We are just at the very tail end of our Spring Break here in North Vancouver and what a crazy few weeks we have had! For our family vacation this year, we decided to visit the Hawaiian Island of Oahu.
We have been to Maui many times now which we love, but this year we decided to switch it up and try a different Island. Today I thought I would share the details about our trip and highlight some of our favorite moments. Unfortunately for us, there were a lot of stressful events that happened on this trip and I will tell you about that first.
Our Spring Break Vacation…the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!
grounded plane…oh no!
Our trip got off to a really stressful start because we were impacted by the grounding of the 777-Max 8 planes which happened the day before our departure, Wednesday March 13. (We were schdeduled to fly direct from Vancouver to Honolulu first thing Thursday March 14th) Luckily I called Air Canada as soon as the news broke, and after being on hold for an hour, I managed to get connected to an agent who was able to help not only our family, but the friends that we were travelling with (hello Christiansen’s) and another family we knew that were flying to Honolulu as well. I was on the phone for 4 hours in total, isn’t that crazy? It was such a roller coaster because at first, the agent told me all flights were just cancelled and we wouldn’t be able to get to Hawaii! I couldn’t believe it! I asked if we could be routed through the US and she said she could try and then found seats for us and the friends we were travelling with through Seattle. Just when she gets all the seats assigned, and she emails me all of our new ticketing information, she puts me on hold and then comes back to say that the US had just grounded their planes as well and you guessed it, she had just booked us on a Max 8 from Seattle to Honolulu! So back to the drawing board and she gets us routed through San Fransisco. We had a 4 hour layover in San Fran and and then it was off to Oahu. Here is Stella trying to drink a $10 smoothie at the San Fran airport…poor thing was super sick, but we will get to that in a minute!
Our 6 hour flight turned into 13 hours of travel time, but we were just so grateful to still be going, a lot of people were not so lucky!
Now as a pre-cursor to the plane grounding drama, my kids were all passing around a stomach bug…good times. It started with Sadie the weekend before Spring Break and she was hit pretty hard but was mostly recovered by the time we left. Kallum got a mild case of it as well, and also seemed to bounce back pretty quickly. Then there was poor Miss Stella. She started having symptoms the Tuesday before we left and she was feeling pretty awful. Having to travel for 13 hours with a fever and diahreah definitely didn’t help things much, it was awful for her and stressful for me. And unfortunately she continued to decline even after we arrived in Honolulu. Here she is our first day, surviving not thriving out by the pool…poor kid!
My friend Karen accurately labled Stella’s diarrhea “poop soup” which we all got a giggle out of and that became the potty joke of the trip! Thank goodness that made Stella laugh, and I have to give this kid credit for being such a trooper despite feeling so sick!
By Saturday morning when the poop soup situation was getting worse instead of better and she also had a fever, I finally took Stella to the Urgent Care clinic. The Dr told me he was pretty sure it was just a virus and he gave her some prescription anti-nausea pills and said to give her as much gatorade as we could get into her. She finally started to improve and by the Monday she was mostly back to normal, although was completely exhausted! All was well in the family for a few days until Steve got it…the fever and the poop soup…not pretty! The only saving grace there was that he got over it way quicker than poor Stella, and rebounded after about a day and a half.
the fishbowl in the sky
Now all the while that Stella is terribly sick, there was one more negative thing going on…the Air B&B condo I had rented for us was terrible! I hated everything about it. Here is the challenge with going somewhere new, you are totally unfamiliar with the location and the surroundings. I had studied the photos of the condo and read all the reviews which were quite positive. It certainly was’t cheap so I figured it was a good place, but sadly this was not the case.
We were in the Monarch hotel which was old and kind of run down feeling. Our condo was a penthouse, which sounds fancy right? Wrong! It was a really old and very cheaply rennovated unit. Considering what we had paid to rent this place, I was very disappointed. It was also 42 floors up, which in itself for me is a problem because I am afraid of heights. It never occured to me that it would be this high up because the apartment number on the listing is 403 so I assumed it was on the top of a fourth floor building…very misleading. There was no balcony, which was fine by me because I wouldn’t let anyone on my family out onto it anyway (did I mention I am afraid of heights?), but the real kicker was that all of the windows were locked for safety reasons so you couldn’t get any fresh air! Ack! I started calling it the fishbowl in the sky.The one thing it had going for it was a stunning view…
But that is about the only nice thing I can say about it. The pool area was not very nice either so there was no real way to enjoy the outdoors while at the condo. I won’t get into all the details but we were really upset and disspointed with this situation and it was kind of ruining the trip for me. In particular, being so high up was making me feel extremely anxious and I was unable to sleep. On the advice of my very wise friend (hi Christine!) who was staying on the Island but in a different area, we decided to move to a new condo. I just happened to find a beautiful two bedroom unit in a really nice building where our travel companions were staying, so we took it. The new condo was a thousand times nicer than the one we had been in and was cheaper per night! I decided to lodge a complaint with Air B&B and they were able to get me a partial refund on the bad condo, and this really salvaged the vacation for me.
Portuguese Man of War
Just when things were turning around and we felt like we were having a fun vacation, poor Sadie had an unfortunate encounter with a Portuguese Man-of-war, which is a jelly-fish type creature in that it floats in ocean and can sting you. One minute Sadie is having the best time ever, boogie boarding and playing in the waves…
And the next minute she is crying and in severe pain! She was stung on her finger and it was a teeny tiny little mark but she was crying so hard and said it hurt very badly. Our friend Karen was stung by one in Australia and she confirmed that it REALLY hurts. The lifeguard had some vinegar on hand to rub on the wound and we gave Sadie some advil which really helped. We ended up leaving the beach because she was in so much pain, plus the lifeguard said that some people can have an allergic reaction to these stings and can go into anaphylactic shock! She ended up being totally fine and even though her arm was sore, within an hour she was able to laugh about the whole thing.
what we liked about Oahu
Even though there were some stressful things that happened on the trip, we did have many wonderful and fun moments and we made some amazing memories. Even the not so great memories are ones that we are already laughing about and we will probably talk about for years to come. So there is that! Here are some of the highlights of our trip…
Visiting the North Shore
The waves on the North Shore of Oahu are famous and we really wanted to go and check out this part of the island. It was a little over an hour away from Waikiki and was a really scenic drive, once we got out of the city. The day that we did this trip, there was actually a wave warning in effect, and they were reporting the waves would reach 30-50 feet! Our first stop was Waimea Bay and it was so pretty!
Kallum and his teen partner in crime Tate had a great time jumping in the waves, but the girls were a little too nervous to go into the water…as in they were sensible, lol!
We visited a few other beaches that day, but they all had orange flags which means no swimming allowed! It was so cool to see these giant waves and despite being unable to swim or snorkel, it was still a great experience!
There are lots of great food trucks that came highly recommended to us, but our favorite was visiting Mike’s Huli Chicken in Kahuku. We had actually seen Mike interviewed by Guy Fieri on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dive’s” so it was really cool to stumble across his food truck. We had been aiming to eat at a restaurant called “Seven Brothers” but it was closed on Sundays and Mike’s Huli Chicken was right beside it. We recognized it right away from watching the show and decided to give it a try. We even met Mike who was really nice and took a great deal of pride in his food truck….which was actually more of a food bus!
The food was really delicious and if you are ever in the area, you have to give it a try!
hiking Manoa Falls
While there are several beautiful hikes that we heard about on the island, this one was close by and pretty kid friendly. There were lots of cool trees like this one which even I could climb!
Stella was still recovering the day we did this hike, and it was proving a little much for her, so Steve stayed back with her while the rest of us made it up to the falls.
Hilton Hawiian Village
While we weren’t staying at this hotel, the property itself was quite lovely and offered lots of great shops, restaurants and ammenities that were open to the general public. It is on a much quieter end of Waikiki beach and also has a man-made lagoon on it where you can rent paddle boards and water tricycles. We spent quite a bit of time there over the course of the week and even lounged by the pool the day we were waiting to switch to the new air B&B condo. There was a little beachside cantina that had great casual food like burgers and salads, and I sampled their mai-tai’s several times!
The highlight of our trip was doing an ATV tour around Kualoa ranch.
“Kualoa is a 4000-acre private nature reserve and working cattle ranch, as well as a popular tourist attraction and filming location on the windward coast of Oʻahu”.
We had heard great things about this place, and it did not disappoint! In addition to the breathtaking scenery, it was really cool to see the location of movies like Jurassic Park and Jumanji 2. This was also the location of the TV Show “Lost” which Steve and I watched religiously back in the day.
While we were waiting to start the tour, it was actually pouring rain and we were a little worried, but within minutes the sky cleared and we had beautiful weather. We had been told to expect to get really dusty and dirty on the tour, but the rain actually worked in our favor because the trails were muddy instead of dusty.
You could also do a tour on horseback which Stella would have really loved…
This is a really long post and if you are still with me, thanks for hanging in there! Having now experienced both Maui and Oahu, I have to say that Maui is my favorite and I hope to go there next year. Do you have a favorite Hawaiian Island? I would love to hear about your experience in the comment section below! I know there are many things that were recommended to us that we didn’t get to, we probably could have used another week to explore this beautiful island! I have to thank our good friend and travel companion, Axel, who is like a walking/talking trip advisor app and is an amazing photographer…many of these great shots are courtesy of him!
Thanks for reading