MY HAWAII TRAVEL GUIDE ♥

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Last semester I had the amazing opportunity to visit Hawaii for the first time all thanks to the wonderful people from the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau! ♥ It was a week long trip where I got to visit the islands of Kauai and Oahu. During my time there, I got to partake in tons of ecotourism-focused activities and had the chance to meet many local and sustainable fashion designers—so yes, it was right up my alley!

At the end of the trip, I left with incredible memories from the things we did and the places I saw, but what stuck with me the most was how deeply people appreciated and respected nature as something we are interconnected to, rather than something we are at odds with. It was with an especially heavy heart that I left to fly back to San Francisco.

But on a brighter note, here is my full guide on everything we did in Hawaii, separated by island—where we stayed, where to eat, what to do, and where to shop sustainably! :) Hope you enjoy and that this may be of use to anyone planning to visit!


*Click here to jump to the OAHU section ♥


KAUAI

STAY—Koloa Landing Resort


What I loved about Koloa Landing Resort was the villa-style living which made it feel a lot like a home away from home, but with far more of a luxury factor! ;) Nate (my photographer) and I stayed in a 2 bedroom villa complete with a big living room, gourmet kitchen, and a beautiful ocean view. On top of that, they have the most amazing pools + a spa + they are walking distance to a bunch of great restaurants and boutiques at the Shops at Kukui'ula Village, which is where the following restaurant below is located!



EAT—Eating House 1849

Shot by Nate Bernardo

Eating House 1849 is one of world famous chef, Roy Yamaguchi's restaurants, and is located in Koloa at the Shops at Kukui'ula Village. Gourmet dining made from fresh and locally-sourced ingredients from Hawaii—I think these pictures really speak for themselves! I'm still thinking about those cinnamon & sugar-dusted malasadas! Plus they were very accommodating to anyone who had vegetarian or vegan requests :)



DO—Limahuli Garden & Preserve

Shot by Nate Bernardo

Limahuli Garden & Preserve is a non-profit botanical garden and nature preserve on the north shore of Kauai, located specifically in Hanalei. The garden houses tons of native plants and birds, some even on the verge of extinction and that can only be found here. Limahuli serves as a modern model of the Ahupua'a system of resource management which was developed by the early Hawaiian settlers as a way to fairly allocate the island's limited resources to each community which still maintaining the integrity of the island's natural resources. The views here are absolutely SPECTACULAR.



DO—Kipu Ranch Adventures 

(ATV + Waterfall Picnic Tour)
Shot by Nate Bernardo
(That's me and Nate in the bottom left!)

Located in Lihue, Kipu Ranch Adventures is ATV tours with the friendliest tour guides, rope swings, waterfalls, and picnics in tropical nature! So basically the no-fail recipe for an unforgettable time + the best photo ops! Kipu Ranch is 3000 acres of land that used to be owned by Hawaiian royalty but was sold under the condition that it would never be developed, so you get to go off-roading through pure, untouched nature. Did I mention that they've filmed movies like Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones here? This is a MUST DO!


DO—Pili Au Food & Farm Tour

Shot by Nate Bernardo

If you love cooking and/or are passionate about farm-to-table cuisine, you'll love the Pili Au Local Food & Farm Tour at Waipa Foundation, which is located in Hanalei. Here, we got to tour Waipa's gardens and learned all about Hawaiian culture and locally grown foods! We also got to watch a cooking demo which was followed by a tasting of an assortment of dishes grown from local ingredients. The Waipa Foundation also does some amazing work such as educating others (especially children through school field trips!) on what it means to be connected with the land and her resources, and overall instilling an appreciation for sustainable practices!



SHOP—Kaikini Bikinis

Shot by Nate Bernardo

If you are looking to buy a new swimsuit, you have to go to Kaikini Bikinis :) They are a locally-based, sustainable swimwear brand and all their pieces are handcut and handmade right in their Kauai studio! Kaikini is committed to the preservation of products made in the USA so all the fabrics and threads they use are also purchased from US manufacturers. On top of that, many of their styles are also reversible!—who can argue with multiple looks for the price of one? Plus, the Brazilian-fit of their swimsuits is ultra flattering! ♥ For your convenience, here is a list of all their retail locations!



SHOP—Machine Machine


If you love pieces with a more whimsical and playful aesthetic, you have to visit Machine Machine—an ethical and handmade brand based in Kauai, where all the pieces are sewn by designer, Shannon Hiramoto! Shannon is very committed to the handmade movement and she has a definite talent for it—for example, the clutch below was made with vintage embroidered linens she collected over the years and then reworked into one-of-a-kind bags! Machine Machine recently moved to a new storefront in Lawai and became part of Workshop Kauai, an artist studio and storefront by Machine Machine and Naisish Handmade where you can see the handmade products being created and also learn printmaking in the studio!

Shot by Nate Bernardo



OAHU


STAY—Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

Shot by Nate Bernardo

Let me start by saying that I would literally go back to Hawaii just to stay at the Four Seasons Oahu again. I've never stayed at a Four Seasons before and I have to say that the hype and prestige is all fully deserved. It is pure luxury here! ♥

Everything feels like paradise—from the design of the resort to the breathtaking views, the amazing restaurants and the warm hospitality (I'm a rather emotional person, so things like hospitality really stick with me!) Nate and I stayed in an oceanfront suite that had such a peaceful balcony area and a giant marble bathroom. The pool area is beautiful (my first time in an infinity pool too!) but what's even better is that you're right next to the beach and there are fish at the shore that you can swim with! On top of that, they have a heavenly spa and tons of delicious restaurants which I needed to give their own sections to below—



DO—Naupaka Spa at Four Seasons Oahu 

Shot by Nate Bernardo

Naupaka Spa & Wellness Centre is Four Season Oahu's incredible spa. They have all the works here—four levels with 17 treatment rooms, as well as hot & cold plunge pools, a sauna, steam room, outdoor lap pool, and an ultra-peaceful lounge room. The spa treatments here inspired by ancient Hawaiian healing traditions—I had the Hā Ritual and the Alohi Hydrafacial done :) The Hā Ritual is a full body halotherapy treatment done in the salt chamber which exfoliation, reflexology, massage, and guided meditation. The Alohi Hydrafacial was a rejuvenating treatment with LED light therapy that targeted an assortment of things like lines, acne, congested pores, and uneven skin tone. In summary, I left the spa glowing inside and out :) There was not a hint of stress left anywhere in my body. The staff here were all so sweet too!



EAT—Fish House at Four Seasons Oahu 

Shot by Nate Bernardo

Fish House is a line-to-table seafood restaurant located in the Four Seasons Oahu right by the beach! The focus here is on fresh island fish and sustainable, locally-grown ingredients so the restaurant works with island fishermen and local farmers. My taste buds were on cloud nine!—everything tasted phenomenal (and was presented so artfully too!) and it made me especially happy knowing the ingredients all came from the island. Special shoutout to Chef Ray for making my soul so deeply fulfilled from this food! Did I mention there's deck seating right by the ocean?




STAY—Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

Photo Credits: Left half from Surfjack Hotel, right half by Nate Bernardo

A new boutique hotel inspired by 60's beach culture, the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Honolulu, is perfect for anyone who loves retro and art-infused spaces. It's charming, creative, and easily wins the award for having the most Instagram-worthy pool! ;) It's all about the poolside vibe here—you can lounge all day in relaxation, eat at their restuarant Mahina & Suns, or grab a coffee or new outfit at Olive & Oliver, their coffee bar/boutique store in one! Plus, the rooms here are inspired by surf bungalows! Good vibes all around.



EAT—Mahina & Suns at The Surfjack Hotel

Food photos shot by Nate Bernardo

Located by the poolside in the Surfjack Hotel, Mahina & Suns is acclaimed Honolulu chef, Ed Kenney's fourth restaurant! Focusing on the field-to-fork movement, Mahina & Suns is committed to local, organic produce, as well as sustainable seafood. I love the vibe of the space here—it's the perfect balance between casual and elevated, with a touch of homey comfort. The food?—nothing short of sensational. It was like I was discovering taste buds I didn't even know I had! I'm still drooling thinking about that fruity dessert/piece of culinary art! ♥



DO—Annual Aloha Festivals Parade

Photos by Nate Bernardo

If you're in Oahu in September, depending on the timing, you may be able to watch the Annual Aloha Festival Parade! Originating in 1946, I had the pleasure of watching the 70th parade :) The Aloha Festivals is a statewide celebration of Hawaiian culture participated in by all of the islands. Additionally, every year there are thousands of volunteers who come together to make this happen. For example, we got to go behind the scenes and see volunteers making those beautiful leis for the horses! I really loved watching the parade and it was such a memorable way to learn more about Hawaii's music, dance, history, and traditions.




SHOP—Manaola Hawaii

Photos by Nate Bernardo

A strongly-beloved local favorite, native Hawaiian designer, Manaola Yap, is known for his contemporary designs which are beautifully rooted in nature and Hawaiian spirituality, and which he then translates into prints that are imbued with deep meaning. Manaola also employs a traditional Hawaiian bamboo stamping method in the development of his prints called 'ohe kapāla! First, he hand carves his print designs onto bamboo laths, and then he stamps them and has them digitized into modern silhouettes. As a design student, I love the homage to indigenous artistry combined with modern technology! If you're interested in shopping his pieces, you can find Manaola's culture conscious clothing at his store in the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu.




Hope your next Hawaii trip is amazing!
xo, Jennifer

46 comments:

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  2. These photos are so stunning and make Hawaii look like the best vacation destination. I've been to Hawaii before but my experience was dull compared to yours. You look gorgeous and I'm happy that your incorporating sustainability into your blog. I need to do the same!

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  5. Wow! It looks like it's such a great adventure for you. Wonderful post Jennifer!
    By the way, I've just followed you on Instagram as well. Trying to keep in touch with long time blogger friends like you. Hope we can also keep in touch there my dear!

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