki Marina Resort portion of the Iliaki Hotel on Ala Moana Blvd. The rooms weren’t bad: decent views of either the busy streets of Waikiki or the peaceful harbor (they ended up viewing both as they had a room change). Both rooms had a newly renovated bathroom and a small kitchen, equipped with a stove, oven and fridge. Oh, and there was a pull-out sofa that J.O and I used when we slept there some nights.
It was nice that they had a place in downtown. When we slept there, J.O was closer to work so he didn’t have to deal with as much traffic and we were able to go out to dinner and do things during the week downtown that we normally would not have done (we live roughly 45 min from Waikiki without traffic). Places we ate in Waikiki include:
- Sarento’s at the top of the Iliaki: fine, light Italian cuisine and views of downtown.
- Duke’s: Right on Waikiki Beach it’s a fun, casual place for lunch or dinner
- House Without a Key: Wonderful dinner experience with live hula dancers and music
- Jimmy Buffet’s at the Beachcomber: Fun, laied back restaurant that over looks Ala Moana Blvd. Great for lunch and drinks
- Harbor Pub: Awesome for Beer and Pizza. Great drink specials and pizza. Perfect place if your sick of “island” style restaurants
The best thing about mom and dad having a place in the city was that we had a place in the country; they were able to experience both styles of living on the island. We all came to the conclusion that country living is best, and therefore, we all ended up spending more time at our “country house” and would simply travel back to the “city house” when we needed to grab a few things. While staying at our house we watched sunsets on our nearby beach and cooked at home often (have I mentioned how great of a chef J.O is?) and even indulged in our favorite take out on the North Shore one night: Macky’s shrimp truck and Nui’s Thai truck and ice cream from Scoop of Paradise. Yum!
One of my favorite moments was when the long dog was reunited with mom and dad. He hadn’t seen them since December of 2011 and all three of them were SO excited to see each other! The long dog sang…literally, he sang. It was so sweet
O’ahu is so different than the Big Island and it was wonderful to show mom and dad around. We drove the island’s coast and stopped at North Shore Tacos (one of our favorites, you may remember from my post, HERE.) where Dad became hooked on the shrimp tacos and mom discover the famous Kalua Pork (sweet pork). We were even able to meet up with J.O and the crew that day when they were flying out of the Valley of the Temples. Although, we missed seeing J.O himself, mom and dad were able to meet other guys from the crew and get a small glimpse into part of their daily work. Also, if you have the chance to go to the Valley of the Temples, do it. It’s gorgeous and only $3 a person.
With my dad being an avid sailor, going to visit our little “wine and cheese” cruising sailboat was a must. We never seemed to luck out on weather the days that J.O had off to go sailing, but we felt like we were at my childhood home lounging on the boat and dock just the same. Dad fell in love with the marina and we ended up dining at there often La Mariana is open to the public for dining and I highly recommend it: it’s the only real tiki bar on the island and it has a great story. Service is always on “island time”, so keep that in mind. I promise you, the food, drinks and atmosphere are worth the wait.
While on the North Shore, we brought them to our “home restaurant” Haleiwa Joe’s one rainy afternoon and then also to Cholo’s Mexican restaurant. After shopping one day, while Dad and J.O golfed at Ko Olina, Mom and I ate at Luibueno’s in Haleiwa. We both decided that between the two mexican restaurants, Luibueno’s was better.
We also all went to Turtle Bay Resort for a day of golf for the guys. Mom and I were going to lay by the pool, it ended up not being very nice out, so we made our way to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We didn’t have time to do any of the tours, but I would go back for sure. Even the little bit that we were able to walk through was fascinating!
Dad enjoyed walking the beaches on the North Shore, both at our home and up by Pipeline. He liked watching the monster 20 foot waves roll in and mom soaked up the sun any chance she could get. Even though the weather wasn’t the typical idilic Hawaiian heat, we were able to get some beach time in. Even our honu (sea turtle) friends came to meet mom and dad! Read more about my past encounter with them HERE.
We also got our walking in. Whether it was on the beach, with the long dog, at a market or walking to a waterfall. We went to the farmer’s market at the Waimea Valley one evening where they have live music, food and wine vendors and obviously local goods to buy. Dad relaxed with a beer and enjoyed watching the local kids run in the grass while mom and I bought some goods to eat. Later in the week, when J.O was off from work, we all went back during the day to hike back to the waterfall and observe the gardens. Mom was loving all the flowers and larger than life sized plants. She’d often say, “if only mine at home knew that’s what they were supposed to look like”. Mom and I also went to the Swap Meet at the Aloha Stadium twice where we found many treasures!
Mom was even able to reconnect with her old college roommate who has been living on the island since they graduated! I joined the two of them on their reunion lunch at the Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House. I was so happy I went, for two reasons. One, I would have never known about this gem and two it was so fun to hear mom and her laugh about old times. This place was so good, I ended up purchasing a gift card for J.O for Valentine’s Day. They have lunch specials where they give you a packed lunch and you enjoy it where ever you please on the beautiful grounds.
On our final days, we relaxed and shopped a bit more Mom and I went to the Ala Moana Center one day (wow!) where we shopped and had lunch at the Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room. Delicious and a great place for lunch.
J.O and I were still able to go about our normal daily routines for the most part, so it didn’t feel like we had company, but merely instead that for a brief moment our lives were once again surrounded with family. It was such a blessing to have them here and for them to give up their vacation to anywhere (actually they had a vacation planned to Palm Springs a year ago and changed it back in October so that they could come and see us!). If only we could have had their plane filled with all of our loved ones back on the mainland.
We also all decided at next time, we’re all meeting in Kona, because even though it was fun on O’hau, Kona will always be our 2nd home (plus it’s warmer and there’s more golf for dad).
Saying “see you later” when we finally had to separate was no fun, as it never is. At least this time, we knew that it wouldn’t be as long of a time span, as it’s starting to get warmer back d’ere in da midwest, so J.O and I would be making the venture for a visit soon enough.