Cruise: Taihiti

Our last stop on our cruise was Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia. We had one full day there and took full advantage of it. We started the day by having a lovely breakfast in our room, wandering around Papeete and visiting the market, then renting a car to drive around part of the island. Once we picked up the car, we headed North to start our trip around Tahiti Nui (we only had time to drive around the larger part of the island).

After stopping at a black sand beach and waterfall, we continued our rainy drive by a bright colored church and stopped at a botanical garden. Unfortunately the botanical garden seemed pretty desolate. However, we did see a Galapagos turtle but we were somewhat concerned since no one seemed to be there.

Our final stop on our tour of the island was the Maraa grotto. It was pouring down rain but well worth the stop. We met the cutest kitten and wished we could have taken her home with us!

After a decent amount of time at the caves, we drove back to Papeete to return the car and explore more. We walked around the city, visited the market for lunch and souvenirs, and eventually made our way back to the ship to eat dinner and pack our bags for an early morning departure.




The Big Island: Trip 5

A couple weekends ago, we met our friends Lindsay and Channa on The Big Island for a quick trip. They were visiting from Seattle so we decided to crash their vacation for a couple days.

Saturday was a bit rainy so we slept in and then walked into Kailua for brunch. We ate at Daylight Mind Coffee Company (which was delicious) and then wandered back to our hotel.

After eating plenty of food, we decided to go on a short walk to the End of the Earth. We watched a few people jump off the rocks and enjoyed the spectacular view of the ocean.

After a relaxing day, we walked to dinner and enjoyed the evening!

On Sunday we decided to go snorkeling at Two Step. Great location with tons of fish! Videos below!

After lots of snorkeling, we worked up an appetite. We ate lunch at Da Poke Shack before saying bye and venturing back to Oahu! The poke was DELICIOUS.


The Big Island: Trip 4 – Day 3

Saturday we woke up and had coffee on our lanai before embarking on a long haul to the Hilo side of the island for a packed day. We drove through the middle of the island and stopped at Kaumana caves first.

After exploring the caves, we drove a few minutes down the road to Rainbow Falls. We spent some time enjoying the falls and the banyan trees.

After exploring, we decided it was time for breakfast at Ken’s House of Pancakes. The goal was to eat enough so we could make it through the day to our late dinner after our hike. We definitely achieved that goal!

After breakfast, we drove through the Puna area and stopped at MacKenzie State Park and to watch some turtles.

We finally pulled ourselves away from the turtles so we could meet up for our lava hike at Kalapana Cultural Tours! Josh and I went with this company before and they are so wonderful. The hike was different than a few years ago (as expected) and we started by riding bikes a couple miles down a gravel road and then hiked the remainder of the way to the surface flow. We lucked out as there were quite a few breakouts. After that, we hiked back to the ocean entry to check that out before hopping on our bikes for the ride back.

After our hike, we were all pretty hungry and ready to relax. We drove back to Hilo and stopped at Pineapples for dinner before driving back to the other side of the island. It was perfect after our long day — good food, good drinks and open air seating!

After dinner, we drove back and completely crashed after much needed hot showers…very excited to sleep in the next day!


Kauai: Trip 3 – Day 2

Day two started out with all of us being just a bit sore (maybe not so much Kyle) but the rest of us were feeling it. We made coffee and breakfast and then set out to explore! Our day consisted of checking out the the rocks at the end of the beach that had all sorts of things growing on them, walking the beach and visiting the caves at the end, lounging around camp (including in our tents when it decided to start raining) and then enjoying another beautiful sunset on the beach after it rained. We finished the evening by enjoying the stars. They were absolutely breathtaking. We also made friends with a black kitten. It took everything I had to not take him home with me. ❤

Spitting Caves

On Saturday, we drove around the West side of the island and stopped to enjoy the views. We spent awhile at Spitting Caves and saw a few turtles since it was so calm. There were also three people that jumped, so that was awesome! We also discovered that there are multiple peacocks that live in the house near the path to Spitting Caves. As many times as I have been there, I’ve never discovered that!

Kauai: Trip 2 – Day 1

This past weekend, Josh and I took our fourth trip to Kauai (which I believe we have 100% determined to be our favorite island). This time, we ventured there to take a boat tour of the Na Pali coast and to hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls.

Our Saturday morning started out bright and early as we had an hour drive to the boat harbor where we would be departing on our tour. We left at 7:00 a.m. and headed towards the Na Pali coast. Our guide told us that there had been a really large swell the past few days that made it impossible to go in the caves and snorkel as well as, made the boat ride an extremely rough one. We lucked out! We were able to do all of the above and had an amazing experience.

One of the things I was incredibly excited about was the chance that we would get to see Hawaiian spinner dolphins. I have wanted to see dolphins out in the open water since I’ve lived here, but hadn’t gotten to experience that yet. I definitely fixed that on this trip! We saw TONS of them on multiple occasions. Our first encounter provided us with a small pod that had a few babies in it. One of them was the size of a football and was so incredibly cute. They were on all sides of our boat and periodically jumped out of the water to spin. It was amazing!

After getting to experience the dolphins, we continued on to the indescribable beauty of the cliffs of the Na Pali coast. To see it from this angle was, to put it mildly, absolutely stunning. Every time I see this landscape, I always think I’m prepared because I have seen it multiple times before…and I will no longer experience the awe of what I am taking in. However, it never disappoints. Every single time it nearly takes my breath away.

After we made it down the whole coast, we turned around to head back. On our trip back, we got to venture inside the sea caves and get a little closer to the coast.

After touring the sea caves and taking more pictures of the coast, we were able to stop and snorkel for a little bit. Oddly enough, only Josh and I snorkeled out of the six people on our tour. It was a little rough, but there were some pretty big fish. Josh also got to see a HUGE sea turtle. I unfortunately got out about five minutes before he did and missed it! He got great footage of it though!

Na Pali Coast Snorkel

After having some snacks and drying off, we headed back to the harbor. On our way back we came across about five times as many dolphins as we had encountered in the beginning of our tour. They were jumping out of the water everywhere, surfing our wake and just swimming all around us.

After seeing dolphins for the second time, we made it back to the harbor around noon. We were both pretty exhausted and starving. We made it back to our hotel and grabbed a bite to eat. After that, we took a ridiculously long nap (I had taken dramamine and was seasick and we were both exhausted from lack of sleep). We woke up, grabbed dinner at the restaurant we ate at after we hiked the Kalalau Trail last year and headed back to our hotel. We packed up our stuff and headed to bed in preparation for another early morning!

Maui: Trip 1 – Day 2

On Saturday, Josh and I decided to do the road to Hana, which is an entire day trip (we left around 7:00 a.m.). Our first few stops were Upper Puohokamoa Falls, Haipua`ena Falls and Lower Puohokamoa Falls. We missed Lower Puohokamoa Falls at first, but it was definitely the most impressive waterfall we saw all day at 200 feet. We backtracked about a mile and found the short trail to an incredible view of the impressive falls. The other two falls were beautiful as well, but much shorter.


We continued along the coast and made a variety of stops that included capturing some amazing shots of the Ke`anae Coast, the ribbon of the highway cut into the cliffs and Ching’s Pond. Ching’s Pond was filled with people jumping into it from the bridge along the highway. After watching a few people jump, we continued on and stopped at an adorable stand a few miles down the road called Halfway to Hana for a midmorning snack.


After our snacks, we continued on and stopped near the town of Wailua to check out the views from there. We climbed up some stairs at the Wailua Valley State Wayside and had a beautiful view of the Ko`olau Gap on one side an a great view of the tiny settlement of Wailua on the other side. After that, we drove about a mile and stopped at Upper Waikani Falls (sometimes called Three Bears Falls).


Our two stops were Hanawi Falls and Makapipi Falls (seriously so many falls). Makapipi Falls was unique because we stood on the bridge directly over it and could see how it fell into a large pool below. Different than the other waterfalls we had seen that day. Next to Makapipi Falls is Nahiku Road which lead to the community of Nahiku. Everything was so incredibly green and there were tons of beautiful flowers. After driving through the beautiful plants, we came to the end and had a beautiful view of the shoreline all the way to Ke`anae. We took a little path to a small waterfall and a pool that eventually lead to the ocean. After taking in the gorgeous views around us, we headed back up to Hana Highway to continue on.


Our next stop was at Coconut Glen’s for some dairy-free ice cream (made from coconut milk). It was sooooo good. We split the coconut ice cream and picked up some of their famous coconut candy. It was an interesting stop…Glen loves Willy Wonka and had decorated in that way…fairly odd but charming. After that, we stopped at Wai`anapanapa Park and explored Pa`iloa Black Sand Beach and found a really cool cave. There was also a sea arch and other lava tube caves to explore, but we didn’t have a flashlight or the time to stop.


We left Wai`anapanapa Park and finally made it to Hana! Our first stop in Hana was Hana Bay where tons of locals were swimming. The Pier was closed, but we knew there was a trail to a hidden red sand beach near there. This was probably my favorite part of our Hana trip. The trail leads about 200 yards along Ka`uiki Head that had a plaque at the end of the trail marking the spot near a cave where Ka`ahumanu (King Kamehameha the Great’s favorite wife) was born. It was so unreal to see this plaque in the middle of no where. There was also a small light beacon near the end of the trail and tons of amazing rocks to climb on.


After we hiked back to the car at Hana Bay, we headed to Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu). The trail to the beach was on the side of a hill and was a bit rough in a few places, but nothing too difficult (much easier than the trail to the other red sand beach). This beach was much larger and there were people laying out, relaxing and enjoying the views. At the beginning of the trail to the beach, there is an ancient Japanese cemetery that was pretty interesting to see.


After the read sand beach, we headed out of Hana into Southeast Maui and stopped at (no surprise here!) Wailua Falls…yet another beautiful waterfall. Then we continued on to ‘Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) where you can sometimes swim and enjoy the multiple waterfalls right by the ocean. They were closed to the public that day because it was raining, but they were still beautiful from up above!


After this, the landscape changed drastically from rainforest and incredibly lush to dry and desolate. Very different, but still very pretty. We drove all the way around Southeast Maui and continued into upcountry and back through Kahului. We stopped and had a MUCH anticipated dinner (our first real meal for the day) at Buzz’s Wharf. We were both starving and VERY ready to be out of the car! The Road to Hana definitely lived up to it’s amazing reputation. I’m sure we missed so many things along the way, but what we did get to stop at and enjoy was phenomenal.


Being Touristy with Emel – Day 3

Today, Emel and I headed to the East side of the island in the morning to hike the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail. It was a gorgeous day and a great day to see some whales! We saw tons just hanging out swimming along. Incredible. After we finished there, we headed to Spitting Caves and it was the calmest I have ever seen it. We again saw more whales, one which jumped completely out of the water so very close to the rocks! I’m so glad the whales have decided to show off for Emel while she has been here! After that, we headed back so I could go to work and she ventured to Leonard’s Bakery and brought back some of the most delicious things I have ever had in my life (see pictures below). Malasadas..aka Portuguese donuts (unfortunately for Josh and I) have now been introduced to our lives. To end the day, we went to Chinatown to the Little Village Noodle House for some delicious Chinese food. I love having visitors!

The Big Island: Trip 1 – Day 1

This past weekend, Josh and I headed to the Hilo side of the Big Island for four days. Our Friday started out with our flight leaving at 5:30 a.m. So, Josh had set his alarm for 3:00 a.m. so we could get up, finish packing and be ready to leave around 3:45 a.m. for the airport. Well something happened and it didn’t go off so we woke up to the doorman from downstairs at 3:50 a.m. calling to let us know that our cab had arrived. We flew out of bed, grabbed our stuff and somehow made it to the security line at the airport in 25 minutes. Definitely an interesting way to start your vacation! But we made it!

We landed in Hilo around 6:30 a.m., grabbed our bag and got the rental car (a Jeep Wrangler…which turned out to be key for our weekend adventures). Now, many of you reading know our luck with rain and vacations (re: Kauai part one and our Molokai trip in December). Well, turns out this trip we would also be blessed with a TON of rain. Almost the moment we got in the rental car it started raining…to which Josh’s response was “Well they must have known we were coming”.

We ended up at a place called Ken’s House of Pancakes (recommended from online reviews and the lady at the rental car place) for breakfast. It was exactly what we needed…mostly I needed the coffee!


After breakfast, we headed to Sports Authority to get Josh a rain jacket. It didn’t open until 9:00 a.m. so we had some time to kill. What might you do in the pouring down rain waiting for a store to open in Hilo? Why take a car nap of course! So that is what we did. We took a nap in the Sports Authority parking lot for an hour (Yes, I’m sure to anyone who witnessed this we looked creepy. No, we didn’t really care because we were tired 🙂 ).

After our trip to Sports Authority, we were ready to start exploring Hilo. Our first stop was Rainbow Falls. It is possibly the most beautiful and unique waterfall I have ever seen. There is a cave underneath the falls where King Kamehameha is said to have buried the bones of his father. The cave is huge and, in my opinion, what makes this waterfall so unique. We ventured up the trail to the left and found a GIANT banyan tree! I doubt we will ever see anything quite like it again. The picture of Josh standing next to it really puts how large the tree is into perspective.


After visiting Rainbow Falls, we headed about a mile up the road to Boiling Pots and Pe`epe`e Falls. It REALLY started to rain, so we took this time to change into rain jackets and hiking shoes. After waiting for the rain to stop (it did not…only slowed down) we went to see what these two attractions were all about. While they were beautiful, we didn’t get to hike down to them in the rain. Using our better judgment we decided to skip the possibility of hurting ourselves on the slick rocks hiking to the falls on our first day there (and by we I mean me, because I am the less graceful one).


About another mile up the road was Wai`ale Falls. We stopped and viewed it from the bridge. We didn’t hike for the same reasons as before since the conditions weren’t that great. It was beautiful and impressive with how much water was flowing. Rainbow Falls, Pe`epe`e Falls and Wai`ale Falls are all along the Wailuku River. Pretty magnificent span of nature along that river!


Taro Burger

After we finished exploring the waterfalls, we headed back into Hilo for lunch. We decided to eat at Island Naturals Market and Deli. I had a Taro Burger and Josh had a mix of stuff from the “create your own lunch” area. The burger was pretty tasty. I LOVE veggie burgers and wasn’t sure what to expect…but it was pretty good! We then decided to ruin our healthy lunches with a stop at Big Island Candies to see what it was all about. Along with tasting a multitude of different cookies, chocolates, etc., we were able to see their operation through big glass windows. It was impressive!

Big Island Candies

Big Island Candies

Once we had tasted our way through Big Island Candies, we headed to check out Kauamana Cave. The cave was created by the Mauna Loa lava flow of 1881. Kauamana Cave is a 2-mile long lava tube with an interruption, which is now the entrance to the cave. When we entered the cave we had two options, to the right is a large opening and to the left is a smaller one. We went to the right first and looked around. Josh went a little farther than I was creepy…and I’m claustrophobic…and way more afraid of the dark than I previously thought I was. We then explored the part to the left and both went pretty far into the cave. At first it looks like it doesn’t go anywhere, but once you crawl through a pretty low overhang, it opens up into a huge, open cave. We could have spent hours exploring, but with the cave being pitch black and only having one flashlight and no extra batteries, we stayed for an hour or so and then headed back up to daylight.


After being in the cave with one flashlight, we decided a second trip to Sports Authority was necessary for the day. This time, to purchase me a headlamp. Being in darkness like that with only one flashlight for two people made it rather difficult. So we ventured back into Hilo, purchased a headlamp (no nap this time), said goodbye to Hilo and headed towards Pahoa.

Pahoa turned out to be a pretty cool little town. At first, after reading in my guidebook on the way there that it was known as the Big Island’s outlaw town full of guerilla gardeners, dreadlock enthusiasts, FBI fugitives and the never-bathe crowd, I was somewhat concerned. Even more concerned when I realized this is where our B&B was located. However, no concern was needed as this turned out to be an excellent people-watching experience in a pretty dynamic town. Pahoa is a real hippie town…I’m talking organic loving, no-bra wearing, “I think I’ll smoke this illegal substance in my car”, hitchhikers everywhere kind of town. It definitely made it interesting!

After passing through Pahoa, we decided to have one last stop for the day before checking in to our B&B. We were excited because it had stopped raining and this seemed like a great time to go spend a half hour or so in Lava Tree State Park. Lava trees form when pahoehoe lava (lava with a smooth, shiny or swirled surface) covers wet trees. As the lava drains away, it leaves the tree entirely encased in a thick coat, hardening around the tree. The park was an easy 20 minute stroll around sections of lava trees. Pretty incredible to see. Towards the end of our stroll it started pouring (naturally) so we raced back to the car and headed to our B&B.


We checked in to Hale Moana, our B&B, met the owner and saw where we would be staying. It was great! We had a private entrance and a small studio room. We would be eating breakfast out in a screened in porch area and both the front and back yards were incredibly gorgeous with unique flowers, rocks, etc. It was a beautiful place to stay!


We showered and changed and headed into Pahoa to a restaurant called Kaleo’s Bar & Grill at the recommendation of Petra, the B&B owner. It did not disappoint! I got soup and salad and Josh got fish. It was delicious! The pictures below do a much better job of describing it than I ever could.


Dinner was the end of an incredibly busy first day on the Big Island!! We headed back and crashed in preparation for the next few days ahead!

Spitting Caves

Yesterday, after presents, breakfast and facetime with the family, Josh and I went to Spitting Caves to try out my super awesome new camera that he gave me for Christmas. It takes AMAZING photos…I think we took almost 100. I will spare you from all of them and just post the best ones! Spitting Caves is located in Hawaii Kai surrounded by the most expensive real-estate on the island. It is incredibly beautiful. People actually cliff jump off of the rocks…which is pretty dangerous. We just sat and took pictures and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. The reason for the name: when water and air rush into the cave it “spits” water out pretty forcefully. The spray connects with the sun and creates a rainbow. It’s quite unique!

The Spitting Cave in Action

Scenic Pictures from Spitting Caves