my 3 favorites from kauai

Kauai, man. It was everything I had hoped it would be - easily one of the most extraordinarily beautiful places I've been yet. Although I only spent three full days on the island, I felt like I squeezed in the right amount of exploring. Here are my three most memorable from Kauai...

1. acai bowls

Wherever you are in Hawaii, no matter what island, make sure to do some research on the best local spots to experience this sweet, fruity deliciousness. My first objective after hopping off the plane at the Lihue Airport was to find a breakfast place that makes a mean AB, and oh man did I score. If you're ever on the island, stop by the Hippie Cafe / Caffe Coco and get a bowl - you will not be disappointed. This adorable little restaurant and cafe has a really special, homey atmosphere and is the perfect spot to post up to do some reading and writing - which is exactly what I did. Although they are a vegan spot, you definitely don't have to be a vegan to appreciate the great food - I'm the essentially the exact opposite of vegan and I loved it.

acai bowl from hippie cafe / caffe coco

acai bowl from hippie cafe / caffe coco

2. waimea canyon state park

Whether you spend some time hiking in this beauty of a state park or you simply drive to the view points for just that - the views - make sure you stop here. According to Google, the Waimea Canyon is considered the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. There are tons of great trails to explore, so I'd say carve out a full day for adventures.

3. na pali coast

Before I even knew where or what Kauai is, I had already fallen in love with the Na Pali coast. I had a seen a picture on Instagram, of course, and instantly added it to the bucket list. This couldn't have been more than six months ago - it's crazy how things fall into place, isn't it? I digress... I decided to see Na Pali by boat, but you can also go by kayak, helicopter, or by hiking - but no driving! I decided to go the touristy route and booked a day trip with Holo Holo Charters. We were lucky enough to see whales, dophins, manta rays, and even sea turtles, all while soaking in the beauty of the NPC. It was a pretty special.

Despite being a small island, there's a seemingly endless amount of things to do on Kauai. I went in knowing I wouldn't have enough time to see it all, so I picked the top few things I wanted to do and made it happen. The only thing I wish I would have been able to do while on the island was make the 11 mile hike to Kalalau Beach. I guess I'll just have to come back!

Friends who have been to Kauai, what are your most memorable from the island?

Stay tuned for a very belated post on my time in Honolulu and around Oahu, and my Maui adventure. Coming soon! Cheers.

whitianga + the coromandel

After a wonderful weekend spent Wanderlust-ing in Taupo, we headed north for Whitianga and to explore the treasures of The Coromandel Peninsula. Here's what we managed to squeeze in during our short time there.

Whitianga is a beautiful, quiet (at least while we were there) little town on the eastern coast of the peninsula. It's very walk-able once you've gotten there. The wharf offers a peek at the ___ ocean and it's fun to fantasize about the beautiful, big yachts parked in the bay. There's a 2-screen cinema where you can catch a flick at night or a rainy day (we saw Spotlight, it was phenomenal) and there's a video store as well - yes, you heard me. No RedBox, sorry friends. There are tons of touristy-type activities to do in the area if that floats your boat, otherwise there are plenty of hot spots that you can drive to within 30 minutes to an hour, depending on what you're up for.

Good to know: Wi-Fi is hard to come by in town, especially for free. The local library is the place to be if you're looking to connect; you can sign in and sit inside for two hours or you can lay on the lawn and skim some there - they even suggested it!

Food recommendations:

Breakfast: Cafe Nina. A charming little spot that's easy to miss if you're not looking forward to it.

Lunch: Blue Ginger, a great little Thai fusion restaurant. BYOB if you so prefer, they're not licensed to sell.

Dinner: Salt. They've got a great selection of meats and fresh fish. Warning: the mussels are HUGE! Unlike anything I've ever seen, anyways. I'll be honest, they were so big I got freaked out and couldn't eat them.

cathedral cove

Albeit a bit of tourist trap (we did go on Waitangi day during the holiday weekend, silly us) the views of Cathedral Cove are truly breathtaking and not to be missed. If you can and if you have a car, avoid the park-and-ride and take BLANK to the car park at the end of the road. I'd also recommend wearing a pair of sneakers and bringing sandals along - there's about a 45 minute trek to get to the beach - not terribly hard, but you're sure to break a bit of a sweat. The walk is well worth it, as the beach offers stunning views of the ocean and the cove is quite a site to see, just exquisite.

the 309 road

The 309 is a "gravel road" (gravel in parenthesis because there are some parts gravel, some parts dirt, some parts paved) that connects Whitianga and the Coromandel town. It's about 22 kilometers, and there are tons of great spots to stop at along the way. It's a narrow, windy little devil of a road so hug those corners baby and hold on tight. We stopped at three of the destinations along the road, although there are a few more things to enjoy.

The Honey Shop

This adorable little stand is self serve - truly only in New Zealand. I'm not much of a honey guru, but I know I love me some Manuka honey. A great present to bring back home to loved ones - make sure to put it in your checked bag rather than your carry-on, or it will get confiscated. Unfortunately, my mom knows this first hand.

Kauri Grove

I've never seen the Redwood trees of California, but I would imagine their magnificence is matched by that of the New Zealand native Kauri trees. Take a walk through the shaded grove (it could take you anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple hours, depending on how long you'd like to linger) and bask in the beauty of the giant trees and all that grows around them.

Waiau Falls

Though she be little, she be mighty. The falls were a tad smaller (and by that I mean a lot) than expected, but still a sight to see. The water was much too cold for my liking, but there was one brave soul wading into the icy pool for a photo opp. Oh, the things we do for a good picture (myself included, but freezing cold water tends to be where I draw the line).

hot water beach

Grab some spades (or as Americans would say, shovel) and get ready to dig. About a 30-40 minute drive from Whitianga, the Hot Water Beach is a must - and that's coming from a girl who generally does anything to avoid beaches. It's quite fascinating to be able to feel the temperature of the sand and water beneath your feet as you make your way toward the hottest spot, where the water is scorching hot. Either dig your own hole to relax in, or enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor and commandeer an abandoned hole. I preferred the latter, but I felt I needed to break a little sweat to enjoy the full experience.

Good to know: check for low tide and plan your trip within a couple hours of that time.