Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hawaii Trip Report Part 7: Out to Sea

Trip Report so far:

Vacation Video
Part 1: Getting There
Part 2: Hiking Diamond Head Crater
Part 3: First Day at Aulani 
Part 4: Tuesday in Hawaii (Girls Version)
Part 5: Tuesday in Hawaii (Boys Version)
Part 6: Dole Plantation and the North Shore

Part 7: Out to Sea

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Our Thursday in Hawaii was another day packed with activities. We woke up at our usual ridiculous early hour and had breakfast. We had to be ready in our swimsuits in front of Aulani for an 8:15 a.m. pickup from Hawaii Nautical. Today was our boat trip where we would (hopefully) see whales, dolphins and go snorkeling.

This outing was the most expensive thing we did in Hawaii, but I really wanted to take advantage of being in Hawaii during whale season. I booked this trip through a discount website (Sav-On Tours Hawaii) instead of booking directly through Hawaii Nautical, which saved us $75. Normally, I don't book through 3rd party discount vendors, but Sav-On had good reviews online, and I called Hawaii Nautical after we booked with Sav-On to make sure our reservation was really there. We had no issues.

We could have booked a cheaper whale-watching cruise on a larger boat with more people, but because I wished we had been on a smaller boat when we toured the New York City harbor last year, I wanted to get us on a smaller boat for Hawaii.

So at 8:15 a.m. sharp we see two Hawaii Nautical vans pull up. Our drivers took us to the Waianae Boat Harbor, which was 20-30 minutes from Aulani.

This photo of Hawaii Nautical is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I didn't take any photos of the entire catamaran, but here is one from Hawaii Nautical's website:
When we boarded, the crew instructed us to sit on the inside for a safety briefing. We also had a breakfast of muffins and fruit:

The front of the boat had these cargo nets that the kids loved sitting on for a good view of the ocean underneath:

The morning was cloudy and overcast, but still beautiful:

Not long after we got out of the harbor, we saw whales. What a thrill! I had seen whales before on a whale-watching trip in California about 12 years ago, but it was nice to see them again. I didn't take photos or videos of the whales because it was too hard to capture them, but we saw about 6 different whales pop up. Here is a photo from Hawaii Nautical's website:
Everyone watching the whales:
Next, the boat took us to find some dolphins. We found some spinner dolphins close to the shore down the coast. They are hard to see in this photo, but they show up better in my video. The dolphins were actually asleep and doing their sleep formation of swimming in figure eights:

After seeing the dolphins, we headed further down the coast and as you can see we were getting closer to Aulani. We got off the boat to snorkel just north of Aulani.

My two boys planned to snorkel with me while my husband stayed on the boat with my youngest. All ready to go!

I wasn't sure if my younger son would be brave enough to get into the ocean, but he did! Brian took some photos of the 3 of us in the water:
When we first got in the water, the boys were saying "awesome" all the time because the water was so clear. But after about 5 minutes, we changed our tune. It was very choppy in the ocean that day, and every time we'd lift our heads out of the water we would be overcome with a wave. It was even getting hard to see each other because a wave would be between us.

My oldest said he wanted to go back on the boat, and my younger son followed shortly after. He was hit hard by a wave and swallowed a bunch of water. The lifeguard had to tow him back to the boat.

So that left me still in the water...I wanted to see some turtles and more fish, but the waves were soon exhausting me. I noticed others heading back to the boat early. Just too choppy out there! The snorkeling was my biggest disappointment about this trip...but it was really just the rough seas and the weather at the time.

While we were snorkeling, the captain found this octopus near the boat and brought it on board:

After the snorkeling time was over, the crew served lunch while we sailed back to the boat harbor. Lunch was pasta salad, lettuce salad, sandwiches, barbecue chicken and chips. Alyssa fell asleep on a bench.
The ride back was really, really choppy. I had taken Dramamine before this trip since I get sea sick, but it wasn't enough to help me on the way back to shore. Brian was even getting a bit sick.

Despite the kids getting freaked out by the waves in the ocean, they still liked this boat trip. Joshua asked if we could do it again the next day. If the weather had been better for snorkeling, and the seas not so rough on the way back, we would have enjoyed it more. I do recommend Hawaii Nautical for a trip like this--the crew was great! Nothing they could do about the rough seas and clouds.

We got back to Aulani around 1:15 p.m. We decided to buy Mickey ice cream bars in the gift shop and eat them in the room. The boys were heading to the beach and pools while I got Alyssa ready for her Keiki Wahine appointment.

The Keiki Wahine is like the Hawaiian version of Disney World's Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (sort-of). It's a treatment for girls age 3-12 that includes a manicure, pedicure, make-up, dress and hair style. This was a present from her grandparents.

The Keiki Wahine took place in Painted Sky, the spa for teens. Near the entrance it has a frozen yogurt bar:

We were the only ones at the spa the whole time.
The spa had dresses and Duffy bears for sale.

The treatment started with a pedicure and manicure. The attendant gave Alyssa a Hawaiian dress that she changed into. When I noticed the other colors available on the wall, I asked if we could switch to the pink dress, which is why she's pictured with 2 different dresses.

Drying her nails:
A different person did Alyssa's Hawaiian hair style. This guy was fabulous!
Pascal also did her make-up. Alyssa fell asleep during this part!
Here is her final hair-do. We loved it! The flowers were fresh.
I took several photos of Alyssa around the resort with her temporary new look:

For anyone considering doing this for your daughter, I would suggest bringing your own Hawaiian dress and maybe just getting the hair style. That was our favorite part.

Here are some photos of the boys at the beach with Brian:

While the boys were outside, Brian and Joshua decided to try snorkeling at Aulani's Rainbow Reef. Joshua was disappointed that his snorkeling in the ocean was cut short and he wanted to try it again. Rainbow Reef was perfect!

Since there were no waves, it was smooth snorkeling all around.
Brian took some video of their time in there, and Joshua kept saying "awesome, Dad!" He loved looking at all the fish:

And there were some Menehune on the bottom:

It was getting close to dinner time. We all met back in the room and fed the kids some chicken nuggets in our kitchen. Then, the kids went to Aunty's to play while Brian and I went out to dinner. We didn't have any dinner reservations for this evening, so we decided to walk to the nearby shopping center and grab a bite at one of the restaurants there.

The outside grounds of Aulani:

To get to the shopping center, we turned left from the Aulani driveway and crossed the street at the light.

We decided to grab a bite at Pizza Corner. Actually, we were really tempted to eat at the Monkey Pod restaurant, but we had a reservation there for Friday night and didn't think we should eat there twice in a row. Pizza Corner was decent, but nothing special. Just like a normal neighborhood pizza joint. They gave us free garlic knots while we waited for our pizza.
After dinner, Brian and I walked to this beach for a bit:
Walking back to Aulani:

We picked up the kids from Aunty's and I asked them if they wanted to attend the Starlit Hui again. Alyssa wanted to attend since she fell asleep for all of it on Tuesday. So she and I lined up again, and she made it through the first half before starting to fall asleep. I took her back to the room and we went to bed. We were all exhausted!

Up next: Friday at Aulani

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