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Monday, May 25, 2015

Top Ten Things to do in Hawaii

It is with sadness that I begin this post, because it means that I am at the end of writing about how wonderful our trip to Hawaii was! Don't worry though, expect to see some Hawaiian themed dishes in the near future! If you have not read the other posts, check out Where to Eat in Hawaii and Where to Stay in Hawaii.

Let's get to the point: there is a lot to do and see in Hawaii! However, there is a lot of relaxation to be had when you are surrounded by such beauty, so be sure to not overstretch yourself and give yourself enough time to both relax and have an adventure! So without further ado, here is what you should consider doing in Hawaii:

1.) Helicopter Tour
As someone who is terrified of flying, I have never felt so at ease in the air as I did on the helicopter. Something about being able to sit with the pilot and see what he sees is very calming. We used Blue Hawaiian (they are on Big Island, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu) and would/will absolutely use them again! However, be forewarned that doing a helicopter tour is not cheap! This is definitely a splurge item, but it is one that I would personally splurge on over and over again.  So many tours and excursions can last for hours and eat up your entire day! The helicopter tour is just 45 minutes to an hour, and are able to see views and landscapes that you otherwise would not be able to enjoy.  The best part is that the pilots fly you into waterfalls and even over the volcano (in Maui).  

            Our trusty pilot, Rob!               Flying into the landscape of Maui!

2.) Hike Diamond Head
You do not need to be a seasoned hiker, an athlete, or any type of active person to hike Diamond Head! Trust me, I was actually surprised at how many people were heading up there.  Some people even in jeans or dressed to go out on the town! It is easy, but I would not recommend wearing jeans at all! Please wear workout clothes and/or comfortable gear that you can sweat in! It is Hawaii and you are still walking uphill, so you will sweat and possibly pant a little on the way! As long as you have a cold water and maybe a snack or two, you will be fine! Oh, and don't forget the sunscreen and camera! 

View of Diamond Head

View of Honolulu from the top of Diamond Head and students who were on a field trip! Yes, that's right. A class was hiking Diamond Head and conducting a scavenger hunt along the way!

3.) Surfing
Never surfed before? No problem! You can find a surf shack and lessons on practically every corner! Why not give it a go? It's okay if you are scared - being in Hawaii is the time to get loose and try something new! We have never surfed before in our lives, and we actually got up every time! If you are in Maui, stop by the Surf Shack in Kihei, request Kyle (yes, he looks how you think a surfer in Hawaii would look), and go for a lesson! 

We did it!

4.) Paddle Boarding
If you are truly worried about surfing or just want to try something else, then go paddle boarding (also offered through Surf Shack)! However, be warned that there are typically many more people who take a paddle boarding lesson, so it can get a little busy and hectic out there! 

A group going out for their Paddle Board lesson 

5.) Snorkle
Keeping with the water theme, make sure you go snorkeling! Molokini is a beautiful spot to go snorkeling and offers some of the clearest views! Since Molokini is a crater out in the ocean, you will need to sign up for a tour to get out there.  There are endless tours offered daily, many of which provide food and drinks and can last up to 5 or 7 hours.  However, since we snorkle a lot, we just wanted a shorter trip out to the crater and back, so we signed up for the Molokini Express offered through the Pacific Whale Foundation! They do offer longer tours as well, so be sure to check them out (they also have more reasonable prices, although all of the tours can get pricey)! 

Snorkeling off of Black Rock and any of the beaches is also another option.  Many surf shops and hotels let you rent snorkel gear so you can go out on your own.  The downside is that you may not see as much and you are alone, so please do not go if you are not comfortable swimming! However, the upside is that you are very likely to see sea turtles! They are a beautiful creature, but be mindful not to touch them! They are not harmful creatures at all, but it is illegal to touch them as they are easily stressed and can get very sick. 

6.) Eat Local Hawaiian Food
You can read more about this on my post that is dedicated to where to eat in Hawaii here. The bottom line, don't be afraid to stray from your hotel or condo and try local cuisine.  Plus, eating at the hotels can get quite expensive!

Devoured the food before remembering to take a photo! See the whole squares? That's Haupia! Hawaiian for coconut! 

Must try items are Poi, Poke, and Haupia! And of course, you cannot go to Hawaii without having a Pina Colada! Just trust me on this one.

If you like Pina Coladas.. and getting' caught in the rain... 

7.) Visit Iolani Palace and King Kamehameha Statue
You can go in for an actual tour of the palace, but even if you opt out, the grounds around the palace are perfect for an afternoon picnic! 

8.) Attend a Luau
It may seem cliche, but attending a Luau is a must! Not only do you get to hear traditional Hawaiian music and see traditional Hawaiian dance, but you get to indulge in delicious food, cocktails, and have a fun night out! The Te Au Mona Luau is highly recommended, but reservations are a must!

Getting ready to dig out the pig! Did you know it was buried and cooked in the ground? We didn't! 

Voila! Pig!

Fire Dance Competition Winners 

9.) Watch the Sunset
This one may sound like a no-brainer, but it is easy to get caught up in all of the activities and miss the beauty around you! Try to make an effort to watch the sunset as much as possible! 

10.) Relax and take it all in

We hope you enjoy your next (or first) trip to Hawaii! What are some things that you like to do?

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Top 10 Recipes to Make this Memorial Day Weekend!

Aside from the traditional burgers, hot dogs, and beer, try jazzing things up a little with some of these fun, festive, and summery recipes below!

1.) Aperol Spritz
An all time favorite! It is so easy to make and will offer guests an alternative cocktail option!

2.) Pimm's Cup
Another cocktail alternative.  You can pre-make a large batch of the alcohol mix and then slice up a bunch of fruit and let guests pour their own drinks and top with their own preferred garnishes!

3.) Heath Bar Toffee Dip with Green Apples
Make a double batch! Seriously, this is always the first thing to go at any party or cookout I have attended, and I am always kicking myself for not making more! Even people who claim to not like toffee or green apples have devoured this! Plus, it's so easy and quick to make the night before, so why not make extra?

Excuse the photo, but just like the toffee dip, these bites go quick! They are made with cream cheese and crescent roll dough (yum!), so it is easy to see why they disappear! Fair warning - the only thing "healthy" about these bites is that you get some veggies in! Please note, this link contains other recipes, so just scroll down for the vegetable bites. 

A tasty alternative or addition to a chip dip! This makes a large batch and requires no cooking, so you can whip this up in no time!

Not everyone is going to want to eat meat, or they are going to want a side dish! Try this version of a pasta salad that is light and refreshing! 

Another meal alternative or side dish.  Just toss all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil and then serve! You can keep a large pot of this going during the cookout or even leave it on your grill! 

One of the most important items at any party or cookout is dessert (aside from great drinks of course)! Make a batch of these lemon squares the night before and you will have plenty of lemony goodness to serve your guests! Please note, if making the night before, wait until you are ready to serve to sprinkle with confectioners sugar. 

Crostata is an Italian treat that is like an open faced pie and has the most buttery and flaky crust you will ever eat! This is another great dessert treat to have at your Memorial Day cookout, as it is the kickoff to summer, so it's great to incorporate summer flavors!

Who can resist cake? And a cupcake no less! Cupcakes are a great treat to serve since everyone can easily grab one and devour! Now, if you are a Harry Potter fan, you'll understand why these are called Butterbeer Cupcakes.  If not, then just know that these cupcakes have a light salted caramel and butterscotch flavor - yum! 

Happy Memorial Day!

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