What we learned: (1) Trip Advisor advice is great. Thanks! (2) Signage was great, especially when combined with Google Map directions or maps from tourist brochures. Rush Hour traffic problems seemed mostly non-existant. (3) As a family, we stuck with the early to bed, early to rise routine, less jetlag when we got home. (4) Hike slippery waterfall trails late in your vacation so that if you are injured, it doesn't ruin other days. (5) Check in for your return flight as soon as you can. They are over-booking flights, and some families were stranded in airports for hours.
Day 1 - Thursday Nov 3
After 2 long flights, arrived in Honolulu, some confusion finding rental car, need to take shuttle which seems to drive in circles but reaches its location, excellent signage to get to Kailua, arrived at 3, but no problems with city traffic even though we were driving in Rush Hour. checked into our Vacation Rental, went for dinner and grocery shopping (Wow, groceries are expensive!) Fell into bed exhausted @ 9
Day 2 - Friday Nov 4
Explored Kailua, walked beach, boogie-boarded for hours and read a good book on the beach.
Day 3 - Saturday Nov 5
Chose to head into Honolulu, arrived before things opened so went to see the Punchbowl Cemetery, beautiful views and really brought home to our teen-age boys the tragedy of war. (Why are they digging up the hillside?) Split up, 2 went to submarine, 2 to Iolani Palace, seems sad as a Canadian that the Hawaiians couldn't keep their queen. Protesters set up outside obviously agreed. (Heard that some of them were arrested a couple of days later) Submarine ride was enjoyed, especially the black-tip reef shark, but not the barfing kid. Met up at Ala Moana Center so that we could visit the Lego Store. Then went to spend an afternoon at Magic Island. Enjoyed the water and the crashing waves, watching surfers, fishermen.
Sunday, November 5
Went to Pearl Harbour as the aliens were taking a day off from their attack. Have pictures with the TV paraphanalia in the background. USS Missouri was a highlight for the boys, although they could really appreciate the solemnity of the Arizona. They also enjoyed the outdoor exhibits at the Visitor Center, didn't even get to see everything in 45 minutes before we were scheduled to see the movie. Finished our day at the Aviation Museum. Somebody in a tour gave us 2 coupons for 10 free minutes on the Simulation machines. (The tour wouldn't stop for them to use them.) It looked like they had gotten them off of the internet.
Monday, November 7
Hiked Maunawili Falls trail. A great trail, but as many have mentioned, very slippery. We were very muddy and fell a number of times. (I actually tore ligaments in my back during 1 fall), However, I would do the hike again. It was a real adventure, beautiful views, fun crossing the stream, a pretty waterfall. Bring sandals to change into after the hike. Snorkeled at Turtle Cove in the afternoon, close to Kailua, swam with the turtles, tried to keep our distance, but they get kind of curious. A great day.
Tuesday, November 8
North Shore drive day, followed the Trip Advisor recommendations, enjoyed Haiku gardens, the sea arch at Aie, shrimp from Giovanni's (We shared an order) Most memorable was the Macadamia Nut Tour. They only do 1 tour on Tuesdays at 11 so we had to wait for it, but it was worth it. A two hour tour. We learned so much about Hawaiian culture, plants, got a Star Fruit fresh off the tree, learned how to open coconuts, start a fire, watched a short Fire Dance. We laughed so hard at all of their jokes. Highly recommend, need cash for tour. Met Collette the turtle at Turtle Beach. The waves weren't really crashing so very few surfers to watch. Ended our day at the Dole Plantatin for a Dole Whip.
Wednesday, November 9
Aloha Swap Meet, bought some souvenirs here, t-shirts, shocked at the weapons that were availble for sale, some delicious bread and some shave ice. Bishop Museum after lunch, learned about Hawaiian culture and history, volcanoes (saw lava melting, got our program burned), vegetation and animals, especially enjoyed seeing whether we were fit to travel to Mars. Helena's for supper, awesome service, an adventure in food, the place to go to try true Hawaiian food they say. Their father/grandfather cooks the pig a couple of times a week in a pit.
Thursday November 10
Another Kailua day, good wind so my son tried Windsurfing at Kailua Windsurfing, excellent lesson. He felt so encouraged. Other son more boogy-boarding.
Friday November 11
Diamond Head hike, rerouted for part close to the top, seems like they're doing some renos to the tower, less fit people were really huffing on the way up, but most had no problems. Met some local boys at the top, one could even name most of the Canadian provinces (Yeah!) Honolulu Aquarium, tried to park at Bandstand, but it was full of police for APEC, metered parking across from Aquarium was pretty cheap anyway. Had a pleasant stroll along the beachwalk. Drove along the shore to get back to Kailua, stopping at viewpoints and Hanauma Bay parking lot.
Saturday, November 12
Hanauma Bay - arrived early, set up under some shade trees on the far side, but preferred to sit in the sun actually. Saw lots of fish, an octopus, turtle, eels. Stayed until about 2. Stopped at the Halona Blowhole on the way home and were joined by the wife of the Ambassador from HongKong and her body guards.
Sunday, November 13
Laundry, cleaning, packing, Son was going to spend a few hours boogie-boarding, but got stung by a Portuguese Man of War after an hour, an exciting end to our triip. (It wasn't actually that bad, showered, applied vinegar and had an antihistamine and the swelling went down pretty fast, a cool mark to show friends upon returning home.) Upon arrival at home, a blizzard started just as we got to our car.