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This week, I have great pleasure in introducing you to former flight attendant and blogger, Boots, who shares her amazing experiences over on In the Wrong Boots. Originally from Manilla, she’s lived in LA, New York, Tokyo and now resides in Dallas, as a stay-at-home mom to two boys. Boots tells us about her recent family holiday to Hawaii which saw her hiking a volcano and enjoy beach life in and around Honolulu.

Over to you, Boots…

FotorCreatedWhat do you look for in a holiday? 

I like a vacation that is well-balanced that includes nature but still has that big city feel. Unfortunately, I have severe skin allergies to too much sun exposure so I try to choose a vacation that will allow me to be indoors as well. I love the beach but I’m not much of a swimmer or good at ocean related activities. I love foodie trips and I can actually visit a city just for the purpose of eating. That’s what I do when I go to New York since I have seen most of the tourist spots. Also, I vacation with my kids all the time so my husband and I always choose family-friendly destinations. And if the city isn’t geared towards kids, we welcome the challenge of finding things to do and try to make it as kid friendly as possible. We did that in New Orleans and we certainly found interesting places to do and see there.

IMG_4765Where did you go?

We went to Hawaii, in the island of Oahu.

Why did you choose this destination?

My husband had a milestone birthday last July and he wanted to go to Hawaii (it’s one of his  favorites) to celebrate. But it didn’t work out with our schedule and the kids had way too many summer activities so we are just going now for Spring Break. We have been to the other islands before but we chose to stay in Honolulu because there’s so much to do there, and it is the perfect place for me – one that has beautiful beaches and nature reserves, and yet it’s still a big city with great restaurants and famous chefs.IMG_4764

Who went?

My whole family – my husband and my two boys. Actually, my husband’s mom, sister, brother and his wife also were there but they had different itineraries half of the time we were there so it really didn’t feel imposing at all (wink)!

Where did you stay?

We stayed mostly at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and one night at the Disney Aulani Resort. We have stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village a few times in the past and we really love the ambience there. The Disney Aulani Resort was as expected great for the kids. My boys  absolutely loved both hotels.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village is quite famous in Honolulu and it’s a 22-acre property and it really feels like a village within a city. There are penguins and exotic birds and turtles for the younger children. There are several shops and many restaurants inside the “village”. They have their own beach, three pools and a lagoon. Oh it also helped that they had daily happy hour and $5 Mai Tai’s at one of the bars!

The Disney Aulani has always been in our wish list but they charge a ridiculous amount of money per night. My cousin’s friend works for Disney and she was able to give us a little bit of discount on this trip. But then we can only afford one night and it was just to try it out. Then we could say, ‘Hey, we stayed there!’IMG_4766

Were there plenty of activities for the kids?

Yes, Hawaii is probably one of the most kid-friendly places in the whole world. There’s all the water activities that the kids can do such as swimming, surfing, body surfing, kayaking, etc. There’s also hiking for the non-swimmers. The Polynesian Cultural Center is fantastic for kids to get acclimated with Hawaiian culture. Watching performances by natives in a Luao feast is also quite enjoyable. You can also find places to go for horseback riding if beaches are not your thing. We did a lot of hiking on this trip as well. Above all, it’s a place where they can just relax and be kids.

Your most memorable moment/s of the trip?

I really enjoyed our hike to the Diamond Head. We all woke up really early in the morning to hike a now extinct volcano and that was something that we, as a family, have not done before.IMG_4759

Any sights, activities you want to shout about?

I recommend to do the hikes we’ve done like the Diamond Head and also the Manoa Falls. Manoa Falls was just like a Disney-made rainforest except, it’s a real forest! Just imagine Jurassic Park!

Was it good value for money?

Hawaii is not a cheap destination. The airfare from Dallas to Hawaii can cost as much as going to another country. But once you are there, you can find deals on food and accommodation. I think it’s a great place to visit especially with family. And yes, I think it’s a good value for the money because of the various activities you can do there.

Your top tip/s for the area?

Hawaii may be in the United States but it’s very unique. It is almost as if you’ve gone to another country. It isn’t anything like the mainland. It’s very multicultural, and it is a combination of the Pacific Islands and Asia. The foods in Hawaii are so different and I recommend to try several of them such as spam musubi, poi, Kalua pig, and many others. This will deepen your cultural awareness of the place. If it’s your first time in Honolulu, do not skip the Polynesian Cultural Center. It may be touristy but it’s not one of those lame tourist places. It’s educational and it’s fun. If you are traveling with kids, it’s worth renting a car so you can drive to the more non- touristy beach areas.IMG_4762

Which is your favourite photo and why?

I love the photo of my boy – not for the quality of the picture but because it reminds me how happy my 10-year-old was after he went snorkeling. Although it was in Disney Aulani’s  man-made beach, it gave him the idea how much he will love the ocean later in life. Plus, you know it’s a priceless moment when he said: “This is the best time of my life!”

Would you recommend to a friend? Would you go back again?

Yes absolutely! I recommend to visit other islands as well. Maui and the Big Island are great. The less popular islands are probably where you will experience the true essence of life in Hawaii, the laid back Hawaii.IMG_4761

What are the five holiday essentials you couldn’t live without?

• All my gadgets – iPhone, iPad, camera, headphones in one bag
• My sunglasses and eyeglasses
• A light cardigan or a scarf even if it’s in the summer (some places tend to be cool at night)
• A notebook, a pen, and a good book- great for in flight use
• An extra folded duffle bag for my purchases and souvenirs.

IMG_4763What is your most favourite place in the whole world and why?

Oh, this is very hard. I have so many favorite places. I really love Manila simply because it’s home. Plus I like it for the food. But if I have to exclude it, then it’ll have to be New York City. I can go back there every year and will never get tired of it.

If you would like to be featured on Holiday Snapshots, please email me at [email protected] and I look forward to including your travel stories.