Hawaii Part I: Trip Highlights

This year for Christmas, my family decided that for our present we would go on a family vacation. Planning a time that fit everyone’s schedule turned out to be tricky, so instead of going on our trip over Christmas, we had to wait until May. I am here to say that it was definitely worth the wait!

Ko'Olina Beach Villas--Oahu, Hawaii

After a lot of back and forth about where we would go, we settled on Oahu, Hawaii, and it was a dream come true. I will definitely be writing more details and recommendations coming up here on At Home & Abroad, but here are a few of my Hawaii favorites!

Hawaii Highlights:

Beach: I have a horrible fear of things that live in the ocean (fish, sharks, whales, jellyfish, you name it), so as you can imagine, I was pretty nervous to be spending so much time at the beach. However, I must say that I really enjoyed it. I was perfectly content to sit in the sand and dip in the water when I got too hot. (My brother considered this behavior as being a complete party pooper.)

The beaches at our resort were AMAZING. They had grass at the top of the beach, which was nice because we would leave our stuff up on the grass so it wasn’t covered in sand. It was also more secluded and private; I think there were only about 7 families on the beach on our first night there.

Ko'Olina Beach Villas--Lagoon 2

I also really enjoyed Sunset Beach up on the North Shore. The water was crystal clear–so I could spot any fish that might be coming my way. Luckily, none did! It wasn’t too crowded either. They have a lot of surfing competitions there during the winter months, but the water was really calm when we were there.

Food: We did a lot of cooking at the condo we stayed in and didn’t eat out too much, but there were a couple of things we tried that I absolutely loved.

Topping off the list was the shrimp we got from Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. My mom and I had done some reading about places to eat, and a lot of our friends who had been to Hawaii before recommended it. I usually hate fish, but I decided that if I was in Hawaii, I was going to eat some sort of seafood. Boy am I glad I did, because it was literally one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten! If you are going to Oahu in the near future, put Giovanni’s on your list of places to eat.

Giovanni's Shrimp Truck--North Shore--Oahu, Hawaii

Another favorite hands-down was Matsumoto’s Shave Ice. We made it to Matsumoto’s on our last day in Hawaii–after taking my first bite, I was cursing myself for not going every day! I chose coconut, raspberry, and guava as my flavors with ice cream at the bottom–pure bliss! Now I am on the hunt to find something that compares here at home. (If you have any recommendations in Utah, they would be greatly appreciated!)

Matsumoto's Shave Ice--Haleiwa North Shore--Oahu, Hawaii

Activities: There are so many fun things to do in Hawaii, and we tried to fit in as many as we could. My top two would have to be the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) and Pearl Harbor.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at the PCC, but my expectations were far surpassed! It was fun to watch all the shows and try different activities from cultures around the world (my personal favorite was coconut tree leaf weaving in Samoa). The food was great, and the night show was incredible–I was mesmerized by the fire dancing!

Polynesian Cultural Center--Oahu Hawaii

Pearl Harbor is something you MUST see at least once in your life. There is such a feeling of reverence there. It was really cool to be there on Memorial Day weekend. We were there Sunday morning and one of the few remaining survivors of Pearl Harbor was actually there doing a meet and greet, which was really cool. I learned a lot of interesting facts about Pearl Harbor and WWII that I had never known before.

Pearl Harbor Memorial--Oahu, Hawaii

Shopping: Can you even go to Oahu without making a stop at the Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium? I absolutely loved this! I got a majority of my souvenirs here, and it was fun just looking around and chatting with the people who run the booths! My mom and I met the cutest lady who works with her 80-year-old neighbor to make the most BEAUTIFUL jewelry!


I also loved walking through the little surf/gift shops in Haleiwa. If you are looking for cute hats, t-shirts, swim suits, etc., this is the place for you! Not to mention, you can stop by for a Matsumoto’s shave ice while you’re out and about! 😉

Hiking: We planned on doing two different hikes while we were there, but only ended up doing one. We got so many recommendations for good hikes, and we ended up hiking to Manoa Falls. The day we went hiking, it was POURING rain. I honestly don’t know that I have ever experienced such a downpour! I think we were all completely soaked within three minutes.

I actually really liked hiking in the rain for a couple of reasons. First of all, all the bugs seemed to disappear–if you go on this hike on a warmer/dry day, I would recommend LOTS of bug spray. Also, because of all the rainfall, the water was raging. Aside from the fact that everything in my backpack was drenched and my shoes were basically puddles of water, it was one of the best hikes I have ever been on!

All in all, it was such a great vacation. It was the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation! I am wishing that I never left and that I were somewhere on a beach writing this post! I’ll be back soon with lots more tips and tricks on planning the perfect Hawaiian vacation. In the meantime, check out my Hawaii Highlights video!

If you have any Hawaii favorites you’d like to share, leave us a comment below!

One last thing before I go — I want to give a HUGE shout-out to Caroline for keeping everything running smoothly here on At Home & Abroad while I was away! You are amazing!


Written by Kaycie Jordan.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Kaycie Jordan.



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