Cherish ‘Ohana in Hawaii on a Multi-Generational Vacation
Putting three generations together can be a risky proposition. Putting three generations together and mixing in the uncertainty of travel, the angst of family, and the vagaries of life somewhere unfamiliar and you have a recipe for either complete disaster or a cherished memory that will warm your heart for decades to come.
Packing up the kids and their grandparents for a multi-generational vacation has long been a tradition for other countries and is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Pressed for time and constrained by the great “American Vacation Deficit,” many parents are choosing to change a trip to see the grandparents into a trip with the grandparents. Reconnecting as a family, discovering new places, and experiencing new adventures together add a new dimension to any vacation.
Cruises, vacation rentals, and all-inclusive resorts all offer a great option for families traveling together; destinations are only limited by your imagination and your family’s sense of adventure. Orlando, Texas, and California are perfect vacation spots for any size family, as is Hawaii, where my mother, husband, daughter, and I recently found time to reconnect and explore.
We chose the Big Island of Hawaii, which offers an off-the-beaten path alternative to the throngs of tourists that are found on some of the other Hawaiian Islands. The largest by far of the Hawaiian Islands, the Big Island maintains a deeper connection to the archipelago’s roots—both volcanic and agrarian. Visits to volcanoes and tours of coffee plantations are great ways to learn more about those roots, as is a walk at one of Hawaii’s many public gardens.
Finding a restaurant that makes everyone happy can be hard enough at home, where menus are known and there’s a pretty good idea of where everyone wants to eat, even if the answer is “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” On vacation, however, especially a multi-generation vacation with a wide array of palates and budgets, things can quickly get much more complicated.
Most of the Big Island’s large resorts feature their own dining options and an adventurous culinary scene can be found in the two larger towns: Kona, on the island’s drier west side, and Hilo, on the eastern, more tropical side. With fresh, locally grown produce, including tropical fruits and organic vegetables, as well as island-raised beef and fish fresh from the Pacific, Hawaii’s chefs have created a culinary style that pays homage to that abundance and even the most particular of palates is sure to be pleased.
With very few exceptions, Hawaii’s dining scene is casual; you won’t need to worry about dressing for dinner unless you really, really want to. Food trucks and poke stands abound, as do independent restaurants ranging from classic diners to haute cuisine.
Even with all the options available for dining, we found ourselves drawn back to Annie’s Island Fresh Burgers, just south of Kona, more than once. With organic, island-raised beef burgers as well as vegetarian options and fish burgers, this is a spot not to be missed. Our entire party declared their meals the “best burgers ever,” an accolade that Annie’s hears frequently. The thought of these burgers, which are piled high with innovate sauces and paired with imaginative fixings, will make your mouth water long after you’ve returned to the mainland.
The state of Hawaii teems with new adventures and the island of Hawaii has more than its share. Horseback riding, zip lining, and off-road vehicles are just a few of the many terrestrial activities available, but for us, the ocean was irresistible. We returned several times to snorkeling hot spots such as Honaunau and Kapoho and counted turtles off the black sands of Punalu’u. Seeing underwater while staying dry, however, was something we’d have to discover for the oldest of our three generations.
Atlantis Submarines offered the perfect alternative to snorkel masks and salty skin. With three locations in Hawaii—including Kona on the Big Island, Waikiki on Oahu, and Lahaina on Maui, as well as several other international locations—Atlantis has perfected the experience of letting tourists explore while keeping them dry. Taking passengers deep beneath the surface, the 48-passenger submarines are a far cry from semi-submersibles and glass bottom boats. Our time aboard took us over expansive coral reefs and into colorful schools of tropical fish before submerging to below 100 feet to see several wrecks that have sunk in Kona’s waters.
While the allure of a ready-made babysitter may have you dreaming of a grown-up night out, planning something for the entire family to do in the evening in Hawaii will usually involve a luau. We chose Island Breeze Productions and its He ‘Ohana Kakou luau at the King Kamehameha Marriott in Kona, and we were glad we did. Using songs, traditional dances, and fire dancers, Island Breeze shares the culture of the Polynesian islands in a way that kept our family—and the rest of the 200 people in the audience—entertained. Mix in free-flowing mai tais and a delicious buffet featuring Kahlua pork, grilled beef, and fresh produce and the reason luaus are on nearly every Hawaiian visitor’s must-do list becomes clear.
He ‘Ohana Kakou, which translates to “we are family,” celebrates one of the most important concepts in Hawaiian culture: family. Your ‘ohana, no matter how large or small, will cherish their Hawaiian memories long after the return to the mainland.