I was born and raised in Hawaii, but moved to the “mainland” shortly after graduating from high school. I moved back to Honolulu for a brief period in the late 90s, but eventually moved back to the Midwest to accept a new job position, and have remained here ever since. Regardless of where I move or how long I have been gone, Hawaii is always HOME, and I try to get back as much as possible. I just returned from Oahu five days ago and am so homesick (especially since I left 80 degrees temps—it’s 5 degrees in the city I am in now).
The trip was fantastic. We visited some of our favorite family-friendly attractions and discovered some new ones that went on our “must-return” list. Whether you visit the Hawaiian Islands on a regular basis or are in the midst of planning your first trip, you may consider taking note of the following attractions and activities:
If you are a history buff, this is a must-see attraction. Built in 1882, it is the only royal palace on American soil, and it just unveiled a new addition. Tours of the revered Palace located in downtown Honolulu now include a 45-minute audio tour that guides you through 18 different sites via a special “wand.” The tour uses period music, Hawaiian chanting, old newspaper reports, and the national anthem of the Kingdom of Hawaii to add authenticity to the traditional tours. Also included: remarks by Quentin Kawananakoa, a living descendent of the royal family. The tour is an affordable $12 for adults and $5 for children.
Magical Seahorse Tour
My 2-year-old loves sea creatures as much as she does chocolate (that’s a lot), but truth be told, it was my 91-year-old grandmother who enjoyed this Big Island attraction the most. Seahorses are an endangered species on the edge of extinction, but you wouldn’t know it after visiting Ocean Rider—the only seahorse farm in the United States. The farm is located on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii near the Kona Airport and it is truly a site to see. The farm is home to 15 species and 20,000 seahorses (reportedly the largest collection in the world) all swimming in their natural habitat. The best part of the interactive tour: getting a chance to hold and feed the seashores. (Talk about Kodak moments.) In addition, while you are there you learn some fascinating facts about seahorses, including:
· Seahorses are the only animals in the animal kingdom in which the male has a true pregnancy.
· The male seahorse remains pregnant most of its life.
· More than 30 million seahorses are taken from the wild each year for medicinal purposes.
· More than 1 million seahorses are taken from the wild each year for pets.