We're back home from Hawaii and we had a blast. We enjoyed everything we had a chance to see and do, but most of all we had a wonderful time with Tommy and San at their beautiful wedding this past Saturday.

Don't worry - I won't make you wait any longer for a preview of the Newlyweds!

How gorgeous!!

One of the things on our to-do list before we left for our trip was to enjoy a Luau. Now, of course there are many different opinions of which is the best on the island. After some investigating we decided to check out Paradise Cove. It is just down the road from where Disney is building their new Resort on Oahu. Some of our deciding factors were that it's right on the water on the west side of the island, and rather than it just being dinner and a show there were 2 hours of activities beforehand (which flew by!). There were different stations of activities and demonstrations that were all about the Hawaiian culture. We both love learning something new and LOVED the activities.

The first thing I tried was making my own headband. I sat at the table and this women handed my some strips of leaves and she started braiding it INCREDIBLY fast!

She braided the first quarter of the strip and then the rest was up to me. It was much more complicated than she made it look! It was a little difficult at first because you had to twist the leaf to keep the yellow line on the outside. This was confusing, but helped me stay on track once I had the hang of it.

After I finished braiding, she tied it off and added a few beautiful fresh flowers and....VOILA! My beautiful Hawaiian natural headband.

Next we watched a demonstration of how to shuck a coconut with a stick and a rock! After that Todd and I both tried our hand at this Hawaiian game similar to darts - just a bit bigger.

Time was just flying by! Everyone gathered underneath the tallest tree on the property, and one of the men climbed it (barefoot of course!) and he was so high up!

Once at the top there was a traditional "shower of flower" where he let loose a sac full of flower blossoms. It was just beautiful as the blossoms fluttered their way down to the crowd below.

We all gathered around the shore next to watch a demonstration of how they gather and throw a fishing net.

There were so many great activities and demonstrations to explore that we didn't have the time to try everything. This was such a great addition to the Luau experience.

Just as we were sitting down to our dinner before the show we had a chance to enjoy the beautiful sunset. The meal was delicious! There was a huge spread and everything was sooo good (the chocolate cake = incredible!).

On super full tummy's we got to sit back and enjoy the show! Our favorite act was the fire act. How this man throws those flames around so fast I'll never know! It really is something you have to see with your own eyes to appreciate. He was fantastic!

Here is a short video clip I took with my camera so that all of you could enjoy the music and the hip shaking!!

Everything about our experience at Paradise Cove was phenomenal. Even though this is the only Luau that we were able to enjoy on the island and have no other to compare it to - we think it's the best!!

The next day the only thing we had planned was to hike Diamond Head (Mt. Le'ahi). Lucky for me that's the only thing we had planned because it kicked my butt!!

Here is some information about Diamond head. The trail to the summit of Le'ahi was built in 1908 as part of the US Army Coastal Artillery defense system. At the bottom of the mountain (where the trail begins) is an enormous crater that covers 350 acres which I could see from the airplane on our flight to Oahu; it's huge!

In the late 1700's, Western explorers and traders visited Le'ahi and mistook the calcite crystals in the rocks on the slope of the crater for diamonds. Thus, the name Diamond Head came into common useage.

Here's where we were headed...

Almost halfway up. At this point my legs started shaking while I was walking. Mostly switch-back trails at this point. I was hanging in there. BARELY! But I had no idea what was ahead.

Once the switch-back trails ended the stairs began. The stairs. 284 extremely steep, extremely narrow stairs. These stairs that were barely wide enough for one person were being traversed with two-way traffic. I thought the trails to this point had knocked me out, but I had no idea what I had coming with those stairs!!

The only thing that kept my legs from totally giving out on me was knowing there was a line of people behind me that would domino down Diamond Head if I wasn't trying so hard to think un-wobbly thoughts! (side note: on our way down there was a women at least three times my age RUNNING up the stairs! Can't even imagine!!! Girl Power!)

And finally, at the top!

Here is a view of the crater below where we started.

Such a beautiful view from the top and totally worth the trek. Something to try at least once. You won't regret it (but you might be sore the next day!)

That night we had planned on hanging out on the beach at the Hilton Hawaiian Village to enjoy their weekly Friday night Fireworks. We decided to have a picnic beforehand, so we walked along the beach to find something to eat.

We struck gold! Right off the beach next to the Fort Derussy Beach Park we found the Steak Shack. One of the best meals we had on our trip! The food is amazing! We chated with the ladies working while they cooked up our order and we can't say enough great things about this place (I wish I had it right now!).
*Ladies from the steak shack - if you happen to read this, send me an email with your names so I can include you in my shoutout!*

For only $6 you get a huge portion of salad, sticky rice, and amazingly seasoned juicy steak. How can you beat that!?

We took our takeout and found a little spot in the sand to enjoy it before the fireworks started. I wouldn't miss the steak, or the fireworks next time we're there. I think we've started something we would love to be a little tradition that we'll hopefully get to enjoy again on a Friday night in Waikiki.

The following day was Tommy and San's wedding! I can't wait to share that blog of photos with you soon!

Until then, Aloha!!


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