Let's get our run-down of our little family adventure started, shall we?
We flew out of Vancouver on Saturday evening. We were geared up for a full 6 hour flight with our headsets to watch a marathon of TV. Oh, what's that the flight attendant just said? West Jet only gets the satellite TV for the first 45 minutes of the flight? I guess we'll get creative then. And we did. The flight didn't seem to take that long (and for me, that's saying a lot). The best part was when Sasha's little body was curled up over mine and Mike's and she was snoozing and drooling happily for the last two hours.
Seeing as it was late when we arrived, we had planned to book into an airport hotel for the night and head to our condo in Waikiki the next day. After a great sleep and waking up to the sunshine and delicious smell of Hawaii, we were ready to get the party started.
Our cab driver drove us to Waikiki and played part-time tour-guide. He pointed out where President Obama was born, where he went to high school, and the apartment building he lived in. All good stuff to know.
We arrived at the Wyndham Beach Walk where we had booked in for the next 11 nights. We found this place on the "Vacation Rental By Owner" site where locals rent out their condos and houses, and others rent out their time-share weeks that they're not using. This place fell into the "time share" category. We liked the fact that it was in the center of the action in Waikiki and that it offered some of the perks of a hotel with the space of an apartment. With a family of 5, we've stayed in enough hotel rooms to know that's just not our idea of a good time as our kids get older. We needed space - and we got it here with a two bedroom condo.
The Wyndham also had a pool, games room, daily activities for families and (wait for it) the opportunity to sit with a high-pressure salesperson for 90 minutes while they try every trick in the book to get you to buy a time-share. Hey - we're Mennonites! If someone offers you $150 attractions voucher for 90 minutes of your time, you take it!
I was sure to get Mike to take pictures when we first got into the place, as I know that after 15 minutes with us making ourselves at home, it was sure to look quite different.
Here's the girl's room -
This is the master bedroom -
The main living-space -
And the kitchen. The coffee maker and toaster got the biggest work-outs of the trip. As did the washer and dryer. How could you do a beach vacation for 11 days without a washer and dryer? We hauled in a lot of sandy towels and blankets.
As you can see, this place suited our needs quite nicely.
One of the best parts was that the condo was right on the Waikiki "Beach Walk" that had lots of restaurants and shops and was just a quick 5 minute walk to the less-crowded beach.
This is right across the street from the condo.
First order of business was taking a beach stroll and getting our lay of the land.
Second order of business was filling our faces at "The Cheesecake Factory". That place is crazy.
We enjoyed our little visual tour of Waikiki. It's kind of pretty.
Except for one day, we always made our own breakfast and then packed our cooler full of lunch for a day at the beach or the pool. Then, we'd always go out for dinner. We made the rounds to every "Happy Hour" hot spot in the region!
It got dark pretty early and it cooled off perfectly in the evening. It was fun to walk around the unbelievable tourist mecca that is Waikiki. A "people-watchers" dream come true!
On our second night, we went to "Senior Frogs" with the girls. (Like I said, we made the "Happy Hour" special rounds. Have you seen the prices in Waikiki?)
Early into the evening, we had a nice young man named Cory come over and start making balloon hats for all of us. As he made our hats, we found out a bit of his story. (Every server in the industry has a story of how and why then ended up in Hawaii). Cory ended up being from Massachusetts and has a degree in eco-tourism. He wants to start his own kayak touring company, but he's working 3 other jobs in the meantime to make ends meet.
We liked Cory. He was kind of cute.
And he took this nice picture for us.
Our "more than kind of cute" dad and husband took this next picture for us.
We spent lots of good time at the beach those first few days.
One thing the girls wanted to try was Paddle-Boarding. The water and waves were really calm at the beach near our condo, so we thought that was a good place to try it out. After a quick little instructional moment, Mike took each of the girls out.
It didn't take long until Ellie wanted to give it a go on her own.
She was quite the natural!
Sasha prefered her boogie board.
I love hearing my girls playing at the beach.
Why is it that kids almost never fight or squabble at the beach?
They mostly strategize about the sand castle they're building, giggle and belly laugh.
When the tide started to roll in, it was time to call in the big-guns for some reinforcements.
We also spent a lot of down-time at the pool. It was pretty small, but that didn't bother us one bit. There were almost never any kids in the pool. There were a lot of grey and white haired folks lying by the pool, but that didn't stop the fun and frolicking in the water.
It helped that there was Shave Ice and frozen pineapple on sticks served every afternoon.
(As an aside, what is the deal with Americans and Shave Ice? It was everywhere.)
General fun and merriment was had by all.