Turtle Power!

Happy Turtle Tuesday!

On our first visit to Hawaii back in 2009 we encountered our first sea turtle on the popular, sunny, south shore beach of Kauai. Poipu Beach is a frequent hang out for the Hawaiian Honu (sea turtle) as well as many sea-lions; and while I expected to see a sea-lion relaxing on the sandy beach, I never thought I would have accidentally snorkeled with one. Oops…

Sea Lion 4

Over the last five years, we have been incredibly fortunate to encounter turtles on almost every island. Here’s a few of our favorite spots to see turtles:

Kauai: Poipu Beach

Miami is known for its delicious cuban food and sexy nightlife scene, and I’m thinking that Poipu Beach must be the “Miami” of the turtle world. This crescent-shaped sandy beach is a hot spot for turtles and sea lions alike, and maybe we’ve just been lucky, but every time we visit Poipu Beach we encounter sea life.

Kauai TurtleKauai Turtle

Kauai: Tunnels Beach

Just like Poipu Beach on the south side, turtles are often seen at Tunnels Beach on Kauai’s lush North Shore. Every single time that I visit this beach I spot a turtle frolicking out in the waves. Sometimes it’s a shadow within the waves, or I see them cruising through the famous “tunnels” coral formations, and every once in a while it’s a small head peeking out of the water. If you visit Tunnels Beach, you are bound to find a new friend.


Kauai: A’nini Beach

Ah, Anini Beach. Let me count the ways I love thee: your protected waters, tree-lined beach, soft sand, and hidden location, it’s no wonder this beach is one of my favorite beaches on Kauai. And during the winter months, I’m not alone; there were too many turtles to count at this beach. We decided to visit you more than once that winter and our turtle friends were there each and every time.

Kauai Turtles Kauai Turtles Turtles at 'Anini

West Maui: Kahana

Our condo at the Valley Isle Resort was high up on the tenth floor, and the floor-to-ceiling windows and huge balcony provided spectacular views of not only the neighboring islands, but the friendly visitor that we saw each and every day for two weeks. It never failed, every morning he would swim down the coast and every night he would swim back. I loved sitting out on the balcony with a cocktail in hand watching for our not-so little friend.

Maui Turtle

West Maui: Honokowai

The main reason that we decided on an oceanfront condo along the west coast of Maui was because it was January, which in Hawaii means: Whale Season. We wanted to spot whales while enjoying breakfast out on our lanai, and of course the whales didn’t disappoint. The unexpected surprise–turtles joining us for breakfast almost every morning.


Big Island: Punaluu Beach

Black Sand, Palm trees, Honu, need I say more? Punaluu Beach is a hot spot for Turtles, almost as hot as the black sand itself. (I say almost because that sand is scalding hot!) If I were a turtle I imagine that this would be the place I would want to go as well. Now if we could just do something about those pesky tourists… ;-)

Punaluu2-1 Punaluu1-1 Punaluu-1

Which spot is your favorite?

Posted in Big Island, Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Hawaii in a Glass: My Perfect Mai Tai

One of my favorite things about traveling is having the opportunity to try the local foods and signature drinks around the world. We’ve enjoyed Pirate Pain Killers while sailing around the US Virgin Islands, drank rum punch during our visit to St. Lucia, tried ice-cold Carib beers while sunbathing in St. Maarten, filled up our steins in Leavenworth, and although unsuccessful, I searched for Vikingfjord Vodka during our stay in Norway. While Hawaii has many different signature drinks such as Blue Hawaii’s, Pina Colada’s, and Lava Flows, my favorite is the Mai Tai. The strong drink mixed with delicious tropical flavors is the perfect way to cool off after a fun afternoon in the sun.


Happy Hour at Leilani’s on the Beach in Maui

Hopefully one day I’ll be lucky enough to call Hawaii Home, but in the meantime I’ll spread the Aloha by mixing up these strong cocktails to enjoy with my ‘ohana (family) out on our back patio. Now, I just need some soft sand, some hawaiian music, and a palm tree or two…

My Perfect Mai Tai


  • 2 oz light Rum (I like using Captain Morgan’s Pineapple Rum, or try another fruity flavor like Mango or Coconut Rum)
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Dark Rum (for the float)


Mix the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker and pour over ice. Top with a generous Dark Rum float. All that’s left is a garnish of your choice (I’m particularly fond of a pineapple slice with one of those cute little umbrellas).

Beautiful presentation

A beautiful presentation at the Old Lahaina Luau

Who’s up for a drink? Happy Aloha Friday!

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It’s here! It’s finally here! One of my favorite weeks of the year is upon us!


Every year for one week, the Discovery Channel dedicates a week of programming to sharks–shark facts, shark stories, shark attack survivors–I can’t get enough of it. If you’ve read Pictures and Plane Tickets for a while then it’s no surprise that these creatures fascinate me. A combination of strength, power, and terrifying danger, I can’t help but feel captivated by the ocean’s most dangerous predator, and for this one week you won’t find my TV on any other channel.

In honor of Shark Week, I wanted to reblog a post I wrote back in 2012 when I snorkeled with Sharks off of Nassau, Bahamas. Enjoy!

Stuart's Cove

As promised, I am writing about our thrilling yet dangerous adventure that we went on last week while visiting the Bahamas. While researching excursions for our visit to Nassau, I came across a company called Stuart Cove’s. They advertise “The World’s most exciting underwater adventure!” and of course I was intrigued. Stuart Cove’s is a full service dive resort and they also offer snorkeling tours to those not yet scuba certified. When I saw that I had an opportunity to swim with sharks in the open ocean I was very excited to say the least. How often are you in the Bahamas, and how often do you get to swim with sharks?

Stuart's Cove

Our captains, CleeJay and Obie drove the boat, called the Zambizi, to two different snorkel sites where we were allowed to snorkel with many beautiful tropical fish. There were so many at the second spot that I was literally swimming in a school of fish. Simply amazing.

Stuart's Cove

Stuart's Cove

The last stop was at the Atlantic Tunnel Wall off of the southwestern side of New Providence Island. They anchored the boat and told us that the bow of the boat was at a depth of 45 feet and just off the stern the ocean floor drops down to 6,000 feet. My first thought was, ‘Don’t the bigger sharks usually swim at a deeper depth? And now these big guys are being enticed to come up and check out the lunch buffet?’ Cleejay then reminded us about the dangers of swimming with these wild animals and provided information on what not to do once we were in the water. When the time came to put on our fins and snorkel gear I was nervous. My heart was pounding, my stomach was in a knot, and it was a little hard to breathe, yet I could barely contain my excitement to get in and see the sharks below.

After easing into the water, I looked down and saw three sharks close to the bait box. During the ten minutes (which felt more like an hour) that we were allowed in the water, more sharks appeared from the depths below. A few of the majestic yet frightening creatures were interested in the snorkelers above and came up to explore what we were doing in the water. It was a terrifying experience to have these sharks and all of their razor-sharp teeth so close, but it was also very exciting as well.

The sharks looked big when I was swimming next to them in the water, however, once we were safely standing above them on the boat I could really see their massive size and their graceful nature in the water. Now that the experience is over I have to say that it was even better than I imagined, however with that being said, I have thought to myself a few times since the snorkel, “what the hell was I thinking?” :) It was dangerous, very risky, and slightly suicidal, but what an experience it was! Up next, I want to swim with the big sharks off the northern tip of Oahu (this time shark cages are provided).

Do you share the same fascination about sharks as I do?

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The Daunting Kalalau Trail

The Kalalau Trail (Kah-lah-low “low rhymes with how” Get it? Kah-lah-low) is the epitome of hiking trails. 11 looooong miles of intense physical and mental challenges mixed with an awe-inspiring coastline, friendly hikers, and the most incredible destination one could strive for: Kalalau Beach.


Kalalau Beach

Photo Credit

There’s only two ways to reach Kalalau Beach my friends: hiking the daunting trail or kayaking from Ke’e Beach. Either way, you’re going to have to go back the way you came.

Now incase you’re wondering, my husband and I are pretty active–we love to hike (if the flat paved trail near our house counts), and we love to be outdoors (mainly, out on our patio enjoying a couple of cocktails while watching the sun set), and we even make exercise a daily habit (yes, I’m totally counting yard-work or walking the dogs as exercise), but to be completely honest, we are mostly active during the fall: active football fans, my friends: games, stats, fantasy football, traveling to see our teams play. Oh, that’s not what you meant by “active”? I digress. ;-)

In all seriousness, the Kalalau Trail isn’t for beginners. While the idea of challenging myself to 11-miles of pure hell to experience one of the most magical places on Earth seems awesome and totally bucket-list-worthy, the last thing I want to do is kill myself on vacation by falling off Crawlers Ledge–it’s 500 feet straight down to the ocean. To all of those who have completed this incredible hike, I raise my Mai-Tai (including that cute little umbrella) and Toast to You!

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 9.42.26 PM

Crawlers Ledge

Crawlers Ledge

Crawlers Ledge: I’m not even afraid of heights, but this photo makes me want to cry! YIKES

Both Photos found via Google Images

All kidding aside, while we aren’t in top physical condition, we aren’t completely out of shape either, so my husband and I finally decided it was time to hike part of the Kalalau Trail. We decided that we would conquer the first mile of the trail–like how I said “conquer”? As if one measly mile really puts a dent in the 22-mile roundtrip trail.

Kalalau Trail3-1

Kalalau Trail5-1

It’s one mile. How hard can it be really?

The answer. HARD.

Sweat producing, red-in-the-face, hold-on-I-need-a-break, I CAN’T BREATHE. Hard.

Kalalau Trail1-1


See the thing about the Kalaulau Trail is that there is no slow incline, or anything gradual or “easy” about it. Within the first two miles you go from sea level to 500′ and back down to sea level. The trail is never “level” as it crosses towering cliffs and deep valleys along the rugged and remote NaPali Coast. And those first two miles are probably two of the easiest miles. 

Kalalau Trail7-1 Kalalau Trail6-1

Kalalau Trail9-1 Kalalau Trail8-1

If you want to hike the full 11-mile trail you will need a permit. Plan on spending a night on the trail as you make your way to the magical Kalalau Beach. The trail crosses five valleys, three rivers, lingers dangerously close to several severe drop offs, and will challenge even seasoned hikers with its many mental obstacles or even pure physical exhaustion.

While I enjoyed the challenging hike through the lush, tropical jungle, I found it to be incredibly cruel to look down on this amazing view while I was sweating buckets glistening in the midday sun:

Kalalau Trail-1

That water… what an amazing shade of blue!

When it comes to being active, maybe hiking just isn’t for me. Give me the water sports: Swimming, Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Wakeboarding, Skiing, that’s my idea of an afternoon of fun. To each, their own.

Kalalau Trail3-1-1

Tell me, have you hiked the Kalalau Trail? How far did you go?

On a final note, my thoughts and prayers are with the amazing people of Hawaii today. May you all stay safe and may these hurricanes pass with as little impact as possible. Aloha!
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The Mysterious Green Flash

We sat on our lanai during our first night in Kona and I admired the beautiful coastline while listening to the hypnotizing rhythm of the ocean. Enjoying some liquid aloha, an ice cold Kona Longboard from the Kona Brewing Company, we watched as the sun danced across the cloudless western sky. It was our first visit to the Big Island and we had one of the best lanais on the western coast to watch the sunset.

As the sun began to hug the horizon I turned to my husband and said, “I wonder if we will see the Green Flash tonight?”

His quizzical sideways glance my direction made me realize that he had never heard of the elusive phenomenon known as the Green Flash.

Have you?

While it sounds like a superhero; it’s not. And people say that it’s a myth; also not true. The Green Flash is a natural occurring phenomenon with a scientific explanation for people like me who want to know how everything works:

The day has to be clear with no clouds on the horizon as the sun begins to set. As the last part of the disk slips below the horizon a bright green flash is sometimes seen. The scientific explanation (according to Maui Revealed) states that when the sun’s rays pass through the thickest part of the atmosphere the light is bent and split into different components (much like a prism refracting light into the colors of the rainbow). The light that is the most bent is green, which is why we see the rare green flash.

If there are any clouds on the horizon, you won’t see the green flash. It’s also important to note that you should avoid looking directly at the sun until the very last moment before the sun dips below the horizon–we wouldn’t want you to burn your retinas.

A time lapse of a sunset with the Green Flash

A time lapse of a sunset with the Green Flash

Photo Credit

I had read about the Green Flash, but I never thought that I would actually see it. Now that I think about it, it’s totally bucket list worthy because of how elusive it can be. That night I saw my first Green Flash and it will go down as one of the most memorable sunsets I’ve yet to witness. Over the next ten nights, my husband and I tried to spot the Green Flash once again, and the phenomenon eluded us. I guess we will have to keep searching…


Green Flash1

Photo Credit

Have you see the Green Flash?

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A Romantic Sail Along the NaPali Coast

Since we’ve been married, my husband and I have made a point to celebrate our anniversaries by traveling around the world. Our first anniversary was spent on the amazing beaches of St. John, and for our second anniversary we cruised through the breathtaking country of Norway.

Anniversary Collage

Photos on the left: St. John, USVI; Photos on the right: Norway

Not only did we spend our third anniversary on Kauai, but we also celebrated the fifth anniversary of our engagement along the NaPali Coast. So, what better way to celebrate both important events than to go on the exact same romantic dinner cruise that Cody proposed on five years earlier.

Captain Andy’s is our go-to company for a cruise along the NaPali Coast; seriously guys, we book with this company every single time that we visit the island. For a $109 you are treated to four hours of sailing, great food, free drinks, AMAZING service, a beautiful sailboat, the spectacular NaPali Coast, and a romantic sunset to cap off the night.

Does it really get any better? 

Napali Coast

Napali Coast

No matter how many times we sail the NaPali Coast I am always mesmerized by its beauty. There is no other place like it in the world. Steep, rugged, chiseled cliffs rise up out of the light-teal colored ocean, and the numerous waterfalls cut into the narrow valleys as the sea devours the cliffs from below. The NaPali Coast provides 15-miles of uninterrupted jaw-dropping beauty, and aside from it being slightly windier than we remembered, the day was perfect.

Napali Coast

Waterfall Collage

Incredible waterfalls


After cruising the length of the NaPali Coast, the boat turns around and the sails are raised allowing the chance to sail back down the coast. The golden sun slowly sinks in the western sky and the incredible NaPali Cliffs provide a spectacular backdrop for your sail.

As the conch shell is blown, guests are invited to partake in the buffet, which includes: teriyaki chicken topped with diced pineapple, beef with sauteed mushrooms and onions, lemon rice, fresh fruit, salad with papaya dressing, and their famous “sneaky-tiki’s” to wash it all down. Not only was there an abundance of food but the bar was open and the drinks were cold–the “sneaky-tikis” are their own Mai Tai concoction of rum and tropical juices, and they also provide a variety of beer, wine, sodas, and juice. (That $109 is starting to feel like a bargain, right?!) 

Captain Andy's Dinner


Maybe all of those “sneaky-tikis” went down too easily, or maybe people were just having a great time, but by the end of the night, as we pulled back into the harbor, the entire boat was singing along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Smiles, laughter, and conversation filled the air and that’s when I turned to my husband and said, “I think this was our best trip yet.”

Napali Coast

Enjoying a delicious “Sneaky-Tiki”

Napali Coast

Captain Andy's Sail

Happy Anniversary to my best friend, my partner in crime, my knight in shining armor, my favorite travel buddy, my personal comedian, and my favorite description: my sweet husband.

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Giving Back on Kauai

Let’s face it: It’s hard to leave Paradise. Every time we leave the islands, my husband and I are already planning our next trip back. (To be honest, I don’t think he would get me to leave otherwise). This last time however, when we left the islands my heart was a little heavier.

While watching the tourist channel early one morning, there was a segment about a volunteer opportunity at the Kauai Humane Society. The KHS has a program where visitors can take one of their dogs out on a field trip for the day. My husband and I instantly agreed that we should go volunteer; since we were already having a beach day, bringing a dog along would only make it better.

Kauai Humane Society

Kauai Humane Society

When we arrived at the Humane Society we met Buster Brown. A one year old Pit Bull Terrier/Boston Mix who had been at the shelter for over three months and hadn’t been out on a field trip in over a week. His playful disposition in the shelter caught our eye and when we walked over to his kennel he immediately rolled over on his back like he wanted us to tickle his belly (which is EXACTLY what my little boy Dexter the Pug does at home).

I rode in the backseat with Buster Brown as we drove over to Kalapaki beach to play. We quickly learned that he loved to chase Kauai’s “unofficial” bird, aka: the wild chickens (they are everywhere folks!) Please keep in mind that the key word is “chase,” as no chickens were hurt on this field trip. While he enjoyed teasing the chickens, Mr. Buster Brown was a scaredy cat when it came to playing in the ocean. I decided to go for an afternoon swim and Buster Brown was very intrigued as he watched me playing out in the ocean. He never did venture out into the waves, but kept a close eye on my shenanigans. After a relaxing nap on the beach, it was time to get him out to meet potential new parents, and our walk along the Kapa’a beach path was a perfect spot in order for him to be seen.

Kalapaki Beach

Kalapaki Beach

Buster Brown

Buster Brown and Cody

Before we knew it, it was time to take Buster Brown back to the Humane Society. And that’s when this happened:

Kauai Humane Society

What a sweet boy!

Of course, I cuddled with him and let him sleep in my lap, but talk about pulling at my heart strings. When we dropped him off this tender-hearted-fool had to hold back tears as I said goodbye and wished him luck.

We went to the Humane Society to volunteer. We went knowing that there was absolutely no way we could adopt another dog (we already have three waiting for us at home). When we walked out, we left with a new friend, and a heavy heart.

In case you’re wondering, sweet Buster Brown is still available for adoption at the Kauai Humane Society, and I’m crossing my fingers that he gets adopted soon! :)

Would you participate in the “Field Trip program?”

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