Enjoy Your Vacation and Stay on Track!

Do you ever do too much while on vacation and start to miss home? Or, do enough and you wish you could stay longer? Or, do you go on vacation and go “yikes all my goals just went out the window”? 

Well, don’t worry because I have got the blog post for you. Not only is this a small travel guide for Oahu, Hawaii but it is also your tool to enjoy your vacation and stay on track with your goals. 

Back in August, I took my parents on a fabulous vacation to Hawaii to celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary. It was a trip of a lifetime and we thoroughly enjoyed our week long trip as a threesome. When we were packing up, I was sad to leave the beauty of being in paradise but I also thought it was a perfect trip and we got everything we wanted out of our time. How did I do it?

Plan, plan, plan

Book early! I knew the dates we were traveling, so I began making our reservations in February for our trip in August. By booking early I took advantage of any “early bird” rates and other offers airlines and hotels provide by planning ahead. In addition, rental car companies have decreased their inventory so I wanted to make sure we had a car secured. Traveling in the summer months is peak tourism in Hawaii so I wanted to avoid any issues that might come up as we get closer to our trip. 

Now that I got all our reservations made, my next step was to plan our trip once we arrived. The key is to know your travel companions. Since I was traveling with my parents, I wanted to make sure we had enough activities to be entertained but also had time to relax. In addition, we were just in Hawaii 8 years ago, so I didn’t want to “repeat” activities, as a result I removed a couple of key tourist locations from our agenda like Dole Pineapple Plantation and Pearl Harbor. 

I also knew my parents would want to do some fun stuff they wouldn’t think to do themselves on the trip, for example my dad would love to golf at one of the Hawaiian courses but wouldn’t want to go by himself or my mom getting a facial. So, I ensured I did my research on both. For golfing, I called to confirm the course was public for non-members to golf and carts were available for me to ride along since I don’t play and I called the spa to make reservations that suited my mom’s needs since she never had a facial before. With this being said, I recommend having your questions in advance based on your research of the facilities because sadly there are long hold times so you want to take advantage of the service agent when you get through. Also, not everything can be booked online.

Plan your dinners and the restaurants. You’ll want to make reservations. Most restaurants are open late but they stop seating earlier than their close time, since it takes a day or so to adjust to the time difference, it’s good to make your reservation at the latest available time. Once your body adjusts to the earlier time difference, you’ll eat at normal time.

Create an agenda. Know how you’ll organize your time. This helps when making reservations for dinners. I do recommend putting in recuperation time and spacing out your tourist activities. Also, research your activities. For example, we were doing a day drive around the island visiting the various beaches for their different qualities and taking pictures. We were also making stops at shrimp trucks for lunch and wanting to get shaved ice. Both unique experiences to Hawaii. Sadly, I didn’t do my research enough and we experienced long lines at shaved ice and it was at the end of the day when we were exhausted, so we didn’t get to do that portion of our agenda. I should have planned this and do it on a different day at an earlier time of day to avoid the lines. Thankfully we knew the hotel had shaved ice, so I got to still enjoy that sweet treat.  

The most satisfying part of planning and creating our agenda was that we got to do everything we wanted to do and didn’t feel like we missed out on anything. 

Where to stay

Since I knew from our previous family visit 8 years ago, I wanted to stay at a hotel because when we stayed at a rental home they didn’t have central air conditioning and it was so uncomfortable due to the heat. But, the benefit of staying at home is having a kitchen and beach access. So, I wanted to make sure I found a hotel with a full kitchen, a peloton, great pools and beach access. So, I did some research on the highest rated hotel resort locations then researched each hotel to see what fit my “must haves” and found the Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club

First, having a kitchen is a great way to save money. So, you can have breakfast and lunch in your room, we also did a couple dinners in our room. This truly helped save money because hotel restaurants have incredible markups and when you are spending money on your activities, lodging, rental car, etc it is good to cut some cost with food. I also like having a kitchen and cooking in the room to help me stay on my weightloss journey. I was able to eat healthy while also being able to enjoy our dinners out. I’ll admit I took full advantage eating out with dessert and yummy drinks. 

Second, I loved the Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club because it had such a large beach access location and several pool options. The resort was super busy but the water features and beach access was so spacious it didn’t feel crowded and we didn’t have problems getting lounge chairs. Which we valued because we wanted to relax and my mom wanted to be able to water walk safely. When pools are crowded, kids playing can be unsafe and also can be loud which makes relaxing hard. Also, when you are in Hawaii you want to be at the beach. Having beach access close to the hotel was critical because public beaches can be crowded so you need to plan to be early and with the heat you don’t always want to be there all day. This way we can come and go as needed for our agenda. 

Finally, I wanted to make sure where we stayed had a Peloton bike so I can stay on track with my workout regime. I also wanted to make sure I planned for my rides on vacation. I reached out to the hotel to ask what pedals the bikes have. The reason being is so I can make sure to bring my cleats. I am so glad I did too because no one used the bike after me the entire week so I didn’t have to adjust my bike settings each time. 

Another tip about the Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club was we reserved one of the Villas. Since these are rental units, I was asked to attend a “Vacation Club” meeting with one of their sales reps. This 90-minute meeting saved me on paying for our last night. Which was such a bonus. We also received a lovely welcome gift, free shaved ice for each of us and coupons to their onsite restaurant which we used for a lovely brunch. Take advantage of the benefits the hotel offers. You are spending good money at a lovely resort, it’s good to make the most of it.

Where to eat

I highly recommend dining at Roy’s Ko Olina Golf Club. There are several Roy’s in Hawaii but this was such a benefit because it was so close to our hotel. Roy’s is a Hawaii inspired cuisine with an eclectic blend of California-French-Japanese cooking traditions created with fresh ingredients from the Islands. Roy’s is named after the chef and owner Roy Yamaguchi. I also love that he shares some of his recipes on their website. We ate at Roy’s on our first night. After a long day of traveling we wanted to be chill. I personally enjoyed the edamame, macadamia nut crusted local island fish of the day as well as the crab cakes. But, the highlight that I am still drooling over is the macadamia nut tart. 

We also had dinner at Orchids in Honolulu. I found this restaurant by researching fine dining in Oahu. Orchids is located in the Halekulani’s hotel. Orchids celebrate sophisticated flavors of the coastal Italian regions. It has amazing oceanfront dining but sadly we didn’t get to enjoy it because we ate after sunset. So, I recommend dining earlier or enjoying their lunch or brunch menus. What I love about Orchids is that you get to enjoy more of their menu because of their appropriate sized portions.

For brunch on Friday, we ate at Longhi’s Ko Olina which was in our hotel. They are known for their eggs benedict, so it is no surprise we went for brunch. But, they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed the lobster benedict and sitting next to the hotel’s large koi water feature. 

Since I have a close friend from Hawaii and her family provided these additional suggestions:

  • In Ko Olina: Mina’s Fish House at the Four Seasons is good, but may be really hard to get at the last minute (per their website), so reservations are highly recommended. 
  • Kapolei area: Sugarcane located at Ka Makana Ali’i mall. Be aware that all items are ordered ala carte, though.

While in Hawaii you definitely have to enjoy one of the many food trucks on the island. We are partial to the Shrimp Shack. We did it on our first trip 8 years ago and enjoyed it so much we had to go back. I do recommend bringing hand wipes, because they are messy but oh so delicious. 

What to do

Pearl Harbor is amazing and impactful. I would plan to spend a good amount of time there and also to plan ahead. The exhibits are well done and visiting the USS Arizona was emotional. You can also plan to go to Ford Island to see the USS Oklahoma and USS Utah Memorials. 

Dole Pineapple Plantation – We really enjoyed visiting. The Pineapple garden maze is fun but I did get a little claustrophobic when it got crowded. I also recommend going on the garden tour. It is beautiful. Of course, it is fun to eat your way through the Gift Shop. I am definitely glad we didn’t go on this trip. It would have been hard to stay on track. 

Turtle Beach aka Laniakea Beach – Laniakea Beach is known Turtle Beach because sea turtles spend time basking in the sun on this beach more than any other parts of the island because the rocky cove is great for catching kelp and green moss which turtles love to eat. Although it is hard to keep your distance (at least 10 feet), life guards and signage are everywhere to protect these endangered species. This was a personal highlight for me of our trip. I saw one who was loving the waves and he kept trying to get near me. I named him “Bubba”. 

Diamond Head State Park – On my next trip, I am definitely going to go to Diamond Head. How cool is it that you can hike to the edge of a volcano. Once you get to the edge you get amazing panoramic views of Oahu, the famous Diamond Head Lighthouse, a United States Coast Guard facility that has been featured on a U.S. postage stamp, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. On a clear day, you can also see the nearby island of Molokai. The hike takes 1.5 – 2 hours and 1.6 miles round trip. 

Paradise Cove Luau – A luau is a must do while in Hawaii. There are quite a few luau’s but Paradise Cove is highly recommended by my friend when we went 8 years ago and we loved it so much we had to go back. The feast and festivities of the luau are the traditional ways that the people of Hawaii have celebrated special occasions. Paradise Cove luau shares traditional foods, the songs and dances of early Hawaiians and the friendship of many cultures. There are less expensive options but I purchased the Deluxe Luau Package because it offered table service which is more suited for my parents. We also had nice seating to see the hula show. It was such a lovely way to end our trip. 

Ko Olina Golf Club – My dad loved playing here. I do not golf but knew my dad would love to play while we were on vacation, So, we hung out together. I rode in the cart while my dad played. We had a lot of fun and my dad loved that I took videos of him playing. He also loved being a crazy driver with the cart. He did say the course is tough but fun to play. I really enjoyed seeing the black swans and beautiful water features. I took a lot of pics and videos.

Laniwai a Disney Spa – Even though we didn’t stay at Aulani Disney hotel, I heard great things about the Spa, so I booked my mom and I facials. Since it was my mom’s first time getting a facial I wanted to do my planning to make sure it was a positive experience for her. I found a couple of services and before booking I called and spoke to the customer service agent and they recommended my mom do the triathlon facial while I did the hydra anti aging facial. Laniwai also offers a lot of experiences while you are at the spa. For example hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms and more. It is definitely worth adding to your agenda. 

Staying on track

The last thing I wanted to share was how to stay on your wieghtloss journey while on vacation. I am sharing about what we did in Hawaii but these tips can be used on any vacation. I was so happy that I didn’t gain any weight and my clothes still fit comfortably. The reason why I was able to do it was because I planned and made sure I had the tools to be successful even with all the amazing food we ate. 

As I mentioned, having a full kitchen was a big part of my journey on vacation. The reason being was because I meal planned for the week. We had breakfast and lunch in our room as well as most dinners. And we also had a day where we really wanted to relax so we did a day of leftovers. We grocery shopped on day one. 

I maintained my lemon water. Sadly, the store didn’t have bottled celery juice and also had to skip ginger shots because we didn’t have a juicer. One thing I have been thinking about is to  find a portable juicer so I don’t have to skip these items on future trips.  

I also have a second set of yoga blocks that I packed in my suitcase which came in handy so I could keep my workout regime. Another thing about being on vacation is you have a lot of time to get workouts in. I also spent extra free time taking Peloton classes like Barre and strength training. 

Going on vacation is something we should all do. I don’t do vacations often enough but after this last trip I will take them more often. The serenity and the activities that Hawaii offers is no wonder why it is called paradise. I hope this post helps you on your next vacation.

Until next time, have a joy filled day.

*Couple of fun facts: 1) I was born in Oahu, Hawaii 2) Ko Olina means “the fulfillment of Joy”

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