unedited sneak peek of the most epic sunset after the wedding
Time for a quick update on life lately. It has turned to full blown fall overnight. If you saw my Instagram post last week you know that I am a summer girl! I live for summer days, flip flops, and sunshine. So while the rest of the world is buying pumpkin spice everything, I’m over here daydreaming about summer.
I can hardly believe that we were married in Jamaica almost a month ago. I cannot wait to share more! I loved our photographer that we worked with; there is a 6-14 week turnaround for the photos so we are anxiously awaiting them! We had the most epic sunset the night of the wedding that I know is going to make for great photos. I’ll probably overshare once we get them! We got married at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and then went to Negril for a short mini moon at the Rockhouse Hotel.
Since coming home life has been all kinds of crazy. In an effort to get in the fall spirit we took a road trip into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The leaves had just started turning, and it was a perfect day trip. Seeing the leaves start to change does give me all the #fallfeels. We visited the Blue Ridge Music Center for the first time. There is a small museum here that explains the history of mountain music, free music outdoors, and a very nice hiking trail. We really enjoyed it. It is right on the Blue Ridge Parkway so the drive in is beautiful as well. On the way home we stopped at nearby Round Peak Vineyards for a glass of wine and to take in the view. Our final stop was at Skull Camp Brewing for a late lunch. Overall the perfect fall day trip.
We leave for our actual honeymoon in Paris in a few weeks and would love any and all recommendations you have on visiting the City of Lights!
I have been fortunate enough to visit Hawaii several times. All of the trips have been during the coldest, dreariest months on the east coast and it is such a welcome relief from the grey days. You may have noticed by now, that I struggle to post in real time, and that’s OK. #WinterIsComing again this year, and this will still be relevant then. Plus – it’s never actually winter in Hawaii so go whenever you want. Now that’s settled, on with our trip.
We stayed at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Resort, and we could not love this place more. It was the third time I have stayed here and the views, the room, the pool, everything is great. The rooms are all condos so you have room to spread out and can cook in the room if you want. We made breakfast in most days, and also used the grills a few nights for dinner. We were also perfectly happy with all of the food and drinks that we had at the resorts restaurants and bars.
Ko Olina is a resort area on the southwest end of the island of Oahu. There is also a Disney Resort here and a Four Seasons. Each of the resorts are self contained on their own private a bay, meaning that you don’t necessarily encounter the guests from any of the other resorts unless you want to. But, being that there are so many resorts in the area, restaurants and shops have popped up nearby, so you have more to choose from. The only restaurant in Ko Olina that we tried on this trip was Monkey Pod, and it was fantastic. We loved the outdoor area and listening to the music. I particularly like the Ko Olina area because it is not busy. It is about a 30 minute drive from Waikiki Beach which is where people often think of when they visit Oahu. While Waikiki is beautiful as well, it can be quite crowded in the tourist areas.
For the most part, we just relaxed and toured around the island. We ate our weight in poke, we drank drinks with little umbrellas in them, we watched the sunset everyday. You know, the good stuff. I don’t have an earth shattering guide to the island but just a few fun things that we did and loved.
We spent two of the days on the beach at the North Shore. During the winter months the waves here are unbelievable and just watching the surfers all day while I relax in the sunshine is enough for me. We had shave iced one day and acai bowls one day, because whats a trip to Hawaii without those? We also pulled over on a random beach on the way to check out a monk seal that was sunning herself.
We hiked Diamond Head for the first time. The views from the top are beautiful, and well worth the hike up. More on this later.
We toured Pearl Harbor as well. I have been before and like the last time it was such a somber experience to think about what happened there. It was kind of a bummer not to be able to get out of the boat and go onto the memorial platform, as I had this opportunity on a previous trip, but still worth experiencing history first hand the way that you are able to here.
As for restaurants… We had a delicious lunch at Uncle Bobo’s after we randomly came across it driving around the island. We enjoyed an amazing dinner at Duke’s on Waikiki Beach. The Hula Pie at Duke’s is worth every. single. calorie. We loved the lunch we had at Nico’s Pier 38. They have a huge variety of things, and it was fun to sit outside and watch the ships be unloaded. We had a fun lunch at Lulu’s on Waikiki beach. The view and vibe here was the best part. Finally, we discovered Paul John’s Lumpia which is a Filipino restaurant in a neighborhood in Kapolei. The food here was good and it was really nice to try something different, as this is not something we would usually find at home.
We spent last our last afternoon at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Before, you’re all like, who spends their afternoon in a cemetery… it is located in what is called Punchbowl Crater. It sits high above Honolulu, the views here are stunning, and their is of course a lot of history to take in as well. It was the perfect stop to spend some time taking in the views before heading to the airport.
I also have two cousins who live on Oahu. (How lucky are they?) One is a teacher and one is in the Marine’s stationed at Kaneohe Bay. It was really fun to get to see both of them on the trip.
As a completely random side note, if you’re going to Hawaii from the east coat of the US (like us) I prefer my connection to be in Dallas or Phoenix. I have found that although the travel time is essentially the same, when you connect on the west coast (usually LAX) the flight isn’t quite as long so you end up on a somewhat smaller plane that isn’t as comfortable. And it is still a long flight from LAX. We typically fly American so that could have something to do with it too. And for anyone still wondering if the tortuously long flight will be worth it. YES. It will.
Have you been to Hawaii before? What island was your favorite? What time of year did you go? What were some favorite things you did?
Hurricane Florence has devastated the entire eastern part of North Carolina. While there is significant damage to the area, we think our beloved happy place has been mostly spared. Bridges and roads in to town are flooded out, so we won’t know for sure until we are able to visit. In the wake of Hurricane Florence here’s what you can do to help:
Donate to the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund here or by texting FLORENCE to 20222.
Register with the state of North Carolina to be a volunteer. They are urging people not to self deploy to the area, instead register and let them know how you can help so your skills can be best used. Check here for other volunteer opportunities in North Carolina.
The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina supports some of the hardest hit areas. Give to their efforts here.
The Diaper Bank of North Carolina is in need of supplies. You can donate to them here or purchase items from their Amazon wish list.
Check this article for a few other organizations you may consider helping, and some important reminders to think about before you donate to any unfamiliar groups.
Remember while many people are in need of material items, water, medicine, and non perishable food, cash donations can help ensure that organizations are able to purchase those items which are in the highest demand. They can also be purchased locally which can help to stimulate the local economy. Only donate material items to those organizations which are specifically requesting you do so.
To find the latest on power outages, road conditions, and storm cleanup in North Carolina.
What to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica and Guanacaste Province
We scheduled a day trip through Guanacaste Traveler. We can’t say enough nice things about our driver Jhonny and he really made our trip, but we did not have an English speaking guide as promised. We drove close to two hours to the area near Arenal Volcano, stopping at Llanos de Cortes waterfall to check out the view. If this had been our only stop we probably would have gone in swimming, but thinking of being soaking wet in the car for the next hour or more did not seem fun so we opted for just taking a few pictures. After checking out the waterfall Jhonny was nice enough to stop and buy us fresh coconuts from a roadside stand. It was my first time trying fresh coconut water and it was so good! There are many other beautiful waterfalls in the Guanacaste Province worth visiting as well.
Buena Vista Tour
This is an all in one tour where you have the option to check out quite a few adventures and it included a local lunch. When we arrived for the Buena Vista tour a guide led us down 15 hanging bridges. We opted for the bridges over ziplining because we chickened out, but I think the bridges may have been just as scary if not more. We were high in the trees and the bridges shook and jumped with every move. We did see some monkeys and other animals so that was really neat. With the tour we also had a horseback ride, a water slide through the forest, and swimming in a volcanic spring. I loved the water slide it was about 500 meters downhill and really sent you flying! It was a busy and full day, but we loved having the chance to experience so many things in one place. That being said we were really close to the Arenal Volcano and I would love to explore the area here more if we are lucky enough to go back.
We ventured into Tamarindo twice during our stay and we really enjoyed exploring the town. We ate a few really great restaurants in town. I still dream of the meal that we had at Panga’s Beach Club. The food, the view, the monkeys in the trees above. This meal was just so great! We loved the meal that we had at Patagonia Argentinian Grill. We didn’t have reservations, but were able to snag a couple great seats at the bar. One evening we watched the sunset and had cocktails and appetizers from Matapalo. We saw what was maybe the most beautiful sunset of the trip from this restaurant. Seriously the sunsets in CR were unreal, watching the sun drop right into the Pacific without a cloud in sight was so amazing. And the shrimp and mango ceviche we ordered was some of the best I have ever eaten. There is great surfing in Tamarindo as well. We also found quite a few boutiques that we enjoyed shopping at. We explored the town both during the day and in the evening. While the sunset here was AMAZING we liked the town a little better during the day simply because of the number of people approaching us trying to sell us things we didn’t want as the day went on.
Costa Rica you sure were beautiful! The Pura Vida way of life is beyond amazing! We can’t wait to return! Any tips or suggestions for a return trip? Leave them in the comments. If you missed the first part of our trip, find it here.