Kauai North Shore

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I just got back from a little vaca in Hawaii, and it was AWESOME. Everyone who’s been to Hawaii already knows that, and if you haven’t been, everyone else has already told you that. I spent part of my time on the North Shore of Kauai and I’d highly recommend it. Below are some photos and quick suggestions of stuff to do.

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Hiking — When driving west on the North Shore, past Hanalei Bay, you’ll eventually get to the end of the road. Literally. There is no road going through Napali Coast State Park, but there’s plenty to do right there at the dead end. The Kalalau trail begins there, and even if you just hike for a couple of miles, it will take you up to a couple of beautiful viewpoints of the beach behind you and the cliffs ahead. Keep going for waterfalls and adventure.

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Beaches — All of the beaches in this area are good, too: Tunnels, Ke’e, and Ha’ena. There’s nice stretches of sand and some tree shade, with typically calm, crystal clear  waters and some great snorkeling. Parking can get crowded but you should be able to find a spot in one of the lots, and there’s a dry cave across the street from Tunnels Beach.

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Kayaking — The popular spot for kayaking in Kauai is Wailua, but if you want a far less crowded and more relaxed paddle, try the Hanalei River. It’s easy going, especially in the morning, and heading one way takes you into a nature reserve, while heading the other takes you to the ocean. No need to book ahead, and a rental is good for 24 hours, so come and go as you please.

This is only a snippet of fun stuff on the North Shore, let alone the rest of Kauai. Note that your chances of rain are higher in this region, but showers tend to be short and the landscape is ultra lush. Aloha!

 

Kauai North Shore

Madonna Inn

At the tail end of our trip, we stayed at the famous Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. We had been camping for a couple of nights, so a real bed sounded soooo good. I’ve also long wanted to stay in the weird hotel, and this was the perfect opportunity.

Madonna InnI highly recommend you Google Image Search Madonna Inn, since every guest room (there’s over 100) is decorated differently, and I mean decorated. They are all themed and named accordingly, some with rock walls, rainbow carpet, and daisy wallpaper. Basically, they are all picture-perfect. We stayed in the “Indian room.”Madonna Inn

The hotel was built and built onto for a few years before being completed in the late 60s. It definitely feels like a trip back in time, except that the bathrooms and facilities are updated nicely. They have a great pool and hot tubs, and there is a steak house with insane decor on premises. There’s also a bar connected to the restaurant, and a cafe called the Copper Kettle. We really enjoyed the pool, had a drink at the old school bar while watching a band play in the restaurant, and ate breakfast at the Copper Kettle.

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The dining is all fine here—nothing amazing and a bit over-priced—but we loved staying at the hotel. The atmosphere is fun and the staff is friendly. I’m sure we’ll be back to stay in as many rooms as we can.

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Morro Bay

I’m sorry for the radio silence as of late. Work got unexpectedly busy and then we had a short but much-needed vacation, but now I’m determined to get back into posting on the reg. I had such a great time on our road trip, I thought I’d share some of my favorite places and fun stuff we did.

Morro Bay Morro Bay is about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Los Angeles or San Francisco, and, as its name implies, it’s a beautiful bay on the Pacific Ocean. It attracts some tourists, but it’s not an overrun resort town. The inns are small, the activities are nature-filled, and the wildlife abundant. Morro Bay

We camped at the state park campground on the south end of the bay, just a block from the water. While there, we rented a tandem kayak and paddled around in the bay, getting great looks at lounging sea otters and rowdy seals. The prices at Kayak Horizons were reasonable, we called ahead for tide info which they happily provided, and their dock is right on the bay for easy in-and-out.Morro Bay

We ate lunch at one of the bay-side seafood restaurants before checking out the giant Morro rock and walking along the beach. It can be pretty windy on the water, so we didn’t stay for long, but lots of people were surfing some good waves that day. The rock is covered in birds, and we saw pelicans skimming the water.Morro Bay

We set up camp and walked up to the nearby Natural History Museum to take in the view. Morro Bay also has boating trips, a tiny aquarium, hiking, and all the amenities you’ll need (groceries, shops, etc). Especially since it’s a relatively easy drive and near San Luis Obispo (more on that later), we’ll definitely be back.

Morro Bay

Morro Bay

Throw Back to Italy, part 2

It’s time for Throw Back Tuesday (I know, but I’m in the mood and who cares what day it is). Since I only got through Venice in my first Throw Back post on our honeymoon, I thought I’d move along to Cinque Terre, a magical piece if coast in the northwest region of Italy. The five little villages are known for their rugged coast, multi-colored homes built into the hillsides, home-grown lemons and pesto. Even with more tourists these days, it’s still a wonderful place to get away and relax.

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Throw Back to Italy, part 2