Welcome to another edition of Holiday Snapshots. I have great pleasure in introducing you to Cindy from Piccolo Explorer, originally from San Diego, USA, she grew up in Saudi Arabia and now resides in London. A woman after my own heart, Cindy has a real passion for travel and shares her adventures with her young son Little T, as well as some useful tips over on her blog. Cindy recently went to Hawaii and this week, she tells us what she got up to.
Over to you, Cindy…
What do you look for in a holiday?
We almost always look for places by the sea and where we can stay active, enjoy good food and explore the area.
Where did you go?
We visited Honolulu. Hawaii was one of our top choices whenever we discussed where to go for a 10th wedding anniversary vacation. My husband and I were there in 2009 and have always wanted to go back.
Myself, Mr G and our toddler Little T (22 months)
Where did you stay?
We stayed at the Moana Surfrider Westin Resort, on Waikiki Beach. It’s the same hotel we stayed at when we last visited and one of the reasons why we enjoyed that holiday so much. We wanted to be by the ocean and we love the atmosphere and beauty of the Moana and the history behind it, as the first hotel built in Waikiki. We did shop around first, mainly because initially we were looking for a beachfront property to rent, but since we were booking only a few weeks in advance for the high season, we couldn’t find a property that suited us. They were either away from the beach or large villas for families or groups of 6 or more. In the end, we decided if we were going to be staying in Waikiki, we wanted to be at the Moana.
We made our booking through the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program with a special promotion for SPG members that included complimentary buffet breakfast for two each day.
Are there plenty of activities for kids?
Oahu offers so many activities for the entire family: water sports, adventure trails, snorkeling and scuba diving, marine life tours, horseback riding and plenty of unique experiences such as visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center and enjoying an evening luau. Along Waikiki Beach, there are a few child-friendly beaches that are protected from the surf, and of course a pool at just about every hotel. Local attractions include the Waikiki Aquarium and Honolulu Zoo.
Your most memorable moment/s of the trip?
I loved watching Little T take in these new sights and experiences as we traveled around Oahu. One of my favorite moments was watching him enjoy his first pony ride. He first spent some time petting and grooming the pony, and then walked the pony alongside the trainer before it was time for his ride. He was frightened at first, and just when we thought it wouldn’t be happening, he calmed down and wanted to go ahead, and was soon beaming and laughing as the trainer took them slowly around. Another favorite moment is when Mr G and I had the chance to go out paddle boarding when we booked Little T into the Poppins crèche at the Sheraton Waikiki. It was great to be out on the water paddle boarding together.
What did you get up to? Any sights, activities you want to shout about?
• We enjoyed as much of the beach and pool as we could during our trip. We visited the Waikiki Aquarium one morning, which is just right for an hour’s visit with a toddler. In addition to the indoor exhibits displaying a wide array of fish, sea anemones, jellyfish and more, there’s an outdoor coral reef exhibit with the typical marine life you’d see snorkeling along Hawaii’s reefs and an interactive area with a tide pool.
• We rented a car for our stay so we could also visit other parts of the island. Our favorite spots in the North Shore were Laniakea Beach, where you can see turtles right at the shoreline or often on the beach basking in the sunshine, the Turtle Bay Resort where Little T went pony riding (and they offer many more family friendly activities) and the Polynesian Cultural Center.
• We also visited the Windward Coast, taking the stunning scenic drive along the Pali Highway, and spent a day at the beautiful Kailua Beach.
• Other great activities include paddle boarding or surfing at Waikiki Beach or Kailua Beach, hiking the Diamond Head trail, snorkeling at Hanuama Bay, scuba diving with Aqua Zone and hiking the Koko Head Trail.
Was it good value for money?
It was a splurge but worth it to us as a special trip. We shopped around for our flights and hotel, and the best rates were found booking directly with United and SPG, with the complimentary buffet breakfast ending up being a good value over our stay. We also got a good deal renting a car with Avis using Avios points.
Your top tip/s for the area?
It is definitely worth renting a car at some point during your trip to explore the other parts of Oahu. There are so many spots around the island offering amazing scenery, adventure trails, great snorkeling and beautiful, quiet beaches.
Which photo is your favourite and why?
Towards the end of our holiday, we booked a professional photo session through the hotel and had family photos taken around the Moana, mostly on the beach. We ended up with a USB stick full of photos and it was the perfect souvenir of our vacation. One of my favorites from the photoshoot is this one of Little T and me.
Would you recommend to a friend? Would you go back again?
Absolutely. I visited Oahu several times with my family growing up and it was wonderful to experience it again now through the eyes of my child. Hawaii is just such a beautiful, unique, special place that I would always love going back to. I hope to also visit the Big Island and Maui.
What are the five holiday essentials you couldn’t live without?
• Camera to capture those special memories
• iPhone to stay in touch; sunscreen
• Wet wipes to clean up any messes
• The Kindle loaded up with books, apps and movies for the journey.
What is your most favourite place in the whole world and why?
My most favorite place is Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I have so many treasured memories from growing up there, the friendships I made with people from all over the world and the unique experiences that had me loving travel and culture from a young age. It’s a place I miss dearly and I hope to visit again one day, now with my own family.
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.