Through the Looking Glass

I’ve heard a rumor that most people wait to travel once they’re retired–when they have more money or more time–but if you’ve followed Pictures and Plane Tickets for a while then you know that I don’t believe the hype. I’m a firm believer that tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, so we must make the most of today! (Besides, when I’m retired, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be spending my days near the ocean with a good book, I won’t be up for 36 hours of continuous travel on a plane, train, bus, or ferry… that’s just me though.)

When I graduated from college over five years ago, I only dreamed about becoming a world traveler. I dreamed about visiting far-off exotic destinations, as well as going on my once-in-a-lifetime trip to Norway with my grandmother, but I honestly never thought that I would see so much in five short years.

The morning after my graduation celebration, I read through my graduation cards filled with love, well wishes, and congratulations, and there was one beautiful statement that has stuck with me throughout the years:

Frank Sinatra Quote

Read it again. This time, slowly, and with purpose:

The Best is yet to Come.

It’s true, isn’t it. And the fact that I believe that statement to be true makes my heart fill with happiness. We are in charge of our path in life and we can drastically change our lives depending on how hard we want to work.

On a weekly basis I have readers email me to ask how my husband and I travel so much. And while the answer is simple, we prioritize and we budget, I think that the biggest hurdle people face is the challenge of dreaming. There’s a famous saying that goes, “If you can dream it, you can do it”–and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for those feel-good-kinds of quotes… Yet, dreaming allows me to push the boundaries. When I think about my Bucket list and my 101 goals list, both of those lists started from dreams; sometimes I feel like the bigger the dream, the harder I work to make it become a reality. And then the cycle starts all over again: the more I dream, the more I explore, and the more I explore, the more I dream about my next adventure.

No matter how big your dreams are, reach for them! The only person who can stop you is yourself. The path to your dream may not always be easy, but neither are most things worth achieving.

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What is your biggest dream?

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Posted in Finances, Inspiration, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Descending into Molokini Crater

On our first two visits to Maui, Cody and I never got around to visiting the Molokini Crater. Crazy, right? Well the third time was the charm, and since I was certified this time around, I was able to schedule a scuba dive down into the crater. After browsing a few websites and looking through Maui Revealed, I found that the Pride of Maui offers scuba diving alongside snorkeling, and because Cody isn’t open water certified yet (only two more weeks to go until his certification!) I figured this operation would best suit both of our needs.

It was a beautiful, sunny morning when we pulled into the Ma’alaea Harbor and as I looked out over the ocean I was surprised to see no waves. On our hour-long sail south towards Molokini Crater, the smooth glass-like surface made for killer views of the gigantic humpback whales that could be seen from every angle of the boat. Before I knew it, it was time to plan our dive and gear up.

Almost as soon as the boat was anchored at the extinct volcanic crater just off of Maui’s south shores, we plunged into the crystal-clear water below.

Pride of Maui Molokini Snorkel

A transformation occurs during your first few minutes of diving; up at the surface you can hear the commotion of the other guests, you can hear the waves slapping up against the boat, and you can taste the salt water as it splashes across your face. The surface can be somewhat chaotic, however, the moment that you begin your descent you transcend into peace–it is quiet except for your thoughts, and the sound of your regulator as you breathe. All of the commotion at the surface is replaced with schools of fish and beautiful coral formations.

Molokini Crater

I began my descent and looked around to investigate my new underwater world–when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it happened…

It became hard to breathe.

I could feel my heart begin to race under my wetsuit.

My breathing became shallow and rapid.

The more I tried to pull for a breath, the faster my heart tried to beat, and as the panic washed over, I looked around and felt as if the entire ocean was closing in on me.

Molokini Snorkel

(Okay, TIME OUT…! I should probably mention at this point that I am incredibly claustrophobic. I know, I know, I’m a diver; and diving and claustrophobia typically don’t go together. My diving friends have asked me how I feel underwater and I’ve always explained that I don’t feel confined, I feel free. I could never do a cave dive, or explore tight spaces underwater–my heart is racing and my palms are getting sweaty just thinking about it–but give me the wide open ocean and I feel fine scuba diving).

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So, now that I’ve shared one of my biggest fears, let’s get back to the story…

You can imagine my complete fear when the claustrophobia panic began to seep into my brain at 60 feet underwater… It was a vicious cycle: a challenge to breathe, which made me feel confined, which increased my heart rate, which made it harder to breathe. I knew that I had to calm my racing thoughts and steady my breathing, however, my initial thought was that my dream of becoming the Little scuba diving Mermaid was over almost as quickly as it had started.

I tried to block out the panic the best I could by focusing on the marine life around me… I studied the coral formations, my eyes followed the schools of fish as they danced through their underwater home, and in this process I somehow managed to slow my breathing and push the panic to the back of my mind.

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Molokini Crater

The moment that I finally slowed my heart rate, my dive master signaled that he saw a shark; and while I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins again, this time it was not due to panic, it was due to excitement. I dropped down to 100 feet (the deepest I’ve gone so far), and the black tip reef shark was just out of reach as he slept on the crater floor 20-30 feet below.

Molokini Crater

The signal for “Shark”

Molokini Crater

Do you see the shark?

We continued our exploration of the reef, and throughout the thirty minute dive the challenge to breathe continued as I tried to mentally adjust to the tight regulator (the regulator is your breathing apparatus–aka, your air source). Having a tight regulator basically means that it is harder to take a breath than compared to regulators that I have used in the past. Breathing should be easy underwater and the settings on this regulator made it much more difficult than it should have been–there wasn’t anything wrong with this device, I just wasn’t used to it.

Molokini Crater

Peek-a-Boo

We found an octopus

We found an octopus

Molokini Crater

Back at the surface, I mentioned the struggle to breathe to my dive master and he switched out my regulator for our second dive. I was slightly hesitant to dive again after my underwater panic attack, however, part of me wanted to confirm that it was just the tight regulator and not in fact my claustrophobia.

So, after our hour-long surface interval, I pushed through the hesitation and began my descent on that second dive; and within seconds I realized the new regulator worked just fine. I was almost overjoyed to the point of tears… my dream of becoming a Little Mermaid wasn’t ruined after all…

Molokini Crater

Scuba Selfie!

PS. I want to apologize about the low-quality photos. I shot this dive with my Go-Pro and without an additional light at 80 feet below the surface the colors and the quality suffer. I decided to add these photos to the post even though the quality is sub-par because a good friend of mine once said, “The only bad photo is a photo you don’t take.” :)

Have you had to face or overcome your biggest fears? How did you handle it?

Posted in Hawaii, Maui, Risky Business, Scuba Diving, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Paddleboarding the 808

Hey guys! Okay, by now I’ve told you almost a million times that I love the water. One of these days (not soon enough) I will live close to the ocean so I can experience its magic on a daily basis, and until then, I’ll try to be patient and keep visiting as often as I am able.

With this love of water comes a desire to try all types of water activities: wakeboarding, water-skiing, snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving, surfing… I’m up to try anything out on the water, (anyone know where I can rent one of those jetboards??) :) Anyways, as I was creating my 101 goals list for the second time I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to add a new water sport to the list: Paddleboarding.

Paddleboarding

Our oceanfront condo in Kahana was located along a nice beach with beautiful views of Molokai and Lanai just offshore. The calm waters provided the perfect place to try paddleboarding for the first time and I couldn’t wait to get started.

I made the call to 808 Boards and talked to Danny who happily asked what kind of paddleboard we wanted… uhhhh….. ?? Good question. How about one that floats and comes with a paddle. :) When I explained that we had no experience and I didn’t know what board to rent, Danny suggested the perfect starter board (it’s a ten x 32 if you’re wondering). A 24-hour rental is $45, and the best part about it?? Danny delivered it right to our condo because we were so close to their location in Napili. Thanks, Danny!!

Paddleboarding in Maui

If you have ever tried surfing or wakeboarding, paddleboarding will be a breeze. I think the most difficult part for any first time paddleboarder is getting your balance as you cruise the waves. My husband and I spent almost the entire day out on the water playing; I could have easily spent DAYS out there enjoying the beautiful weather, the amazing scenery, and the turquoise, crystal-clear, ocean.

Paddleboarding4

Paddleboarding2

Would you try paddleboarding?

Get more posts like this one delivered straight to your inbox when you subscribe to my blog by email (I pinky-promise not to send any junk mail). :) And for your daily dose of Wanderlust follow me on Instagram (@picturesandplanetickets).
Posted in Hawaii, Maui, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

It’s About Time…

It is loooooong overdue, but I’m happy to announce that Pictures and Plane Tickets is now on Instagram! When I think about it, it’s kind of crazy that it took me so long to branch out to another platform, but better late than never…

So if you’re on instagram and want to connect, find me here or search:
picturesandplanetickets.

Pink Sky Sunset

Aloha!

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Afternoon Upcountry

There is one location on Maui that is far away from the busy pace of Lahaina’s Front Street, all of the day-to-day commotion in Kahului, and removed from the golden stretches of famous sand near Kihei. Nestled on the massive slopes of Haleakala, you will find a handful of smaller towns that make you feel like you’re somewhere in the midwest instead of on a tropical island; farms stretch over rolling hills, cattle roam freely, and horses are more common than surfboards. This area is typically referred to as: Upcountry.

Cody and I haven’t spent a lot of time exploring upcountry, so this time around we carved out an afternoon to visit two places that have been on our “list” for quite some time.

Wine Tasting at the Tedeschi Vineyards

When I began my second round of the 101 goals challenge I thought a wine tasting would be a perfect item to add. I had seen (yet never sampled) the wine grown and distributed by Maui’s very own winery and I was intrigued. I mean they have a wine made from Pineapples… PINEAPPLES! You guys, how awesome is that? 

Tedeshi Winery Maui

On the 30 minute walking tour I learned that the Tedeschi Vineyards began in 1974 through collaboration with Ulupalakua Ranch. As they waited for the first batch of grapes to mature, they decided to produce a sparkling pineapple wine made with fresh Maui Gold Pineapples and to their surprise it was a hit with customers. Currently, the winery produces grape, pineapple, sparkling, and dessert wines which are sold in stores throughout Hawaii and can be shipped to many states on the mainland.

Tedeshi Winery Tedeshi Winery

One of the most interesting facts of the Tedeschi Vineyards is the aging process. There is not an underground cellar like many wineries, simply because excavating the hardened lava rock is complicated and expensive; instead, the wine is aged in an open warehouse in steel bins. Yes, that is correct, this wine is not aged in wooden barrels like you would expect. Maui’s climate and humidity would ruin the barrels thus ruining the wine, so instead the wine is aged in steel bins above ground, where temperature and humidity can be monitored multiple times a day.

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Tedeschi Vineyards offers free tours three times a day at 10:30, 1:30, and 2:30. And in case you’re wondering, our favorite wine was the Lokilani, a Hawaiian Sparkling Rose named after the official flower of Maui.

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

I suffer from migraines more often than I’d like to admit, and when I read about the benefits of Lavender Oil, one of the first places that came to mind was the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm located on the steep slopes of Haleakala.

Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

The Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm focuses on bringing sustainable Aloha to the World through educational stewardship, nurturing the well-being of the community and the planet. Their movement is, “driven by a deep belief that Aloha connects all living things and when acting within its value center, the result is a sustainable and beneficial way of life that creates possibilities and opportunities for everyone.”

Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm

We paid the $3 entry fee and wandered the beautiful grounds; there are over 30 different varieties of lavender on the farm which are used to produce all sorts of products ranging from soap to tea and everything in between. The strong scent of lavender hung in the air, but I did not see a massive sea of violet like I had expected, and after overhearing some of the other guests we found out that the best time to visit is in the summer as most of the plants are in bloom. (Have you visited in the summer? I’d love to hear your thoughts.) :)

Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm

Lavender field

Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm

Looking down towards the ocean

Ali'i Kula Lavender Shop

Ali’i Kula Lavender Shop

Before leaving, I purchased three vials of the Lavender Essential Oil ($12 for 1/8 of an ounce), one for myself and two for gifts, and we also sampled the Lavender Tea.

Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm

We enjoyed our afternoon spent Upcountry and look forward to going back as there are two additional upcountry farms on our list:

Have you spent any time upcountry? What else should I see on our next visit?

Posted in Hawaii, Maui, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Love Letters at Palauea Beach

Wishing you an early Happy Valentine’s Day!

As much as Cody and I love photography, we have both realized that we don’t get in front of the camera often enough. Sure, one of us will stand in the photo as we capture that gorgeous waterfall, and every once in a while we’ll ask a stranger to take our photo near some famous lookout, but our last official photo shoot was during our wedding almost four years ago. FOUR.YEARS! Needless to say, we were in dire need for some updated family photos.

While watching the sunset on Ke’e Beach in Kauai last summer, I had the magnificent (and completely original) ;-) idea to get our family photos taken in Hawaii. We love the beach and you all know by now that Hawaii is our favorite place on Earth, so it was a no-brainer to have our photos taken on the beach at sunset at some point in the near future. And luckily for us, our Maui Christmas trip was on the horizon.

I knew that I wanted a dreamy, soft, romantic session–I was envisioning sunflares, beautiful lighting, hopefully a killer sunset, and an awesome location. So, last summer I began a quest to find a talented photographer in Maui, and that’s when I found Mariah Milan Photography. This woman has killer photography skills y’all, and best of all, her photography style was exactly what I was looking for. And when I read that our session deposit would be donated to a local non-profit of our choice, I knew that we had found the right person. This woman truly embodies the Aloha Spirit.

When we met up with Mariah she was so sweet and friendly. She made us feel completely at ease and most importantly she made us LAUGH. I think it goes without saying, but Mariah knocked this one out of the park–or should I say, beach.

Mariah Milan Photography

Mariah Milan Photography

Mariah Milan Photography

Mariah Milan Photography

All photos taken by Mariah Milan. Heading to Maui? Book your session NOW!

Aloha!

Posted in Favorites, Hawaii, Maui, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

A Maui Favorite: Wai’anapanapa

Happy Monday, my friends!

While enjoying our blissful weekend in the middle of the jungle, my husband and I stopped by one of my favorite Maui beaches: Wai’anapanapa State Park. It’s not a trip to Maui without visiting this famous black sand beach (we fell in love with it on our first visit and didn’t want to leave on our second visit–looking back at those posts, it’s interesting to see how far my photography and editing skills have come!).

Wai'anapanapa

Luckily for us, our cottage was only 20 minutes away from the beach, so after sunrise we loaded up the jeep with our beach chairs, beach towels, and a cooler and hit the road. However, we didn’t head straight to the beach, instead we made a pitstop at Hana Farms, located on the Hana Highway just before mile marker 32. I mean it only makes sense to get a bunch of snacks when you’re headed to the beach, am I right, or am I right? :)

Hana Farms

Hana Farms

We picked up some of our favorite local fruits and then my husband saw the fresh banana bread and his eyes lit up (is it still considered healthy if the word banana is in the title?) :) Hana Farms boasts six different flavors of banana bread, so take your time deciding and sampling, you’re sure to find something you like. Our purchase was complete after ordering some of their freshly squeezed lilikoi (passionfruit) lemonade and then we were back on the road.

Hana Farms Collage

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Freshly baked banana bread and lemonades in hand we made our way down to Wai’anapanapa and found our perfect spot on the beach. The black sand felt warm against my hands, the sun beat down as I soaked up the Vitamin D, and the ocean breeze kept the temperature near perfect. As I laid on my back and watched the clouds go by, I thought to myself… “There is nowhere else I’d rather be.”

Wai'anapanapa State Park

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Wai'anapanapa State Park

Wai'anapanapa State Park

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Wai'anapanapa State Park

We almost had the place to ourselves. Absolute perfection!

Wai'anapanapa State Park What’s your favorite beach on Maui?

Posted in Favorites, Hawaii, Maui, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments