Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Travel journal: Kauai and Oahu, Hawaii

Seen through the eyes of … Gracella Simmons

Who went: My sister Margaret and I

We went because: Margaret was being given an award at a meeting in Kauai. We were on Kauai for four days and then went to Oahu for four days. It was the perfect opportunity for sister bonding!

Hotel recommendations: The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort—the hotel itself was architecturally beautiful, but even more, the extensive landscaping was awesome, including waterfalls, swans and parrots. We stayed in a condo at the Ilikai Marina in Oahu; the view of the boats in the marina was awesome.

Gracella and Margaret

Where to eat: Two of our favorite local restaurants were Eating House on Kauai and Harbor Pub in Honolulu.

Favorite dish on the menu: Seafood dishes

Item of clothing you shouldn’t leave home without: Hats!

Favorite historic landmark: Pearl Harbor. The visit to the USS Arizona made me very proud to be an American. Learning that many of the men on the ship who survived and later died had their cremains returned and interred with their shipmates was very emotional and heart rending.

Local attraction worth a drive-by: So many along Kamehameha Highway on Oahu

A great experience off the beaten path: We rented a Mustang convertible for three days and found an app that gave us detailed minute-by-minute driving directions to all of the sites in Oahu. It let us go at our own pace while riding with the top down enjoying the beautiful island.

Grand Hyatt Kauai

Worth the splurge: Helicopter ride on Kauai, the Garden Island. Breathtaking views of the mountains, volcanos and beach. Also, a catamaran boat trip on the western side of Kauai afforded a view of the unique mountains and beaches on the island.

Not worth the splurge: We splurged, and every splurge was perfect!

Something surprising we learned on the trip: The fascinating history of the Hawaiian Islands

Insiders’ tips: Even the basics can be very expensive. When we were in the condo, I went to a local grocery, where a loaf of bread was almost $8!

We would suggest this trip to others because: The islands were simply beautiful, the weather was perfect, the natural sights were awesome, Pearl Harbor was amazing, and the way of life was calming.