We live about a mile from Waikiki, one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. If you walk straight down the road from my house toward the sea, you can literally walk right out over the Pacific Ocean to a little pavilion at the end of a sea wall. Kids love to jump off the end with their boogie boards. They’re much braver than I am.
You have two choices once you reach the end of Kapahulu. You can turn right and head into the heart of Waikiki, full of hotels, restaurants, and shops, but today, we’re going to take a left and head into Kapiolani Park.
The park extends from Kapahulu all the way to Diamond Head. The Honolulu Zoo, Honolulu Aquarium, The Bandstand, and The Shell are all found on park land. There are also soccer fields, picnic tables, and some of the most wonderful trees you’ll ever lay eyes on. This day, we headed down the esplanade, a paved walkway that stretches right along the beach.
We stopped off for breakfast at the Barefoot Beach Cafe, which is actually a spruced up concession stand. The food was excellent, and the view can’t be beat. Next, we check out our favorite place to spot some tropical fish along the wall in front of the aquarium, and even took a brief trip inside.
Kapiolani Park is one of my favorite places to go walking. Diamond Head is always hovering over you, and the ocean stretches on as far as the eye can see. If you go all the way to the end and just keep walking, you’ll end up in my very favorite neighborhood. We also love to host parties here. It’s much prettier than our house.
Urban hiking is one of our favorite past times, and Waikiki is our most frequent destination. My favorite thing about walking in the park is that it doesn’t cost a cent. I hope you love it as much as I do. Have you been to Waikiki? What are some of your favorite spots?
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Sometimes when my daughter is visiting, we spend a lot of time playing out the whole “What do you want to do?” routine. It gets old quick. One of the fun things we decided to do this time was take our new camera to the Honolulu Zoo.
This is a perfect family outing for a number of reasons. First off, the admission isn’t too terribly outrageous. If you have a local ID, they give you a Kama’aina discount. But even if you’re visiting, it’s not too bad. Don’t buy food inside, though. It’s not worth the ridiculous price. Secondly, it’s not an extremely large zoo, so you can see all the animals in about three hours. It doesn’t take up your entire day, and nobody gets bored. Thirdly, ANIMALS!!!!! I’m married to someone who loves animals more than people, so you have no idea how awesome he thinks a trip to the zoo is.
Oh, and did I mention the zoo is located in Waikiki. If you’re here on vacation with your kids, you can easily walk to the zoo. You could even walk right across the street to the beach afterwards. How awesome is that?
Like all animal lovers, I feel like visiting a zoo is bittersweet. It’s always a little tough to see some of these animals confined to an enclosure, but zoos can be a great venue for conservation education. We just have to hope that the animals are being well cared for and receive plenty of enrichment to keep them stimulated.
Take your family to the zoo. It’s cheap and fun. What more could you ask for?
How do we travel on $20 a day? Well, mostly we don’t. Every time it seems we manage to save up any money,we end up having to give it to something decidedly uncool like immigration, the IRS, or the tire shop. The only way to get off my island is to get someone else to pay for it. Mostly, you have to get really really lucky.
I mentioned before that I won a trip to the Duncan Hines Test Kitchens in Parsippany, New Jersey. After months of waiting and anticipating it finally happened.
I flew out on Thursday evening and arrived Friday around 11:00. I do not sleep well on planes, so I was exhausted and starving when I arrived. The first thing on my agenda was a nap and a shower in my totally swanky hotel room at the Sheraton.
After I brought myself roughly back to life, I forced myself to socialize with strangers, which I’m awful at, by heading down to the hospitality suite. Luckily, there was food, sandwiches and a gorgeous cheese plate, and I even managed to sneak in a glass of wine. It was a bit awkward at first, but people from my tribe eventually began to show up, and I saw that I might actually be speaking the same language as some of the other lucky ladies attending this event.
After putting on a fun dress, I headed down to one of the hotel’s banquet rooms for cocktails, then dinner. I was interviewed by the videographer and was brilliant and charming for the first take, and then a blithering idiot when they said I had to do it again. I guess I won’t be getting my own TV show any time soon.
Dinner was pretty good, but the best part was dessert. We got to try all the desserts from the winners of the contest. My favorite was the mocha gooey bottom bars from my new friend, Genell. They were the perfect amount of gooey.
I also got to sit next to Beth from Wilton at dinner. She’s a pastry chef, cake decorator, winner of Cupcake Wars, and an all around super awesome human. It was amazing to get to meet so many people working in the industry and just talk to them like it was no big deal.
Saturday morning, jet lag punched me in the face and made a complete fool of me. I overslept and missed the bus. What an idiot! I only ended up being about 15 minutes late, but it was pretty embarrassing. In my defense, it was 3 am Hawaii time. I was a bit disoriented.
We toured the test kitchens, watched a cake decorating demo from Beth, got to try some top secret products under development, and ate lunch. It was amazing and exhausting, but the fun was just beginning.
We spent the entire afternoon in a four hour demo from Chef Joe, the pastry chef for Duncan Hines. He showed us one great technique after another. His energy was limitless. This is a guy who loves his job.
Dinner was pretty great. I especially loved the butternut squash. Crazy, right? But of course, this was a baking event so it was all about dessert. Each and every one was amazing. Chef Joe went all out for us. I can’t wait to try some of the techniques and recipes I learned and share them with you.
Some of the participants also did a little gifts exchange back at the hotel. This was really fun. We all had to bring a gift representing our home state. I brought toffee mac nuts, Hawaiian salt, Kona coffee, and lilikoi pancake mix, all wrapped lau lau style in a sarong. I can’t believe how popular it was. It got stolen three times. I received a box of herbal teal, some nut butters, a huge bar of chocolate, and an awesome fridge magnet from my new and way rad friend, Becky, who lives in Colorado.
Those of us who stayed up late got treated to another visit by Chef Joe and some of the staff from Duncan Hines. I can’t believe how friendly everyone there was. I guess I’d be pretty happy if I got to make cake every day at work. Their generosity of spirit was so refreshing.
This was an unforgettable experience. I don’t get to travel much, and I certainly don’t think I’ll ever have a chance to attend another event like this. The horrible jet lag was totally worth it. I can’t believe how lucky I was to get to meet so many wonderful bakers. In just two days, I feel like I made some awesome new friends, and if you know me, you know that’s saying a lot, since I’m an awkward weirdo nerd. I will never forget this experience, and I can’t wait to share some of the things I learned with you.
Mahalo Duncan Hines! You made me feel like part of your ohana.
P.S. Duncan Hines paid for my trip, but I was there as a giveaway winner. I was under no obligation to write this post. They’re just super amazing, and I had to tell you about it. 🙂