As the year comes to an end, I wanted to look back upon this pretty epic year of travel that I’ve had and countdown some of my best moments. I recently posted this photo of all my 2014 boarding passes (not counting mobile passes) to my Instagram:
It was pretty jarring to see just how many flights I’ve been on this year. That’s a lot of planes, airports, and delayed flights! Still, it’s all a part of the fun. So without further delay, here are what I deem to be some of my Best Travel Moments of 2014. They are not in order of importance, but rather, in chronological order.
1) Maroon 5 and Caesar’s Palace with Krystal; Las Vegas, Nevada; New Year’s 2014
Last year I booked a last minute trip over New Year’s Eve to ring in the new year with one of my best friends from Kaua’i, Krystal. We scored amazing seats at the Maroon 5 concert at MGM Grand and sang along to every song.
It was the perfect way to kick off a very auspicious new year. #yeah2014
2) A quick visit with my sister & niece; San Diego, California; January
After Vegas, I dropped by SoCal for a hot second to visit my sister and niece. It was an incredibly short trip because my flight from Vegas to SD was delayed by a day due to foggy weather. It was a bummer, but it happens sometimes.
3) South Side Exploration with Rena; Kauai, Hawaii; Mid-February
One weekend in February I did a quick trip home to Kaua’i to visit with one of my other besties from my Duke’s Canoe Club days, Rena. We didn’t have anything planned, but we knew we wanted to do some combination of hike & beach, which is exactly what we did.
I won’t disclose the name of this place, but it’s not really hard to figure out if you want to go bad enough. I will say that the water here, while pretty much always nice and crystal clear, is not always this calm. It gets pretty rough and choppy at times. We caught it on a near perfect day.
Here’s another view of that crystal clear blue water. After swimming and hiking along the shore for a bit we met up with our friend Kawika down the road and saw a mother whale teaching her baby whale to breach for about a half hour. It was a stellar day by all accounts.
3) Family Cruise to Mexico & the Hidden Beach Cave; Mexico; Mid-March
When I first heard we were going to Mexico, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that stoked. I was voting for a cruise to Alaska, where we’d see wildlife and glaciers. But I was outvoted, because my family is from Hawaii and everyone loves the warm weather. Well, lucky me in this case, because I ended up getting to visit a place that I had wanted to go to ever since seeing a photo of it long ago: The Hidden Beach Cave.
This was for sure one of the highlights of my travel in 2014. I’ve blogged about it before, but essentially the only entrance into this cave is by swimming in from the open ocean. You can’t climb in through the top because any climbing on these islands is prohibited, as the entire chain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We visited Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlan on this cruise with Princess Criuse Lines. I fell in love with Cabo and I was so bummed that we only had one day there. I really would love to go back to Cabo one day. This was a really great family trip and one that I’ll never forget!
4) Tommy’s Trip to Hawaii; Oahu & Kauai; May
In 2011, while on a birthday trip to Europe, Rena and I met this lad, Thomas from Montana. The story of how we met is pretty funny, but I’ll save that for another time. Tommy and I stayed in touch over the years, meeting up in between, but never in Montana or Hawaii. Until this year. Tommy booked a 10-day trip to Hawaii and we spent some time exploring O’ahu, but since that technically doesn’t count as traveling, I will only focus on the Kauai portion of our trip.
One of the high (and lows) of our trip to Kauai was a Napali Coast boat ride that my uncle Jason took us on one beautiful, sunny day. He dropped us both off at Honopu Beach, a stunning, remote beach that is only accessible by swimming up on shore, as no motorcraft are allowed to port here. This big cave we’re in has a gushing waterfall to the right and another beach to the left.
The day after I took him to see Kalalau Valley by sea, I dragged him up to the top of Kalalau to see the top of the valley. We had to wait around for several minutes for the clouds to part, but once it did, it was magical.
I actually took him to do quite a bit while he was here – so much so that I can’t begin to put everything in this post. But if you’re interested in seeing more of Tommy’s killer trip to Hawaii, you can check out the short YouTube video, “Choke Bachi” that I made of the highlights. Hanging out with Megan & Kunane at the tidepools and fresh water caves were fun too. Here’s Tommy not doing a gainer.
And lastly, the one thing he said he wanted to do while in Hawaii was swim in a waterfall. So I did him one better. I found a waterfall with no one there to ruin the special moment when he got to swim behind a waterfall for the first time ever.
5) The Property with Nane, Megz & The Fam; Nomilu, Kauai; late May
Monk seals often frolic and sunbathe here because there’s never anyone around to bother them. And don’t worry, even though this is a private beach with no access, I still observed federal mandates that require you to stay pretty far away from these guys. You can tell that I zoomed in to get this shot because it’s so grainy. If you ever visit Hawaii, please respect these seals and give them space.
But this small little cove around the corner is where we spend most of our time. On this particular day, my cousin Kunane taught me how to play the opihi game. Basically we go into the impact zone (at the far right of this rock ledge, where the waves hit the hardest), and see who can hold on the longest. It’s hard and dangerous. But oh, sooooo fun!
6) Hyatt Kauai Staycation with mom & the nephews; Grand Hyatt Kauai; July
My mom racks up hotel points like no other, so we do a lot of staycations =) On this particular one, we brought along my niece and nephew, Tapa and Hi’i. This was our view overlooking the saltwater pool and the famous Shipwrecks beach.
The Hyatt is famous for its wrap around pool with long pool slide. Here’s my mom and the kids enjoying a swim.
Li hing mui mango margaritas are the only way to do a staycation proper. I highly recommend.
Sunset at the Hyatt.
Here’s another shot of me and my mom on this trip home. I am super stoked that I got to spend so much time with her this year =)
7) Fourth of July and World Cup in Ventura, California with Parker; July
Over the Fourth of July weekend I took a quick spin to California to see Parker. They said the water was atypically warm “for California,” so I decided to give it a go on Parker’s Wavestorm soft top short board. I have two things to say about that: 1) The water was not warm (or at least by Hawaii standards); and 2) I’m clearly a little rusty with the surfing. The fireworks show was amazing though, and we had a great group of people.
It was also World Cup fever time. I called 13 of the I called 15 World Cup Bracket games, and most importantly, the one that mattered most – German victory!!! Here we are (me in my German jersey) watching Germany steamroll over Argentina heading into the finals. You can tell how stoked we were on the win in this pic =)
8) Jess & Ben’s Wedding; San Diego, California; July
The weekend after, Parker and I drove up from Ventura to San Diego to attend my sister’s wedding!!! Here she is with her hubby and longtime love, Ben.
My sister and dad and I.
9) RonDawg & Greg’s Wedding; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Early August
In early August we did a girl’s trip out to Philly for another wedding. My dear friend Ronna married international chess master Greg. It was a small, but fabulous affair in a town called Schwanksville. I’m fairly certain I’m misspelling that, by the way.
Myself, D’Leezy, and Cheebz made the long haul out to Philly for our girl’s wedding. We tooks some epic videos, but alas they were lost in the Iceland GoPro mishap. We also missed Beatz on this trip =(
10) Most Epic Solo Trip to Iceland; August
By far one of the highlights of 2014 was my solo trip to Iceland. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know all about it. But I got to do some pretty cool stuff, like visit a lot of killer waterfalls.
Went Ice Climbing and lost all the footage of it.
And I Climbed basalt rock columns on a black sand beach AND met these two most amazing human beings from Malta. Yup, this was pretty much one of th e most epic trips I’ve ever done in my 15 years of traveling. Going to be hard to top that. Oh wait, there’s still #11.
11) Boat Riding Iguazu Falls with Ron Diggity; Iguazu, Argentina; December
It seems every time I cross an epic bucket list destination off of my list, I just replace it with another. Iguazu became the new hot spot once I checked Machu Picchu off in 2007, and this year, seven years later, I crossed this one off too. By far, one of the highlights of this trip was this boat ride Ronna and I did, where you go under a few different sets of waterfalls and get drenched to the core. Here’s a short video clip of us the second time we did the boat ride. (yes, it was so fun we went twice).
Another highlight was exploring the falls all by ourselves, without any crowds. We were able to accomplish this by staying in the Sheraton Iguazu, which is conveniently located right inside the park itself.
Yup, this place definitely lived up to the hype. If you want to see more, here are my Top 29 pics from Iguazu.
12) Sledding with my sister & niece in Big Bear; Big Bear Lake, California; December
And lastly, my final fave moment from 2014 was the opportunity to close out the year with my sister and niece and their family in San Diego. We went up to Big Bear Lake, and although we got a late start and the sun was setting on the way up, we definitely had a ton of fun sledding in the dark!
I also got to spend a little bit of QT with my girl Adela, her hubby Chris (aka Thor), and their newborn son Miles. (And Chloe with the last minute photo bomb!!)
So there you have it, my fave travel moments of 2014. It was a pretty stellar year and I am looking forward to many more travels in 2015 and beyond. I wish all of you a very safe and Happy New Year!! Aloha from Hawaii =)