First Stop, Waikiki
There are five things that take me to my happy place. Spending time with my family, meditation, writing, exercising in nature and travelling.
Fortunately for me I work in the Travel Industry and get to Travel a lot. Of all the trips I do each year, my favourite is our Family holiday because it ticks off the five items on my happiness list.
This year, we are holidaying in Hawaii on the Island of Oahu, the third largest Island in the Hawaiian Chain. Home to the capital city of Honolulu, Oahu is known for its beaches and shopping in Waikiki, Pearl Harbour and the North Shore.
For me Waikiki is a metropolis infused with the sights and sounds of a big city and the fun and freedom that being near a beach brings. It caters to everyone and having travelled here a few times I am pretty confident that our stay is going to be a good one.
Our first stop is the contemporary Modern Hotel. A 10 minute walk to the centre of town, close to Alamoiana Shopping Mall and positioned above the Waikiki Marina and Beach.
Entering our Oceanview studio, my earlier hunch about our stay is confirmed. Our room overlooks the hundreds of boats moored in the Waikiki marina and offers views of the yellow sand and turquoise waters of the beach. We have two seperate sleeping areas, two balconies and a lounge area. Enough space for the adults and the kids and most importantly a space for me to meditate!
After a quick shower and unpack we head out to check out the surroundings of our new home for the next 6 days. Immediately I can tell that the Modern Hotel lives up to its name without being too trendy and too stuffy.
The Modern has two great restaurants to eat from and a pool and deck area on the 1st floor. Ravenous, we choose the Grove Restaurant and Bar located right beside the pool. Sitting down in the overstuffed wicker chairs you immediately feel relaxed. We are surrounded by bougainvillea and hibiscus plants. The arbor trees scattered throughout the restaurant and pool area have these quirky old wine bottles hanging from their branches. Each contains a candle and I make a mental note to remember these for our trees at home. The Menu has a variety of food, something for everyone, burgers and pancakes for the boys and a salad for me. Oh and of course a beer for my husband and cocktail for me. It is never too early to have a drink on holidays.
With the sea and sand beckoning us we bypass a dip in the pool and head straight down to the beach. Whilst a bit more crowded than I would prefer, the warm waters of Waikiki beach and the warm and scrunchy sand beneath my feet are enough for me to unwind and let all the stress and build up of the previous few days subside.
Waikiki Beach is great for kids because it is somewhat sheltered and is more like a placid lake than it’s cousin up on the North Shore, allowing parents to feel at ease.
These toasty waters and sandy shores would be our playground for the next week and I was excited to say the least.
It has been well documented that exercise has many health benefits. For me exercise has helped me reduce my anxiety levels and keep a couple of those pesky kilos off. Exercising in the outdoors takes it to another level. According to Huffington Post, outdoor exercise is associated with greater decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression compared to Indoor activity. Just 5 minutes of exercise in a green environment can improve mood and self esteem.
Aside from the beach, there are lots of great parks, running tracks and activity centres scattered throughout Waikiki. One of the most famous walks is the 1.1km hike up to the crater rim of Diamond Head.
Enthused to do something a little more strenuous, my husband suggested that we should tackle the Diamond Head Hike. The Hike takes about 1.5 – 2 Hours round trip and while it is not long in distance, parts of it are somewhat challenging due to its ascent. Sections of the trail are on uneven rock so it’s best to wear runners. If you are not a fan of heights like me there are parts of the journey that test your courage. And for those of you who don’t like enclosed spaces there is a small tunnel that you have to walk through in both directions. It is not too long in distance and there is quite a bit of room.
It is all worth it when you arrive at the top. The views over the pacific ocean and Honolulu are breathtaking. There is nothing more exhilarating than standing on top of a mountain with the wind blowing your hair and feeling like you have conquered something. Maybe I should add achievement to my happy list too!
Even though the exchange rate in the USA is not so favourable for Aussies, some bargains can be found on shoes, clothes and even homewares.
I have to admit I don’t love shopping. The only time I shop is to buy necessities and to fill in time at the airport if my flight is delayed. This means I wear a lot of Country Road and Witchery and see myself everywhere I go in Australia. What I do love about shopping overseas is that you find different stuff to home. The Yanks as we Aussies sometimes call them also love a Sale!
Keen to get a reprieve from Motherly duties and the Sun, I hit the Ala Moana Shopping Centre, 3 days after we arrived. Ala Moana is the largest shopping mall in Hawaii and the seventh largest in the USA. It is also the biggest open air shopping centre in the world and with over 340 Stores, I was certainly in my happy place.
In a recent study conducted by TNS Global on behalf of Ebates.com and according to an article in Psychology Today, shopping can be a rich source of mental preparation. Visualising how things will look is a performance booster and anxiety reducer.
Retail Therapy also:
- Helps boost creative expression and the ability to appreciate the beauty and design of things.
- Gives your mind a mini vacation from some of life’s general stresses and worries
- Helps with Social Connection
- Makes you feel good about yourself
As I slowly trudged back to our hotel, laden with shopping bags, I felt on top of the world. Perhaps I do like shopping more than I thought. I am not sure that my husband will like what he see’s on the credit card bill. But hey, we are on holidays after all!
After a fabulous 6 nights of sun, beach, shopping, exercise, eating out and relaxation our time in Waikiki must come to an end. We are now about to hit the North Shore of Oahu and I can’t wait!
By Kylie Paatsch
National Leader of Flight Centres Leadership Academy