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Kauai, nicknamed Hawaii’s “Garden Island” is arguably the most beautiful of the Hawaiian islands. Despite being Hawaii’s fourth largest island, this tropical gem has some of the most iconic beaches, breathtaking canyons, luscious gardens and endless rainbows. If you are an adventurer, you’ll love my list of the MUST see and do spots (including a secret one) for a Hawaiian adventure of a lifetime.

Let’s begin on the south end of the Island:

Poipu Beach

This beach is the largest beach on the south side of Kauai, and by far the most popular. This beach is perfect for adults and kids of all ages, as there are rock barriers that make shallow “kiddie pool” areas perfect for kids. (Or myself…fun fact I’m extremely afraid of fish.) You’ll be able to say hi to the giant Green Sea turtles that come up onto the beach to bask in the sun. The beach is surrounded by a wide open park, and is just across the street from Poipu’s most popular bar restaurant, Brennecke’s Broiler.

Brennecke’s Beach Broiler

Poipu’s beach front, duel level restaurant, is located just across the street from Poipu beach. The upper level and deck is home to the bar/restaurant, where you can enjoy a famous Mango Pina Colada with a view of the beach. Downstairs, you’ll find a grab and go sandwich deli and ice cream shop. Stop in for some shaved ice over Macadamia nut ice cream, or my favorite, a delicious banana smoothie!

Poipu Shopping Village

About a mile northwest of Poipu Beach is the Poipu Shopping Village. This beautiful village has everything from a grocery store, beachwear, souvenir shops, restaurants and coffee bars, and helpful tour guides that can help you book your boat tour, zip line adventure, helicopter tour, and much more. We frequented this village often throughout our trip for fresh Kombucha, island-fresh groceries, and the occasional bottle of reef-safe sunblock.

Kauai Coffee Plantation

The Kauai Coffee Plantation is about 20 minutes West of Poipu Beach in the town of Kaleheo. The plantation offers free 30 minute tours about every half hour or so. While you wait for your tour, you can enjoy free samples of all the coffee grown right on the plantation. My favorite coffee was the “Toasty Banana Nut Cream”. We ended up buying a bag of our own.

Tip: You can even purchase a bag to be shipped back home to surprise your family with the greatest gift of tasty caffeine. They will pack it up and mail it for you right at the plantation.

Nu’alolo Trail & Waimea Canyon

Traveling further north, we briefly stopped at Waimea Canyon. It’s easy to park and walk onto the viewing deck to get an incredible view of “The Pacific’s Grand Canyon”. I’m no weatherman, but there’s a high chance of rainbows with a 100% chance of breathtaking landscapes.

If you’re up for one of the most scenic hikes on Kauai, keep driving north about 5 miles from the Waimea Canyon to the famous Nu’alolo Trail. The Nu’alolo Trail can be extremely wet and sloppy depending on the time of year. (That didn’t stop us, because we’re warriors despite being incredibly out of shape.) The trail is 3.75 one way, but the end of the trail is the greatest view of the canyons, ocean coast, cliffs and valleys that you can get with only the exception of a helicopter tour.

Tip: Be prepared. This hike is LEGIT and you WILL need to make sure to wear good shoes and bring plenty of water. We brought a backpack filled with our camera gear, 3 bottles of water, an umbrella, sunblock, sun hats, and extra socks.

Helicopter Tour

If you’re not exactly up for 7 miles of hiking though varying levels of intense terrain, I highly recommend a helicopter tour of Kauai if you can swing it! This was one of the most emotional, unforgettable experiences of my life and I can not stress enough how miraculous of an experience this was. Helicopter Tours book out quickly, so I recommend booking a few weeks out. Despite our last minute decision, we were luckily able to book one during our time on the island.

Shipwreck Beach

A pretty easy, 5 minute walk up some sandy and rocky hills will get you to the top of the rock at Shipwreck Beach. The ocean view is beautiful, but be extremely careful–rock is known to break and you can easily fall into the ocean if you’re not careful. Always enjoy and respect the forces of nature and the power of the ocean. We were able to spot a few sea turtles from the top of the rock!

Tidepools Restaurant

After your Shipwreck Beach visit, walk a few minutes south to Tidepools restaurant. Take a walk though the beautiful flower garden path leading directly to the restaurant’s entry. This beach front property is part of the Grand Hyatt Resort, but we just came to visit the beach, garden, & restaurant without staying in the hotel.

Tide Pools has great food, but what really makes this experience worthwhile is the environment. Sit in the patio garden just beside the tide pools of tropical fish that swim (and occasionally splash) at the surface of the water.

Kilauea Light House

This gorgeous view is home to not only the cutest little red lighthouse, but also to many different species of birds. The Kilauea Light House is actually a national park and wildlife refuge center. So, if you’re looking to get some majestic shots of the Nenes, you’ve come to the right spot! This little stop involves no hiking–just a short 5 minute walk on a paved pathway leading to the light house. Or, opt to see it from a distance and choose not to walk at all. You’ll still be able to see this 100-year-old captivating landmark from the parking lot.

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay is located right in the heart of Princeville. Or, should I say Princeville is central of Hanalei Bay (I’m sure this massive bay was here long before commercial tourism and fancy resorts). This beautiful bay is breathtakingly stunning, and is the perfect place to surf, snorkel, or enjoy an ocean front patio breakfast.

Okay, and now for the secret one I promised…

Queen’s Bath

Dare I even mention it. Queen’s Bath is actually very controversial because of how dangerous it really is. Tourists die here every year because they underestimate the severity of the high tide in this gorgeous but deadly rock cove. I’m all for adventure, but even I wouldn’t go in it because I am NOT a strong swimmer. All I’m saying is, if you’re going to go, DON’T GO IN unless you’ve thoroughly researched what you’re getting yourself into. You can still enjoy this land mark without actually physically going down into the cove. The tide and ocean aggression of Queen’s Bath changes with the time of year AND even time of day. Not to mention, visitors will need to travel a difficult, mile long MUDDY trail in order to even visit it.

Want to know the full, behind-the-scenes story of our unconventional adventures while on the island? Chick out this blog to learn how to make any vacation a total adventure at absolutely no extra cost–it all starts with your mindset!

There is no place like New York City. The people. The music. The shopping…oh, but that HUSTLE, THOUGH…In New York City, you work hard enough, so you can afford to be a little extra. Okay, alotta extra…

Read till the end to find out what my MOST IMPORTANT SECRET ESSENTIAL ITEM IS… If you know me, you might already know 🙂 I’ll also be listing my Blogger Essentials!!

Cocktail Dresses

The first time I went to NYC was actually a college choir trip, where we sang at Carnegie Hall! My best friend and I lived NYC night life like locals…and still somehow managed to make it to 9am rehearsals the next morning😅

Anyway…I was SO GLAD I packed MULTIPLE cocktail dresses. Simply put, nightlife in a city that never sleeps is invigorating, and you never know what party you’ll end up at. One of my go to cocktail dresses is this super form-flattering dress. I’ve had it for two years but it still looks and feels brand new. #newyorkproof

City Chic Chill Pants & Shorts

 

Paper bag pants or shorts (depending on weather) are the epitome of current street style.  Paired with the perfect fall basic top, they will be perfect for strolling through Central Park or blogging at a nearby coffee shop. Daytime is going to be pretty relaxing and low key, as the majority of my energy is going to be spent at night…

Shoes:

 

If you’re a woman traveling to NYC, prepare to bring almost every type of shoe:

Boots : City Shopping and exploring. (These Steve Madden Brinkley Boots pair perfectly with jeans and a bubble sleeve top.)

Sneaks: Gray plaid canvas flats like these or these are stylish and perfect for morning brunch!

Heels: A classy pair of black heels with a touch of gold…Rooftop parties & Cocktail-bar ready

Comfy athletic shoes for all that walking.

Toasty Things:

Cashmere scarves that double as wearable blankets. Go from sexy chic to totally toasty with a simple scarf adjustment. My go to scarf is this beige cashmere scarf that goes with everything.

Beige Trench Coat–Repel the rain without looking like a tourist in a clear garbage bag.

Cashmere hand gloves–perfect for extended periods of being outside, and navigating the subway.

Brown/neutral long cardigan–throw it over practically anything for added warmth.

Leg Warmers!! (No explanation needed)

Makeup Bag:

Okay, I could honestly do a separate blog post on everything that’s in my makeup bag, but here are the key products:

Skin Care:

TRY ME, ZITS!

Actual Make Up:

I will be sure to bring The best purple shampoo and conditioner (I’m blond…let’s keep it that way.) And while we’re at it, Batiste Blond Dry Shampoo for Blonds is perfect for in between washes, or to just add volume. To tame frizz and to add extra silk and shine, I’m packing my favorite silkening oil. I’ll also use this hairspray during the day, (perfect touchable hold, and smells amazing) and this one if I’m going out dancing!

My signature scent: Kate Spade: Walk on Air

Other:

Sunglasses: I’m a sucker for cheap sunglasses. When I break or lose them, I don’t feel bad.

Jewelry: Just bringing a couple of simple pieces to wear with everything. Whether I’m casual or dressy, I will wear a gold Kate Spade bracelet almost every day. Speaking of Kate Spade…

Messenger Bags!!: There is no other perfect bag for New York City than a Kate Spade messenger bag. The size and subtle sophistication of a bag like this or this make them chic and pick pocket proof!

Well, almost…watch your purses, people!

Blogger Essentials:

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Camera is what Bryan uses to capture all of our images. The lens that the camera came with is capable of 4K video, and is functions well in low light. The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM telephoto zoom lens is perfect for quick, crips focus for close up portrait style images.

Macbook Pro is an important part of this balanced breakfast: Large file downloads and uploads are no match for its processing capability. With 128GB of storage,  it comes with Final Cut Pro for free, and GarageBand (for music production) is also available as a  free download. The  Glitter Case was the best $20 ever spent!

Pink Anker Phone Battery Charger

Anker Bluetooth Speaker (Soundcore sport xl)      

Business Cards (I am a talent scout, no matter where I am!)

Okay, so let’s see if any of you guessed it. The MOST IMPORTANT ESSENTIAL ITEM for me to bring when traveling is…

My PINK UKULELE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

I get SO inspired to write songs every time I travel. My ukulele is portable and provides me all the harmonic support (and emotional support) I need to write songs…or serenade complete strangers. 😀 If you’ve ever thought about playing ukulele but don’t know if it’s something you’ll stick with, I recommend buying this one. It was about $35 and mine is going on 4 years old and still works great. Plus, the tuners on the back are little baby dolphins!!

Did you guess my secret essential item? Do you also play the ukulele? Let me know if you have an item that you simply CANNOT travel without in the comments below!