Category Archives: Travel

My Travels: The Road to Hana | Maui, Hawaii

On our last full day in Hawaii (*single tear), which happened to coincide with the husband’s birthday (*smile) A.J. and I drove to Hana, a small town on the east side of the island. Everyone who goes to Maui has most likely heard of this Drive To Hana. We were told that this eight hour drive to and from Hana would be the most beautiful part of our trip, but also the most treacherous.

Although there are lots of Hana tours available, A.J. and I decided to make this drive ourselves using our rental car and a $10 tour CD. How difficult could it be?

Very.

The drive along the Hana Highway is a 68-mile stretch of winding narrow roads amidst the Maui rainforests. It is treacherous because these 68 miles are made up of more than 600 sharp curves, most of which circle around tall cliffs on one-lane roads. Therefore, you have to drive really really slow. We made it, and had A LOT of fun, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it was a nerve-wrecking experience.

Along this drive, which was originally built for sugar plantation workers, we stopped for pure sugar cane juice and freshly made banana bread, visited a black sand beach and a red sand beach, and took pictures of many beautiful waterfalls. Tour Hana through some of my photos below.

As I said earlier, there were many blind turns. I didn’t get any good photos of them, but here’s a great one from Hawke Backpacking. Scary looking, right? And it’s not even one of the one-lane turns!

There were a ton of waterfalls. Some you had to hike to and some were visible right off the highway. All of them were gorgeous.

Some other must-see sites included the black sand beach (The Honokalani beach, located at the Waianapanapa State Park, is a beach that was formed by a lava flow that fell directly into the ocean while hot, causing the molten lava to quickly solidify and shatter into smaller pieces of black rock sand.); the red sand beach (The Kaihalulu beach, an isolated beach that you have to climb up rocks to find, gets its dark red color from the crumbling red volcanic cindercone hill that surrounds the bay, giving the water its beautiful azure hue.); and the Seven Sacred Pools (Located at the Oheo Gulch, this coastal area just outside of the town of Hana is made up of beautiful trails, waterfalls and small pools that you can swim in if weather permits. You have to pay to visit this specific park, but if you have enough energy left to endure some more trails, it is beautiful and so worth it.).

If you love beautiful sights, visit Hana in Maui, Hawaii. And if the drive scares you, just go with a tour guide. Here are a few tips for your journey.

+ Get plenty of rest the night before.
+ Wake up bright and early. It’s going to be a long day.
+ Eat a hearty breakfast and pack road trip snacks and a healthy lunch. There aren’t many food stops along the way, but there are a bunch of beautiful picnic areas where you can stop and enjoy a sandwich.
+ Bring cash. There are a few stops where you will want cash for fresh Hawaiian treats.
+ Wear a bathing suit under your clothes for impromptu swimming, and bring a jacket as some of your stops will be rainy and chilly. (It is a rainforest after all.)
+ Bring both walking shoes for hiking and sandals for the beach.
+ The trip is long, but it’s not a rush to the finish line. Just take your time on the highway and enjoy the breathtaking views.

So long Hana.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Travel

My Travels: Snorkeling in Molokini Crater and Turtle Town | Maui, Hawaii

Snorkeling in the Molokini crater and Turtle Town was definitely the highlight of my trip to Maui, Hawaii. The husband and I heard about it from the staff at our hotel the Ka’anapali Beach Club, and they helped us book a snorkeling trip with the catamaran Quicksilver. Although we had to wake up super early (like every fun adventure in Maui), we had an amazing experience we’ll never forget.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Molokini is an underwater volcanic crater that formed more than 150 thousand years ago. During World War II the U.S. navy used the back side of Molokini for target practice because it was shaped similarly to a battleship. Today, it is protected by a marine conservation, which has transformed it into a seabird sanctuary. This means that people are not allowed to step onto land without government permission. It is, however, a popular port for boats.

The water around this crater is crystal clear, attracting snorkelers and scuba divers alike. The coral reef is lush with sea urchins and hundreds of different fish. It’s fun to snorkel here most of all because of the location. The crater is beautiful and the underwater life is both colorful and amazing. The husband even spotted an octopus! The lifeguard on duty was skeptical at first, asserting that he probably only saw a similar-looking sea urchin, but after a second take she was excited to say that it was in fact an octopus. And one of the larger ones that can be found in that area!

We also visited Turtle Town on our snorkeling adventure. Although Turtle Town is not actually a specific destination, it is the name of the area that attracts the most sea turtles that day, and it’s usually about a mile from Molokini Crater. In my opinion, it was the most exciting of the two places we visited. Not only did I see a handful of sea turtles, but I swam with them for a good half hour. Not to sound too cliché, but I couldn’t believe it. They were so large and just swimming around doing their thing (cleaning their shells, according to our captain), despite all the snorkelers above them staring at their beauty.

This area is also crystal clear and will lend you to see an array of beautiful coral, sea urchins and fish that I couldn’t name if I tried.

If you find yourself in Maui, go on this snorkeling trip. Even if you don’t board the Quicksilver, there are a ton of boats that will take you out to Molokini. However, the Quicksilver comes highly recommended by me and the husband. The crew is very friendly; the boat offers a delicious BBQ lunch; and, best of all, they sell $1 Mai Tais as soon as the snorkeling portion of the trip concludes! What more could you ask for?

Stay tuned for a few more tales from my Hawaii adventure.

2 Comments

Filed under Travel

My Travels: Attending a Luau | Maui, Hawaii

Greetings! I hate to have to apologize for my lack of blogging, but I’m going to have to do it. I’m sorry dear readers! But I recently returned from the state of Hawaii and haven’t had the mindset to blog in awhile. (I’ve been stuck on “Maui Time.”) But I’m back and ready to share everything with all of you!

The husband and I decided to get away during this hot (hot, hot, hot!) summer, and an opportunity opened up for us to visit beautiful, sunny, PERFECT Maui, Hawaii. We stayed at the Ka’anapali Beach Club, which is on the north shore of the island, and scored the fabulous ocean view that welcomed you at the start of this post. Not too shabby, eh?

While we were there, we had a few things we wanted to check off our “Hawaii List” (other than sitting by the beach, relaxing and doing absolutely nothing save for tanning and maybe reading pages of Fifty Shades of Grey). One of the things on our list was attending a luau.

We chose the Drums of the Pacific Luau at the Hyatt Regency (only a few miles down the road from our hotel). We were greeted with a shell lei and a mai tai, seated at a long table where we could chat with the other luau attendees, and entertained with traditional hula dancing. What a blast! I wish our seats weren’t so far in the back, but you couldn’t ask for a better venue. We were seated outside in an area across from the ocean.

The show started as soon as the entertainers unveiled the Kalua Pua’a (in other words, the big ass roasted pig), digging it out of its hole and parading it around for all to see. Then they opened up the all-you-can-eat buffet. Delicious! There was Kalua Pork, Huli Huli Chicken, Grilled Fish, Lomi Lomi Salmon and Pacific Ahi Poke, as well as salad, noodles, roasted vegetables, tropical fruits and Hawaiian rolls. And don’t forget the assortment of desserts, including Pineapple Cake and Bread Pudding, or the open bar.

After dinner, the show began. The routine featured dances inspired by Polynesia, Tahiti, Samoa and New Zealand. It supposedly told stories of the islands, but I had a hard time paying attention to those elements as I couldn’t take my eyes of the shirtless men or the dancers’ hips. (How do they do that!?) The show ended with a fantastic fire eater. Ah-mah-zing.

Afterward we just walked around the hotel grounds, hand in hand. You couldn’t ask for a better evening.

Stay tuned for more tales from my trip to Maui!

4 Comments

Filed under Food, Travel

What I’m Craving: Tropical Maxi Dresses

This summer is looking up! The husband and I are going to satisfy our wanderlust by flying to Hawaii in July, and we are staying at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel in Maui thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law.

Even though I’m making a list of everything I want to do (relax on the beach and go hiking are definitely making the list), I can’t help but start mentally shopping for the trip. The item at the top of my list? A tropical maxi dress. I used to have one, but it was sacrificed to the hotel gods at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (Meaning it had “disappeared” when I called the hotel to tell them that I accidentally left it behind. Sure. It just “got up and walked away.”)

So here are some tropical maxi dresses I’m currently craving. Help me choose one for my island-bound luggage!

1. Sunset Maxi Dress by Nasty Gal, $158. This one’s pretty basic, but it sure looks comfy.

2. Island Print Maxi Dress by Forever 21, $24.80. I love the strapless cut of this dress partnered with a bright, bold print.

3. Flock Of Birds Dress by Free People, $198. I sure have expensive taste, as this is one of my favorites of the finds. I love the color and the asymmetrically placed bold print of a bird in flight.

4. Colorblock Maxi Dress by Target, $27.99. This is one of the more affordable of my finds. I love the color blocking and the lightweight feel of the fabric.

5. As A Matter Of Refract Dress by Mod Cloth, $84.99. Bold is the way to go with this rainbow-inspired gown.

6 Multicolored Dress by H&M, $24.95. H&M combines bold colors with loud patterns, and I adore it.

7. Ikat Maxi Dress by Ella Moss, $188. Again, I’m loving the bright colors and bold print. (Are you seeing a trend yet?)

8. Tegan Ombre Halter Dress by Nordstrom, $216. This is a little different from my other finds. The color is not so bright. In fact, the subtle ombre hue allows the design of the dress to make the statement.

9. Aija Maxi Dress by Anthropologie, $158. My pricey preferences continue, as this is my second favorite find. Can I get this half off, please? … Pretty please?

What about you? Any exciting plans for the summer? What are your travel fashion cravings? Leave me a comment and let me know!

3 Comments

Filed under Fashion, Travel

My Travels: A Day at Del Mar Beach | San Diego, California

There’s nothing I love more than walking along a beach. As a midwestern girl, it’s such a contrast from what I’m used to. Although there is beauty in Kansas, it’ so soothing to listen to the movement of the waves, watch the light bounce off the water as the sun sets, and see the interesting daily beach dwellers do their thing. When I visited my family in San Diego this year, they directed me toward Del Mar beach. It’s a small and quiet area that is a perfect place to spend an afternoon to yourself. (I borrowed my cousin’s car to drive up there by myself. Driving in California is scary! Yikes!)

If you visit Del Mar, here are a few spots I insist you check out.

Before you do anything specific, just explore. Walk along the beach and take it all in. (It’s a dog-friendly beach, so be ready to find amusement in locals walking their furry pals around.) There are three beach areas in Del Mar, and I ended up exploring the area south of 15th street. This two-mile stretch, known for its fairgrounds, is beautiful in its simplicity. I walked around, took photos, laid out on a blanket to soak up some sun and read one of my latest reads. If you’re prepared and feeling adventurous (unlike I was that day), go out in the water to surf or bogey board. Rentals are available.

If you’re in the mood to shop, walk a few blocks east of the beach to Camino Del Mar. It’s a fun strip that features adorable eateries, local boutiques and the city’s own Del Mar Plaza. My favorite spot at the plaza was the kitschy store Urban Girl Accessories. It’s filled with trinkets, nautical candles, trendy jewelry, gorgeous stationery, TOMS shoes and many more cute finds. Although I had my eye on an over-sized ring, I ended up buying a paper-bead bracelet made by women in Uganda. (It’s very cute.)

{Courtesy Urban Girl Accessories’ Facebook page.}

I ducked into a couple other stores, one of which sold Chanel purses for a fraction of the price (but still too pricey for my budget). Eventually I wandered into Crêpes & Corks, a super adorable cafe that sold … you guessed it! Wine and crepes! If I wasn’t driving a family member’s car in unfamiliar traffic, I guarantee you I would have treated myself to one glass of red. As it stood, I sprung for a delicious Red, Black & White Crêpe instead. I would have stayed and ate it there, but I wanted to get back to the beach to watch the sun set, then head back to my family’s house before it got too dark. Too bad. Next time I visit I’ll have to go there and enjoy one of their savory crêpes, a glass of red and perhaps a couple of their tapas.

{Courtesy Crêpes & Corks.}

If you want to spend an evening at the beach, hit up Jake’s Del Mar. It’s situated right on the beach, offering breath-taking views for its customers. Get there early or make reservations for good seating, as it is very popular and usually pretty packed. The staff is really nice and the menu versatile. On a different occasion I enjoyed one of their specialty cocktails and the Apple and Candied Walnuts Salad. They have a large grill and seafood selection, as well as a delicious-looking dessert menu.

{Courtesy Active Rain.}

To end my afternoon at the beach, I brought my crepe with me to a park bench and watched the sun begin to set. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Now I will leave you with more pictures of the ocean. And really, who doesn’t want to look at the ocean while sitting at their computer?


What are some of the best beaches you’ve visited? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel