Monday, March 9, 2015


Hawaii in February? Let's do it! We have made it a little Tradition of ours to visit Disneyland for our Daughter's Birthday - - this year? Let's mix it up just a bit. Dressed in Hawaii's finest, Duffy was securely packed for a surprise snuggle when we land! (our daughter had no clue which Hotel we booked!!)
SURPRISE!! She was sooo excited!, too!! Not only are we in Hawaii (moms' fav) - we had been waiting since the opening of the Resort for our 1st trip to Aulani! ...but, it wasn't until they were offering some nice Discounts that we were actually willing to afford it. We've been on Disney trips to Alaska, the Bahamas, Orlando & of course, SoCal. We couldn't miss this!
The Lobby at Aulani is stunning - in all directions! Behind the Front Desk is a photo-collage taken by Island students - displayed in all the colors of the Rainbow. AMAZING!
Upon arrival, you are instantly tossed into a Resort full of architectural beauty & Hawaiian art like none other. Doug Tolentino captures things both boldly & traditionally - we were hooked immediately! (I've tried Emailing him a few different ways re: possible purchases - maybe this Blog will find him?!) Our daughter was in awe when she spotted my name on the wall...and, when I pointed out the lush Maile Lei on the outrigger! ...even funner? We met TWO people this vacation that also had HER name! "-)
This Island Map on the way to our Elevators was SO fun!
Well, okay. 
At these prices...for a regular 'ol Hotel room? 
We'll give it a try...
You know? Not really so much a fan of the view, either.
Gotta LOVE the Disney accents, tho!
Duffy's all settled in & we're off to explore the Resort!
One of the funnest things to do here for the little ones + the young at heart?
Menehune hunting!
Our daughter loved running around the property with my cell phone - spotting them hidden in all directions!
Our 1st night here & I had no idea this would be our best Sunset - or I would've made sure to bring the real camera. It was still stunning, nonetheless, as we sat with our toes in the sand watching the little one 'try her best' not to get soaked in the rippling waves...hee hee.
Bright-eyed & bushy-tailed (I'm kidding - we got zero sleep - our little bed creaked + moaned every time we tried to roll over), we headed out for a day of exploring - time away from the Pools so the little one can finish up her ear-infection. Yup! Perfect timing! But, it wouldn't be a Larsen Family vacay without one of us, if not all, having something, right?! "-)
Don't miss this perfect spot for photos - and, keep an eye out for the real Stitch to come prancing along!
Since Nalani decided she wanted to check out Aunty's Beach House for a little while, Mommy + Daddy decided to head North from Aulani along the Beach. Don't miss it! We stumbled along these perfect little bays for snorkeling...but, we're fully clothed + lugging gear - more on this perfect little spot later! "-)
I just LOVE the textures of nature. Ahhhmaazing!
Okay - here we are on day 3. Mom hasn't gotten any sleep in the room we had booked.
Time for an upgrade - a 3 hr 'wait in the Lobby with a fevered kid' upgrade...take a few selfies & just chill!
Oooh - now, you're talkin'. Let the Vacation BEGIN!! 
This is so much more what we're used to!
Note : If you like comfort, amenities & space? Book the 1-bedroom - it's a must!
Oh - hello, Ocean! A real view!!
The Lobby sells these fun 'Hidden Mickey' quilt/throws, but I'll settle for a photo.
You never know when/where he might turn up!! (our lamp)
I'm pretty much in my glory - - snap snap snap.
...more from Douglas Tolentino. I have GOT to get my hands on this plumeria one!
Today we decided to head up to a place we'd never been - Manoa Valley. I was awe-struck. Instantly. This is where parts of Jurassic Park were filmed - and, it was clear to see why. It was positively raw & prehistoric & gorgeous! But, what truly brought me to this destination was the Cockatoos. Years ago, a bird sanctuary was going out of business & before they could find homes for their Cockatoos, a storm hit - a tree fell & they all escaped into the wild. This is now their natural home. A perfect, open, free home. I had never heard of this place before & was determined to find one - my heart belongs to these birds!
The trail was actually quite easy & contrary to warnings from the Hotel staff - mud free! Yay!
My little fellow-documenter! "-)
What!? The Menehune are out here, too!?!? (Daaaad!!!)
Well, lookey here - on our way back to the car...after a birdless adventure - hanging out with the Roosters...Mom's jungle journey is now complete! Let's grab a Shave-Ice & head back across the Island to our home-base! Perfect day!
Today? Today we SNORKEL! 
This was actually the only chance we had - the weather was stormy on only 1 or 2 days of the Trip, but, the wind was out of control most of the time. So, you remember those snorkel lagoons I told you about earlier? - - Go ahead & park just south of the Paradise Cove Luau parking & you'll find the Public access (all beaches in Hawaii are public). Grab a spot for the little ones in the shade & jump right in! Look down & voila'!
Honu all over the place!!
Unfortunately - they come RIGHT up to you - they're obviously used to being fed. 
Great for photos & cuddle enthusiasts - not so great for Wildlife...
Be free, beautiful free...okay...these guys have always had my heart, too.
Hey! Daddy found himself a treat! Need your own little treasure of perfection? Get ahold of Niels - he knows THE guy!
While Dad's at his Ukulele class offered here at the Resort (sign up early - it's quite popular) - I'm heading out for my must-have Photo Safari. Let's play!
Gee - can't see you there...! hee hee
Looking to get Married somewhere amazing? Hit me up! 
Ko'olina has 2 Wedding Chapels right on the water. 
Seriously! Call me - I'm ready! 
This one, Ko'olina Chapel Place of Joy, is nestled right next to Aulani!
Ahhh...I can smell 'em from here...
Next, I headed over to Marriott's Ko'olina Beach Club - loved it! The grounds were lush, peaceful...and? They had a STARBUCKS!! lol
...there's those shapes & textures again Mom's so fond of!
I am having too much fun, but the sun is just about down...time to get back to Aulani!
Ahhh - North Shore. No trip to Oahu is complete without a cruise around the Island. Waimea, Pipe, Sunset. We love it here. After catching some Lunch in Haleiwa, we stopped at Pipeline for the little one to get her hands dirty & watch the Winter waves do their started pouring on us, so we weren't able to stay nearly as long as we would've liked...curse of the Photographer who lugs their gear everywhere, I guess...? "-)
Our next stop was the Polynesian Cultural Center - where you can Island hop + explore all kinds of amazing Cultures in one day! We didn't give ourselves a whole day, unfortunately - but, we had a blast! Daddy & I hadn't been here since our Honeymoon all the way back in 1997, so we knew it was a wonderful experience to share now - as a Family!
A lazy stroll along the Resort walk-ways before bed...
"MOM! Look!!! Get a picture of the Mermaid! It's a real Mermaid!"
...oh...I could just sit here all day...
Watching the Sunset across the Lagoon... angel...always dancing...
THANK YOU to the Disney Paparazzi on the beach - we finally got a photo ALL together - just one, but I'll take it! ...even if Mom was in her robe & about to dive into the lagoon for a sunset swim our final night! lol
What a perfect morning! 
The winds were totally at bay for our final day - works for this scaredy-cat flyer!
We all got a kick outta the signs at HNL. Must have some awfully fun Construction Workers around here!??
Alooooha, beautiful Hawaii!! Soooo looking forward to our next visit...or maybe some house-hunting with Dad next time? (wink wink)...and, for those of you that enjoy heading out on our Adventures with us? Feel free to check out Australia, the Caribbean or Argentina! We're always up to something beautiful & amazing! xo
© Larsen's Photography