I was panicking, and close to breaking down as I looked out from the car thinking “We’ll never make it!”
Honolulu traffic is crazy! We thought we left Aulani in time for the drive to Kualoa Ranch. The Secret Island beach tour departs at 9AM and the confirmation email they sent me specifically said to check in at the ticket office no later than 8:15. It’s already 7:45, we’re not halfway through the trip, and the traffic was not showing any signs of moving!
So, Honolulu travel tip # 1 – Add 30 minutes even up to an hour to whatever drive time your GPS tells you. You don’t want to miss important activities and tours you paid fortune for – which we luckily did not have to experience, because – miraculously, we made it to Kualoa Ranch a little before 8:20. I had to run to the ticket office and got ready to beg and plead – but the staff were all smiles, “No problem, you still arrived ahead of the tour time!”, and gave us our tickets/tour bracelets. We spent the rest of the waiting time exploring the place then bought some drinks at Aunty Pat’s Cafe.
10 minutes before 9, a lady ushered us and the rest who signed up for the morning tour, to the pick up spot at the side of the cafe and took photos.
Yes, we were with my parents too! We actually surprised them the day before. They were staying with family in Mililani for a month before flying to finally be with us in Anchorage. They did not know we were actually picking them up AND exploring more of Hawaii together, so yaiy! And oh, the bags, we brought towels, change of clothes, and most importantly, food! We are doing the half day tour, bento lunch is only included in the whole day tour.
The beach was totally private! After a couple of staff introduced themselves, gave us some safety briefing and more info regarding the island, everyone was off on their own. We of course headed straight to the tables, claimed our spot and unpacked our snacks/lunches since we’re already getting hungry.
About 40 minutes later we were offered a catamaran ride for free. I mean how can we refuse?
An hour later we were back to the shore then changed to our swimsuits! The tour provided all activity and fun gears – from kayaks, paddle boards, sand toys, life vests. People that needed break from the water (although is that even possible) can play volleyball and table tennis; or for those that just wanted to relax can do so in the hammocks under the palm trees.
30 minutes before heading back to the ranch we headed to the showers and changed our clothes; relaxed a bit, more like took MORE pictures facebook profile/cover pic worthy.
Will we recommend this tour to our friends (and basically everyone)? TOTALLY! If there was one not so good thing we can say about this experience, it is that half day was not enough! We’ll totally take this tour again in a heartbeat – the next time for the whole day!