Honolulu!

For as long as I can remember, taking our family to Hawaii was my dad’s dream vacation. But let’s face it- Hawaii is a freaking expensive place to visit, especially for a middle class family of five. So years went by with this trip being nothing more than a dream…until this past December (2014). All of us children are grown up now, and were able to help make this trip a reality for our dad. And so bright and early one December morning, we left Los Angeles and flew to Honolulu!!

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We decided to take this trip in December because it was just after the peak season, so prices were lower. Here was our itinerary: spend two nights in Honolulu, and then board a cruise ship that would spend the next week taking us to Maui, Hawaii (the big island), and Kauai, and then have another half day on Oahu before taking a red eye flight home. Several cruise lines offer Hawaiian cruises, but Norwegian Cruise Line is the only one that takes you to more than one island like that. And seriously, for first-time visitors to Hawaii, I absolutely recommend taking this cruise! It gives you a nice sampler of the most popular islands and ports, so you can see very diverse areas of this beautiful state. And then, you can always go back sometime in the future to spend more time on whichever island you liked best! It might surprise you… I was certain I would like Maui best, but it turns out, I liked the Big Island better. Go figure.

On with the trip! Upon landing in Honolulu, we were greeted with leis (this isn’t free anymore…we had to pay extra for that), picked up the rental car, and headed to find food! Of course, I had to drag us to the Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu!!

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And ordered the local burger.

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In fact, my whole family did.

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No joke- BEST BURGER OF MY ENTIRE LIFE!! And my whole family agreed. We spent the rest of the trip talking about these burgers, and months later, we are still talking about them. My sister and I even have framed photos of these burgers hanging up in our homes. We take our food seriously, haha.

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Lest anyone think Honolulu is the tropical paradise classic Elvis movies lead you to believe it is, let me be the first to break it to you: it isn’t. The whole area of Honolulu near Waikiki is as commercialized and developed as Los Angeles. Here is the magical view from our hotel:

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Nevertheless, Honolulu is still definitely worth experiencing. My dad, one of my sisters, and I (my other sister felt sick from the flight still, so our mom kept her company back in the room) set out to see the city on foot!

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Waikiki!! This was a private stretch of the beach… a little closer to the Waikiki of “Blue Hawaii” days.

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Yay! We were lucky enough to be exploring on the night of a local farmer’s market and craft fair.

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And we found this delightful booth selling natural popsicles ❤

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They were soooo good!! They are made in Hawaii, but apparently can be purchased back in LA at stores like Whole Foods. If you can find them anywhere, buy some!!! They were crazy delicious.

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Us southern Californians are babies when it comes to the temperature. I was glad to have a lightweight sweater cause I thought it was chilly from time to time, but most other people seemed fine in shorts and tank tops.

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I loved all the Hawaiian Christmas decor… festive lights in Palm trees!

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With our first day in Honolulu coming to an end, we returned to the hotel to prepare for a very full day ahead of us!

Hike to Eaton Canyon Falls

My friends and I love to hit the trails as often as we can, and love trying out new hikes! But this weekend we were short on time so we had to go with a local tried and true trail. The hike to Eaton Canyon Falls is very easy- mostly flat, and only around 3 miles round trip. Once you get closer to the falls there is shade, but the whole first half of the trail is completely exposed, so be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

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The falls themselves are nice. Right now (due to the CA drought) there wasn’t much water, but it was still pretty and there was a little pool at the bottom of the falls. Major downside to this trail: because it is so easy to get to, it is a very popular hike. The area surrounding the falls and the pool at the bottom is constantly swarmed with people and their dogs. The sounds of nature are drowned out by screaming children, barking dogs, and boomboxes (yes- actually boomboxes. Throwback to the 90’s!!) playing a wide variety of music. And playing it loudly. And, to quote my friend Chris, the whole area smells like “dog crap and contact high.” So much for a tranquil escape into nature.

Here is a pic of my awesome friends upon arrival at the falls:

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And here is what you see at the falls:

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Basically, it’s a nice hike if you just want to get some exercise outside of an urban setting (or work on your tan), but if you’re hoping to get back in touch with nature, choose another hike.