Tying the Knot in Tucson


Tucson.  Beautiful Tucson.  The boys and I flew out to Arizona back in November to celebrate the wedding of my pen pal (yes you heard that right), Angela to her sweetheart, Leon.  We visited them in May 2013 while I was pregnant, back before they were even engaged, and we had the most amazing time out there exploring and meeting her family.  We were so happy to return as a family of three and celebrate their wonderful union together.

It was a magical night in the Tucson desert.  The sunset was absolutely unreal out there.  The flowers were stunning of course, as Angela and her sister are both floral designers.  I loved the artistic touches Angela included, especially the four wedding dresses she pulled from the parents and grandparents of her and Leon.  These dresses were hung from trees that lined her walk down the aisle.  Sigh.

Aside from the beautiful decor and scenery, the wedding was full of fantastic people.  Coming from across the country, we didn’t know many of the guests but both Angela and Leon’s family and friends were so completely welcoming and friendly.  They were also lots of fun, and we joined them on the dance floor for much of the night.  Kids were able to run around in the outdoor space, and I think our little Nico actually learned how to really walk here.

It was a beautiful night, and I am so happy for Angela and Leon.  Thanks for letting us be a part of your celebration.  Love you both!

















Beautiful, huh?

Fast forward to present day: Yesterday marked the first Day of P90X for me.  As you can probably imagine, I am in an incredible amount of pain!  But no pain, no gain right?  Day 2 (today) I woke up early to do plyometrics.  I was actually enjoying the workout, but started to feel sick and queasy about half way in.  Now, I know I’m not pregnant, so I guess this is a sign I am out of shape!  I started having flashbacks of high school basketball tryouts where there were trashcans lined up around the gym “just in  case.”  Yikes.  I decided to listen to my body, and stop the workout at the moment.  It’s only Day 2, and I have a long journey.  I do plan on completing the second half of the workout later today when I have a bit more energy.  Oh the curveballs!

Other than that, we have SNOW today up in the Big Apple!  Unfortunately, since Nico and I have been sick, I think we will be enjoying the snow through the window today, but at least it’s pretty!

Hope you are all having a great week and a great start to the new year!



Southwest Chic







Dress: ModCloth (now on sale!) / Shoes: Sole Society (similar) / Sunnies: ModCloth / Earrings: Gifted / Clutch: Old (can’t remember!) / Bracelets: Gifted and Baublebar / Lip: MAC Rebel mixed Up the Amp / Eyes: Urban Decay 24/7 Liquid Liner in Radium, Sonia Kashuk Eye on Neutral Limited Edition Palette (I cannot find this anymore, but you can buy the matte and the shimmer separately, which is basically the same thing!)

I had been dying for an opportunity to wear this fancy dress, and I figured a wedding in sunny Arizona was the perfect place!  Oh how I am missing that warmth right now.  We are freezing over here in New York.  Tucson is just such a beautiful place, and this backdrop was so gorgeous, we had to stop along the side of the road for some snaps before the wedding.  The wedding photos are gorgeous as well, and I’m excited to share those at a later date.  Although it was a quick trip, we had an amazing time eating delicious authentic Mexican tacos, celebrating a wonderful couple, and soaking in the sunshine.

Hope you are all having a great week!



The Magic Hour


I know the Arizona photos seem to be never ending, but there is just too much to share!  I promise you this is the last week of Arizona posts!  These shots were taken during the “Magic Hour,” a photographer’s  most favorite hour to shoot.  This happens about an hour before sunset, and it’s when the light is most lovely for photographs.  We happened to be on the road at this time, and having no set schedule to be any particular place, we frequently made stops to shoot this beautiful scenery.







First and foremost, I want to thank all of our military for serving and protecting our country.  For those who have been lost, we are ever grateful for your strength and bravery.  I hope you all had a great Memorial Day Weekend holiday.

We spent part of ours in Philly visiting friends, and part of it hanging out with friends on the Upper East side and Central Park.  It was a wonderful weekend, and a great kick off to the summertime!

Have a great short week!



Red Rock Country


Sedona, beautiful Sedona.  This was one of my favorite parts of our Arizona trip.  I had never seen such stunning red rock mountains like these before, and they were absolutely breathtaking.  We spent two days in this area.  The first of which we mostly drove around the area with Zack’s aunt and uncle, taking in the beautiful scenery.  We had a delicious cheap lunch at Tortas de Fuego, with the best churros I have ever tasted for dessert.  The second day, we explored a little more checking out the West Fork at Oak Creek.  Unfortunately, we could only walk a little bit of it, because my prego body was pretty averse  to the Arizona desert heat at this point.  Next time we go back, I would love to do this whole trail.  I would also love to do the overnight hike to Havasu Falls, which I hear is amazing.  But, we did what we (or I) could do, and we had a great time doing it!  What a beautiful place to visit.







Can’t believe it’s already Thursday.  I’ve been enjoying my low key week, and I’m looking forward to Memorial Day Weekend!

Who has fun plans?  Would love to hear about them!



Enhanced by Zemanta

#10 Travel to Costa Rica

December 28, 2011-January 8, 2012

*While traveling to Costa Rica, I kept a daily journal to remember my adventures.  Rather than a summarization of the entire trip, I have decided to post the whole thing here.  Although, it’s lengthy, I figured it would be helpful for those who desire to travel to this country in the future.  I have highlighted six different cities that my husband and I traveled to in 12 days!  Hope you enjoy hearing about my latest adventure!

Day 1: December 28, 2011 

All packed up for my 1st ever backpacking trip & another bucket list item to tick off!  Thanks to my friend, Evan, I have a bag that is bigger than me.  I’m not quite sure how I will find anything without unpacking the entire bag, because I stuffed it to the brim.  I’m surprised I am able to carry it; thank God it’s a great backpack!  Our flight was smooth, and we stopped in Panama on the way which looked gorgeous from the air with lush greenery.  I will have to go back there someday!  We flew Copa airlines, which I have to note–it rocks.  Two flights with two meals–and one flight was only an hour!  There was also no charge for checked luggage which is impossible to find these days.

Upon arrival in San Jose, we checked into Mi Casa Hostel, which was right near a beautiful park and a brand new professional soccer stadium.  Having never been to a hostel, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I assume this place was pretty standard in terms of hostels.  Nothing special, but not bad either.  Just your average hostel.  It was super quiet, very clean, and had a friendly staff.  We freshened up and then took a taxi to the area of California to grab dinner and drinks.  We ate at Rayuela, which was a divey rock bar near a cool park with the best Christmas decor!  Speaking of–the entire city of San Jose was strung with amazing Christmas lights.  We bar hopped to La Esquina and Bar Morazan (by Morazan Park).  The latter bar played throwbacks ‘NSync & the Macarena–what’s not to love?  It was a slow night for nightlife, but it was Wednesday and we found out later that the whole country pretty much had off for the holidays, so everyone was traveling to the beaches.  After some drinks, we headed back to our hostel to get some rest for tomorrow’s travels. 

Day 2: December 29, 2011 

Woke up around 8:30 and took a hot shower.  At the time, I thought this was a luxury in Costa Rica since Zack didn’t get many warm showers the last time he traveled here, but I later found out that in terms of third world countries, Costa Rica is top of the line.  We packed up and headed to the bus station for our journey to Montezuma.  In order to get there, you take a bus to Puntarenas, a ferry across the gulf, and then another bus ride before getting to the final destination.  We grabbed some juevos fritos con arroz (fried eggs with rice) for breakfast, and headed on our way!

It was a longggg ride to Montezuma.  Upon arrival at the ferry, a tico (local Costa Rican) jumped at the opportunity to rake in tips from unknowning tourists, and bustled us to a different ferry that would put us in Paquera (and closer to Montezuma.)  Aside from the fact that this guy was really creepy, pushy, and sweaty, he did actually point us in the right direction.  We made it to the ferry which was a nice calm ride, and followed that up with a bumpy but beautiful bus ride to Montezuma.

We had no place to stay upon arrival, because we waited until the last minute to book anything.  Being sick before Christmas, the holidays sprung up rather quickly, and before we knew it, Costa Rica was a day away and no plans had been made!  By the time we tried to make a reservation, most everywhere was booked, because New Year’s Eve was only a few days away.  We followed some local advice to walk up a hill and ask around for a woman.  We found her, but she was booked, and pointed us to a shit hole called Pension Jenny.  They had a private room, which we took for fear of not finding anything else (although I would have almost rather slept on the beach!) 

Regardless of a sub par sleeping situation that night, we very much enjoyed Montezuma!  It is a small, hippy, beach town with a lot of friendly locals.  We ate some good food, danced at Chico’s, the local bar (there is only one), and watched an awesome fire dancing show in the street.  We also found a new place to stay for the 2nd night up the hill called BosqueZuma.  THANK GOD!  A local tico named Roger helped us make the reservation, and he also booked us a shuttle to Playas del Coco, which was our next destination.  After a very uncomfortable sleep, we were looking forward to day 3, and getting out of Pension Jenny!

Day 3: December 30, 2011

We rushed out of Pension Jenny as fast as we could and made our way to The Bakery for breakfast.  It was really delicious, and we saw tons of Capuchin moneys playing in the trees which was so cool!  We checked into BosqueZuma which might as well been the Four Seasons compared to what we had just left behind!  Heaven on Earth.  We dropped our things off, and headed right back down to the beach!  We tried to hike to the waterfalls, but quickly realized that we did not have the right shoes or apparel for this kind of hike, so we snapped a few photos, and turned back.  We discovered a cool beach to spend the day at with an awesome freshwater pool!  It was such a gorgeous day, and I was happy to be basking in the sunshine.  We grabbed a lunch of Casados, which is a typical Costa Rican meal of rice, beans, some type of meat, salad, and plantains.  Yum!  We then headed up to our pool at BosqueZuma to relax.

Because this place was a little farther away, we had some trouble getting a taxi back to town (and the walk was a little too far in the dark, and way to steep to walk back).  Luckily, a family from Montreal had just arrived to our hotel and wanted to check out the town.  They offered us a ride, and we were able to enjoy a delicious seafood dinner at Montezuma Restaurant where we were served by Carlos, a local we met at the swimming hole earlier that day!  We spent the rest of the night with more drinking, dancing, and fire dancer watching in the street and on the beach.  I’m definitely going to miss Montezuma!

Day 4: December 31, 2011

The staff at BosqueZuma  (Juan Pablo y familia) was really awesome, and we got a free breakfast before our shuttle arrived to take us to Playas del Coco.  We were headed here to meet Brandon, an old friend from high school, who now lives in Costa Rica.  The shuttle was a nice, comfortable, air conditioned ride, and we met lots of travelers from the States & Canada.

When we arrived in Coco, I knew right away that this was going to be a party town!  It reminded me of the Costa Rican version of Dewey Beach, DE.  The streets are lined with huge outdoor bars, restaurants, and shops.  Brandon met us in town, and we went back to his place in Ocotal to enjoy some beach time before getting ready to celebrate the new year. 

Coco was NUTS for New Year’s!  We met up with Brandon’s friends, other ex-Pats who were all really nice, and we then bar hopped to Beach Bums & Zi Lounge which were both a blast.  There are no open container laws in Costa Rica, so people would park their cars in the street, pull out a cooler, and party the night away.  When the clock struck midnight, colorful fireworks lit up the sky from every direction!  The bars had a bunch of shells to set off, but people were also lighting roman candles from straight out of their hands!  It was insane!  The streets were crazy packed with people, and it was an awesome place to ring in the New Year! 

Feliz Año!

Day 5:  January 1, 2012

Today was a lazy day.  New Year’s Eve was so intense that we all needed to catch up on some much needed sleep.  We eventually made it into town to grab lunch at Coconuts with Brandon and his friends.  Brandon stayed to watch the Ravens game, and Zack and I went back to chill on the beach for the rest of the day.  That night, Zack cooked up a delicious dinner of stewed tomato chicken with rice and beans along with some fresh watermelon and papaya.  Bedtime came early for all of us as the next day we would be on the road again.  

Day 6: January 2, 2012  

We got a slow start out of Coco the next morning, but Brandon was extremely helpful in renting us a car for the next three days.  In addition, I want to offer many thanks to Brandon for all the local info he provided and for hosting us at his amazing condo on the beach during our stay.  We really appreciate the hospitality, and it was so much fun catching up after so many years!  

We drove to La Fortuna which was about 3 hours away, but it was a nice drive through the mountains and the jungle.  We stopped at a coffee house called Cafe Macadamia for some amazing coffee and sandwiches along the way.  It was located right on Lake Arenal, which had a beautiful view.  Once we arrived in La Fortuna, we checked into Arenal Backpackers which was a super cool place with lots of travelers.  Our room was actually a glorified tent/cabana with a king sized bed.  Really awesome!  

It was starting to get dark by the time we got to La Fortuna, so we decided to check out some hot springs–another bucket list item!  (Note: If you read my last post, this paragraph is repetitive!)  There were many options and price points, so we went with a reasonably priced one called Baldi.  It was seriously the Disney World of hot springs!  Although it didn’t really look that natural, it was pretty awesome.  They have 25 pools (more like hot tubs) with gorgeous stones, lush tropical plants, and waterfalls all around.  We hopped from spring to spring and had a blast.  I would definitely recommend that people visit the hot springs at night, because it’s cooler outside and the hot springs feel that much more amazing.  The pools ranged in temperature, and one was ridiculously hot!  I found Baldi to be very romantic.  Some of the pools had waterfalls.  Some had beds to lounge on, and some had cool pools to refresh.  One pool had three awesome water slides that were a ton of fun.  After we were completely relaxed and had our fill of the hot springs, we went to grab a bite to eat–casados for me and pizza for Zack–at Lava Lounge.  Yum!  

When trying to sleep that night, I realized the idea of the tent was much more awesome than the reality.  Don’t get me wrong, it was completely comfortable, but the hostel is located right across the street from a bar that was pumping music late into the night.  If we had wanted to go out, we wouldn’t have cared, but we tried to get some sleep, and the music was not helping.  We then got a torrential downpour during the night–I’m talking crazy rainstorms!  Now all the tents were under a big covering, so we did not get wet or anything, but there was really loud pounding down on the tin roof.  I hoped it would be sunny tomorrow.


Day 7: January 3, 2012

We quickly learned that the weather in La Fortuna was not going to cooperate.  It’s very similar to Kauai weather in which it pours down rain, stops, then repeats the cycle over and over again.  We decided to suck it up and enjoy our time there rain or shine!  We found a laundromat to dry our soaked clothing (that we left on the clothing line to inevitably get soaked from the rainstorm), and then explored the town which had a lot of shops and restaurants as well as a nice little park.  We booked an ATV tour which was a ton of fun!  I was a little nervous at first, but it was pretty easy to get the hang of it.  We drove through different back roads in town to get to a view of a cool waterfall, and we then drove to a spot for some local cuisine.  Lastly, we drove through the mountains and crossed a river and back.  It was such a blast!  Our group consisted of Zack and I, two Costa Ricans, and four kids from Galludat University who were hearing impaired.  This made for interesting lunch conversation!  English, Spanish, and American Sign Language all at one table.  One of the guys was a really good lip reader, so that was helpful.  I’m still amazed at how well he could speak and communicate without being able to hear.  Also, one of the Costa Ricans, Jonathan, spoke terrific English, and we all ended up having a great time together.  

After the ATV tour, it was time to make our way to Monteverde.  On our way out of town, we FINALLY saw the outline of the Arenal Volcano.  It had been covered in fog and clouds because of all the rain before.  I wasn’t thrilled about traveling at night, but figured we wanted to get a move on instead of leaving the next morning.  Little did we know how crazy this drive would be!  The first half wasn’t terrible–just really dark–but the last half was horrible.  We spent over 2 hours driving ridiculously slow over unpaved mountainous.  Tons of potholes covered the road, and it was dark outside with not much civilization.  We knew we were going the right way, because there were plenty of signs pointing us in the right direction, but I was terrified we were going to pop a tire in the middle of nowhere.  

After a long, treacherous, stressful journey, we finally made it to Monteverde.  We were greeted with insane winds and cold!  Our hostel, Sloth Backpackers, was located in a teeny town called Santa Elena, right outside Monteverde.  We had trouble finding it at first, but the owner Yorle guided us into our “parking” spot which was more or less pulling as far off the side of the road as we could before smashing into the hostel.  Yorle was adorable, and the hostel was very quirky and unique.  It was small, homey, and it felt very welcoming.  It also reminded me of a good friend’s mom, because the place had signs EVERYWHERE!  There were four signs alone just in our bedroom, about four in the bathroom, ten in the kitchen, etc.  Too funny!  The hostel is also co-owned by Yorle’s sister, Gaby who is an AMAZING cook!  Both of the girls were very friendly and helpful with letting us know the fun things to do in the area.  

Day 8: January 4, 2012

We woke up to a delicious breakfast prepared by Gaby of banana pancakes with fruit that was to die for.  We then set off to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for a hike.  The weather was not great, and it rained almost the entire time (even when the sun was out), but then again–what is a rain forest without the rain?  We saw a couple different birds on our hike, but not as many animals as I had hoped.  We hiked up to the Continental Divide where you are supposed to be able to see the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but it was too cloudy, and all we saw were clouds. 😦  We then hiked to a sweet waterfall.  The trails were very well taken care of, and we enjoyed them a lot.  

After our rainy hike, we stopped at the Monteverde Cheese Factory to grab some fresh local cheese and some ice cream.  Nom nom nom.  We then rested for a bit before making our way up the muddy hill to a Peruvian restaurant for dinner.  Unfortunately, it didn’t have anything good to offer except for the cinnamon plantain dessert.  After eating, we headed back to bed, because we had an early call time the next morning.  

Day 9:  January 5, 2012

We awoke before sunrise today for an animal tour with Freddy, the most amazing bird watcher I’ve ever seen.  Okay, so maybe he is the only bird watcher I’ve ever seen in action, but I’m telling you this guy is good!  Much to my delight, the sun was surprisingly shining as we jumped in Freddy’s Jeep at 6:30am along with two other people in our group.  We were not even in the car two minutes and Freddy was already on the prowl.  He stops the jeep on the side of the road and says, “There is a sloth.”  So we jumped back out to discover a huge hair ball sleeping up in a tree.  

The rest of the tour was mostly bird watching, and we must have seen over 30-40 different species that morning including a gorgeous parrot, an owl, a yellow flytrapper, a king bird, an emerald toucanette, a melodious black bird, and my favorite, the blue crowned mot mot.  We hiked around different areas of farmland and woodland viewing all the birds, seeing water falls, and sucking on wild coffee beans.  I’m really glad we decided to stick around for this tour, and it totally changed my previous opinion of rainy Monteverde.  

For lunch, we stopped at a little joint called La Soda Amistad which was owned by the mother of Gaby and Yorle.  She was also an amazing cook, and I again enjoyed yummy casado.  Shortly after lunch, we got back on the road for our next journey to Manuel Antonio.  I admit, I was dreading the drive on those horrid non-paved mountainous roads with no guard rails.  However, much to my surprise and delight, the roads (although unpaved) were not nearly in as bad shape as they were upon entering Monteverde.  I was not fearful of popping any tires this go round, and I could really take in the stunning beauty that surrounded us.  

The majority of the drive was enjoyable, although we did have one scare that had nothing to do with the terrain.  While at a stoplight with the windows down, Zack all the sudden yells “ROLL UP THE WINDOWS!  ROLL UP THE WINDOWS!”  Confused, and thinking someone is about to attack us or something, I start rolling them up, when I notice a HUGE swarm of bees on a street sign next to us.  They started to swarm around our cars and other cars nearby.  THANK GOD only one straggler was able to get inside the car, and it didn’t do any harm, but if we had waited five more seconds before rolling up those windows, we would have been toast!  

After the scare, we continued on our way down the coast driving quickly through Jaco to take a peek at the town known for beaches, partying, and hookers.  We didn’t stop; we just took a quick peek before continuing on to Quepos where we were to drop off the car.  On the short cab ride from Quepos to Manuel Antonio, I noticed the gorgeous hills filled with hotels, hostels, and restaurants.  We headed into the back part of town in Manuel Antonio to find our hostel, National Park Backpackers.  It was about a five minute walk to the beach, had delicious food, and a fun pool area with lots of people hanging out and listening to good music.  

On our first night in Manuel Antonio, we walked around to some shops and went to dinner at Las Gamelas (twins) for some great Mexican food.  We then headed to El Avion (Airplane) which is literally an airplane that they have turned into a bar.  They also expanded it into a restaurant under the wings and the surrounding area.  This airplane was actually part of one of the biggest scandals in the mid 1980’s known as the Iran-Contra Affair which took place during the Reagan administration.  To read the full history of El Avion, you can do so here: http://www.elavion.net/.  The venue is really cool with an old school hip-hop DJ/bartender, and you are able to take photos in the cockpit of the plane.  After a few drinks and some dancing, we headed back to get some rest.

Day 10: January 6, 2012

We woke up to a GORGEOUS day in Manuel Antonio.  We had panqueques for breakfast, and then called up Jonathan (the Costa Rican we met in La Fortuna–who actually lives in this town).  We met up with him at the hotel where he works which was made up of really cute bungalows.  We made some plans for later, and Zack & I headed to Manuel Antonio National Park where we saw lots of animals including a sloth, deer, raccoon, crazy looking spider, colorful weird bugs, bright colored birds, a blue butterfly, and tons of Capuchin monkeys!  Zack fed berries to the monkeys, and one stole a bag of Cheetos from a beacher!  They were all over the trees near the beach, and it was a ton of fun to watch.  The water here was so clear and beautiful that I could see my toes at the bottom.  We relaxed and were so happy to be back in the sunshine again.  

We met up with Jonathan and his friend later for some ocean kayaking on the Pacific.  There are gorgeous giant rocks/mountains that jut out of the water on the main beach in this town, so we decided that we were going to kayak out to the biggest one.  It didn’t look too far away from the shore, but wow were my arms tired!  We decided to venture beyond and around the giant rock and we paddled for a while before heading back to the beach.  

Completely drenched, we decided it was time to grab some drinks, so we went to Las Gamelas followed by Hostel Linda.  It was awesome gallivanting around town with a local who knew all the great spots to go and who knew all the bartenders.  We lost some cash in the ocean, and the restaurant employees were nice enough to trust that we would come back the following day to pay them for our drinks (which we did).  While at Hostel Linda, we also met some other travelers named Arthur and Sonja who were on an incredible journey–biking from Mexico City to Argentina!!!  O.M.G. that is over 4,000 kilometers.  Amazing.  They were surviving on $10 per day, carrying all their things on their bikes, sleeping in a tent, etc.  They have started a blog about their experience, so if you are interested in reading more about it, you can do so here:  http://makesensebiketour.org/.  We were then supposed to shower up and regroup for dinner after drinks, but Zack was dead tired, and I wasn’t too far behind him, so off to bed we went.

Day 11:  January 7, 2012

Since the pancakes were so good yesterday morning, we decided to have them yet again!  Our morning was then spent trying to figure out how to get a bus ticket to San Jose.  We rode the city bus to Quepos to buy tickets to secure a 5:00pm bus and came back to Manuel Antonio to enjoy one more day on the beach.  It was another gorgeous, sunny day which made me extremely happy being it was our last full day in Costa Rica.  We paid back all the bartenders from the night before, had lunch at Hostel Linda, and said goodbye to Jonathan before boarding our bus to San Jose.  The ride was smooth, and I made a huge dent in reading “The Help” along the way. 

Our last night was spent at Hostel Pangea (which is owned by the same company as Arenal Backpackers–remember the tents?)  The place was very nice with a great restaurant and bar, but I was so exhausted from the sun and travels that I crashed almost immediately after arriving. 

Day 12: January 8, 2012

Departure Day.  While I’m sad to leave Costa Rica and all it has to offer, I have to admit, I am excited to get a good night’s sleep in my own bed tonight.  We packed up our stuff, ate a yummy breakfast on the hostel rooftop, and set off on our shuttle to the airport.  After saying “Adios” (or more like “Hasta luego”) to Costa Rica, we boarded our flight back to the Big Apple.

Costa Rica was a wonderful adventure–a beautiful country in terms of landscape, people, food, and culture.  I experienced a number of 1sts including my 1st backpacking trip (thanks again Evan!), 1st time staying in a hostel, 1st time in a hot spring (check for the bucket list!), 1st time on an ATV, and 1st time ocean kayaking.  It was a trip to remember, and of course I took plenty of photos to make sure that I do.  Here are some of my favorites below.


Feliz Navidad in San Jose

Beach in Montezuma


Fire Dancing in Montezuma

Playas del Coco

Happy New Year!

Tent in La Fortuna

Waterfall Near Arenal

ATV Tour Over the River

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Double Rainbow!

"There is a sloth."

Manuel Antonio

El Avion

Capuchin Monkey

Beach in Manuel Antonio National Park

#16 Go To Hawaii

May 21, 2011-June 6, 2011  (Condensed Version…Extended Version Below…)

While many of the items on my bucket list consist of traveling internationally, Hawaii was definitely on the top of my list of places to visit within the United States.  Zack and I chose Hawaii as a perfect honeymoon destination for the two of us—plenty of gorgeous beaches to relax on, but also plenty of adventures to be had.  Going to Hawaii was fantastic, because it has the feel of going to a different country with a whole new culture, but it has the comfort and safety of being in the United States.

My new in-laws were extremely generous in offering up their timeshare to us for our two week Honeymoon in Hawaii.  The available condos we found were both on the island of Kauai, and we couldn’t have visited a more romantic, beautiful, amazing place.

After a sleepless night in New York (too much excitement),a stop in LA and about 11 or so hours of travel, we finally touched down in the Garden Island.  We picked up our rental car that we would use for the two weeks, and decided on a Mustang convertible instead of the compact car we had signed up for.  It was only $80 bucks more for the two weeks and come on…it was our HONEYMOON!  We found out later that ALL the tourists in Kauai get a Mustang, so instead of blending in, we definitely stuck out, but I still think it was totally worth it!  The first thing I noticed at the airport was a rooster, hen, and a family of baby chicks.  We knew there were wild chickens on the island, but after spending two weeks on the island, we realized they are EVERYWHERE.  On the streets, on the beach, even in the woods!  Apparently, there was a hurricane in 1992 that swept through and ended up hitting a bunch of chicken coops and all the chickens were freed.  Hence, there are now wild chickens all over the island.

Our first week was spent in Princeville, on the North Shore, at a resort called Ka’eo Kai which was right on a golf course and beautiful.  Having a 5 hour time difference made it all the more possible for us to rise early with the roosters and enjoy the daytime.  We discovered really cool species of animals including my favorite, the Brazilian cardinal, and we saw a Bird of Paradise flower for the first time.  The North Shore was definitely my favorite part of the island—it’s a tropical rainforest with a road of twists and turns and one-lane bridges.  There are many yummy restaurants and fun shops, stunning views, plenty of beaches, cool caves , and great snorkeling.  We enjoyed Hanalei Bay, Haena Beach, Ke’e Beach (personal favorite), Queen Emma’s Bath, tunnels, shave ice, Kalua pig sandwiches.  We did a raft boat tour of the Napali Coast which was just amazing!  We rode around with our crazy captain, went inside cool caves, saw gorgeous views, and even went snorkeling.

The only downside to the North Shore is that is gets a LOT of rain.  (which is how I’m sure it keeps it’s green color!)  When we saw the weather forecast for that first week, I have to admit, we were a little depressed.  We quickly realized how fast the weather can change though, and how small the island of Kauai is.  We discovered that the South Shore of the island is usually sunny, and it was only about an hour or so drive to get there.  Down on the South shore, we discovered the beautiful beaches of Poipu, the Waimea Canyon where many hikes took place, we went zipcording and horseback riding on the beach for the first time, saw sea turtles & some really awesome fish. 

The second week, we stayed in Kapaa on the East Coast of the island.  Kapaa is a little town with many shops and restaurants that causes most of the traffic getting around the island.  Many locals were happy, because while we were there, they opened up the back road so you could pass through Kapaa if you wanted to avoid traffic.  Our hotel here was even nicer than the first one, with a great view of the ocean.  Kapaa was a great location, because we could either go north or south in a short amount of time.   While in Kauai, we also did many hiking trails, we kayaked through the river to a secret waterfall, jumped off a rope swing at Kipu Falls, did sunrise yoga on the beach, played putt putt golf, saw the Kiluea Lighthouse,  went to a rodeo, rode bikes along the coast, went to a real Hawaiian Luau, went out to some great restaurants, and also cooked up some delicious meals on our own.  I checked off many bucket list items on this trip, and they will be featured in upcoming posts of “The Great Freakin’ Adventures of Gina.”

This was seriously a dream vacation in paradise, and it was the perfect place to visit with my brand new husband!


Shave Ice

Top of Waimea Canyon looking over the Napali Coast

Brazilian Cardinal

Luau Kalamaku

Inside the caves on the Napali Coast

Scared to death hiking the Nualolo Trail

Cruisin' the East Coast of Kauai

The 'Stang

Poipu Beach

Kilauea Lighthouse

In between zip cords

Swimming Hole at Secret Falls


Ke'e Beach...my fav!




CJM Stables Horse Ride


***For more photos of our trip, check out my facebook albums: 



***SIDE NOTE: While in Hawaii, I documented our adventures day by day.  This is a shortened version of our trip because the original is super long, but if you are interested in reading about the whole experience, you can do so below:


#16 Go To Hawaii–Extended Version!!!


Saturday May 21, 2011

Day 1

After being too excited to sleep the night before (I stayed up watching TV shows, straightening up the apartment, and fantasizing about Hawaii), I was pretty tired by the time it came around to go to the airport.  As a wedding gift, my boss paid for Zack and I to have a car service to the airport which was amazing, because we didn’t need to worry about hailing a cab with all our luggage.  Plus, Rafael (our driver) got a spiffy new Mercedes Benz S550  4 Matic, so it was a nice ride.  We got to the airport early, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and sat down to nap before boarding our flight.  We first had a 6 hour flight to LAX which seemed to take an eternity (I think because we were just so excited to get there.)  During the flight we realized that we forgot the book on Kauai that Zack’s mom had given us, which was a bummer since Zack had read it front to back circling everything he thought might be fun to do.  Thank God for the internet right?  At least we had a backup plan.  After landing in LA, we grabbed lunch and navigated our way through the construction at LAX until finally finding our gate which was in the most obscure part of the airport.  Even the airline employees didn’t know how to function in this tiny area they stuck us in.  Luckily, we made it on the flight with no problem, and had a comfortable ride to Lihue Airport in Kauai.  I slept a lot to catch up on what I had missed the night before.  We sat next to a nice gentleman who gave us tons of secret local tips.  His brother had just moved there to retire, and so he was telling us about great farmer’s markets, secret meadows, and great beaches.  We FINALLY touched down in Kauai at 4:40pm (which was 10:40pm on our EST body clock), and we were starved for dinner.  We picked up our rental car that we were planning to use for the two weeks, and decided on a red Mustang convertible instead of the compact car we had originally booked.  It was only $80 more for the entire two weeks, and come on…It’s our HONEYMOON after all!  The first thing I noticed at the airport was a rooster, hen, and a family of baby chicks.  We knew there were going to be wild chickens on the island, but we didn’t know there would be so many, and we didn’t know the story behind it.  Apparently there was a hurricane in 1992 that swept through Kauai once, and then came right back through for a second round.  It hit a bunch of chicken coops, and all the chickens were freed, hence now there are wild chickens all over the island of Kauai.  Pretty crazy.  After picking up our ‘Stang, we drove off into the sunset screaming with happiness while we tried to find a place to eat.  The place recommended to us by the car rental place was closed, so we decided to just ride until we found something.  We came across this place called Hanamaulu Restaurant Tea House and Sushi Bar.  It looked packed and smelled delicious from the road, so we figured we would check it out.  Upon arrival, we quickly realized that this was definitely a local joint which made us excited.  There were two parties going on, a gorgeous outdoor garden, and some people sitting at the sushi bar, so we decided to take a seat there.  After dining on tea, a pupu platter, multiple sushi rolls, and some green tea ice cream we decided this place was legit!  We met two local couples who were sitting next to us, and they were full of friendliness and advice for us.  It was a great way to start our trip in Hawaii.  After dinner, we were exhausted, and it was getting dark, so we drove to find our resort, and found a gorgeously landscaped place in Princeville.  By this point it was way past our NY city clock bedtime, so we crashed and figured we would wake up super early to enjoy our first full day in Hawaii!


Sunday May 22, 2011

Day 2

Aloha!  Being that our body clocks are still on EST time, Zack and I woke up with the roosters this morning around 5:30am, before the sun had even risen.  I think this might be a record for me.  We got ready for the day, and took a walk on the grounds of our resort.  We are located right on a golf course, and we have found that most of Princeville is covered in beautifully maintained golf courses.  I think this might be my father’s paradise.  We walked the golf course makai (to the water ) where the cliffs have a dramatic drop down to the water.  The view was stunning.  Looking back mauka (toward the mountains), was equally, if not more stunning.  The mountains are so massive and lush with greenery.  I have never seen mountains like this before, and we saw our first Hawaiian rainbow!  Not a double rainbow, but good enough for Day 2.  Along the walk, we also saw other interesting species native to Hawaii; the Brazilian cardinal and the bird of paradise were on the top of my favorites list.  We then made our way back to the hotel for a free breakfast where I was introduced to POG—pineapple, orange, guava juice.  I think this might be similar to this drink Ocean Spray used to make called Mauna Lai which my dad always used to buy.  Breakfast was good, and they had an information session there for everyone to learn about fun things to do on the island.  We kind of got suckered into signing up for this second 90 minute info session about time shares in order to get really good discounts on all activities for the rest of our two weeks here.  We’ll see how that goes tomorrow.  The rest of the day, we pretty much just explored the North Shore of the island.  We found the St. Regis resort which is beautiful, grocery stores, fruit stands, farmer’s market areas, shops, restaurants, etc.  The drive along the North Shore is really tight and has lots of twists and turns with one lane bridges.  There are also spectacular view points along the way, plenty of beaches, cool caves, and an area called tunnels, which is supposed to be good for snorkeling.  We checked out Hanalei Bay, which was pretty quiet, and then made a quick stop at Waikoko which was also very quiet.  Our favorite of the day was Haena Beach, where we were lucky to find parking.  The first thing we did there was go across the street to this enormous cave opening and took some photos.  It was a pretty cool sight.  Then we went to the food truck nearby and I just had to get some Hawaiian shaved ice (rainbow flavor just like all the kids—pineapple, vanilla, and cherry.)  Zack got a Kalua pig sandwich, which is basically a BBQ pulled pork sandwich that was also really delicious.  In the food cart line, Zack also noticed some green avocados growing on a tree, and of course had to try and climb up to get one.  We then walked down the beach admiring the lush mountains as we walked toward the coral reef (tunnels) so Zack could get in a little snorkeling.  The entire day, the weather was kind of wacky.  Rain, sun, rain, sun, rain sun pretty much the whole day.  Luckily, we got enough sun to make it worth being out there on the beach for most of the day.  We made our last stop at Ke’e Beach, and didn’t get out as it was packed, and we were ready to head home by this point anyway.  We did see some trail beginnings which made us excited for the rest of the week.  We will be back!  We stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and man I thought NYC had expensive food, but I think Hawaii takes the cake!  We came home, relaxed on our deck for a bit, took a bubble bath in our Jacuzzi, and the cooked up a yummy Italiano meal of linguine with clams, squid, & spinach with white wine.  Perfection.  In bed by 9:30pm and ready for Day 3.


Monday May 23, 2011

Day 3

Rain rain, go away.  Come back to Hawaii some other day.  The forecast had looked pretty promising over the next week with Mon-Tues looking similar to our day yesterday and sunshine the rest of the week.  But the weather has decided to take a turn in Princeville, and it now looks like showers for the rest of the week.  Of course, it’s unpredictable and there are pockets of sunshine, but it wasn’t looking good for the beach or hiking on the North Shore.  Luckily, my genius husband discovered that the climate is different all over this wacky island.  He found that the South shore was supposed to be completely sunny the whole week.  Score!  Although, it was a bit of a drive, it was totally worth it to explore the other side of the island and get out of the rain.  Before we did this, we had to sit through a 90 minute sales pitch on time shares, which was kind of a drag, but worth the discounts on all the activities around the island.  After this, we decided to drive to Waimea Canyon which strangely, is super close to Princeville, there is just no way to get to it without driving ALL the way around the island to the other side.  One of the best things about Kauai is how natural it is and how well they preserve nature here.  So as annoying as it is to have to drive around the long way, you have to appreciate what they have done to keep the island looking so clean, beautiful, and natural.  We took the drive down to Waimea with the convertible top down and sunshine was blazing!  Yes!  After the long drive, we got a little hungry, so we stopped for lunch at a recommended spot called Shrimp Station.  I got the coconut shrimp which was amazing!  Zack, who is allergic to shrimp, went across the street to Island Taco instead and got ahi tuna tacos.  After satisfying our appetites, we decided to make the drive up the mountain to view the canyon.  Along the way, there were tons of pull-over stop off spots to take in the views.  It was hard to be the driver on this portion, because you want to see everything, but obviously you have to keep your eyes on the road!  So it was nice they had these pull over spots.  I can’t even explain how breathtaking some of these views were of the canyon.  Just stunning.  We got even higher, and got a view of the Napali Coast, which honestly rivals the view I saw in Capri, Italy (which was previously my most favorite view in the world).  After taking in the views, we decided to go for a little hike.  We chose an easy trail for our first Hawaiian hike, called the Kaluapuhi Trail, it was only about 2.4 miles round trip, and pretty easy, but very scenic with lots of pretty trees, really gorgeous birds I wish I could name, and unbelievably, there was even a rooster on our hike!  After the hike, we headed back down the mountain; this time Zack drove, so I could see a little more.  At the bottom of the mountain we stopped to get some yummy Hawaiian flavored ice cream; pineapple coconut for me, and orange pineapple for Zack.  We then wanted to see what the south shore beaches were about so we stopped at Lucy Wright Beach near Waimea to catch what was left of the sun and wash off my muddy shoes from our hike.  We first noticed the color of the sand on this beach—black.  It was kind of cool, but also a little weird.  There weren’t too many people on this beach besides a few locals, and homeless tent village nearby.  I guess if I were homeless, I would want to live on the beach in Kauai too!  After the beach, we made the trek back to the North Shore, cooked up some BBQ chicken on the grill, tropical fruit salad, and black beans with a glass of wine, and we were spent.



Tuesday May 24, 2011

Day 4

ZIPCORD DAY!!!  Amongst coming to Hawaii, I’m finding there are plenty of ways to knock things off my bucket list out here.  One of which is zip cording!  We found a treetop tour down in Lawai on the south side of the island.  We were up bright and early to get there and meet a guy on an ATV who directed us into the forest to the start of the zip lining course.  This course had 7 lines ranging from long, medium, one mini zip, and a bunch of different rope bridges to cross as well.  We got all our gear on, and they took us up to our first zip.  The group in front of us had a woman who had just let out a ridiculous scream, so that was upping my nerves a little bit!  We climbed to the top of this rope bridge to start the course, and wow, was it high!  The first zip was a little freaky, but definitely fun, and I think I got the hang of zipping pretty quickly!  We continued along the tour taking photos, across bridges, and swinging on swings above the treetops.  We were pretty high up there, and luckily, Zack and I were able to get a couple cool videos of us on the zip line.  Our guides were all really nice and gave us great tips for the rest of our trip in Kauai.  After the zip course, I kind of felt like a pro, but we weren’t done yet.  The monster swing was next, which takes an individual up about 60 feet into the air until you let go and “Swing Away!”  I let out a blood curdling scream on the way down, but it was such an awesome rush and tons of fun.  Even Zack kinda screamed out on his way down as well!  Lastly, we both climbed the 50 foot rock wall all the way to the top.  Zack knocked it out quickly, but it was a little more difficult for me being of such short stature with short arms and short legs.  It was definitely a tough challenge for me, and I did need a little break at one point when I was almost to the top, but the comment from one of the guides about 5th graders completing the course last week kicked my butt into gear, and I knocked out the rest up to the top.  Afterwards, my arms felt like jello, and I’m pretty sure my arms will be sore tomorrow as well.  After our adventuresome morning, we were starving, so we decided to check out Poipu, which was nearby, and had a cool tree tunnel entrance into that part of town.  We got a delicious bite to eat at Brennecke’s on the Beach.  Their ceviche was a pass, but their Kalua Pig Sandwiches were to die for.  Melt in your mouth amazing.  I also enjoyed a yummy Pina Colada to wash it down.  The view from Brennecke’s was gorgeous and definitely what I had been looking for since coming to Hawaii.  I pointed out a little tide pool area to Zack while we were eating, and he all of the sudden had a flash down memory lane that this was the place his parents brought him to when he was 5.  We had found it!  Poipu Beach was pretty cool.  There were mostly resorts nearby, but we got some snorkeling gear, and went out to Sand Island to check out fish.  Along the way, we saw two Hono, or green sea turtles near the shore which was pretty awesome.  I hope they are able to get back out to the big ocean when they need to.  Snorkeling was a lot of fun, and we saw some really cool tropical fish including Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (Picasso Triggerfish), Kihikihi (Moorish Idol), Kikapapu (Raccoon Butterflyfish), and more.  We laid out on Sand Island for awhile, walked around the town of Poipu, and of course, got some Hawaiian Shave Ice.  After a long day, we came back to Princeville, showered up, and went to dinner at the nearby St. Regis.  After battling me on what to wear, Zack finally got in his dress clothes, and we headed down the street to the resort.  The St. Regis was beautiful, and reminded us of something we would find in Vegas, except on the water and no casino.  We went to dinner at the Kauai Grill, which we happily realized was owned by Chef Jean George.  Holy delicious.  We started with a Ginger Margarita and a Peach Saketini, both amazing and the Japanese raw Hamachi with macademia nut and green chilies.  Nom nom nom.  For our entrees, I got the Kona Lobster, and Zack got the Lehi which is a snapper with sesame shiso sauce.  Everything was divine, and we had a really nice romantic evening together while living large for the night!  Today was an A+ all around.


Wednesday May 25, 2011

Day 5

Today we started off the morning with Zack making a yummy breakfast of eggs, turkey bacon, and toast.  We then set off for the final destination of the North Shore—Ke’e Beach.  We had heard good things from a woman who worked at the surf shop, and the weather was looking good in the neighborhood, so we decided to try our luck.  After stopping at the surf shop to pick up an extra set of snorkeling gear, we headed to Ke’e.  By the time we got there, people had already filled the parking lot, and we ended up having to park super far away.  It gets really crowded here, because aside from the beach, it also marks the start of the Kalalau Trail where hikers flock to navigate this Napali Coast trail.  Ke’e Beach was awesome; we got tons of sun, and the snorkeling was great with many tropical fish, and cool looking coral and sea urchin to look at.  After a few hours of swimming and sunning, we decided to take on the 4 mile hike down the Kalalau Trail.  The trail actually goes a total of 11 miles down the entire Napali Coast with beautiful stunning views along the way.  You must be a really experienced hiker to take this on, as it could take days to make it there and back with 22 miles of trail, and it’s definitely not easy.  There is a shorter hike to a beautiful waterfall that probably would have taken us 7-8 hours had we attempted it.  But being that this was really our first difficult hike in Hawaii, and we had no water, we decided just to do the 3-4 hour hike to the beach and back.  The hike was a bit tough, but totally worth it.  The views were absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking, and I’m so happy we decided to do this trail, even though we were hot and tired.  Making it down to the beach was awesome, and we built a little rock tower next to all the rest to prove we made it.  The hike back was pretty difficult, but honestly I think with water and having not laid out in the sun all day, it wouldn’t have been so tough.  After the hike, we were completely exhausted, and we deserved rewards for our efforts.  My reward came in the form of water and Hawaiian Shave Ice.  Zack’s reward was water and Ahi Poke from Dolphin Market.  We then headed home to shower up for dinner.  On recommendation, we went to Tahiti Nui for dinner, which is a small local watering hole with really great food and live music every night.  We ordered their famous Mai Tai’s and a green salad with papaya seed dressing to start.  Then, I got jumbo sea scallops while Zack ordered Hawaiian pizza with Kalua pork and pineapple.  Everything was really good, and the Hawaiian guitar player was really entertaining.  He sang tunes like “Puff the Magic Dragon,” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  We had a great time, but it we couldn’t stick it out for the rock and roll jam sesh afterwards, because we were tired, and knew that we had an early morning coming!



Thursday May 26, 2011

Day 6

Today, we woke up before the sunrise and headed to Hanalei Bay for the Napali Coast boat tour.  It started out rainy and cold, which was a bit of a bummer, but luckily, the weather cleared up while we were out on the water.  We boarded our raft in the Hanalei River with 6 other people including a middle-aged couple with their 11 year old daughter, and elderly couple, and our crazy Captain.  The tour was unbelievable, and I would recommend it to anyone.  On the way out, we passed Ke’e Beach where we had hung out yesterday, and then we kept going all along the coast.  We saw some hikers along the Kalalau Trail along with a few goats in the cliffs.  We even witnessed a helicopter air drop of supplies to one of the beaches on the coast.  The cliffs looked absolutely amazing from the water, and because we were in the smaller raft, we were able to go inside multiple caves which was really cool.  We saw some waterfalls, some rainbows, and some sea turtles from the boat, and it was definitely a great experience.  At the end of our route, we stopped and anchored the boat for some snorkeling.  Apparently, my fins didn’t get packed, and I was having mask problems, but luckily the elderly woman on the boat with us (who couldn’t swim) decided after 2 minutes she was done snorkeling, and let me borrow her gear.  I still was having issues with the new gear, but I was able to see some really cool tropical fish including an entire school by a coral reef.  After swimming around for a bit, I then had a moment of panic about being in the deep water, and decided to swim back to the boat as fast as possible.  We had a yummy lunch provided by the boat tour company, and heard tons of crazy stories from our Captain about life on Kauai.  The ride back was faster since we had already taken photos, and the wind had picked up so there were a bunch of really big waves to ride over causing screams and squeals of delight from myself and the 11 year old.  After the boat ride, Zack and I were both exhausted.  I think all the adventure and excitement from the week was starting to catch up with us, and we decided to just go back to the hotel and lay by the pool.  We both took long naps until we finally felt refreshed.  Once we awoke, we decided to check out Queen Emma’s Bath, which is the hottest attraction in Princeville.  Basically, it’s an entirely enclosed pool of water right on the ocean surrounded by a bunch of lava rocks, and you can go swimming or snorkeling here.  We realized it was within walking distance to our hotel, so we took the walk down there to check it out.  We heard stories that this area is dangerous, and people have died by waves crashing onto them on the rocks and dragging them out to sea.  We researched the tides to make sure that we were going during low tide, and after talking to a few more people, we found that in the summertime, there is not much to worry about.  (as long as you are being smart of course, and not straying too close to the edge of the rocks.)  That being said, stay away from this area in the wintertime as it becomes much more rough and dangerous.  After our little adventure, we were hungry, so we went on a quick shopping trip, and came back to our place to cook up grilled Opah, or moonfish, (which tastes a bit like swordfish), pasta with red sauce, and baby bok choy.  Another good day in Kauai.



Friday May 27, 2011

Day 7

Call me girlie if you must, but my nails have hit the two week mark, and they are in desperate need of being redone!  I tried the Shellac technique two weeks ago for my wedding day, and now I’m hooked!  Thanks, Shirin!  The stuff is amazing, the polish goes over your nails like regular polish, yet stays on as good as fake tips without chipping, you can touch anything you want immediately after your manicure is done, and the best part is that your nails are not ruined once the stuff comes off!  Amazing.  I found a salon in Kapaa off Yelp and went to check it out for a mani/pedi combo.  It was pretty expensive, but I loved being pampered, and didn’t feel bad about it, because I am on my honeymoon, right?  The weird part was that Zack of course stayed home at this time, and after spending 24/7 time together, I really missed the kid for those 3 hours!  When I got back, we took a long walk around the golf course on our resort before the nighttime festivities.


Tonight was pretty exciting, as we made our way down to the south side of the island for Luau Kalamaku!  Zack had never been to a luau, and I had never been to one outside of Disney World, so we figured we should get the full Hawaiian experience.  We heard good things about this particular luau, so we decided to give it a shot.  Our hotel has a shuttle service that picked people up so we didn’t have to drive all the way there, and the driver gave us a little tour as we took the drive down there.  It was a little bit helpful for some things we couldn’t point out, but also a little bit repetitive since we had already done so much exploring on our own.  We entered the luau to hear drums playing, we got leid, and had our photos taken, and were seated in an enormous tented pavilion with a big stage in the middle of the room.  There was an open bar with yummy mai tais and blue Hawaiians and lots of vendors set up with jewelry, bags, hats, flavored almonds, Hawaiian games to play, and more.  Right before dinner, they bring everyone over to bless the pig that has been roasting and they carry it away on a stretcher type carrier.  Once we were seated for dinner, there was an appetizer and salad course followed by a buffet dinner with the Kalua pig, purple sweet potatoes (which were to die for), poi (which I would rather die than eat), vegetable curry, chicken with noodles, sweet and sour chicken and rice.  Everything was pretty decent, and for dessert we had rice pudding with rum sauce and banana cream pie which was really good.  The show started after we ate with tons of Hawaiian dancing, a sort of play intermixed and fire twirling which was definitely the best part!  Our table was full of young people, mostly couples, one couple had just met face to face after 5 months of chatting online!  Too funny.  The girl was native to Kauai, and I was happy to report that she said all of the food at the luau was stuff that they would make at home, so it was pretty authentic.  We had a great time, and I’m definitely glad we decided to take advantage of going to a luau while in Hawaii.



Saturday May 28, 2011

Day 8

Our first week in Kauai is now over, but we have a day stuck in limbo as our 2nd timeshare doesn’t start until tomorrow.  Luckily, Ka’eo Kai let us stay in a studio room that they had open for the night for only $77!  Definitely a steal!  We did laundry and packed up our things to move to the studio for the day/night.  I am going to miss our home we had for a week.  Then, the rainy weather brought us down to Poipu Beach again.  We were nervous that it wouldn’t even clear up down south, but the sun pulled through in Poipu, and we laid out all day long in the sunshine.  We watched some boogie boarders catching great waves, and then Zack did some snorkeling while I feel asleep in the sand.  We had a nice relaxing day until we got hungry, and decided to head home.  On the way back, we stopped in Kapaa at a little shack called Mermaids, which we had heard some good things about.  I ordered the chicken noodle stir fry, and Zack got the Ahi Tacos.  Both were really good.  We took a little walk around town, which is probably the biggest town on the island (and causes traffic daily on the only highway).  We saw some really awesome local art at a gallery, cute knickknacks, and some nice clothes and jewelry at different shops.  We also stumbled upon a natural foods store, which I am sure we will check out next week at our new place since it’s in Kapaa.  After walking around for a bit, we headed back to the studio, and being Saturday night, we decided to hit the town.  We weren’t really sure where to go, but decided our best bet was probably Tahiti Nui again, and we were right!  It was packed with locals dancing to a reggae DJ all night long.  We had some good drinks and met some nice people while also finally getting our dance on for once in Kauai.  Last call was around 12:00am which is super early for us New Yorkers, but we have adjusted to the Kauai lifestyle quickly!  I think it might be hard to take us away from this place!


Sunday May 29, 2011

Day 9

We woke up and packed up once again to finally leave Ka’eo Kai for good.  We headed down to Hanalei for breakfast at the Wake Up Café where I enjoyed eggs, bacon, and hash browns with an OJ, and Zack had papaya, granola, and hash browns with coffee.  It was really good, and I also liked that the restaurant was decked out with old surfing photos from the pros that had come to enjoy this café.  After breakfast, we headed to the Waipa Rodeo, which we had heard about through one of the Kauai locals last night at Tahiti Nui.  Neither of us had ever been to a rodeo before, so we weren’t really sure what to expect, but it was a pretty fun time.  It was a small town rodeo, so there was no bull riding or anything like that, but there was calf roping and mugging, which was a lot of fun to watch, and just see the cowboy culture of the Hawaiians.  After a couple hours at the rodeo, we decided to check out Tunnels which is a great snorkeling spot, and Zack was pumped.  After getting way too much sun this past week, we opted for a shaded spot to read our books.  We met a super Happy Hippie who was feeding a flock of pigeons by our towels when we got back from a walk on the beach.  She was from British Columbia in Canada, and her husband and she were really nice, but she was definitely an interesting lady!  Very deep thinker.  We lazied it out on the beach for pretty much the rest of the day until we got hungry and decided to grab a bite to eat in Hanalei.  We stopped at Neida for some Mexican/Brazilian food.  I ordered a strawberry margarita with pork crazy nachos and Zack ordered a big steak with onions, rice, and beans washed down with a Dos Equis lager.  The food was pretty good, and we then walked around the town for a bit exploring the little shops nearby since we had neglected to do it earlier, and we were sad to be leaving Hanalei.  We both decided tonight that Hanalei is probably our favorite town on the island.  After the sun went down, we finally made it to our new resort destination, Kauai Coast Resort in Kapaa.  Upon arrival, we realized that this is a much nicer place to stay although there are plusses and minuses to both of the resorts.  We took a quick walk in the dark around the resort grounds and noticed a very nice pool with tiki bar, hot tub, tons of lounge chairs, hammocks, and the Pacific Ocean just steps away.  They also have a good looking restaurant on site with live music in the lobby every night.  We unpacked all of our things at our new home for week #2, and we are getting excited about what we have in store for our next adventures in Kauai!  Goodnight!



Monday May 30, 2011

Day 10

Today was an adventuresome day of exploration.  We made our way to the Kuilau trail for a hike, but on the way stopped to view the Opaekaa Falls from the road, and crossed the street to discover an old Hawaiian village called the Kamokila Village.  We quickly decided we must check this out on the way back.  We continued down the road past Wailua toward the start of the Kuilau trail with the help of our book, Kauai Trailblazer, which has proven to be an awesome guidebook for trails, beaches, and fun adventures and ways to find little secrets on the island.  The Kuilau trail, although a bit muddy, had some beautiful views of the Sleeping Giant mountain and the valleys below.  We got some good exercise in doing about a 6-7 mile round trip hike for the day.  As noted before, we did indeed stop at the Kamokila village after our hike.  It turned out to be worth the $5 per person to stop and learn a little history about early Hawaiian culture.  Most of the town had been rebuilt, but it was on the original grounds right on the Wailua River, and there were multiple descriptions of what the different huts were used for, many fruit trees, and some cool animals including two boar and three beautiful peacocks.  After exploring, we got hungry, and decided to stop at Foodland to pick up dinner, since our new fridge in Kapaa was empty.  We picked up tons of goodies, and then got home only to realize we were too tired to cook, so Zack ate his leftover steak, and I had a yummy bag of popcorn for dinner before passing out.


Tuesday May 31, 2011

Day 11

Rise and shine early again today, this time for an outdoorsy adventure to the “Secret Falls.”  We decided to book with Kayak Adventures (which we found out later also runs under Ancient River Kayak and Rainbow Kayak names) since they were literally a 2 minute walk from our resort.  We grabbed breakfast at home before heading over, and geared up for our trip.  The kayaks have dry bags so we were able to bring along towels and a camera, etc.  We started out with a 2 mile paddle out on the Wailua River, which was really nice.  It was early, quiet, and relaxing, even though I realized I would definitely be getting an arm workout today!  We turned a corner off the river where it got skinnier until we were able to bank our kayaks and start our 1 mile hike to the falls.  The hike was gorgeous all along the river with lots of jungle like vegetation, some rocks, some mud, and lots and lots of greenery.  Our guide pointed out all kinds of interesting things such as mango trees, candle nut trees, guava trees, etc.  Our hike landed us at the bottom of a gorgeous waterfall at least 100ft high with a swimming hole underneath of it that you could stand in.  We immediately took off our hiking gear to get down to our bathing suits and plunged into the swimming hole.  Our guide, Thomas, was nice enough to take some photos of us in the water in front of the waterfall which was pretty good.  He then took out his machete to slice up a big pineapple for us to serve with our lunch of sandwiches, fruit, chips, etc.  Our trip was complete with another 1 mile hike back through the jungle and then the 2 mile paddle in our kayaks back to the harbor.  I was surprised at how clear all the river water was, and one of the best things about Kauai is that there is not much to be afraid of in terms of animals in the woods.  There are no snakes on the entire island, and if anyone sees one, they fly in a helicopter to get rid of it.  There aren’t poisonous frogs or other things to worry about and, there are no piranhas or alligators in the rivers, etc.  Of course, I suppose sharks are a concern, but honestly there are only about 3-4 shark attacks on the entire state of Hawaii each year (which isn’t any more than most beaches), and it’s been proven that you are 15 times more likely to be killed by getting hit on the head by a falling coconut.  So, I’m thinking my chances are pretty good?!  We were very happy after our river/jungle/waterfall adventure, and being beat from the trip, we decided to go back to the hotel pool and get some sun and read our books while enjoying a frozen cup of deliciousness from the tiki bar.  After a couple hours of sunning and swimming, a big downpour rolled through (typical), and we darted for shelter.  Luckily, it was a quick rain passing through, and we were able to come back down shortly to grill up some yummy dinner that should have been cooked the night before.  We grilled pork chops, shrimp, yellow peppers, and corn with Hawaiian seasoning, and made a garden salad to accompany our feast.  We completed the feast with a bottle of red wine.  I love vacation.



Wednesday June 1, 2011

Day 12


We started out our day this morning with a drive down to Poipu for a scenic beach and mountain horseback ride at CJM Stables.  Remember our friend from Tahiti Nui and the Rodeo?  Well, he also mentioned that if we wanted to do a horse ride, we should do it here, so we took his advice, and I’m sure glad we did!  I’ve only been on a horse twice in my life—once was on my 7th birthday when my parents threw my sister and I a carnival birthday party (still my favorite birthday party to date).  She hired the neighbor who had a stable to come up with one of her horses for “pony rides” for all the kids.  We walked around the front yard a couple times with someone holding the reins from the front leading the horse around and we called it a day.  The second time, I think I was about 10, and once again, I didn’t have full control of my horse, as we were at my Dad’s friends stable and she led the horse around the ring a couple times with me on it.  I was very excited as 1) this would be my first time on a horse by myself where I would have to control it (btw, this also made me a little nervous!), 2) a romantic horseback ride would be another check off my bucket list, and 3) the horse ride is on both the beach and the mountain side.  I really don’t think it can get any better than that!  My horse’s name was Hoppa, and while she listened to my commands pretty well, she was definitely a little lazy one!  I think it was definitely a good starting out horse considering I am a beginner though.  Zack’s horse was a little more spunky, with the name, Dude, and he was just eating grass the whole time on the trail.  The ride was beautiful.  It was so amazing to be riding a horse right on the beach, and then up through the mountains.  I picked it up surprisingly quickly, and had a really great time.  Our guide, Chaz, was really cool, and we found out he and his partner actually won the roping competition at the Waipa Rodeo earlier this week!  He took a couple pictures for us on the ride and we had some POG on the trail as well.  At the end of the ride I was partly sad that it was over and I had to say goodbye to my horse, but my legs and bum were very happy that we were finished!  After the ride, we headed over to the nearby Grand Hyatt for a bite to eat.  We sat on the outdoor terrace overlooking a koi pond and the ocean to enjoy some Kalua Banana Coladas, ceasar salad, and Mahi Mahi sandwiches.  Our waitress was super nice, and asked us all our advice for visiting the northeast area of the states.  After lunch, we took a walk around the grounds of the hotel which was really nice.  The pool area was huge with a couple restaurants, and multiple pools—one with sand!  We decided to “Bonnie & Clyde” and plopped down on two comfy lounge chairs to sun ourselves and enjoy the pool.  No one really seemed to mind or notice, so we spent a few hours there until we were all sunned out.  On the way home, we stopped at Kipu Falls, which has a very hidden entrance from the road, but luckily there were a bunch of cars parked nearby, so we figured out where the path began.  It was about a 5-10 minute walk back through some thick plant vegetation, but totally worth it!  We reached Kipu Falls, which has about a 20 foot drop, and many people jumped from it with no problem.  Zack jumped it twice (the second time, I promised him I would try really hard to come in after him, but ended up chickening out…boo, I know).  I did, however, do the rope swing over the water, which also had about a 20 foot drop, but somehow this just seemed a bit safer to me.  Zack, being the monkey that he is, had to climb up the side of the cliff to unhook the rope catcher which had gotten stuck, in order for us to eventually swing out on the rope.  It was worth it, and I’m glad we checked it out!  Feeling like exploring a little bit more, we went down a couple of other roads to discover a huge fish pond and a new area outside Lihue called Nawiliwili Harbor.  Many boats were docked here, a canoe club and a yacht club as well as a lot of industry, but we kept driving down the road and found a lot of interesting shops and restaurants on the river which was pretty cool.  We eventually made it back to our home for the week in Kapaa, ate our leftovers, and booked our adventures for the rest of the week.  We are both getting sad that our trip is nearing the end.



Thursday June 2, 2011

Day 13

 Today, we planned on hiking in the Waimea Canyon.  We did not, however, realize that we were getting ourselves into quite the scary, life flashing-before-your-eyes situation.  We woke up a little later than usual, and had a filling breakfast of bagels, cheese, and fruit.  Then we made our way down south toward Waimea with the convertible top down on the gorgeous, sunny day.  After driving 15 miles up the mountain, we stopped at the museum to check out the trail map and decide which one we would like to hike that day.  The last trail we did in Waimea was the first one we did in Hawaii, and it was really easy and short.  We definitely wanted something more challenging, but we weren’t really sure which one to do.  We knew we did not want the swamp trail, because that one goes straight up and straight down, and we heard your toenails might fall off by the end because of the steep decline.  The museum area was packed with lots of tourists (unlike last time when we were able to ask advice from the person working there), so we were kind of on our own with picking out a trail.  We looked at the map, and decided on the Awaawapuhi Trail which neared the edge of the Napali Coast and also connected to the Nualolo Cliff Trail and the Nualolo Trail.  The entire loop was 8.5 miles, but we weren’t sure if we were going to have enough time at first, so we thought we would just go down the Awaawapuhi Trail and then come back the same way for about a 6.5 mile hike.  Once we got to the end of the Awaawapuhi Trail, though, we decided to go for it, and try the whole loop.  Clearly, we should have done our homework to realize what we were getting ourselves into.  The entire hike was really, really gorgeous.  There were beautiful views of canyons, mountains, and the ocean.  It was similar to what we had seen that first time in Waimea when we drove to the top, although this time, we were now hiking in that mountain.  There were parts of the trail that were eroded, so we both got hiking sticks and were really careful to stay as far away from the edge as possible.  Although parts were a bit slippery, we never really felt too much in danger.  That is of course until we came to a sign that read: “Caution: the next .25 miles of this trail is extremely narrow and washed out.  Please continue only at your own risk.”  Umm…WHAT?!?!  You’re telling me we’ve come all this way, and now we are going to have to turn around and go all the way back the way we came?  Who knows if we will make it back by dark if we do that?  But this part of the trail looks extremely dangerous, and seriously scary.  To the left,  was a wall of loose eroding rock and dirt.  The trail was reduced to 1-2 feet at most of flat dry crumbly dirt that angled down 50 degrees about 4-6 feet at most and then cut off to a vertical death drop.  I asked Zack what he thought we should do, and we both contemplated turning around.  I don’t know what the hell we were thinking, but we decided to go for it.  Zack went ahead first to make sure it was safe, and he made it down the first section with no problem.  I was terrified, but I followed suit keeping one hand on the eroding rocks to the left and my head turned toward the mountain.  We both rounded the corner, and HOLY SHIT the drop was insane.  We read later that this drop is about 2000ft of a free fall.  I quickly turned my head back toward the mountain as there was no turning back now, and kept moving along the ridge crossing the next section.  We came up to the next section where we had to go a bit downhill facing outward from the mountain, and this was definitely the scariest part.  All it would take would be one slip, and you could go sliding and flying right off this mountain.  At this point, Zack instructed me to put down my hiking stick and sit down on my butt, dig my palms back into the mountain, and inch my way down.  There was a big root that was fairly steady, at the bottom of this section that we used to guide us just in case we were to slip.  We moved slowly inch by inch until we were finally past this ridiculous section of the trail.  After we made it through that part, I stole a look to my right to see what we had actually just done, and Zack said, “Don’t look! Don’t look!”  But I couldn’t resist viewing what we had just conquered.  It was extremely scary, yet beautiful.  Turning back toward the mountain, there was one more freaky section left in which I just kept my head facing the mountain and we both made our way.  Breathing two HUGE sighs of relief when we finally got through that .25 mile part of the trail we hugged each other and could not believe what we just did.  I repeated over and over that my parents were going to kill me when they found out what we had done.  Covered in red dirt, we washed our hands, and continued along the rest of the trail.  This section of the trail was a lot of uphill and also a little scary, but after completing what we just did, we were pretty sure we would have no trouble conquering the rest of the trail.  8.5 miles later, we were completely and utterly exhausted and dumbfounded about the hike we had just done.  We were also pretty hungry, so we drove down the mountain and had dinner at the Waimea Brewing Station.  Once again, we deserved rewards!!!  I got the beer sampler with 4 different drafts to try and Zack enjoyed a brew as well.  Zack ordered Thai veggie spring rolls and a big ‘ole bacon cheeseburger, and I ordered a cup of seafood chowder with a rack of baby back ribs.  Both entrees came with sweet potato fries.  The food was really good, well priced, and located on a beautiful plantation with nice cottages and an ocean view.  We packed up our leftovers, and headed back to Kapaa full, exhausted, and happy to be alive.


Friday June 3, 2011

Day 14

Still happy to be alive, we awoke this morning and praised the sun during sunrise yoga on the beach.  We found an instructor online, and she met us out front of the Waipouli Resort on a public beach at 5:50am.  We were able to see the sunrise as we laid our mats and towels on the sand for some mind and body strengthening.  It was a great way to start our relaxing day, and we both felt completely calmed afterward.  We then headed to Java Kai for breakfast in which Zack ordered bagels with lox and I got a Belgian waffle with bananas and macadamia nuts on top.  Yum!  After breakfast, we checked out some of the shops in Kapaa, and toured a Kauai hostel just to see what it looked like.  Continuing the relaxation, we went to the spa located right on our resort, and got a 90 minute couples massage.  Heaven.  It was completely what we needed after all the hiking and horseback riding.  My legs and buttocks were killing me, so this was the perfect fix.  It was also perfect timing, because as soon as our massages were over, we came out of our euphoric states to find that it had poured down rain and thunderstormed throughout the entire massage!  We had zoned out through the whole thing.  Although the rain had stopped at this point, it was still a bit dreary out, and rather than spend the rest of the day at the beach as planned, we decided to rent bikes and ride along the east coast on the bike trail down Kapaa.  It was a beautiful ride, minus all the little bugs flying into our faces, and we were glad we got the chance to view the coast from this angle.  We popped into a couple more shops in Kapaa; Zack bought a cool one-of-a-kind hand-drawn hat with a rooster on it, and we also found out Zack’s Hawaiian name is Kaka, which I had a field day with.  We started getting hungry, so we headed back to our place to shower up for dinner.  Two locals we had talked to about places to eat in Kapaa both suggested Kintaro, so we decided we must try it, and I am happy to say it was a good decision!  Probably the best deal on the island in terms of food!  First they hooked us up with free crispy wontons by accident.  We ordered pork gyoza , a spicy scallop roll, and a carafe of saki to start.  We then ordered a seafood bouillabaisse which had shrimp, crab, fish, clams, etc in a light seafood broth with rice noodles.  They brought us two miso soups with our meal instead of one.  Everything was really awesome, and our bill was about $55 for the entire thing! (not including tip).  This is unreal compared to every other place we have been in Kauai.  Wow.  I would definitely go back there again! 


Saturday June 4, 2011

Day 15

Today was a day of trying to find the sun.  We eventually succeeded, but it took awhile!  We started off going to breakfast in Kapaa at Kountry Kitchen, which we had heard a lot of great things about.  WOW, this place had portions bigger than I have ever seen!  Both of us got a yummy sampler with eggs, bacon, and French toast with a side of corn bread and hash browns.  I also tried coconut syrup for the first time, and it was amazing!  Kountry Kitchen definitely lived up to the hype.  We then decided to head to the North Shore one last time to Ke’e Beach.  It had been raining earlier, but it had stopped by the time we got there.  I laid out for a bit, and Zack did his last bit of snorkeling, but then the rain came around again, and we decided to head south.  Unfortunately, driving south did not bring much better weather.  It was actually getting worse!  Torrential downpours flooded the South Shore while we were driving down, and it was getting tough to even see the road.  Poipu was a no go, so we continued on, and it was even raining in Waimea.  We stopped at Island Taco for some quesadillas, and luckily, the by time we finished lunch, the sun had come out in Waimea.  The beaches in Waimea have black, kinda gross sand (and we heard the water contains baby hammerheads—yikes!) so we ended up laying out on the grassy area next to the beach instead.  We caught up on some reading, and then enjoyed a shave ice from Jo Jo’s right as it was closing time.  Today was probably the least best day in Kauai, and I say least best, because if on your worst day of vacation you still had an amazing breakfast, time to lay out in the sun, and get a shave ice, then you must be having an awesome time.  We ended our night at the Hukilau Restaurant in our hotel resort for our last dinner.  We were extremely and overly impressed with the quality of the food and the service we received here.  We ordered a bottle of Petite Syrah at the bar while we waited for our table, and then sat down on the outdoor lanai, or terrace/deck.  Zack enjoyed Ahi Poke Nachos as an appetizer, and the homemade vegetable lasagna as his entrée, while I ordered the filet mignon.  We were really happy with everything, although sad this would be our last dinner on the island.  We’ve had such an amazing time.


Sunday June 5, 2011-Monday June 6, 2011

Day 16 & 17

We were sad pandas today as it was time to pack up and leave.  Our flight didn’t actually leave until 8:40pm, so we really had the whole day, and it was GORGEOUS outside, yet we were both hesitant to go to the beach, because we didn’t want to sit on a plane for two days sweaty and sandy.  We opted to go putt-putt golfing on the North Shore, and I happily squeaked out a win by 1 stroke over my husband.  Holler!  Dad and new brother-in-law would be proud considering they just won their first tourney together.  After golfing, we drove up to the Kilauea Lighthouse, which we had put off doing earlier in the week.  It was a fantastic view, and then we did a little shopping in the town afterwards.  For lunch/dinner we went to the Hanalei Dolphin restaurant for some pupus, or appetizers, and we ordered fish tacos and ceviche.  We sauntered around the Hanalei shops and ended up buying some cute beachy clothes to take home with us.  That’s about all the time we had, and we then made our way to the Lihue Airport to fly home.  After two flights and a six hour time change, we are finally back in New York.  We grabbed food, and we are now back in our NYC apartment exhausted.  Tomorrow paradise is officially over, and it’s back to the real world of hustle and bustle.  This was a honeymoon to remember, and I couldn’t have asked for a better location and person to be with for the rest of my life.  We had such a blast spending so much quality time together, and I know we have a great long life ahead of us.