Monday Through Friday – Kauai Edition 

 

This past March I was lucky enough to spend a week in Kauai with my best friend. We are both nurses and have flexible schedules that allow a Monday through Friday vacation to happen, unlike my husband who spends m-f in the office.

If you’ve never been to Hawaii, GO! I was certainly skeptical before my first trip, having traveled to Brazil multiple times as a young adult I thought I knew what a real “beach vacation” was. Hawaii however is spectacular in it’s own ways, not to mention the fact that it’s significantly easier and more affordable to travel to than most tropical locations.  If you are traveling from the west coast you can typically find some great deals on airfare to the islands. For more details on how we managed to make our trip affordable see the Real Talk Section down below.

Some background on Kauai, it’s the most tropical of all the Hawaiian Islands and the northern most point is actually considered one of the rainiest points in the world. However don’t let that deter you, sun can be found easily by traveling south. With all the rain Kauai sees it’s incredibly lush and green, which made it the perfect setting for the filming of the original Jurrasic Park! In fact you can even take a helicopter tour to the Jurassic Park waterfall.  

Nearly the entire eastern border of Kauai is unreachable by car. The eastern side is made of sheer cliffs and canyons, known as the Napali Coast. Just because you can’t drive along it doesn’t mean you can’t experience the breathtaking views. On our trip we explored both by foot and by land. 

I have to say my number one Kauai recommendation is hiking along the Napali Coast. Not only are the views are incredible, but you are surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. I will mention that we only hiked about 4 miles in, although the trail continues on for many more miles for those who are eager enough to tackle more, and for those who are more prepared than we were! (oops for not bringing enough food / water – rookie mistake). 

The Napali Coast Trailhead. The parking lot for the state park can fill up quickly, so getting there early is a good idea, although we were able to park in a dirt lot about 0.5 miles from the trailhead.

 
Much of the trail looks like this, it can be very muddy / slippery in spots. Old shoes are definitely recommended. We saw many people hiking in sandals, i would not recommend this, I’ll add those people looked fairly unhappy.

 
Another example of the slippery / wet terrain.

 
Aside from the trail being muddy & slick, much of the trail has breathtaking views of the sheer cliffs like this one, definitely worth the price of admission.

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Some of the vivid botanicals seen along the hike! 

 
Parts of this hike can be very steep & rocky. My partner in crime hiking down one of the steeper parts of the trail. When we researched the hike, there was little mention of the difficulty / trail conditions. Luckily for us we wore appropriate shoes & are generally in shape. But I definitely felt bad for those who were surprised by the tough conditions.

 

By the end of the hike our shoes were pretty much done for. Luckily there is a shower  / faucet for you to rinse off. I’d strongly recommend a change of clothes and shoes though.

   
One of our days we spent on a guided boat tour, exploring the Napali Coast from the Southern end. It’s canyons and cliffs for miles.  You can tell by the photos the day we went out wasn’t the sunniest. The water was actually quite rough and we weren’t able to explore the caves but it’s on my list for next time. We did manage to see packs of dolphins and whales so can’t complain! 

 Another Kauai highlight – the best snorkeling can be found easily off shore, no need for expensive boat tours. We found excellent snorkeling at Poipu Beach, located south. It’s a safe well populated beach location that does have on duty lifeguards as well for those who are nervous about ocean swimming.  

Poipu Beach – where the snorkeling photos below took place!

  

Enough fish for ya?!

 
On our trip we rented an Airbnb near Lydgate Beach, which is located on the western side of the island about halfway between Poipu and Princeville. We were able to catch both a spectacular sunrise and sunset at Lydgate Beach.

Full moons & headstands.  

Can you tell I was excited to be celebrating my belated birthday on the beach!?

The morning before our flight we forced our nightshift bodies to wake up early and catch the sunrise. A must if you’re in Hawaii. 

One of the most gorgeous sunrises I’ve been lucky enough to capture.   

My best friend makes for not only an excellent travel companion but she’s a great model 🙂

  

Real Talk

We made this trip economical by booking on off season and were able to find a good deal on our flights. We also found an airbnb that was minutes from Lydgate beach and only ran us about $50 / person / night! having an Airbnb makes meals significantly less expensive than staying at hotel or resort. We went to a nearby grocery store and bought simple things for breakfast as well as wine / beer.  Food can be one of the most expensive additional costs to any vacation, so being able to store / prepare your own food can help save big bucks!

Hope you enjoyed this peak at our Hawaiian getaway  🙂

YOHO – You Only Honeymoon Once | Bora Bora Edition

My husband & I caught ourselves saying “Well, we’re only going on one honeymoon…”  which inevitably inspired the abbreviation YOHO (You Only Honeymoon Once) – as huge Drake fans we obviously enjoyed the word play. Below is an account of how we YOHO’d – as well advice on making your YOHO honeymoon happen.

RIMG0271Most girls have a “dream wedding” in mind, I on the other hand was always set on my dream honeymoon, & it always included an overwater bungalow.

Our first official YOHO ruling as Husband & Wife – Upgrading our seats to Tahiti. As someone who has never flown business class, this was simply outrageous. Yes that is a delicate little glass bowl of Israeli cuscus with smoked duck on the bottom… (what in the world?!).IMG_2567

As you walk across the Bora Bora Tarmac it’s easy to see you’ve arrived in paradise. With one runway & one terminal, salt water & seclusion are here to greet you.IMG_9204

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It’s just over water bungalows & crystal clear water.

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We took advantage of the (free) water sports our hotel had to offer, we spent mornings kayaking, stand up paddle boarding & snorkeling.

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We spent the evenings indulging in our resorts “happy hour” & watching the sun go down.

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IMG_9620   And even on the stormiest day – a rainbow appeared for us.

YOHO but How?

A huge question is How!? Let me preface with not all YOHO honeymoons look the same, nor should they. you can plan a YOHO honeymoon on any budget & there are easy ways to save money to help.

Saving Cash In Unexpected Places

My husband and I were not only finding ways to save money but also like most couples, were pushing ourselves to work out more. So for our 18 month engagement we paid ourselves to work out! It was as simple as one dollar per workout done individually. We would put in an extra dollar if we had worked out together & we gave ourselves credit for even small workouts like going for a walk. The 30 days before the wedding we upped the ante by doubling how much workouts were worth as a “final push” to the wedding. When I first proposed this idea, I got a funny look, but as the dollars started stacking up so did the motivation. By the time our wedding rolled around we had saved nearly $600 ($568 to be exact). This is a perfect example of an easy and motivating way to save money that can really add up.

We also agreed to closely look at our spending and see where we could save. Sidebar: I think before you combine finances with your spouse or soon to be spouse it’s important to see the whole picture. Websites like Mint.com or LearnVest.com help you see all your assets and debt in one place. You are able to categorize spending, create budgets and savings goals. It’s nice to see one another’s spending habits before combining forces.  When we looked we found places to save. For instance we made an effort to decrease the number of Uber rides we were taking and use alternative methods. I cut back on manicures and pedicures & cancelled magazine subscriptions that I no longer read. These sound small but when put together they add up, just like the dollar per workout.

In preparing for our wedding I went through our apartment & really evaluated our possessions. Do I ever really wear this top? this jacket? these uncomfortable heels? We went through both our closets and found items that we could sell at Buy n Trade stores nearby. We also donated plenty of clothes to my hospital & our household items to Goodwill. All in all from selling the clothes we made about $80, not terrible. I will add that my donation pile was far greater than my sell pile. I also gained valuable shelf space in spare closets & kitchen, which for me was the biggest gain.

Real Talk

The down and dirty of how we managed? The biggest contribution is I took a second job, it sounds incredibly drastic, but i’ll assure it wasn’t that bad. As a full time ER nurse I work 3 days a week, so I took a position teaching nursing students while they’re in the clinical setting (hospital) for one day a week. AKA: making sure none of the incredibly novice nursing students kill anyone. This second job was a perfect way for me to add a significant amount to our wedding fund. This worked for me because it was short term, only 16 weeks, and only one day a week. A second job isn’t plausible for everyone, especially since most of our second jobs are planning our wedding! But evaluate and see if you’re qualified for some part time position like the teaching job I found.

Not only did we have the extra income from my second job but we managed to find an excellent deal on our dream honeymoon. I now will recommend booking any French Polynesia trip through, of all places, Costco! It sounded a little bizarre to us too, but once we compared hotel rates, flights and dining expenses it made the most sense. The package that we chose included Airfare (from LAX), Hotel Accommodations (yes the overwater bungalow was included) & our package included breakfast & dinner each day. This was by far the best deal we could find. I can’t speak highly enough about our experience using Costco, & I swear I’m not sponsored. We didn’t have any kind of hiccups with flights or transfers, there wasn’t any trouble regarding dining, & it was easy & for the most part paid for upfront.  So for any brides out there looking to book their honeymoon I’d say definitely at least browse what Costco Travel has to offer and compare it to prices you’re seeing elsewhere.

See more photos of our YOHO Honeymoon below.

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Infinity pool & swim up bar – definitely YOHO worthy.

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A quick water taxi away was phenomenal snorkeling

RIMG0526 Life below the water is equally as breathtaking! RIMG0528

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Getting a little SUP Yoga in. Side note: Yes we both managed headstands!

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The sun rising over the Pacific & below, the sun setting.

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Did you plan your own YOHO honeymoon?! If yes I’d love to hear all about it.