Ohana Island Life HawaiiSeptember 17, 2010 No Comments
Ohana means family in Hawaiian…you may already know that from watching Lilo and Stitch, possibly more than once, with your children. It’s true, too, nothing could be more of a family destination that the Hawaiian islands. We’ve had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time there over the past four years, usually, but not always renting a condo in Honolulu, Oahu.
Because many of our stays have been extended, finding a condo through on-line vacation rental websites has worked tremendously well. And, as you can probably guess by now from some of my other blogs, we like doing at least a substantial share of our own cooking. There are wonderful bargains to be had by the week, month, or three month period – you just have to look and decide how close you want to be to the beach, whether you want an ocean view, and how many bedrooms you need. In many cases you’ll find prices for a well-furnished two bedroom condo a few blocks from Waikiki beach commensurate with the cost of a hotel room on the sand. Quieter accommodations are found toward Diamond Head, near the Honolulu Zoo and Kapiolani Community College; trendier units are found nearer to the Ala Moana Mall and Ala Moana’s beach and boat harbor; central Waikiki will be higher priced and have a noise factor included with the convenience to restaurants and upscale shopping.
Of course, there’s plenty of hotel choices, from the old fashioned elegance of the Royal Hawaiian, recently revamped, to the modern but small rooms of the , right on the beach. The Hilton offers plenty of family deals, including kids camps and a variety of pools, Friday night fireworks and dance celebrations, and many adjoining rooms at reasonable prices depending on the season.
Honolulu is a great place to be no matter where you stay. With a mix of night life, restaurants, and tiki torches in Waikiki there’s always a feeling of joyous bustle at sunset. Walking along with your family and enjoying the kitschy spectacle of street performers on Kalakaua Avenue is a great way to start or end an evening. The galleries, unique craft shops, and inexpensive Asian restaurants in downtown Honolulu’s Chinatown is also a simple pleasure. The first Friday of every month finds children’s entertainment, crafts and food booths, even carnival rides along with open-into-the-evening art exhibits. Beautiful and inexpensive lei shops are also a part of this district – your kids will love sniffing the flowers and selecting their favorite, some of which are seed or nut based and can be saved as souvenirs.
And of course, during the day, there’s the ocean. The beach may be buzzing with people in Waikiki, but that view of Diamond Head is spectacular, and the gentle waves aqua blue are constantly appealing. Rent an umbrella and a couple of loungers and relax at the water’s edge; Ala Moana beach has virtually no surf and is a great place for small children. Older kids – or you – can try a surf lesson in what is arguably the best and easiest beginner’s surf in the world in Waikiki.
Here’s some ideas for your stay in Waikiki:
Early morning walk – from the coral sands of Ft. DeRussy beach to the relatively secluded cove of Sans Souci beach you’ll find you have virtually all of Waikiki beach just about empty before ten a.m. Walk the sand or the sidewalk. The peaceful morning offers several beautiful spots – including the palm lined breakwater near Queen’s beach at the Sans Souci end – for a little water play along the way.
Splurge buffet breakfast – the pink and pretty Royal Hawaiian breakfast buffet right on the beach. Soft Hawaiian music – yummy pastries – delicious fruit smoothies – you pick the fruit and it’s blended right there on the spot. Healthy, tasty, and you’re well fed for the rest of the day.
Catamaran ride – pick your boat from those moored along the sand. A little reggae on the waves and a guided description of a spectacular coastal view of the beach and Diamond Head. We love to lounge in the hammock like netting struck aft.
Snacks – The Sheraton Moana with its lush banyan tree courtyard has afternoon pupus – that’s appetizers or snacks to you mainlanders..
Dinner – grand views of a chroma key blue sky predominate at Ocean House in the Outrigger Reef. With tables on a long porch that leads directly to the sand, kids can play right outside on the beach while you wait for dinner to be served.
Rent a car – how about a convertible, for a little top down crusin’. Snorkling in the famous blue lagoon of Hanama Bay brings you up close and personal with some pretty gnarly tropical fish, and it’s a kid-friendly state park, gentle tides, perfect crescent of sand. Nearby in Hawaii Kai, you can rent paddle boards, outriggers, or kayaks for a gentle bayside excursion. Roy’s Restaurant also in this development, has excellent early bird dinner specials including a kid’s menu and complete prix fix meals with a lovely sunset view thrown in.
Closer to Diamond Head you’ll find the Kahala Resort – a letter perfect family enclave with nearly waveless beach, rentable – whether you’re staying there or not – cabana chairs, great smoothies served to you right there on the sand. There’s a diving platform for older kids and soft, sand-castle friendly sand for the littlest ones. Here the view is of Koho Head, not Diamond Head, an equally iconic Oahu crater.
And right there in Waikiki, the Aquarium has gorgeous fish, well thought out information on local reef life, and even offers family concerts once a week in the summer, with picnic dinners on the lawn. The Zoo, though small, has accessible exhibits of creatures great and small, with the simian residents comical performers, and the bird exhibits startlingly beautiful.
I’ll lead you around the island, to the North and West shores in an upcoming blog, but there’s plenty to do – or not do – relaxing in and around Honolulu! And no matter what activity or journey you take on the island, your ohana will feel right at home. Children are smiled upon, not frowned at, no matter where you go or how cantankerous a momentary mood.
Be sure to read the continuation of our adventure in Hawaii in More Hawaii for your Ohana.