While we were in Kauai, we got to do a family tour of the Na Aina Kai Garden. It was a kid paradise and the tour was one of the highlights of our trip. The garden is known for its many beautiful sculptures. I noticed a frog pattern in my photos of the garden. There were frog sculptures here and there.
And then the guide pointed out this real teeny, tiny froggie, which my son immediately put in his hand. The frog immediately hopped out of his hand. I barely had time to snap this picture.If my son had his way, he would have spent more time by the pond looking for an even bigger frog. I think he would have liked to be that boy in the sculpture.
I’ll be writing a more informative post about our tour at the Na Aina Kai Gardens soon (when report card week is over at my day job). Stay tuned.
Everyone has their own image of a perfect beach. You get that image in your head when you are having a bad day: you stepped in a puddle and soaked your shoes right through, forgot to pay your credit card bill on time, and picked up your feverish child from daycare. On those days, you want to feel the warm, ocean breeze on your face. So you go to the perfect beach, even if it’s only in your mind.
That vision of the perfect beach for me these days, is Kapalua Bay in Maui. On our way to school in the mornings, my son and I reminisce about the days we spent there this summer. He likes that he can go out by himself on the Boogie board, since the beach is protected from the big waves by the reef just outside of the bay. He can float out there for hours, until he becomes 90 percent salt water.
I like that he can float out there for hours, and that I can sit on the beach and watch him, without also becoming 90 percent salt water myself. I also like that there is excellent snorkeling a few feet from shore. You can wade out and put your face in the water to see the fish. Basically, it is the perfect place to take a beginner snorkeler or lazy lady.
So this Monday, I’m rolling out my beach towel, taking out my paperback and heading over to Kapalua Bay. Hey, a girl can dream.
Good to Know: Kapalua Bay is in front of the Ritz-Carlton Private Club Residences, but is accessible to everyone. The Ritz has a shack that rents out snorkeling equipment, kayaks, and sells Chocotacos for those cases of beach-munchies. There are showers and a bathroom, though it wasn’t always very clean.The best time to go is early in the morning. If you get there before nine, then you will experience the bliss of having found paradise. A bit later, the small beach begins to fill up with beach towels and umbrellas. The parking is limited, with only about 30 spots available. Hint: For more exact parking directions check out our Maui google map under Kapalua Bay.
Go read about all the other Monday Dreaming going on at Mother of All Trips.
Life is not always in focus, and neither is this photo. I’ve gotten pretty good at snapping pictures of my quick-moving son, but there are times when I just can’t capture every moment in its perfect state. Photography with kids is sometimes challenging. I’m usually clicking away on my camera and also talking, walking or barking directions at the same time. Even so, I often find little photographic nuggets of awesome, amongst the hundreds of photo discards.
This is the heart-shaped piece of coral my son found, and gifted to me, on Anini Beach in Kauai. I don’t like to take the flora and fauna from the beach, if I can help it. This time, I couldn’t help it. I really wanted to bring that special coral home with me, but we ended leaving it behind. At least, I have this fuzzy photo of my heart-shaped coral, to remind me of that glorious moment with my son, on a quiet beach in Kauai.
I’m participating in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday, click on over there for other travel moments captured in photo.
This isn’t a scratch and sniff photo, but I sure wish it was. Then I’d be able to transport you to the Alii Kula Lavender Farm with me, and you would breathe in the lavender breezes high up in the mountains of Maui. I can’t do that, so you’ll just have to use your powers of imagination. After visiting this place, I was ready to quit my job and become a lavender farmer. This place was just that beautiful.
Until my next postcard, aloha.
This week I wrote about one of the best travel experiences
I’ve ever had. Of course, it was with my son. When he was five-years old, I took him snorkeling in Hawaii. He had never been snorkeling before and was just learning to swim well. I was not confident it would work out, but it turned out a lot better than expected. With a little preparation, it is possible to take young kids snorkeling. Here’s how:
- Buy your own snorkel equipment. If you can afford it, this is the best thing you can do when you’re taking young kids snorkeling. I don’t have anything against renting, it’s just so much easier to take your own equipment. We didn’t buy the fanciest mask either. We just went to a local sporting goods store to hunt one down. Remember, if it doesn’t fit in your luggage, you can always have your kids wear it onto the plane (well, maybe not the flippers).
- Try out that equipment in the pool. We practice in grandma’s pool. My son has already requested that I take out his snorkel equipment, so that he can begin his practice sessions for our upcoming trip to Hawaii. We’ll keep practicing, without the pressure of being out in the ocean full of colorful-fishes-I-want-to-see-right-now. We’re both a whole lot more patient in grandma’s pool.
- Take along a lifejacket for your kids. Even if they’re great swimmers, it’s just easier for them to float along and enjoy the fishy views. Besides, it’s just safer.
- Rent a Boogie Board. It helps to have a floating platform to hold onto. You can also get yourself a flotation belt. I refused to rent one because I’m just to damn cool. But I’m going to rethink the whole cool-girl thing next time. It would have been much easier to adjust our snorkel masks without having to doggie paddle while doing it. I’m not that talented. If you’re going to rent a Boogie Board, then find one with a viewing window. So if you’re child gets tired of donning a snorkel mask, he can get a peek at the fishes through the window.
- Keep the snorkeling sessions short. While my son enjoyed exploring the underwater world, it took a lot out of him (and me). He only wanted to do it five to ten minutes at a time. At that young age, he was happier making sand castles and playing in the waves. It also helps to research which beaches have the easiest and calmest access for beginner snorkelers.
In case you need a little more inspiration or tips on technique, I found a little video footage of one our snorkeling sessions in Maui. I offer me in my dorky snorkeling attire, for your viewing pleasure.
Snorkeling with a young child for the first time is hardly a peaceful experience. My son went for his first underwater excursion in the clear waters of Maui, at the age of 5. In the weeks before our trip, I tried to get him ready for the new experience. We searched for the perfect snorkel mask and I let him practice in his grandma’s pool. He spent a few afternoons swallowing chlorine water-and whining about it-until he got comfortable enough.
But when the time came to get into the big, blue ocean, all that practice didn’t help us much. We fumbled around on a boogie board near the shore, like a pair of socks in the washing machine. I was focused on paddling us around to the best viewing spots, staying clear of the waves, and constantly adjusting my child’s mask, or mine.
There was a calm, beautiful world underneath me, but I was missing it entirely. Luckily, my son wasn’t missing a thing. I glanced at him underwater, and saw him waving at the fish. I asked what he was doing and he said: “I’m just saying hi to the fishies.” His innocence and wonder made me stop and smile. So I stuck my head back under the waves and, for a moment, let myself flow with my son and the fishies.
Today, I’m dreaming of the fishies and the snorkeling we will do during our upcoming trip to Hawaii. I got our snorkel masks down from their storage box in the garage yesterday and we headed over to grandma’s pool. It may be a poor substitute for the big, blue ocean, but a little practice never hurts. We want to be ready, so we don’t miss a thing.
This is linked up to Mother of All Trips and her lovely Monday Dreaming post. Go check it out.
I’ve been lucky in my travels, because I’ve always been blessed with the best travel companions. A trip is always better if you have good companions to share it with. In the picture, are my two favorite travel buddies: my son, and my sister. They’re always ready for a good trip and a good laugh. Most importantly, they let me know when I need to relax and loosen my death-grip on the travel books. That’s what my son is trying to do, by showing me his bottom, after five minutes of posing for this picture. I got the point.
Location: At Kualoa Park with a view of Chinaman’s Hat (also known as Mokolii) in Oahu.
My buddies are linked up at Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.
Get a load of this classic view. This is Waikiki Beach from the veranda of the Hula Grill, above Duke’s Restaurant.
I order the macadamia nut pancakes, some sliced guava, and lots of coffee. I look at this picture and I swear I can taste those yummy pancakes again. On those days where I need a mental escape, I think of places I’ve visited that take me away from it all.
Who knows if those pancakes are really that heavenly, but everything tastes better in paradise. I wouldn’t usually hang out on Waikiki beach too long, because I like less crowded beaches. But in the early morning, the beach is still quiet, and you can watch the outrigger canoes and surfers while you sip your coffee. The best thing is that your kid may be entertained by the scene long enough to give you at least 30 seconds of peace. See? It is paradise.
For more of a mental escape, got to Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.
I learned about the Sugar Cane Train on one of my son’s favorite train videos, I Love Toy Trains. I can’t tell you if we saw it on volume 1, 2, 3, 9, or 10 (or why I own that many volumes of I Love Toy Trains), but we saw it there first.
So when I was planning a trip to Maui with my five-year-old son, I used the promise of a ride on the Sugar Cane Train to get him pumped up for the trip. It doesn’t really matter whether or not I was looking forward to the Sugar Cane Train, I was just happy to have my son cooperative and onboard for our vacation. For that alone, I’m grateful for the Sugar Cane Train.
Find a Station: You can board the Sugar Cane Train at the Lahaina or the Kaanapali Station for a round-trip.
The Trip: You will chug along six miles of Maui waterfront property, cross a wooden, trestle bridge and then turn around and do it all over again. The tropical breezes are relaxing and you will get some fabulous views of the Pacific Ocean, the island of Lanai, golf courses, and the Maui mountains.
Highlight: My son is a train fanatic, and was so excited to see the train he had watched on T.V. for all those years. It was his version of a rock star sighting.
The Cost: The price for the ticket is currently $22.50 for adults and $15.50 for kids. You can knock off $2 off the price if you buy online, or through packages. I have been on many, many train rides with my son, and I have to say that this has been one of our favorites. If you have a big family or if your kids aren’t train enthusiasts, it may not be worth the price of admission.
Linking up to Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursday, for Train Week.
Even tourist traps are more fun in paradise. That’s why we pulled of the Kamehameha Highway in Oahu, to make a stop at the Dole Plantation. At this road stop, you can shop for pineapple-shaped souvenirs, ride the Pineapple Express, and visit the Pineapple Maze. We only had time for the world’s largest maze.
To complete the maze you have to find the eight stations hidden inside, trace the symbol you find at each station, and do it all in record time. The time to beat was impossibly set at less than 5 minutes. If you do possess the superpower to find your way through labyrinths at record speeds, then you get your time posted at the entrance.
We were not feeling like The Flash that day, but still managed to complete the maze in less than 30 minutes. We didn’t actually have much of a choice, since we arrived at the plantation 30 minutes before closing time. I would have preferred to take a leisurely stroll through the 2.46 miles of hibiscus paths, but it was more like a frantic run, accompanied with a lot of good-natured yelling. That’s what all of my family outings are usually like anyway.
My son absolutely loved the Pineapple Maze. I enjoyed celebrating our completion of this tropical labyrinth with a Dole Whip. This pineapple-flavored ice cream has a special place in my heart. As long as that magical soft-serve machine is working, I’ll go back to the Dole Plantation any day. Oh, and I still want to beat our record time of 25 minutes and 33 seconds.