Kauai Adventures

Every December I look forward to returning to Hawaii to kick off the holiday season. Over the last few years, we’ve split our time between two or three islands. This year, we decided to stay on Kauai for the entire week. Kauai is one of the most untouched islands in Hawaii. It’s largely covered by a tropical rainforest, and it’s full of majestic waterfalls and dramatic cliffs where movies like Jurassic Park and King Kong were filmed. It’s a laid back piece of paradise that should be on your radar if you’re looking for a vacation that’s a perfect balance between adventure and relaxation.

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The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa is a special property. This is our fourth time staying at this hotel because it feels like an authentic Hawaiian experience. It’s an open-concept resort along the beach, so you feel connected to nature wherever you are on the property. There’s a lazy river, pools with water slides, and a gigantic salt water lagoon right next to the ocean (where you can usually find me with a coconut vodka cocktail). The Anara Spa is beautiful and newly renovated where you can get a signature Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massage (ask for Crystal or Rachael - they’re the best)! The restaurants are some of the best on the island. Tidepools is a romantic, floating restaurant, surrounded by a koi pond, and Stevenson’s Library has some of the freshest, most interesting sushi combinations imaginable. My mouth is still watering thinking about those meals!

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Kauai is an ideal island for adventuring. Over the years we have made some amazing local friends (shout out to Amy and Kristal), who on this trip brought us hiking down a cliff to swim in Wailua Falls. We even swam, climbed and hiked to get behind the waterfall, which was one of the most magical experiences. Another must-see is the Na Pali Coast. This year, we ventured out with Captain Andy’s and rafted along the entire coast. We were even able to pull the raft into some caves to see hidden waterfalls. It’s definitely more of a bumpy ride, but one so worth doing because you get close and personal with nature in ways that larger boats don’t allow. At one point we even had hundreds of dolphins circling our raft!

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We love staying on the south side of the island, but it’s also worth taking a trip to see the north side. You’ll find lots of food trucks on your drive so be sure to stop at a few and enjoy the local flavors of the island. We had a delicious coconut-crusted Mahi and taro sweet potato fries from the Fresh Bite food truck and the one next to it. Once you’re fueled up from the food, there are beautiful beaches to explore. Anini Beach is a quiet area with warm water and soft, gold sand. We also checked out Secret Beach which felt like a private, special slice of heaven. Towering cliffs are the backdrop of this beach, and it’s surrounded by sections of lava rock. It’s called Secret Beach because it’s not the easiest to get to. No public road leads to this beach so you either have to hike to it, or go down a few unmarked, unpaved roads. The views and warm waters are so worth the adventure!

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It’s hard to not feel the spirit of Aloha when in Kauai. From the delicious local flavors, to the warm and welcoming nature of the people who live there, the island fully embraces you and makes you never want to leave. You get in a routine when you’re in Hawaii, one that makes you feel at home. One of my favorite daily traditions was every morning we would get kombucha from the Kauai Juice Company. The kombucha is made with all local ingredients, like dragon fruit and lilikoi - so flavorful! I always cherish our memories from the island, and it couldn’t bring me more joy to start off the holidays in one of the specialist places in the world.

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Greece Getaway

Crystal clear water, cliffs lined with bright white and blue homes and sunsets so beautiful you think you’re dreaming. It’s safe to say that everywhere you look in Greece is picturesque. This is a country that my husband and I have talked about visiting for years, and it’s definitely one that I recommend putting on your travel list. The people were kind, the sights were breathtaking and the flavors of the food were spectacular.

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We began our trip with one day and night in Athens with a mission in mind: see the Acropolis. It’s one of the most iconic historical sites in the world, so to be standing in the ancient citadel next to buildings like the Parthenon was surreal. It’s said to be the place where democracy began. The Acropolis was also known as the center of Ancient Greece. The majestic entranceway to the Acropolis, known as Propylaia, was mesmerizing. It’s full of grand white marble steps and towering columns. Nearby you can also see an ancient theater, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, built in AD 161, the Temple of Athena Nike, and other historical sites. Just make sure to dress for warm weather if you’re visiting in the summer because it’s very hot on top of the hill. Also be sure to wear shoes that have a strong grip because the steps you climb to get to the top are very slippery.

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We worked up an appetite so we headed to one of the most famous vegan restaurants in Athens, Avocado. It was delicious! Between the fresh guacamole, crispy tofu, lemongrass veggie stir fry, and juices and smoothies, I was in heaven! Athens is a city that is very vegan-friendly which was exciting to discover. After lunch, we visited the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Panathenaic Stadium, the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. It hosted the first ever Olympics, which is why this spot is so famous. At night, we met our friends who happened to also be visiting Greece for a delicious dinner at The Albion. The manager, Christina, created an entire customized vegan dinner for us. The hospitality and ambiance were unmatched. We called it a night to get ready for our journey to Mykonos in the morning.

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After a two and a half hour high-speed ferry ride, we arrived in sunny Mykonos. Our hotel, the Semeli, was in the center of town which was perfect for walking through all the action. The thing to do in Mykonos is to pick out a different beach club each day where you swim, have lunch and relax (or sometimes dance) all day long. Some must-visit beach clubs when you are in Mykonos are Principote, Nammos, and Scorpio. While the days are pretty zen, at night the beach clubs turn into actual clubs so you better be ready to put on your party hat!

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Of course we found our vegan spots in Mykonos like Bowl, which is a trendy spot full of local, organic, healthy foods. Their grain bowls, smoothies and juices were unreal! I also became hooked on fava, a popular local dip made from white beans. The manager of The Albion in Athens invited us to their other restaurant, Farma, when she knew we were heading to Mykonos. She gave us yet another incredibly special dinner at this farm-to-table restaurant in the quiet countryside of the island. Christina created another custom vegan menu and joined us for dinner as we sipped local rosé and learned about each others lives. It was a beautiful night that is one of my favorite memories of the entire trip.

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The last stop on our trip was the picturesque Santorini. Within five minutes of being on the island, I realized why it’s one of the most popular honeymoon destinations. It’s calm and quiet, in contrast to the party scene of Mykonos. Everywhere you look screams romance. The Andronis properties on the island are spectacular. With views overlooking the Aegean Sea and a staff that couldn’t be more welcoming, it was the perfect spot to catch up on some rest and relaxation after the busy first half of the trip. In Santorini you spend the days at different infinity pools and the nights trying different local restaurants. On the final day, we took a boat around the entire island that stopped at the hot springs near the underwater volcano and near the red rock and white sand beach before watching sunset from the water.

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Greece was a trip full of many wonderful memories. We celebrated life with friends in Athens and Mykonos, and had a special getaway in Santorini. I’ll never stop craving seeing the world, and to do that with my love, well, that’s just priceless. ❤️

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​Caribbean Escape

Nevis is a small island off of Saint Kitts that is one of the Caribbean's best-kept secrets. A friend recommended this tropical paradise for a getaway with my family and it did not disappoint. A volcano known as Nevis Peak is in the center of the island, making everywhere you turn picturesque. We stayed at the Four Seasons Resort, the primary hotel on the island, and both the people and service were spectacular. The resort has many villas with views of the majestic volcano, beautiful beaches and infinity pools, and golf carts provided to get around the property. If you’re lucky,  you’ll even get to see families of monkeys roaming around the resort! The spa is serene and tranquil, and has an outdoor concept with little cabins that the treatments take place in. Between the Caribbean Fusion Massage, cold plunge, and jacuzzi, I left feeling like I was floating on air.

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Aside from relaxing by the beach and pool, Nevis has some famous history. It’s the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton so, naturally, being lovers of the musical Hamilton, we went to visit the property. Hurricanes and earthquakes destroyed the original home, but a set of stone steps survived. To be walking up and down the stairs that one of our Founding Fathers used was surreal. There was also a small history museum which offered a great refresher course on the life of Hamilton.

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Nevis also has volcanic hot springs at Bath Village. They’re said to be therapeutic and healing and, after fifteen minutes in the springs, I felt so refreshed. You have your choice of five different springs that vary slightly in temperature, but as the locals warned us, don’t stay in the hot water for more than fifteen minutes. The springs contain minerals of medicinal value so being a health fanatic, this was a must on our to-do list.

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The food in Nevis was fantastic. Traveling and being vegan can sometimes be challenging, but I was happy to find that many restaurants had vegan options. The restaurant Bananas looks like a giant tree house. Everywhere you look is green and covered with flowers. This has to be one of the most special restaurants I have ever been to, and their chickpea and vegetable Thai curry was delicious! Golden Rock Inn, an old plantation built in the 1800s that has been converted into a stunning inn and restaurant, was another stand out. And of course, you can’t go to Nevis without trying the most famous drink on the island, the Killer Bee Rum Punch at Sunshine’s Beach Bar. Just be careful because they will sneak up on you!

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It was so much fun to spend a few days away with my family and see an island that I knew very little about. When you land in Saint Kitts, you take a small boat to Nevis. As soon as you hit the water, you’re instantly transported to a world of pure tranquility. It’s an island best suited for totally unplugging, unwinding, and rejuvenating yourself. People are slowly starting to catch on to how beautiful Nevis is, which for now, makes it feel even more peaceful and remote. And we all can use some more of that in our lives.

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Your Guide To Hawaii

If you’ve been following my adventures over the last few years, it’s no secret that Hawaii is one of my favorite places in the world. My husband and I try to visit the islands once a year because they have become our home away from home. I often get asked, “Why return to the same place every year?” The answer is simple. I have never travelled to an island where the nature makes me feel so small. We are greeted by warmth and kindness everywhere we go because “that’s the spirit of Aloha.” The food is infused with fresh, local flavors and there is never a shortage of breathtaking excursions to explore. The energy is different in Hawaii. Some say one of Earth’s chakra points is found there. It completely re-centers and refocuses me—something that everyone, especially New Yorkers stuck in the concrete jungle, can benefit from. 

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When planning your trips to Hawaii, I highly recommend visiting Maui and Kauai. Oahu is fun, but it feels more like a big city, so I prefer to get as much of the local experience as possible. In Maui, the Marriott Maui Ocean Club in Kaanapali Beach is a beautiful property. It’s located on the beach and has an open-air concept design that makes you feel as connected to nature as possible. There are plenty of ocean-front dining options in the area to choose from and, if you’re a golfer, many luxury courses to play. The water is bright blue and if you walk along the beach, you will come across Black Rock, a calm area to snorkel and swim in (about 15 minutes walking from the hotel).

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The Road to Hāna is a must-see when in Maui. Rent a jeep, and drive through the lush rainforests and towering waterfalls of the island. Everywhere you look is photo-worthy. The drive will make you feel so connected to nature, and if you follow an app on your phone (there are many to choose from), you can even get out of your car and swim in a few waterfalls, depending on the weather and water conditions. Last year we found a natural pool at the base of a waterfall to swim in and this year we discovered Black Sand Beach towards the end of our drive in Wai’anapanapa State Park. This beach was created several hundred years ago when the rough surf collided with fresh lava flow. We even got to crawl our way into a natural lava tube! Set aside a full day for this adventure - you won’t be disappointed. 

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Other note-worthy things to do in Maui are whale watching tours, zip-lining, and hiking. And let’s not forget about the delicious food! Mama’s Fish House is a staple in Maui and is one of the most romantic date-night restaurants on the island. Try the stuffed lobster Mahi Mahi, baked in a macadamia nut crust - it’s heaven! The island also has a lot of vegan-friendly restaurants, which are delicious because local vegetables and spices are incorporated into the dishes. If you have a sweet tooth, here’s a guilt-free treat you must try: vegan coconut milk ice cream. This can be found on the Road to Hanā and a few other locations throughout the island.

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Kauai is the second island we traveled to after a few days in Maui. This island has my heart. It’s more remote, lush, and tropical. The cliffs and mountains surrounding the island are so majestic that they were used as the shooting locations in Jurassic Park, King Kong, and a slew of other films. This island is a nature lover’s paradise. The Grand Hyatt Hotel in Poipu is where I recommend staying. The hotel embodies the magic of Hawaii with vibrant plant life and grand views of the ocean everywhere you walk. The property has some of the best pools I have ever experienced, including a natural salt water lagoon (where you may find me sipping some local coconut vodka, club soda and lime cocktails). The spa is ranked one of the top spas in the country and every year I book the Lomi Lomi massage, a type of healing massage special to Hawaii. The hotel also has two of the best restaurants on the island. Tidepools, a floating restaurant surrounded by a pond full of Koi fish and Stevensons, a Japanese restaurant with sushi sourced from Japan are two musts. The food is healthy and fresh on this island, and I even found kombucha made from all local ingredients at the Kauai Juice Company (like dragonfruit, guava and lilikoi)! 

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The excursions are endless in Kauai. Some of the best and most breathtaking hikes of your life will be on this island. The snorkeling is unbelievable. Poipu Beach, just minutes from the hotel, has been ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and it lives up to that title. I have never snorkeled with so many fish before that all looked so different and beautiful. When we were messing around with the camera, an Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle swam right up to us. Of course I didn’t touch the turtle, because in Hawaii you are not allowed to for the protection of them, but to see the turtle so unexpectedly and close was magical. There are plenty of waterfalls to explore and nature trails, like the Fern Grotto. We finished our time on the island with a sunset dinner boat cruise along the coast, where we saw dolphins, whales, turtles and flying barracudas (yes, they really do fly and thats the first time I learned about that)!

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It’s always hard for me to say goodbye to Hawaii because of how deeply I connect with the islands. But the experiences in so many areas of untouched land will forever stay with me and continue to inspire me to immerse myself in nature as much as possible. As they say in Hawaii, Mahalo for reading about my adventures! 

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The Final Chapter in NOLA

Waking up on my final day in New Orleans was bittersweet. I was so thankful for the experiences I had throughout the weekend, but I was also wishing I had a few more days to pack in more hidden treasures of this city. I thought a great way to experience a lot of the city at once was by riding the famous street cars.

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There are three different street car lines in New Orleans. The city takes credit as being the first city west of the Allegheny Mountains in the Appalachian Mountain Range to implement passenger rail service. I explored the area through the Canal Street line which runs from the booming business district through the heart of New Orleans. Along the way you see charming villages, historic cemeteries and buildings, endless monuments and the vivacious life of the city through restaurants, bars, shops, and parades. The Saint Charles Line (which was operating with buses in place of street cars when I was in the area so sadly I didn’t get to experience this), is the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world. The street cars made me feel like I was in an Old Hollywood movie set - such a cool experience.

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I then headed to The Country Club for lunch. This club is a hidden oasis located in the Bywater neighborhood and has been around for over 40 years, known for being welcoming and accepting of everyone who walks through their doors. It’s an LGBT staple in the city, but of course everyone is invited to enjoy the beautiful property (even dogs)! They have a serene pool and bar in the back where you can spend the entire day. Each room of the restaurant has its own theme - the one I dined in had hand painted birds resting on vines throughout the four walls. The decor alone is a reason to check out this spot!

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The food was once again, unreal. I started with a fresh grilled tomato salad sourced from local ingredients. The Pan Roasted Louisiana White Shrimp with pecan and green onion popcorn rice, charred cherry tomatoes, red beans, sweet corn and pressed basil was savory and cooked to perfection. The chef surprised me afterwards with a lemon sorbet soaked in limoncello, which brought me right back to my trip in Italy - it was the perfect finishing touch to the meal. The staff afterwards gave me a tour of the property and couldn’t have been nicer. I wish I had time to jump into the pool, but I had to get back to the hotel to get ready for my trip back to New York City.

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Working with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau to see this city in a completely different light was eye opening. I know the night life in New Orleans is exciting and you should absolutely go out and hear live music and enjoy some cocktails while you’re in town. But you also should experience the beautiful nature, the rich history, the award winning restaurants and the alive culture of New Orleans. The city has so much to offer and there was still so much I could have experienced. I left New Orleans with a new respect and deep appreciation for the people, the culture and the stories that I will forever keep with me.