If you make a trip out to Kaua’i, you definitely have to make a trip out to Waimea Canyon. Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, Located on the southwest side of the island, the canyon is a mile long and 3,600 feet. I think it’s kind of ironic that I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, even though I’ve lived in Arizona for 8 years and I’ve only been to Kaua’i twice! It’s pretty easy to navigate to the canyon and the views are gorgeous, but I’m probably biased because you know I love my Hawai’i nei.
We went to Waimea Canyon the same day we toured the Na Pali Coast, but we ended up back at our hotel, Kaua’i Beach Villas in Lihue, before driving back. The drive from our hotel to the canyon was about an hour. It’s funny, because you’d think that since Hawai’i is a bunch of small islands it wouldn’t take that long to get anywhere, but Kaua’i has one main road going around the island and the speed limit doesn’t ever get over 50! If you follow the long winding road to the top, it’s pretty easy to find the lookout point. There’s plenty of parking and a great vantage point from the top, not to mention all the stops you can take on the way up and down.
It was kind of rainy our whole trip to Kaua’i, but luckily it was clear skies when we made it up there. It was pretty cold and windy when we were up there so these were all the pictures I got!
Have you been to Waimea Canyon?
Let me know in the comments below!
I haven’t been traveling much this year since I’m really buckling down and focusing on my financial goals so I’m living vicariously through myself and going through old photos. I realized I have a ton of trips I haven’t blogged about (I’m still backlogged on Hawaii earlier this year) so I figured, why not post all #laterblogs! I totally forgot I had this post sitting in my drafts so this Travel Thursday, we’re starting with Xplor theme park.
Xplor is an adventure theme park near Playa del Carmen, Mexico – about halfway between Cancun and Tulum. A coworker told me about it because she went ziplining there and loved it and I mentioned it in passing to one of my friends and she really wanted to go. I’ll be honest, I was not all for ziplining – I’m afraid of heights and the complete opposite of an adrenaline junky – but I am the friend who’s down for whatever so ziplining we went.
Admission is broken up between the day park and night park, which they call Xplor Fuego. The day park is open from 9 AM – 5 PM and Xplor Fuego is open from 5:30 PM – 11:30 PM. We opted for Xplor Fuego because we wanted to zipline through a ring of fire.
We looked on the Xplor website and found admission tickets for $89, but we didn’t have a car and needed transportation there so we talked to the concierge and got a round trip shuttle bus ride plus admission for $129. The shuttle bus picked us up at 3:30 PM, we made a few pit stops to pick up more people, then transferred at a bus station. Once we arrived at the park, we waited in line to get our helmets and a locker key then were let out into the park.
I wasn’t sure that we would need all 6 hours to see everything, but you really do. The major activities were:
Ziplining through a nine circuits and ending through a ring of fire and into the water.
Driving an Amphibious Vehicle through the jungle and caves.
Swimming in a 437 yard Lava River inside ancient caves
Paddling through 580 yards of underground river with special hand paddles
I surprisingly really liked ziplining. I hate that feeling in your stomach you get when you drop on a rollercoaster, but it didn’t feel like that at all. It is scary being that high up but it’s so quick and there’s so much of the view that you wanna take in. The swimming was the most draining for me, mostly because I do not swim well so it took forever but it was still pretty cool. There’s also a decent dinner buffet and rest stops with coffee, drinks, and snacks. I wish I had better pictures, but I had to take my old waterproof camera and it was too risky taking it out while we were adventuring. Overall, if you’re into theme parks, I think it’s definitely worth a visit.
Have you ever been here? What's the best theme park you've been to?
Let me know in the comments below!
Lanikai Pillbox is one of my favorite hikes in Hawai’i because the hike isn’t really difficult and the views are amazing. Located in Kailua, it’s called Lanikai because of the views of Lanikai beach and ‘pillbox’ because of the old concrete bunkers that were used in WWII and got repurposed into rest stops and vantage points on the hike.
The hike isn’t super long and you get beautiful 360 views of the ocean and mountainside the whole way up. You have to park in a neighborhood to get to the trailhead. It can be confusing finding the entrance, so be careful not to trespass into the neighbor’s homes! The first stretch of the trail is uphill and if it’s rainy, it can be muddy, but there are ropes to help you up along the way. Once you past that little uphill slope, the trail is pretty easy to follow. There are usually people on the trail up and early so if you do get lost, you can just follow someone else.
As you make the trek up, you get a view of Lanikai on the ocean side and lush, green view of Kailua and the golf course on the mountainside. I think I’ll say this about every place in Hawai’i, but my pictures will never do it justice.
Have you been to Lanikai Pillbox? What’s your favorite place to hike?
Let me know in the comments below!
Makapu’u Tide pools is located off the Makapu’u light house trail. You walk up maybe halfway through the trail then have to hike down the side of a rocky mountain to get to the tide pools. It’s a pretty popular local spot, I remember hearing about it when I was growing up, but I actually had never been when I lived there! (I was a sheltered little child.)
A friend and I finished hiking Wiliwilinui Trail by lunch time and had time to make it to tide pools. The hike down to the tide pools goes down a pretty rocky cliff. I couldn’t take pictures because I was too scared I’d drop my phone! There’s some markers on the rocks that point arrows in the direction of the easiest way to get up and down, but definitely be careful and watch out for loose rocks.
The water is so clear, it’s seriously unreal. The tide pools are pretty shallow and they’re surrounded by rocks. When the waves break on the rocks and the tide pools will fill up a little, but it’ doesn’t get deep at all. (This is coming from someone who doesn’t swim very well!) We stayed long enough to dip in the water, enjoy the scenery, and take some pics but it’s definitely one of those places you have to see in person. I may be biased, but Hawai’i is still the prettiest place I’ve ever been and places like this remind me there’s no place like home!
Have you ever been here? What's the prettiest place you've ever been? Let me know in the comments below!
All views and opinions expressed here are my own and are in no way affiliated with Blue Dolphin Charters. I was not compensated in any way for this tour.
On our mini family trip to Kaua’i, we decided to do a Na Pali coast boat tour. If you don’t know, Na Pali is the iconic coast line of Kaua’i. It’s inaccessible by vehicle and the only way to see the coast in all its glory is either via boat or helicopter. It’s everything you dream Hawai’i is – the lush green mountains and big blue open sea. Before I get into my experience, as always, a little TLDR; summary for lazy people (like me) who don’t want to read everything!
They feed you. And give you alcohol (if you’re of age, of course).
See dolphins! (And maybe whales and flying fish).
Be prepared with sunscreen, towels, and dramamine (if you get seasick!).
The sea crew was awesome and definitely made the trip entertaining and comfortable.
Definitely worth the cost, but wish it wasn’t rainy when we went. I’d love to do it again when it’s sunny.
The last time I went to Kaua’i was over 10 years ago when I was in high school. We went for a community service thing so we didn’t really get to do a lot of fun touristy things so visiting the Na Pali coast has been on my bucket list. When we checked into our hotel, we asked the concierge about different tours and she got us a deal through for around $500 for 6 of us (my parents, Aunt, sister, and brother in law). We booked a morning Deluxe Na Pali Snorkel & Scuba Tour with Blue Dolphin Charters. That was a complete steal because if you look on Blue Dolphin’s website, regular price for adults are $147, youths are $127, and children are $97.
The tour starts out at the Blue Dolphin home base in ‘Ele’ele, near Hanapepe on the southern part of the island. You have to check in, sign some waiver forms and wait for the rest of the tour group to get there. Once everyone checked in, the boat captain gave a little safety speech, and we were guided like school kids to the boat. The sucky thing about our trip was it was cloudy, a little rainy and cold, so we didn’t get the best views of Na Pali which is why I mentioned earlier that I would love to do it again. But the views are still amazing and it’s one of those places that you have to see for yourself.
The trip took us around the west coast then back towards the harbor with a stop at a little snorkeling area. I did jump in the water when we stopped to snorkel even though it was cold, because I HAD to (we were in Kaua’i, YOLO!) but I didn’t swim far out enough from the boat to go snorkeling because I don’t swim very well LOL! They fed us a continental breakfast on the way out and lunch was served after we were done snorkeling. Lunch wasn’t anything fancy, just sandwiches and potato salad, but I actually really liked the sandwich spread they hand. They also had alcoholic beverages, but those were only served after you were done snorkeling/swimming.
I would recommend bringing sunscreen, a towel, and Dramamine. My Mom and Aunt got sea sick on the boat ride, so if you’re prone to that, definitely take some Dramamine or other preventative medicine beforehand. They did take some before, but because of the weather and how choppy the ocean was, it was pretty rough out there. You’re not allowed to wear shoes on the boat unless they’re boat shoes and if you didn’t have boat shoes, you had to leave them at the dock. Don’t worry, they’ll have a little place for you to put them!
I think one of Blue Dolphin’s guarantees is that you’ll see dolphins – and we definitely saw some! I didn’t get any good pictures of them, but it’s always fun to see them out in the wild. (Totally normal for a Hawai’i girl like me.) We saw a couple different pods of bottlenose dolphins (groups of dolphins), but I remember seeing this baby dolphin that was a complete ham! He kept jump out of the water and twirling, it was the cutest thing!
Overall, even though I didn’t get the amazing pictures that I wanted, the tour was a great experience and I would definitely recommend Blue Dolphin. The crew was super nice, entertaining, and helpful. When my mom got seasick, the crew members constantly came over to make sure she was okay. They were great hosts, super funny (as you can see from my picture above), and even pretty good photographers. I’ll just leave you with some pictures we took on the trip.
Have you done a boat tour? Where did you go?
Let me know in the comments below!
This past trip home to Hawai’i, I got to hike the Wiliwilinui (pronounced willy-willy-nu-eee) Trail. I’ve never really been a big outdoorsy person, but I love hiking in Hawai’i. Every view is amazing, but I am a little biased. 😉 I do have a couple favorite hikes, like Koko Head and Lanikai Pillbox, but I try to do hikes I haven’t done before.
Wiliwilinui is located in Aina Haina and it’s a steady upward slope with clusters of stairs in between. It’s about 4.5 miles long, so the time it takes will depend on you. It took us a good 3-4 hours to complete. The views from the top are amazing, of course, because you get 180 degree views from Kaneohe Bay to Waikiki.
I’m the worst at giving directions, but to get to the trail you have to drive up to the a subdivision where you have to sign in with a guard to get a parking pass and he’ll give you directions to parking. You’ll park at the head of the trail and walk up a paved road which will eventually turn into a dirt road. The stairs are pretty rough but the view is so worth it! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Have you ever been hiking in Hawai'i? What's your favorite trail? Let me know in the comments below!
The first 2 days of my Mexico trip, we spent in Tulum and the last 2 1/2 I spent in Cancun with my girl, AE. She booked the Sunset Marina Resort for the two of us and it’s an all inclusive resort! I’ve never stayed at an all inclusive before and as much as I loved the casita at Papaya Playa Project, I was so happy to be in a legitimate hotel and having unlimited food and alcohol was amazing!
The resort is located on the peninsula in Cancun with a strip of beach area. There are a ton of activities to do everyday like water sports, activities for kids and nightly shows. They have a concierge who can tell you about any tourist activities – like visiting Chichen Itza or Xplor Adventure Park (which I’ll talk about in my next post!) or getting bus rides and cover into one of the infamous Cancun clubs. There is an option to just book a room and not do an all inclusive package, but like I said,
we definitely did all inclusive.
I don’t know what type of vacationer you are, but I’m very go with the flow and “let’s just see what happens and how I feel to decide.” We had absolutely no specific plans in Cancun and the two days we had there were definitely for rest and relaxation. The first room at Papaya Playa was such a let down, when we walked into the studio apartment style room at Sunset Marina we were amazed! There was a little kitchenette (no stove) with a mini fridge with a few beers, a tall dining table, sitting area, and outside jacuzzi!
I loved the blue tufted headboard and you know we definitely made use of that jacuzzi!
There are three different restaurants on site – La Vela a more formal, sit down, a la carte restaurant, La Pergola a more casual, buffet style restaurant, and Il Forno a casual open pizzeria posted right on the beach. We ate mostly at La Pergola, but had a pizza the first night at Il Forno. We didn’t eat at all at La Vela, but there was just so much to choose from in the buffet.
My favorite thing about the whole experience was definitely having the open bar. You basically have a running tab billed to your room, but since its all inclusive, you don’t have to worry about it! You’d think I was sitting poolside with margaritas, but my favorite drink was their micheladas! Every other michelada I’ve had has had clamato juice in it, but these were different because they didn’t have clamato in them at all!
We watched them make it and it looks like lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, tabasco, salt, and of course, beer! The soy sauce surprised me and the combination sounds so weird together but oh my gosh. I loved them!
Right outside of La Pergola is the pool area. There’s a lower pool with a slide and an upper pool complete with pool side bar.
This deck is also outside of La Pergola. I don’t know where it leads to, honestly.
Overall, I loved staying here, the all inclusive route was definitely the way to go and the service was great – just look at the cute little bird housekeeping left on the bed when they cleaned the room!
Papaya Playa Project (aka PPP) is a 100 room boutique hotel located right on the beach in Tulum, Mexico. Owned by Design Hotels, the hotel was constructed with the intention that its guests experience being a part of nature – and they definitely did that. Walking to the cabanas felt like walking through the jungle and on the first night, we could hear the waves of the ocean crashing from our bedroom. There were 4 of us on the trip and we arrived on different days, so the first night we had separate Maya Ocean View Cabana and the second night, we all stayed in a Casita with Private Pool.
On the website, the pictures are amazing and don’t get me wrong, because I got some good shots, too. But the hotel itself wasn’t really what I was expecting. Everything is outdoors, like the check-in desk, restaurant, and juice bar – even the public bathrooms were semi-open. I absolutely, LOVED the casita, but I don’t think that I would stay in the cabana again. When we checked-in they gave all of us these brown bead bracelets, which were literally the bane of our existence. I kept thinking it fell off my wrist and I lost it when we were out and about, but these bracelets were kind of a big deal at the hotel. There was even one point when we were trying to go back to our room and the workers said to themselves, “Oh, they have the bracelets they can go.”
As far as dining options, they had a restaurant/bar and juice bar near the lobby. We ate at the hotel restaurant one night and I had the bone marrow tacos. They were really good, but really fatty. Their michealdas were good and spicy, though! Overall, their menu seemed kind of overpriced to me but I guess that’s to be expected when you’re staying at a hotel.
There was AC in both rooms, but for some reason, the cabana just wasn’t as comfortable. In the cabana, there’s a mosquito net around the bed and the bathroom didn’t really feel that clean to me. There were a few steps that led up to the bathroom, an open shower, and concrete floors. The shower head in the cabana leaked a lot, so the shower was always wet. The view from the front door was so pretty, although I am a bit biased because I am all about the ocean.
The casita was to die for – it was huge and roomy and had a rooftop pool with a 180 degree view of the ocean! There was a waterfall shower head with a huge open shower area. The 4 of us fit in the room comfortably – there was a giant king sized bed with what I think was a full sized mattress at the bottom – but be warned, the person limit is 3 and we had an extra $84 charge for having that 4th person! We were pretty upset about that because the front desk guy knew there were 4 of us and didn’t mention anything about the charge when we checked in.
The best part of the cabana – the rooftop views!
We paid $282.02 for one night in the Cabana room and $402.15 ($317.71 + $84.44 for the extra person) for the casita – my cut was roughly $240 for the weekend. I thought the rooms were pretty pricey but I have no clue if it was peak season when we went or not (it was Thanksgiving weekend). The cost of the casita made sense to me, but I personally felt like the cabana was a little overpriced. Looking around, it was kind of average priced for the area but I think we could’ve stayed at a nicer place on the first night. The accommodations are so much nicer in the casita, which was to be expected, but the stark contrast was kind of surprising to all of us. There was a mini fridge and snacks in the casita, whereas there were only a couple of bottles of water and some matches in the cabana.
Apparently it’s the party spot to be on Saturday nights – they have a big open dining area right outside the lobby in front of the beach where they hold monthly full moon parties and there’s a DJ in house every weekend. We stopped by to check out the party the Saturday night we were there, but it definitely wasn’t our cup of tea. The DJ played trance all night (I’m an EDM fan, but it literally sounded like the same song all night) and we could hear it bumping from the casita all through the night.
We spent our last morning lounging around the rooftop pool and in true girl fashion, we got a ton of shots for the ‘gram. I think we all kind of regret not spending more time up there.
Overall, it was an amazing experience, but if we had to do it all again at PPP, I’d chose to book the casita the whole time.
Enchant Christmas is the world’s largest outdoor Christmas light maze at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. It is the first time they’ve brought it out to Texas and I heard about it from one of my good friends while we were hanging out on Christmas Day. I didn’t get to go home to Hawai’i for the holidays this year and hadn’t really been feeling the Christmas spirit, but just driving up to Enchant made me feel giddy like a little kid! I don’t know what it is about Christmas lights, but it definitely made my Christmas!
Tickets cost $29.95 for adults and $21.95 for children. They do give military, senior, EMS, and first responder discount as well as family packs. You can purchase tickets in advanced on their website at www.enchantchristmas.com, but since we went last minute, we purchased them there. The maze is open until December 31st, 2018 so if you’re in the Dallas metro, you have one last weekend to go check it out!
There’s so many things to do and see there, like the ice skating pond, marketplace, Santa’s palace, food trucks, and the Christmas maze. The maze is definitely the highlight. We really just went for the maze and photo ops! We were freezing afterwards and got some spiked hot chocolate, which was definitely the cherry on top of the night. But without further ado, the pictures!
Have you been to any cool Christmas things this season? Where did you go?
Star Wars and the Power of the Costume exhibit was held at the Denver Art Museum from November 13th, 2016 – April 9, 2017. I went to visit Denver back in February and never got around to posting it until now. The exhibit was a self-guided tour, and although I’m neither a Star Wars fan nor a fashionista, I couldn’t help but appreciate the detail and intricacy of the costumes – so much work goes into one piece!
The museum itself is big – there’s separate buildings and multiple floors with different exhibits going on at once. I remembered there being a floor with abstract art, one with Asian art and even Polynesian art. We saw the Star Wars exhibit first, then we wandered around the rest of the museum. Here’s some of the art we saw:
And now for the good stuff! Of course, it wouldn’t be Star Wars without the light sabers…
I kinda wished that I was more of a Star Wars fan because I think I would’ve appreciated it so much more, but my favorite part had to be Princess Leia’s wardrobe.