Happy New Year!

Twenty years from now
you will be more disappointed 
by the things that you didn't do
than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.
//Mark Twain

Happy New Year, dear friends and family! I hope 2014 was good to you, as it was very good to me! I feel so lucky for all that I got to do and experience this past year. I took many exciting trips including Las Vegas, Austin TX, Washington D.C., Cape Cod, Long Island, Vermont, Block Island, Moosehead Lake Maine, Oahu, and Kauai to name a few! I hope that I can plan many adventures once again for 2015. We are all well aware that life can be taken at a moments notice, so I am so very thankful for everyday I get here on Earth and plan to try and continue to live them to the fullest! Not everyday is rainbows and butterflies, but even the bad days make the good days feel more special and appreciated. I don't necessarily like to make New Years Resolutions, as I think starting the year off by setting yourself up for failure isn't the best idea. Routines and habits are VERY hard to break or change, so I like to think of my list more as goals and intentions rather than the "firm decision's" that come with saying the word 'Resolution'. With that being said, here is my list of a few things I'd like to work on for the coming year! (Free printable via)
1. Being more organized at home. This one is funny because at work, I have complete OCD and my desk and all of my work paperwork is 100% organized and everything has it's place and file. People joke that I don't ever look like I am doing any work because I am just too darn organized. At home, however, my room usually looks like an atomic bomb went off. No matter what I do, I just can't keep organized and neat. I will stay on top of laundry for a couple weeks, but then it always trails off and sooner or later I am practically going commando. I lose things all the time and am constantly looking for stuff and freaking out because I can't find things. I travel a lot so I think that is part of the issue since I always have to pack and repack and it just gets tiring. The last thing I want to do after working 6 days in a row is to clean or unpack or do laundry, but somehow this year I need to try and get better at it. Things need to find homes and they need to stay there. Laundry needs to get done. Mail needs to be read and filed or shredded. I am going to try try try! Wish me luck, because I am gonna need it on this one...

2. Be more conscious of my budget. I live on a relatively fixed income, and I know what my monthly expense/bills are, but so many times I find myself over budget or out of money a few days before my next paycheck. It is a lot easier during wedding season as I have the extra income as spending money, but during the off season months it's a whole different story and it gets a lot harder to manage. I enjoy simple things like getting an iced coffee everyday and going out to eat or get drinks with my friends every now and then, and I don't want to have to give those things up because that is what creates joy in my life and makes working worth it, but I do need to be more conscious of extra expenditures and burning money on things that may not be needed. When I go to the grocery store to get avocados, I should leave with ONLY avocados... not avocados, pistachios, candy, and new shampoo. I need to work on resisting the temptation to make spur-of-the-moment purchases that I wouldn't otherwise have needed or purchased if they weren't right in front of me. I think working on this will help me overall live more comfortably and better stay within my means.

3. Keeping adventuring and traveling. I know this completely disregards #2, but one of the main joys in my life is the ability to travel and go on adventures. If I get better at #2, I can hopefully be able to do MORE of #3, or at least do it more easily. I want to work to live, not live to work, so I will always allocate both time and money to travel and adventure no matter how much I have or don't have. There are ways to do it on a budget, you just have to get creative sometimes. Some places I would like to make it to this year are Charleston SC, San Fran CA, New Orleans LA, and possibly somewhere overseas like Europe (Hello Greece) or Central America (I see you Panama). Will all of these trips be possible? Likely no. But I will try my hardest to make it to as many as I can! When I look back on 2014, I don't think about the times my debit card got declined while buying a $2 coffee or the time I had to get a ticket because I only had $1.43 for the $1.75 toll... I think about getting to see a good friend get married under the oak trees in Austin Texas, having a rooftop barbeque under the stars in D.C, and getting to see the Na Pali coast from a doorless helicopter. These are the things that make memories I will cherish for a lifetime, and I plan to continue to check as many places and things off my list as possible!
4.Blog! I started this blog in the spring of 2014, and it has been really fun getting to document everything I have done this year and have the ability to looks back on it through pictures and in writing. I am almost at 40 posts for the year, so I really hope to be able to continue the blog in 2015! I have debated between making the blog private and/or keeping it public as I mostly just like to have it as a photo journal for myself. For now I plan to keep it public as I do like to be able to share these things with my friends and family! I like that I don't have a set schedule of when to post, so I never feel pressured to post or to just post something for the sake of posting something. I blog when I want to blog, and that has been the best part! No pressure! I am looking forward to what Nautical Nomad has in store for me for the next year.
I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and good luck with whatever goals or intentions you may set for yourself! Leave me one in the comments if you so dare! Accountability is the key to success.

Hawaii: Part Two, Kauai

Unforgettable, in every way.
And forever more, that's how you''ll stay.
//Nat King Cole

Kauai is an entirely different world from Oahu. It really did feel like we went on two whole separate vacations, which was nice and a total bonus. As I had mentioned in our first post, it was our original intention to just go to Kauai for the entirety of the trip and we ended up adding on the three days in Oahu at the last minute. If when we go back, we will likely just head straight to Kauai the next time as it was absolutely the most beautiful, breathtaking, life changing place I have ever been. Looking back I really don't know what I was expecting, I had done tons of research on Kauai and even bought a very detailed Guidebook (highly recommend!) about the island but it still managed to surprise me and absolutely blow my mind in the best way possible. No description that I write nor any picture that we took can fully do justice to this island. I am not sure that I will ever see any place more beautiful in my life, and I am totally okay with that. Kauai is so incredibly lush, green, tropical, warm, old, sandy, wet, dry, mountainous, flat, colorful and just plain GORGEOUS all rolled into one and everywhere you look. Kauai is known as "The Garden Island" and is the oldest island of Hawaii. At 560 square miles, it is the 4th largest. Most of the land on Kauai is actually mountainous and uninhabitable and majority of the population lives just along the coastline of about 2/3 of the perimeter of the island. The North shore is known for being the most green and lush, while the South shore is more arid and dry. The West coast is mostly mountains and volcanic craters or canyons, and the East coast is more flat and has farmlands.
We chose our cottage long before we even really knew anything about Kauai. I don't even think we looked at it's location on a map before we sent in the money as it just looked so perfect from the photos and reviews. After we figured out we had wanted to go to Kauai we began looking at websites like HomeAway and VRBO as we knew we wanted to go the cabin/cottage route rather than stay at a hotel or resort. We really wanted the feeling of seclusion and adventure, and that is just what we got. One night we were both at our houses looking at VRBO on our phones and sending links to each other back and fourth. I think it was only the second or third one and we both just said "YUP, THAT'S IT". It looked like everything we wanted and more. Seven acre property? Check! Complete and total privacy at the end of a dead end dirt road? Check! Less than a mile from the beach? Check! Full kitchen and amenities? Check! Animals and fruit trees on the property? Not something we had even originally imagined we could have, but CHECK! Rave reviews and an affordable rate? Double check. It almost seemed too good to be true at first, so I didn't want to get my hopes up right away just in case it turned out to be a scam or have some hidden caveat or deal-breaker. After a few emails back and fourth with the owner, however, we knew we had found the place and that it was the real deal. If you or ANYONE you know is looking to go to Kauai, we CANNOT recommend it enough. Here is the LINK to the rental site and the photo below is the picture that really made us say "YUP, THAT'S IT". Absolute paradise.... it was everything we were looking for and more as you will soon see.
In the months and week leading up to our adventure, we knew we had to stock up on some adventure gear. This was going to be a once and a lifetime trip and we really wanted to be able to capture it in photos and video no matter what activity we were doing. I was planning on bringing my Nikon D300, but it isn't exactly (read: at all) waterproof or drop-proof or pretty much anything other than TLC proof, so we knew we needed a camera that could do it all. Insert, the GoPro! Thanks to modern technology and the recent popularity of this incredible invention, we were able to score a brand new in box GoPro Hero 3+ Silver Edition on Craigslist for $250. Here is the list of what we purchased for the trip:
1. GoPro Hero 3+ Silver Edition HERE This is the ultimate, small, go anywhere camera that take incredible wide angle photos in any condition rain or shine.
2. Hawaii Revealed: The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook HERE This is an amazing guidebook written by a Kauai native in which he truly reveals all the best Kauai has to offer. When we got to our cottage the property owner's even asked if we had it and had a copy already at the cottage for us to use as they said it is the best book out there on kauai.
3. GoPro Floaty Backdoor HERE A definite necessity if you are going to be using the GoPro in the ocean. If you happen to drop it, it completely floats and it an easy-to-spot fluorescent orange.
4. GoBudi Adjustable Pole Mount HERE Great for mounting the camera on the get super wide angles an/or to use during action sports like surfing.
5. P.O.V. Dive Buoy HERE We liked this the best out of what we bought. A perfect little sturdy handle to mount the GoPro on that also serves as a floatation. It was great for snorkeling and swimming and just about everything.
6. Sandisk 64GB Micro SD Card HERE Can take photos and video without the proper memory and storage! Don't cheap-out when it comes to memory cards, as a photographer myself I ONLY trust Sandisk or Lexar brands.
7. Nordic Flash Waterproof Wrist Straps HERE Great for when you are paddling or swimming and don't want to have the GoPro in your hands. They float and are brightly colored as well for easy visibility if you drop it.
So with that, we were all geared up and ready for the adventure that is Kauai! After a short and sweet 22 minute flight from Oahu and 300+ days of anticipation prior, we finally touched down on Kauai soil on Sunday, November 23rd! We were SO excited and just could not wait to get settled in and see our cottage.
Woo hoo! Thankful for another safe landing.
Our first sights of Kauai on a beautiful hot and clear blue day.
The sign we had been waiting to see since January. WELCOME TO KAUAI! The Garden island. It almost didn't seem real.... we were finally here!
We had planned to rent a Jeep Wrangler and had coordinated with a women from Kilauea Travel Group. She found us the best weekly rate for a soft-top Jeep and we were all set the pick it up from Thrifty Car Rentals. We took a the shuttle to the place and AN HOUR AND A HALF later, we had our Jeep. Although I really appreciate KTG finding us the best rate, I will never rent a car with Thrifty again. The slowest, worst customer service I have ever experienced, and we were the last ones to get a Jeep that day by the grace of God as they had over-booked. I don't even want to know the rage that would have ensued from Nick and I if they had told us we couldn't have a Jeep. My introversion would have gone out the window, and it's probably best we don't know what would have happened. Again, in the scheme of possible travel setbacks, waiting an hour for a car was not that bad. It just felt bad after 20 hours of travel time and this being the last thing to hold us up! By the time we were on the road to our cottage, the sun was starting to set. As I said earlier, when we booked out cottage we had no idea where on the island it was located. Luckily for us, it happened to be in the North Shore town of Kilauea. We ended up LOVING the North Shore the most out of the entire Island, and Kilauea was set in the perfect spot... not TOO far North where it would take you a few hours to get to the South and not too far South where it wasn't as lush and green. Again, just perfect. We lucked out. My lifetime of incredible bad luck stepped aside just once to give us the best rental and location we could have asked for, and I am so thankful for that. When we pulled down the long dirt road of Waiakalua Street and I saw our driveway tucked away at the very end under a tunnel canopy of trees, I had tears in my eyes. We pulled our Jeep into the driveway and parked it. We got out and headed over to what looked to be the main house on the property to meet the owners, Allan and Catherine. They were so unbelievably nice and welcoming, and immediately made us feel at ease and at home. Allan showed me where to park the car in front of our cottage and they helped us bring all of our luggage into the house. Catherine showed us around the cottage and explained all of the amenities it had. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, everything was so cute and so perfect and in such immaculate condition. It looked as if they had cut the seven acres of grass with scissors and a level. Every flower and fruit was in full bloom, and the cottage and decor were so light and tropical and airy. It was heaven. As Catherine and Allan were explaining everything and showing us around Nick and I just kept looking at each other with shit-eating grins on our faces as we both knew exactly what the other was thinking. HOLY SHIT. In the best possible way. Once they left us be to settle in, we were finally able to express what we had been holding in as we had been trying to look and act as normal as composed as possible in front of them. The OH MY GODS came out, the happy dance came out, the shrieks and shrills came out. It was a full on parade of I-CAN'T-BELIEVE-THIS-IS-HAPPENING-AND-THIS-IS-OURS-FOR-THE-WEEK!!!! There will be many more pictures to come of our cottage but the first night we were just so excited and happy and in awe that we really didn't take many photos. Catherine recommended we head to the grocery store to stock up before it got too dark, so shortly after unpacking we headed out the door for the ten minute drive a few miles down the road to the Foodland in Princeville. Just a mile down the road we quickly had one of our first "Kauai is gorgeous" moments just across from the grocery store plaza. Check out this view! You could see the whole North Shore valley and the big volcanic mountains in the distance.

Once in the grocery store we quickly became overwhelmed as we hadn't made a list for the week so we decided to just grab what we needed for the night and come back in the morning once we had a better plan of what we needed to get. We decided on making a salmon filet with fresh pea pods and rice, so we bought that and some adult beverages and headed back to the cottage. Here are some quick iPhone pics of the rooms in our cottage! The decor was SO cute and "islandy", if that's even a word. Everything was in such great condition and you could really tell they take the upmost care of the property. The cottage was built in 2000, so it was 14 years old and didn't look a day over brand new. Here is our living room to the left, with a sofa and lounger chair and table. The photo to the right is the left side of the living room with the TV armoire, an ottoman, and a small desk.
Here is the view to the kitchen to the living room. Nick is cooking away! We had a full kitchen with everything you would need. Plates, cups, bowls, wine glasses, silverware, cutlery, oven, fridge and freezer, microwave, toaster, coffee maker and even condiments and spices to name a few! It was SO nice to have a kitchen and to be able to cook for ourselves. Eating out every meal of every day can get really expensive in Hawaii.
A front view of the living room. The guest book is laid out on the couch and I was reading through what other people had written from the past year. On the table is also a large basket of fresh fruits that Catherine had picked for us from right off of the property. Apple bananas, avocados, grapefruits and tangerines to name a few. She said we were welcome to pick more if we needed to as well! There was also an information book about the cottage and the nearby stores/restaurants/attractions and amenities.
On the left is our bedroom with a huge king bed and a beautiful palm tree quilt. We had two big closets, a large dresser, and two nightstands. To the right is the bathroom with a big vanity and a tub/shower. Everything was as clean as a whistle!
Dinner was almost ready! Nick made the salmon and I made the pea pods and rice. We used a balsamic glaze on the salmon and peas and they came out really yummy.
 Here is our sweet dining table for two!
Our first dinner was delicious and we were just so happy to be in our cottage, in Kauai, all settled in and ready to wake up and explore.
Catherine and Allan had also left out a big box of Hawaiian chocolates as a welcome gift, along with the fruit basket. (Look at the SIZE of those avocados!!)
This is our cheesy last photo of our first night. We had both posted our first IG pics of Kauai, and when we went to look at each others sure enough they were of the exact same thing and lined up perfectly to almost make a panorama! (Also: Note my phone is in a constant state of low-battery, and aside from liking his own photos, Nick apparently follows the "buttsnorkeler" account...)
Monday morning we woke up refreshed and ready to start our first full day in Kauai. First things first was to feed our cat, Snowy. Yes, you read correctly. Our cottage came with a cat! She is 18 years old and so adorable. She lives on the deck of the cottage and never comes inside. I am an animal LOVER, so this was such a treat and made it feel just like home. I loved waking up every morning and going out onto our deck to pet her and feed her. The property owners also have two dogs who live with them in the main house, a pomeranian Lily and an adorable smooth haired Jack Russell named Koa. I was absolutely over the moon that there was animals all around me. 
Here is looking out our front door onto the deck. We had a large outdoor dining table with chairs and an umbrella.
Next, stepping off the deck and looking back at our sweet, adorable cottage. It is called the "Aloha Sunset Cottage" and the name is so fitting as the sun sets right in the front yard over the mountains.
The cottage's name plate, and a sweet little sign to remind you that shoes are taken off in Hawaii before you go inside! It was important to us to adhere to the Hawaiian traditions, so outside the shoes stayed!
A closer look at our outdoor table, and to the right is our sweet angel Snowy sleeping in her crate!
A few more of the exterior of the cottage. It was fully surrounded by lush plants, trees, and gardens. Although there were a few other people on the seven acre property, we truly felt as if we had it all to ourselves and really never even saw another person the whole time we were there.

In our front yard were two lounge chairs, and a sweeping view of the beautifully manicured lawn and the mountain range on the horizon.
Beep beep! We got the keys to the Jeep! We LOVED having our Jeep Wrangler, it was the perfect car for the Island and we would tell anyone else going to get one. So fun to drive and the soft-top was perfect on those sunny days because we could easily put it up and down at any point.
Our first day turned out to be a gloomy one, but it really didn't rain except a morning shower so it didn't hold us back at all from exploring our area and the North Shore.
We loved driving over this bridge everyday. The way it opened up and curved, with huge Acacia trees surrounding it, it was really neat.
For day one we pretty much took a left out of our street and continued up the entire length of the North Shore, stopping at each beach or site along the way. First up was a stop at Kalihiwai beach, not too far from our house. It is a pretty secluded beach that stretched off to the right and can get pretty rough on certain days. It's best to visit on calm days or low tide when there is more sand to enjoy. Regardless, it was our first beach we stopped at so we were loving it!

Every beach had these yellow life float posts to use in case of emergency or if someone gets pulled out to sea or into a current. Really puts you at ease, LOL!

Loving our sweet Jeep! And our GoPro, of course!

Next up, just a quarter mile away was Anini Beach, which ended up being one of our favorite beaches on the Island. It is ALWAYS really calm as there is a huge protective reef several hundred feet offshore that breaks the waves. It is the perfect spot for swimming and snorkeling. The sand is soft and flat and there are sea turtles and fish that live and feed right offshore.

This ramp made it really easy to get in and out of the water, especially with fins and snorkel gear on. The water was a really pretty aqua blue and the beach had really cool curves in it and trees that jutted out over the water. It was unlike any beach that I have seen on the mainland, or anywhere else for that matter.

We love Anini!

Next we drove all the way down to the left of Anini as it is a really long beach and park area. There is a small neighborhood at the end of the road, along with a campground where people can pitch tents and stay over.

We parked the Jeep when we saw these really cute swings hanging from a tree hanging over the beach. We knew we had to stop for a swing! It felt so tropical, I loved it. And if you start to notice in all of these photos, there isn't anyone else around! Kauai is one of the more remote islands of Hawaii, and come to find out November is also the least tourist visiting month of the year! It was such a drastic and welcomed change from the fast paced and crowded beaches of Oahu. A lot of the times we felt as if we had the island to ourselves! No traffic, no lines, no people, it was perfect.
(Except this one lonely camper!)

The swings were really cool, and it was like we were under a canopy as the tree was really thick and dome-like.

I love these photos of us alone under the tree! It was so romantic and the perfect spot for a smooch. We really had never spent this much alone time together since we have met as we have both been so busy with work and school and training and life. It was so nice to be able to slow down and have no agenda and no where to be except with each other! We had such a good time talking and adventuring and dreaming out loud, just going with the flow wherever the wind took us.

My tree-climbin' man. I could only imagine growing up here and playing in this tree every day.

Thinking back, we never named our Jeep, which is odd because I name anything and everything three times over. Looking at him here, he looks like a Stan.
Exploring the Kauai seaside neighborhoods. The houses were gorgeous and right on the ocean. Tons of celebrities live and/or own property on the North Shore of Kauai as it is just so remote and no one bothers you. I don't blame them! Some of the current owners are Julia Roberts, Ben Stiller, Mark Zuckerberg, Pierce Brosnan, Drew Barrymore and Bette Midler to name a few.
We spent the whole day just driving and exploring and taking in all the sights. We stopped at every stop and lookout, and turned down every side road. We found a good radio station and it was really nice to start to get to know the island and the other nearby towns and beaches.
Farms everywhere! Animals everywhere!
Next, we drove to Princeville to stop at the grocery store to get more of what we needed for the week now that we had a better idea of what we were going to make for breakfast/lunch/dinner. We decided to eat out 3 nights and eat in 4, so it was a good balance. We also got lots of yummy breakfast food and stuff to make and pack lunches on the go that we could take with us. And what do ya know, more chickens at the grocery store! They were everywhere on the island. This one was cute and had three little babies following her around. They are so bold too and will come right up to you and jump on the table. I had been wanting to try Shave Ice in Hawaii also, since it is one of their pride and joy's. And don't you dare let them hear you say "ShaveD" ice, its SHAVE ice! There was a place outside the grocery store selling it so I figured now was a better time that ever to try! I got a small, which was the biggest thing I had ever seen, and tried a combo of strawberry, coconut, and pineapple.
SHAVE ice! They had so many flavors to pick from, all fresh, and you could mix and match whatever you wanted.

Look at how big it is! I was amazed it could even stay on the small little plastic cone. Lord only knows what the large is like.
SO delicious! We both agreed that the pineapple was the best flavor. We split it and it was really yummy.
We took another stop at the lookout in Princeville so that I could get a panorama shot. It looks like a jungle and right out of Jurassic park or Lost! Everywhere we went was a more beautiful view than the next.

You can see the waterfalls on all of the Mountains. They say there are over 2,000 waterfalls at any given time on Kauai depending on the rain, and the number changes daily.
There were also tons of these cool one lane bridges on the North Shore. They don't have a stop light either so common courtesy in 5-7 cars. We had a few instances where people would sneak through 10+....! How rude!
For the last year I had been following people on Instagram from Kauai to get info and see how they live and what their favorites spots are. A common theme in most peoples photos was this adorable church in the center of a town called Hanalei. One woman in particular who I follow, @kaseybuick, always posts pictures of it since she lives in Hanalei. I was so excited to see it in real life and it was even more adorable in person. I love the green color and the little stained glass windows with the pop of red flowers in the garden. It was really neat to finally be seeing all of these things I had seen on IG for the last year. I was really excited to also maybe run into Kasey, but of course the day we were in Hanalei she posted a picture- from California! I guess they had gone to visit family for Thanksgiving... just my luck.

After driving through the sweet little Hanalei town, we headed to another location I had been seeing on IG for awhile, Hanalei Bay. It is a picturesque little beach on a small inlet/bay that is surrounded by huge mountains. It is absolutely gorgeous and has a large pier jutting out into the water where you can picnic and/or jump off. Our first day we didn't jump since the weather was a little sketchy, but we got to do it later in the week. This is also the beach where part of The Descendants was filmed with George Clooney.

So gorgeous! It was so cool to have beach, ocean, forest and mountains all in one view. The sun also sets right over the bay which is really nice to see as well.

This little pup was so cute, just chillin' while his owner was out surfing. I think he lives the life!

We took a walk down the pier to check it out.

We knew we would be back later in the week to jump off!
The little dirt road leading to Hanalei beach.

We were hungry at this point so we stopped back in Hanalei Center to shop around a little bit and grab lunch and a drink.

We ended up eating at an adorable restaurant called Hanalei Gourmet. The décor was really cute and the food was fabulous. I had an open faced shrimp Ruben and Nick had some type of eggplant sammie... really yummy!

Hanalei Town was so cute and had tons of little gift shop and surf shops that we checked out. They ended up having a big tent sale on Black Friday that we stopped at. I scored a bikini and Nick got an RVCA T-Shirt for cheap!

We couldn't' stop laughing at the "Babies of Hawaii" calendar in one of the general stores. And at only .99cents each, we are kicking ourselves for not just buying them all as gifts for our family and friends.
After Hanalei we drove a little farther down the North Shore but decided to turn around at some point and save the rest for another day. We headed back to Kilauea and decided to drive down the other end of our street to see the beach. I love all of the dirt roads! They were so fun to drive on in the Jeep.

My love!
So we get to the ledge and we realize that the access to the beaches at the end of our street were down a 300 yard ravine. We decided to make a left towards Waiakalua Beach since that's the name of our street, and we started to make the trek down the steep and winding slope.

BAD IDEA. Realllyyyy bad idea. It had just rained all night and the ground was total mud and wet dirt. I had my camera to my face taking pictures.....

And exactly after I took this photo I said "Babe can you go ahead of me since I have the cam..." Before I even finished the sentence Nicks feet slipped out from under him and he completely fell on his ass and slid about 5ft down the hill. We were both laughing hysterically at first but then we realized that it wasn't really funny as we were basically on a 200ft slippery cliff and then end result could have been way worse. We decided to ixnay the idea and come back another time when it was dry as it was only the first day and we didn't want to die JUST yet.
The views were spectacular though off of the ledge. Looking out to the left are the beaches on the huge estate that Mark Zuckerberg just purchased. All of the beaches are public in Hawaii though, so although there is no public access, if you can somehow get to the beach you are allowed to stay!
You can see Zuck's beaches in this photo off in the distance.
Next, we headed back to the cottage as we hadn't really gotten to fully explore the 7 acre property yet as we had gotten there late in the day on Sunday and it got dark. I loved driving through our little driveway tunnel each time we got back, it felt so secret and private.

Sweet Snowy!! If she left the porch she would only venture off about in about a 15 foot radius.
Here is the property owners home. It was such a beautiful open air, open concept house with really high ceilings. The porch ceiling was lined with gorgeous wood and it just look like the perfect home, not too big and not too small with the perfect layout for entertaining. Allan and Catherine's family has had the land in their possession for over 150 years. Most people have sold off at this point but they continue to hold strong!

Our parking spot right outside of our cottage.
This is where you walk through to get to our cottage. It was perfectly secluded behind large trees and bushes.

There were so many different types of trees on the property. Their landscaping was immaculate and so intricate and unique.

Here is a view of all of the fruit trees that were readily available for picking as needed.
First up- AVOCADOS! One tree had HUNDREDS of avocados, I didn't know they grew in such quantities per tree. These were no New England avo's either... I'd say the average one there was easily 3 to 4 times the size of the ones we get back home.

Next up was a grapefruit tree that had hundreds on it as well.

A lime tree!

And even tangerines! They must save so much money every year by having all of this fruit readily available. There was so much there is no way they could even consume it all themselves.

Some type of berry.

We noticed that a few of the tree on the property were also tapped for sap. They must use it for something or make some kind of syrup. I forgot to ask Catherine about it.

These bushes were really cool, with little seed pods right on the leaves.

Secret garden and turns and paths everywhere around the property.
This is the path to the Sunrise Cottage, the other rental cottage on the property. We were saying that it would be SO FUN to go with another couple and rent both of the houses at the same time. Next time we will do it for sure, who wants to come with us?!
Gorgeous Flowers everywhere.... the hibiscus were in full bloom.

Not sure what this was either!
The sunrise cottage was a bit more eclectic, but looked a lot similar to ours except that it was built into and above the garage, so it was a split level. There was someone renting it the same time we were there but we never saw them. Goes to show just how private it was!

Next week took a walk to the far left of the property where the horse pasture was! Not only did we have a cat, two dogs and chickens on the property, but two horses as well! I was in heaven. Here is the Male, Gideon, grazing in his field.

Peeking through from our cottage we could see right out to the pasture.

And then in the back was a pretty female Appaloosa named Kai. She was very sweet and was really curious about us.

Scratching her neck on the post, so cute!

Oh , just me, IN HEAVEN.

Another peak at the Sunrise cottage.
Next we decided to take a walk down our road. It was about a half mile long and had several other large and private estates on it, as well as a Wildlife refuge and some type of Hippie/vagabond/tai-chi/yoga compound.

Each house has a little fruit stand out in front where they sell their fruits. Its all honor system with little boxes to drop your change in. It was all pretty cheap too so I think a lot of people utilize it to get fresh fruit rather than paying the grocery store prices.

On Waiakalua Street! Our sweet home for eight days and seven days.

The wildlife refuge.
There was another big farm at the corner of our street by the main road. They had TONS of hogs and horses and chickens and dogs.

In the background, notice a poor female pig running for her life being chased by 8 males.
A sweet old pup came to greet us.

The poor girl, they finally caught up to her and she was pinned own against her will.... nature at it's finest.
Hence the fact that there were also dozens of piglets everywhere.
Things only got worse for the poor gal.... double teamed. With another looking on in waiting. We could not stop laughing at her misfortune. Terrible, I know.
Birds of Paradise are my favorite Hawaiian flower, and I finally saw one! They are so cool looking, they really do look like a bird.

So many flowers along our street, I really wanted to walk down and pick a bouquet one day, but with my luck I would pick something endangered and be arrested, so I just admired from afar and took some photos.

Our cottage entrance!

Monday night was one of the nights we decided to go out to dinner. Luckily for us, the best restaurant on the North Shore, as recommended by Catherine and our Guidebook, happened to be right in our town Kilauea. We got dressed up and had a nice happy hour before heading out the "The Bistro" for dinner.

We split the sweet potato fry app which were the BEST we have ever had. All different colors, including purple, with a really nice taste not as sweet as our regular sweet potatoes. We both got a steak entrée. Nick had some sort of flat iron/flank steak with soup combo and I had the sirloin over mashed sweet with some type of yummy cream sauce. DELICIOUS! We literally ate every bite of everything.

The Bistro was really neat and open air with high ceilings and post/beam.

Dining with my love is always the best!
After dinner, we hit up the one and only bar that is open late on the North Shore called Tiki Iniki. It was actually a really fun spot and we had a great time talking to some locals and trying some drinks. I tried a Moscow mule for the first time and it was good although I think he used a bit too much ginger beer.
Our tab was delivered in a Spam can! Hawaiians are obsessed with spam, and the grocery store even had a whole section of different spams. I had no idea they even made other flavors like ranch, teriyaki, spicy and so on. We got a can when we went shopping as Nick had never had it before so I wanted him to try it on Thanksgiving.
Some silly décor in the bar that made us chuckle. The stages of drinking... one drink, two drinks, three drinks and so on...
And here is our bartender whipping up some yummy drinks! That was the end of our first full day in Kauai! We had a great time exploring and seeing some of the North Shore sights. We headed back to get to bed as Tuesday was looking to be a gorgeous day and we had our helicopter tour bright and early at 9am so we had to be up by 7:30 to get there in time.
We woke up early Tuesday morning for our much anticipated helicopter ride! Nick's Uncle had done one on his visit to Kauai a few years ago and said that it was hands down the best thing he did the whole trip. He recommended Jack Harter Charters as they have an impeccable safety record, and they are also the only company on the island that has a chopper with NO DOORS. The Hughes 500 style helicopter has no doors and is fully open air. It's so weird because as much as I hate flying I was absolutely not nervous at all for the flight. We got to the meet-up location at 9am and had the safety debriefing, weigh in, and sign your life away paperwork.

 Then they took us on a shuttle to the flight yard. Neither of us had ever been in a helicopter before, so it was going to be a first for us both! We were really excited but had little idea what to expect. I had already thought Kauai was the most beautiful place on Earth even before the ride, after the ride I didn't even know what to think! It was just that unreal. I apologize for the mass amount of pictures but Nick had the GoPro going the whole time and I had my Nikon D300. Nick was in the front right side and I was in the front middle. We had a husband and wife from Australia in the back two seats.


 Getting ready to load up. They give you strict seating assignments based on the weight distribution.

 Our pilot, Myles, was the man. A cowboy boot wearing Hawaiian who was so relaxed and chill, yet you could tell he was highly experienced and that this was like riding a bike to him. We had life vests strapped to our waists and were put into the tightest harnesses I have ever felt. Like when they push the thing down tight against you on a roller coaster, x 10. Mine was only a one-shoulder harness due to the fact I was up against the pilot, but I was also more secure from being in the middle.
 Ready to take off!
 The helicopter feeling was really different than a plane, I don't know how to explain it! It was also really loud but our headsets had really high tech ear muffs and two way radios so that we could talk to each other and the pilot during the flight.

I am going to let most of the photos do the talking, but I will try to explain certain views as we go along! He were are just after take off in Lihue, passing by the coastline and some beaches.

It ended up being such a beautiful day and probably the best weather we had all week! It was so perfect to see all the views with unobstructed blue sky and a bright shining sun. Lots of my photos got some really nice sun glare.

It surprisingly had very limited "gadgets" and knobs, way less that I thought there would be. All he ever really touched was the joystick, it was surprisingly basic!
 Flying over the valley and some farmland, sweet wide angle views on the GoPro.

 The next GoPro ad!

 A dirt bike trail farm!
Next we started getting into some of the lower mountain ranges and forests in the center of the island. Really green and lush!

 Waterfalls every where you look!

We saw another chopper from a different company had landed at the base of a waterfall, which was cool, but their choppers all have doors! We preferred ours!

 Such a cool waterfall into a giant pool!

 As we headed over the the Southwest side it got a bit more dry and arid.

And here we are coming in to Waimea Canyon. It is known as the mini- grand canyon, although it is anything but mini. One of the largest canyons in the US. We had plans to drive up it later on after the chopper ride, but seeing it from high above was AMAZING as well!

 Huge, deep canyons and ravines snaking a path right through the island.

 Myles was really cool and did tons of cool tips and turns and ups and downs.

 A cool double decker waterfall!

The canyon area is almost desert like compared to the other lush parts of the island. It is the hottest and driest region of the island, with hot sun most of the time.

 Just gorgeous!

 Myles would take us up and over the huge ridges. It would almost look like we were going to crash into them but we would come right up over them and then he would drop us down and plummit right over the edge of it. SO COOL! It gave you that stomach feeling like you were doing a big drop on a roller coaster. He would ask us how intense we wanted to go and three of the four of us wanted more, but unfortunately the Australian husband/doctor in the back seat was a little scaredy pants and wanted to have a "medium" ride... even his little wife wanted to go more crazy! Boooo. But it was still amazing none the less and Myles did a good balance of trying to please everyone.

In these couple pictures you can see the "Forbidden Island" of Hawaii, called Ni'ihau. Only about 80 people live there year round and speak solely in a Hawaiian dialect. You can only go visit the island if you are invited by the Robinson's, the descendants of the family who originally purchased the island long ago.
 Coming up the Western coast, there was some land owned by Nasa with large satellites.

And now for the moment we had all be waiting for!! We had hit the Northwestern Coast, also known as the famous Na Pali Coast and a true wonder of the world. It is just miles and miles of sheer cliffs and caves on direct oceanfront land. Only accessible by boat of helicopter, it is truly unspoiled land in which parts of it may never be touched by humans. You don't find too many places like that left in the world these days. The views in these next photos are just absolutely unreal, and were definitely life changing. I didn't know things like this existed and seeing it first hand and up close and personal in a helicopter with no doors was truly a once in a lifetime experience and something I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do and see.

I mean... come on...!! Scenes and wide shots from Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed here. They don't even look real!
 The most stunning and magical place on earth.

 I love the long and jagged coastline.

We snaked into some of the cutouts and were flying up and down and around all kinds of ledges and peaks. It was kind of scary getting so close to the edges and wondering inf Myles was fully paying attention to all sides of the chopper.

There was an amazing circular water cave that we got get up and close to. It was really cool to see the water surging in and out.

 Having the best experience of our lives!! I felt so badass.

 The steam from the ocean rising.

 This is one of my favorites... unreal!! Look at that secluded beach that hardly anyone has ever gone to.
 Water cave.

 Next we turned and flew up into one of the big crevasses where a large waterfall was that led down through the canyon to the ocean. It was cool to look back and see the water going from the tip of the waterfall all the way down to the ocean.

 Check out Nicks foot! Literally hanging out of a doorless helicopter thousands of feet above the ground.

 This is one of my favorite shots from the ride, nice GoPro work babe!
 Myles had told us that mountain goats live on these sheer cliffs. We searched around for a bit but no one saw anything. Just as we were turning to leave, I caught one out of the corner of my eye and din't know if I should say anything, but I am glad I spoke up! We turned back and were able to find them, and ended up seeing three! See if you can spot them below, they like to "think" they are hiding.

 A definite masterpiece of natures art.
 If I turn my head against the cliff and stay still, you can't see me.

Then we headed back out to the Na Pali and kept cruising along the magnificent coast.
 Miles and miles in both directions, just stunning views. The beach below is actually accessible by an 11 mile hike along the Kalalau trail, 22 miles rounds trip. We would be doing a portion of the trail later in the week on Thanksgiving day, but not that far. You have to hike out the 11 miles of rough terrain in one day, and then they camp overnight at this remote beach and hike back the 11 miles the next day. It is definitely something to put on your bucket list if you are an avid hiker!
 Check out Myles' cowboy boots!

 The camping beach! We could see a couple little tents pitched.

 I love these huge knife like formations. So cool looking.

 More up-close shots of the camp ground area.

 The point where we were really glad to have our harnesses on! Looking straight down into the rough ocean.

We could actually see part of the Kalalau trial and tiny little people specks hiking! See if you can spot them below.

 I loved the sun peaking up over the mountain ridge.

 A huge waterfall!

 Probably the tallest one we had seen yet!

 Getting more and more lush as we were getting to the northern most part of the island.

 I love the sun glare in these photos!

 Another one of the most epic GoPro shots! Nick did such a good job control it and taking all the shots during the ride, they are "Award winning" as my Brother would say.

 One last look back up the coast!

 Getting back towards civilization. This is Tunnels Beach about as far North as you can drive on the island.


 You can see Pierce Brosnans house in the photo below! To the right of the one with the weird blue roof. Talk about an awesome location!

We also saw someone testing a new sport, called hydro-foiling. A surfboard that actually hovers over the water. It was invented by surfer Laird Hamilton and is still in the testing phases but is gearing up to be a big sport!
I love this photo for some reason....

 Riding over the North shore, getting close to where we are staying!

 You can see our house in the distance in the photo below! We didn't fly over Kilauea, we started to cut back across the island so this was as close as we got to our cottage, but it was beautiful to see from above. You can see Hanalei bay to the right of the picture too.

 Next we headed inland to make our way to the wettest spot on earth.

 Hula girl was dancing the entire ride!
 A double waterfall. Just like a double rainbow!
 And here we are, approaching the wettest spot on Earth, as you can clearly see. It gets over 450 inches of rain a year, and a big thick cloud sits right on top of this mountain peak for up to 360 days a year. It never moves. It is SO wet that not much vegetation can even live there because it gets drowned.

 Cloud that never moves! It was so weird, but cool!

 It started raining as we got a little higher, and also got REALLY cold!

 We started to make our way back to the base while snaking through some lush mountains with tons of waterfalls everywhere you looked.

I loved that it was all glass, even all the way down to the floor! 

 This one was called the three sisters, because on most rainy days three waterfalls merge together, but this particular day there was only two.

 Flying back over the valley.

 Beautiful African Acacia trees! They have flat tops and are really neat looking. Reminds me of a safari.

 Farms and cows!

 Back to the southeastern coastline to come in for a landing!

We made it! The most amazing experience of our lives! I will honestly never forget it and am not sure I will ever do anything as cool. Thank you Myles for an amazing ride!

 The wimp....
 And here we are! 100% recommend doing it if you ever go to Kauai!

 After the thrill of the ride we were in such a good mood and set out in our jeep with the top down to head to the Waimea Canyon drive. We had just seen it from above and now we were going to drive up it.
 The sunny south side!

 We drove up about 13 miles until we hit the first major lookout point, the Waimea Canyon Lookout.

It really did look a lot like the Grand Canyon! It was so beautiful and vast. 

Such a beautiful day of adventure!

Love all of the "layers" and colors.

Hard to imagine it all being filled with water at one point.

On top of the world!

Next up was a small lookout where you could see to Ni'ihau island about 18 miles off the coast of Kauai.

After a few more miles drive we arrived to an even higher point at the Kalalau lookout, which looked down over part of the Na Pali Coast and Kalalau Trail that we had just flown over earlier.

An finally the last and furthest lookout called Pu'u Hinahina.

It was an awesome drive and so cool to see how the climate and landscape changes so much with every 1000 feet of elevation. It was easily probably 20-25 degrees colder at the top than the bottom, so we were glad we had on our long sleeve shirts.

Back down on sea level! We drove along the Southern coast just taking in the sights and the hot sun beating down on us in the jeep felt so good after being at the chilly mountain top.
We passed Kauai Coffee company, it was probably 10 miles long worth of land! It is actually the largest coffee farm in the US with over 3,100 acres and four MILLION coffee trees! Most of the coffee from the US comes from this very farm, so that was cool to see as I am an avid coffee drinker.
Next up we drove into the Southern town of Po'ipu to see Spouting Horn, a hole in the rocks that has water surge up through it like a spout. The sea was somewhat calm that day so it didn't get too large but we still got to see it spout.

They had a little flea market area where we shopped through and ended up finding our little elephant trinket to bring home. They are good luck and we get one wherever we go if we find one! They just have to be sure to have their trunk UP!
Waiting for spouting horn to blow....
And there it goes!

It was pretty cool, and I can only imagine how big it gets on days with heavy seas.

It was such a beautiful day! The weather was absolutely perfect all day.

Some more sun glare!
We decided to stop at a place I had read about called The Beach House restaurant for a drink and an appetizer before heading back up to the North Shore. It was such a pretty spot and the grounds were so nice! There was even a little beach right nestled up to it, and some surfing right offshore.

We spotted a sweet old truck!

We bellied up to the bar to this amazing view! Not a bad spot for a drink and some calamari!

Cheers! We also loved the bar counter top. It was a cool aqua blue and the bartender said it was made from recycled glass. I want one in my kitchen!

After our drink and snack we just went onto the front lawn and soaked up the sun and stared out at the ocean to watch the sunset. It was so hot and nice and we definitely got some color.

Palm trees everywhere!

It had some nice little surfing waves that looked like something we could definitely handle! Most of the surfing spots on Kauai have rather big waves, so to see a spot for beginners was surprising.

Heading back to the jeep to make the trek back to the North Shore! It was about an hours drive from Po'ipu, but it is such a scenic drive it was nice to just relax and drive and listen to music with the sun setting behind us.

We got home pretty tired after an adventure and activity packed day and we cooked up a big Taco Tuesday feast! It was really yummy, complete with fresh avocado right from the property. We poured some cocktails and cuddled up on the couch in our sweet little cottage. The perfect ending to another perfect day in Kauai!

Whew! That was a doozy! And we still have majority of the week left! This trip was so special to us and I really wanted to document it well to look back on and read for years to come. Thank you for following along and I hope you add Kauai to your travel list sooner than later, you won't regret it. Stay tuned for Parts Two and Three of our Kauai trip! I am hoping to have part Two up before the end of the Year but these next couple weeks will be packed with Holiday plans, so there is no guarantees! Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!