Obamas Say Aloha to Hawaii

Obamas are spending holidays in a private compound worth more than $30 million.

December 22, 2008, 12:15 PM

Dec. 22, 2008— -- It's a wonderful time of the year for the Obamas.

The future first family is trading in snow for sunshine. Barack and Michelle Obama and their two daughters, Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, are celebrating the holidays with friends in Hawaii, where the president-elect was raised.

And as for their vacation paradise, the Obamas and their close friends have rented three private houses worth more than $30 million.

Situated in the serene white sand of Kailua Beach, each house spans 5,000 square feet and features waterfalls and a lagoon-style pool.

It's a home fit for a king, said David Zimel, whose company Paradise Point Estates owns two of the houses.

Paradise Point Estates built the two homes in 2006. One is known as the Bali House for its intricate wood carvings throughout and the other, the Plantation House, for its open design.

Each home features high, vaulted ceilings, granite countertops, state-of-the-art appliances and a swimming pool with built-in hot tub. The president-elect's shower also dubs as a steam room. The company is looking to sell both, which have never been lived in.

The company has never rented them, but made an exception for the future first family.

"There is a lot of rich tradition of kings spending time on Kailua Beach. This was a place where royalty actually gathered. So I think it's pretty fitting that we have our next president spend some time here and try to relax," Zimel said.

He said the Obamas liked the houses and smiled a lot as Zimel showed them around.

"They have tremendous privacy, which is really good for them," Zimel said. "I know they are very tired."

The Obamas will be accompanied by Valerie Jarrett, a close friend of the family who will be Obama's senior White House adviser, and longtime family friends Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker along with their families.

The Nesbitts and the Whitakers have children who are friends with Malia and Sasha and both families previously have traveled with the Obamas to Hawaii.

Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama's sister and a high school teacher in Honolulu, lives on the island with her husband and daughter.

Trading in the Suit

Obama has had a busy schedule since he was elected president on Nov. 4, nominating his Cabinet, discussing economic issues with his advisory team and dealing with the scandal surrounding Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

But this weekend, he swapped his suit for a more relaxing outfit, taking in some rounds at the golf course.

When asked by the press how the game was going, Obama said that he's "not that good" at golf but that his political aide Eugene King has "got game."

And when it comes to food, the president-elect loves the Hawaiian favorite plate lunch, which includes grilled meat, macaroni salad and two scoops of rice. And to cool off in the hot Hawaiian sun -- shaved ice.

The streets where Obama grew up were abuzz with the president-elect's arrival. Kids were seen holding signs that said, "Let's go surf, Obama!"

On Saturday, the day of Obama's arrival, residents got out of their cars, climbed on the roof, snapped pictures and cheered as his motorcade made its way through the streets of Honolulu, to Kailua.

As Obama pulled onto the street that his beach house is on, many people in the neighborhood sat in lawn chairs and many others waved little American flags. One family even had snacks set up on a table in their driveway, as if they had waited outside all day.

Obama tours are springing up to celebrate the hometown hero.

Tour guide Dennis Lynch of Discover Hawaii Tours said he has the best job in town.

"I can't explain the joy and satisfaction that we have from a local boy who will be the 44th president in a few weeks," Lynch said.

The tour takes visitors through the places Obama grew up, including a collection of middle class apartments throughout the city.

Stephanie Rivera was visiting from Georgia and said she was impressed at Obama's "humble" upbringing and moved by "how he could overcome obstacles and get where he is today."

Obamas' Favorite Stops

One of the visitors' favorite stops is the ice cream shop where the president-elect first worked, and where tourists can now taste a new Obama-inspired flavor called Whirl of Change.

"Change tastes good," said Dustin Barnes, who was visiting from Philadelphia.

The tour is not just for tourists. Boh Clamadi, who lives in Honolulu, brought her two teenage daughters, hoping Obama's story would inspire them.

"It's really neat to see and connect the dots because we live here," Clamadi said.

The president-elect has no public events scheduled this week, but it will be certainly be a working vacation.

Aides say Obama will focus on transition issues and receive regular Intelligence briefings.

He is also expected to make a tribute to his grandmother, who raised him in Hawaii and died two days before he won the election.

But for the most part, Obama plans to relax with his family and focus on being a dad.

"They're going there with a bare-bones staff and the idea there really is for him to have as much vacation as possible for the last chance he'll have for at least the next four years," said ABC News' Rick Klein. "As soon as he gets back, he's going to be in the 100 [miles per hour] mode he's been going at probably for the whole presidency."

ABC News' Sunlen Miller contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events