Hawaii, United States

Lava Lava Beach Club

If ever on the Big Island, Lava Lava Beach Club at Waikoloa is a great spot for dinner on the beach. Dinner service begins at 4:30, and they don’t accept reservations, so you need to get there EARLY!! We arrived at 4:45 or so, and we still had to wait for over an hour to be seated. But at this location, you might not mind the wait since it allows you time to enjoy all the beauty of Anaeho’omalu Bay.

At Lava Lava Beach Club, they are no strangers to long wait times; they are prepared to keep their patrons happy while they wait. They have plenty of lawn games on site, as well as a trendy, mobile bar to serve cocktails while you wait. So grab a drink 🍹 and take a stroll along the beach of Anaeho’omalu Bay.

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Destinations, Hawaii, United States

‘Akaka Falls State Park

If you ever find yourself on the Big Island, ‘Akaka Falls State Park is definitely worth a visit! ‘Akaka Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls on Hawaii, and it is also one of the most accessible. Typically, waterfalls of this grandeur can only be seen after long, arduous hikes, or very expensive helicopter tours. But to reach ‘Akaka Falls, there is an easy, 0.4 mile loop footpath that will get you in and out in no time. The cost to enter the park is $5 per person. We stopped at this state park prior to visiting Volcanoes National Park, and it was a nice add-on to our outing for the day.

The self-guided path will actually take you to scenic points overlooking TWO waterfalls! ‘Akaka Falls plunges 442 feet into a gorge below. Kahuna Falls is almost as tall, but unfortunately the view of that waterfall is partially obstructed. So while we did get to see Kahuna Falls, I didn’t even bother taking a picture.

Hawaii, United States

The Ground is Lava! – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Do you remember the childhood game where we pretended the floor was lava? Of course you do; it was the best! Jumping from the coffee table to the couch, trying your best not to fall into the “fiery pit” below. Have today’s kids even heard of this game? Probably not. In our digitally dominated world, this game may be obsolete. Nonetheless, it was the inspiration for the following photos. Because in the Kīlauea Caldera, the ground is actually lava!

But in order to get down to the Kīlauea Caldera, we first had to hike the Halema‘uma‘u Trail. The trail is about 0.8 miles downhill through lush rainforest. (Keep in mind the return hike will be all uphill!)

Photo by NPS

When the trail ends and you enter the caldera, it’s otherworldly. Nothing but a vast expanse of black lava rock and you are actually standing in the caldera of a very active volcano. So active in fact, Kīlauea ranks among the world’s most active volcanoes and may even top the list. Since 1952, Kīlauea has erupted 34 times. Coincidentally, when we first visited Hawai’i in 2018, Kīlauea was actively erupting and the national park was closed to visitors.

If you don’t have time for the hike, you can also view the caldera from above. Crater Rim Drive offers observation points right off the road where you can view the volcano’s broad, shallow depression measuring nearly 3 miles long and 2 miles wide.

Note: Before you visit, make sure to check the NPS website for updates on current closures. Several parts of the park were still closed during our most recent visit.


Sunset Paddle Tour – Ka Napoo Ana O Hoe

We went back to Puako Bay for an evening adventure with LightSUP Hawaii. We had reservations for the Signature Sunset Tour, which combines the views of snorkeling with the experience of paddle boarding…in the dark! 😱 I’m not going to lie peeps…I had some pretty intense anxiety about this activity. I was terrified to fall into the water at night, mostly because that seems to be when sharks are likely hunting, but also because I didn’t want to step on any of the sea urchins (mentioned in my earlier post). But seriously, it was mostly the shark thing. 🦈

The tour begins with dinner on the beach as you watch the sunset.

Sunset on Puako Bay

After dinner, Kelly and her crew teach us newbies the basics of paddle boarding and give us our safety briefing. She advises us not to stand up on the paddle boards until we are given the thumbs up that the water is deep enough, so that if you do fall off there won’t be a chance of landing on the giant sea urchins.

After the sun has set, its time to light up the paddle boards! Each paddle board has a large viewing window like a glass bottom boat. The viewing window has under-mounted lights; 4500 lumens lighting up the reef below you. The lights allow you to see what is swimming below, but the lights are also designed to attract plankton, which in turn will attract more sea life for viewing.

Rob stands up as soon as he is given the thumbs up. I decided to keep my arse firmly planted on the paddle board. 🐔

Ella shared a paddle board with Rob – which allowed her to lay down right in front of the viewing window. Best seat in the house! We saw lots of minnows and needle fish mostly. But towards the very end of the tour I did see a puffer fish which was pretty cool.

Notes – Kelly and her crew were AMAZING! They definitely tailor this experience to a wide range of skill levels, so it doesn’t matter if you are an experienced paddle boarder, or a first-timer like me. Additionally, dinner and sunset on the beach was both tasty and beautiful! This was definitely a unique experience and I am glad that we tried it. However, I definitely expected to see a wider variety of sea life, so that was a bit disappointing. But, I likely missed quite a lot of what was going on below while I was so focused on navigating the paddle board. Finally, even though the water was very calm, I was beginning to feel a tinge of motion sickness coming on. The slight water movement combined with looking down through the window was not a good mixture for me since I am very prone to getting sea sick. It was similar to how I feel when I try to read in a car. So I found myself not looking through the window continuously so as to ease those side effects.


Puako Bay Tide Pools

One of the very first things we did on the Big Island, was visit Puako Bay during low tide. There isn’t much sand there, but the natural formations in the lava rock create amazing tide pools! During low tide, small pools dot the entire coastline and it is a great place to explore and observe small sea creatures throughout an extensive reef. We saw a ton of sea urchins and they were the biggest sea urchins I had ever seen! The creature in the top right photo is a sea cucumber. I just learned that sea cucumbers excrete a toxic venom and can cause permanent blindness in humans if it gets in your eyes! Great…adding more to the list of things I’m terrified of in the ocean. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Ella had had enough exploring and she was ready to leave because she had fallen down a couple times. The tide pool terrain was a bit tricky to navigate. Particularly when there was the possibility of slipping and landing on giant sea urchins!

As Rob and Ella were heading back to the access point we entered from, I spotted a sea turtle! He was enjoying a morning snack and I thoroughly enjoyed watching him nibble.

And then I realized there were SO many more turtles in nearby tide pools. It was definitely the highlight of this little adventure!

If you are ever in this area of the Big Island, I would definitely recommend this as a fun excursion. There are six separate access points to this stretch of beach. And you’ll need sturdy shoes to navigate around the lava rock.


Oops! Five Years Later…

Well, as the saying goes, “Time flies when you are having fun!” I can’t believe it has been more than five years since my last blog post. I can assure you it is not due to a lack of traveling! We have been on a ton of trips since I posted about our trip to India. Our little girl just turned 7 and she already has 10 countries stamped in her passport. The travel bug is still strong in our family. But I guess the writing bug needed a good, long break on my end.

Regardless, I am here now! And I’m hoping to fill you in on highlights from our most recent trip to Hawaii (July 2021). During my hiatus, we made our first voyage to Hawaii, back in 2018. Hopefully, at some point, I can go back and post about all of the amazing places we’ve been these last few years. But for now, I am just going to concentrate on our most recent trip. So stay tuned to hear more about that!

Destinations, Turkey

The Medusa Mystery

Since today is Halloween I thought it would be appropriate to post about one of the spookier sites in Turkey. Okay, maybe “spooky” is a bit of an oversell, but it’s the best that I can do.


The Basilica Cistern is the largest of hundreds of ancient cisterns in Istanbul, with the capacity to store 100,000 tons of water. This cathedral-size cistern was built in the 6th century and is over 100,000 square feet. Visitors can descend underground and explore this amazing ancient architectural achievement.





The ceiling is supported by 336 marble columns, most of which are of the Corinthian style. Most of these columns appear to have been recycled from the ruins of older buildings.


However, there are a couple columns that are quite unique. The column in the picture below is engraved with tear-like shapes. The tears are believed to represent the hundreds of slaves that died during the cistern’s construction. Records show there were about 7,000 slaves involved in the construction.


In one corner of the cistern there are two columns with bases depicting the head of Medusa. One of the heads is upside-down and the other is oriented sideways. The origin of the two heads is unknown and it is a complete mystery why they are oriented in such a peculiar manner. Very Barely spooky.



Happy Halloween!


Destinations, Turkey

The Cotton Castle


Pamukkale (pa-mook-ka-lay) means “cotton castle,” but you won’t find any cotton plantations here! The name refers to the color alone as the mountain is covered in white minerals. The area is filled with natural hot springs that deposit calcium carbonate in the water, which later hardens and turns into travertine. The views were amazing and the pictures just don’t do it justice!








The ancient city of Hierapolis was built atop the “cotton castle” and there are still a few remnants of the ancient ruins.



People have bathed in the pools of Pamukkale for thousands of years. Tourists are allowed to walk along the travertine terraces and bathe in the hot springs, but shoes may not be worn while walking on the minerals in order to protect the site.






As tourism began to boom in this area, hotels were built on the “cotton castle.” Roads were built and considerable damage was done to the natural landscape. The area was declared a World Heritage Site in 1988 and the hotels were demolished in order to preserve the site. Artificial pools replaced the hotels and still remain today. Tourists can pay an additional fee to access the artificial pools.


Destinations, Turkey

Jumping into the Fear

As many of you already know, I have a debilitating fear of sharks (and every other unfriendly thing in the water). So as a general rule, I only go into bodies of water when I can see absolutely everything around me. I’m talking about the crystal-clearest of waters. Unfortunately, the Mediterranean Sea didn’t meet my ridiculously strict criteria. Our hotel sat high above a cliff and there were stairs leading down to the water. But there wasn’t an actual beach there where you could slowly inch your way into the water. It was all or nothing. Jump in and chance death (#dramaqueen) or miss out on my first opportunity to swim in the Mediterranean Sea. What is a terrified girl to do?



Not only was there no way to gradually enter the water, but the water was also pretty choppy, further reducing my ability to see any approaching predators. But I had to buckle down and do this. I had to be able to legitimately say that I swam in the Mediterranean Sea. So I armed Rob with the camera and begged him to take the picture as soon as I got in the water so that I could literally get right back out. But Rob decided this was a good opportunity to torture me a bit, so he pretended the camera was malfunctioning just to keep me in the water longer. This went on for what felt like an eternity to me, but was probably closer to 30 seconds. But I did it, I swam in the Mediterranean Sea! You probably can’t tell from this photo, but behind that forced smile, I was petrified and my heart was pounding out of my chest. As soon as I was certain that Rob had captured the photographic evidence, I was right back on land where humans naturally belong. Phew!

Side note: Rob would have felt eternal guilt had I been attacked by a shark while he was dilly dallying with the camera!




After surviving what could have been my brush with death, I promptly left the sea and headed for much calmer waters…..that’s right….the hotel pool! Notice the not-so-forced smile below.



Destinations, Turkey

Wait Until Ya See Antalya

See what I did there? Until ya – Antalya

Antalya is a beautiful city on the southwest coast of Turkey. The views of the Mediterranean Sea and the Taurus Mountains made the landscape picture-perfect! We checked into our hotel and we were very pleased with our room’s view overlooking the sea.




Instead of signing up for an optional tour, Rob and I decided to do our own thing while in Antalya and I am so happy that we did! We spent the whole day exploring Kaleiçi, the oldest part of the city. The name Kaleiçi means “inner fortress” which is a very fitting name since the old city is completely walled and lies along the cliffs of the harbor.







Inside the city walls are beautiful cobbled streets lined with shops, hotels and restaurants. We enjoyed wandering the winding streets and browsing through the shops as we went. It ended up being a fabulous place to shop. The shop owners were all very friendly and the experience was much calmer and more enjoyable than shopping at the Grand Bazaar.





The ceramic shops were fabulous! Beautiful colors and intricate designs made these pieces very special. We even happened upon a shop-owner hand-painting a new piece (and she was gracious enough to let me take her picture). We didn’t end up buying any of her pieces though. Instead, we ended up back at the very first ceramic shop we saw and dealt with a very nice shop-owner named Mehmet.



In addition to the beautiful ceramics, Turkey is famous for its carpets. I think our tour guide mentioned something to this effect, “Turkey is home to 1,000 mosques, and 1,000,000 (wait, or was it 100,000???) carpet shops!” He added that these figures were no longer accurate because Turkey has about 1,700 mosques now, but he probably wasn’t exaggerating about the carpet shop figures. Our good friend Mehmet (from the ceramic shop) told us there were over 30 carpet shops in the small old walled city of Kaleiçi alone. Even though we weren’t in the market to buy a Turkish carpet, somehow we found ourselves in the Kervan carpet shop. The owner offered us tea and then began educating us on the quality of Turkish carpets. The carpets truly were magnificent, but they were very expensive and not within our budget. But Rob was really getting into the idea of buying not just 1, but 3 carpets!!! He had really worked on his bargaining skills since our Grand Bazaar experience, and he had negotiated an amazing deal on 3 carpets. However, despite this amazing deal, we still couldn’t justify spending that kind of money. It was at that point that I started to worry Rob might have been debating trading his lovely wife in exchange for the 3 lovely carpets….