Travel

Hawaiian Cruise Travel Guide: Part 2

TGIF, loves and happy February! Our Hawaiian cruise was so packed that I had to spread it across two posts. You can catch the first half of our trip HERE and today I am going to break down everything we did in Maui, Kona, Hilo, and Kauai! So grab a coffee, take a break from this chilly Winter, and follow along as I share the hits and misses of our Norwegian Pride of America cruise.

Swimsuit: Solid & Striped

Day 5: Maui

Paia & Baldwin Beach Park: After spending a short amount of time in Paia the day prior, our group decided to park it there for a more chill day. We hopped in a cab and got him to drop us off in downtown Paia (about a ten minute drive from the port) to do a little shopping, have a couple drinks at Rock & Brews Brewery and then walked over to Baldwin Beach Park (behind the basketball courts). The beach itself is stunning! Even in January, I got dominated by the sun and the water temperature was quite pleasant. We laid our towels out and decided to take a walk before swimming. Unbeknownst to us, we stumbled onto a nude public beach! And people were not shy about their nudity. They were doing yoga and shit!

When we (quickly) ventured back to Baldwin Beach Park, we noticed sea turtles swimming around the jetty just off shore. Being careful not to get too close and spook them, we waded around with them which was so frickin’ exciting! I was laying out afterwards and one shimmied out of the ocean and came to take a nap near me too… scary and amazing all rolled into one! After all the fun, sun, and beer, I needed an espresso martini to make it to dinner and a show on the cruise!

Day 6: Hilo

This may be common knowledge to most, but to a Hawaii newbie like me, I didn’t realize that the two sides of The Big Island (Hilo and Kona) are dramatically different. The Pride of America spends one day at each so if water activities are your thing, be sure to save those for Kona because Hilo is notoriously rainy.

Hilo made major news in May of last year when the Kilauea Volcano erupted, destroying homes and forcing evacuations. While there is no longer flowing magma anywhere on the island, we definitely wanted to check out Volcanos National Park and see the steam vents and caldera created by the eruption.

We disembarked the ship and hopped on an unscheduled tour that was offered from the port; basically just a dude holding a sign. For about $90/person, a tour guide drove us to all of the popular tourist destinations, providing us with however much time we wanted to spend at each. Teddy, the guide, brought us first to Rainbow Falls which was stunning enough for me to hop over the guard rail in order to get the shot ūüėČ

Volcanoes National Park: After a few quick stops, we made it up the mountain to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Entrance was free thanks to the government shutdown, but unfortunately half the park was closed due to recent earthquakes. Regardless, the park is such a unique experience! You can walk around the steam vents and alongside the crater and learn about how dramatically the topography has changed over the last year. The photos don’t do any justice for how expanse the caldera is and how fascinating it is to walk on one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

Before heading back to the ship, our guide took us by the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut farm and factory and hell yes, we stocked up on both the cookies and cream and garlic onion flavored nuts!

Day 7: Kona

Captain Cook Monument Snorkel: Kona was such a sunny and warm surprise after a day of overcast in Hilo. There is a beautiful beach and town walking distance from the port, but we were set on some epic snorkeling.¬†Unfortunately, we¬†did happen to make a rookie mistake while in Kona. And while we had a great day sans the hiccups, I wanted to share our experience so y’all can make the most of your time on this gorgeous island. In an effort to save a little money, we decided to bypass the cruise excursions and book our own snorkel at the Captain Cook Monument. We took an Uber to Kealakekua Bay and met up with our guide who led us kayaking across the bay to the monument. This area is famous for dolphin sightings and amazing snorkeling and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve never seen so many colorful, beautiful fish in my life!

The issue arose once we returned to the bay and realized that the beautiful valley that had been the backdrop to our day was also blocking any and all cellphone reception. To make matters worse, the last tender was departing the port for the cruise ship within the hour. By the grace of God, an off-duty Uber driver saw us in the beginning stage of panic and offered to hop on the clock and bring us back, We made it back to the boat with minutes to spare!

Moral of the story… you NEED to snorkel Captain Cook Monument, but do yourself a favor and book the excursion through the ship.

Sweater: Free People (Similar HERE) | Necklace: Shop I Love Jewelry (15% off with code cortney15) | Shorts: AGolde

Day 8: Kauai

Doors-Off Helicopter Tour: Easily one of our favorite activities was an hour-long doors-off helicopter tour of Kauai. Though pricy, it’s the BEST way to see the jungle island because much of Kauai is impossible to get to by car or hike. We booked our flight through Jack Harter Helicopters and the whole process was so quick and easy! Jack Harter sent a van to pick us up from the port and brought us to an orientation before heading to the airport. Four of us, plus the pilot, squeezed into a tiny helicopter and we took off! Our pilot was so informative, pointing out breaching whales, stunning waterfalls, and explaining the history of the island. This is a must-do in Hawaii and Kauai is THE island to do it on!

Luau Kalamaku: Since we had passed out early on our Maui overnight, Kauai was our last chance to see a luau. While we would have preferred a more traditional, beach-side luau like those offered in Maui, the Luau Kalamaku was delicious and entertaining. You have time to drink and explore the plantation grounds before being seated for dinner. The show was impressive and interactive and the people working there were so sweet and personable. Fire dancers were definitely the peak of the night!

Bar Hopping in Kauai:¬†Though I could easily go to sleep after all the food and drinks at the luau, I had to man up for our only night of partying off the ship. The port is an easy 10-minute walk to Duke’s, Portofinos, and more that all fill up come 11 P.M. with locals and Norwegian employees. We bopped around until the bar close at 1 and hit up the cruise diner for munchies.

Day 9: Cruising Na Pali Coast

We woke up to a rainy Kauai on the final day of our cruise, so I took the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep. The Pride of America sets sail around 2 P.M. and by 4:30 P.M. the upper decks are packed with passengers catching jaw-dropping views of the Na Pali Coast. Norwegian narrates the tour – which is such a fabulous addition – but our crew was making the most of our final day of the unlimited drink package and popping in and out of the hot tub.

Phew! That’s a wrap on our Hawaiian vacation! We crammed so much into nine days, but still only scratched the surface of what these beautiful islands have to offer. Let me know in the comments what your favorite thing to do on Hawaii is!

Hawaiian Cruise Travel Guide: Part 1

Aloha! We just returned from Hawaii and spoiler alert… it was my favorite vacation yet! In the past, Jeremy and I have typically cruised through the Caribbean – which is great – but Hawaii is just next level. TBH, we had a teeny tiny tiff over where we honeymooned to andddd
(surprise), I won. We went to the Mediterranean even though Jeremy had his heart set on Hawaii. So it was his turn to pick and there’s no time like chilly January to head to paradise!

After a ton of research, we settled on a Hawaiian cruise in order to see as much of the state as we could on our first trip. It was surprising to learn that only ONE ship cruises the Hawaiian Islands and that same ship is the only cruise based out of America. We’d also heard that Hawaii is notoriously expensive so a cruise seemed like a win-win!

Day 1: Oahu

The Pride of America sets sail from Honolulu so¬†thank goodness we got to Oahu a couple days early because this island has THE MOST. We lucked out with a direct flight from Atlanta and although we were hella jet lagged, we were excited to explore Waikiki. We checked into the Laylow Hotel and y’all, this place is ME in design aesthetic – pink and palm-leaf print everything. It’s a block over from Waikiki Beach and you are surrounded by every store you’ve ever wanted to shop at and a ton of amazing restaurants. We cleaned up and went next door to the Paia Fish Market for shrimp tacos and a beer before exploring Waikiki.

It was already evening on Oahu, but that didn’t stop us from popping over to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel to check out its gorgeous decor. We took a quick walk on the beach, but unfortunately didn’t have enough time to enjoy Waikiki Beach in the daytime. Jetlag set in early and we made sure to catch some zzz’s to make the most of our only full day on Oahu.

Day 2: Oahu

Lanikai Pillbox Hike: Since we were five hours ahead of Hawaii time, we woke up bright and early (I’m talking 5 A.M.) and hopped in our car to head 30¬†minutes across the island to Lanikai. I would highly suggest starting this hike early because not only is parking a little tricky, but the Pillboxes get busier and busier as the day goes on. We parallel parked on a residential street around 265 Kaelepulu Dr, Kailua, HI 96734 and walked uphill towards the country club. Keep an eye out for the hand-written sign that marks the trailhead (sharing a picture of it below). Prepare for a steep start to the hike, but the tricky part is over quickly and the views throughout the rest of the trail are worth the huffing and puffing. This is one of the best ways to kick off your Hawaiian vacation and easily one of my favorite activities on the trip!

Coverup: J.Crew | Swimsuit: Nordstrom Rack | Hat: Brixton

North Shore: From Lanikai Beach, we drove West toward the North Shore. With no exact destination in mind, we had left the afternoon open to trying as many food trucks as possible and catching sight of its famous waves.

We first stopped at Waimea Bay and watched surfers for a time. The waves were far too large for any of us to feel comfortable swimming, but it was a beautiful place to relax in the sand. From there we went to Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck for its shrimp scampi we’d heard so much about! We followed it up with fresh pineapple and a couple coconuts. We enjoyed spending the rest of the day driving a bit, stopping to check out views, beaches, and more before returning to Waikiki.

The Brewseum: We were beyond ready for a drink when we returned – most of the dining on the North Shore is stands and trucks so little to no alcohol – so we went straight to The Brewseum in Honolulu. While their made-in-house beers weren’t the best (opt for a mai tai), the establishment more than made up for it! This unique bar features a speakeasy upstairs and a World War II museum downstairs. You’ll get to have a couple drinks while time traveling back to the 1940’s.

Day. 3: Oahu and Cruise Embarkation

Pearl Harbor: Bright and early is the theme of this trip (which was honestly pretty badass and the opposite of my actual life) so we were up-and-at-em, packed up, and on our way to Pearl Harbor by 8:30 A.M. We’d heard about lines, but since we arrived fairly early we didn’t have to worry about them. It’s free to watch a 20-minute video about the attack and then board a ferry to the U.S.S. Arizona memorial. The viewing area is currently under construction, but the ferry spent quite a bit of time cruising slowly nearby the memorial while allotting us a moment of silence in rememberance.

You could easily spend a whole day at Pearl Harbor – there are a ton of things to see – but since we were on a time crunch, we opted for a tour of the U.S.S. Missouri, the ship in which the Japanese and Americans signed a treaty effectively ending World War II. The Arizona and Missouri are situated bow to bow to mark the beginning and end of the war. The whole experience was so emotional; we all teared up at one point or another. If you are on Oahu, you can’t miss the opportunity to pay your respects at Pearl Harbor.

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens:¬†Since we didn’t have to be on the cruise until 5, we had enough time for one more Oahu activity and I urged the group to pop by the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens. The grounds were gorgeous and we all enjoyed feeding the insane amount of fish in the lake, but as this stop had us cutting it close for boarding the cruise, it’s one activity we could have skipped.

Day 4: Maui

The best part about the Pride of the America itinerary is that it features two overnight stops – one in Maui and one in Kauai. This allotted us a full day with no time restraints to explore the island. Equipped with all that time, we decided to do the Road to Hana.

Road to Hana:¬†We took a free shuttle from the port to the airport to rent a jeep. Between the rental and gas, the price clocked in a little under $200 for the day, which split between five people isn’t too shabby for a day of exploring. The Road to Hana (mile marker 1) begins in Paia, which is quite close to both the port and the airport. We followed THIS GUIDE¬†for reference and set out on our journey.¬†Since there is very limited service on the road, be sure to screenshot the mile markers you want to see because it’s easy to miss various turnoffs.

If you have motion sickness, I would NOT suggest driving Hana Highway. There are over 600 sharp turns and countless one-lane bridges and steep drop-offs. But goodness gracious, it is beautiful! Our favorite stops were Ho’okipa Lookout (mile marker 9), Halfway to Hana Stand (mile marker 17) for amazing banana bread, Hana Lava Tube (mile marker 31), and Wai’anapanapa State Park (mile marker 32), which is the famous black sand beach. Be sure to plan to leave Hana a couple hours before sunset as this is definitely not a drive to do in the dark. Suffice it to say, we all went to sleep pretty early after a day full of exploring Maui!

Check out the second half of our trip HERE!

Weekend Road-Trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains

Hello, loves! I hope y’all had a wonderful weekend and are enjoying the chillier temperatures that have crept in at long last. I’ve been vicariously living through last weekends’ mountain trip while culling these photos and wanted to share all the details on where we stayed, what we did, and (of course) what I wore while up in Cashiers, North Carolina.

To break it down, Toyota rounded up a fun group of Southeastern influencers and gave us the privilege of staying at the gorgeous High Hampton Resort for the weekend. If they weren’t amazing enough, they also lent us each a 2018 Toyota Tacoma to take the road trip in. As a 5-year veteran Tacoma driver, I felt beyond spoiled to test out the latest and greatest. And if the weekend couldn’t get any better, my best friend Kathleen joined me for the trip!

Dress: Free People | Poncho: Forever 21 (Old, Similar HERE & HERE) | Suitcase: Delsey c/o | Hat: Aerie | Boots: Goodnight Macaroon c/o | Sunglasses: Karen Walker

WHERE WE STAYED

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, High Hampton Resort is one of the most serene and unique places I have stayed. Located on 1,400 sprawling acres, this venue took me back to my days at sleep-away camp with its wood-paneled walls and rustic charm. While WiFi is available, there is no cell reception on the property and no televisions in the guestrooms, which really encouraged me to disconnect and tap into nature. Our room had a porch with Adirondack-red rocking chairs overlooking a waterfall, so we enjoyed our down time with the door open admiring the view or with coffee in hand rocking away. It was essentially impossible for my relaxation level to be at anything but 100% while staying at High Hampton Resort.

WHAT WE DID

High Hampton Resort offers a range of activities for the outdoor enthusiast on their property, but upon first arrival, we wanted to see what the city of Cashiers had to offer. Living in upstate South Carolina, we head to Cashiers’ neighboring cities quite often, especially this time of year. But while we’ve explored Cherokee, Sylva, Bryson City and more, we’ve never stopped by this particular town. Kathleen and I unloaded our luggage at the resort, then headed straight to Whiteside Brewing Company to sample their selection of craft beer. Priorities, amirite? We then strolled through the small downtown area before returning to High Hampton to freshen up for dinner.

We kicked Saturday off by indulging in the breakfast buffet before heading the property’s private lake and beach for some canoeing. While we opted for something more relaxing, half of our group hiked to Chimney Rock via a five-mile trail that begins on High Hampton’s grounds.

From there, we headed over to see the llamas. Every day at 11am and 1pm, a group of llamas are brought out for the guests to interact with. I was surprised by how friendly (and hypoallergenic) they were and it was an unexpected treat to get to love on these guys.

We popped back by the buffet for a quick lunch and a bit of relaxing by the large, dual-sided fireplace before venturing out to the heirloom dahlia garden to pick our own personal bouquets. There was apparently a cold snap looming and guests were encouraged to take all the gorgeous dahlias they could! We capped the day off with dinner, a toddy at the High Hampton bar and then roasting marshmallows for our s’mores by the fire.

Dress: H&M (Sold Out, Similar HERE & HERE) | Boots: Steve Madden (Dupe HERE) | Hat: Urban Outfitters | Sunglasses: Karen Walker

Flannel: J.Crew Factory | Vest: J.Crew Factory | Boots: Goodnight Macaroon c/o | Beanie: Aerie

WHAT I DROVE

Of course I can’t get through this post without chatting about the 2018 Toyota Tacoma I had the pleasure of test driving for the weekend. My particular model was the Tacoma XSP Series which is a (give-or-take) $3,500 package that includes 17″ black beadlock style wheels, 17″ Goodyear Wrangler Duratrack All-Terrain Tires, Predator running boards, chrome exhaust tip, black graphic overlays, and more. Can I please add this package to my current Tacoma?! Some other notable features that this Tacoma came equipped with were the Hill-Start Assist Control, back-up camera, lane assist, the list goes on and on.

As bloggers, one of the most amazing parts of our job is getting to work with automobile manufacturers, testing out new vehicles and sharing them with y’all. But what I never expected was having the opportunity to really get to know the employees of Toyota and grow personal friendships with them. Not only are Toyota vehicles reliable, sporty, and a great investment, but the people behind the company are seriously amazing, hard-working, creative, and passionate which makes me proud to be a Toyota owner ūüôā

Sweater: American Eagle | Dress: Old Navy | Boots: Goodnight Macaroon c/o | Bag: Tory Burch | Bangles: Etsy | Sunglasses: Karen Walker