Tiny Tourist. Oahu, Hawaii.
I was lucky enough to travel a lot when i was a child. It's something i will forever be thankful to my parents for. I believe travelling is the best education and the greatest gift you could give your children. The experiences are priceless and exposing your children to different cultures, tastes, sounds and smells create the best memories and expand young minds.
When we had Lulu our first overseas holiday as a family of three was to Oahu, Hawaii. A place i was lucky enough to travel to in my teens. I was super eager for my tiny travel buddy to experience the magic of this very special island. Needless to say we have fallen in love and have been 4 times in 4 years and were even married there last July.
Oahu is a fantastic place to travel with children. From Sydney, it's a 9 hour flight (max flying time with a kiddo for me) and there's currently three airlines flying there at pretty competitive prices. If the dollar is strong, it can be a great value holiday.
Wether you're a travel junky that needs constant activity and you want to fill your days with seeing sights or you're a more relaxed traveller who prefer's to lay on a beach towel in the sun then Honolulu ticks all the boxes! One of the reasons we love going back is you can do as much or as little as you please.
We've hiked to the top of Diamond head, well worth the leg burn for a glimpse at that famous view from the top of the crater. We've road tripped to North shore, stopping at local fruit stands for fresh pineapple and papaya that will blow your mind. And of course no North shore road trip would be complete without a stop at Giovanni's shrimp truck for their famous garlic and butter slathered shrimp and a visit to pipeline for surf/surfer watching.
The Honolulu zoo and aquarium are a great family day activity for the kids. They are on the smaller side of your average zoo and aquarium but are still a great experience for little ones and both are within walking distance from most hotels on the Waikiki strip. Just remember to pack your water bottle and sun lotion.
Honolulu's larger hotels also have kids clubs and activities that run all year round and include activities like ukulele lessons, lei making, hula dancing and beach activities. And it goes without saying that most of them have pools to splash around in and lounge beside. You can also hire surf boards, paddle boards, kayaks and jump on a catamaran right on the shore of Waikiki beach.
If you want to cram in the touristy stuff there are guided day tours that will take you to Pearl Harbour, the Polynesian cultural centre, Kona coffee and pineapple plantations, China town and Local Hawaiian landmarks. Pearl Harbour is a great place to take the kids for a history lesson. Even the small ones will get a kick out of the ships and wartime paraphernalia. I recommend putting aside the whole day for this, there's a bit of travel time involved.
Getting around is easy with open air trolley's carting people around most of the inner city sight seeing and shopping spots for $2US. It's one of our favourite ways to get around, great for people watching. Alternatively taxi's are readily available and quite reasonably priced seeing everything is pretty close by. If your staying on the strip everything you need is a short stroll away. Restaurants, bars and great shopping! (Don't get me started on the shopping)
One thing we do love about Honolulu is most of the restaurants cater to families with children. Kids menu's and activities at the table are common and in my opinion genius! Keeping the little one's happy while you indulge in a rather sensible Mai Tai equals holiday bliss in my book.
We are big foodies and love indulging in the food culture in Honolulu. Yes, there are your classic Americana style places like The Cheesecake factory, Cheeseburger in Paradise and P.F. Chang's but there are some great spots we have discovered on our travels that i would highly recommend. (Warning, most of them are Japanese, our favourite!)
Tonkatsu Ginza Barin for awesome Katsu curry. Just as good as Japan. Seriously. Yakitori Glad, a super cute yakitori restaurant where everything is $2.80 including the giant freezing cold Kirin Ichi ban's. Furusato Sushi is a must for the sushi bridge and tuna tataki which is uh-maze-ing. This is usually our first stop once landing on the island! Nobu Honolulu is a splurge but well worth it. The sashimi is world class and so are the cocktails. Lastly, The Pig and the Lady. Probably one of the most memorable meals i've had in Honolulu. Great modern space with an exciting menu and great atmosphere. The crab fat curry is a must.
If your'e looking to experience real Hawaiian food i recommend going to the Rainbow drive-in and Ono Hawaiian food. And it goes without saying that if you haven't been to Lenoard's bakery you haven't experienced Oahu. Delicious, addictive, warm, made to order Malasadas are what they're famous for and they have been serving them since 1952. Hop in a cab and go, you won't regret it!
One thing that will make your trip memorable and keep you coming back here are the Hawaiian people. Their love and warm Hawaiian hospitality is inviting and beautiful. Everyone on the island is happy, relaxed and on constant holiday mode. How could you not have a great time here! The sun is always shining, there's the smell of salty ocean in the air and sitting with a mai tai in your hand watching the sunset at the Surfrider beach bar is probably the best way to end your day. What else do you need? Get on a plane now!