Destination Hawaii Kauai USA

Waimea Canyon, “The Grand Canyon in the Pacific”

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!
Destination Hawaii USA

Don’t Say These Hawaiian Words and Phrases on Your Next Trip to Hawai’i

Whenever I tell someone I’m from Hawai’i, it never fails – they respond with “I love Hawaii!” or “I really want to go there!” Every once in a while someone will ask if I speak Hawaiian and while I don’t, we were taught Hawaiian growing up and it’s everywhere so it’s hard not to pick up some words.

I read this article from Travel and Leisure entitled, 18 basic Hawaiian words and Phrases for Your Trip to the Aloha State and I cringed at some of the descriptions on how to pronounce the words and how to use them in a sentence. I was also confused because it said 18 but I wrote this post and only came out to 15 words / phrases? Let me just disclaimer that I am not a native Hawaiian and I’m not attacking the author of this article in anyway, but I just wanted to give my perspective as a former kama’aina (local Hawai’i person) and how we used these phrases in everyday conversation.

I posted screenshots of the actual article with my numbered commentary below, so hopefully it’s not too confusing to follow.

1. – 4. aloha kakahiaka, aloha awakea, aloha ‘auinalā, and aloha ahiahi

This pronunciation of all four of these looks right, I remember learning these in elementary school. (W’s are sometimes pronounced as v’s in the Hawaiian language.) However, besides aloha kakahiaka, I’ve never heard anyone use this in regular conversation. You might hear it in touristy areas or shows, but I don’t ever remember saying these to my friends.

5. lū‘au

This one, I’m kind of not sure how you’re supposed to say loo-ah-oo because lū‘au sounds more like lou-ow. Also I don’t know what is all this talk about taro leaves is about because a lū‘au is basically a Hawaiian party or feast.

6. mahalo

This one is for the most part correct, even the bit about tourists thinking it means garbage. But nui is pronounced more like new-ee but I guess I can see how you could phonetically get noo? Idk looks more like noooooo to me.

7/8. wahine, kane

These are also right.

The Common Hawaiian phrases section is definitely the part that I was like whaaaa because I don’t remember hearing or using half these a lot.

9. ‘a’ole pilikia

Pronunciation looks right and you would use this if someone says ‘thank you’ because I think it means no problem, but I didn’t ever use this phrase.

10. a ‘o ia

Honestly I don’t know what is happening here. I tried to figure out what phrase this is supposed to be but I have no clue. Don’t say this.

11. hui

Unless you’re trying to call your Filipino friends and say hoyy, I wouldn’t try to call anyone like this in Hawai’i especially if you’re a tourist.

12. e kala mai

This one looks right, but you could just say excuse me.

Useful Hawaiian sayings for travelers

This part is kind of useful, people will use mauka and makai for reference on direction, but the pronunciations looked kind of weird to me. Like why are they broken up like ma uka and ma kai, they should be one word.

13. mauka

Mauka is pronounced more like mow-kah. The way I learned it, it means more mountainside. Don’t say, “We’ll be mauka today doing the zipline.” Nobody would say that.

14. makai

I feel like if you say mah-kie-yee it sounds more like you’re trying to say maika’i which means something different so I’d just drop that ‘yee’ and say mah-kie. Makai means oceanside. Also dont’ say “at the boathouse makai.” Nobody says that either.

15. a hui hou

The meaning is right, “until we meet again”, but again the pronunciation. Idk what’s all this extra stuff on the end, but ah-hoo-wee-ho would suffice.

Again, I’m not a Hawaiian expert, I could be wrong about some of this (local friends correct me if I am!) I think it’s great that people want to learn about Hawaiian culture, but you don’t want to go to Hawai’i and have the locals look at you funny when attempt to use these words. 😉

Destination Hawaii Oahu USA

Hiking Lanikai Pillbox on O’ahu

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!

Destination Hawaii Oahu USA

Makapu’u Tide Pools on O’ahu

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!

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;




  • 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.


  • 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
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
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!


  • 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!
Destination Hawaii Oahu USA

Kaka’ako Street Art

It seems like every time I go home to Hawai’i, which is about once a year, there’s always something new. It’s bittersweet because part of me wants things to stay as they were, but exciting because those things were never there when I was growing up. This past March, I met up with some friends at SALT Kaka’ako – a city block of restaurants and shops – and we wandered around the area to look at some murals they had up. They held a 2018 POW! WOW! Event not long before I went, where a ton of artists from all over the globe came to paint murals.

I may not be that artistic, but I love art. I don’t think that people appreciate it enough. I tried to credit the artists where I could, but I couldn’t figure out some of them. If you know, let me know and I’ll definitely add the credits! My favorite was definitely the of a girl who looks like she’s falling into multicolored tentacle waves by James Bullough and Ricky Watts. There were so many murals, I didn’t catch them all, but here are the ones I did get.

by @mynameistran
by @og_slick. SO appropriate for HI!
by @simonelegno

by @james_bullough and @rickywatts — this one was definitely my favorite.

a humuhumunukunukuapua’a

by @bounce1029
by @saminthewolf – also loved this one!

Do you like street art? What's your favorite?
Let me know in the comments below!
Destination Hawaii Oahu USA

Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail on O’ahu, Hawai’i

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.

view from the top
on the way down
Waikiki in the distance

Have you ever been hiking in Hawai'i? What's your favorite trail?
Let me know in the comments below!
Food & Drink

Foodie Fridays: Hawai’i Edition

There’s a ton of reasons I love going home to Hawai’i and one of them is definitely the food. I’m a total fat kid at heart and there’s nothing like some ono grinds (delicious food)! Luckily I have awesome friends who are (literally) always down to eat and take me to all the hot spots back home. My mainland friends always ask me where I ate so I thought I’d chronicle my recent Hawaiian foodventures.

I flew back to Hawai’i with my parents from Phoenix and I was starving when we landed. Normally the flight from Phoenix to Honolulu is 5.5 – 6 hours but for some reason my flight on American Airlines was 7+ hours and they don’t even feed you! My first meal was a Soon’s Special from Soon’s Kal-Bi Drive In in Salt Lake. The special is a plate lunch with meat jhun, kal-bi, BBQ chicken, with a side of kimchi. I grew up eating their BBQ sandwiches and plate lunch after school and I love, love, love their meat jhun.

Soon’s Special from Soon’s Kal-Bi Drive In
848 Ala Lilikoi St
Honolulu, HI 96818

Another spot that I hit up regularly is Shokudo‘s Happy Hour. Shokudo is a Japanese restaurant in Ala Moana. You know you’re a fat kid when you go to a happy hour for the food and not the drinks! Their happy hour is everyday from 4- 6 PM and Sunday – Thursday, 10 PM – 12 AM. Some of my favorites are the spicy tuna nachos (ask for extra sauce on the side), dynamite fries, garlic clams, and of course the jr. honey toast. The honey toast is a brick toast with the middle chopped up into cubes topped with ice cream honey. The happy hour menu has a ‘junior’ size which is half the size of a full honey toast. You can even get other flavors, but I stick to the original.

Jr. Honey Toast from Shokudo
1585 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814

Another must have for me is the Kahuku shrimp plates! There’s three popular shrimp trucks on O’ahu: Giovanni’s, Kahuku Shrimp, and Romy’s. My personal favorite is the spicy shrimp plate from Kahuku Shrimp Truck, but for whatever reason, Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is more popular. Sometimes the lines are ridiculously long! Giovanni’s has two locations, one in Kahuku and one in Haleiwa, whereas Kahuku Shrimp Truck is only in Kahuku. If you like spicy food, Kahuku Shrimp is definitely better, but if you like garlic butter sauce (or scampi sauce), Giovanni’s is good. This trip we couldn’t make it all the way to Kahuku so I had to settle for scampi shrimp from Giovanni’s in Haleiwa. I got the hot sauce on the side but it really just taste like tabasco.

Scampi Shrimp from Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
66-472 Kamehameha Hwy
Haleiwa, HI 96712

Anytime we’re on that side of the island, I always ask if we can make a stop at Pa’ala Kai Bakery in Waialua to get Snow Puffies! Waialua is a far drive from town but the snow puffy is so worth it. A snow puffy is a flaky pastry filled with custard drizzled with chocolate and topped off with powdered sugar. Omg I’m drooling thinking about it. They’re best eaten fresh when the phyllo dough crunches when you take a bite!

Snow Puffies from Pa’ala Kai Bakery
66-945 Kaukonahua Rd
Waialua, HI 96791

I think every time I make a trip home my friends take me to a new restaurant to try. This time they introduced me to Marukame Udon, a Japanese noodle restaurant in Waikiki. The udon noodles are freshly made and the restaurant style is definitely Japanese. It’s not meant to be a sit down and hang out for a while restaurant, but a get your food, hurry up eat and get out kind of restaurant. The dining area is relatively small and the line seems to always be out the door and never ending but the wait isn’t long at all and the food is delicious. I got the curry udon with sides of fried chicken, tempura, and Hawaiian sausage. Hawaiian sausage is really Redondo’s hot dog, but only locals would know that. Definitely one of the best bowls of udon I’ve ever had.

Curry Udon, Fried Chicken, Tempura, & Hawaiian Sausage from Marukame Udon
2310 Kuhio Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815

After Marukame, we walked next door to Matcha Cafe Maiko, a dessert place where you can get green tea ice cream or lattes. I got a matcha green tea latte topped with mixed froyo (vanilla and green tea). If you’re not a fan of green tea, I don’t recommend it, but I definitely recommend the mixed vanilla/green tea froyo over straight green tea. They’re a little bit expensive but you are in Waikiki and to be fair, a Starbucks latte probably cost just as much and you don’t get ice cream!

Green Tea Latte with Mixed Froyo from Matcha Cafe Maiko
2310 Kuhio Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815

Another spot I absolutely MUST hit up when I go home is Boot’s & Kimo’s Homestyle Kitchen in Kailua. MACADAMIA NUT PANCAKES FTW. Seriously. If you didn’t order pancakes when you ate there, I don’t know why you went. It made me sad sometimes because it’s such a popular tourist attraction that sometimes the tourist buses would bring loads of people and make the waits ridiculously long! But the pancakes are like little fluffy clouds topped with this light airy macadmia nut sauce. So good. I really wish I knew what they put in that sauce, though! We usually end up getting an order of pancakes to share and then our own plate of something. I always order the Portuguese Sausage Omelette and this time we got the Blueberry Macadmia Nut Panckes. DROOL. Oh, and FYI it’s cash only, but if you forget there’s an ATM inside.

Portuguese Sausage Omelette & Blueberry Panckes from Boots & Kimo
15 Hekili St
Kailua, HI 96734

Oh and the small corner restaurant is sports themed, I think the owner is a big Broncos fan, but there’s NFL and other sports paraphernalia all around the restaurant. Each table is one of the 32 NFL teams and when we were getting seated, we had a choice of which table. This was pre Super Bowl 51 and I am a huge Pats fan so I, of course, picked that table. Just had to plug that in. 😉

Another one of my traditions is going to Genki Sushi with my mom. It’s usually the first place I ask her to take me as soon as I land but we were tired from the trip and wanted something quicker. Genki Sushi is a chain sushi restaurant that has a conveyor belt to deliver your food. We went to the location in Ala Moana which has this fancy upgraded conveyor belt where you can order sushi off an iPad and a little boat gets sent straight to your table. I literally only eat two things from there – the spicy tuna and ebi fry.

Spicy Tuna & Ebi Fry from Genki Sushi
1450 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814

My favorite food of all time is fried chicken wings and in high school my favorite wings (besides my homemade ones) were from Stadium Giant Malts & BBQ. Growing up they used to be called ‘Bob’s BBQ’ and I still have their number in my phone as Bob’s. It’s a little hole in the wall restaurant near Aloha Stadium that’s cash only. I typically do a phone order, pick up the plate lunch, then eat at home. The same Asian lady that answered the phone when I was in high school still answers the phone today. I love that some things haven’t changed about my little rock.

Fried Chicken Wings Plate from Stadium BBQ
4510 Salt Lake Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96818

Bangus (milkfish) Sinigang from Thelma’s Restaurant

There’s not a lot of Filipino restaurants on the mainland so I love eating Filipino food whenever I can. I had a family lunch with my cousins, a few of her kids, and my mom and we ate at Thelma’s Restaurant in Waipahu. My mom order sinigang, a tamarind fish soup, which is really good but I LOVE the Thelma’s Special. It’s lechon kawali (fried pork belly) topped with chopped onions, tomatoes, and patis (fish sauce). I know. It sounds weird. But it’s so good. Filipino food is underrated and I think it’s mostly the presentation. It never looks really amazing, but tastes so freaking good. I hope one day one of my peoples can make it more presentable.

Thelma’s Special from Thelma’s Restaurant
94-366 Pupupani St
Waipahu, HI 96797

Some bonus treats, McDonald’s had a special while I was there – the Guava Pie! Basically the apple pie but with guava filling instead of apple it was so good, but it was only there for a limited time! I tried ordering it one more time before I left but they told me it was discontinued and they were bringing back the Taro Pie.

Also, another Hawai’i thing, at Starbucks you can order any drink with “Thai walls.” This basically means put condensed milk on the walls of your cup. I know it’s not exactly healthy, but I never said I went home to eat healthy!

Passion Tea Lemonade with Thai Walls from Starbucks

And there you have it, my recent Hawai’i foodventures! I wish I could eat everywhere when I go home, but I can’t fit everything in one trip. But as boo boo likes to say, “The best way to enjoy Hawai’i is to eat it!”