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!

3 Casual Looks Under $55

SHOP THE POST:


TGIF, loves! One of my New Year’s resolutions was to begin sharing more wearable, basic pieces instead of just my typical bright, colorful looks. I also want to introduce y’all to smaller brands and boutiques that I love. While I’ve never been the Nordstrom blogger that seems to dominate the space, I wanted to go a step further by actively seeking out boutique-owning boss babes who are sharing amazing styles at affordable price points.

That leads me to Bella Ella Boutique… They have the cutest selection of affordable pieces that you’ll wear over and over again. I have rounded up my favorite three looks that are all under $55 below. Happy shopping, y’all!

OUTFIT DETAILS:

Turtleneck Sweater: Bella Ella Boutique c/o  | Gucci Dupe Belt: Amazon | Denim: Mother | Monogrammed Tote: Shop I Love Jewelry (15% off with code cortney15) c/o | Scarf: DSW | Mules: Sole Society (50% off!) | Hat: Target | Earrings: Lisi Lerch c/o

If you snag one thing from this post, make it this chenille turtleneck sweater. It’s high-low hem makes it perfect for pairing with everything in your closet. It’s essentially made for the front-tuck. I wore it with a plaid skirt and over-the-knee boots on NYE and wore this exact look to a hockey game the other night.

OUTFIT DETAILS:

Chambray Button-Down: Bella Ella Boutique c/o | Skirt: J.Crew Factory | Bag: Zac Posen | Booties: Steve Madden (Dupe HERE)

I was so excited to see that this adorable top was restocked after selling out so quickly! Every closet needs a staple chambray button-down, but I love how this one has a little something extra with the addition of a bow. Plus, it’s removable so you can wear it multiple ways.

OUTFIT DETAILS:

Striped Cardigan: Bella Ella Boutique c/o | Top: | Skirt: J.Crew Factory | Boots: Sam Edelman | Bag: Chanel | Bangles: Etsy | Earrings: Lisi Lerch c/o

Lastly, I wanted to share this fun cardigan. The color combo is so stunning and perfect for a Valentine’s Day date night. It runs a little small, so I would suggest sizing up one size.

Thank you to Bella Ella Boutique for sponsoring this post. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

Personalized, Affordable Gifts for the New Year

We all have that family member who is impossible to shop for. It could be the husband who has everything, the mom who refuses to hint at what she needs, or the dad who just buys what he wants without waiting for holidays. I personally have so many family birthdays in the month of January – my mom, niece, husband, and father-in-law – so it’s forced me to get creative.

With Jeremy’s birthday fast approaching, I surprised him early with these coffee mugs from Snapfish. Snapfish is an online photo printing site featuring budget-friendly photo gifts and home decor that look fantastic. Since Jeremy and I’ve had a long-time running joke about who our dog’s favorite parent is (it’s obviously me), I thought it would be fun and cheeky to gift him these unique presents.

I was initially intimidated about the design process, but I couldn’t believe how easy and fast it was. You select the card, calendar, mug, or home decor item you want to personalize and then upload your images from Facebook, Instagram, Google Photos and more. I pulled photos straight from my computer, dove into the project space and added text and embellishments. In under five minutes, I had created my mugs and approved the design!

While I was on Snapfish designing Jeremy’s gift, I may have snuck in a little something for myself too! I needed a desk calendar for the new year and Snapfish has endless under $25 options. I opted for the brand spankin’ new Wood Block Desk Calendar and added a personal photo and text for each month. I loved the results and apparently I’m not alone…

True story – Jeremy’s bestie was over recently and saw my desk calendar. He got married a couple months ago and his wife works at a salon and needed a wall calendar for her room. He immediately hopped on Snapfish and began uploading their wedding photos to create a special gift for her. For minimal cost and effort, he was able to create something that she could cherish all year long!

Snapfish was sweet enough to offer a 40% off discount code for my readers which makes THESE MUGS only $9 and THIS DESK CALENDAR under $15! Simply use code CHEERS40OFF HERE to begin creating your perfect gifts.

Thank you to Snapfish for sponsoring this post. All thoughts & opinions are my own.