Staying in Kailua, it was a gorgeous, one-hour drive up the coast to the little town. We passed sites that we had seen previously while kayaking and appreciated the fine scenery beyond that. We were struck by the narrow, winding road that had mountains climbing nearly vertically to our left, with the ocean lapping the rocky shore just feet from the road on the right. The weather wasn't very cooperative, so we weren't able to get a very good picture.
Finding the temple was pretty easy. We had a map, but didn't even need it as there's a sign right off the main road that points to where it is. When you pull into the road which leads that way, it's impossible to miss the temple, because the road goes for hundreds of yards straight towards the temple itself, with expansive stretches of lawn with amazing flowers and trees along the way.
Looking away from the temple to the west, the view is unobstructed all the way to the ocean. The temple grounds have terraced pools with fountains and water flowing from pool to pool. It was quite pleasant just being on the grounds. The temple itself has some intricate carvings. We found out later that the carvings on all four faces of the upper part of the temple represent the four primary books of scripture that we use: The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. Pretty cool stuff.
After going into the temple, we were struck by how small it was. From the outside, it seems like it would be a pretty big building. For us, coming from Los Angeles (which has the biggest of all the temples in the world), it felt claustrophobic.
The people were very friendly and it is always a good thing to do a little service in the temple. It took us far longer than we anticipated to finish up in the temple, but it was a wonderful experience. We're glad that we took the time in our vacation to go experience that sacred place.
(As an interesting aside, after we came home from our vacation, I heard an interesting story about how the Hawaii Temple was protected during the attack on Oahu by the Japanese during World War II. It's a fascinating story about how mechanical failures prevented one bomber, in particular, from destroying the building. The pilot of the bomber many years later met a set of missionaries in Japan, related the story to them, and then joined the church. It's a completely unsubstantiated bit of Mormon folklore, but it's still a nice story.)