Oahu, Hawaii 2019 Vacation in Review: Things I Did, Places I Ate and Where I Stayed

Things I did, places I ate, and places I shopped on Oahu.

The Go-Go’s said it best… Vacation, all I ever wanted.

You guys, I miss Hawaii! Even though this trip wasn’t ideal (more on that in a sec), we still had fun, and I’m missin’ it as I sit here at my desk under three layers of clothes as I slowly turn into a human Popsicle.

Here’s what I did, where I stayed and what I ate.

But first…

1. The Kaiser Permanente Waipio Medical Office

On the second day of the trip, Connor came down with what seemed to be a cold, but it quickly got worse, so we went to the doctor and spent a long time with the pediatric staff at the Kaiser Waipio Clinic.

A nebulizer treatment and a chest X-ray later, and it turned out that Connor had pneumonia! Shout-out to Dr. Marumoto, Nurse Shawna and the whole staff at Kaiser for their care and kindness, and for trying to make a fish-bubble nebulizer mask fun for the Coywolf.

It’s really scary to have a sick kid while you’re traveling, and if it happens, FYI, you’ll probably be on the phone. A lot. So don’t forget your cell phone cable and charger. I had to call the insurance office first to figure out our coverage in Hawaii, and they assigned us a temporary patient number. Then I had to arrange a call to speak to an advice nurse and get a last-minute appointment at the closest clinic.

I’m glad we rented a car, which we almost didn’t do for this trip, because the clinic where we got our appointment wasn’t close to the resort. Overall, pretty scary and nerve-wracking.

2. Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club

My parents have a timeshare at Ko Olina on the western side of Oahu near Kapolei. The resort has a few pools, a secluded beach, a spa, restaurants, workout rooms and beautiful views of the ocean and a marina. They also have a packed calendar of activities for families, kids and adults.

After Connor was feeling better, our favorite activity was feeding the fish.

Kickin’ it with some koi

The Bronte Sisters

One great thing about the rooms is that many of them have a kitchen, a washer and a dryer. (Side note: You know you’re hella old when you go on vacation and one of your favorite things about the hotel is having a washer and dryer in your room.)

I like the western side of Oahu because it’s not as rainy as other parts of the island, and you’re more or less guaranteed sunshine. Only thing is…it’s REALLY far out there. Ko Olina, which is also right next to Disney’s Aulani, is at least an hour drive from most of the major tourist attractions on Oahu, like the North Shore, Honolulu, Hanauma Bay and Waikiki Beach (it’s a little closer to Pearl Harbor), so if you’re a first-time visitor, you’ll probably spend lots of time stuck in traffic. And the traffic is bad.

Of course, you could just stay at the resort…

Calgon, take me away!

Especially on Oahu, I recommend renting a car and planning to go places around the commute time traffic. In the case of Ko Olina, without a car, it’s easy to feel cut off. We rented a minivan this time, and even though we stayed close to the resort for most of the trip, it sure was convenient for getting groceries, sightseeing and running errands.

Things I particularly loved about the resort on this trip:

  • The Aquasize class at 10:30: This hour-long class is held in a big shallow pool, and it’s super fun! You jump in, put on a pair of these weird gloves that look like frog hands, and do resistance exercises to choreography as a teacher demonstrates the moves from the edge of the pool on dry land. The tunes are upbeat, too, and the time flies, so it doesn’t even feel like exercise!
  • Shave Ice Hut (next to the pool with the slide): I went three times! Their snow is about a 7 on the fineness scale (I just made that up), and they have got a good selection of local shave ice flavors like passion fruit (a.k.a. lilikoi), guava and pineapple.
  • The Starbucks in the hotel general store: The 2% latte is one of the smoothest I’ve ever slammed.
  • The koi pond: Ah… Connor and I spent SO MUCH TIME feeding the fish here. It was in the shade, and she loved it. Yes, of course we named all of the animals. If you visit, say hi to the Bronte sisters and King James for me (he’s the biggest orange koi; you can’t miss him).
There’s a tai chi class here in the morning.

3. Hawaii Kai

We also spent a few days on the other side of the island where El Hub’s parents live. It’s all the way on the opposite end of the island from Ko Olina in a quaint town called Hawaii Kai, which is also one of the places El Hub lived with his family when he was a kid, and he has many wonderful memories of the area, like the time 10-year-old El Hub found himself surrounded by a school of barracuda in a flood canal with nothing more than his little pink bucket to defend himself! LOL.

4. Places we ate

At Ko Olina, we mostly ate in the room because it had a kitchen, and because we had an unexpected bounty of food, because on our first day there, I started chatting with someone in the elevator who just happened to be leaving, and she gave us all the extra food her family got from Costco but couldn’t finish.

I did manage to also try some new places, though!

  • Romy’s Kahuka Prawns and Shrimp Hut: This one’s up on the North Shore, and there are several shrimp places up there (Giovanni’s, Fumi’s, etc.). But this is the best one IMHO, because the shrimp isn’t dripping in oil, and even the simple boiled shrimp is incredibly flavorful. I ordered one pound of boiled shrimp and was in frickin’ heaven.
  • Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery: This bakery is in “town,” a.k.a. Honolulu, in the old neighborhood of Kaimuki. They bake fresh malasadas, which are fluffy Portuguese doughnut holes dipped in sugar that melt in your mouth; cakes, cookies, and they make their own ice cream, too.
  • The Foodland poke bar: Foodland is a grocery store chain in Hawaii, and if you head to the seafood section, you’ll always see a long line of locals waiting to order poke, which is a dish of diced raw fish with other accouterments like seaweed, green onion and soy sauce, served either as an appetizer or a main course. Foodland is famous for it, and it’s fresh and delicious. They have several different varieties, and if you have no idea what to order, take a cue from the locals and get what they’re getting. I ordered a quarter pound of the limu poke (ahi with algae) and loved it.
  • Fresh Catch: This casual seafood place is also known for their poke. You can also order rice plates with two scoops of rice and a main dish, or you can do what I did, which was order individual poke and a side.
The strawberry cake bomb at Pipeline.

Where your sweet tooth goes to have a good ol’ time…

5. Where I shopped: The Kahala Mall

I had to do some shopping for friends and family on this trip and got most of it done at the Kahala Mall, which is a small-ish upscale mall just outside the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. El Hub’s parents live about 20 minutes away from it, and we went there quite a few times.

  • Long’s Drugs: Yes, as in the drugstore chain. It’s a great place to get local snacks like li hing mui, kakimochi, slippers (a.k.a. flip-flops), Kona coffee, snorkeling gear, boogie boards, macadamia nuts and…chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. Tip: If you have a lot of gifts to get for people back home, pack them into a flat rate USPS box, and ship it back home. That way you don’t have to lug it with you to the airport.
  • Cinnamon Girl: This cute store has lots of mommy-and-me dresses and shirts. They’re pretty pricey (Um, did I really just spend $22 on a toddler’s t-shirt?), but the designs are different than the usual ABC store/Crazy Shirts/Local Motion designs. They’re atypically tropical.
  • SoHa Living: I could’ve spent all day and my whole budget in this Hawaii-themed home goods store. It’s a great place to get local souvenirs like wooden watercolor refrigerator magnets and unique cards, and everything’s a step above the tchotchkes at ABC stores and Long’s.
  • Up and Riding: A children’s clothing store with a surf and skate vibe. It’s on the pricier side, but I like that they have cute Hawaiian-style dresses and tees that aren’t the usual ones from the big brands.
Miss you much, Oahu!

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,

Karen

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