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Ports of Call

St. Thomas

U.S. Virgin Islands

We love St. Thomas.  The folks on this island are friendly and welcoming, and St. Thomas has some of the most beautiful views and beaches I’ve ever seen.  We consider St. Thomas a paradise, and Roger claims he’s working his way south to live in St. Thomas at least six months out of every year.  more »

Dreaming of Beaches

Boatyard Beach, Barbados

I woke up this morning thinking about beaches.  Some of my favorite memories from our cruises are the relaxing days we’ve spent together on fabulous Caribbean beaches.  Roger is a sun lover, but I’m not, so he gets us two beach chairs and an umbrella at the beach, then he settles my chair in the shade of the umbrella, while he stretches out on his chair in the full sun.  We each take a few dips in the water, just to cool off, but other than that, we don’t spend any time in the water unless we’ve also booked some snorkeling, jet skis, or parasailing.  I love digging my toes into the cool wet sand.  I love hearing the waves lapping against the shore, the birds calling as they fly overhead, and the laughter of people nearby enjoying their vacations.  I’m happy with a lovely fruity beverage and a good book, relaxing in the shade, near my fabulous husband.  more »

Speaking Hawaiian

DSCN0968Hawaiian Word Pronunciation

We were butchering Hawaiian street and highway names, until the Marine Gunny Seargeant over our son’s company gave us a quick lesson in saying Hawaiian words.  When her family was transferred to the Marine Corp Base at Kaneohe Bay, they had taken a tour of the island, where the Hawaiian tour guide gave them a quick lesson that they now passed on to us. 

First, most Hawaiian words are best pronounced by breaking the words down to pronounce every two letters together.  Second, some Hawaiian words have only vowels or at least many vowels.  In most of those words, all the vowel sounds are pronounced. 

Let’s start with some highway names that we were pronouncing so incorrectly, that the Gunny Seargeant gave us this lesson.  Doesn’t this highway name beg to be pronounced, Like Like?  Using rule number one, pronounce every two letters together, this highway name actually sounds like, Licky Licky.  Easy enough, right?  So, let’s try another one. 

Another highway we saw a lot of was named after a former king in Hawaii, Kamehameha.  I personally tried pronouncing this highway so many different ways prior to our Hawaiian speaking lesson, that I’d finally started just calling this the “Ha Ha” highway.  It wasn’t so hard to pronounce after our lesson, and it sounds like “Ka – may – ah – may – ah”. 

Aiea, one of the few city names in the world written only with vowels, is pronounced by locals as “eye – eh- ah”, but that doesn’t exactly follow rule number two.  But, these lessons helped us learn how to speak Hawaiian names much better than following the English language rules we’re taught in American public schools.  Anyone else have suggestions for pronouncing Hawaiian names?

Oahu Windshield Time

H1 H2 H3 … DSCN0967

So many who had traveled to Hawaiii before us offered one common piece of advice – rent a car.   We rented a car, and some days it felt like we spent more time in the car than on land during our Hawaii visit.  Oahu is such an easy island to travel around though, because all we had to do was connect to one of the three interstates, H1, H2 or H3, to get almost anywhere we wanted to go. 

Waikiki, Aloha Bowl, Pearl Harbor, North Shore, Polynesian Cultural Center, Diamond Head, the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and more, took us from one of the end of the island to the next to the next.  Interestingly enough, everywhere we went, a Roberts Tour bus seemed to be parked right next to us.  And, it was a long drive from one place to the next.  I wish we’d spent more time on the beach! 

So, if you’re headed to Oahu, plan your days carefully to avoid lots of windshield time.  And, you might want to consider a tour bus instead of a car rental.  Just a thought!

Great Oahu Family Eats

Fun Family Dining in OahuWaikikiIntlMarketplace

We’re just back from our first trip to Hawaii.  Our son is a Marine stationed at Kaneohe Bay, so my husband, daughter, and I flew to Honolulu to spend Christmas with together as a family on Oahu.  Loved visiting Hawaii, but having our family together for the holidays in Oahu was priceless!  This trip was all about enjoying our family time, so we didn’t visit any of the fabulous restaurants or lounges that we’d normally check out in a new location.  But, I still have some fabulous meals that I can recommend in Oahu: 

  • Puka Dog:  Our Marine son, Eric, told us before we ever came that we’d have to try a Puka Dog when we visited, saying it was a great hot dog.  I’ve got to tell you … hot dogs are never on my list of special meals.  About the only time I eat hot dogs is when we’re watching baseball.  I agree with Eric … don’t miss dining on a Puka Dog.  We were even hoping to go back a second time during our visit, but we never made it.  The Puka Dog stand can be found at the rear to the International Market Place Waikiki.  Lots of options, but don’t worry – the staff will help you create the CheeseburgerInParadiseperfect Pooka Dog for you.  Your first choice is do you want a polish sausage or a veggie dog.  We all picked the polish sausage, but each of our Pooka Dogs were unique after that.  The next choice is the heat in the Garlic Lemon Secret Sauce, which ranged from Mild to Hot Hot.  Eric and I opted for Mild, Rachel chose a mid-range spicy, while Roger chose the Hot Hot Habanero sauce.  Each of us chose a different relish.  I opted for the pineapple relish – when in Hawaii, pineapple seemed like the right thing to choose.  There was one more choice after that, but the Puka Dog staffer paused only a moment before making a perfect recommendation for each of us.  We watched as our personal Puka Dogs were prepared.  They start with a small loaf of bread, which is pierced on a vertical hot metal spike, creating a toasty warm “puka” hole.  The seasonings, relishes, and sauces are piped into the “puka” hole, and the dog is added at the last, with one last drop of the sauce on the top pof the dog.  We loved the Puka Dog so much, we wondered if there was anyway to open a Puka Dog stand back home. 
  • Cheeseburger in Paradise Waikiki:  Roger and I tend to avoid chain restaurants like this as we travel, and hamburgers are not among my favorite foods, but Eric recommended this restaurant as well.  We’d just completed a hike to the top of Diamondhead and back down, and we were hungry, and those hamburgers hit the spot.  We each ordered a different hamburger, but shared one basket of fries.  I ordered the Cheeseburger Island Style, which was a big burger grilled in teriyaki sauce with a grilled pineapple on top.  I normally do not eat a whole hamburger, but I ate it all.  This open air restaurant with a view of Waikiki beach across the street was the perfect place to refuel and recharge for a little beach time after our Diamondhead adventure!  You’ll find it between DSCN0803the Sheratan Moana Surfrider and the Outrigger Waikiki, and it’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
  • Big Wave Shrimp Bus:  This was the last of Eric’s recommendations and another big hit with the family.  There’s lots of buses parked along the road in North Shore serving fresh hot shrimp, but you’ll find the Big Wave Shrimp bus at the beginning of Haleiwa on the North Shore, next to One Love Surf Shop and Haleiwa Fishing Supply.  We again had choices of how we’d like our shrimp served.  This time Eric and I both chose the Garlic Shrimp, while Rachel and Roger opted for the Spicy Shrimp.  Roger loved the Spicy Shrimp, but it was a little too spicy for Rachel, and she was soon dipping her fork in my Garlic Shrimp, which was marvelous.  We ate at picnic tables under the canopy of a beautiful tree near this colorful bus, and this was the perfect end to our North Shore beach day.  We wrapped up the meal with one of Matsumoto’s famous shaved ice from the nearby Matsumoto General Store.  If you get “Da Works”, you’ll have a scoop of vanilla ice cream, topped with a heaping globe of shaved ice, flavored with up to three different flavors, with a sweet snow cap!  I thought this was way too sweet, but everyone else loved it, so it’s still one of my top family recommendations. 

If you have any other Oahu family recommendations, please leave your comments below.  It will help many others!  And, you can see more of our Hawaii pics at this link.  Enjoy!