Categories
Destination Hawaii Hotels Kauai Reviews

Staying at Kaua’i Beach Villas in Lihue

On our mini family vacation, we stayed at the Kaua’i Beach Villas. My mom owns a Wyndham timeshare that doesn’t get nearly as much use as it should and when I went home last March, I really wanted to visit another island and purely based on availability, we decided on Kaua’i Beach Villas. Before we get into the deets, the TLDR;



 

TLDR;

PROS

  • Great size with good amenities – full kitchen, dining and living areas, and washer/dryer.
  • Central-ish on the island. Close to the airport, ~30 minutes to Poipu and ~40 minutes to Princeville.

CONS

  • Decor is a little dated and it’s not the prettiest.
  • There’s no beach on site.

There were 6 of us on the trip and we booked a 2 bedroom suite. It was a great size for the 6 of us. There’s a full sized kitchen, dining room, and washer/dryer in suite. Overall, it’s an okay place to say. I honestly wouldn’t prefer to stay there again – there wasn’t anything bad about it, but there wasn’t anything amazing either. The best thing was how much space we had, but the decor wasn’t the prettiest or most updated. But then again, in my experience, unless you’re staying at a more expensive chain hotel, most Hawai’i hotels have a little outdated decor (think cheesy Hawai’i print styles).



 

The view from our patio was pretty decent. I mostly just love being in Hawai’i where everything is so green and blue. Another downside was there was no beach on site or pool. If I remember correctly, they gave us access to the neighboring hotels pool but even then there was no walkable beach nearby. The staff is pretty pleasant and the concierge did help us get a discount on our Na Pali Coast tour. Parking is gated and I generally felt safe there.

Overall, it was a good experience. If you’re traveling with a big family, it’s definitely great having all that space and the ability to cook or do laundry if you want to. However, if you’re looking for a luxurious place to stay, this wouldn’t be my first choice.

Kauai Beach Villas Living Room
View of the TV in the Living Room
Kauai Beach Villas Dining Room
Dining Area
Kauai Beach Villas Kitchen
Kitchen
Kauai Beach Villas Bathroom
Vanity in the second bathroom
Kauai Beach Villas Bathroom
The bathroom
Kauai Beach Villas Patio
Patio Table



Kauai Beach Villas Master Bedroom
Master Bedroom
Kauai Beach Villas Second Room
Kauai Beach Villas Second Room
Kauai Beach Villas View
View from the patio
Categories
Destination Hawaii Kauai Reviews USA

Touring the Na Pali Coast by Sea with Blue Dolphin Charters

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!



TLDR;

  • Take a 5.5 hour boat tour around the Na Pali Coast in Kaua’i with Blue Dolphin Charters.
  • Cost is ~$100 – $150. Tours are rain or shine.
  • 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.

View from the boat, a little ways out from the harbor.

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.

Some of the coastline



Look how rainy/cloudy it was!

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.

Did you know part of Jurassic Park was filmed here?



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!

Probably my favorite pic of the day

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!

one of the crew members messing with me

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.



Me and my sister
One of the crew members taking candids of us
I seriously don’t know how people take pretty pictures in the wind.
Me in my element – totally awkward.
I love the ocean



bikini by Triangl

Mini photo shoot when we stopped to snorkel lol!
Love you Kaua’i! \m/



Have you done a boat tour? Where did you go?
Let me know in the comments below!
Categories
Adulting Finance Money Matters Reviews

4 Websites / Apps I’ve Made Money From

It never hurts to have a few extra dollars in your wallet and when you have financial goals like me, every penny counts. There are tons of websites and apps out there that claim to make you cash, but it’s hard to tell up front which ones are actually worth it. I don’t sign up for these sites/apps thinking I’m going to make a ton of cash, but I am all for passive income – where I’m getting paid back for doing things I was going to do anyway. Here’s a list of 4 websites/apps that I use on a regular basis because I’ve actually gotten payouts from them.

Ebates

TLDR;

  • Earn cash back for shopping online by clicking affiliate links on the ebates site.
  • Payout is quarterly when you meet the $5 threshold; payout through PayPal or actual check.
  • My favorite website to earn extra cash passively
  • #shamelessplug Get a $10 bonus when you sign up using my link my Ebates link

Ebates is a cash back website that gives you (r)ebates for shopping their partners’ websites. The way it works is, you login to your ebates account, search for the website you want to shop at, click through the link on their site, and purchase your items. Ebates makes a commission when you make a purchase through their link and they give back a portion of that commission to you. The website tells you exactly what percent of your total you’ll get back on your purchase. The percentage varies anywhere from 1 – 42% and the cash back credit to your account is almost instantaneous. They have a pretty extensive list of partners – some of my favorites are Orbitz, Best Buy, Sephora, and Target. I don’t buy anything online without checking if they’re affiliated with Ebates.

The way the payout works is by quarters. At the end of the quarter, if you’ve reached the minimum threshold of $5, you get what they call a ‘Big Fat Check’. You can get payment either through PayPal (my preferred method) or an actual mailed check. My last ‘Big Fat Check’ was for $14.39 for activity from January – March of this year. Since I joined in November 2016, I’ve gotten over $400 in rebates. Ebates is definitely my favorite website to make a few extra bucks on because the $5 threshold is pretty low and if I’m doing a lot of purchasing online, I hit it pretty quickly.

They’re customer service is also great. If you’re not seeing cash back in your account, you can go through their Help link and submit a claim. You select the store, date of purchase, and shopping trip (they record your click throughs on the site). You also have to enter your Order Number, Subtotal, and copy and paste your order confirmation email. I’ve submitted a few claims and they always added it to my account instantaneously. I think they’ve also added in store shopping features, but I haven’t really looked into those.

If you sign up using my Ebates link, you’ll get a $10 bonus when you spend at least $25 – quick way to get your first big fat check!



ibotta

TLDR;

  • Earn cash back by sending in proof of purchases from shopping in store. (Mainly for groceries.)
  • Payout any time you meet the minimum $20 threshold; Payout via PayPal or venmo.
  • #shamelessplug Get a $10 welcome bonus when you signup using my referral link.

ibotta works really similar to Ebates, but the difference is it’s for in-store shopping. I believe they also have some online shopping features, but I stick to Ebates for that. You can either search for the items you purchased or start with the store you purchased it at, add the cash back, then submit a picture of the receipt. If the item is specific, like ‘Coca Cola 12 pack’, it’ll ask for a scan of the barcode as part of the proof of purchase.

screenshot of the ibotta app

The downside to ibotta is the minimum threshold is much higher – you have to hit $20 to get a payout. I’ve personally only gotten paid once because the cash back per items that I usually purchase is really minimal ($0.25 – $1). I have seen them give more cash back, but it’s for items I don’t buy. Their offers do change often and they have opportunities for bonuses.

The way it works is, you search for the item you purchased, the store you purchased it at, add an image of the receipt and sometimes a scan of the barcode for the item, and they add the cash to your account. The threshold to get paid is $20 so it’s a lot higher and I’ve personally only been paid once off ibotta but their offer list isn’t as extensive. The offers change often, but they’re more like coupons instead of a total percentage off. Payment is through PayPal or Venmo. Get a $10 welcome bonus when you sign up using my referral link!

 

Poshmark

TLDR;

  • Buy/sell new or gently used clothing and accessories that are sitting in your closet.
  • Payout whenever your item is accepted by the buyer, no mininum threshold; Payout directly to your bank account.
  • Selling items can be hit or miss.
  • #shamelessplug Sign up using my code SHER0XX (zero not an o) to get a $5 bonus.

Poshmark is a website/app used to buy and sell clothing. It’s kind of like a Buffalo Exchange or Plato’s Closet for the internet. I wrote a post last year on how I made $1700+ selling stuff on Poshmark, so if you want a detailed walk through of the app, you can check it out. I checked my total earnings today and to date I’ve made over $2300.

It’s super easy to post items on the app and they take the worry out of shipping by providing the labels. The downside is you don’t know what is going to sell and when it’s going to. If you sign up using my code ‘SHER0XX’ (that’s a zero) you get a $5 bonus!



Achievement

TLDR;

  • Earn points for doing healthy activities.
  • Payout of $10 when you reach 10,000 points; Payout via PayPal
  • Point threshold is kind of high, but earning points is passive.
  • #shamelessplug Sign up using my referral link to get a 100 points.

Achievement is a free website / app where you can earn points for doing healthy things. You can connect healthy apps to your Achievement account and it automatically gives you credit for activities that you do. For example, I have a Fitbit Alta HR and I log my weight daily in the Fitbit app. The app automatically syncs with Achievement and credits me points weekly based on how many steps I take and how many times I logged my weight. Achievement can connect to Apple Health, myFitnessPal, Jawbone, Run Keeper, and a few others. You can also get points by doing their surveys, but I’m not really active on that account.

The threshold for Achievement is really high – you need to hit 10,000 points to get a $10 payoff. Of the 4 apps I mentioned, this one is the most passive for me because I’d use my Fitbit whether I was getting points or not, but I’m not going to say no to $10 if they’re going to give it to me for free! If you sign up using my referral link, you can get 100 points credited to your account.



Do you use any apps to make extra cash? Which ones do you use?
Let me know in the comments below!
Categories
Destination Hotels Mexico Reviews Tulum

Staying at Papaya Playa Project in Tulum, Mexico

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.”

the bane of my existence at PPP

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.

bone marrow tacos at the hotel restaurant

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.

bed in the cabana

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 cabana room
 
ledge separating the shower area from the bed in the cabana
open shower in the cabana
bathroom
stairs leading up to the rooftop pool

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.

first sunset in Tulum from the open dining area

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.

cheers
poolside chillin
laying out

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.

Categories
Fashion Lifestyle Reviews

MM LaFleur Review

I tried my first MM.LaFleur Bento Box 3-4 months ago and I loved the concept of getting quality, fashionable work clothes delivered to me without having to deal with the hassle of going to the mall, browsing racks, trying on clothes, and standing in line. I know, I know, what girl doesn’t want to go shopping?! It’s funny, cause I used to be a pretty bad shopaholic, but as I’ve gotten older and progressed in my career, I have less and less patience for shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I still get the itch from time to time, but these days I avoid malls like the plague.

 

So what is MM.LaFleur? The brand was launched in 2013 by Sarah LaFleur, Miyako Nakamura, and Narie Foster. Designed for the professional, working woman in mind, their Bento Box has the same concept as other monthly subscription boxes with the option to purchase all, one, or none of the items in the box. Each box is filled by a stylist with several high quality workwear pieces and an accessory meant to fit your style.

 




 

TL;DR

MM.LaFleur has awesome customer service and each piece is really high quality. The killer was the super high price point – the cheapest piece of clothing in my Bento Box was $145; the scarf was $65.

 

PROS

  • High quality items
  • Awesome customer service
  • Most items fit great
  • Fast shipping
  • Convenience
  • Decent size range (0 – 22W)
  • Only receive boxes when requested

 

CONS

  • High price point ($110 – $325 for clothing items)
  • Charge for Bento Box even if you don’t buy an item

 

HOW IT WORKS

After signing up for an account on MM.LaFleur, you fill out a survey on your fashion preferences, choose the day you’d like to receive your items, and enter your payment information. A stylist will pick out items for your Bento Box and the box gets shipped to you. You have 4 days to try everything on, keep whatever you want, and send the rest back. Shipping is free both ways and you’re only charged for the items you keep. Your first box is free, but subsequent boxes are $25 regardless of whether you purchase or not. You only receive Bento Boxes when requested, unlike other subscription services which send you a box and charge you monthly.

 

IN MY BENTO BOX

These were the items in my first box:

 

Sant Ambroeus Jardigan
 

I wear cardigans all the time at work, so I actually really loved this cardigan. It fit well, was super comfortable, and I loved that it didn’t have buttons. I couldn’t justify the $195 pricetag, though.

 

The Tory 2.0 Dress
 

I didn’t care too much for this dress. It was comfortable and the pockets are super cute, but it just wasn’t very flattering on. It kind of made me feel like I was dressing like my mom’s friend.

 


Greenpoint Skirt
Deneuve 3.0 Top
 

I didn’t care too much for either of these pieces. I’m really short (5’2″), have wide hips and no boobs so things have to fit right to look good on me. The skirt overall fit okay, but the slit in the front didn’t work for me. The top was comfortable, but just not my style.

 Rachel Dress

 

I LOVED this dress. This was my favorite item in the box – it fit amazing (Look at the back!), the color was pretty, it wasn’t super tight, and the material was really nice. If I was going to keep anything, it would’ve been this dress, but again – it was so expensive. I just can’t justify $240 for a dress.

 

Herringbone Scarf
 

Herringbone Scarf over the Rachel Dress
 

Awkward turtle face

 

I’m not much of a scarf person, mostly because I don’t know how to wear them and also because in Dallas the weather is bipolar and mostly warm so there isn’t that much of a need for them. The Herringbone Scarf is a wool-cotton blend and it was huge! (See it wrapped around me as a blanket in the ‘awkward turtle face.’) This actually might be good for someone who gets cold in the office. I loved the color and feel of it, but like all the other items, $65 was a deal breaker.

 

As much as I loved that Rachel dress, I ended up sending back all the items. I love nice things and I’m all for investing in classic pieces I’ll wear all the time, but I just couldn’t justify spending $150+ for one item. For reference, I’m definitely an Express / J. Crew / Banana Republic type of girl but I could get 2-3 items on sale for the price of one MM.LaFleur item.

 

Overall, MM.LaFleur delivers on high quality items and great customer service. It’s definitely catered to the professional, working woman and if I had the budget, I wouldn’t think twice, but deep down I still have my cheap Asian tendencies and had to pass. As you can see from my pros and cons list, I didn’t find anything bad about it, but costs trumps everything for me. If they lowered their price point more, I would probably try it again, but otherwise I’ll stick to my twice a year stops to the mall on sale weekends.

Categories
Fashion Fitness Lifestyle Reviews

Pop Fit FREE Leggings! – Olivia Review

A few months ago, a friend of mine told me about this POP Fit promo for free leggings and my first thoughts were – free workout clothes? I’m in. But as they say, nothing is ever free, free. I got to pick which leggings I wanted but the catch was I had to pay $11.99 for shipping. I’m not super big into shopping anymore – I think I have too many clothes I don’t use – but I don’t think twice about buying new workout clothes because I really put them to use.


Olivia Leggings

I ended up choosing these black/green Olivia leggings and I think if you click the picture link, you might be able to snag them for free yourself. I’m pretty picky about my workout wear – it needs to be drifit-ish material and the bottoms need to fit snug and comfortably but still flattering. I’m pretty loyal to my Nike capris and full length leggings and have yet to find anything that compares, but $11.99 didn’t hurt.

Some claims from the POP Fit website:

  • Thick waistband that “hits your hip & tummy area in exactly the perfect place”
  • Leggings stay perfectly in place
  • Heavier more durable fabric

TL;DR

I wouldn’t buy them again. They weren’t a complete loss, but not worth the full price IMO.

PROS

  • Comfortable and waistband does sit in a flattering area
  • Does stay in place (for the most part) while working out
  • Designs are pretty cute
  • Not terribly expensive

CONS

  • The waistband shrinks and gets warped when you put it in the dryer
  • Material is decent, but feels like will deteriorate after excessive use
  • Holds onto moisture more than I’d like

Leggings in action at the gym

I do think the style of these are really cute. I know a lot of women who love sporting the athleisure look and these definitely fit the bill. The mesh is soft but seemingly durable, but these are more for athleisure than they are for working out. I like the material for the most part and they’re super comfortable, but it holds moisture more than I’d like.

I rotate my workouts between weight lifting, hot yoga, and HIIT cardio workouts PLUS I sweat a lot, so I need something that’s comfortable and durable, but still flattering. The moisture thing isn’t so bad with lifting and HIIT, but when I’m in hot yoga, I notice it more because I’m sweating a lot more. In class, I’m used to wiping my sweaty hands on my leggings to get a better grip during poses, but when I used these leggings, it felt like I was just rubbing a wet towel.

I’ve had these for a few months now and I workout pretty regularly during the week so these were definitely put to the test. My biggest gripe is after so many washes, the waist band shrinks and gets pretty warped. Maybe I’m supposed to air dry these? I honestly don’t read instructions, but I don’t have time to air dry all my leggings. I’ve had some pairs of Nike leggings for years (circa 2013) and they’ve held up really well – I don’t see these lasting as long.

If you’re looking for something more casual and not for workout use, these might be for you, but I probably won’t be purchasing any more. If these were $11.99 regular price, I’d might reconsider, but the Olivia Leggings I got was $37 full price and I could get my favorite Nike Pro Leggings for the same price.

If you wanna try these leggings for yourself, I did find these other styles that are free (+ S&H):

POP Fit Heather Leggings
Heather Leggings


Mandy Leggings

Have you tried POP Fit Leggings? Do you have other favorite brands?
Let me know in the comments below!