Posted on February 19th, 2018 at 8:23 PM by admin

We arrived Sunday evening to some rain and really only had time to pick up some take out and head to the condo we rented in North Kihei. Monday morning was our first full day. With the 5 hour time difference we were waking up naturally at about 4am which lent itself nicely to watching the sun rise over Haleakala from our balcony.


Sunrise Over Haleakala

We elected to spend the rest of the day a bit further north up Maui’s western coast at Hanakao’o Beach The journey to this beach was absolutely stunning.

View from the road on the way to Hanakao’o

Beach time!

After laying around at the beach for the afternoon we headed back towards Kihei and stopped at Keawakapu Beach to watch sunset.

Sunset at Keawakapu Beach

After having a relaxing first day we wanted to take on the famous Road to Hana on day two of our trip. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t experience some motion sickness on the 600 and some hair pin turns over one way bridges with blind entries. But it was certainly worth it. I will just highlight a few of the many beautiful stops along this journey.
The first site, which our app guided tour actually said we could pass up if we were short on time, was Twin Falls. It was a short hike in from the road to these stunning falls. We left wondering what must be to come if the app didn’t consider this stop a “must see.”

Twin Falls

Shortly after Twin Falls Maui guy pointed out that we’d see some rainbow eucalyptus trees. I was struggling to understand what this was going to look like but the bark actually looks painted. I’ve never seen anything like them.

Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree

The Ka’anae Peninsula was truthfully one of my first OMG moments. The ocean, volcanic rock cliffs next to super green trees and plants in Hawai’i is simply unparalleled. I could’ve stayed here all day, but the Road to Hana travels on.

Ka’anae Peninsula view 1

Ka’anae Peninsula view 2

We saw at least 3 or 4 sets of falls on this day trip, but the Upper Waikani Falls, also known as 3 Bears Falls, was one of the most majestic. The falls were very close to the road so my daughter and I even climbed the rocks right up to the water. We didn’t have bathing suites in hand to join the swimmers who looked like they were freezing, but just getting that close was an awesome experience.

3 Bears Falls

Next major highlight? Wai’anapanapa State Park. Black sand beaches, caves, a blow hole that threw water at me from like 20 ft away! This park was nothing short of amazing either. Every time I thought I had seen my favorite thing the next site blew me away again.

Wai’anapanapa State Park

My son and I at Wai’anapanapaState Park

After the state park we had another gorgeous beach to visit called Koki Beach.

Koki Beach

Our app tour guide, who we affectionately nicknamed, Maui guy, told us that many people reach Hana and turn around but he advised us to go a bit past Hana to visit ‘Ohe’o Gulch (7 Sacred Pools). It was a bit difficult to capture the beauty of this place even with a DSLR wide angle lens but I definitively decided this was my favorite site of the day. What a great day to show my daughter how to use her new DSLR camera. Her extraordinary efforts to capture the right perspective for her pictures can be appreciated in the picture below!

Just a fraction of the 360 view at ‘Ohe’o Gulch (7 Sacred Pools)

My daughter getting a pic from the volcanic rock ground view

Posted on March 21st, 2017 at 7:23 PM by admin

Our first morning was nearly a picture perfect Caribbean day. After waking up we went directly to the balcony to see the view. Since our hotel was situated on a corner, every room had an ocean view. Some rooms faced the hotel beach area while ours faced the bay and also gave us a nice view of the capital, Bridgetown. Eager to get some color we brought books and sun tan lotion down to the beach. We sat, laid, lounged and swam a bit with a few tasty rum drinks here and there. For the most part it was a wonderfully lazy day. The most exciting part of the day was in almost losing my Maui Jim sunglasses. Being an expensive gift, I only really wear them on vacation thinking that will make me less likely to lose them – ha!  We searched for them, catching glimpses now and again in between the waves, for about a half an hour. At the point that I was about to give up we heard another tourist say “What an unlikely find!” We quickly ran to him as he was trying on what he might have thought were to be his new sunglasses. He was right about one thing, though. They were an unlikely find indeed. Very glad he was there and that I hadn’t given up yet!


The view from the hammock on the beach at our resort…pure bliss!

That evening we headed north to Oistins for the amazing fish the taxi cab driver told us about. We decided to take a ZR van, one of the public transportation options available on the island. This turned out to be quite an experience. These little white vans are not even as big as an American minivan but boy were they optimized to pack in passengers like sardines. Even the aisle ways turned into seats once the van was nearly full. I couldn’t see the speedometer but the driver took turns like this thing was a little race car, with his colleague standing at the sliding door opening and closing while the vehicle was still in motion. $2 Barbados, or $1 US, takes you anywhere on the island. On the way there the door master, as I’m going to refer to this position, let us know when we were in Oistins but on the way back we were not quite sure where to get off. I looked up, though, and noticed there were doorbells wired into the ceiling of this minivan so that you could indicate when you needed to get off. I got a good laugh at this surely aftermarket creativity and told my wife to give me her best guess at when I needed to “chime in” that we’d like to get out because she is a far superior navigator to me! Managing to keep down my exceptionally fried fresh marlin dinner I was able to enjoy the ZR van adventure. Before turning in we grabbed a few bottles of the award winning local brew, called Banks, and retired to our balcony for a unique night cap.


We had our fresh fish dinner at De Red Snapper. They pronounce the like de and so it shall be written that way too!

The homemade bus stop bells in the ZR van- awesome DIY if i don’t say so myself.

After having already tried the hotel breakfast buffet, on day 2 we decided to just grab a quick pastry from the Cuppa Cafe coffee shop. From there we took a cab to Harrison’s Cave for a tour. The cave was quite a bit inland so we got to see more of the island on the way. At the cave we learned that Barbados, in contrast to all the other Caribbean islands, was not formed from any volcanoes but rather from the collision of the Caribbean and Atlantic plates. This also explains the caves that were formed. Conveniently the limestone caves serve as a natural water purification system for the island. We took many pictures of the stalagmites and stalactites that we were told formed over many thousands of years. Simply amazing to imagine how long this work of art has been creating itself.


Harrison's Cave

Some amazing cave views…

After the cave tour we decided to check out a Spanish named restaurant, Tapas, in the nearby city of Hastings. We had shark, along with some of our other seafood and fish favorites. Everything was super fresh and simply delicious. I had a mango rum drink that was to die for and the ocean side location didn’t hurt one bit either. Being only about a mile north of the hotel we decided to walk back on shoreline to our hotel to meet my parents who were just arriving on the island.




The shoreline view from Tapas restaurant


Walking back to the hotel from Tapas on Hastings beach….Maui Jim’s in tact!

That night we treated my parents to one of the favorite restaurants of our initial cab driver. The restaurant was called Brown Sugar and it was everything you’d expect in a restaurant with home cooking. According to our cab driver, it was a true representation of what the locals eat at home. We had a creole chowder, a grapefruit papaya salad and herb crusted snapper. We even opted for a banana crepe dessert!


Dinner with the parents at Brown Sugar


On our last full day on the island we went on a tour of Bridgetown followed by a rum tasting tour.  I have to say that while there are plenty of tourists on the island at all times there are almost no “tourist shops.” We walked blocks and blocks until we found what I believe to be the one and only place where i could buy a shot glass for my collection. This is the first time I’ve ever had to try so hard to find one. It was almost exciting for it to be such a rarity! After some shopping and your typical downtown monuments we were on to the rum tour! Now by day 3 we had already sampled various rums, learning that rum can be made from cane juice as well as the molasses by-product. Our tour was of the island’s most popular rum, Mount Gay. Mount Gay rum is made from molasses and in contrast to many other rums it’s flavors come only from the traces of what’s on the island combine with the flavor that can be infused by the reused bourbon oak barrels. And just as any fermentation process, the yields depend on how long the rum is aged. Although, the climate in the Caribbean, we were told, ages the rum much faster than a cooler climate would.  I have to say that rum is probably one of my least favorite alcohols but that was before I tasted some of Mount Gay’s offerings, but then again with a name like Mount Gay, how could you really go wrong?!!?!?  The top two rums we sampled were the best I’ve ever tested. We were so impressed, in fact, that we broke down and spent a small fortune in order to bring a few more samples home.


Mount Gay Rum Distillery

That night we were to attend a dinner event with my parents. Little did I know that this event was in a hanger that was storing none other than the famous Concorde. I had heard about this plane that flew so fast it caused sonic booms. We ate dinner under one of its giant wings and even got a quick tour of it. It was a uniquely cool experience and of course there was no shortage of rum or more good food this evening.

All in all we were really impressed with the climate, landscape and authentic, yet still charmingly sarcastic, Barbadian people.  I highly recommend a Barbados visit to all!



Concorde cockpit


Dinner in the concorde hanger

Posted on March 6th, 2014 at 10:40 PM by admin
Day 4 was a special day. Our group rented out the resort’s private island: Palomino Island. I’ve never been on an island with so many fun activities available. Not only could you rent kayaks and jet skis but you could also play ping pong, basketball, volleyball, paddle ball, chess, bean toss, and mini golf. I might even be missing some activities since there were so many! We also had free drinks all day and lunch. Ahhhh…..that was the life I tell ya! I got my butt whooped as usual playing Dad in ping pong. Then Naomi and I decided to try out the jet skis. Before this occasion I had only ever been on the back of one so I was excited to try out driving one. It was a blast at 30 mph. Unfortunately Naomi got a much slower jet ski but didn’t seem to mind too much as I drove circles around her.

Love the human sized chess boards!


Jet Skiing!!!

Another cool thing about the island was all the iguanas. I got up real close to take many pictures and they didn’t seem the least bit scared or interested in my presence. Despite having so many activities we did spend some time just laying out. Our beach chairs were only 7-8 feet from the waves rolling in and there was a nice strong wind that made us blissfully unaware of how much our skin was burning. The fairy ride out had some roller coaster like moment but the ride back was smooth sailing and what a beautiful view of the island it was from the fairy.

View of Palomino Island from the fairy

Two happy ladies!

That night we had cocktails and dinner outside on a beautiful terrace. Another wonderful vacation day had by all. Although we have another day left in Puerto Rico I will spare you all the details as it is the one day I have to spend in meetings. All small price to pay for such a wonderful vacation!
Posted on February 22nd, 2013 at 3:31 PM by admin
After a bit of crazy busy time in 2012, my fiance and I finally managed to get away on a real vacation. Not the kind where you actually have work to do but take a few extra days or hours to see some sites and visit cool places, but the kind where the sole purpose of the trip really is to relax and be away from work – YAY! Since we were looking for some sun in the middle of a Midwestern winter, we decided to head to the Dominican Republic. The flights were just about the right price so that we could cover the costs with the vouchers we received last summer after being bumped off a flight to Austin, TX. Both our leaving and return flights routed us through Atlanta so we took advantage by spending our first night in Atlanta with some close friends. We had a wonderful Spanish tapas dinner in Decatur and lots of relax time and good laughs. The next morning we were off to the sunny skies and beautiful beaches of Punta Cana.

The entrance to our hotel

We arrived in the early afternoon and got settled into our hotel. We actually switched hotels at the last minute and don’t at all regret going with the cheaper, but likely equally luxurious option. The MT Hotel suite that we booked was just $70/night! The room was extremely spacious and was equipped with A/C, jacuzzi, free cable, a small table with chairs, mini fridge, safe, walk-in closet. The price even included a small, yet tasty breakfast each morning. The hotel was located in a plaza with 3 restaurants that we also found impressive, especially the small chicken joint (Solo Pollo) and the German bar (Restaurant Bavaria).

Our Suite

...another view


This place really was a steal with one drawback – the distance to the beach was advertised to be about 2 km, but it was actually about 2 miles. What a difference units make! We walked down to a part of the beach called El Cortecito. Here we found almost all of the restaurants that we saw reviews for online. They were beach-side restaurants as this beach was tiny and there really wasn’t room for anything else…no sun-bathing, playing frisbee, sitting under a palm tree – nothing. You had to either patronize an establishment or be a part of one of the resorts which then had some area extended inland for such activities. We had a drink at one of the locales and then headed back of the road wondering if we could find a taxi back as we were so tired from the walk down.

Taxi? Well we couldn’t exactly find a taxi but we did notice that there were many men and boys taxiing people on mopeds and super small engine motorcycles. Did we really want to hop and and hold on to a stranger’s love handles? No, but it sure seemed to beat the idea of walking home in the dark. I only have a few words to say about it – it was an EXPERIENCE. It made us a bit sad to see these people and the tourist shop owners begging and pleading for money. Outside of the huge gated resorts, it was obvious to us that the country was very poor. As one of the natives told us on our way from the airport to the hotel, the Dominicans have very few public beaches. Most of the coastline is apparently owned by Spaniards who build these huge resorts with walls on all sides. That night we ate at Italian restaurant in our plaza. Gluten-free at this place was challenging, but it was edible for sure.

After learning our surroundings on the first day, we decided we should rent a car to go find the oh-so-rare public beach 25 kilometers north. The beach was called Macao and as soon as we arrived a nice man came and offered us a table, umbrella, two chairs and fresh fish. The fish was quite possibly the best we’d ever had. The chef called it Putu but I have not been able to figure out if it exists elsewhere and if so under what name. We devoured that fish as if we hadn’t eaten in weeks. Yum yum yum! That night we went back down to the Cortecito and had dinner at a French restaurant that had some pretty good reviews. It was romantic despite the view of the road (as opposed the beach!). We had wine, fondue and a nice relaxed evening.

Playa Macao

This beach was simply beautiful

Fresh fish on the beach!

The following day we wanted another adventure and thought we’d try out the suggestion of the woman who rented us our red mini. We drove about an hour south to the south side of the island and took a small motorboat from Bayahibe to Saona Island. It took us about a half an hour and the first 10 minutes were a bit scary. I’ve never hit the water so hard on a boat. My core was tired and my spine was whacked but we did manage to make it without getting too wet and more importantly without falling overboard. On the way we stopped at a natural swimming pool. The water really was as clear as a swimming pool. There we found and took pictures of huge starfish. Very cool! When we finally arrived at the island we were in heaven. The beach we stayed at most of the day truly lived up to its name- Playa Bonita. For lunch we ate fresh lobster, chicken and the traditional accompaniment: tostones (plantains mashed up and fried as little patties). After we got back from the island we had Mojitos and then walked to a public area of the beach to watch the sun set. Another lovely day it was! We went back to our plaza for dinner and were pleasantly surprised at how good the German restaurant was. Naomi had a very flavorful pork chop and I had some German sausage.

Star fish in the natural swimming pool

The palm tree that everyone wanted to model at

Sunset at Bayahibe

On our last day we decided to just stay at the hotel and take in our last bits of the sun pool-side, which really was a great atmosphere as well. It was a well rounded, yet relaxed little trip that didn’t break our bank. Two thumbs up for the Dominican Republic!

last the pool