A Mele Kalikimaka indeed

It's taken a few days, but I'm getting back into my regular work week/real world rhythm...so of course, let's reminisce on our holiday trip to Hawaii!

My husband and I ended up waiting until the Christmas holiday to take our honeymoon, and we chose Hawaii because his brother, sister-in-law and niece live there, and we could combine a honeymoon with a family visit for Christmas. We spent the first three days by ourselves exploring Kauai, then the next seven days on Oahu, where Phillip's dad and stepmom joined us.

Phillip and I love to maximize our vacations, exploring and doing as much as we can. Our goals were to hike, go to the beach, find awesome views, and eat all the poke bowls, and I'm pretty satisfied that we accomplished everything.

In addition, I was determined to make the trip eco-friendly, especially since Hawaii is committed to a clean environment and preserving their natural areas.


Airports can certainly be some of the most wasteful places and parts of a trip. Although I'm not great about packing snacks ahead of time (although I did bring home a half-empty bag of sweet onion-flavored mac nuts), I was prepared for drinks with a water bottle and insulated kanteen. My insulated kanteen held lots of much-needed coffee courtesy of the United Clubs. Filling my water bottle at airport fountains saved me from needing a single-use cup of water while on board.

One time I still had single-use? An airplane bottle of sparkling wine. Hey, it was 11am, and we were on our way to our honeymoon! #treatyoself As long as United actually recycles everything in those blue bags like they promise they do...

On our trip home, we had a layover in San Francisco, one of my favorite cities. I love that SFO has not only recycling bins next to the trash cans, but also compost bins and waste water bins.


Now, y'all know yoga in Hawaii was on the top of my personal goals list. As soon as we booked those plane tickets, I had a Google Keep checklist (go paperless!) started with the different poses I wanted to photograph during our 10 days.

As much as I love my regular hot yoga classes in the little dark room at my gym, not much beats doing a few poses against a Christmas morning sunrise, on an empty beach, or on a zip line platform (and in an international airport's little dark yoga room).



Each morning, I started off on the lanai doing a few sun salutations before we got started with our daily adventures, to warm up and clear my head a bit.


One of my favorite parts about our last trip to Hawaii were all of the different hikes we went on, so I was extremely excited for a few new trails, and some of the same ones. While on Kauai, we had plans to hike a portion of the Kalalau Trail on the famous Na Pali Coast. However, the trail was closed while we were there due to construction.

So instead, we headed to the southern part of the island to hike the Canyon Trail in Waimea Canyon. It was incredibly worth it. Having never been to the Grand Canyon, it was amazing to see the place known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It took Phillip and me about an hour to drive the road leading to the trailhead, because we kept stopping at every small lookout to take pictures. The trail itself was challenging enough to be fun, but not too intense.


Back on Oahu, we hiked Kokohead as a family, and enjoyed the Christmas tree placed at the top of the mountain. And that's how you know you're in Hawaii hiking on Christmas Eve. However, going down the stairs proved to be more difficult than going up, ha.

And on Christmas morning, my husband, brother-in-law and I got up ridiculously early to hike the Lanikai Pillbox trail. But when you're rewarded with a spectacular sunrise, you know exactly why you were awake at 4:45 and walking a trail at 6:15 by the flashlight on your cell phone. Did I play Mele Kalikimaka three times on the way back down the trail? You bet Santa's butt I did!

Can I pick a favorite of the three hikes? Definitely not.

Other Adventures

After we hiked the Canyon Trail, we stopped at Glass Beach on the southern side of Kauai. It's a small beach in an industrial area (and near a solar farm), and some of the "sand" is actually small, smooth bits of sea glass, from glass bottles and whatnot. It's not much, but it made for a few good photos.

While I know I could have done more, I did pick up litter that we came across to do my very small part!

On our first evening in Kailua, we encountered a group riding Christmas light-decorated bicycles, making me highly jealous.

And, because we're totally cat people, here is our sweet Air BNB kitty. She lives outside at the home and greeted us every time we arrived back. She's totally Dax's new long-distance girlfriend.


Last year, Oahu became the last island in the state of Hawaii to ban single-use plastic bags in grocery stores, although this article states that thicker plastic bags are considered 'reusable' and are still given out. I had packed one cloth shopping bag for the trip, and ended up buying another in Kailua, so we were able to conserve on many of our shopping or errand trips.

Many stores we visited promoting patrons bringing their own reusable bags - and the selection of cloth bags in stores was to die for. I seriously could have bought another 30 cute bags and donated all my existing ones.

Just as at home, I like to shop local while on vacation. On both Kauai and Oahu, we found a lot of great local stores for our souvenirs and gifts. Some of my favorite items are my Project Aloha super-soft t-shirt, my organic cotton Dwell on Positive Thoughts tank top from Lily Lotus, recycled newsprint gift wrap from Wrappily (a company based in Maui), and locally made soap and chapstick, macadamia nuts and macadamia honey coconut peanut butter from the different shops at the Waialua Sugar Mill.

Travel Tip: If you visit Oahu, take a trip to the North Shore, eat at Dat Cajun Guy (it's legit), and head out to the Waialua Sugar Mill. The former sugar mill now houses a variety of small, locally owned retailers, and it's super peaceful and charming. When we went, it wasn't crowded at all, making us feel like we'd stumbled upon a true hidden gem.


Dining is probably the area where we were least eco-friendly. While we ate at local restaurants (many of them awesome little hole-in-the-wall places), many of the places used disposable trays and containers. But...at least none of it was styrofoam. I certainly ate my weight in poke bowls and regret none of it, so I was glad that the plastic containers were at least recyclable.

The menu at the Kona Brewing Co. pub in Hawaii Kai shared some of the many ways the brewery reduces, reuses and recycles.

Beyond the packaging and single-use chopsticks, I have to say, all of the food we ate was incredibly delicious. In Kapaa, Kauai, we had lunch at Kenji Burger, and I am still dreaming about the furikake fries. We had this Japanese seasoning blend atop a poke bowl and these fries, and it was enough to send me to the grocery store for a jar to bring home (where I then sprinkled it on egg salad and grilled chicken. #noregrets)

And I discovered a local Hawaiian brew whose mango saison is incredible (and only available in variety packs, of course.)


Ever since our last trip to Hawaii, I've been following Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and 808 Cleanups. Both groups are incredibly active in cleaning up both popular and remote beaches and trails, for the health and beauty of the islands. They do so much good work, although it's not glamorous or easy. They also work to educate children about the importance of cleanliness.

This pile of fishnet was sitting at Flagpoles in Kailua, and volunteers with 808 Cleanups came by a day or two later to cut it up and haul it away. The groups do a lot of work rescuing litter like this from the water and beaches around the islands.


Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii also worked successfully to bring a trash water wheel to the Ala Wai canal, a very polluted waterway in Honolulu.

Although I didn't get a chance to meet anyone from the organizations, I did show my support by picking up a SCH canvas tote bag from the Kailua General Store. I used it as my shopping bag for the remainder of the trip, plus, it served as a beach bag one day, and as a carry-on for a few extra items on the trip home.

Tomorrow, I'll share more about our favorite activity from the trip: zip lining through the forests, over farms, with a view of windmills and the ocean! Okay, maybe I'm the only one who was in awe of zip lining with a view of windmills.


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