Disney’s Aulani – Oahu, Hawaii

When my husband and I went to Hawaii on our tenth anniversary last year, we saw the shell of the Aulani, a Disney resort and spa.  It was still under construction so we just saw it from the road but it looked amazing even then.  Recently they held their grand opening and lots of reviews and posts are popping up all over the Internet.  Going to visit Hawaii with our kids is something we are thinking about doing next year but we will probably visit another island this time.  We might not be seeing the Aulani anytime soon but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream about a trip!  I compiled posts from some of my favorite travel bloggers and writers about their visits for today’s Travel Blogger Tuesday!  Look no further for information…just follow these links!

Pitstops for Kids

Trekaroo

The Vacation Gals

Family Vacation Critic

Delicious Baby
5 Minutes for Mom

Round up of our Oahu Adventures

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Has it already been seven months since my husband and I were relaxing on a beach in Hawaii? 

Like any other vacation, we ate our way through the entire thing!  We had plate lunches at the Rainbow Drive-In, garlic shrimp at Ted’s Bakery and the Shrimp Shack, and some of the most delicious sushi I have had lately at Doraku.  We had lots of sweet dishes as well: macadamia nut pancakes for breakfast, shave ice at Wailoa Ice, banana lumpia, and coco puffs.

We saw the many film locations and some of the most beautiful views in Hawaii at Kualoa Ranch.  We also found the home of the Others!  We had a quiet romantic moment hiking to Manoa Falls and learned a few things about the hike along the way. 

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We took a self-guided tour around the entire island and enjoyed seeing sights like the Byodo In Temple and the turtles at Laniakea Beach.  Daddy J took surfing lessons on the North Shore while I read a whole book and was interrupted by nothing except the falling rain and crashing waves.

We hiked up Diamondhead and saw a bird’s eye view of Waikiki.  We watched fire spin at a luau.  I only have a few more things to share with you: surfing lessons, our visit to the USS Arizona, a Dole whip at the Dole Plantation, swimming with the fish in Haunama Bay, and our sunset cruise.  I am going to take a break from writing about our trips through the Southern states and try to finish writing about our trip to Hawaii.  It truly was magical and I am looking forward to returning in the next few years.

The Rainbow State

Everywhere we turned, we could see why Hawaii is nicknamed the Rainbow State…

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Stop by Delicious Baby to see Photo Friday submissions.

Liliha Bakery – Honolulu, Hawaii

If you watched Hawaii 5-0 last week, you saw Dano raving about a pastry that his partner brought him.  Before his partner explained what they were, I saw the tell tale box from Liliha Bakery sitting on the car and knew that he had to be eating a coco puff.  Sure enough, Dano’s partner goes on to explain that they are the famous coco puffs at Liliha Bakery.

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According to the website, Liliha Bakery sells between 4800 and 7200 of these coco puffs a day and I believe it!  The place was packed.  Fortunately, there is a lot of parking available so we didn’t have trouble finding a space.  Besides pastries, Liliha also serves diner type food. 

The coco puffs were very sweet and delicious but don’t just confine yourself to coco puffs! 

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We tried several other pastries and each one was delicious.

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If you are staying in Waikiki and want to visit Liliha Bakery, you will need a car or some other mode of transportation because it is about 10 a ten minute drive. 

Be sure to visit Wanderfood Wednesday over at Wanderlust and Lipstick.

Honolulu Family Vacation on raveable

A Hike up Diamond Head

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Diamond Head is a dormant volcano that was once used as a military observation station but is now a state monument.  We knew Diamond Head would be crowded with both tourists and locals alike but we wanted to see the bird’s eye view of Waikiki.  The hiking distance is about 1.5 miles round trip and it can be done in about an hour or two depending on your level of physical strength.  You begin the hike up a walkway and then you will twist and turn up the crater.  Unfortunately, it isn’t the prettiest hike up.  I was amazed by the trash along the hiking path.  According to the state park website, there is a 1,000,000 dollar trail repair project in progress right now.

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You will walk through a tunnel…

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 and climb lots of stairs. 

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Once you are almost to the top, you will have to climb a spiral staircase and then crawl through a lookout station. 

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We saw lots of people running the trail for excercise as well as many women in heels.  My husband and I made the climb up and the return trip down in about 1.5 hours with stops at different lookout points.  Getting to the top was so worth it though…

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A few things to know before you go:

  • There are lots of stairs and they can be exhausting!
  • Bring water with you.  If you forget, there is a small lunch truck where you can purchase water, snacks, and other food items.
  • According to the website, there is a trail restoration project in progress.  Be sure to check the state park website before you go to determine if the trail is open.
  • We saw lots of children of all ages making the hike.  I think that my kids could have easily made the trip but we might have heard some complaining. 
  • If you really want the “I hiked Diamond Head” tshirt that someone is selling about halfway down the crater, haggle.  They went very low in price trying to get us to buy a tshirt (which we didn’t).

Stop by Delicious Baby for lots of other Photo Friday submissions!

Paradise Cove Luau

You can’t go to Hawaii without going to a luau, right?  Well, actually you can and it is incredibly expensive so it might be worth skipping!  That being said, Daddy J and I decided that we wanted to attend a luau.  I remember going to one when I was in 8th grade and it is one of the things I remembered most about that trip to Hawaii.  There are several luaus available on different parts of the island.  They are all priced about the same but each one offers something different.  After doing our research, we deferred to our friends who live on the island.  They said that anytime someone comes from the mainland, they take them to the Paradise Cove Luau so that is what we chose.

We made our reservations the day that we attended the luau but we were not there during the height of the tourist season.  If you know when you would like to attend, I recommend making reservations in advance.  Paradise Cove does provide transportation from the hotels in Waikiki.  Since we had our rental car, we decided to drive. 

We went  with the least expensive luau package, the Hawaiian Luau Buffet.  It costs $82.00 an adult and includes your lei, three standard drinks (one upon arrival), wing seating, and the self service buffet. 

When you arrive at Paradise Cove you are welcomedwith a shell lei, kukui nut lei, or fresh flowers depending on the level of luau package you choose.  When we entered the area, we were amazed at the beautiful view. 

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We spent much of our time over by the water watching the sun set. 

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Before the dinner and the performances began, we wandered around the grounds.  You can see arts and crafts demonstrations and try your hand at games of skill and dancing. 

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Before we were seated at our table we watched the Imu Ceremony, the removing the cloths and leaves from the underground oven. 

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I was surprised at how much we enjoyed the food that was served in mass quantities: kalua pork, fish, salad, macaroni salad, taro root rolls, poi and so much more. 

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The performance was entertaining and the traditional costumes were beautiful.

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Was it worth the money?  Would we go back to a luau?  If we return to Hawaii on our own, we will probably skip the luau now that we have been to one together.  That being said, if we brought our kids and had the money in the budget (child tickets are a whopping $62!) we would attend another luau.  I know that my kids would love the performance and would eat the food available. 

Kapolei Family Vacation on raveable

Rainbow Drive-In – Honolulu, Hawaii

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We ate at the Rainbow Drive-In on our way to the airport to leave Hawaii.  It was our last meal in Hawaii and it did not disappoint.  We were going to eat at Ono Hawaiian BBQ as recommended by Nathan Kam who was kind enough to send us a list of several things to do and places to eat.  Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that they were closed on Sundays.  After finding Ono Hawaiian BBQ closed, we plugged the last restaurant recommendation that we weren’t able to get to into the GPS and luckily it was right around the corner. 

Rainbow Drive-In serves plate lunches, sandwiches and breakfast from 7am to 9pm daily with the exception of a few major holidays.  We decided to go all out for a last lunch in Hawaii and ordered the mix plate which included BBQ, Mahi Mahi, and chicken alongside macaroni salad and rice.  It was delicious.

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While we ate, we sat at the picnic table soaking in the sun and watching the cars drive down Kapahulu Avenue wishing that our vacation wasn’t coming to an end. 

Be sure to visit Wanderfood Wednesday over at Wanderlust and Lipstick.

Ted’s Bakery – Sunset Beach, Oahu

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During our self-guided tour around the island of Oahu, we stopped for lunch at Ted’s Bakery.  Ted’s Bakery is located on the North Shore.  The building is brightly painted and the bright blue umbrellas make it difficult to miss.  When we pulled into the parking lot we were lucky to get a spot as a truck piled full of teenagers and surfboards sped out of the drive.  Every table was full of locals and tourist wrapped in beach towels eating out of white styrofoam containers.   

When we walked inside Ted’s, we were bombarded by the smell of different sweet and savory foods intermingled with sunscreen, the ocean, and the gritty beach sand stuck in the sun bleached hair of the surfers who were ending their day at the beach with a meal.  Despite the fact that every spot in the building was occupied, the line moved quickly so know what you are going to order before you get up to the front.  We ordered our meals.  I ordered the garlic shrimp plate lunch and Daddy J went with a mahi mahi sandwich. 

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Ted’s is “home to the original chocolate haupia cream pie” and it is worth a stop to give it a try.  I am not a big fan of pie but this one has plenty of chocolate pudding-like goodness topped with coconut pudding goodness.  Do you want to try to make the chocolate haupia cream pie yourself?  I found this recipe and I am currently trying to talk my sister into making it for me when she comes to visit!

Be sure to visit Wanderfood Wednesday over at Wanderlust and Lipstick.

Kualoa Ranch – Oahu, Hawaii

Kualoa Ranch is a 4000 acre working cattle ranch about a 45 minute drive from Waikiki.  The terrain of the Kualoa Ranch ranges from valley to rainforest to beach to cliff face.  In my opinion, it is some of the most beautiful terrain in Oahu.  When we were planning our itinerary, Kualoa Ranch kept popping up in our research but I was hesitant to book a tour.  Though my love for film locations made me want to visit, we were also trying to avoid tours and locking ourselves into a scheduled activity. 

We went to dinner with friends who have lived in Oahu for many years.  While we were out to dinner, Kualoa Ranch came up and she admitted that she took a tour of the ranch for the first time a few months before we were there.  She said that even though it is a hot tourist tour, it is well worth the time and money because a tour is also the only way to see this part of the island. 

We decided to take the Movie Sites and Ranch Tour because it is only an hour long and there were other things we wanted to do that day.  The one hour tour costs $23 per adult and $15 per child.  The Movie Sites and Ranch Tour takes you on an bus tour through the Ka’a’awa Valley with stops at different filming locations.  We saw sites of the Pearl Harbor film:

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We saw where they hid from dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.  I tried to get Daddy J to pretend to hide, but he wasn’t interested!

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We saw Hurley’s golf course.

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As well as the submarine from Lost (Hello…do you see how tiny that is?!).

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We saw Godzilla’s footprints!  That green vehicle was our ride for the tour.

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The Oahu mom was right when she guessed Godzilla’s footprints but like she said, she kind of has an unfair advantage!

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We saw what is left of the Windtalkers scene.

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We saw some of the Mighty Joe Young film spot too…

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We also saw some beautiful scenery.

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Kualoa Ranch offers many different tours.  You can take one tour or you can take several tours and spend all day on the ranch.  There are horseback tours, ATV tours, boat tours and more.

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Tours begin early in the morning.  The early morning and evening tours are usually the least crowded according to the employee we spoke to.  The tours often fill up so you will want to buy your tickets in advance.  That being said, we showed up for the 9am tour and had no problem getting on to the tour.
  • There is a small cafeteria style restaurant that is open during different times of the day.  Depending on which tours you choose, lunch/dinner may be provided.
  • Because of traffic, it will take you about 45m to get to the Kuaoloa Ranch from Waikiki.
  • If you are only going to do one tour, plan it for the morning and take a ride up to the North Shore for lunch at one of the many Shrimp Trucks or Ted’s.

Stop by Trekaroo Spotlight Thursday to see many different travel posts!

Oahu Family Vacation on raveable

Doraku – Waikiki, Hawaii

You know when you hit that point on vacation where you can’t possibly eat another bite? 

We had enjoyed so many different meals at all the different recommended restaurants.  We had also spent A LOT of money on said meals.  When we are at home we do not eat many fancy meals out because we are trying to save money for our next vacation!  We had already splurged a lot!  On our second to last evening of our Hawaii vacation, we couldn’t decide what to eat.  We weren’t incredibly hungry and we were looking for something that was not extremely expensive.  We just decided to wander around Waikiki until we found something that caught our attention.  As we walked past the Royal Hawaiian Center, we decided to venture in and wander around.  When we got to the third floor, we found Doraku

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After looking at the menu we decided to grab some sushi.  It was worth it!  I had the Doraku roll because it was something different from what I had tried before.  It is tempura fried and so good!  Daddy J had a spicy tuna roll.  It was the perfect amount of food at a tolerable price.

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Doraku has several locations: Waikiki, Miami Beach, and coming soon to Honolulu, HI.

Be sure to visit Wanderfood Wednesday over at Wanderlust and Lipstick.