I knew from the moment I saw his reaction, I messed up. Judging from the look of the TSA officer watching the monitor as my backpack goes through the scanner at security, I knew I was in trouble. Shaking his head, as he motioned for me to come to him, I took a deep breath. “I know, I know… I’m sorry,” I said defensively. My stupid hydroflask was full of water. I could kick myself for making an amateur mistake. Here I was bypassing the lines at the non-TSA line and feeling smug that I didn’t have to take my shoes off, I was brought down to earth by my water bottle. The officer told me to get my bag, empty my water bottle and get back in line again. What a great way to start my birthday weekend.
A NEW CHAPTER
Oahu here we come! The Trio is back for the second time on the Island. This time older and wiser (not so in my case). Are we going to top the first time? How do we top a free presidential suite upgrade at the Hilton village? A lei greeting with free maitais? A limo service to dinner?
Every trip is a new experience. My advice is, don’t try to recreate the magic of the first one. Instead, try something new, something unexpected, something cheap even. Instead of staying at a hotel, we booked a condo through VRBO in Honolulu, located across the zoo. Who needs a fancy suite when we plan on spending most of our time at the beach? This time, we plan on having new experiences and possibly revisiting some that we’ve tried before.
Having only 5 days on the Island, it is important that you maximize and spend your time wisely. And it starts with booking your flight and having an early arrival. This is key to maximizing your time. And if you’re lucky, and get a later flight back, that’s definitely a bonus. If you’re like me, the kind that just wants to spend time on the beach, eat, shop, repeat, continue reading along. I’ll throw in a few minor hikes in between for those sporty ones.
Our plane touched down at 11 o’clock on a Friday morning. We got lei’d as soon as we got off the plane. What a great way to rebound after that TSA fiasco. Actually, we paid extra for a lei greeting at the airport when we booked our tickets through Hawaiian airlines.
The first order of business, after getting our rental car is to head to Dole Plantation. The check in time at the VRBO is not until 5 pm. We have plenty of time to explore the Island. We want to explore the North shore because ultimately, we want to have lunch at Giovanni’s shrimp. The plan is to hit up Dole Plantation, Waimea Valley Falls, Giovanni’s Aloha Shrimp, and everything else on the way back down to Honolulu. The reason for this is geography. Stick to one area and spend your time there. Trust me on this. If you see something along the way, pull over and check it out. Your adventure can be whatever you want it to be. If you see a beach or a fruit stand along the road, pull over and check it out. This is your vacation, have fun! I will point out notable quick stops along the way. Decide for yourself if it’s worth it, depending on time.
Dole Plantation is our first stop. It’s about 18 miles away from the airport. I would say that they are known for their pineapple and Dole whip. The frozen treat is definitely a must. If you have your kids with you, you may want to do the train ride around the property. You can also check out the maze if you have time to spare and just want to walk around. For the most part, I would say I wouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes in this place. Check out the gift shop. You may find some good souvenirs to take home. Enjoy your Dole whip and let’s move on to the next destination. Take Kamehameha highway en route to Waimea Falls. You are only 11 miles away.
Notable Quick Stops:
If you see a sign to Haleiwa, you may decide to stop by here. This small town offers great shopping and food choices. They also have the one and only Matsumoto Shave Ice on the Island. So I’d say it’s a good idea to stop by to see what the fuss is about. I definitely recommend it. There is a Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck located on the main drag. However, the parking is limited in this area and definitely would not recommend eating at this location for that sole reason. Say good-bye to Haleiwa and get back on to Kamehameha highway.
Laniakea Beach is another notable quick stop on our way to Waimea Valley. You may decide to check this place out. If you do, park on the side of the road. You won’t miss it. When it’s busy, you’ll see tour buses parked on the side of the road as well. This beach is known for the turtles that lounge on the shore. Take some photos. My only advice is, absolutely, do not touch them. It is illegal to touch the turtles. Give them some space. Shall we move on ahead? Let’s get back on the road.
This one is new to me. A year ago, my family and I spent time at Waimea beach but skipped Waimea Botanical Garden and Waimea Falls just right off Kamehameha highway. This time around, I want to make sure that we see both. There’s ample parking at the visitor center. There’s a $17 admission fee for adults. It’s worth it. The paved trail is roughly 2 miles long and should take you about 30 to 40 minutes to walk to the end depending on how many times you stop to take photos of the flowers and the trees. They also have golf carts where you can pay to get driven to the water falls. They only take cash and I believe it is around $20 round trip and the driver also provides commentary with it.
Don’t worry, there’s only one way in and out of the park. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to take more photos on your way back. So I suggest that we keep going forward to get to the pot of gold, the water falls. Waimea Falls is anchored at the end of the trail. This place is absolutely stunning. You are allowed to swim in the water falls. They provide life jackets and there’s also a lifeguard on a surfboard on standby. The park is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day. We are told that there are days where swimming is not allowed. I assume it’s because of heavy rain from the night before or flash flood alert. Luckily, we are able to swim and get under the water falls. It is an absolute joy trying to swim against the current to get under the falls. Everyone is having fun trying to get to it, one after the other. That is certainly a highlight of Day 1 and we haven’t even had lunch yet.
Alright, how’s everyone doing? Is everyone hungry?
Click here for Part Two of Day 1.