The Kauai Marathon

Kauai Marathon 2013

Kauai Marathon 2013

“The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every jogger can’t dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon.” ~ Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

Every year for the past 5 years, the Kauai Marathon takes place over Labor Day weekend on the gorgeous sunny side of the island in Poipu!!! The runners fly in from all parts of the world a few days early to take part in the pre-marathon activities which include: carb loading dinners, packet pick-ups, group warm-ups, runs and much more.

Packet Pick Up - Grand Hyatt Kauai

Packet Pick Up – Grand Hyatt Kauai

“The thirst you feel in your throat and lungs will be gone minutes after the race is over. The pain in your legs within days, but the glory of your finish will last forever.” ~ unknown

Sign Up for the 6th Annual Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon

It all starts off with the Sports & Fitness Expo at the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Poipu! For 2014, the Expo will be on Friday, August 29 and Saturday, August 30. The Grand Hyatt resort is located in Poipu close to the start and finish lines. The Hyatt also will be hosting the Registration, Keiki Run, and Fun Run. It’s Packet Pick-up time!!! My husband gets very excited about picking up his packet. Off we go to the Expo to get the Kauai Marathon bag full of goodies. Our daughter purchased a new fuel belt. Our son kept busy in a jump roping contest at one of the booths at the Expo. There is an array of athletic products ranging from gels, Gu, fuel belts, sunglasses, visors, and clothing to RockTape & compression socks. There is something for everyone. If you forgot to pack it, no worries, it will most likely be there. Get to the Expo early to ensure you can purchase what you need before it’s gone. Just like the race itself, the Expo is small and intimate – perfect for Kauai! We have traveled to much larger marathons where the Expo is located in a convention center.

While the Hyatt is one of our favorite resorts on island, this blog is all about how to travel on budget. Explore your options, as there are many condos and homes to rent in Poipu as well as other hotels which are not as expensive. We love the Sheraton Kauai Resort due to the family-friendly environment and, most importantly, they have a great beach for boogie boarding and body surfing right next to the pool. The hotel will book up far in advance for the marathon weekend. Check out our post on the Sheraton Kauai Resort at https://5wheelsto5star.com/2014/01/18/sheraton-kauai-resort/

Kauai Marathon 2012

Kauai Marathon 2012

6 a.m. is start time! As you make your way on the course through Koloa, Omao and Kalaheo, you will feel the support from volunteers at the aid stations located at each mile with water and energy drinks. Residents will come out of their homes to get into the street and cheer you on through each town. On the marathon route, you will pass Hula dancers, musicians, cheerleaders, parents, kids and dogs standing by rooting on the runners. Feel the support of Kauai as you pass through each town!

In 2013, the 5th Annual Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon featured over 1,700 participants from 13 countries! 170 youth runners participated in the first Keiki Race at the Kauai Marathon. 911 residents of the Aloha State participated in the Marathon, with 615 representing Kauai. Tyler McCandless, three-time defending champion, broke his course record in 2013 and won $15,000. Tyler showed true Aloha spirit by offering running clinics around the island and even gave away Newton Running shoes!

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Kauai Marathon 2013

“I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.” ~ John Hanc, running writer

 

 

Kauai Marathon 2014

Kauai Marathon 2013

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13 year old runners

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” ~ Kathrine Switzer, women’s marathoning pioneer

IMG_6945The Kauai Marathon is a family friendly event, welcoming participants of all ages. Our daughter and her friend, both 13 years old, participated in the Kauai Marathon (half) in 2013. Moms and dads run while pushing joggers with their little ones inside. The finish line is an easy place to watch for your runner without being pushed and shoved by crowds. As the running manager, which I call myself, it is important to have room to put your things down, set up a chair and be able to take pictures as the runners pass by. Not to mention, the finish line is oceanfront!!! Not a bad place to wait for your runner to cross the finish line. It seems that every year it rains at some point during the race, but then again, that is Kauai. It’s a great idea to bring an umbrella if you are awaiting someone at the finish line. Be sure to stay for the rainbow!!!

Kauai Marathon 2012

Kauai Marathon 2012

“I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.” ~ Mike Fanelli, running club coach

I love the picture above because it depicts a true “final stretch” moment. Most of the marathon photographs which I have taken are post-run when everyone is smiling, drinking a beer and wearing their medals with pride. In this photograph, he was definitely pushing hard and in pain on the final stretch. Go Rob!!!!

Kauai Marathon 2011

Kauai Marathon 2011

“Few things in life match the thrill of a marathon.” ~ Fred Lebow

Check out the Panel Discussion on Saturday, day before race. Some of the previous years panel guests include: Bart Yasso, Rich Hanna, Dean Karnazes, JT Service (1st year’s winner), and Mike Wardian (2nd year’s winner).

Kauai Marathon 2010

Kauai Marathon 2010

“The difference between the mile and the marathon is the difference between burning your fingers with a match and being slowly roasted over hot coals.” ~ Hal Higdon, running writer and coach

The finish line is a celebration on the lawn with ocean view. Does it get better than that? Probably not. Not when you add 85 degree weather. EachIMG_6990 runner’s name and hometown are announced as they cross the finish. Runners are greeted with their medals just past the finish line. Take part in a free massage, foot rub, or first aid station if needed. Move on to the lawn of vendors which include Jamba Juice, beer station, potato chips, fresh fruit, and yogurt. Did I mention it is all FREE? Walk around or sit down and relax in the sun while the emcee interviews runners, issues awards and announces updates as the runners are still crossing the finish line.

 

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Kauai Marathon 2009

“I don’t think about the miles that are coming down the road, I don’t think about the mile I’m on right now, I don’t think about the miles I’ve already covered. I think about what I’m doing right now, just being lost in the moment.” ~ Ryan Hall, U.S Olympic marathoner

Run for local charities!!! The Kauai Marathon generates money for local charities which include: Kauai Food Bank, local high-school programs, national nonprofits, A-T Children’s Project and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program, and Give’r for Liver of the Canadian Liver Foundation, have all partnered with the Kauai Marathon to raise money for their organizations.

Kauai Divas & Dudes

Kauai Divas & Dudes

“I love Kauai marathon, the route is amazing, the spectators are supportive; but most of all it’s the volunteers. I run so many races and the volunteers are what makes this race amazing to run. It is so organized and they are extremely supportive, standing at the water stations. You have hula girls, Taiko Drums and just laughter & support…it makes this tough course worth running. This is by far one of the toughest courses we have ran, but it’s something magical that makes us come back. Of course it’s in our backyard. Kauai Divas & Dudes love the Kauai Marathon!” ~ Lisa Ledesma, Kauai Resident & Ironman 

For more information on how to sign up for the Kauai Marathon, visit http://www.thekauaimarathon.com/

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March & April 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine

 

 

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Tikishiki Handbags ~ the perfect travel bag

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Vintage Hawaiian Hibiscus

Your trip is booked, passports are laid out, it’s time to pack and you are undecided on which handbag to bring.

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60’s Hawaiian Vintage

Do I want to pack multiple purses and bags or is there one, versatile bag which would be perfect for the entire trip? It would be great to have a large bag to put under the seat in front of me on the plane, a small bag for rushing through port towns when departing the ship for a day, a bag with a long strap to wear across my chest in crowded, metro locations. If I brought all of these bags, it would require an entire suitcase dedicated to handbags! The most practical handbag for travel is going to be something light, which allows for long days of walking without pulling on your shoulder. The next feature you want to look for is a handbag with a short strap, securing the bag close to your body with your arm and not lingering down low where pick pockets have easy access. Finally, a handbag with a sturdy, thick strap which cannot be easily cut when passing in a crowd. Yes, this does happen in crowded, tourist destinations. There are a lot of factors to consider before taking off on the trip of your dreams or a simple work training. Where does this leave us?

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn” ― Orson Welles

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Let me introduce you to the world of Jennifer Todice’s Tikishiki Handbags~

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Japanese Wrapping Cloths

“Tikishiki handbags are a blend of traditional Japanese design, Hawaii vintage and beautiful inspiring fabrics, with a modern functional edge. Upon returning from holiday in Japan I was motivated by the design of a long established furoshiki bag. This is a Japanese wrapping cloth dating back to the 17th century. Throughout history the furoshiki has been used to protect gifts, carry meals, and act as a handbag. Tikishiki is a blend of Hawaii (my connection to the islands) and the Japanese furoshiki bag. By adding a stylish and functional liner to the fabrics, and a strong leather handle; created is a handbag that not only REPRESENTS the CULTURE and HISTORY of the FAR EAST but a MODERN and FUNCTIONAL HANDBAG with a HAWAII TWIST” ~ Jennifer Todice

There is a Tikishiki handbag for every occasion, season and holiday. Use this handbag to accessorize your outfit for a fun lunch with girlfriends or a night out on the town. The bright colors are striking and the prints are bold. The handbags would be perfect with solid color clothing or subtle patterns. Mix it up!! Throw a bag over your shoulder and grab bright-colored flats to tie in the bag. All of the elegant bags will complement a simple pair of jeans.

Tikishiki Handbags: Travel Benefits

1. Lighter than your normal handbag so you can full it up and not feel weighted down. (Due to its mostly cloth body.)

2. With two detachable functioning parts, it packs FLAT.

3. Reversible, have a bright and bold pattern or more modest solid as your front facing handbag.

4. Sizable, you can adjust the size of your handbag to a smaller evening size or a larger day time carry all.

5. Easy to clean! Just through your fabric portion into the wash or spot clean.

Perfect for packing!!! If you want to bring your Tikishiki handbag in your suitcase, it hardly takes any room with the option of the removal strap.

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Perfect for packing

Don’t bother with packing bulky and heavy handbags because you will end up taking up too much space and possibly going over the allotted weight limit for luggage.

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” ― Coco Chanel

 ~Tikishiki handbags draw it’s roots from the land of the rising sun. A culture like no other, a land like nowhere else I’ve ever been. To know the beauty of Japan is a gift~

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Vintage Hawaiian 1970’s floral print handbag

“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” ― Coco Chanel

Yellow Silk Carousel

Yellow Silk Carousel

There are so many beautiful, fabric designs with the Tikishiki handbags and for this reason, they make the perfect gift! You will look at the handbags and be reminded of someone you know, someone who loves these color patterns. Or do you see yourself?

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Traditional

Yellow Silk Carousel~ Hermes silk printed scarf paired with a poly blend chocolate liner and yellow detail scallop stitching. Medium in size with a brown and gold leather handle.

Tikishiki designs a Vintage Hawaiian 1970’s floral print (pictured above- orange, green yellow & white floral print) handbag with soft cotton liner & black leather handle is looking for a home. This bag is FANTASTIC!!! This bag should really be called “Keri’s Travel Bag” since it is made with a fabric representing  my absolute favorite, vintage colors!!! This is the bag to have! I could see it thrown over the shoulder with a pretty summer orange, flowing white or lime green sundress or sassy shorts. Love, love this bag!

It’s Traditional! It’s Functional! It’s Stylish!

 

1978 parasol print Tori Richards Vintage

1978 parasol print Tori Richards Vintage

“How exciting to see that something you are passionate about and have conviction for regarding design, style, functionality and beauty is received and rewarded! Blessing and many Mahalos to all those who are supporting the dream!” ~ Jennifer Todice

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Leather Handles

Loving the Tori Richards 1978 vintage fabric, parasol print. Perfect to wear with jeans. The great thing about Hawaii, is you can wear these colors year round. The rich, leather strap is very complementary, giving the handbag an expensive, classy look.

“We have been hard at work on beautiful leather handles. Some of the last few that will come from our studio on the back lanai of our home. We are moving forward into manufacturing them for the new year. Having readily available handles gives me more time to focus on the beautiful fabrics for our bags.” ~ Jennifer Todice

“There’s nothing interesting about looking perfect—you lose the point. You want what you’re wearing to say something about you, about who you are.” ― Emma Watson

1970's Vintage Hawaiian Poppy Print

1970’s Vintage Hawaiian Poppy Print

1970’s Vintage Hawaiian Poppy Print
Unique and Beautiful!!! The orange poppy flower print on black bark cloth textured poly fabric, shown with the black leather handle and gold hardware. It is a picture of pure and absolute elegance. I love this bag!! This is a bag that would make a great gift as it would go well with jeans and everyone loves navy! This handbag is a true conversation piece. 
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Beautiful Black

Beautiful Black
Black Linen outer with cotton Hawaiian orange yellow and white floral liner or reverse it! Yellow scallop detail stitch & black leather handle with silver hardware. 
“Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” ― Coco Chanel
Chocolate Brown

Hawaiian Chocolate

Looking for Fall colors? Are you more into browns, reds, deep oranges, iron, olive, rose and evergreen? Check out the Hawaiian Chocolate handbag made of chocolate brown cotton, Hawaiiana red and cream monstera leaf pattern. You choose how to wear it. Beautiful deep brown leather handle with accompanying bronze hardware.
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Yellow Cotton Geometric

Yellow Cotton Geometric 
The photo above gives you a good idea of the actual size and how great a bright colored handbag ties in with simple jeans and a solid top. Beautiful yellow cotton geometric print lined with a slate gray poly for durability and an edge. Black leather handle. Large in size, and the perfect color combos.

“Create your own style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.” ― Anna Wintour

Find an array of Tikishiki handbags and view various prints at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tikishiki/246812912129442

http://www.tikishiki.com

Or email at jenn@tikishiki.com

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine

Best Hotel in Waikiki ~ Moana Surfrider

Moana Surfrider

Moana Surfrider

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Front of Moana Surf

Front of Moana Surf

The Moana Surfrider, also known as the “First Lady of Waikiki” has been part of Waikiki since 1901. The Moana Surfrider is a Westin Resort & Spa. My first experience walking into the Moana Surf was during Christmas time and I could not believe the gingerbread houses decorated inside the lobby. The colonial hotel was decorated with poinsettias on every window. It was a true tropical, Christmas wonderland with guests rocking in chairs out front.

Westin’s well-being, healthy living was going on while we stayed over Spring Break. White tents popped up with various local, healthy food options including 100% fruit bars, smoothies, and yoga classes. Starwood’s six pillars of health promote: Sleep Well, Eat Well, Move Well, Feel Well, Work Well, and Play Well. Moana Surf opened the first open-aired day spa on Waikiki in 2008. The windows open up to views of Waikiki Beach while guests soak in hot tubs from high above.

Moana Surf is ideal for many reasons but most of all – LOCATION!!! We didn’t rent a car and were able to walk to an array of  shops and restaurants located along Kalakaua Avenue, and catch the Waikiki Trolley to Ala Moana Shopping Center. We walked to the Honolulu Zoo one morning and Wailana Coffee House another. It is conveniently located near the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, PF Changs, The Cheesecake Factory, Honolulu Coffee Company, Kapiolani Park (Honolulu Marathon), and Waikiki Aquarium.

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The view

The view

The Rooms~ There are three different wings of the hotel, the Diamond Wing, Banyan Wing and Tower Wing. We stayed in the Banyan Wing which is the original building of the hotel. Experience the historical feel as you make your way down the long hallway with high ceilings. The walls are painted white with extensive woodworking and moldings. The rooms offer Heavenly double beds or a queen bed, flat screen TV’s, Royal Kona Coffee and granite bathrooms. Our room was very beachy with white wood rocking chairs looking out to the ocean view and light, beachy hardwood floors. Rock away to the oceanview each morning while sipping Royal Kona coffee in the morning. The chairs and beach table made it feel as though you were outside rather than in your room.

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Rocking Chairs

IMG_0240The Rocking Chairs~ Our favorite thing about staying at the Moana Surfrider is rocking in the chairs out front. Whether grabbing a coffee and rocking at sunrise, a cocktail at sunset or observing the rather interesting entertainment that comes to life after dark on Waikiki ~ the rocking chairs are the best place to see it all happen!

Honolulu Coffee Company is located at one end of the rocking chairs, so you don’t have to walk far to grab that cup of coffee. One evening we grabbed cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory and a coffee from Honolulu Coffee Company to sit in the chairs and eat our dessert. There are weddings happening constantly throughout at the day at the hotel. Sit in the rocking chair and observe the bride and groom head out to their limo and pose for pictures in front of the hotel.

 

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Pool at sunrise

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

Pool & Waikiki Beach~ If lounging is your thing, than Moana Surf is the perfect place to be.

Umbrellas for rent

Umbrellas for rent

The ocean side of the hotel has a pool, restaurant, bar and of course the infamous Waikiki Beach!!! Pool attendants come around and serve drinks and food while you lay out on the lounge chairs. There are umbrellas for rent on the beach for hotel guests at $60 per day. The one drawback about the pool is that it closes daily at 6:30 p.m. and there isn’t a hot tub. Due to the location on the beach, you can always jump in the ocean for a dip during sunset.

Sunset at Moana Surf

Sunset at Moana Surf

Since we live in Hawaii, the pool wasn’t anything exciting or new so the kids preferred to float on rafts near Waikiki Beach. Purchase a couple of inexpensive blow up rafts or tubes and float in front of the hotel. Hungry? Walk right back to your lounge chair and order lunch!

 

The Beach House

The Beach House

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Superfood Breakfast Wrap

We started our morning off at the Veranda at the Beach House restaurant and experienced a fabulous breakfast.

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Tahitian Vanilla French Toast

The Beach House offers many healthy options, listing “super foods” throughout the menu. The local ingredients offered at the Veranda at the Beach House are supplied by local partners including: Twin Bridge Farms, Waipoli Hydroponic Greens, Hamakua Springs Country Farm, Nalo Farms, and Ho Farms.

We enjoyed watching the hotel guests take hula lessons on the Veranda as we ate our amazing breakfast. Find healthy items such as an egg white omelette,  steel-cut cinnamon scented oatmeal, acai bowl, chicken apple sausage or turkey maple sausage, tropical fruit smoothies and much more!

Sitting outside with the ocean view while under a veranda makes for the perfect breakfast or brunch setting.

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Bin 1901

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Bin 1901 is the perfect place to relax after a long day of shopping or walking in Waikiki. Tucked away in the historic wing of the hotel by the Grand Staircase, is a great place to sip wine, sake, handcrafted beers or a cocktail, order pupus (horderves) or even dessert.

We were sure to stop off at Bin 1901 every evening on the way up to our room. The furniture alone is SO inviting. I ordered a glass of wine and my daughter went through her bags reviewing all of the shopping she had done each day. Bin 1901 is also a piano bar, pictured above.

It is open every evening from 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm with live piano entertainment from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

At one end of the lounge you can view the nightlife on Waikiki and on the other side watch guests dining at The Beach House for dinner. It is a lively experience.

Bin 1901

Bin 1901

IMG_0524After all of the laying around being lazy in the sun and eating food and drinking cocktails, it’s time to work out!!! Moana Surf has a great facility overlooking Kalakaua Avenue on Waikiki. At the Westin Workout Fitness Facility located in the Tower Wing- watch tourists walking and shopping up and down the street while you work out in a nice, air conditioned facility.

We really liked the ice-cold, wet wash cloths stored in a refrigerator within the gym.  A very refreshing treat after a long, hard, hot work out. The gym includes exercise machines, mats, floor to ceiling mirrors, bands and exercise balls.

View of Waikiki from Moana Surf

View of Waikiki from Moana Surf

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine

 

Walk to the Honolulu Zoo

Honolulu Zoo

Honolulu Zoo

Rainbow Bark Eucalyptus

Rainbow Bark Eucalyptus

The Honolulu Zoo is a great place to visit while on Oahu.

Flamingos

Flamingos

We have visited zoos all over the United States and therefore, didn’t have high expectations of the Honolulu Zoo, as we knew it was quite small. Well, we were pleasantly surprised!!! For starters, the Honolulu Zoo is a 42 acre site with views of the ocean and gorgeous mountains as you walk around. How many zoos can claim that? Showing off all the beauty of tropical plants in Hawaii, the Honolulu Zoo offers a collection of horticulture including tropical trees, scrubs and flowers. Most zoos just smell like a zoo! The Honolulu Zoo has so many tropical flowers and constant ocean breezes adding great fragrances to an otherwise, typical smelly place.

Welcome Sign

Welcome Sign

It is a wonderful walk from Waikiki, located next to Kapi’olani Park. If you are driving to the zoo,IMG_0319 there is parking available. I recommend arriving when the zoo opens at 9 a.m. to experience the animals in the cooler part of the day. We brought our backpacks with water and snacks. It took us approximately 2.5 hours to see all of the exhibits, but if you plan to eat there, shop or tour the Keiki (kids) Zoo it would take much longer. It is the perfect place to spent the whole day and eat lunch on the picnic lawn and playground area in the center of the zoo. My favorite thing about the Honolulu Zoo is all of the trees providing shade throughout. There was always a place to stand at each exhibit in a shaded area. I cannot say the same for our experience riding camels at the Phoenix Zoo in 100+ degree weather!

Did you know that the Honolulu Zoo is the only zoo in a 2300 mile radius? Yes, the closest zoo to the Honolulu Zoo is the San Diego Zoo in California which is located 2511 miles away.

Giraffe Sculpture

Giraffe Sculpture

Porcupine

Porcupine

The Honolulu Map and Information Guide makes maneuvering throughout the zoo very simple. There are sculptures throughout the zoo for kids to climb on and for great photo opportunities~ the Giraffe, Maasai Tribesman and Hippo sculptures.

Off to view the Gharial, fish-eating crocodile. Yikes! Super scary, as we leaned over the bridge and saw what was lurking below ~ crocodiles sitting very still at the bottom of the water! They were huge. You can see one barely above the water in the picture below.

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Gharial

Off to the African Savanna to view warthogs, aardvarks, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, reptiles, baboons, lions, black rhinos, chimpanzees, African wild dogs and of course, meerkats!

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Baboon

Baboon

Giraffe

The African Savanna is 1/3 of the zoo grounds where you can view animals from the world’s largest grasslands. Upon entering the Savanna, you will notice the characteristics of African landscape such as marshes, wooded forests, rivers and rocks. Hard to believe this is all in Hawaii! It was so exciting to see such large animals moving about so close to where we were standing. The African Savanna is set up with large, glass areas for optimal viewing rather than trying to observe through a fence.

The giraffes and zebras roamed around together in the same area. It is very open with bench seating and great for taking pictures.

Sumatran Tiger

Sumatran Tiger

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Playground

IMG_0383Visit the Keiki Zoo within the Honolulu Zoo~ The Keiki Zoo is a special place for the little ones to run wild and learn at the same time. It is very colorful and near a large playground. This is an area for the kids to explore and learn more about animals.

Across from the Keiki Zoo is a large playground with slides and climbing structures for kids to get out their energy. It is also a great place to eat lunch at one of the picnic tables in the shade.

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Primates of the World

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Orangutan

Primates of the World~ What primates can be found in tropical regions of the world?? The chimpanzees are pictured above. They definitely perform for their audience. They were swinging from rope to rope making very loud noises. It was quite a show. There are five major groups: Lemurs which are from Madagascar, Langurs – old world monkeys from Asia, Spider Monkeys from South America, Gibbons and Siamangs referred to as the “lesser apes”, Orangutans/Chimpanzees from Asia and Africa.

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Elephant

Tropical Forest Animals~ Don’t miss the Sumatran Tigers!!!! They were asleep, or lounging in the sun, when we were there. However, they would occasionally lift their head and look around. I was able to snap a picture right as the tiger lifted its head. They were SO close! I can’t get over how close visitors can get to the animals. I just love that! Our favorite animal of the day was probably the elephant. She was definitely showing off, throwing clumps of dirt on her head and coming closer and closer to the fence.

In 2011, The Honolulu Zoo opened its new Asian tropical elephant exhibit which is 68-thousand square feet. The 12 million dollar exhibit has two separate exhibits and separate sleeping quarters for both Mari and Vaigai. The new exhibit has caves, real plants (opposed to previous painted plants), and two pools to cool off in. Be sure to visit Mari and Vaigai!!! The first time we went through the exhibit they were not out, so we circled back around before we left the zoo and one of them was out and about playing with the sand.

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There is so much more to see at the Honolulu Zoo, including the Kipuka Nene Sanctuary, Australasian Birds, Galapagos Tortoise, Bird Egg Exhibit, Lions and more.

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine

Mariposa at Neiman Marcus

Mariposa

Mariposa

Popover with lilikoi butter

Popover with lilikoi butter

When visiting Oahu, don’t miss the best place for a wonderful afternoon lunch~

Sundae time

Sundae time

at Neiman Marcus Honolulu Mariposa. Every time we come visit Oahu for our shopping fix, we dine at the Mariposa. The Mariposa is the winner of the prestigious Hale ‘Aina Award for seven consecutive years!!! They are known for their homemade, hot, fresh popovers and chicken consommé, which is complementary with each entrée. Make a reservation in advance on OpenTable.com and put in a request to dine on the open-air lanai, overlooking the ocean.

I love the Mariposa because it is fancy but not too fancy for the fam. Since this blog is all about traveling with families, we must provide tips on great places for kids to eat. Our kids love to dine there because they have a kids menu “little shoppers” which includes an impressive selection of menu items, a side salad, and ending the experience with an ice cream sundae.

Plantation Iced Tea

Plantation Iced Tea

We always start off with the Plantation Iced Tea, served as a layered rainbow with iced tea, guava juice, pineapple juice and a fresh slice of pineapple. It is so refreshing!! Mix it up with a straw or just sip it in layers, either way it is sure to quench your thirst!! Sitting on the open-air lanai with ocean view calls for a Plantation Tea with a slice of pineapple year round. The waiter comes around a refills your tea throughout your dining experience.

My two favorite dishes at the Mariposa are the Chilled Crab Salad and the Lobster Club. Yum!

Chilled Crab Salad

Chilled Crab Salad

If you prefer a lighter fare, than a salad may be the best choice. There are 6 salads offered on the lunch menu. The Chilled Crab Salad has a light, lemony vinaigrette dressing, which Mariposa calls the “green goddess dressing”. In the picture you will notice the bright, purple radish, clumps of crab meat, and a sliced avocado.

Bistro Salad

Bistro Salad

Another fabulous salad is the Bistro Salad made with spinach, apples, dried fruits, blue cheese, spiced pecans, and chicken. Presentation is clearly everything at this restaurant. Not just with the food but the drinks as well. They take absolute pride in displaying the food, with the use of vibrant colors, fragrances, and exotic flavors.

The Main Selections tend to be very rich.

Kabocha Pumpkin Ravioli

Kabocha Pumpkin Ravioli

For example, the Kabocha Pumpkin Ravioli & Shrimp made with golden raisins, pine nuts served in a balsamic brown butter. There are 7 Main Selections on the menu to choose from at lunch consisting of Ahi, Salmon, Seafood Curry, Scallops, Natural Chicken Breast, and Garlic Roast Pork Chop. There are also 5 sandwiches on the lunch menu.

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Orecchiette Pasta with Alfredo

For the Little Shoppers~ choose from 4, fun, kid-friendly choices. I was pleased that most of the selections are quite healthy, aside from the cheese pizza, and they are all served with a side salad. It is nice to have a place to eat with the kids where the options are not fried. You will not see chicken tenders, fries, quesadillas or greasy burgers on the menu. The kids menu choices are BBQ Natural Chicken, Grilled Garlic Fish Skewers, Pizza or Orecchiette Pasta- choose marinara or alfredo sauce.

The entrées average in price from $16-25. Most of the dishes are fairly large portions which IMG_0112include popovers and chicken consommé. I recommend eating a small bite for breakfast so you have a big appetite for lunch. We were so full after lunch, that we did not eat dinner that night. The waiter comes around asking if you’d like more popovers. Yum! You will be pleased with the Neiman Marcus chocolates presented in silver envelopes for the perfect ending to a splendid lunch. Dining at the Mariposa is an experience and a great place to make memories. Most of all, it is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Ala Moana Shopping Center. Sit down and enjoy a very quite, relaxing, open air lunch with friends tucked away inside Neiman Marcus.

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Mariposa

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine

10 Reasons to Staycation

Kalapaki Beach

Kalapaki Beach, Kauai

As the economy was negatively impacted in 2007~ the term Staycation emerged

Staycation is generally defined as a vacation within driving distance. Some say a Staycation means that you return home each night. No, that’s a day trip. A staycation is a vacation within driving distance where you do NOT stay at home. In my opinion, if you stay home than you will also be cooking, cleaning, laundry, paying bills and other household chores. Incorporate friends or relatives visiting from out-of-town into your staycation, but don’t get stuck playing tour guide. View the Top 10 Reasons to Staycation below.

Waimea Plantation Cottages

Waimea Plantation Cottages

10. Rest, Relax and Rejuvenate: Families generally go on a vacation to get away from it all, to sightsee, and spend time together. Staycation is the perfect way to rest, relax and rejuvenating since you are eliminating the congested airports, towing luggage all over the place and riding shuttles to the rental car center. Getting away from the house, means getting away from all of the chores and schedule which we deal with on a daily basis. It is important to relax during your staycation and the best way to do that is to leave the schedule behind. Just because you are not far from home, doesn’t mean you aren’t able to rest, relax and rejuvenate. Do not return home during your staycation, do not go into work and do not stick to your usual routine. Read a book, take walks, BBQ if staying at a time share facility, and don’t live in the car. Bring board games, kids games (non-electronic), cards, chess or legos. Games are a great way for families to reconnect!! Games also bring about great conversation and concentration.

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9. Book Last Minute: One of the perks of going on a staycation, is that you don’t have to make reservations way in advance. Staycations are destinations in which you can drive to in one day and therefore, can be the last minute. Maybe you feel like dropping everything spur of the moment to just get away for a weekend or notice that the kids will be out of school for a short break and decide to drive someplace. Often times, the best deals are the last minute. It is difficult to vacation spur of the moment when you have to worry about airfare. For example, we live on an island and must book airfare well in advance to obtain the best rates. We also live in a top vacation destination year-round, resulting in sold out flights. Watch for hotel and local attraction deals on-line, in the local paper or on TV. Hotels want high occupancy and if they realize that bookings are down, they may lower rates. Typically, there are not great deals around a holiday weekend. If you wish to staycation over a holiday, retreat to a place where you can escape the crowds.

Royal Hawaiian

Royal Hawaiian

8. Experience Resorts: Is there a resort that you’ve always dreamed of staying at? Staycations are a fantastic way to experience resorts. If your dream resort is expensive and that’s why you’ve never stayed there, then start your research! Call and ask questions. Ask when their rates are the lowest. For example, in Las Vegas, resorts are typically 50-100% more expensive on a Friday/Saturday then Sun-Thursday. Ask what their off-season rate is and when it is off-season for that resort. Don’t assume when their off-season is. Some resorts host large events annually such as tennis tournaments and golf torments which makes their season different from that of another hotel. Places like Manhattan, San Francisco and the entire state of Hawaii may be pricey year-round. If that is the case, start researching vacation rentals by owner. There are numerous sites advertising vacation rentals which also display pictures and guest reviews. Browse through vacation magazines, there is a lot of great information!!! Check out the website of the hotel you are interested in visiting and sign up to receive their newsletter.

Kauai Bike Path

Kauai Bike Path

7. “Schedule-free” Family Time: “Schedule-free” family time is the challenge with staycations. We all live on this crazy schedule day in and day out. Everyone needs and break from it now and again. The kids need a break, the parents need and break. Downtime and reconnecting should be the priority for families. But here’s what happens – you get that email from work, remember that something is due and decide to run into work just real quick because it is close. One of the kids has a mandatory practice which you really shouldn’t miss because the game or recital is coming up next weekend. Errands~ because you are passing by a part of town where you have an errand to run, you decide to just stop in for a brief moment. I call these STAYCATION KILLERS! When you do just one of these things, it puts the family right back into a schedule. Something as simple as watching your favorite Tuesday night show as a family while on staycation is still a schedule/routine. Don’t do it! If you have to run into work, which we have had to do, don’t mention it to the kids. Let them hang by the pool or participate in an activity while the other parent runs into work. Schedule-free means that you take off on a family bike ride without scheduling it. Talk about what activities everyone wants to do and then pick one and go. When the activity needs to be scheduled in advance, such as a whale-watching excursion, try to ensure that nothing else that day is preplanned. For example, it would be over scheduling the day to plan a whale-watch and then have a dinner reservation at a specific time. Be spontaneous. The goal is to take a break from the intense schedules in which we operate from on a daily basis. If the weather permits, get outside and explore as much as possible. Being outside is a stress relief for many people. We all spend so much time in doors at work and in the classroom, why not get outside? Taking a walk each night after dinner allows for great conversation and exercise!

St. Regis Princeville Resort

St. Regis Princeville Resort

6. Indulge in Resort Amenities: Resorts offers a ton of activities and amenities for free! Timeshare is notorious for having things to do each day for the entire family. Activities commonly include, hula hopping contests, tissue paper flower making, sunrise yoga classes, scuba lessons in the pool, tour of the grounds or gardens, tattoo (fake) art, live music, and seasonal activities such as snow shoeing, s’mores or making gingerbread houses. Timeshare resorts have a daily calendar. Hotels may or may not offer free activities. Some hotels have water footballs, volleyball, basketballs and rafts for rent at the pool desk. These activities are fun for the whole family! Due to liability, many resorts have removed water slides from the pool area and have replaced them with water volleyball nets or basketball hoops. Most resorts include amenities such as day spas, fitness centers, hot tubs, and kids clubs. Watch out for the kids clubs! They are quite convenient and include fun activities but they can be very expensive. Ask if they have discounts for local residents, as they do in Hawaii. Many resorts have redbox available for video rental. These are great because movies are usually half the price that they would be if you ordered on the television.

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Makana Terrace, St. Regis Princeville

5. Wine & Dine: Timeshare is a great way to staycation because you can cook some meals there and they usually have BBQ facilities. Even if your goal is “no cooking” at least the kids can eat a bowl of cereal in the morning. Going out to eat is what vacation is all about. Take the family out to a nice restaurant or a place that you wouldn’t normally go while on staycation. Normally, we wouldn’t let the kids order a real expensive entrée when going out to eat. Often times we require that they split a meal or order off of the kids menu. While on stacycation, since you are saving money on the rental car and airfare, it can be fun to let them order anything they want, within reason of course. It doesn’t have to be about money. For example, if your kids love ice cream but it’s not something you would normally let them eat- surprise them and go out for ice cream! Our kids associate a Roy Rogers or Shirley Temple with being on vacation, as they are not allowed to have soda at home. Stacycation is all about enjoying each other, having fun, getting along and making memories. We do this with their bed times. If their bed time is 8:30 p.m. at home on school nights, than we may let them stay up until 10 p.m. while staycationing. Watch for restaurant specials at the hotel. Resorts may offer an early bird dinner time, breakfast buffet for guests only, or wine tasting nights. It is really nice if you don’t have to drive to go out to eat. If you do drive, try dining at a new place for your family. When on a vacation, almost all experiences are new, so why not make staycation experiences new as well.

Kauai Backcountry Adventures

Kauai Backcountry Adventures

4. Discover Local Area Attractions: Some of the things our kids have experienced on staycation are: horseback riding, whale-watching boat tours, tubing down a canal, and touring botanical gardens. It doesn’t matter where you live, there is something that attracts people. Get to know your area. People say to me all the time, “Well I would staycation too if I lived in Hawaii”. The drawbacks of staycationing on an island is that there isn’t anywhere to drive to, the hotels are always packed with tourists and great deals are rarely available. The benefits of staycation when you are not on an island, means you can choose from an array of places to drive to which sometimes includes different states. Mix up the attractions. Not all attractions have to be fun, they can be adventurous, out of your comfort zone and even interesting. Interesting activities are great because they kids can write a report about it and share with their class when they return. For example, on Kauai an interesting activity may include touring the guava plantation, coffee farms, heading to the lighthouse to learn about the bird refuge or visiting bee keepers. If you don’t know what is in your backyard, research local attractions. What is your state known for? What do people do when they visit? Have you been to the National Parks? This is exactly what we do prior to entering a foreign country but we don’t take the time to research where we live. My preference is to lean towards the educational attractions rather than the water parks and theme parks. However, our kids enjoy it all so we mix it up with maybe one theme event and the rest more educational. Another thing to do, is research what events are taking place during the time you plan to visit. Is there a concert, opera or theater performance that you’ve always wanted to see? Hotel concierge can be a great resource and you can speak with them prior to arrival by calling or emailing the hotel. Keep in mind, concierge may be working on commission of the total activity sales. Therefore, they may push more expensive activities on the guests. The best thing to do is inquire in advance and ask for information via email or brochures to be mailed. Reviewing available activities on the car ride to your staycation can be a fun way to get the family excited.

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3. Take Advantage of Rates for Local Residents: Certain locations do offer resident only discounts. These discounts may be in the way of hotel stays, entrance to the a theme park, dining and more. I’ve found that the locations that offer these discounts tend to be high touristy areas. The vendors want the local business so they offer discounts. In Hawaii, it is referred to as Kama’aina and it may apply to certain hotels/resorts, restaurants (rarely), day spas, activities, golf, water park, and other services. It does not apply to airfare, car sales, grocery stores, schooling, gym memberships, concert tickets, movies, shopping or gas. I do know that theme parks such as Disneyland, The Magic Kingdom and SeaWorld offer discounted season passes for residents. Hotels/Resorts commonly advertise specials where kids eat half off with each paying adult or sometimes even for free. Inquire with the concierge about discounts and specials. Many specials have absolutely nothing to do with where you live, but everything to do with the season or time of year. Local rates are usually advertised locally. Read your weekly magazines, on line coupons and daily papers to discover the great deals in your area!

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2. Less Time in Airports, More Time to Stayca:On average travelers arrive at the airport at least 2 hours in advance for a single flight. That doesn’t include connection times. Add another hour for each connection and 40 minutes to collect luggage, now we are at almost 4 hours to travel by airline to a destination with one connection- assuming that the flights are all on time! Eliminating airline travel from your vacation allows more time to spend doing the things you want to do, such as check in a hotel and head out to the pool or go on a hike. There are also benefits of traveling in your personal vehicle. One benefit is being familiar with the space you have. There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination, renting a car and trying to fit 4 suitcases plus the kids and realizing you don’t have enough room. We recently rented a vehicle, chose a full size in advance for space and when we got in, I couldn’t see out of the windows! The vehicle had low, bucket seats and with winter weather to boot, visibility became an issue. Pack your vehicle a head of time, move things around to maximize space, plan as a family what each person would like to bring. Since you’re not dealing with the airlines, bring the extra things that the kids will want and avoid driving back home. Avoid maps!!! What a luxury to not have to GPS or pull out maps. If visiting an unfamiliar destination on your staycation, review the directions in advance from home. Print them out or save them to your phone.

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1. Save Money!!!! $$$$ Eliminate the cost of a rental car and airfare times each person in your family. If money is tight, it doesn’t mean that you have to skip a vacation altogether. The truth is that kids love to stay in a hotel no matter where it is. Adults love to stay in hotels as well to relax and avoid cooking and cleaning. Our family saves a minimum of 3-4K by eliminating airfare for 4 people to the Mainland and even more when traveling International. The savings in airfare alone, could pay for several staycations throughout the year. Be creative and have fun!!

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine