Aloha - we have just finished a blessed week in Hawaii. This was a week occupied by swimming with green seas turtles, swimming in the sheltered lagoon of the fabulous Marriott Vacation Club at Ko Olina, Mai Tais by the pool and relaxing dinners.
Rinse and repeat... and repeat again.
Ko Olina is a magical place to stay, far from madding crowds in Waikiki. It is situated on the West Coast approximately 30 minutes drive from the airport. With only three resorts set between the water, a golf course and a small condo community it is ideal and is well serviced with a marketplace with plenty of dining choices and a small supermarket.
The green sea turtles frequent the nearby lagoon at the aptly named Paradise Cove. This is where the famous luau takes place every night. In the evening the place is packed with hordes of tourists coming off tour buses from Waikiki but during the day the public beach is nearly deserted. If you drive here make sure to arrive before 9:00am as the public car park has space for only 10 vehicles.
We came here most mornings and we able to wade at waist height to watch the turtles. On one day there were four creatures gliding around and the adult turtles are so relaxed they will eat seaweed out of one's hand. On another day there was only one small turtle who was more timid. Only one day were there were no turtles, so we swam in a deeper section of the cove. Apparently a monk seal took up residence in the cove the week before we arrived. After swimming we would shelter under the shade of hibiscus-like tree to keep out of the heat.
The lagoon is also filled with tropical fish of all kinds including parrot fish, zebra fish, yellow angel fish and cornet fish. Sometimes fish are washed over the rocks as the waves break and it is funny to watch them hop and jump out of the water as they scuttle back to the safety of the deep. When the cornet fish are disturbed they too jump out of the water and skip like a tossed stone across the surface as they escape to the other side of the cove. This is a lovely sheltered cove to snorkel in.
The Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club has a range of holiday accommodation ranging from a 35m2 studio to three bedroom fully self contained apartments. We have swapped in using one of our timeshares and are staying in a studio. There is a king size bed, sleeper sofa, dishes, cutlery, fridge and freezer - perfect for our stay. There is a toaster, kettle and microwave but no cooking facilities in the room. There are BBQs available outside for guests to cook, most of which were used well at dinnertime. Laundry rooms on every third floor are available free of charge and detergent is provided in the room.
This is our third time staying here and it is difficult to avoid a direct comparison with the adjacent Disney Aulani resort, where we have also stayed three times. Disney does the pool area better, including food and drink service and child care . However, it is easier to access the beach lagoon from the Marriott and the area is not shared as Disney has to with the Four Seasons. The rooms are on par with each other. There are lots of family activities on offer as well as water slides.
We spent our afternoons snoozing by the reflection pool, either under an umbrella tree or a thatched umbrella to keep off the midday sun, which at some times was quite fierce. We took an occasional dip to cool down.
In the late afternoon we would migrate to the beach and watch the sun go down as we swam in the lagoon. The lagoon is protected from the surf by rocks and a small reef, so it was easy to just float. The tropical waters were warm enough that we never got cold or felt the need to get out.
This was a truly relaxing week.
We did manage to go out on a sunset cruise from Waianae, run by Hawaii Nautical on a massive catamaran with perhaps 40 other guests. Unfortunately there was not enough wind to sail but we motored up and down the west coast of Oahu and viewed a spectacular sunset as well as a moonset with Jupiter, Venus and the Scorpio constellation on full display. We highly recommend the cruise - dinner, alcohol and soft drinks are included in the price so we had a magical night. More Mai Tais and Maui beers were consumed.
Of course we also went shopping. We arrived at 11:00am last Sunday and could not check in until 4:00pm so we spent the time at the outlet mall at Waikele. The first weekend of October is Columbus Day weekend so there was some massive sales underway - for example 75% off in Kate Spade. "I could buy the whole shop," quipped The Navigatrix. The Navigator has done very well and probably does not need to shop for clothes until the next time we come to Hawaii! The Navigatrix did not manage quite as large a haul but was happy with her purchases.
The Waikele outlets are not quite the secret we thought they were. Every second voice we heard was Australian,. Do we really sound and dress as poorly as that? "These shorts are a f...ing awesome deal. I'm gonna buy five!"... "Nah... Those trackies are too baggy."..." Stop playing Pokemon! You're wasting my data!"
Then at the beach: "Xavier! Come back where I can see you! This is a foreign country!" Xavier was particularly bratty - what kid goes to the beach and refuses to swim?
We did smile at the comment from one little (American) girl who saw us walking along the beach and said: "Look - there's a Mommy and Daddy but they don't have a girl."
Driving to dinner one night we were surprised by an alarm on our phone which was so loud and strident we thought there was a problem with the car. The warning was for immediate flash flooding.
"Don't worry," said our greeter. "In Kapolei it does everything the opposite of what happens elsewhere on the island. My Mom lives 10 minutes away and she says it's pouring." The only downside was the musician for the night had been caught up with the storm - so no live music tonight.
The greeter was right. Contrary the warning it did not flood - it barely even sprinkled.
This is the eighth time we have visited Hawaii and we will keep coming back. It helps to have the wonderful accommodation and facilities of Marriott and Disney. Next time we will go to Kauai - this is the last of the major islands we have yet to see.
Hawaii has our heart. The people and the landscape make you feel that you are truly Ohana (family).