Last February we took a family trip to Hawaii that I had been looking forward to all winter. It had been so long since I had travelled with my family and I was really needing a break from all the snow and cold weather.
We flew out of New York at 5 in the morning and while everyone else was tired, I was ready to go! Even though I had to wake up at around 3:00, I was brimming with energy. Not only would I get to go back to Hawaii for the first time in years, I would also get to reunite with about half of my extended family! Some of the family members I hadn’t seen in about 7 years so this reunion was long overdue. Originally it started as just us coming to visit my aunt and cousin who lived there, but then people kept getting added to the list and now 12 people would be sharing one house! As if it couldn’t get any better, we would also be going for a full 2 weeks. Normally I only go on 9 day vacations, but I have been getting into the 2 week trips recently, and will be going on a total of 3 this year.
I had no idea how the sleeping arrangements were going to work, but I didn’t care. Even if there were 100 people sharing the house it would still beat another two weeks in the cold. My parents were having some difficulty with the plane ride but I was unfazed. With some much international travel under my belt, one 11-hour flight really didn’t seem like much. I have such an appreciation for air travel. Even though it may seem like there are a million things to complain about, there is one huge thing to be grateful for. You basically just watch 4 movies and you’re in Hawaii. This is crazy!
I watched a few movies, luckily Moana was playing on the flight so that kind of got me in the mood for Hawaii. I was sitting next to my parents, and it would appear as if now our roles were reversed, with them asking me “are we there yet” and me saying “just be patient”.
We finally arrived in Honolulu in the middle of the day, and the hot sun was difficult to deal with in my corduroy pants. It was only a matter of time before we would be in a cab on the way to the car rental place. After hopping in the wrong uber and almost driving away, we found the right car to take us there and soon we were enjoying the famous views of the nearby mountains. After picking up our rental car, we had one thing on our minds: food. We would be in charge of getting our own food for the next 2 weeks and Costco was the only place to get everything we needed in one stop (even though we would be making several stops throughout the trip). I originally thought of this as just another errand to run, but once I stepped in, I realized that this was not just any Costco, this was a Hawaiian Costco! There were so many new items I had never seen before, I felt like a kid in a candy store! My guess is that because of their proximity to Asia, it is much easier to import a lot of products that you wouldn’t find on the East coast. One in particular was the Oi Ocha ready to drink teas I was quite fond of. These are very difficult to find back home, let alone in 12 packs. We got one of the green teas and almost got a case of iced oolong as well. The reason I am so obsessed with these is it is the only ready to drink tea I’ve found that is completely unsweetened. Even the least sweetened iced teas make me sick nowadays, they are so packed with sugar. Not the Oi Ocha though, these are just pure unadulterated tea and they are delicious!
Similarly, they also had unsweetened dried mangos here, another rare find. They actually taste better than the sweetened variety and you can eat more of them without getting a headache. Talk about a win-win! Even though my family is vegan, my extended family is not, and I was suckered into getting a carton of eggs for someone. It seemed like an ethical compromise, but I didn’t want to begin our visit on the wrong note. I felt like such a fool standing in line carrying these. I almost wanted to hold a sign that said “I’m holding it for a friend” so people wouldn’t judge. Anyways, I guess what I’m trying to say is you need to pick your battles.
We loaded up the trunk and headed to my aunt’s house. In case you were wondering how we were going to fit 12 people in the house, it was actually because my aunt has a lot of property. She rents out different parts of the house to tourists and then uses that money to buy new houses. That’s so cool! Not only did we have a huge house to share, but there was also a second house on the same property. This house was absolutely beautiful, but we only had it for a couple of days. My parents and I shared the rental house that night and in the morning we had a beautiful view of the Mokes.
If you haven’t heard of the mokes, perhaps you have seen them. They are a popular fixture of Hawaii photographs and paintings. They are these small islands off the coast of Lanikai beach with beautiful shapes to them. From up in the mountains of Lanikai, we got a perfect view of these beautiful islands and would get to see them every morning at sunrise.
Unfortunately, the sun would be a rare occurrence for the next few days. It would rain pretty intensely here for a while, but that wouldn’t stop us from having an awesome time!