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We Let Hawaii Happen (plus the takeaways) – Kauai Day Eleven

Thursday was our last day! Our eleventh day. Ugggghhhh!!! I hate last days. But it was yet another busy, not-so-typical last day. Nancy and Caitlin were scheduled to leave at 12 noon via Hawaiian Airlines, while the rest of us flew American Airlines at 10pm.

Besides packing, and cleaning up, we also washed all the dirty clothes. It was so convenient to have a washer and dryer in our unit. I did double duty and cooked whatever was left over. Was it bad to eat shrimp for breakfast? If it was, then it’s too late. We had leftover shrimp that we froze that hadn’t been cooked yet. I kept it simple. Lots of garlic, butter, salt n pepper. I also made Garlic Fried Rice with Green Peas. That was breakfast for me and Nancy. The rest of the kids ate leftover spaghetti for breakfast. Hahahahaa yes, Filipinos can eat spaghetti for breakfast!

The morning went by so quickly, but Nancy was ever so efficient in making sure that we had everything packed. We planned to checkout at 9am and we were in the Tahoe before 9:30am. The ride to the airport took us about 40 minutes. The last time we did this in 2010, we hit major traffic in Kapa’a Town. Not this time. I knew better. I took the Wailua alternate route. So glad I did. The traffic was building up as we approached Kapa’a. We made it to the airport slightly after 10am. We said our goodbyes, hugs, and kisses knowing that we’d see them soon as well.

It was only 10:30am when we left the Lihue Airport. We still had close to 8-9 hours to play around the island. From the airport, I took the kids to Wailua Falls. I remember being there on my birthday in 2008. During our 6-day quick getaway, it rained for 3 straight days. Rain as in steady rain. But I still had the courage to explore the island, and one of them was visiting Wailua Falls. The 4-mile trek was muddy, and by the time we got to the falls in 2008, it gushed steadily from all of the rain. Well that wasn’t the case today. It was clear, sunny, hot, no mud, nothing to worry about.

After leaving Wailua Falls, Ethan wanted to buy a ukulele. I started laughing to myself because I joked about wanting to play “Can’t Feel My Face” with the ukulele. We went to Walmart and bought his first ukulele. Let’s see where he goes with this.

It was already close to 11:30am. The Fish Express was nearby. The kids ordered Ginger Fried Chicken, Chop Suey, Spare Ribs – that was their lunch. We ate their lunch plate inside the Tahoe.

After eating, the kids reminded me of the Malasada Lady. It was already close to noon and we had a pretty good chance of catching her. Sure enough, the Malasada Lady was there. She just opened up her little shop and we were one of the first customers. We love, love, love, and love her malasadas. If we were to rank the 3 malasadas we’ve tried on the island of Kauai, it would go like this:
  1. Fresh Kauai Malasadas (Lihue, The Malasada Lady) – hot and fresh, the malasada is filled with dough (not air), and reminds me of eating a mashup between a donut and mochi
  2. Village Snack Shop & Bakery (Hanalei)
  3. Kauai Bakery (Kukui Grove Mall)

Once we left the Malasada Lady, we went to the nearby beach, Kalapaki Beach. It was packed. The Norwegian Cruise Ship was docked. That explained the crowd that wasn’t there a few days ago. I told the kids to play as much as they wanted. After swimming and boogie boarding for nearly 2 hours, I joined them outside to rinse. Yes I didn’t swim, but it was HOT. I had to shower and since we had already checked-out, showering at the beach park was the perfect option. 

Did I mention it was hot? It was 86 degrees but I swear it felt hotter with the humidity. We then ventured off to Kapa’a for Shave Ice. The kids wanted to go back to Hee Fat General Store since they enjoyed the shave ice there last week. But I said, let’s try something new, and glad we did. For a change, I had the Halo-Halo, local Filipino mix fruits with flan, ube ice cream, and crushed pineapple. Again, did I mention it was scorching hot? Thank you, Ono Ono Shave Ice! We shall return.

We walked down and stopped at Pono Market. I’ve been meaning to stop here during my Kapa’a stay, but I kept missing them since they close at 4pm. I wanted to try a new poke, so I ordered Spicy Clams Kimchee Poke.

From Pono Market, I took the kids to the Opaekaa Falls. I figured since we were killing time, might as well stop by and get a view of the falls and Wailua River.

Finally for dinner, I wanted to stay near the airport. Ethan joked around and said that even pizza from Little Caesar’s would do. I was glad he was only joking. For our very last meal, we went to Smiley’s Local Grindz. I ordered the oxtail soup, and honestly, I enjoyed it much more than Tip Top’s… this place gets my vote. And of course, we had to order their garlic chili chicken. That was enough for all 4 of us to share. 

After dinner, we headed to the airport and returned the Chevy Tahoe back to Alamo. We made it to the airport a little after 7pm. Since we didn’t have any checked luggage, we were able to head straight to security to check in. We had 4 carryon luggage, 3 backpacks, and a booster seat. Check in was a breeze. We killed time inside the terminal where the blogging took place. That was it – that’s the end of our 2015 Kauai Summer Last-minute vacation, a vacation we will never forget.

And now for the takeaways

With every vacation or getaway, no matter how big or small, there’s always a takeaway. In this case, quite a few takeaways. Here you go:

Appreciated Nancy more and more – When we decided to travel separately, that gave me the opportunity to travel alone with Evan and Madison for the first 2 days. Plus on our last day,  I was also alone with Ethan, Evan, and Madison. I mentioned it in my earlier blogs that I felt like I was living in a bachelor pad during the 1st 2 days before Nancy arrived. Was it just a typical maternal instinct? The moment she arrived, everything seemed to have gone in order. On the night before we all flew back home, she knew I’d be alone with 3 of our 4 kids, she organized our 6 carry-on luggage, separated a bag specifically for the beach (complete with beach towels, swimwear, sunscreen, etc.). She even included extra plastic bags for wet clothes. I guess you can say – leave the planning of a vacation to Jason, while Nancy will keep the ship afloat during the trip.

Flying for FREE – The airfare for flying to Hawaii out of LAX is quite absurd especially during the high season. Discounted flights are typically available by flying out of the Bay Area
(San Jose, San Francisco, or Oakland). Years ago, in order for the 6 of us to travel for less, we drove all the way to the Bay Area and flew out of San Francisco International Airport. We made a road trip out of it. We saved over $3000 by flying out of the Bay Area. I’ve done many studies and research on Hawaiian airfares, and have since been using miles and points earned from our credit cards. If one were to fly from LA to Kauai (roundtrip) in July 2015, airfare was at a premium (around $800/person, or $4,800 for 6 people). For this trip, by using our points earned, we received 4 FREE Roundtrip tickets, and 2 tickets with 50% off companion discount. It was a no-brainer!

Family Vacation Success Story

Back in June of 2015, my travel strategy was highlighted by The Points Guy, a leading blogger in maximizing travel rewards.  Click here for the article about me and my travel strategy – “Making Family Vacations Affordable – TPG Reader Success Story . My story was published on July 1st. (Click The Points Guy,or the Hawaii picture below).

Here’s the funny thing! When this article was written in June, I still hadn’t booked our Kauai trip. In fact, I did state that we had not yet booked any summer trip in the summer of 2015…and just days later, bam, we booked Kauai. I learned so much in a year, and I’m hoping my strategy will lead to more trips with the family.

No itinerary, that’s okay – I knew there was no possible way to do everything or see every single attraction. I went and planned with what mattered most. I followed my instinct, and took the family to our favorite spots, and wandered aimlessly and discovered new things along the way. At this stage in our life where we have kids ranging from ages 6-14, beach hopping and short walks or hikes were the perfect choices for us. I would’ve loved to hike more, and I’m hoping to reserve that when they are a bit older.

Stayed in 3 different locations – Back in 2010, we were on Kauai for 9-10 days and stayed only in the North Shore. While we enjoyed our stay at The Cliffs in Princeville, we ended up going to other spots on the island which added more windshield time for us. Which is why for this visit, we broke up our stays (Kapa’a, Lihue, and Princeville). This allowed us to drive less and concentrated our trips within the surrounding areas. Once we were in Princeville, we already had our fair share of East/South/West shores, and focused on the North Shore. When we do go back to Kauai, I’ll do the same, and probably limit our stays in Kapa’a and Princeville.

AirBNB rental – I wrote a whole blog as to why I believe in renting with AirBNB vs. getting a hotel room. This is what worked for us. We have specific needs that a hotel room simply cannot provide. Click here to learn why I like AirBNB. 

Traveling Separately – My very first Kauai blog entry talked about our crazy travel schedule. It wasn’t our first choice, but we had to look at EVERY single option in order to make this trip work. If we insisted on traveling on the same flight/s, then this trip would not have worked. Lots of out of the box thinking were involved, one of them was when Ethan had to fly alone on his way to Kauai. That was something we’ve never done, and we learned a lot from that experience.

Lastly, “Let Hawaii Happen” – There’s a hashtag on Twitter or Facebook and it’s #LetHawaiiHappen. I find that to be true, it’s exactly what we did with our last-minute trip. With such a big family, we will never have the perfect schedule. Our kids are growing up and they’re ever so busy with their own activities (summer school, piano, football, volleyball, swim lessons, track & field, choir, etc.). It was very easy to find reasons NOT to go on vacation. For a very long time, I truly believed that there was no way we’d go on a summer vacation this year with all of the hindrances. But with enough planning, risk-taking, and creative brainstorming, here I am, writing this blog, and I’m now sitting here on my couch reminiscing and reliving the 11 amazing days of vacation. This vacation would not have been complete if only a few of us went as we had originally planned.  But we just did it. We made it happen. We let Hawaii happen. Thank you for reading and for following our journey. There are still 3-4 weeks left before my kids return to school. Who knows where we might go. For sure in the fall, Nancy and I have a return trip to Europe….aaahhhh….that will be a whole different blog! For now, mahalo from our ohana!

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