By Diane Ako
Summer's come and gone, and we did not take any family trips. We decided to take a mini vacation in Waikiki one weekend.
I really enjoy staycations. I know it doesn't sound that interesting to vacation where you live, but it really can be.
For one, it's nice to be at a place where you're forced to be together and not tempted to do chores or other tasks. When I spend time at home on a weekend, I try to clean up, cook, pay bills, and do all the domestic things I ignore over the week.
Olivia will go outside and play with the neighbor kids, and Claus will go do some exercise.
But on a vacation, we all have to do the same thing. The forced togetherness is nice. Well, at least for now. I hear it's a whole different story when they're teens.
The adults also felt we got to rest our brains. I love that the hardest decision was were to eat at night.
At night, we walked the streets of Waikiki, taking in a different flavor of the town. We finally got to try Japengo in Hyatt Regency (thumbs up!) on the first night. On the next, we walked to King's Village for dinner and to stroll around the shops on one night. Did you know there's a farmer's market on Saturday nights? I haven't walked around King's Village since I was a kid.
By day, we swam in the ocean, towing Olivia out on a boogie board while we got in a little exercise and fish-viewing. I was lucky enough to swim over a huge turtle. (Which is always panic-making for the first second, particularly when there's been all these reports of shark attacks in Hawaii.)
I love when I can see the fish. The ocean floor looks pretty bad just offshore of Waikiki, but there are still a few spots here and there around half-dead coral heads where a dozen or so fish will gather for safety.
Closer to shore, there is a school of akule that I like to find and swim among. They're all silvery and skittish and beautiful, and it reminds me of the cartoon Finding Nemo.
I consider it a great day if I can see sea life in its natural habitat. We would spend an hour in the water, and by the end of this quick vacation, Olivia's ocean confidence had increased to where she enjoyed swimming on her own (instead of on the board or clinging to us.)
I like that she also got to see the way fish really live - not artificially populated in an aquarium. Perhaps it might inspire the budding environmentalist in her.
To think: people save up their entire lives to have their dream vacation in Hawaii, and we live right here. How lucky is that?!