Posts Tagged ‘island’

Napili Bay

On day 2, before the sun, sounds of laughter and beach goers filled Napili Bay in Maui, I woke up around 5:30am with camera & tripod in tow and enjoyed a tranquil moment listening to the waves caressing the shore and watching the changing colors of the sunrise paint the sky.

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At 8:45am on a Friday morning, my hubby and I took to the skies on our 5 hour United flight to the island paradise of Maui.

About an hour into our journey, the pilot announced that there would be an in-flight game and the winner would win a great prize.  The mission:  Figure out the exact time we would be midway between the mainland and Maui.  He gave us some useful information to get us started like time we left, time in Maui, headwind stats, etc…

…and honestly…it wasn’t in any way useful to me!

As for my hubby, he got to work right away & had his answer written down before I knew it.

I decided to add a few minutes to my hubby’s answer (I know I know…cheaters never prosper…) and handed in my answer.

About 15 minutes later, the winner was announced.

The flight attendant walked down the aisle and with a big smile stopped at our row.  “Congratulations!  You were less than 45 seconds off the correct answer!”  And with that, my hubby happily accepted his well deserved Lonely Planet Guide Book to Hawaii!

In addition to our new guide book, we became fast friends with our row mate named Larry who was on his way home to Maui.  “Come visit me at the Sheraton, & I will fix you the best drink…on the house!”  Larry is a bartender there at the Grotto Bar and was as nice as they get!  Unfortunately, time did not permit us to visit Larry during our brief stay on West Maui, but we spoke fondly about his aloha spirit during our trip.

After a pleasant and fun flight, we arrived at the Kahului Airport around 11:30am, collected our luggage & proceeded to Hertz to pick up our wheels.

Once we exited the airport, a blast of humid wind engulfed us.  The strong winds blew our hair, as well as the palm trees, in every direction.  I resigned to the fact that for the next week, good hair days would be a rarity, and I would soon find myself enjoying the carefree days of hats and pony tails.

With 4 hours to spare before check-in, we decided to drive about 20 minutes south of the airport to explore the Iao Valley State Park which contains the 1,200 foot towering emerald peak known as the Iao Needle.

Iao Needle
It’s hard to believe that in 1790, this beautiful location was the site of the bloody battle between King Kamehameha and Maui’s army in an effort to unite the Hawaiian Islands.  Needless to say it didn’t end well.

Now it’s a place of tranquility and peace offering 10-miles of easy hiking paths, streams, lily pad-filled ponds, tropical foliage and idyllic photo opportunities.

Iao Vallay National Park

Pepper in some low-lying clouds and you get a very mystical wonderland.

Iao Valley National Park

After taking in the glorious views, it was time to head to our Maui home for 3 days.  We decided to take what we thought was a shortcut, but had we looked closer at the map in our Lonely Planet guide book, it would have shown the white knuckle adventure we were about to embark on…complete with narrow twists, turns, hands covering eyes, imaginery brake pressing and one way roads with unintentional games of chicken.

It put the Road to Hana to shame! 

Evil Road!Construction on Maui’s northwest coast road from Kapalua to Wailuku
(or as I like to call it –
the Road to Hana’s evil big brother!)

But I can say this about Maui’s northwest coast –

Maui's northwest coastthe scenery is beautiful!

The next day on our Trinity catamaran snorkeling adventure, a crew member confirmed that we weren’t alone in our sentiments: “Even the locals don’t take that road!”   Um, good to know.

A sigh of relief filled the car when we found our way out of the labyrinth an hour or so later and enjoyed the wider, straighter lanes taking us to our paradise getaway at The Napili Bay condos.

The Napili Bay Condos
The condo we rented was recently renovated and just as lovely as the photos shown online.  It came complete with full kitchen, laundromat, beach chairs, boogie boards, comfy bed, ceiling fan, wifi and tv…

Napili Bay Condo

…and the view from the lanai wasn’t too shabby either!

View from lanai

15 years ago, I experienced Napili Bay for the first time with my best friend and her family.  Let me just say, the water is just as clear and the atmosphere is still as idyllic as I remember it to be!

Napili Bay

That evening, we dined at the popular “Sea House” restaurant.  Reservations are recommended, and luckily my hubby was one step ahead and reserved our table a few days prior.

Not realizing we could actually just take a short stroll down the beach to get there, we took a less than 30 second car ride to the parking lot instead.

A bit early, we enjoyed some tropical beverages in the lounge, and at exactly 5:30pm, the patrons  were allowed into the main open air dining hall complete with refreshing breezes, sounds of crashing waves,  and a gorgeous view of Napili Bay…the perfect ambience for our first night in Maui.

Tropical drink

Only having eaten 2 granola bars since we landed, it was time to indulge!

We both opted for the 3-course “Early Bird Special.”

It started off with the Island Salad comprised of fresh Upcountry greens, tropical salsa and Lilikoi vinaigrette.

The main course followed.  I opted for the Macadamia Nut Fresh Catch while my hubby chose the Sea House Mixed Grill.

Dinner at the Sea HouseMacadamia Nut Fresh Catch

Our meal concluded with the Pièce de résistance:  Pineapple Tiramisu…

Pineapple Tiramisuneed I say more? 

Although I was growing uncomfortably full by the minute, it was too good to stop, so I forged ahead and cleared the contents of my plate.

So much for those ab exercises…

The vibrant colors of a painted sky were on display that evening, and so with stomachs full and happy, we took a leisurely stroll on the beach…

Napili Sunset

…and a kind passerby took our photo.

Happy!

After our promenade, we stocked up on dinner fixings, vino and snacks at a local market for the days ahead.

Relaxing on the lanai was the perfect way to end our first night in Maui.  As the last bits of sun bid adieu, we looked forward with half-opened eyes to the 8 fun-filled, blissful days ahead.

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Catalina Island
26 miles across the sea…Santa Catalina is waiting for me!”

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Have you ever stayed at a hotel that left you speechless?

Back in 2010 when my hubby and I planned our dream honeymoon, we decided to splurge (just a little) on one hotel throughout the entire trip so that way we’d have more spending cash for other things like excursions, souvenirs and dining experiences.

First we had to decide on our splurge location…and that was an easy choice – the stunning Greek island of Santorini.

Now the hard part – choosing a place to stay among the many cliff hugging, magical, white washed hotels that just oozed charm.

After going back and forth, we decided on this gem:

Hotel KetiHotel Keti is located in Fira Town, Capital of Santorini

The “Cavehouse Suite” was our first choice, but it was already booked, so we stayed in a “Double Superior” room which worked our perfectly!  At 120 euros a night, it was a splurge to us, but compared to the neighboring hotels…it was quite a bargain!

Room in Hotel KetiThe room was quaint, simple & modern.
Hotel KetiThe bathroom was spacious with a jacuzzi tub.

But here’s the real reason we chose this hotel:

View from Hotel Keti
 Stunning views right outside our door!
 
IMG_0599_r1Private terrace time
 
View from the front doorDoorway to paradise!
 
Hotel KetiTalk about grand entrance!
 
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View of Fira from our terrace.
 
Enjoying vino and the viewsVino + Gorgeous Views = Happy Jen!
 

Sure, you have to walk down almost 100 winding cobblestone steps to reach the hotel, but with views like this…it’s so worth it!  (And if you need a little assistance, a porter is available to carry your bags…for 20 euros.)

 
Breathtaking viewsCruise ships in the harbor.

The front desk personnel were extremely friendly & very helpful with directions, excursions & suggestions on things to do.

Welcoming committeeWe even had a welcoming committee (who was very cute!)

Little did we know that on our last night in Santorini was the annual  fireworks display commemorating the eruption of the volcano.

Fireworks advertisement

All we had to do was step outside our door to the best seats in the house, kick back & be awed by the vibrant, beautiful display in the distance.

Virtual volcanic eruptionFlares and fireworks created a virtual representation of the volcanic eruption.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_0737_r1Fireworks then continued over Fira lighting up the town.

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Fireworks

Honeymooning in Santorini and staying at Hotel Keti was definitely the highlight of the trip.  If you ever consider traveling to Santorini, I wholeheartedly recommend getting swept away by this magical jewel!

Hotel KetiTrust me, you won’t be disappointed!

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PHOTO BLISS

So I want to move here…right away!  Can you blame me?

When my husband and I honeymooned in Santorini over 2 years ago, I fell in love with this breathtaking Greek island!  With 2 more countries to visit, I would have been perfectly content if we just stayed there for the remainder of our trip…or permanently!

The first two nights, we stayed in Santorini’s capital, Fira.  Everything about the capital was amazing!  From the whitewashed buildings with blue doors perched high above the cliffs…to the surreal landscapes overlooking the Mediterranean…to those romantic, idyllic sunsets that put others to shame…to those winding cobblestone roads that take you from one charming place to another.

Is it any wonder I’m spellbound by Santorini?

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