Mele Kalikimaka! First Family Heading to Hawaii for Christmas

Obamas head for Christmas vacation in balmy Hawaii.

December 22, 2009, 2:03 PM

Dec. 23, 2009— -- Bing Crosby famously dreamed of a white Christmas, but he knew the lure of some fun in the sun, too.

"Mele Kalikimaka," the American crooner sang. "Hawaii's way to say Merry Christmas to you."

Sun, sand and seclusion – it's easy to see why the first family will leave behind a snowy, cold Washington and once again travel to Hawaii for Christmas and New Year's.

The Obamas will spend 10 days on the island of Oahu, where the president grew up, and a favorite vacation spot of his over the years.

They will rent the same Kailua home they stayed in last year for the holidays during a brief vacation before moving to Washington and into the White House.

The Obamas' rental property is 7,000 square feet of paradise on the southeastern coast of the island, complete with large open spaces built around a lagoon pool.

"You have a chance to relax. You have this large enclosed area that feels like you're at your own private hotel, with a lush setting. And it's very peaceful here, it's very quiet," said Dave Zimel, owner of Paradise Points Estates.

It's also not cheap. Staying in this $8.9 million house, which Zimel has dubbed the "Obama Winter White House," will cost around $4,000 a night. The two houses next door will be occupied by Obama family members and friends.

But when you spend that kind of money, people pay attention to detail.

"We brought some things in last year -- what we found out, what he really loves, is the sweet potato chips and the taro chips," said Zimel of the local Hawaiian chips, a presidential favorite.

In the corner of the courtyard is a traditional Christmas tree, perhaps out of place among the palm trees and lush tropical plants on the island. Zimel said the tree is a special delivery for the first family.

"There's not a lot of evergreen trees here on the island, so that came over from the mainland," Zimel said.

Obama Swam at Kailua Beach as a Kid

First tweens Malia and Sasha share a room right next to the pool.

"They could giggle, talk through the night, whatever they want, and they wouldn't disturb anybody because it's separated from the rest of the house," Zimel said.

But it's the master bedroom -- and its breathtaking views -- that is the crown jewel.

"The palm trees swaying in the wind, and the surfers, it's just something. Captivates your attention," Zimel said. "This is Hawaii."

Kailua Beach has been ranked the island's best and was a favorite of Hawaiian royalty. The president has a personal connection to this stretch of sand.

"His grandfather used to take him to Kailua beach because it's a great swimming beach," Zimel said. "So President Obama, I think, he probably learned to swim right out here."

Oahu locals say these waters can't be beat.

"You can have the worst day in the world, get in the water for just 10 minutes, catch one wave and it's all over and you can start fresh again," said surfer Trenton Jeong. "Hopefully, he can get in the ocean and have a good time and take that back to Washington."

The Obamas have two weeks to soak in the serenity. After that, it's back to work.

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