More Hawaii for your Ohana

Genie Davis September 18, 2010 2 Comments

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Here we are again continuing with more on the wonderful Hawaiian island of Oahu for you and your family.     

Right in Honolulu, along with the family-friendly urban street scenes in Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, there are other free entertainment attractions, some weekly and many nightly. Near the famous and lei bedecked Duke Kahanamoku statue in the heart of Waikiki is the Kuhio Beach Mound, a small out door amphitheater featuring a wonderful hula show four nights a week. With live Hawaiian music and highly skilled dancers, this hour long concert is a great treat. Be sure and take some time by the bronze Duke statue, too – Duke is welcoming your family with open arms. One of the world’s greatest water athletes, he was a famous swimmer, surfer and paddler, and considered the father of modern surfing as well as Oahu’s good will ambassador.    

More good will is found once a week, downtown at the Kapiolani Park bandstand, where there is another free musical delight, the Royal Hawaiian Band. Also free are monthly musical concerts on the lawn at the Hawaii Art Museum. The museum itself is a wonderful repository of historical artifacts, modern art and sculpture, and classic art in a peaceful and of course, stroller friendly, atmosphere.    

Kualoa Ranch Oahu Hawaii

Kualoa Ranch

Run by the historical preservation group the Daughters of Hawaii, Queen Emma’s Summer Palace rests on lovely grounds and affords both guided and self-guided tours of this history rich spot. The personal belongings of Queen Emma are beautifully preserved in this Victorian era styled residence with a lovely garden area for the kids to enjoy.    

Not far from the Summer Palace are the famous views and easy paved trails of the Nuuanu Pali Lookout. Lush mountain views give way to a spectacular vista of the Koolau mountains and the Windward side of the island, with the beautiful blue ocean beyond. Caveat: it’s often extremely windy at the look out. The site of a famous Hawaiian battle, this beautiful spot rises more than a thousand feet above the ocean. From the stone over look, you can take a paved trail which was once the old Pali highway, past fragrant plants and small springs. It’s much easier to walk down than to walk up though, so keep that in mind for your littlest family members.    

Pali Lookout View Oahu Hawaii

Pali Lookout View

From the look out you can see the Valley of the Temples below. Located near Kailua Beach, in this lush valley you’ll find a recreation of a Japanese Temple, the Byodo-In. This authentic structure was built entirely without nails as a commemorative tribute to Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. Beautiful gardens lead to a fishpond – with huge koi your family will enjoy feeding and watching. Peacocks strut around the grounds, and you’ll also find turtles near the pond.    

There is also an enormous bell or bon-sho which visitors are allowed to ring. Sounding this bell is said to summon happiness and a long life; the former was certainly summoned to our children when they struck the bell. Inside the temple is a stunning Buddha covered in gold leaf. Be sure to remove your shoes upon entering the temple itself.    

If you chose to spend the rest of the day relaxing at Kailua Beach, no one will blame you! Excellent for kayaking on calm days, when the wind kicks up you can watch expert wind surfers skim the waves. It’s a pleasant spot with soft sand and picnic tables.    

However, between Kailua and Diamond Head, there’s another delightful beach, Waimanolo. While the surf can be rough here, the shore line is delightfully shaded with ironwood pines, great for acorn collecting and a leisurely picnic with no need for a beach umbrella. We enjoyed many a long afternoon here with some food, the Sunday newspaper comics, and buckets full of acorns. The backdrop of the stunning, emerald Koolau mountains here makes this relaxing spot feel magical.    

And what about the picnic? There’s fine food to be found here at locally owned Keneke’s, a fast food stand where the food is delicious and most of it freshly made on site. The shaved ice is, in our opinion, the best on the island, and the smoothies are fantastic too. Shrimp, fresh mahi-mahi, and even a house made veggie burger are available. There’s also the shredded pork Kalua Pig Sandwich, an authentic taste of a luau without the commensurate price tag! Fantastic plate lunches include macaroni salad, rice and crisp fries.    

Looking to walk off your meal? Again driving back toward Diamond Head, you’ll find the paved trail to the Makapuu Point Lighthouse, a turn of the century landmark perched on the edge of a sea cliff. The view is dramatic and great for seasonal whale watching, too.    

Nearby is Sea Life Park, a smaller, sweeter version of more corporate marine life sanctuary’s such as Sea World in California. Here you can enjoy many different sea life encounters from dolphins to rays, turtles, and sharks in the featured Reef Tank. The park allows many hands-on interactions, and while they’re not inexpensive, they’re also a good value in terms of a safe, nature loving experience. Visitors can swim with the dolphins or rays, feed or play with sea lions.    

Lighthouse at Makapuu Point Oahu Hawaii - from the ocean

Lighthouse at Makapuu Point - from the ocean

One other family fun option on the Windward side – Kualoa Ranch. You’ve seen this ranch before – on television and the big screen, if not in person. Many locations seen in Lost were filmed here, as was footage from Jurassic Park. Also a working cattle ranch, and a tourist attraction with a variety of tour options to chose from, ignore the commercial hype of the gift shop and enjoy a bouncy bus tour around the property for a spectacular scenery and a fun look at where some of your favorite Hollywood productions set up shop. Several of the view points will give you a good look toward the North Shore of the island, where more beauty and relaxation abounds.    

And virtually across the road from the ranch is the state beach park known by locals as “Chinaman’s Hat” for the shape of an island close enough for a low tide kayak ride. There’s not much shade here, but the water is very shallow and with a wide grassy area behind the narrow white sand beach, its a great spot for some kite flying, frisbee tossing, or just plain relaxing near another beautiful Hawaiian ocean view.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

Tags: , Reviews, Travel Excursions
2 Comments to “More Hawaii for your Ohana”
  1. avatar Ohana Island Life Hawaii « Tots and Travel – Family Vacations and Reviews says:

    [...] sure to read the continuation of our adventure in Hawaii in More Hawaii for your Ohana. VN:F [1.9.4_1102]please wait…Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)VN:F [1.9.4_1102]Rating: +1 (from 1 [...]

  2. avatar Oahu’s North Shore, Hawaii – Beyond Honolulu « Tots and Travel – Family Vacations and Reviews says:

    [...] already taken you in and around Honolulu and Waikiki with plenty of activities for the little ones. But sometimes you want a quieter island experience, [...]