31 MARCH 2015:  Oh boy did we sleep late this morning.  The kids slept even later than the adults.  We finally woke them up just after 9:00am local time.  We didn’t want to miss breakfast!  Plus we worried about getting too far off our home time zone.

View from our balcony this morning

View from our balcony this morning

After a quick bite in the 30th floor lounge, David went off to the rental car office while the kids and I packed up swimsuits and other beach items to take along on our road trip.  It took awhile to get the car, as everyone at the rental agency seemed to be on relaxed Hawaiian time.  Eventually we got it, loaded up, and started our drive towards beautiful Kailua Beach, on the north side of the island.

On the road towards Kailua Beach

On the road towards Kailua Beach

The weather wasn’t completely cooperative today — it rained off and on throughout the afternoon.  Luckily there were plenty of opportunities between downpours for exploring and adventure.

Stopping off at a scenic overlook

Stopping off at a scenic overlook

The view was amazing, even with all the rain clouds

The view from the overlook was amazing, even with all the rain clouds

Plaque at the overlook

The history of Pali Road

One of the gorgeous cats living near the overlook

One of the gorgeous cats living near the overlook

And the rooster, who along with chickens (and the cats) roamed around the overlook

And the rooster, who along with numerous chickens (and the cats) roamed around the overlook

Tunnel on the Pali highway

Tunnel along the Pali highway

By the time we found our way to Kailua, our stomachs were growling.  We drove around a bit and stumbled upon a nice looking restaurant called Cactus.  It turned out to be a great find, as the food was some of the best I had during our entire trip.  On the Cactus website they describe themselves as “a celebration of the cuisines of the new Americas with Aloha, transporting the flavors, culinary traditions and techniques from Central and South America as well as Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Offering the cuisines of the sun, land and sea, Cactus’ menu selection focuses on:

  • Local produce from the islands
  • Shinsato Farms pork from Kahalu’u
  • Kulana and Kuahiwi beef, veal, wild boar from the Big Island
  • Sustainably caught or farmed seafood from the island chain.”

I had the Kiawe-smoked Big Isle mushroom tacos, easily the best dish I’ve had in years.  Truly outstanding!

Chatting during lunch

Chatting during lunch

We were inside the cozy restaurant during the biggest downpours of the day.  By the time we were finished, the rain had ended, which gave us the opportunity to explore the exquisite beach area.

Incredible blues, great waves, and pristine sand

Incredible blues, great waves, and pristine sand

Lots of play in the sand that afternoon

Lots of play in the sand that afternoon

The weather was a bit too unpredictable for renting kayaks, but we enjoyed ourselves never the less.  It was tough to drag the children away — they could’ve stayed all day.

After some serious foot washing and de-sanding, we climbed back into the rental car to continue our scenic journey.  We scooted down the northern coast to get back to our hotel, stopping off once or twice to truly enjoy the views.

Another scenic overlook on our way back to Waikiki

Another scenic overlook on our way back to Waikiki

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

View from another angle

The view from another angle

Traffic was truly dreadful, though.  It was at a complete standstill on one of the major routes back into Waikiki.  After consulting with google maps on David’s phone, we managed to figure out a side street to use to cut through to a less crowded avenue.  After we managed that maneuver (which included a bold u-turn!), we were in much better shape.  Traffic flowed much more smoothly along that route.

We’d had such a substantial lunch that we decided to make the early evening appetizers in the 30th floor lounge into our dinner.  We watched the sun set from the top of the hotel while we ate, and then we headed out for some evening shopping along the nearby streets.  We got back just in time to see the light show in our hotel pool.  We’d never managed to be there at the right time since we were getting to bed so early every night.  The kids enjoyed it very much.

Afterwards, we all went to the Baskin Robbins store located right near the pool.  As luck would have it, the company was celebrating its 70th birthday by slashing prices.  We got 3 single scoop cones and 1 double scoop waffle cone for less than $8!  Truly something to celebrate!