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Kauai (My favorite FREE things to Do)

26 Mar

Let me just start by saying Kauai is the BEST island if you want “post card” Hawaii. No freeways, no skyscrapers on the beach. Just lush green everywhere you look, laid back vibes, beautiful beaches and waterfalls.

It hasn’t even been 2 weeks since my wife and I have been back from Kauai and we miss it so much already. This trip was our 5th to the beautiful garden island, so I feel like it’s the appropriate time to share my budget friendly ‘Must Do’ list with the world. Below I will list- in no particular order my absolute favorite Must Dos when you’re visiting Kauai. And by budget friendly, I mean FREE!!!k3

Ke’e Beach– (North shore)Literally the last stop at the end of the road. Full of chickens, this beach is lagoon like and is enclosed with a beautiful reef that keeps the water very calm (perfect for snorkeling). I like to bring snacks and water and chill at this beach for hours!

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KalaLau Trail– (North Shore) This 11 mile (each way) trail along the Na Pali coast is one of the most breathtaking and dangerous hikes in the world. It takes expert hikers an entire day to complete but most people usually hike it in 2 days and camp overnight to rest. Even if you aren’t an avid hiker, you can still safely hike up about a mile or two and see some of the most amazing views for FREE!  To hike and camp the full 22 mile round trip, a permit is required. *pictured below is the view from KalaLau Trail looking down on Ke’e beach.img_3106

Queen’s Bath– Princeville (North Shore) Queen’s bath is pretty much a natural swimming pool enclosed by rocks-inside of the ocean. It is a must see and a must swim spot(when the tide is CALM) People literally die here because they underestimate the power of the ocean. If you use common sense, you’ll be fine. If the ocean looks rough, just observe this beauty from afar.

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Hanalei– (North shore)this super cute Hawaiian town is my favorite in all of kauai. It’s laid back with plenty of shops and restaurants. The beaches are gorgeous and the view looking out from Hanalei Pier is worth writing home about. Do not skip this town, or their adorable fruitstand!

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Kapaa– (East Shore)This town is located more centrally on the island and has great beaches, a long bike path along the coast, and endless restaurants and shops including bike and snorkel rentals.  Our favorite mexican restaurant Verde’ is located in Kapaa. One of my favorite hikes ( Ho’Opi Falls) is here as well. The hike follows along a gorgeous river that leads to multiple waterfalls, and there is also a fun rope swing too! *kids can definitely do this hike.  ho'opi

Kapaa is where I suggest you stay for your first Kauai trip because it is so centrally located that you can see all of the island if you plan it out right. My advice is to schedule your activities according to location so you save precious time driving. You can hit up the entire north shore in a day (or more if you want some relaxing beach time) The same goes for the East and South shores.  For example: The same day that you hike Ho’opi Falls in the morning is the same day you should do lunch and shopping in Kapaa.

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Poipu/Old Koloa town- (South Shore) These are two seperate towns that are about 7 minutes apart. If you visit one, you should visit the other. Poipu is the biggest “touristy” area on the island. Lots of restaurants and shops. Koloa town is an adorable tiny town with cute shops, restaurants and food trucks. We had some of the best pizza of our lives there (twice)!! Their pizza by the slice is no joke! Something not to miss in the koloa area is Spouting Horn park! When you’re at spouting Horn park, be sure to shop for small trinkets from the vendors here, they have the BEST PRICES on the island!

Makauwahi Cave-(South Shore)This super cool cave is at the end of a short hike and you enter by crawling through a small entry hole. The Cave is the largest limestone cave in Hawaii! There is a tortoise sanctuary about 3 minutes from the entrance of the cave, which is amazing! The cave and the tortoise sanctuary are both FREE but a donation is suggested. ($5 is good) See directions to the cave HERE and be warned that the dirt road there is VERY BUMPY. We had a 4×4 and still parked the car just below the nearby horse stables and walked to the cave. This excursion was so great because it started with petting horses, then a nice hike along the coast, followed by a really cool cave, and then tortoises! I highly recommend this adventure! Also the cave is  located near all the shops and restaurants in the Poipu/Koloa area so you can visit those areas too! All in the same day!

Sleeping Giant hike- (East Shore)This hike was about 3 hours round trip. We hiked all the way up to sleeping giant’s head. There were a couple of steep parts, but we made it, and the view of Kauai from the top was amazing!

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Wailua Falls-(East shore) This is a must see and you don’t even have to hike to it(unless you want to illegally climb over a fence, ignore the signs, and hike down a STEEP cliff hoping that you reach the bottom without dying or getting arrested)! You can just park and walk 20 feet to see the famous twin falls. They are massive and beautiful! There are much longer trails leading down that are guided and will lead to the base of the falls and are much safer than the WILD WAY DOWN!

DAREDEVILS…. keep reading.  For those of you interested in hiking down the fast way, it is doable in sneakers and if you are an experienced hiker. If you aren’t sure footed, do not try hiking down. It’s a short (20 min) but very steep hike. There are some points where you are hanging onto a rope installed by locals to scale down the cliff. I would never suggest hiking it on a rainy day. With that being said, once you get down, it is so worth it!!!

My wife Pictured below. We hiked down in 2016. We did NOT hike down on our most recent trip because it was raining.

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Hopefully my list helped you if you’re looking to vacation in Kauai:) Comment below if you have any questions.

Also-There are tons of great things to do in Kauai that do cost money like helicopter rides along the Na Pali coast, dinner on a sailboat, zip lines, kayaking, ATV rides, and Luaus (Smith’s luau is my favorite). Enjoy planning your trip!

Thanks for reading,

Journey

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Walking in a winter wonderland! (Aspen)

10 Jan

Happy New Year everyone!!!  As many of you know, Nina and I do a winter vacation every year in January. This year we went to our all time favorite place, Aspen! This was our second time, we went 2 years ago and fell madly in love with the magical Colorado town. Aspen is unlike any other town. It is like you’ve been dropped inside of a snow-globe full of shops, restaurants, and beautiful scenery everywhere you look.

Aspen is definitely a bucket list destination and is certainly very high on the price scale. Someone asked me what’s expensive and I answered: EVERYTHING! Just to give you an idea, our hot chocolates spiked with Baileys were $48 before tax and tip! (they were  soooo good though) aspen 7

Activities like skiing and tubing are 2-3 times as much as other places as well as hotels and air bnb. Once you get over the sticker shock, you will want to experience Aspen for yourself. You will fall in love just like we did. When we went 2 years ago, I certainly thought that would be our first and last time, but it was just too magical not to return- so here we are- back home after our second trip.

Would I recommend Aspen? YES yes yes!! I highly recommend it. Whether it’s a drop in the bucket or you need to save up, I highly recommend it for your next winter vacation. Aspen is so full of bucket list moments from Sitting in a hot tub while it’s snowing or the breathtaking views from the top of Buttermilk mountain.  Treat yourself to a little piece of winter heaven. You won’t regret it.

Travel tips: Nina and I prefer renting a car when we are on vacation, but a car isn’t necessry in Aspen if you’re trying to save money. There is a FREE bus that takes you all around town and the hotels have complimentary shuttles to and from the airport. The buses will drop you off at any of the four mountains to ski or take you downtown to the shops and restaurants.  Another cool thing about Aspen is if you don’t have a car, they will transfer your skis from mountain to mountain. For example, if you want to ski one mountain on friday and another on Saturday, your skis will be waiting for you in the morning at the mountain of your choice.

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Below are some of my favorite restaurants and activities.

ACTIVITIES

Snow Mobile at Maroon Bells  

Outdoor Ice skating

Skiing (with lift tickets you can ski all 4 mountains)

Tubing/ Alpine slide roller coaster (tickets include both) 

DINING

Cache cache (favorite restaurant)

The Little Nell (best hot chocolate and yummy food too)

Ajax tavern (best kale and quinoa caesar salad)

Meat and Cheese (yummy soups and salads and a cute little shop too)

 

My Paris Trip!

16 Jun

I  recently arrived back home to Los angeles from a dream vacation to Paris with my wife. I was so satisfied when the trip ended and I looked back at all that we had done- We did everything on our list and more. As promised, here are just some of our many pictures below. Paris is considered to be a trip of a lifetime for most and it did not disappoint. Bucket list…..Check!

Random travel tips:

*Exchange your money before you go to save a bit on the exchange rate and save time waiting in line at the French airport.

*Learn a few common phrases in French. ‘hello, goodbye, thank you, how much’ etc.

*Get the international data plan your phone carrier offers, it’s worth it. My plan was just $10 a day to use data in France.

*Don’t forget to bring outlet converters (specifically for France) so that you can charge your electronics, including your phone.

*Indulge!!!! Counting calories can be done when you get back home! There is also plenty of walking to offset the overeating you will do! We walked 10-15 miles a day!

Paddle boat at the garden of Versailles.19148932_10212162476991423_6470749387562051714_n

Chocolate sculptures were unreal.19145726_10212162697516936_9159886990439975182_nVersailles rowboats and garden were literally straight out of a fairy tail.19114023_10212162853560837_7596937829662730331_n19060218_10212162482031549_5673358027957423239_nWe really became familiar with the metro.19059275_10212162926762667_7693657593912451727_nThe eiffel tower was amazing, and picnicking under it was priceless. We found an amazing place by the name of Cafe Zia that prepared a picnic to go that included wine and a blanket for under 60 euros. It was one of my favorite experiences on our trip.19029770_10212162477591438_2453970744740841579_n

Me- right before Nina surprised me with a beautiful band to add to my wedding stack. It was beyond romantic. I will never forget that moment.

boatA cafe nestled in the french countryside in a town called Giverny.cafe countrysideUnderground catacombs where the remains of over 6 million people are stored. The bones were neatly stacked to the ceiling and it went on for miles.catacombsfranceGardens of Versailles.gardenGolden gates of Versailles.gateGiverny.givernyMontmartre.montemartreCarousel ride across the street from the eiffel tower.
parisSo many beautiful blooms in Paris. I was obsessed!paris2Pajama party in our hotel!pjs

Glamping Getaway!

29 Aug

This weekend My wife and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary at the coolest glamping spot ever. We have glamped before in airstreams etc. but nothing tops this place. It’s located deep into Topanga canyon near Malibu. It is in a secluded, peaceful canyon and it is amazing. The place is owned by a women that lives in a house nearby and she’s super artistic and has created some of the most beautiful “campsites” I’ve ever seen. We stayed in the upper area called ‘Silver sky acres’. That area includes a huge outdoor deck with Barbecue, 3 outdoor comfy couches, a fire pit, a bench with umbrella and the use of 2 trailers. One of the trailers is a kitchen area with table and chairs inside as well as a couch. The other trailer includes the living room with couch and coffee table, a bedroom area and an area with a small table and chairs. Both trailers have no electricity, but there are plugs to charge your phones and wi-fi as well. There is an outdoor bathroom and shower(with warm water) as well. I got flooded with questions about this place, so here is the info. I advise you to BOOK IN ADVANCE. It fills up insanely quick.

Sidenote: I’ve never stayed at an Airbnb before, but my friend Olivia told me about this place and now I’m a fan of Airbnb for sure!!!! I can’t wait to go back to Silver sky acres!

The host also has 2 dogs that live in on the property, so that was nice to have furry friends around:)

Price.

For the area that we stayed in called ‘Silver Sky Acres‘  it was $125 per night plus a $45 cleaning fee. The area below called “The totem terrace”which is much larger and “fancier” was $400 per night. We didn’t rent that area but the host let us hang out down there too:) There is also an area called”she’s a beauty” that is located above where we stayed that is $125 per night.

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Vacation Essentials

29 Apr

I’m just finishing up packing for my vacation tomorrow, I’ll be heading to Kauai, Hawaii. I thought I’d share a few of my island essentials with you guys. When packing for a sunny destination, SPF is crucial- I use SPF 110 on my face and 50 on my body. I love Neutrogena Age shield face because it’s the only sunblock that doesn’t break out my sensitive skin. I also packed my oversized Old Navy floppy hat, white tory Burch flip flops and the cutest tommy Bahama fringe cover up that I found for under $50!!! I’ve been looking forward to this vacation for some time and will be sure to drink a Mai Tai for all of you guys:)

 

xo-Journey

 

Floppy hat

Flip flops

SPF

Fringe bag

White cover up

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