It was so long ago that we booked our trip to Hawaii and I felt like I looked forward to it forever then it was suddenly upon us and I got all yikes about about packing and then we were there in a whoosh and now we’re home (what, already?) and our vacation is officially a pleasant sight in the rearview and ugh, time, right?

But I’ll say this, I was content to say goodbye to the island because it could not have been a better week. Even the rainiest day was joyous and relaxing and picture-perfect in every way.

Things we did right:

• We stayed at Poipu Shores on Kauai and I’d go back there in a heartbeat. Our ground floor condo wasn’t remotely luxurious but it had everything we needed (being able to do laundry was particularly nice), and the oceanfront location was a dream. We could spot whales and dolphins from our lanai and the pool overlooked a rocky shore where turtles swam all day. Booking through seemed to result in much better pricing than the resort company that manages the condos, btw.

• Renting a Jeep was smart because we took several bumpy, splashy dirt road trips to an undeveloped stretch of beach area and we kept seeing rental Mustangs creeping along, drivers clearly wondering what they’d gotten themselves into.

• We booked an ATV tour with Kipu Ranch Adventures and it was just fantastic — great fun, glorious views, and super friendly guides. I’d recommend them to anyone.

• On our last night, we had dinner at Tidepools at the Grand Hyatt, what an absolute treat. All the tables are near these giant koi lagoons so the kids can stay occupied surreptitiously throwing bits of bread to the fish, while the adults can enjoy a romantic meal.

• For most of our dinners, I bought microwaveable sushi rice and fresh poke seafood mixes and that’s what John and I ate. Delicious, healthy, and required no cooking. The kids ate their normal kid food for the most part, and there’s no way around the astronomical grocery costs, but we expected that. (There is a Costco in Lihue, but we went to a Big Save market instead because I didn’t want Costco-sized food.)

• We brought binoculars! Definitely a must-do if you plan on staring at the ocean. I’ve never seen whales before, and I saw several every day on this trip. One even dramatically hurled itself out of the water Nat-Geo-style. Thank you, whale!

• Through a magical turn of miles-related events, we got first class tickets for the flights. Perhaps you, like me, have shuffled by that area on your way to the back and wondered if it’s really worth it, and I think the answer is yes. Well, probably not if you have to pay the actual human kidney it normally costs, but my GOD is it nice. Giant cushy seats, forever legroom, tons of food, convenient bathroom, fancy little devices for watching movies and TV, hot towels (why are those tiny microwaved towels so great?), and non-harried flight attendants who are always offering you something. Practically a spa getaway, especially compared to how uncomfortable flying normally is.

• We kept our schedule relaxed, aside from the planned ATV tour. I didn’t try to see and do everything and I think that’s the way to go, at least with kids. We felt relaxed and unhurried and only slightly batshit from being exposed to 24/7 boy-shenanigans.

• I bought this cheap phone case and it was brilliant. I could take photos through the clear plastic and I didn’t have to worry about water, sand, or dirt.

Things I’d do differently:

• BOY did I overpack. It wasn’t a big deal because we checked our bags, but I just brought way too many clothes. Next time I’d bring my swimsuit, a couple of comfy shorts and tank tops, and maybe one sundress.

• I picked the rainiest day to drive up to Waimea Canyon and as a result the sweeping views were socked in with a thick layer of clouds and we were assaulted with gale-force tropical winds at the lookout. Eh, it’ll be there next time.

• I never got a puka dog. I did, however, eat my own weight in shave ice, fresh pineapple, and macadamia nut ice cream. Mmmmm.

Really, it was just the best trip ever. Mahalo for everything, Hawaii.

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23 Responses to “La’i lua ke kai”

  1. @ShannonSheh on February 23rd, 2016 8:33 pm

    Oh Linda. You are just doing the dang thing. Thank you for hanging in there and doing the hard work. xoxo

  2. Misty on February 23rd, 2016 9:02 pm

    The only (ONLY) complaint I have about Hawaii is how it completely spoils you for pineapple on the mainland for the rest of your life. I have become such a pineapple snob since our trip there because it is criminal how tasteless and expensive even the best pineapples you can find in California taste compared to the crappiest looking pineapples you find in the discount (hah) grocery stores in Hawaii.

  3. Caitlin D on February 23rd, 2016 9:16 pm

    Sounds like a great trip! Thanks for sharing the details; hopefully we can try a similar adventure in a few years, when our boys are a little more self-sufficient and the younger one stops yelling all the time (they’re 3 and 5 now).

  4. Angella on February 23rd, 2016 10:38 pm

    I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I keep paying attention to tips, because I’d love to go someday.

    You all look so happy and relaxed. :)


  5. laziza on February 24th, 2016 8:32 am

    I am vicariously relaxed just reading this. How did you do that?

  6. Kristin H on February 24th, 2016 9:18 am

    That looks wonderful, and I’m so glad you got to go! We are trying to see all 50 states before the kids graduate from high school, so we’ll be in Hawaii ones of these days. Thanks for the tips.

  7. yasmara on February 24th, 2016 10:10 am

    I grew up in Alaska, and besides mountains, I totally miss cheap flights to Hawaii. They are nowhere to be found from the Upper Midwest! Kauai was always my favorite.

  8. NancyB on February 24th, 2016 2:03 pm

    I “liked” every picture you posted on instagram! It looked like a great time. I’ve never been and living on the East Coast, probably never will so thanks for allowing me to live vicariously through you and your family.

  9. LD's Mom on February 24th, 2016 4:23 pm

    You nailed it! The trip, the Instagram updates for all us stuck at our desks, the recap with totally-on-point takeaways. The memories will be even sweeter. So happy for you all.

  10. Lisa on February 24th, 2016 5:30 pm

    You look wonderful and wow, are those boys growing up! Looks like it was a great trip 😊

  11. Chrissy on February 25th, 2016 8:10 am

    Everyone looks so happy. (Is it possible to be sad in Hawaii??) Thanks for all the tips. I’m going to save them for the future, when I (some day – I hope!) travel to the Aloha State, too.

  12. Mary Clare on February 25th, 2016 12:42 pm

    Your vacation smiles tell it all. Isn’t it awesome traveling with bigger kids? This year our family took our first plane trip since our babies grew out of the baby-toddler stage and it was sooo much easier (and actually a fun vacation) than past trips!

  13. Jennie on February 25th, 2016 3:26 pm

    I’m so glad you had such a wonderful time. Those pictures! Really lovely seeing you all so happy.

  14. Annie on February 25th, 2016 7:19 pm

    Lovely. The boys are so big!!

  15. Life of a Doctor's Wife on February 26th, 2016 10:16 am

    You have such a beautiful family! What a great trip and wonderful memories.

  16. Shawna on February 29th, 2016 12:31 pm

    I can’t believe how old Dylan looks! When did he stop being a baby?

    We went to Hawaii 13 years ago and it was amazing. It was funny you mentioned Costco though – the Costco cafeteria is a popular place to eat in Hawaii, even if you don’t stock up on mondo-sized groceries while you’re there. They’re relatively inexpensive for Hawaii, and the pizza and smoothies are WAY better than the ones on offer at my local Costco.

  17. JoAnna on February 29th, 2016 12:56 pm

    You trip looks incredible. What fun! And it sounds like you and your family enjoyed your trip much more than my brother and his family did. They did more of the touristy stuff and your vacation looks heavenly! And, you, dang girl, you look fantastic!

  18. Christie on March 1st, 2016 10:59 am

    Love this! We have our first trip to Hawaii coming up next month. Like you, I was super excited when we booked it months ago, and then haven’t really thought about it since. Time to make sure the kids have summer clothes that actually fit!

  19. Nancy on March 2nd, 2016 7:23 pm

    Who are those teenagers in your pictures? Seriously, where did your little boys go?

    You all look fabulous and your vacation sounds like a slice of heaven. I’m so happy for you all! What a treat to have you share this with us — I’ve missed your family photos and stories.

    Keep up the good work!

  20. Leanna on March 13th, 2016 9:52 am

    Could you send me the link to the condo you rented through vrbo? We’ve been debating a trip to hawaii for ever, I just get so overwhelmed looking at the hundreds of options on the vrbo website and I chicken out of the whole trip thinking we’ll get a stinker…

  21. Jennifer on March 17th, 2016 9:29 pm

    LINDA! You stayed in the condo/apartment overlooking the lavarock outcropping where my husby and I got married in 1991. We walked through the Poipu Shores parking lot and climbed down the rocks with 2 friends and a photographer and a minister and got soaked by miscellaneous waves. It is a beautiful place.

  22. Mare on March 27th, 2016 6:36 am

    Riley looks charmingly like River Phoenix in Stand By Me.

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