Life Update: Home, Love, Career and Travel

Life Update: Home, Love, Career and Travel

It's been 7 months since my last major update! A lot has been going on in my life. And it all ties into a major lesson I learned while traveling solo: Nothing is permanent.

In recent months, unforeseen circumstances forced me to move out of the home I settled into a year ago. Plus, I ended a 2 year relationship.

But now things are looking up. I have worked out a new place to live. I've also gained more travel flexibility despite my full-time career.

13 Free (or Under $10) Activities Near Waikiki

13 Free (or Under $10) Activities Near Waikiki

There's a lot to see and do around the Waikiki area that will drain your bank account. But there's also a lot to do for those on a budget!

You can certainly lounge on the beach all day for free. You can even visit Pearl Harbor for free! But there's tons of other cultural, physical, and food-related activities around Waikiki that I find a lot more interesting!

In this post, I outline the best activities in the Waikiki area that won't break the bank!

The Weirdest Wreck Dive Ever in Oahu, Hawaii [Videos]

The Weirdest Wreck Dive Ever in Oahu, Hawaii [Videos]

I have never had a dive experience quite like the one I had in Hawaii this past January.

I've logged over 30 dives around the world. This has included incredible sights at the Great Barrier Reef, lightning storm dives in Florida, and a near-fatal fight against currents in Bali. After so much diving, I am still having new and unique experiences under the ocean's surface.

This dive tops them all! From shipwreck-dwelling sea turtles to a sunken airplane, I was already incredibly fulfilled on my dives with Ocean Legends in Honolulu. But then a most unexpected arrival came sweeping through: A submarine! Read on—and watch the videos—to re-experience it all with me!

The Jones Beach Air Show on Long Island, New York

The Jones Beach Air Show on Long Island, New York

The Jones Beach Air Show (aka Bethpage Air Show) is coming up this Memorial Day weekend. On May 27th and 28th, military aircrafts, civilian jet teams, and aerobatic pilots will take to the skies on Long Island's south shore.

I moved an hour east of New York City for a new job last year. Since then, I've been living about 20 minutes away from Jones Beach on Long Island. The Air Show was my first major introduction to my new location. And it was quite the spectacle.

This post marks my 1 year anniversary since landing my first "real" post-graduate job. This post also marks 1 year since living solo for the first time. I've been loving every minute of my new life! So it's about time I take a break from writing about Hawaii to introduce a local highlight.

Best Hikes on Oahu: Kaena, Lanikai, Kuliouou

Best Hikes on Oahu: Kaena, Lanikai, Kuliouou

When people think of Hawaii, they don't often think of hiking. They think of beaches, and snorkeling, and surfing. Getting all hot and sweaty walking up mountains is not most people's idea of an island vacation. Even so, Hawaii has some topnotch hiking.

Most tourists who visit Oahu only know about the Stairway to Heaven. A 24/7 guard blocks entry to the hike because it's so dangerous it's actually illegal to hike it. They will fine you up to $1,000 or 6 months in prison if caught. Trust me. You do not have to risk your life or a fine to experience amazing hikes on Oahu. I learned Oahu in particular has some of the best hiking in all the Hawaiian islands. Below are 3 of my favorites with photos highlighting the best features of each.

Hawaiian Food: What to Eat and Where on Oahu

Hawaiian Food: What to Eat and Where on Oahu

I love adventurous eating and local cultural food. Hawaii has opportunities for both. Mainly, there’s a wonderful combination of both native Hawaiian foods and Asian cultural influences on Oahu. The Hawaiian food is reminiscent of some of the Polynesian dishes I had in Niue. And the Asian influences come from the large population of Japanese, Filipinos, Chinese, and Korean people living on Oahu. I start with an in-depth description of some of the traditional Hawaiian cuisine I ate. Then I mostly list all of the other must-try foods and places to eat them.

The World's Largest (Pineapple) Maze at Hawaii's Dole Plantation

The World's Largest (Pineapple) Maze at Hawaii's Dole Plantation

There once was a traveler named Rikka and all she dreamed about was being in a wonderland filled with pineapples. She wished for pineapple-shaped plush toys, pineapple-landscaped fields, and pineapple-infused and -flavored everything! Then one day on her trip to Hawaii her dream came true.

I found all I had ever hoped for and more at the Dole Plantation on Oahu. Fulfilling yet another long-time fantasy, the Dole Plantation also has the world's largest maze on its property! And so, I devoted this entire post to my citrus-packed maze exploration at the Dole Plantation in Hawaii. 

10 of Oahu's Best North Shore Beaches (Swim, Snorkel, Surf)

10 of Oahu's Best North Shore Beaches (Swim, Snorkel, Surf)

My Airbnb location on Oahu was literally steps from the North Shore beaches. And I took full advantage!

While staying near the town of Haliewa in January, I had the perfect vantage point from which to explore the many beaches of the North Shore. I easily fell right back into the island, beach-bum lifestyle that I had grown to love while exploring Ko Tao, Paihia, Niue, Bali, and other locations around the world.

The North Shore of Oahu is yet another location I have fallen in love with. The only conflict is that there are almost too many beach options! To help with this "problem," I've put together a list of what I think are the top 10 North Shore beaches, including their highlights.

View My Interactive Map of Oahu to easily locate all of these beaches and more!

My Interactive Oahu Map: 100 Hikes, Beaches, Eats and More

My Interactive Oahu Map: 100 Hikes, Beaches, Eats and More

Before I traveled to Oahu, I did something I hadn't done since my trip to Iceland in 2014. I made a map. And I am super excited to share this map with you all! Why A Map? Because it's a thorough, visual guide to things to do on the island of Oahu. A few weeks before my departure, I perused the internet for the most epic hikes, the prettiest beaches, the top dive and snorkel locations, the most interesting cultural attractions, and the best local foods to eat. This map includes all of the places I found that I thought were worthy to check out. Even if I ran out of time to do it all, it's all there. There are nearly 100 activities listed. I certainly did not have time to do it all, but I did do A LOT. So allow this map to be an introduction of what I will be covering in my upcoming posts about my trip to Oahu.

Honolulu Women's March: Aloha for All

Honolulu Women's March: Aloha for All

A few weeks ago, I visited the island of Oahu in Hawaii while a transition of power took place back on the mainland. Former President Obama gave way to the Trump administration. On the day that followed, over 2.5 million people marched for women's rights, human rights, and more across the world.

I marched with Hawaii.

In the middle of my vacation, I drove to Hawaii's state capitol to join over 8,000 others marching. The woman who created the original Facebook invite calling for a march after the election back in November is from Hawaii. So I felt being present at this particular march, the birthplace of the idea, was extra special.

Below, I share photos and video from the march and the rally afterwards which included messages unique to Hawaii and its culture. I also share my perspective as a world traveler participating in this worldwide protest that united cities and even some political opponents.

International Travel as an American Under Trump vs Obama

International Travel as an American Under Trump vs Obama

I find myself thinking about what it will be like traveling internationally during the next 4 years under the Trump administration.

Our elected leaders matter when we travel.

The influence of the American government on the rest of the world's view of America and its citizens was omnipresent during my international travels while Obama was president just as it was when I traveled abroad during the Bush administration. These international travel experiences inevitably inform my outlook on the future. And they inform my steadfast position to keep traveling and spreading the values that I feel best represent me and my country.

My Trip to Maui in 2014

My Trip to Maui in 2014

In February of 2014, I visited Maui for my best friend Erin's wedding. Three years later, I am currently traveling around Oahu! I am super excited to have the opportunity to explore another Hawaiian Island this week.

So, in anticipation of sharing my Oahu adventures on the blog, I wanted to take a look back at the experience I had in Maui. I was maid of honor at the time, so I was mostly busy helping out with the wedding. But, in between wedding plans, I had the opportunity to see a lot of the island. I drove the road to Hana, swam in a waterfall, drove up a volcano, hiked a bamboo forest, explored caves, went whale watching, attended a Hawaiian luau, and lots more.

It was during a time before I had my nicer camera, but I still took tons of photos with my Windows Phone and received some great shots from the friends I was with. Regardless, this photo-centric post will show you what Maui is like and the types of activities that can be enjoyed on a Hawaiian vacation. 

Don't Go to Niagara Falls on July 4th Weekend

Don't Go to Niagara Falls on July 4th Weekend

I was so delusional last summer. I had a 4-day weekend off from work and Jono was visiting me here in New York. "I'll take him to Niagara falls on independence day weekend," I thought. "What could go wrong?" I thought. Rule number one for travelers who want to avoid crowds, long lines, and over-spending is to never visit popular destinations and landmarks on a holiday. And the last thing you want to do is pay for a tour at such a time. In all the traveling I did abroad, you would think I would not have made such a rookie mistake—in my own state of New York! Alas, I did. And that’s how I was reminded of the consequences when you do not deviate the norm. Warning: I’m going to rant about how awful the tourism industry can be in this post. Get ready for it.

Getting Lost Kayaking Mangroves in the Florida Keys

Getting Lost Kayaking Mangroves in the Florida Keys

Who knew tracking down manatees in a mangrove maze would be so mind-blowing? (I promise that's the only bit of alliteration in this post)

One day in the Florida Keys, Jono and I decided to kayak the mangroves around Islamorada. Two maps were handed to us and we were off. Confident in both our navigational abilities and physical abilities to take us around, we did not anticipate the amount of effort we were about to put into this trip.

In the end, we learned that when other people lay out a path for us, it's not always the clearest one to follow!

It's Time To Deviate Off My Butt (And Blog Less)

It's Time To Deviate Off My Butt (And Blog Less)

Hello readers!

I've decided to write a quick little update for you because my blogging schedule is about to change.

From now on, I am going to be writing 2 posts per month, instead of 4 (or more). I'll be posting on an every-other-week schedule. Call it a New Years resolution to my body...

How NOT to see alligators in the Florida Everglades

How NOT to see alligators in the Florida Everglades

In travel or in life, there is a plus side to every failure. That is the lesson I learned from my failed attempts to see alligators with Jono while visiting the Florida Everglades.

This post has 4 failures describing why I did not get to see any alligators in southern Florida. Some of the reasons were beyond my control while others were absolutely my fault.

If your mission is to see alligators, make sure you do not do what I did and learn from my mistakes!

3 Tips for (Night) Snorkeling the Florida Keys

3 Tips for (Night) Snorkeling the Florida Keys

You can go snorkeling in the Florida Keys and have a great time—or you can royally mess up the experience. I did a bit of both. Along the way, I learned what to do and what not to do the hard way.

Follow my tips in this post and you won't make the same mistakes I did. You'll even learn a little trick I learned to get a really cheap boat ride turned snorkeling experience unlike any other!

Which Shipwrecks to Dive in the Florida Keys

Which Shipwrecks to Dive in the Florida Keys

I went to the Florida Keys to dive the shipwrecks. It's almost the entire reason I went, so it's a good thing I was able to visit 3 different wrecks during my stay.

Since Jono and I were only there for a week, we decided to concentrate our attention on one part of the over 100-mile archipelago. An important part of our planning was picking the optimal location to dive the most shipwrecks. This put us diving off of Key Largo, an excellent decision! But it also meant we missed 5 other shipwrecks found off the coast of the Keys.

This guide will help you decide which ones to see and which ones to skip.

Recalling the Earthquake I Felt in New Zealand

Recalling the Earthquake I Felt in New Zealand

I was in New Zealand a little over a year ago. I was sitting in my partner's home in Napier when I felt it—the entire couch was shaking. Then the lazy boy started thrashing about on its own.

I've been reflecting on this moment this week because of the earthquake that happened in Kaikoura, New Zealand early Monday morning.

Natural disasters like this always put things into perspective for me, like with the Louisiana flooding after my visit to New Orleans this summer. But New Zealand hits particularly close to home for me because of my ongoing connection to the country.