June 3, 2013

MORE Fantastic Fun in Honolulu, Hawaii!

Fun in Honolulu, Hawaii
(Yes, we love Hawaii!)  We recently had the pleasure of traveling there with my adorable sister and Aunt extraordinaire!  If you are headed to Honolulu, particularly with young kids, here are some recommendations that you may enjoy!

The Honolulu Zoo
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This is a great way to spend part of your day- the first thing we did when we arrived was to launch our Buzz Lightyear into the flamingo habitat.  We were followed by a school group and as they passed we heard exclamations of 'Buzz!' and my 3 year old son asked if the flamingos were going to play with Buzz.  We found a kind zookeeper who helped us retrieve Buzz, and his expression led us to believe this may not have been the first time the flamingo habitat had been invaded...  The Honolulu Zoo has a nice petting zoo and a jungle gym play area- great for kids!

The Honolulu Zoo's playground area
Hawaii Children's Discovery Center
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This is a great place to spend the morning- (they are only open Tues-Fri 9-1 and Sat & Sun 10-3).  This is not really a museum, it's more like a large and well thought out play area for kids that is also educational.  There is a play area and within that an area to contain the crawlers- here's the baby in there so you can see what I mean-

Outside the play area, there are play-acting type stations- here's our son pretending to be a fireman-

Pretty spiffy- coat hat and all- and you probably can't see it too well, there is even a Dalmatian stuffed dog at the station!  It is complete with a fire house pole.

Here we are in a giant mouth- there's a little video that talks about the value of dental care.  And, if you are so inclined, you can work on a car in the body shop-

While it's great in its own right- it is also air conditioned, and maybe one morning you just need that!

Hanauma Bay
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Hanauma bay is a beautiful nature preserve (of a beach and its bay) and it is a great place to snorkel and see fish.  However, if your child doesn't feel comfortable with having a mask on their face and putting their face in the water, you are still likely to be able to see fish feeding on the coral by wading into the water (this was the case with us, my son didn't want to wear the mask, but we were still able to see quite a few fish).  Visiting Hanauma bay takes a little planning and execution, though, you need to arrive fairly early in the morning (I think we arrived at 8 am or so).  The reason you need to arrive early is that they limit the number of visitors every day and once they have reached their quota, they won't let you in, so get there early!  Also, you'll need to wait at the top and watch a video that talks about the history of the bay, protection of it, and how to respect the environment and animals, etc.  Then, you need to get from the top to the bottom.  This is a relatively steep walk which will seem just fine on the way down, but going up is harder, so I'd recommend spending just a few dollars on the trolley service that will take you up and down (why not!)  You can rent snorkel equipment, I believe, but relative to what it costs to buy it, you may opt to buy it beforehand.  Try any Long's location, enter your Hawaii zip code on this website: Longs Store Finder.  Longs Drugs is the Hawaii drug store chain that is now a part of CVS- so if you have a CVS card, you can use it there.  Longs Drugs also has a tremendously good selection of false eyelashes.

Ready to get in the water at Hanauma Bay
Ala Moana Beach Park
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This is a great beach park for kids- and it's likely to be less crowded than any Waikiki beach.  Plus, it's just across the street from Ala Moana shopping center- so hit Mariposa for lunch at Neiman Marcus, which overlooks Ala Moana beach park, and then relax at the beach!  The water is very calm and very shallow, so it's really well suited for beginning swimmers and non swimmers that just feel comfortable wading.

Look!  We found a mermaid on the beach!
No mermaid, don't eat that!
Fun with Auntie!

Waikiki Aquarium
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Although not very big, this is a good aquarium, complete with jellyfish, tropical fish and sharks!  It is usually not too crowded and it's size may be ideal for little ones without very long attention spans...

Leonard's Malasadas
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Last, but most certainly not least- why didn't I lead with this?!  Leonard's Malasadas.  A malasada is a hole-less doughnut, brought to Hawaii by the Portuguese.  The traditional, plain variety is rolled in granulated sugar- but there is also a cinnamon sugar option (delicious).  While they do offer 'filled' malasadas, with choices including chocolate, haupia (coconut), mango, etc., I'd recommend plain or cinnamon.  It is hard to improve on that...  (There's also an option called Li Hing, which is a flavor often used on 'crack seed,' which is a term for Hawaiian snacks including crackers, dried fruit, dried cuttlefish, etc.  Li Hing is a bit of an acquired taste- it's kind of salty sweet, so try it before you commit to a dozen malasadas...)  But, these are delicious.  Get yourself to Leonard's at least one morning of your visit.

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