Monday, March 14, 2016

Hawaiian Anniversary {Part 1}

A few months ago when my husband approached me with the idea of going to Hawaii for our 5th anniversary, I said yes quicker than I did to his marriage proposal. I've always loved Hawaii, and going with my own little family sounded like the most perfect celebration. But when he added that this trip would be free, I was blown away. Alex has recently discovered the world of 'churning'. Basically getting credit cards just for their sign up bonuses, and that's it. We would get a new card, get the minimum spend on the card, and instantly have enough points to get us to Hawaii and back no problem. We also did this with cards that give you points to use at hotels and resorts, and even did it just to get cash back, which we set aside specifically for this trip, so that things like car rentals, eating out, souvenirs, and fun excursions were covered. It's an awesome approach to traveling on a budget, but not for the faint of heart, as keeping track of multiple credit cards can be daunting. (If you're interesting in learning more about churning/credit card points- feel free to check out my husbands blog - Points Pursuit)

Once we had all the hotels booked, and our little adventures planned, I started having a weird feeling about leaving Izzy behind. I tried to shake it, but I just kept having the impression that we needed to take her with us. I brought it up to Alex and we decided that we should let her tag along, especially since we will also be going to Paris in July, and she definitely can't come with us on that trip, so it made the most sense if she tagged along. Plus, we just knew that she would love the beach and the sand and the ability to be outside basically all day for 10 days. So in an effort to keep a bit of our sanity and still be able to go on the few excursions we had already paid for, we invited my parents to join us in Kauai! They happily obliged, and we were so so grateful!

Day 1

The morning we were heading out, I was anxious to see how Iz would do on the airplane. She has flown before, but she was 6 weeks old, and it was a piece of cake. But now that she is a super active toddler, I was apprehensive, especially since she didn't have her own seat. She's not the biggest fan of sitting on our laps for short periods of time, so the idea of her being confined to our laps for 6 and a half hours seemed like an absolute recipe for disaster. But, since I was prepared for the worst, I had an arsenal full of mints and snacks and new toys and books and a special coloring book and crayons that she picked out herself. And honestly, we didn't even need it. She's so stinking amazing and, as usual, exceeded all of our expectations. She flirted with everyone around us, was talking up a storm and showing off how smart she is. Then once the place started to move she was enthralled with looking out the window (and putting the shade up and down and up and down and up and down). Then after 5 minutes, she was asleep! We were lucky that our flight was around her usual nap time, so she zonked right out on Alex's shoulder and got in a solid hour and half nap. The rest of the flight went by perfectly, we watched some movies, ate some food and counted down the minutes to when we would finally be in paradise!

Our first short little day in Oahu was mostly full of getting our rental car, fighting traffic on the way to our hotel, and strolling Waikiki for the evening and enjoying the yummiest teriyaki pineapple burgers! But we did see our first Hawaiian sunset that night, and it did not disappoint. We all crashed pretty hard, but we were so happy to have made it all in one piece!

Day 2 

My dad had shared an awesome Oahu roadtrip itinerary with us before we left, and it was the perfect way to start out. It gave us a great feel for all the different things this island had to offer and we saw some amazing sights! We first went to the Hanama Bay lookout. The water was breathtakingly blue and Izzy kept saying she could see whales. She did this a lot on the trip she'd say "Whales! Ocean! Where are dey? I dun know?" (Then pointing to a random spot in the ocean) "DER IT IS!" Hilarious. 

Our next stop was a "little hike" on a "paved path" up to a light house. We were prepared for a short little walk, but after 15 minutes hiking up the steepest incline all while pushing Izzy in a little umbrella stroller, we realized that this was not a nature walk. It was a legit hike, but we kept going and it ended up being well worth it. The views were amazing, it always feels nice to get in some exercise , even while on vacation.

We were super hot and sweaty after our hike, so we were so excited to go to the beach next! We had heard amazing things about the beaches in Kailua, so we knew that had to be where we went! It was so beautiful just driving through the little towns, we admired all the homes and fruit stands. The beach was absolutely perfect. The sun was behind us so we were able to sit in a bit of shade, and waves weren't big, the water was warm, the sand was soft and we just had the absolute best time. Izzy was weary of the water, but was immediately in love with digging in the sand. Alex built her a huge tunnel in the sand and we ate lots of yummy snacks and just soaked up the gorgeous surroundings.

Lunch was next, and we love to find little hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and Yelp is super helpful for that! We looked up places near the beach that we were at, and Uahi Grill popped up and looked delicious! We headed over and were not disappointed. The Ahi Furikake was incredible and the whole trip, we didn't have another meal that even came close to being as delicious as the food we had at Uahi Grill <3

We continued on our road trip around the island, we walked the Temple grounds, and then stopped to get the yummiest (and cheapest!) shave ice. Izzy loved it. So much that we had to go back and get her her own, because she wasn't content just sharing with me and Alex.

Our first glimpse at Oahu was amazing. The island is so beautiful and we fully enjoyed our little road trip!

Day 3

With the time difference from Arizona to Hawaii, it makes it really easy to get up early and get started with your day, because when it's 6:30 in hawaii, you feel like you slept in and got a great rest since your body thinks it's 9:30. So we were able to get a great start on the day and get headed off to the Dole Plantation! I had been before, but was so excited to let Izzy run through the beautiful gardens, to ride the fun train, and, of course, indulge in a Dole whip! She was in heaven! We had a great morning, and the weather was perfect.

After a full afternoon out in the sun, we actually just went back to our hotel so Izzy (and I) could take a nap, and Alex went and returned our rental car, since we would just use public transportation for the rest of the time on Oahu. Once Alex got back, we headed off to the beach. We just hung our on Waikiki, which was right outside the hotel. We played in the sand and watched the sunset, along with 5 million other tourists.

We ended the night walking down Waikiki, and enjoying all the shops and busyness. We got dinner at an amazing udon noodle place. My love for all types of Asian food was indulged immensely on this trip. We had to wait in line for 25 minutes just to get in the door, but it was well worth it. Super cheap meal, but HUGE portions and everything we tried was really yummy.

Day 4
Since it was the Sabbath, but we didn't have a car to get us to a church house, we decided that it would be a good Sunday activity to visit Pearl Harbor. We rode the bus there, and the transportation system there is awesome, and we got dropped off right in front of the gates. We had reserved our tickets online, but probably wouldn't have needed to. It wasn't super busy, and it was so lovely to wander around in the museum before our tour. We watched the short film about the events that took place at Pearl Harbor, and then took a boat over to the memorial. It's such a somber, humbling and also inspiring place. You feel so sad for those men and their families. But at the same time I feel so grateful for men (and women) who are willing to put their lives on the line in order for me and my family to live in freedom. I was very moved by the stories that were told and it was so incredible to learn about the men that were not with their shipmates that day and survived the attack on The Arizona, some have chosen to be buried in the memorial. After they die and are cremated, on December 7th of the year of their passing, Pearl Harbor will hold a ceremony, and they will lower their ashes into the ship so that they can be reunited with their ship and their shipmates. Incredible.

After our tour, we wandered around the grounds some more, and took some pictures. We caught the bus back home and then went and got ready for our last full beach day on Oahu. Up until this point, Izzy had loved the beach, and playing in the sand, but wasn't quite sure how she felt about the water. We would try to take her in and she would say, "All Done! Sand!" and pull us back up the shore. So I wasn't expecting too much, so we splurged for a nice spot on the beach with a big umbrella so she could play in the sand and be out of the sun. But today, she asked me to take her in the water. We walked out and she was so happy! She kept asking to "swim wike a mermaid!" It was a blast. She swam for at least an hour, we saw a sea turtle (!!!) and izzy loved getting knocked over by the waves, and would want us to grab her and then would yell "I gotcha!!!" and it was amazing. We did that for at least 30 minutes and it never got old. I loved seeing her so unbelievably happy! In that moment, any tantrum we had had, any moment when I second guessed bringing her with us, it was all washed away while we played on the beach and I saw how undoubtably delighted she was to be with us. It was an incredible day.

That's all for today, otherwise this blog will be 75 miles long. So I will break down our time in Kauai in the next blog! <3


  1. So fun! I have never been to Hawaii. We thought about going for our 10-year but instead opted for a cruise. Maybe for the 15-year ... and by then, my kids will be 6, 11 and 13 so that will be pretty perfect! They can come with!

    By the way, when we went on our first cruise, we got a Southwest card and were able to get our flights for free. We booked the cruise on the card and paid it off shortly after. Saved us $800!

    1. Hawaii would be perfect for your 15th! And your kids would have the best time! Those ages are perfect! Our southwest card is awesome! We are using it to cross a few more baseball stadiums off our bucket list! I love hearing about people using credit cards in smart, efficient, money saving ways!