Showing posts with label O'ahu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label O'ahu. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

O’ahu, Hawaii ~ Hunting HIdden Gems

Even moving to Greece wasn’t going to change our annual winter migration to our timeshare life on O’ahu, Hawaii. While increasing our commute sizably, it remains an annual journey that is worth the time and effort it now requires.

View from our Ko Olina home
Somehow, in the blink of an eye, ten years have passed since we took the plunge into timeshare life. And it happened right there at the Marriott Vacation Club in the Ko Olina planned development on this island’s west coast.

We’d been among those whose mantra was, “Not us! We aren’t timeshare people!” We’d simply taken the sales pitch offer for a good deal on a few nights stay and to prove to ourselves that we’d never buy a place there. Famous last words. 
It has become our ‘home resort’ – a place where we are guaranteed three weeks of Aloha Life each year.

And ‘home’ has taken on a new meaning since that initial timeshare purchase.

PicMonkey Collage
Our Ko Olina home
Now that we are technically homeless in America, this interval ownership provided as much a U.S. home base as we have these days. I have to admit we looked forward to ‘the familiar’ it promised: shopping at our ‘local’ grocery stores, eating at our favorite restaurants and spending time with our same-time-next-year friends who return to this tropical  ‘neighborhood’ at roughly the same time each year..

Doing it Differently

As nice as that bit of familiar was, our goal this year was to do the island differently. We seldom venture into the big city of Honolulu; gateway to the iconic Diamond Head (which really is quite magical) and Waikiki (which really is over-run with tourists and we avoid it like the plague).

We were doing a treasure hunt of our own design – a search for the island’s Hidden Gems . . .those special lesser-known places and those often frequented by locals but overlooked by visitors such as ourselves.

Our treasure hunt map
I’d promised the Seattle Times travel editor that I could find them and he was expecting an article and photos from me in February featuring them.  The challenge was on:

Research began in December while we were still in Greece.  I contacted friends who’ve lived on the island and asked for their recommendations. I began reading up on the places they suggested. Then, as we traveled about the island and met locals, I told them of my quest and they also had more suggestions of ‘not to miss’ places.

received_10216745011564600_resizedSince I know many of you didn’t see my article I decided that I’d share a few of our finds in today’s blog post.

I can tell you this was one of our best trips to Hawaii – made so by these special places. I know we plan to return to them in future visits..

I don’t have space to write about them all, but among those places we ‘discovered’ were a naval air museum, a centuries hold Hawaiian temple, an eatery and a rum factory.

The Naval Air Museum at Barber’s Point

(91-1299A Midway Street, Bldg. 1792, Kalaeloa Airport, 808-682-3982,

The Scout with Brad Hayes

Signage is limited and they keep the security fences locked so you don’t just drop by the Museum at Kalealoa Airport, formerly the Naval Air Station, on Barbers Point, near Kapeolei on O’ahu’s west coast. You have to schedule your tour in advance.

We chose a weekday morning and ended up having a private tour led by Brad Sekigawa, historian and Brad Hayes, executive director.

It was an amazing, simply, amazing two hours.

Brad Sekigawa, Museum historian
We were able to get up close and personal with airplanes and helicopters, going into some, standing under others, touching, photographing and asking questions. Trucks, tanks and fire trucks as well as helmets and flight gear are on display. Vehicles, aircraft and equipment that saw war duty. Some have been used in movies.

In leiu of an entrance fee donations are: $15 for adults, $10 seniors/military, $8 under 18.. To avoid the intense mid-day sun on the tarmac, booking early morning or late afternoon tours are recommended.

Pu,u O Mahuka Heiau – Hawaiian Temple

(Pu,u O Mahuka Heiau Road, off Pupukea Road [Highway 835], Pupukea, 808-587-0300,

Views from the open air temple
Frankly we were both skeptical as we set out for the Hawaiian temple. 'Ancient', several articles called it. Not ancient compared to Greece, we thought. But, oh my! What it may have lacked in centuries, it made up for in magic. The view of Waimea Bay and the channel between O’ahu and Kaua’i from high atop the hill where the temple was located was breathtaking.

And on the day we visited, we had the island’s largest heiau, ancient Hawaiian temple, to ourselves.

The old temple, several centuries old as a matter of fact, is believed to have been dedicated as a luakini, or sacrificial temple, where ceremonies involving animal or human sacrifices were conducted.

Offerings at the temple
A slight tropical breeze -  maybe the the breath of long-lost rulers - caused goose pimples as we stood on this sacred site.  Entry is free; limited on-site parking.

Manulele Distillers – the Rum makers

(92-1770 Kunia Road, #227, Kunia, 808-649-0830,

Manulele tasting room

So tucked away amidst the sugar cane fields was this small distillery that we drove past it on our first try. Ready to give up, we backtracked our route and were certainly glad we’d persevered. This farm-to-bottle rum distillery is making a name for itself with its production of Ko Hana Hawaiian agricole rum; made from sugar cane, not molasses.

The distillery is surrounded by cane fields that are still hand-harvested. It is housed in what was once the Del Monte (cannery) company store. Several tours are offered daily; adults, 21 and older ($25 per person) and children ($15 for ages 6 – 20, under 6 free). At the tour’s end adults taste rum and youngsters are served gelato.

Tiffany Tubon, assistant manager, explains the types of rum
The distillery’s display garden near the tasting room entry showcases the varieties of heritage cane plants – it was amazing to walk among the varieties of cane that go into the making of this rum.

Kahumana Organic Farm, Café and Retreat Center 

(86-660 Lualualei Homestead Road, Waianae, 808-696-8844,

Kahumana Retreat Center
By far the biggest surprise we had was the meal we ate on our last evening on the island at the cafe in this retreat center.

A late afternoon rain caused us to eat inside the covered patio
It serves as an on-the-job training program and revenue generator for Alternative Structures International, the non-profit organization that operates the retreat center and provides social services for the disadvantaged.

‘Kahumana’ is interpreted as, “Guardian of the Life Forces”, derived from the Hawaiian words ‘kahu’ a spiritual leader, healer, or priest and ‘mana’ life force.

PicMonkey Collage
Our meals were 'broke da mouth' good!
Our entrées, each less than $20, included Macadamia Nut Pesto topped pasta and veggies crowned with grilled Mahi Mahi and a Coconut Dahl lentil chicken curry with rice and fresh vegetables. The Lilikoi (passion fruit) Cheesecake was so good, I forgot to take a photo!

Alcohol is not served but BYOB for adults is fine. Dining reservations recommended.

This one was a perfect dining spot for those staying out on the west coast.  It would be a rather long drive for dinner from Honolulu but they do serve lunch as well.

Kite surfer on the North Shore
Kite surfing beaches, cliff top hikes, coffee and chocolate factories were among the other gems we found.  I’ve already gone far beyond the recommended number of words for blog posts, so will add a link to my article that appeared in The Times for those who’d like to read more.  Thanks, as always, for the time you’ve spent with us on this treasure hunt on O’ahu. The Times travel article.

It is Holy Week, the week before Easter in Greece. Next week, I’ll tell you about how we celebrated it in this village.  Until then, safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking this week with some or all these fine bloggers:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Communal Global
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration
Best of Weekend

Sunday, January 27, 2013

When the Diamonds and Daydreams Dance

Tropical daydreams were waltzing around my head the other day - gliding as smoothly as the clouds between the swaying palms -- and so caught up was I in their slow-step rhythm that I almost missed those enchanting dancing diamonds right in front of me . . .

. . . twirling and spinning; tossing and swooshing. . .

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As if on tiptoes they twinkled across the lagoon . . .

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Then teasing and tempting they raced up the sand. . .

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. . . and then those diamonds, mixed with daydreams, continued to dance.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

E Komo Mai to Our Hale Moana Home

E Komo Mai, (Welcome), to Hale Moana, our home on O’ahu, Hawaii.

It’s not a permanent home, it’s temporary, just a month, 1/12th of a year . . . but far longer than either of us once ever anticipated ‘living’ in this tropical paradise in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

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Over the decades we’ve gone to realtor open houses during visits to Hawaii and for decades have declared ownership of what we deemed ‘our kind of places’ to be beyond our budget. 

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That was, until we discovered the world of timeshare ownership.  That was five years ago and life hasn’t been the same since. . .

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Now, in the second week of our four week stay at Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club; our ‘home’ is on O’ahu’s western shore about 30 minutes from the Honolulu Airport and light years away from the hustle and bustle of that big city.

KoOlina2013 009

I’d worried – when we made our first purchase into this short-term ownership world – that we had been here only five days. What if we got bored after a week? Horrors! What if we got tired of returning to the same place year after year? (That part really isn’t a concern because you just trade your ‘home’ for one somewhere else).
KoOlina2013 007
My initial fears were unfounded (as they usually are) and we spent the next three years acquiring additional bits of time here. . .

This year we live in Hale Moana, the same building as our previous stays and each year we’ve had a different address within the building but all units are identical.  So E Komo Mai, or welcome, to our Hawaiian home were the temperatures are in the 80’s with sun and blue skies as compared to 'back home' where temperatures are in 30’s and 40’s:

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KoOlina2013 011As for what we do. . . well, we live here (and work here, for as much as we work these days).  A typical weekday finds us exercising in the morning, lunching on our lanai and then heading out to the beach or walking, or sunning, or reading or playing in the lagoon, pool or hot tub until it is time to fix dinner.  A far cry from owning homes in Mexico and spending most of our time working on them or making trips to the local hardware store. . .

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Still there are those who don’t quite understand the allure of such an ownership. Ah, but those who’ve taken the plunge, all seem to be like us: having a ball at their second home ~ a home that requires no more work than writing an annual maintenance check and reserving our time.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s visit – on Travel Photo Thursday I will show you a bit of the island. . .you might be surprised at what lies Beyond WaikikiAloha until then.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

TP Thursday: Aloha Hawaii ~

Hula Babe and Beach Boy (our noms de blog while in this Pacific Paradise) are saying a fond Aloha to the island of O’ahu on this Travel Photo Thursday . . .we are Pacific Northwest bound today~

For a month, I can say quite honestly, 'Life's been a Beach' for us. We've basked in the gifts of tranquil tropical days and nights that arrived wrapped in aloha spirit. It's been the kind of trip where we lived in the moment, not for the moment.  But as with all travel there comes a time when the moments become memories.  Some of our favorite moments turned memories are:

Walks on the beach. . .

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revisiting our old friends like, honu,

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and in spending time as any Hula Babe and Beach Boy might. . .

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Aloha . . . I'll tell you more about our Hawaiian adventures in future posts, but for now, it is time to start packing.

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It is Travel Photo Thursday so be sure to head to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos from travel bloggers around the world.  (Click the photos above to enlarge them).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Sea Foam Saturday

Okay, so I admit it, we haven't yet toured Pearl Harbor and I haven't been to the Polynesian Cultural Center since 1979 when my girlfriend and I rode TheBus around the island and made a stop there.

With the laid-back pace and so many things calling out to do, it just seems we can't get it all fit into the schedule while on O'ahu. 

Sometimes hours can slip away during what started as a quick stop at the beach. Like Saturday. We stopped to admire the waves breaking against the shore on Yokohama Beach.  It has been somewhat stormy in this part of the world so the waves were spectacular.

The next thing we knew, we were barefoot and walking the beach letting sea foam bathe both our feet and our souls.

Ever spent time like that?  It is amazing.

Sea foam at Yokohama Beach Park - O'ahu
j. smith photo (c) 2011

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hula Babe and Beach Boy Moonwalk

While Michael Jackson will forever be the world's moonwalking king, Hula Babe and Beach Boy did their own version several times just down the beach from our place at Ko Olina. You'll never see our fancy footwork on You Tube, still photos will have to suffice.

We spent hours exploring tidal pools found on this faux-lunar surface. Each pool had its own community of small fish and other little creatures. Flat, white-sand beaches were nearby but didn't hold quite the entertainment options of our lunar explorations. A few times we saw families also exploring the area and for the little ones the place was a Thriller.

Our favorite spots were just north of the J.W. Marriott property and south from Lagoon Four on Ko Olina's site, near the entry to the Marina. You explore at your own risk, the signs are posted. . .but then isn't that what you do with any travel experience?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top's Down, Surf's Up: On the Road in O'ahu

We put the top down, cranked up the Hawaiian tunes and headed out to explore O'ahu the other day. Enterprise Rent-a-Car made us another one of those incredible deals: $5 a day extra and we went from a cramped little econo model to wheels that make us decades younger when that top snaps into the trunk. Wind in the hair, sun on the face and we headed out to Hale'iwa (hall-eh-E-va), on the island's North Shore. The town,once a popular resort area in the early 1900's, is considered a Surfing Capital these days.
Had a Hawaiian breakfast - eggs, rice and Portuguese sausage - at a great little place, Kono's, and watched pickup truck loads of surfer boys and boards go past traveling from one beach to another.

Then continued around the island past Turtle Bay Resort and its expansive golf course to Kahuku, the place known for its Shrimp Trucks that line the roadway, grilling up shrimp that is served on paper plates and eaten at picnic tables along gravel parking lots. Heard a woman the other day in the hot tub speculating on the 'cleanliness' of such places. . .that silly wahine. . .they serve some of the the most mouth-watering meals we've ever eaten on O'ahu.

We drove for miles with the Wai'anae and Ko'olau mountain ranges to one side and ocean shore to the other. Didn't make it all the way around the island; so caught H-3, the freeway with an incredibly long, long tunnel through the mountain range and headed back to Ko Olina. Total travel time less than four hours.

Monday, February 8, 2010

O'ahu is more than Honolulu

If you envision this map as the face of a clock, our Ko Olina is on the lower left hand side just about 8 and Honolulu is down at the bottom in the big bay about 5 - 6. Tourist maps advise it is 90 miles to drive around the island; noting that the point on the top left of the map doesn't have a road, there you would need to hike from Yokohama Bay at the end of Farrington Highway through Ka'ena State Park and around to the north side which would bring you into Dillingham Airfield and Gliderport. We haven't been that ambitious this trip. (Double clicking the photo will enlarge it)


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