Jan 16, 2016

Hawaii December 2015: Ocean Swimming & an Island Tour

Given how much in pain I was in Monday night, I was very thankful that Tuesday was another day full of relaxation. I was able to get a good night's sleep in, combined with Advil, so I woke up Tuesday feeling much better and ready to enjoy the day with the girls. 

Sydney's eye was looking better with all the drops too. Just the corner of her eye looked red that morning. That's also when I noticed she had 2 or 3 of her long upper lashes stuck behind the skin of the lower lash line! I was able to use a Q-tip to fish these lashes out but they were bend badly and I feared they would get stuck again, so we eventually pulled them out. I'm almost positive this is what led to the irritation and gunky eye the day before and pink-eye may not have been the issue at all. Oh well. The drops had helps immensely for the irritation.

We decided to start the day out down by the ocean. Aulani offers complimentary beach toy rental, so we picked up a bag on our way to finding some lounge chairs under an umbrella. We got lucky and found some in the front row. The girls played with the beach toys a little, but soon London had made a friend, as she did every time we went swimming, and started playing with her beach toys. The little girl had this cool mermaid water doll that I wish I could have found for the girls. The mom told me she had gotten it at Walmart, but I've never seen anything like it. I'll have to keep looking as the summer months draw near. 

When that little girl and her mom left, Cameron took the girls swimming out into the ocean while his mom rented a kayak. I stayed on the land, reading magazines since the water this time of year was a little too cold for me. While the temperature was pretty much 84 degrees every day, which was perfect for spending so much time outside, the actual water was a little on the chilly side. I preferred the heated pools at the resort. 

The girls and Cameron didn't last in the water too long either. Before long, we packed up and headed back to the Villa for lunch. And naps. 

When the girls woke up we did some more swimming before having a light dinner back at the Villa. My parents had spent the early part of the afternoon hanging out with an old friend from the days when they lived on Oahu. 

Tuesday night was also the night we discovered "Mo'olelo Fire Pit Storytelling" with Uncle Ito at Aulani. I'd read about it on the resort's web site prior to our arrival and had wanted to check it out but had forgotten about it until I saw it happening poolside that evening. Luckily, that was a night that Uncle was telling stories 3 times. I had read to get there early as seating was limited around the giant fire pit. We got there about 20 minutes early and it was packed, already, but we were able to find some seats. Uncle came out and lit the fire and proceeded to tell a story about the Menehune (mythical, hard working, little people of the islands) that lasted about 15 minutes. The girls weren't too into it, but Vicki, my dad, Cameron and I would return later that night and as much as we could our last few nights to hear Uncle's different mythical stories. I only wished we had checked this out earlier in our trip. It was a nice, relaxing way to end our evenings and prepare for bed. We had the same "Uncle" each night and he was a very gifted storyteller as well. 

Wednesday was our second to last full day on the Island and a day we used to tour the island. Since my parents lived there for 5 year, they chose to stay back at the resort for the day, so it was just Vicki, Cameron, the girls and I. 

We loaded onto our tour bus through E Noa Tours for our North Shore Adventure with several other Aulani guests at a decent hour that day. We made one stop at the resort next door for a few more people and then we were on our way. Our tour guide, Cousin K, described this tour as the "Eating" tour of the island, based on all the stops we would make. 

First stop was at a Coffee farm and stand. Given that Cameron and I aren't coffee drinkers, we mainly used this stop for a bathroom break and did wander a grove of coffee bean trees. There wasn't any formal tour here, so it was mainly a place to grab a cup of coffee and tour the gift shop. 

The next stop was the Dole Plantation and the information train ride through some of the fields. As we learned how pineapples are grown, we also saw that the fields we were touring were getting ready to be planted, which meant there were no pineapple plants to see. We did see some after we got off the train, and we did see other things like sugar cane, and bananas growing in their bunches. The girls loved it, but mainly for the train ride. After we got off the train we did see a little planting of pineapple plants and that's where I learned there are many different varieties of pineapple. The pink pineapple was my favorite!

Bananas on  the tree look awesome

Our first pineapple sightings at the Dole Plantation
We then got some Dole Whip and enjoyed eating out on the patio in the sun. We still had time before we had to be back on the tour bus, so we wandered the gift shop a little. The Pearl Factory stand was handing out keys to a locked treasure chest giveaway, so we gave that a try. No luck. But we did draw a 40% off coupon to crack open a clam, so we let the girls each pick out a clam and see what kind of pearl they got. London ended up with a beautiful pink pearl, while Sydney's had more of a purple tint to it. Both mean love. We'll probably have our favorite jeweler create something with these pearls for each of the girls at the right time in their lives. 

The girls with my favorite pink pineapple

Our next stop would be for lunch, but not before we battled the traffic on the windy side of the island. The road was only two lanes, and apparently the finals for the Triple Crown and Pipemasters competition and was the place to be. Cars were parked for miles. I'm sure it was some great surfing too, as the waves we could see along the drive were huge. Most of the beaches we passed were closed due to the large waves and the dangers they posed. It was also quite rainy on this side of the island though we were able to stop and take pictures of the waves during a little break in the weather. And by the time we made it to our lunch stop, it was sunny again. 

Lunch was a cash-only shrimp shack on the side of the road. But don't let that fool you. I ordered some coconut shrimp that was delicious. The girls were the ones that lucked out the most - the chicken and noodles they got were fantastic. The noodles were exactly what I had wanted our first night when I ordered noodles from the Hawaiian BBQ location (those were awful!). The chicken was breaded and cooked to perfection - not over cooked at all. 

After lunch we drove less than a mile to our next stop, Kahuku Farms.  We got to take a tractor ride through the farm, which included mango, papaya and bananas. The farm also has a farm stand & cafe where you can get smoothies and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables grown on the farm as well as culinary and bath and body products, also made from ingredients on the farm. I think this was Vicki's & my favorite stop with all the culinary, bath & body products. 

Papaya Tree
More pineapple sightings at the Farm

We did some shopping as we enjoyed our complimentary smoothies after the tour. Vicki got me a jar of the body butter lotion, which I have been using almost everyday since we got back. It has a beautiful, light tropical scent and moisturizes very nicely. We also fell in love with their hand-cleaner. It also has a nice light scent, not like most hand sanitizers, plus it's not drying so you don't have to apply lotion afterward.  I haven't really used the culinary items we got but I did get to taste them all and they are truly unique and delicious. 
Old papaya trees

Young payapa trees 

Our final stop of the day was at Tropical Farms, a macadamia nut outlet. Just imagine macadamia nuts of all different flavors, both sweet and savory to taste test. We found a few selections we liked best and made our purchases and wandered the rest of the gift shop a little before making a mad dash to the tour bus as it started to rain again. 

Luckily, it was time to head back to Aulani. Sydney was tired and tired of all the driving at this point and ended up sleeping in my arms just like a baby on the way home. Looking down on her I was immediately transported back to her newborn days. She even suckled in her sleep like a newborn and put her hands in little fists onto her cheeks like she did back then. So sweet. 

The drive back was long due to traffic and the weather. When we got back to the resort we could tell that it had been raining there for a little while, enough to wet the ground, but the sun was shining through as it set. 

Cameron used some of the savory macadamia nuts we had purchased that afternoon to bake on top of some salmon my dad & I had picked up at Costco at the beginning of the trip. That was definitely one of the best dinners we had on the whole trip, and it was from the comfort of our villa. This was especially good as we were wiped out. 

Overall, our tour experience was fantastic and I would highly recommend E Noa Tours for any one visiting Oahu. 

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