I can’t believe it but in all the years Nick & I have been together we’d never gone on a vacation longer than 4 nights. Ever. We’d either been too busy or couldn’t afford it. Also, when running your own business it’s hard to be away for too long. Of course you can work from your vacation but then it’s not really a vacation. We’ve traveled to many places around the world, but the trips usually were as part of a tour, where we’d have a few days off here and there. I’m not really complaining at all, just explaining to you why I was beyond excited to have a whole week (7 nights!) at a vacation destination: Kauai!

[This blog was originally posted to MarinaV.com April 2018.
Please forgive any possible re-posting glitches.
Also, very sorry we can’t move your lovely comments!
Original post can be found at: https://www.marinav.com/food-travel ]

I LOVE Hawaii! Nick & I’d been to Maui and Big Island a few times before (but only for 3 or 4 nights), and I have been twice to Oahu (by myself) as part of a long layover to/from Australia. This was our first time to Kauai – the garden isle! Everyone we’d talked to said we’d fall in love with this island. And we did. It is a spectacular place filled with gorgeous lush mountains and incredible beaches. The only downside was that it rained 5 out of 8 days (we didn’t know that March was the rainy season!), and only on the very last day (before leaving for the airport) we experienced the perfect Hawaiian weather: blue skies, hot sand and clear and warm ocean perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Being on this island was amazing in spite of the rain. It didn’t rain constantly, just off and on. It was just a bit tough when it came to swimming: visibility wasn’t the best, and at times the wind was a bit cool and the waves were too strong to get in the water. I guess we’ll just have to come back again soon to get the “perfect” Hawaiian weather! 🙂


We spent 7 nights on the North Shore of Kauai a.k.a. “the garden isle”, the oldest of Hawaiian islands (4th largest, pop. 65,000).
We stayed at our friends house: Hanalei Bay Villa #37 “Haleakamanu”, which is a vacation rental (you can rent it too!) http://haleakamanu.com/
We ziplined (first time ever!) in Poipu (South Shore) with Skyline Eco-Adventures ( www.zipline.com )
We had our honeymoon activity – first ever couples pedicure! at Styles Studio Hanalei
We listened to the beautiful Hawaiian slack key guitar music by our friend Jim Kimo West
We swam & snorkeled at Ke’e Beach (and other beaches, which will be in Part 2 of this blog)


It was so nice staying at this beautiful villa. It’s not the villa I imagined (I always pictured marble Italian estates when I thought of a villa). This one is only (haha – only!) 1,250 square feet but it is amazing. It is a two-story modern house on stilts with 2 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms. a large living room, a beautiful kitchen and 42 windows! The views are so spectacular it would have been a shame not to have these windows. We never saw/heard any of the neighbors as most of the house (except for the very entrance) is surrounded by beautiful jungle-like greenery. I found that staying here was so much nicer than staying at any hotel or a resort. We had total privacy, our own kitchen, laundry, and much more space than we would have at a hotel.

Our friends Joe and Linda Bird are the owners of this amazing place. Haleakamanu means “house of birds” in Hawaiian. And not only because of their last name. Sitting on the lanai (balcony) every day we were pleasantly inundated by the most adorable birds begging for food (you’ll see some photos below).

This is the view of the villa from our private parking:

The view as you walk into the front door:

Master bedroom had a balcony too:
This is the view from our 2nd floor lanai (balcony). Over the canopy you can see the famous Hanalei Bay and the mountains. Wow, right? I couldn’t stop saying “wow” the whole time we were there.

And below is the world’s most adorable bird begging for food. Actually, there were many, many birds. We were warned not to give in to their cuteness because they’d end up pooping all over the balcony if you feed them. They were very hard to resist, but we did! 🙂

One of the perks about staying at a vacation rental is not only living like a local, but being able to use the laundry and having a kitchen. We washed our beach towels and beach clothes every day, and had breakfast (and often lunch) on our own terms (without paying outrageous resort prices).

We went to the local grocery store every day and bought fruit (OMG, I LOVE Hawaiian locally grown papayas)!!:

On rainy mornings & afternoons we got some of our work & writing done while listening to the sound of rain and enjoying the tropical views.
His and hers:

And listened to the beautiful Hawaiian music by Jim Kimo West:

In the evenings we made our own smoothies (we used the local rum punch, papayas and blueberries):

This photo is very posed but we did spend a lot of time relaxing in the living room:

Every evening a gecko would come out and run up and down the walls. It was very entertaining and quite a distraction as we we watching movies. We rented a few DVDs at RedBox including “I, Tonya”, “Goodbye, Christopher Robin” (my favorite!!!) and “The Man Who Invented Christmas”. Have you seen any of these?

Just across the street, literally a few steps away from the house, there is the famed Kenomene Sunset Overlook.
It was incredible watching the sun set over the ocean, especially the night before we left when the skies cleared:


The day before we left the weather got better and I got to conquer my fears of heights combined with speed.
Nick & I ziplined for the very first time. It was really awesome. I even wrote a whole blog about it! 🙂
Click here or on the photo below to check it out:


When Nick & I got married we didn’t have the money to go on a proper honeymoon, so now every time we go on vacation we try to pick a “honeymoon” activity. A perfectly fun excuse to do whatever the hell we want 🙂
Since it was raining most of the time we needed something indoors. So…. I talked Nick into getting a couples pedicure at Styles Studio Hanalei.
It was really pleasant and nice and we both loved it.
Apparently, many men get pedicures, and why not? It’s pretty damn awesome (and I love the foot/calf massage part!).
And no, we didn’t hold hands the whole time. Just for this cheesy photo 🙂

Our nail technicians Lori and Desiree were super friendly and we got all kinds of tips re: dining and beaches etc.  We ended up doing everything they suggested!!


The sun came out for a little while 5 days into our trip. We immediately went to the beach!
One of my absolute favorite beaches was Ke’e Beach. Just look at this breathtaking mountain behind me!

The water was very calm and warm and clear as it’s protected by a giant reef. It was the first few hours when the sun came out so the beach was very crowded. By “very crowded” I mean we didn’t have the whole beach to ourselves, haha. But it’s far from the parking lot that Waikiki Beach is. What do you think? Do you consider this crowded (see pics above and below).

Anyway. The breeze was a bit cool as the sun went behind the clouds but otherwise it was perfect. We even managed to find parking nearby (which is no easy feat from what we saw!)! We swam and snorkeled and kept looking at this beautiful mountain. We saw many bright colorful tropical fish. I never get tired of looking at them, it’s like entering another world. Well – it is another world, the underwater world! 🙂

I haven’t yet mentioned that Kauai is known for its wild chickens. They are EVERYWHERE. Literally, everywhere. At the airport, on the beach, at every restaurant and parking lot. This one was enjoying a coconut 🙂

I just realized this blog is getting WAY too long and I’ll have to do this in 2 (or possibly 3) parts.
So this is all for now 🙂


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