On our way home we’re making a stopover in Hawaii. It was an easy and no-cost addition to our trip. When departing/returning the US on an awards flight, America Airlines allows a stopover at the North American gateway for no additional cost (or frequent flyer miles). This allowed us to stop in Hawaii (for as long as we wanted), so long as we could then fly direct from Hawaii back to Dallas.
Although we all like the idea of another beach destination (in addition to Thailand), the main reason we are going to Hawaii is so Nathan can see Pearl Harbor. He’s very interested in military and military history, so he’s been wanting to see Pearl Harbor for years. We plan on spending a whole day visiting all the different memorials and attractions:
- Pearl Harbor National Monument (including the USS Arizona Memorial)
- USS Bowfin Submarine Museum
- Battleship Missouri Memorial
- Pacific Aviation Museum
Confusingly, some sites are part of the newly created WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which also includes sites in Alaska and California. But the private attractions and the actual wreck of the Arizona are not.
It’s free to visit the national monument and Arizona memorial (the other three are private non-profits with entry fees), but only a limited number of people are allowed in the memorial at a time. A Navy-operated boat shuttles you the quarter-mile from the shore. You used to have to line up around 7am to be sure to get tickets, but recently the park service created an online reservation system. We’ve already purchased our tickets and don’t have to show up so early. Woo-hoo!
Ma & Grandad
Since we really don’t need to add any more flights to this trip, and we need to be on Oahu to visit Pearl Harbor, we are sticking to that one island. A recent development is that Julie’s parents are flying out to meet us! Her dad is finally retiring, so this is will be their retirement celebration. If everything works out they’ll arrive a few hours after us, just long enough for us to pick up a rental car and be ready to go to the hotel.
As for the hotel, we’re staying in a resort area called Ko Olina, on the leeward side (away from the wind) of Oahu. We thought this looked more relaxing and family-friendly than Waikiki and Honolulu. In addition to a few Marriott properties and a golf club, this is where Disney’s Aulani Resort is located. We chose the Marriott Vacation Club’s Ko Olina Beach Club because we were able to pay for it with points (using more credit card bonuses)! In fact, I had Julie’s parents get a couple of credit cards that enabled them to collect enough points for their room too! It looks like a great place to relax and recover from our trip before heading back to the real world.
Shark Cage Diving
We’ve got one more activity planned (aside from lounging on the beach). We’re taking a boat to see sharks and (hopefully) all of us will be getting into the shark cage! We looked into doing this in South Africa, where we’d be able to see great whites. But we eventually decided the five-hour boat ride was too big of a commitment with our kids along. It’s hard to be sea-sick for that long. But anybody can handle two hours, right? ;-) That’s how long it takes to do a shark cage tour off the North Shore of Oahu. We won’t see great whites, but the Galapagos and sandbar sharks look big enough.