As the first family’s eighth annual Christmas trip winds down, one thing has become clear: The Obamas are adept at Hawaii vacations.
President Barack Obama and his clan went out for shave ice, had a fancy dinner at Alan Wong’s Honolulu, packed in tons of tee time and, of course, showed their appreciation for our troops with their annual Christmas Day visit to the Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
And as they look toward their last year as the first family of the United States, we’re starting to feel a little sentimental — especially when it comes to the Obamas’ Hawaiian holidays.
Below, six glorious things that have happened during their’s annual trip to Hawaii.
1. When Obama surprised the country with his impressive surf skills.
Of all the candid snaps of the president taken throughout his career, one particular photo series takes the cake for being the coolest: Obama body surfing at Sandy Beach Park, his childhood surf break.
Unfortunately, surf sessions like this would prove to be more difficult as president.
“The Secret Service these days does not like me doing it,” Obama told American Urban Radio Networks in 2009. “The last time I tried it, they had a bunch of people out on jet skis in the water and surrounding me with all kinds of stuff.”
2. When Obama’s abs were so distracting, the White House banned them.
When the first family went snorkeling at the Hanauma Bay State Park in 2010, the White House banned media from taking pictures of the president sans shirt.
Reporters traveling with Obama were issued “strict instructions that there would be no long lenses or other sneaky attempts to take pictures of a shirtless leader of the free world,” according to a report in The New York Times.
Apparently, the White House learned this lesson from Obama’s 2008 trip, when photographs of the leader and his “Barack Hard Abs” were published everywhere.
3. When a Polar Bear trolled Obama around Oahu.
Frostpaw, the “polar bear” activist from the Center for Biological Diversity, had followed the president around the country for months, trying to draw attention to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline (which Obama eventually rejected last November). So when the Obamas came to Hawaii for the holidays in 2013, the furry stalker followed.
Bill Snape, the IRL environmental lawyer behind Frostaw, finally got the shout out he was hoping for when Obama took a short break from his tee time at Kailua’s Mid-Pacific Country Club to say, “Hey polar bear!”
The greeting was considered a “victory” for the Center of Biological Diversity, according to the ClimateWire.
“So he makes his putt, I start clapping and waving at him, real respectfully, and that’s when he said, ‘Hey polar bear!'” Snape told ClimateWire. “And the rest was history.”
4. When FLOTUS and Oprah snuck in some girl time on Maui.
The end of the Obamas’ 2013-2014 holiday coincided with Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday, so the president surprised the first lady with an extra week in Hawaii.
And since Michelle Obama’s good friend Oprah Winfrey was celebrating her 60th birthday at her ranch on the island of Maui, the two turned the extension into one of the coolest joint-birthdays ever.
While the details of their get-together were kept secret, local reports confirmed that swarms of police officers and Secret Service agents were outside Oprah’s residence during that week.
We can only imagine what delicious farm-to-table feasts the two could’ve enjoyed together.
5. When Obama dropped the mic.
While golfing the last hole at a Kailua golf course, Obama set his stance, positioned his club, then carefully sunk a 40-foot chip shot at the 18th green. When the ball dropped in, the president spun around proudly to look at nearby spectators and press.
“A cheer went up when he made the shot,” Julie Hirschfeld Davis, a White House correspondent for the New York Times, wrote in a press pool report. “And POTUS raised both arms in triumph, then turned and pointed in your pool’s direction, in a ‘You guys saw that, right?’ kind of a gesture, although he didn’t say a word.”
6. When Obama surprised hikers climbing the grueling “Stairmaster from Hell”.
Locals and tourists often climb the Koko Head Crater Staircase — 1,048 wooden steps known as the “Stairmaster from Hell” — for a quick but strenuous workout. But when Obama and his security entourage barreled up the crater in December, hikers had to step aside for a breather.
Thankfully, Obama greeted everyone along the way, even as one passerby took advantage of the situation and asked the president to “legalize it on your way out!”
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