For years, Hawaii has been a destination for travelers of all kinds. The first Polynesians are believed to have landed in Hawaii around the 3rd-century A.D., and set the stage for what we now know as Hawaiians.
Then, in 1778, Capt. James Cook brought the Union Jack to what was then called the Sandwich Islands as he led the first European contact with Hawaii. The locals thought so much of Cook that on his third visit to Hawaii, they allowed him to stay there permanently by killing him in a dispute that sprung up regarding some boats in 1779.
Missionaries and settlers and farmers and ranchers then came to Hawaii in the ensuing decades. The U.S. liked Hawaii enough to annex in it 1893. And the Japanese were so enamored of the island of Oahu that they tried to clear A LOT of waterfront space for future development on Dec. 7, 1941.
TV then helped add to the allure of the islands thanks to the double-shot of Jack Lord and his outstanding hair in “Hawaii Five-O” and Tom Selleck and his outstanding moustache in “Magnum P.I.” And kids like me dreamed of going to Hawaii and busting bad guys on Waikiki or tearing around Honolulu in a badass Ferrari.
It took me 42 years to get to Hawaii for the first time. And boy, did I make that initial voyage to the island of Kauai memorable. I went with my wife…and our 18-month-old daughter, Maddo…And my just-about-to-turn 70-year-old mother. Oh, and did I mention that my wife was six-months-pregnant with our second daughter, Little Sis?
Yeah, it was That Kind of trip.
But for me, what mattered was seeing the place. Getting out of the timeshare and doing stuff. Mark Twain may or may not have really called Waimea Canyon “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, but that didn’t matter to me as I wanted to see that big hole. We all went to a luau. We drove around the island and saw the sights. We took a helicopter tour in which my daughter threw up on me. It wasn’t all off the beaten path, sure, but it wasn’t all organized to the minute either.
Since then, we have been back to Kauai one more time, and, just a few weeks ago, we made our first voyage to the island of Hawaii itself. Kona. The Big Island. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the island that “Hawaii” gets its name from. And, like all our other trips, my wife and I took our daughters with us.
Yet unlike all our other trips, our daughters are now able to tell us exactly what they think about just about everything. And what they mostly thought about Hawaii was this:
The hotel had a pool.
I know this is not unique for anyone who has traveled with kids. Half your time is spent trying to enjoy your trip and give your kids an experience they will appreciate and remember. And the other half is spent listening to the little monsters whine about, well, everything.
My Wife: Do we have anything planned for today?
Me: Well, let’s drive up to Akaka Falls [422 ft.] and check out this botanical garden that’s supposed to be cool.
Maddo: Daddy? When are we going to the pool?
Little Sis: YEAH! IWANNAGOTOTHEPOOL!
My Wife: Girls, we’ll go to the pool later. There’s a beautiful waterfall I want to take some of pictures of you at that we might use for our Christmas cards.
Maddo/Little Sis, in unison: UGGGGHHHHH! WEWANNAGOTOTHEPOOL!
It went like this for most of the week. Oh, we got out and saw and did things, for sure. But no matter what we did, for our kids, nothing took precedence above making sure that they got to splash around in our hotel’s cement pond. And if we would get back in time to get in the pool, dinner or sleep be damned.
My Wife: We’re going to the beach today!
Maddo: Can we go to the pool?
Me: OK, girls. We’re going on a long drive today, in a van with some other people, so that we can go see this really cool volcano that’s erupting.
Little Sis: But, can we still go to the pool?
We even went out in the biggest pool imaginable, the Pacific Ocean, and that wasn’t enough to get our kids off of the hotel-room pool kick.
All beaches in Hawaii are public beaches. This means that even the big resorts and hotels that sometimes go right up to the ocean line have to provide at least a pathway and access for any local or Haole from the Mainland to traipse right on through and dip their toes in the water.
And as we drove over to the Big Island’s Kuhio Beach, ready to feel some easy Pacific waves, our kids couldn’t have been less impressed.
Me: Hey girls, we’re going to the beach. You’ll get to play in the ocean and maybe see some sea turtles.
Maddo: Can we go to the pool?
My Wife: The pool? You know we can go to a pool at home. And the pool will be back at the hotel when we get there.
Little Sis: YAY! THE POOL!
We went to the beach, played around a bit, and then decided we had been out in the sun for long enough. It was time to take a break and get some lunch. We loaded up our gear and headed back to the hotel to cool our jets. And, of course, our daughters told us what they wanted…
Girls, In Unison: CANWEGOTOTHEPOOL???? PLEEEEEEEEEZE????
I had to give them this much: They knew EXACTLY why they had traveled to Hawaii.