"I Just Wanna Feel Some Sunshine" - Aulani May 2024 - Updated 6/18 Shark Cage Adventure & KoHana Rum

Enjoying your report! I don’t think I have ever seen a tempura shrimp roll quite like that before! 🤣

Thank you! I don't think I have ever had a tempura shrimp roll like that before either.

I'm not sure if I'll put this one on the list. If Jill wants to, then great. I'm not a huge nut fan, although I have been known tobeat a chocolate covered Macadamia Nut before. :rolleyes1

Yeah - it's not a place I would go out of my way to visit. It was right up the road from the ranch so the entire pit stop took about 15 minutes? Chocolate makes a lot of things taste better.

I'm glad you got out of retirement for Run Disney races. I could never do that.

The two themes that could get me out of retirement are Star Wars or Stitch. I'm glad we did it but it's gotten my husband back on the running bug. He wants me to try to get signed up for Wine & Dine this year but not sure we're gonna luck out into that as he decided after the sign ups occurred.

That is a great reason to fly to the Big Island.
It was! I'm glad I didn't listen to everyone on the facebook groups that think its too crazy to do it for a day. Is it a long day? Sure! But it worked well with our plans and it was easier than moving island to island with our luggage.

You know, i think i did a very similar hike to that in 1980 something on my first trip to the big island. Since then I've only done the driving trip, which seems to have changed a whole lot since I did it later in the 80s. Especially since the island is a little bit longer on the South end since I was there!

Yeah - I think a fair amount has changed as you used to be able to loop around the Sea Arch but that road is now closed. They had to rebuild some of the roads over the years as the lava does it thing. It's so interesting that its always going to evolve.

Yeah, I don't blame you. When I did that hike, I think I was just barely in my 20's and still in pretty good shape and I know it kicked my butt. Now that I'm approaching 60 I know better about hikes! :laughing:

It was definitely not an easy one but I'm glad we did it.

That has got to be the worst shrimp tempura roll I've ever seen. It's not even a roll! (And Fran and I ordered that often since she couldn't eat raw fish due to her auto immune disorder.)

It really was. At least it starved off hanger but uh. There's a reason we didn't order more food and I think that photo shows it.

I laughed at this and then I cried a little bit. I would love to have had an adventure where we ended up getting cranky with each other, just to have another adventure again. 😢

🫂 There's always the memories that make it feel real.

Don't you love it when you're the one who is in the right position at the right time?
Yes! Especially with as long as a day we had and how much I just wanted to eat real food.

Sounds like it! I never want all the food that they try to pawn off on you. This sounds just like what I would like to eat as well!
It was so good. I wish I could have some of that now!

As I am going to sleep after midnight with an alarm set for 6:30AM.....Ugh. 🙄
That was me this past week! It was rough.

Oh I can eat my weight in Macadamia nuts!

I didn't realize it was so easy to hop over to another island. Definitely taking notes for the all Hawaii trip. I think I'll skip the hiking though. :)

Jill in CO

I enjoy macadamia nuts in small amounts. This was definately the place to get them all!

It was rather easy to hop over especially if you aren't carrying much luggage around. The flights were super short.
 
Relaxing Resort Day

We woke up around 6AM naturally and slowly started our day. My husband went for a run and I watched Lakefront Bargain Hunt on the TV. Vacations are good for watching nonsense tv.

A little after 8AM, we headed down to the Beach to enjoy the sunshine while we had it. We spent some time in the water and some just relaxing listening to the waves.


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Around 10AM – it started raining lightly and I looked at the weather app and saw what was off shore so we called it and headed back to the room to clean up. For lunch, we were planned on eating onsite at Off the Hook. There was some chaos when we got there shortly after opening as the rain had caused them to have to close off all their outdoor dining and rearrange some tables but eventually we were sat inside and were able to order. Our cocktails arrived quickly and felt like vacation. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to have in Hawaii?

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Blue Hawaiian & Pina Colada

We got an order of Maui Onion Rings to share and were pleased with the quantity.

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Maui Onion Rings

Shocking no one that was a regular in my dining reports, my husband got a Chicken Caesar Salad. The portion was huge! He was content with his choice.

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Chicken Caesar Salad

I went the Garlic Shrimp Flatbread and loved it. The arugula and shrimp paired nicely together with the herb cheese on the flatbread.
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Garlic Shrimp Flatbread - herb Cheese, Arugula, Three Cheese Blend, Lemon, Parsley

On our way out, we saw the Aulani cat trying to befriend another table for some food.

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My husband and I went separate ways after lunch as I was checking in for my 80-minute deep-tissue signature lomilomi massage about an hour early so I could enjoy Kula Wai – Hydrotherapy Garden.

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The garden includes a reflexology path, a cold-water plunge pool, multiple heated whirlpools and outdoor showers.

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About 20 minutes before my service, I went back inside the woman’s locker room and got properly (un)dressed for my massage and enjoyed the relaxation room as I wanted for my service to begin.


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The next 80 minutes were absolute bliss. I do not know how Michael, my technician, did it but he’s the first therapist that I think made all my IT band issues go away. It was feeling prickly along my thigh to my glute after all the hiking the day before. He made that go away and it still hasn’t returned.

Back at the room, I took a nap until it was time for us to head to dinner.​
 
Kuni Restaurant & Catering

I had found tonight’s dinner location thanks to Open Table as they had recently started accepting reservations that way. Kuni Restaurant and Catering is located in Waipahu so not too far of a drive down the H1. This was an affordable lowkey Japanese restaurant in a strip mall.

We started off with the normal sides of Miso Soup and Tossed Green Salad but they also provide Tsukemono and Moyashi as well.

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For my main, I went with the Chicken Katsu while my husband had the Chicken Teri. We stole some pieces off each other’s plates as well. The Chicken Teri was the better of the two.


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This wasn’t the fanciest of meals but it was really good. The restaurant was filled with mostly locals and then us as the outsiders which also helped me know we made a good choice. It wasn't that expensive either.

We headed back to the hotel afterwards for the night.​
 
I spent the last week in Gray Summit, Missouri for the 2024 Saluki National Specialty. Driving 12 hours each way alone is a struggle.

Glad you had a successful show, but that it a lot of driving alone!

I am thrilled at that outcome as there were over 80 male dogs there! He's still young but he's gonna do great things.

Congratulations! He is very beautiful!
 
We woke up around 6AM naturally and slowly started our day. My husband went for a run and I watched Lakefront Bargain Hunt on the TV. Vacations are good for watching nonsense tv.

I tend to wake up naturally at 6AM now. I'm not sure if I'm happy about that or not. I'd rather watch nonsense TV than run! :laughing:

For lunch, we were planned on eating onsite at Off the Hook.

I'm not sure if I've heard of that restaurant. I need to start researching Aulani!

Our cocktails arrived quickly and felt like vacation. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to have in Hawaii?

Absolutely!

Shocking no one that was a regular in my dining reports, my husband got a Chicken Caesar Salad.

Nope, not one bit shocking.....

I went the Garlic Shrimp Flatbread and loved it.

That sounds like an odd and interesting combination. I'm glad it was good!

On our way out, we saw the Aulani cat trying to befriend another table for some food.

There's a cat at Aulani????? Oh boy!

My husband and I went separate ways after lunch as I was checking in for my 80-minute deep-tissue signature lomilomi massage about an hour early so I could enjoy Kula Wai – Hydrotherapy Garden.

I don't know what he did, but you made the better choice for sure.

The next 80 minutes were absolute bliss.

Perfect. :cloud9:

Back at the room, I took a nap until it was time for us to head to dinner.

So far this day is sounding absolutly great!

This was an affordable lowkey Japanese restaurant in a strip mall.

We started off with the normal sides of Miso Soup and Tossed Green Salad but they also provide Tsukemono and Moyashi as well.

Sounds great!

For my main, I went with the Chicken Katsu while my husband had the Chicken Teri. We stole some pieces off each other’s plates as well. The Chicken Teri was the better of the two.

I would have picked the chicken katsu of those two options as well.

This wasn’t the fanciest of meals but it was really good. The restaurant was filled with mostly locals and then us as the outsiders which also helped me know we made a good choice. It wasn't that expensive either.

That's always a good sign!
 
Ohhhh making note of this place, thank you!

No problem! It's always nice to have some non-tourist locations to enjoy!

Glad you had a successful show, but that it a lot of driving alone!

Congratulations! He is very beautiful!

It was a lot of driving alone. Luckily I have a lot of podcasts and audiobooks to listen to while on the road that long. Having large dogs means we can't really fly with them so I have to get used to the hours on the road if I want to do events with them.

I tend to wake up naturally at 6AM now. I'm not sure if I'm happy about that or not. I'd rather watch nonsense TV than run! :laughing:
Yeah - I'm usually up between 5 and 6am naturally as well. Normally at home, I'm busy with the dogs or chores so it was nice to just be able to do nonsense.

I'm not sure if I've heard of that restaurant. I need to start researching Aulani!
It's at the pool and gives you a sit down option for lunch instead of just quick service which is nice. There were a ton more food options than when I went in in 2016.

Nope, not one bit shocking.....
:rotfl:

That sounds like an odd and interesting combination. I'm glad it was good!
It was a little odd but it worked.

There's a cat at Aulani????? Oh boy!
There is! It hangs out around the restaurants probably for easy attention and food.

I don't know what he did, but you made the better choice for sure.
I think he took a nap or played video games. Who knows? I was in bliss during that time.
 
Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum

I didn’t set an alarm for Wednesday either. While we were heading towards Pearl Harbor – we didn’t have anytime with a defined time like those that visit the USS Arizona have. We woke up around 6AM and while I watched more mindless tv while waking up, my husband went for a run. Once he was back and clean, we drove over to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Complex.

I had pre-purchased the Aviation Museum tickets through Tickets@Work but I needed to buy our entry to the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum & USS Bowfin. I’m glad I waited to do it in person as I found out – my NASA badge got me the military discount. I had to pay normal adult prices for my husband.

They had changed the entry process from the last time we were here for the better. We were through the detectors quickly.

Inside the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum – we started at the museum side instead of the USS Bowfin. This was probably wise but I’ll get to that. The museum has 3 distinct areas – WWII, The Cold War and The Silent Service Today.

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We ended up starting looking around The Silent Service Today section where it detailed how submarines are used today.


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The Cold War section went over declassified missions that showed how submarines were used against the Russians. There was also exhibits on the ballistic missiles and how they work from a submarine.

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The WWII Section had an example of the order that allowed for our submarines to execute any Japanese aircraft or ships. They had examples of ships through the viewport so you could see what the officers had to look for in the seas and decide if they should attack or not.

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USS Bowfin

From there we headed onto the USS Bowfin. She was launched on December 7th, 1942 exactly 1 year after Pearl Harbor and earned the nickname the Pearl Harbor Avenger. She did 9 war patrols between 1943 and 1945 and apparently there is some disagreement on how much she sunk during the way. One record state 34 large vessels plus 10 smaller ones while the other says 16 vessels plus 22 small ones. Either way, it’s a lot.

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While we explored the submarine, I apparently thought it was a great time to twist my ankle on the steps while we headed down into the submarine. As I’ve done this many times over the course of my life to the extent I have fake ligaments now, that initial few hours post twisting do suck even if I can walk on it. I also had no pain relievers on me. Walking around the ship, I noted I would be way too confined to spend months out at sea as everything is tight.

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After we got off of the Bowfin, the skies opened up. We hung out under the large awning between the ship and museum until it got lighter so we could head to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. This also allowed me to massage my ankle a little bit before we boarded the bus to Ford Island.​
 
Grant's Pass -- You were near my old stomping grounds...I grew up outside of Columbia, MO. Your dogs are beautiful.

The food and drinks looked amazing!

I LOVED the spa at Aulani and the lomi lomi massage is divine! Sadly, mine knocked loose some bug and I got sick later that night but it was still worth it!

Those submarines are so tight...I would not fare well as a submariner.

Jill in CO
 
Grant's Pass -- You were near my old stomping grounds...I grew up outside of Columbia, MO. Your dogs are beautiful.

The food and drinks looked amazing!

I LOVED the spa at Aulani and the lomi lomi massage is divine! Sadly, mine knocked loose some bug and I got sick later that night but it was still worth it!

Those submarines are so tight...I would not fare well as a submariner.

Jill in CO

I wish I had more time to explore around there but I'm sure I will be going to Purina Farms again for another dog event so I'll be sure to try to make time for that.

That spa is one of the best I've been to - I do hate when it gets something loose. I've had that with facials before and my nose won't stop running for like a day. That drainage man!
 
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum consists of two historic WWII era hangers (Hanger 37 & Hanger 79 that are full of aircrafts from that time period. The museum starts with a film that goes into the history the Doolittle Raid.

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While the new exhibit showcasing Disney wasn’t fully open yet – they still had the “swamp ghost” out.

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Hanger 79 also kept evidence of gunfire from Pearl Harbor as they never replaced all the glass along the walls.

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Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

There also a row of fighter jets outside the hangers from various armed forces you could look at.

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We skipped going up the Ford Island Control Tower as my ankle refused when it saw how many steps existed.

If you are an aviation nerd, it’s a nice visit but if you're also doing the USS Arizona and Missouri tours - it probably isn't a must do.

We headed back by bus to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Complex and left to go to lunch.​
 
The Beer Lab

When I was looking at options before the trip, I noted that there was a small beer hall with food that would be a good option for us. They had a bunch of their beers and guest beers on tap.

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Beer List

We ended up selected 4 beers to try – Peach Gummy Bear, Lilikoi Lemon Bars, Paradise Sider, and the Kewalo’s Cream Ale.

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I went with 6 chicken wings with Japanese Curry for my lunch. This was not the most appetizing food to be served but it was really tasty. Just the right amount of curry flavor without being spicy.

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My husband had a burger he was really happy with as well.

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Full of savory foods, we headed back to Aulani where we both wanted something sweet. As it was 1PM, we remembered that the shaved ice was actually open unlike at night time when I thought of it. My husband and I each got our own and while we were waiting, we watch Stitch be a little bit naughty around the pool.

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Back in the room, I took an Epsom Salt bath to sooth my ankle and finish off my shaved ice. Then it was time for a nice long nap.​
 
The Lei Stand

I had set an alarm for 4:30PM to make sure we made it to our 6PM reservation in Chinatown. We were heading to The Lei Stand which is a small tiki bar with appetizers for dinner. When you see it from the outside, you’re very much like what did I make a reservation for? Once you walk in thru the front, it is a cute eclectic bar. We were sat at the bar and looked over the happy hour and regular menus and made our first round of drinks. My husband was boring and got a glass of sparkling wine while I went for one of their specialty cocktails. The soup soup was refreshing and an easy drinker!


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soup soup - Angelisco Blanco, acid adjusted pineapple, Olorosso, SCD falernum, cane, absinthe, clarified with coconut

For our first appetizer, we did the happy hour version of chicken karaage. This reminded me of Cane’s Chicken fingers honestly. While it was tasty, I’m not sure I would get it a second time.

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chicken karaage - Crack Sauce / shredded cabbage

For the second round of drinks, we both got cocktails. My prince Hanalei was strong. My husband got the cocktail I wanted to try but knew I couldn’t drink as I can’t have grapefruit any longer. I did steal a sip and it was the winner of the two. I still had no issues finishing mine.

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prince Hanalei -Hayman's Old Tom, Strega, oolong infused dry vermouth, rose water, chrysanthemum, gentian, lemon oil

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boom kanani - Noble Oak bourbon, Cap Course quinquina blanc, saffron infused honey, grapefruit, Peychaud’s

Excuse the terrible photo – it was dark in there and I was drinking. My husband got the slidahs and he declared them better than The ‘Olelo Room’s.

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slidahs - Honolulu Meat Co. Beef / parsley aioli / spicy pickle

Now this was the real star of the place. The cheezy bread. That honey truffle drizzle should have been named the crack sauce as I wanted to lick the plate when we were done.

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ramona's cheezy bread - Tapioca flour, honey truffle drizzle

We headed back to Aulani where we picked up more rum from the store to enjoy back at the room. I packed up a bag so we could easily change clothes after our first activity in the morning and so I didn’t have to think about it at 5:30AM.​
 
North Shore Shark Cage Diving

We were up early to get on the road towards the North Shore. It was drizzling but as today’s activity was going to be in the water, it didn’t really matter. Once we arrived at the pier, we checked in and waited until our 7AM departure time. Because of the weather, some people cancelled and only 6 people were on the tour with us. What were we doing? Shark Cage Diving!

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Our driver and guide went over the safety of the vessel. We were sailing about 3 miles off shore to a local crabbing area. They pointed out where you puke from if you got seasick and reminded us to stay seated if possible.

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Once we got to the local crabbing area, we headed to the cage this company has set up by the crab cages. They use this area as the sharks naturally hang out there for easy feeding from the cast offs of the crabbers.

We only had 6 people on our excursion this morning which meant we would get double the time in the water as the cage can handle 6 people at a time and they usually do excursions for up to 12. We were given our snorkel gear and climbed off the side of the boat into the water. It was cold especially with the rain but once you full submerged and acclimated, it got better. I had purchased a water proof case for my phone to try to take photos and well. That didn’t work out so well as you can tell from the photo quality. I ended up just enjoying watching the sharks for our entire time in there.


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After about 45 minutes, we loaded back onto the boat to head back to shore. I was very glad I remembered to bring along a towel from the room as we needed it! Both of us were cold; however, once the boat started moving again, my husband left the seat to just hang out by the side of the boat. He got hit hard with seasickness. I felt really bad for him.

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When we got back to the pier, I could tell my husband was miserable. It was also raining even harder. We also had about 3.5 hours to kill before it was time for our Ko Hana Distillery Tour. I made the decision to head back to the hotel even if it meant backtracking more later. This meant we would be able to wash off the salt from the ocean as well as try to see if my husband would feel better. He slept the entire drive back to Aulani. Once back in the room, he took a bath, had some food and went to bed. I showered and then played games on my iPAD. I did go downstairs to see if I could get signed up for the Mimosas & Macaron workshop that they have for DVC members. I was told it was sold out but if someone doesn’t show up – sometimes they allow walk ins so I made a note to try that this afternoon when we got back from the rum tour. I did sign up for the Sake & Sushi seminar that was the next day.

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Ko Hana Distillery Tour

Eventually we got back up and headed to the car to drive the 30 minutes over to Ko Hana Distillery. It was still raining some. We checked in and I decided to upgrade to the Aged Rum Flight while my husband decided to pick the Cocktail Flight instead of the classic flight that we would enjoy at the end of our tour.


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Our tour started right at noon with a sampling of the raw sugar cane juice.

We then got to see some of their various types of sugar canes that each bring something different to the rum.

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We headed into the aging room where we got to see the barrels. We noted the ones that came from bourbon companies.

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We went over to see the stills and then got to enjoy the rum tasting.

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Set Up:
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Finished:

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In all we probably ended up trying about 8 different rums despite it being billed as a tasting of 4. Our tour guide was having fun with us and we asked questions. Overall it was a great time! The other lady on the tour with us did have her child with us and they had ice cream available for her to taste and she got to taste the honey used for one of the rums.

At the end of the rum tasting, we needed some food as we hadn’t eaten a ton yet today. Luckily, they had a small restaurant on site that had various smoked meats. My husband still wasn’t 100% better so he had white rice and baked beans while I had the pork sandwich. We both were pleased with our options!

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I drove back to Aulani where my husband went back to take a nap and I went to go see if I would be able to get into Mimosas & Macarons as the weather meant no beach time for me.​
 














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