By Rochelle Murty
I have a confession to make. Moving to Hawaii is not exactly a fun process. (There, I said it.) From the unaccompanied baggage shipment, to animal quarantine, to vehicle shipping, it feels like there are a hundred more things to worry about than a stateside move. Add some kids to the mix, and you will have even more to consider.
There is good news, however! Once you’re here and settled, living on O’ahu is amazing. We have been on the island for well over a year now, and are still finding new things to do on the regular. My husband is a submariner and is out to sea frequently between underways and deployment. While I miss my other half terribly, being on my own with our two kids (ages seven and four) has really encouraged me to get out and do as much as possible while we are living in Hawaii.
Here are a few of ways to take advantage of island living.
Hit the Beach
One of the fun parts about living on a small island is that everything is within driving distance, so you’re never far from a beach! You can get from one side of the island to the other in about an hour, depending on whether or not the traffic gods are on your side that day. My in-laws recently made an unexpected stop in Honolulu, and we had the best time day-tripping up the Windward (East) side of the island. We found some beautiful beaches and the scenery was beyond spectacular.
Get Off the Beaten Path
O’ahu is home to a plethora of hiking trails, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or you just prefer a scenic walk. The beautiful weather here means you can explore year-round. Not interested in hiking? Check out one of the many botanical gardens around the island and enjoy the aromatic plumeria trees or the colorful hibiscus! We love the botanical gardens and paved hikes because most of them are kid-friendly.
Experience the local culture
Malasadas. Taro. Potato-mac. Mochi. Being stationed here has allowed our family to experience many new food items that are unique to Hawaii. Here, a post-football game snack often consists of Spam musubi, bento boxes, or even a Barbeque with the team!
Beyond the basic “Aloha” and “Mahalo,” families are immersed into a new world of language and customs. Here, ‘Auntie’ and ‘Uncle’ are used in place of ‘Ma’am’ and ‘Sir.’ My second grader gets both Hawaiiana (Hawaiian culture) and Mandarin classes once a week in school. Hula and Tahitian dance are offered as after-school programs.
Host Family and Friends
One of my favorite things about living in Hawaii has been family coming to visit. My in-laws and parents have made multiple trips, and even with one child in school, it has been easy to do and see new things during each visit.
It has also been fun to catch quick visits with family and friends who have come to vacation on Oahu. We have unexpectedly hosted various family members and a few friends who were just stopping on their way through!
Visit the Neighboring Islands
Living on an island chain means you’re only a short flight from even more places to explore and experience! Flights are cheap if you book at the right time, and each island has something different to check out. Visit the cat sanctuary on Lana’i. Walk through lava tubes at Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawai’i, or tour an old leper colony on Moloka’i. We made our first inter-island trip recently, and are already planning our next adventure on Maui!
Utilize Local Facebook Groups
Want the low-down on the best local spots? Most neighborhoods on or around the bases have their own Facebook groups. This is a great way to connect with other military families – there are groups for hiking, fitness, babysitting, and even groups dedicated solely to determining the best places to eat on the island (yes please!)
Well, there you have it. There’s a reason the hashtag #LuckyWeLiveHawaii is always trending on social media around here. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those of us who are lucky enough to be stationed here, and I plan to make the most of it. Now if you’ll excuse me, there is a beach calling my name. Aloha!
If you are currently lucky enough to be stationed in Hawaii, please help your fellow military families out by leaving a review of your housing and neighborhood on PCSgrades.com.
Author: Rochelle Murty is a Navy wife and stay-at-home mom. While born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she is proud to call both Washington and Texas home. She currently lives in beautiful Hawaii with her submarine officer husband and their two children. You can follow her on Instagram at @txwifealohalife