WHEN YOU HAVE A STOPOVER IN OAHU...

So, before my sister got married, we would do year end holiday trips with each other. In the year of 2014, I made plans with her to go all the way to Australia! And luckily with the airline routing rules back then, we were allowed one stopover. So what's the only thing on the way to Australia but Hawaii! We've both been there together before but we had so much stuff that we still needed to see, so that was our goal this time around.

Let me rewind though and tell you about the first time I was in Oahu, which was with my entire family. I believe this was our first ever family trip together as full adult kids. We all told each other that we would not fight or argue on the trip, and that we would all be on our best behavior. Because who wants to have drama or arguments on family trips? And guess what! We didn't have any fights or arguments at all! We actually really enjoyed being a family unit that we kept doing it for years to come. Now, during our first trip to Oahu, I had an entire itinerary planned but forgot to keep the 1,000 Places list in mind. I was more aloof back then. But I did still manage to knock some off the list. One of them was to attend the Polynesian Cultural Center, which was actually pretty awesome. We didn't go as a tour group (which a lot of people ended up doing), so we were kind of on our own. We attended a Hawaiian song class, learned cultural Polynesian history, and took a basket weaving class. Even though it can be quite touristy, I would definitely recommend this for a family. Next up was Waikiki Beach, which you can't miss if you are staying in Waikiki like we did. Take some time to just lay on the beach and tan like my sister and I did the last day we were there. One of the most memorable experiences I had during this family trip was the snorkeling we did at Hanauma Bay. My parents don't know how to swim so they couldn't fully enjoy it, but my sister and I had a great time snorkeling for the first time! The fish weren't scared at all since they knew we weren't going to eat them, so it was awesome to see them swim up close. I was actually scared at moments when they tried to swim too close to me...cause some of them aren't the prettiest fish in the sea!

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Fast forward to my siblings trip that happened in 2014. This time around I was determined to check off as much stuff as we can on the list. Actually, the entire trip was centered around it. And I'll have to give a shout-out thanks to my sister for being so easy going about it! I think she's one of the best travel partners I've had to this day. Alright, so on this particular trip we first started with the Iolani Palace. We honestly just took a bunch of pictures of the exterior, and of us around this cool tree situated right by the palace. Not much to see at the Palace, and I would even recommend just walking or driving by it if you have the urge to see it. Since it was such a quick visit of the Palace, we then headed off to hike the Diamond Head State Monument. Just a tip when you get there: Try driving more closely to the top because there are like 6-7 parking spots up right by the entrance you can park at. We parked at the very bottom of the mountain, and walked up the paved road to discover those empty spots. So check there first to see if there's a space available before parking on the bottom. Now, once you get to the top, it has amazing views of Oahu! Everyone talks about hiking this mountain and for good reason, it's worth the hike up. But also you're hiking inside an inactive volcano, so the greenery inside it is also lush and beautiful too. Definitely recommend! And to reward ourselves at the end of the night, we had dinner at Chef Mavro's. How can I put into words how the food is there! I thought the tasting menu we had was very good, and I would recommend it for a special occasion. This restaurant is also more inwards of Oahu and slightly off the beaten path. If you don't mind spending $200+ a person, then go for it. But if you're on a budget, then you should try another (less expensive) spot like Alan Wong's. Now, dinner at Alan Wong's is more mainstream and a quicker dining experience than Mavro's. And you can tell because it was quite busy the night we went. And although it wasn't like "Oh My God" memorable, it was still really good. I think on any trip you should have at least one night of fine dining, and I can say in confidence that I would recommend this and Mavro's as one of your options. Our last full day in Oahu, we decided to go to check out the USS Missouri and surrounding attractions. Now, with admission comes a self guided audio tour. I was pleasantly surprised how fun this ended up being. It was quite interesting to look over all the separate quarters of the ship and how it was structured to support a crew. Also, within the same facility is the Pacific Aviation Museum and USS Arizona Memorial. Since the tides were in, we couldn't go into the USS Arizona Memorial...I know, it was a bummer. So I would suggest calling ahead to see if they'll allow people in before you head over. I don't think the Pacific Aviation museum was all that great, and I lost interest in it pretty quick. But, it's part of your admission ticket so it's not like you were losing money on it.

Overall, I love and will always love Hawaii. I mean, who doesn't? I'm already anticipating the day I'll get to go back!