Heather’s brother, sister and mother have been lucky enough to spend the last couple of years on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii (Tom and Kate are studying there and Lyn is a missionary, volunteering at the Polynesian Cultural Center).
It’s been a few years since we have seen Lyn and a few more years since the whole family has been in the same place, so we wanted to take the opportunity to have a family holiday over there.
We chose to go at a time when Tom was graduating and Lyn was concluding her mission. Joshua also just turned eight and we were able to have his baptism take place in Hawaii with family present. So this trip was not only a chance to see Hawaii, go to the beaches and experience the culture, but also a time for meaningful family events.
We stayed in two houses, one through Airbnb and the other through VRBO. The first place was up in the hills of Hau’ula and the highlight, at least from the kids’ point of view, was the Koi pond in the garden, which was home to a number of toads. The kids spent hours out there in the hammock and by the pond. Just before we left, Lucy reached down into the pond to pick up one of the toads and fell right in, getting completely soaked!
Here are a few highlights of our visit…
Temple Beach & Laie Temple
A lovely beach with warm turquoise water within eyeshot of the Laie Hawaii Temple.
We played in the sand and went bodyboarding at the beach. We spent some time in the beautiful temple grounds – later during our visit, Heather, myself, Lyn, Tom jr.and Kate would get to go into the temple together and do some temple work for our family.
Ancient Ceremonial Site
We took a walk around a former Hawaiian temple/ceremonial site with a view to the beach below.
Kate has been learning traditional Island dancing and had a performance as part of her studies. For one of the dances, she got Eve and Lucy on stage to try the dance.
Turtles & Turtle Bay
We visited The Ocean Fest at Turtle Bay, where the kids shaped surfboards, tried Hawaiian shave ice and learned about caring for the ocean. We also visited the beach here, which was great for snorkeling. A little further along the coast there is a beach known for spotting giant turtles, so we went there to take a look.
Dole Pineapple Farm
A pineapple farm with a pineapple maze, pineapple ice cream, pineapple varieties on display and many other pineapple themed novelties. The kids wore appropriate pineapple themed clothing for the occasion.
Seven Brothers Burgers
We met with our friend Mason Baird, who is also studying at BYU Hawaii and tried a local burger restaurant. It was great to see Mason again and meet his friends.
Polynesian Cultural Center
The PCC is amazing – it’s a kind of a theme park that celebrates Island culture. You can travel by canoe to authentic ‘villages’ representing different islands; Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Aoterra etc. In each village, there are shows, demonstrations, games and things to try like starting a fire with two sticks (I got smoke!), making animals out of coconut leaves, hula dancing and twirling Poi balls. Each village is staffed largely by students from the respective islands.
In the Samoan village, Josh was chosen to go on stage and try some fresh coconut water. He was given a basket woven out of coconut leaves as a gift.
In the Tongan village, I (Dave), along with two other unsuspecting tourists, was invited on stage to put on a skirt, shout, slap my chest and face and play some Tongan drums. Obviously, I nailed it.
On the Friday evening, we went to the Night Show at the PCC; more drums, dancing (including fire dancers), singing – a really good show. The King and Queen of Tonga(!) were visiting the PCC, so they were seated in the centre of the auditorium and sat clapping and being fanned by their servants.
Another highlight was Waimea; a beautiful nature reserve, botanical garden and waterfall that you can swim in. This place was like the Garden of Eden – so lush and fertile with all sorts of trees, plants, flowers etc. When we reached the waterfall, we put on life jackets and jumped in. It was so cool to be in there with all of the kids.
We drove down to Waikiki and spent an evening there; at the beach, on the pier, watching street entertainers. There was a guy playing acoustic guitar and singing – he was pretty good, so we stopped for a while and Olive and Charlotte had a dance, much to the entertainment of passers-by.
Tom’s graduation at BYU Hawaii was a cool experience, much more energetic that the comparatively solemn British ceremonies. After receiving their degrees and hearing a few speeches, the graduates filter out onto the packed lawns and streets around campus where among hundreds of balloons and banners their family and friends are gathered to greet and congratulate them. The Samoans had staked out a section of lawn and put up banners. When their friends emerged, they turned up the music and started whooping and dancing. The Maoris did the ‘Haka’ in their gowns and caps. The graduates are presented with leis; the traditional floral kind, as well as more creative home-made varieties made with dollar bills or packets of M&M’s and Reeses peanut butter cups.
Tom graduated with a degree in Social Work and has loved his time here. As the minutes passed, he was given more and more leis by family and friends and ended up with quite the display around his neck. We had to de-lei him after a while because he was overheating in the Hawaiian sun!
The highlight of the trip was Joshua’s baptism. Josh was baptized on Friday 10 June in Laie. The event went really well with family members giving talks, readings, scriptures. I was able to baptism and confirm him, with Uncle Tom and the local Bishop, William Mahoni, assisting. We’re grateful to the local church leaders We’re so proud of Josh!
Valley of the Temples
We stopped off at the Valley of the Temples, which was a beautiful spot with 6 or 7 temples from various faith traditions. We parked and took a walk around the Japanese temple where we fed the Koi, sounded the gong (by swinging a huge log at it – see Josh in action above) and enjoyed the view.
Mokolii, or as the locals call it, ‘Chinaman’s Hat’, is a nice little island off Kaneohe Bay… yep, we’re hilarious.
Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular snorkeling spots in Oahu and for good reason. We rented snorkels and I went in with Eve, Josh and Lucy. It was amazing – so many tropical fish swimming around the coral.
We first snorkeled in Turtle Bay, but then did it again an Hanauma Bay. Both times it was amazing, but Hanauma had the edge. I’ve never done this before and was amazed at just how easy it was to see scores of tropical fish, including the national fish of Hawaii; the kids’ favorite, the Hummahummanukkanukkappuu’a. We also saw Convict fish, a huge parrot fish and Moorish Idols.
Snorkeling with the kids made me think about how fast they are growing; it’s not just paddling in the waves and building sandcastles any more; Eve and Josh were both swimming and snorkeling unassisted – it was cool.
Heather and I stole away one evening while Opa was watching the kids. We drove to Sunset Beach, a well-known surf spot to watch the sunset while sipping on fresh mango otai. The light was amazing and was surpassed only by the company…
Although the kids loved the other activities we did, every day, they asked one question “when are we going to the beach?”! Other beach visits included Kailua and Hukilau.
North Beach Taco
We went here for lunch after Tom’s graduation and took a few shots while waiting for the tacos to arrive…
After 11 days in paradise, we packed our bags and got on the plane home. The kids managed both flights really well and saying goodbye wasn’t too hard, as Oma and Kate would be joining us in California in just a few days time.