New Year, New Me!

Welcome to the Queen of Carry On #minimalism #travel #travelblogger

Big news!

Maybe you’ve noticed, once again, things have gone quiet around here. After a few months of bickering with myself back and forth, I’ve made the big decision to re-name my blog.

But! I love! It rhymes!

But the truth is, my blog name contains a derogatory term. That ain’t cool.

With the political turmoil in my home country, I cannot morally add to the fever of bigotry. I know there are a MILLION other popular blogs with the word “gypsy” in it, that have many more followers than my ole blog. The fact of the matter is thisI refuse to encourage racism and hatred by normalizing a slur.

Here is how I feel about it. Would it be appropriate to use the the blog name “The Nomadic N****.” HELL NO! I literally cringed typing that. So why is it appropriate for people of non-Roma descent to use the word “gypsy”? A word that was designed to ostracize a whole group of people. Men were taken to concentration camps. Women were beat to death in public AND still are threatened today. Children were kidnapped, sold, traded, if they weren’t murdered. Police detain children from their families for not looking like a gypsy- that is, the children had blonde hair and blue eyes. Schools in Italy and majority of Eastern Europe attempt to segregate an already belittled population. This is happening in 2017.

There aren’t many rules I believe in, but I do think it is wrong to “reclaim” a slur that is not designed for you. Yes, after decades of translations, gypsy has been added to the dictionary as a free-spirited person BEHIND the complete definition as the Roma people.

“Aye Lauren, lighten up a little? It’s just a joke. People take things so seriously now.”

That’s the problem. We’ve created a culture of humor where we have the power to mock, abuse, and use other culture’s, often sacred, traditions. I’m not saying I’ve never done that—I used to love dressing in Native clothing (on Thanksgiving *SHUDDER*). We can create new words. The dictionary adds a few every single year. Twerking ring a bell?

After a few months of soul-searching, I have chosen the name “Queen of Carry On” to represent my little space on the interwebz.

We will still focus on short-term travel, stress free living, and laughing at (and hopefully learning from) my countless mistakes. In the next few days, you will notice the blog www.queenofcarryon.com will be redirected to www.queenofcarryon.com. I would love to hear your thoughts on the name change!

Here’s to a new year filled with making the extra effort for an exquisite existence! Cheers y’all!

The Great Blue Hole + Swimming With Sharks: My First Scuba Dive (+Videos!)

Scuba Diving With Sharks + The Great Blue Hole In Belize #travel #explore #belize

As I’ve mentioned, Ambergris Caye is a majestical oceanic paradise. There’s also an eerie natural phenomenon that we simply couldn’t resist… The UNESCO Heritage Site, Belize’s Great Blue Hole! Maybe you’ve heard of it, or seen pictures, but basically it’s a sinkhole in the ocean that goes down about 400 feet. In order to get to the caverns, where a variety of spindling stalactites trap air, divers have to descend 135 feet. Our trip was led by the phenomenal Amigos Del Mar, whom I highly recommend. Not only did we have the chance to see the Great Blue Hole, but we also had two additional dives that day—including swimming with an 8-foot shark. 

Diving With Sharks In Belize #travel #explore #adventure #scuba

 

Most trips leave quite early in the morning, before 6 am, in order to hit all three dive spots during daytime. The spectacularly smooth and stunning boat ride out to the Great Blue Hole is a few hours.  Amigos Del Mar, our diveshop, had tons of fresh pineapple, coffee, and pastries. If you plan to dive the Great Blue Hole, be sure to get sufficiently hydrated and nourished prior to getting in the water. Nitrogen narcosis is a serious threat, especially when diving down so dangerously deep. To put it in perspective, PADI Open Water Diver allows you to dive up to 60 ft. With additional training, you can get your Advanced Open Water, which allows you to dive 100 ft. PADI states the limit for recreational scuba diving is 130 ft—we reached 141 ft. 

Boating in Belize is particularly delightful, thanks to the abundance of sea life. Botttlenose dolphins (aka the cutest!) make their homes in these warm waters. With how pristine and preserved the area is, and the exuberance of fish, I’d probably make Belize my home as well, if I were a dolphin. But anyways, the point being a playful pod of these gorgeous creatures followed our boat for about half an hour. Tell me this isn’t one of the most adorable dolphin dances you’ve ever seen?!

 

Although the dolphins were my favorite part of the boat ride, I know I can’t get away without sharing this majestic treat of nature. We knew we would have good luck upon seeing this lovely double rainbow. My friend was wishing for sharks, and I was just hoping to make it out alive. 

Scuba Diving the Great Blue Hole in Belize || Double Rainbow #travel #belize #beautiful

 

Why?

As I’m drifting down, feeling the temperature drop by the second, I had a guilty flashback of signing an agreement on my PADI certification that I would only dive down a maximum of 60 feet. In my defense, the group I went with was extremely experienced, and my diving buddy was one of my best pals. Nothing could go wrong…

Scuba Diving the Great Blue Hole in Belize || #travel #belize #beautiful #scuba

 

And it didn’t.

Scuba Diving With Sharks + The Great Blue Hole In Belize #travel #explore #belize

Floating down to the seemingly bottomless pit of the blue hole is definitely a surreal experience. Peering into the drop sent chills down my spine, but the good way. Like…A haunted house. Or s&m. Anyways, having a flashlight would be very helpful, especially if the sun is hiding. If you’re uncomfortable diving to the 130 ft to reach the caverns, you can still scuba around the hole and try to find sharks. But I must say, the caverns were pretty cool! You can actually swim through the massive stalactites and feel dry air bubbles on the cavern ceiling. Due to the ridiculous depth, our air ran out quickly, and the first dive was pretty short.

Scuba Diving the Great Blue Hole in Belize || #travel #belize #beautiful

 

The only downside of scuba diving the Great Blue Hole as opposed to say, flying over it, is the lack of view! If you aren’t scuba certified, I highly recommend taking the Maya Air or  Tropic Air flight, which is an hour and costs $200.  Then send me photos please, because it looks absolutely beautiful!

Scuba Diving the Great Blue Hole in Belize || #travel #belize #beautiful

Trying to get a decent photo for y’all at the top on the boat…

 

The next dive proved to be a little more stressful for me. Having pretty much no experience, I was getting really freaked out by the 2-foot barracudas. Don’t know much about barracudas? They’re squirrely as hell with razor-sharp teeth and a bad attitude. Like the newbie I am, I was swimming between the underwater caves, trying to get to the fishies, when I notice the barracuda that had previously been swimming 30 feet away was now floating in front me, staring me down. Part of me is thinking, “Oh, it’s going down,” while the other part was hoping he was interested in my blinking, shiny GoPro. I wiggle my stick a few feet away from me, and to my deepest dismay, the little fucker starts swimming towards me FAST.

I duck my head down, start scuttling as fast as possible, and go… nowhere. My scuba gear had gotten caught on a crevice. After panicking for a few seconds, I finally caught up to Michelle and desperately tried to get my shit together before they made me turn back. I refuse to be the weakest link in group activities, especially when my dear, brave friend is my diving buddy.

So, there is basically no communication underwater because you can’t speak.  I knew I couldn’t explain my freakout with the barracuda, so I just kept pointing to my mouth as I tried to do the deepest yoga breaths I could possibly manage. She promptly took my hand signal of, “I’m just trying to catch my breath” as “I vomited in my regulator.” Which I guess happens often. We had a good laugh on the boat about that one.

Scuba Diving the Great Blue Hole in Belize || #travel #belize #beautiful

Plenty of fish were interested in our scuba group, drawn to the bubbles and noises of our equipment. A sweet, plump little grouper was following us around, trying to be our pet. I’m not even kidding, one person would give it a little belly rub, then the grouper would move along to the next person in the group and hover around until he got what he wanted. Which was a belly rub.

We unfortunately caught the attention of a baby black-tip shark. You might be thinking, “Stop being a lil bitch, baby sharks ain’t nothing.” But with every baby shark, comes a momma shark. And this one was circling us.

 

 

Okay, I’m being ever-so slightly dramatic on this one. As the least experienced diver, and a Florida girl, I’m still a little frightened of all sharks except nursing, whale, and leopard sharks. Basically, I like the sharks that are known for being docile. Can you blame me? They did get pretty close to us though…

We took a pit stop on the gorgeous Half Moon Caye for lunch, hermit crab chasing, and red-footed boobies! Seriously, the palm tree lined island is home to hundreds of these adorable little flatbill birds. The feet turn bright red in adulthood, so it’s easy to tell which birds are still young. Walking along the path to where the boobies live are thousands of hermit crabs, with colors from deep purple to tangerine orange to sky blue. Have to admit I was SO tempted to bring one of these little hermits home, but it wouldn’t be very ecofriendly of me, would it? And I certainly wasn’t drinking, so I had no excuse. You’ll just have to go see these creatures by yourself!

Half Moon Caye + Scuba Diving In Belize || #travel #explore #belize

Six hours after we started,  I was struggling to keep up with the rest of the group. If the crew hadn’t been so patient and reassuring, I might’ve had to tap out for a nap on the last diveI’m SO glad I didn’t! Have you ever wanted something, even though it was kinda scary and could be potentially dangerous? That’s exactly how I felt on my last dive, hoping for more sharks. And we got em! Using the reef on the left side to keep eyes on the sharks, we watched as the massive black tips became interested in a lion fish that had been speared by another group’s divemaster.

Once the feeding frenzy was over, I started to panic. The sharks seemed to believe we had more food, and continuously circled us. Unfortunately, being so inexperienced, my buoyancy was askew and I kept floating above the group and sharks. Since sharks enjoy attacking from the bottom, I was rightly terrified and starting to flail around to stay level with the group. Shell grabbed my hand to hold me still and calm me down because she’s the best. At one point, we had our backs against the reef (sorry mother nature) as an 8-footer rushed us—I totally thought he was going to take my flipper! Everyone else was calm as a sea cucumber, and here I am, sucking my air so hard that I had to use the dive master’s spare regulator on every.single.dive. You can see it in the video above.

This is one of the reasons I’m against chumming—the practice of using dead fish to attract larger aquatic species. But that’s another rant for another time. Although I highly recommending joining the wild world of scuba diving, Ambergris Caye provides nature adventures for every level of traveler. You can even swim with sharks at the worlds second largest reef.

 

 

What do you think? Is the Great Blue Hole on your bucket-list? What’s the craziest UNESCO Heritage Site that you have visited?

Oops! How I Ended Up Bringing a Puppy Home From Belize

How I Ended Up Bringing a Puppy Home From Belize #travel #explore #adventure

As I mentioned in my last post, my trip to Belize was mainly about service and education, mixed with a healthy dose of sun, sea, and silver tequila. But I did happen to bring home the best souvenir yet—a puppy!

How I Brought A Puppy Home From Belize #travel #explore #tips #adventure

The Important Stuff:

Saga Humane Society has been on Ambergris Caye for 16 years and remains the only humane society on the island. The organization provides low-cost or free procedures, like spay and neuter, as well as medicine to local animals. Why is this important? Without the free spay and neuter, wild dogs pose a major threat to both domesticated dogs and humans. Children are especially at risk for being bitten by a dog. And then everyone is scared of the animals, it’s just a vicious cycle. But that is why the humane society is there! Just like most humane societies in the U.S., the majority of animals serviced are cats and dogs of all ages. This means playing with adorable puppies. Located right behind the airport on the Tropic Air side (there are only two terminals) in San Pedro Town, the organization houses a ton of crawling kittens, friendly cats, sweet puppies, and big ole dogs. They love having volunteers stop by to walk the friendly dogs!

How I Brought a Puppy Home From Belize #travel #explore #Belize #adventure

Between Shell doing surgeries and me playing with puppies, we got to spend a ton of time with the big dogs! As in, taking the dogs for romantic walks on the beach. As much as I love animals, there are always some sacrifices, like being covered in mud constantly. Unfortunately, one particularly large labrador decided to rush the water without warning. I would have been slightly more keen if I had the time to remove my shoes. RIP Nikes.

But there was one particular little guy who caught my eye.  He was what they call a ‘pot-licker’ or a street dog. The humane society picked him up very thirsty, very frail, and very tiny. But, with lots of love, Saga helped him put on a little weight, and he absolutely loved people for it.   Every morning, we would walk in and greet the dogs, give pets and treats, the usually puppy love stuff. And I would always pick up the puppies because they need attention just like little babies.

So this little guy…

…literally the smallest one out of six, would always try to jump up to be picked up, but kept getting knocked down by the other dogs. One by one the pups would get picked up, held for a little, then squirm down. But when it was this little Pepito’s turn to be held, he would be so content in my arms. I could carry him for hours and he would just stare at me with those little brown eyes. So needless to say when the time for me to leave the island came about, he was coming with me. 

How I Brought A Puppy Home From Belize #travel #explore #tips #adventure

You might be thinking, “This cray bitch seriously brought a puppy from another country home! You can’t just toss it when it grows up!” etc. etc. etc. This ain’t my first rodeo, y’all. My first rescue puppy, Smokey Bear, just turned five in August. He was only six weeks old when I adopted him. Pepe was sixteen weeks old. Bringing home a pup from San Pedro wasn’t 100% spontaneous. Smokey is has been due for a little sibling for a few months. Dogs are pack animals, and the more often I travel, the more distressed Smokey becomes. I owed it to him, really… Plus my love and I already discussed it.

Flying an adopted pet from Belize to the U.S. is relatively easy.

  • Before anything, you must ensure a puppy is at least 4 months old
  • All vaccinations must be up to date
  • The last rabies shot must be 30 days prior to flying the pet home
  • Reserve spot for pet on flight home (some airlines won’t fly pets!)
  • Get a printed copy of certificate of health completed by a vet

 

How I Brought A Puppy Home From Belize #travel #explore #tips #adventure

So, he officially became Pepe/Pepito!

The lovely help at Saga Humane Society got him all washed up, and even gave him a little bandana. His cage said, “Yay! I’ve been adopted.”

 

Since I was staying at an Airbnb, I had to leave Pepe at Saga overnight until it was time to fly back. The night before departure, I SERIOUSLY couldn’t sleep! Would YOU be able to rest, knowing you were bringing back this little peanut?! The morning I was set to return to the U.S., Shell and I sped over to Saga to pick up little guy.

How I Brought a Puppy Home From Belize #travel #explore #Belize #adventure

Shell came with to make sure everything was sorted for flight number one from Ambergris to Belize City. No worries at all! He could even sit on my lap and peek his little head out.  But this was only the very beginning on the adventure. We had two more flights and a five hour layover, and I wasn’t sure how much longer he would sleep.

How I Brought a Puppy Home From Belize #travel #explore #Belize #adventure

American Airlines was such a delight from Belize City to Miami, and I lucked out and sat next to a mechanic, who encouraged me to have the puppy out the whole two hours of my first flight. We were stopped to have Pepe’s papers checked four times– not sure if it was because immigration is strict, or because the security wanted to check out the puppy. Pepe was SUCH a angel in the airport! Even for a five hour layover, he played it cool while I ate sushi and drank sake.  On our last flight home, I had a whole row to myself, so we both slept like babies. It was pepeperfect.

After almost 12 hours of travel, Pepe arrived at his new home! Pepe has been loving life in America, especially having a big brother. They play together a little too well…

How I Brought a Puppy Home From Belize #travel #explore #Belize #adventure

What’s the craziest souvenir you’ve ever brought home? Would you adopt a puppy abroad?

Ambergris Caye Belize: A Mermaid’s Paradise

Ambergris Caye #travel #belize #mermaid

Flying over Ambergris Caye #belize #travel

The trip was pretty unBelizable. Okay, now that we’ve gotten that joke out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Ambergris Caye is the most majestic mermaid-haven I have ever visited. From riding co-pilot on the flight from Belize City, to my departure with new puppy in tow, I was smitten with Ambergris Caye.

Ambergris Caye || #travel #explore #belize

But let’s back it up a little.

What was I even doing in Belize?

A few months ago, a dear friend and grad program classmate and I had agreed if I could afford to join her on her global exchange, I definitely would. Last month, she decided last minute to change her global experience (basically a short international internship) from northwest India to Belize. Besides being a boss-ass bitch in general, Shell adores animals and runs her own non-profit for their benefit. As a vet tech, she would be working with Saga Humane Society in Ambergris Caye, the only humane society on the island. Taking care of dogs and kittens? I gladly offered my services. The deciding factor was the flights, which were less than $350 from San Diego. It would’ve been foolish to pass up the opportunity.

Things have been a little quiet on the blog, but there’s good reason! Y’all might know I’m pretty invested in education reform and passionate about chillren. I’ve been working on developing a non-profit that will allow caring individuals to support eager learners across the world. After visiting two schools in Ghana, which I briefly discuss here, I raised money to purchase school supplies and books to be delivered to them.Personally seeing the school and all the hard work that the teachers have put in warmed my heart like no other. Half of the money went as a scholarship girl who had recently lost her mother and couldn’t afford school.  With Belize being so last minute, instead of raising money, I quickly ran to Target to stock up on supplies for a school (Holy Cross Belize) that keeps a running needs list online.

Dropping off supplies #travel #impact

The school has been resourceful by establishing relationships that lead to things like a Dell computer lab, but that doesn’t fix all the issues. Education is far from free in the majority of the world, and schools are strapped for cash. They do not want to turn students away, so they have to cut corners elsewhere like snacks or even teachers. A big issue for donors is tax exemption, which cannot be done with most international donations. By having a U.S. Based nonprofit, gifts are eligible for tax exemption.

This is non-profit portion of my master’s programs final project—a mere portion. Which is why I’ve been so quiet on the web. Forgive my absence over the next few weeks, I swear to make it up to y’all.

Besides doing what I love most, traveling and promoting education, I took some time to get PADI certified! Having done Discovery scuba a few times and promising myself for years, I decided it was a necessity for the Belize trip. Thanks to the flexibility of the program, I chose the e-Learning option. Instead of sitting in a physical location for a few hours a week, e-Learning allows you to complete all the modules at your own pace online. After you display content knowledge, your instructor will bring you into a pool for two full days to practice skills in full gear. This is the perfect time to address any concerns or questions, like which brand the instructor prefers. To complete certification, your instructor will take you on four open water dives, reaching at least 30 feet deep. I had the luck of training in La Jolla, CA with leopard sharks and halibut, but my instructor requested I not take my GoPro during training. Getting scuba certified is the perfect way to upgrade your travel adventure, especially if you prefer warm places like I do. Not ready to take the plunge? Start with Discover Scuba through PADI on your next trip.

But let’s get back to the travels…

Where is Ambergris Caye?

Belize as a whole has plentiful types of terrain, from beach to mountains to farmlands. On the northern district, a few miles south of Mexico, lays Ambergris Caye. Besides the gorgeous beaches and pleasant people, Ambergris Caye is an underwater wonderland. The world’s second largest reef is located a short boat’s ride away, with rainbow parrotfish, stingrays, dolphins, and everything else you can imagine. Including black tip reef sharks, like this big boy that circled us while scuba diving. Thrilling.   I was scared shitless, but that’s another story for another time…

Swimming with sharks in #belize #travel

The main town, San Pedro, is surprisingly well-stocked. There’s stores for pet grooming, books, salons, and a host of restaurants. I was absolutely smitten with colorful architecture! Plenty of buildings, especially downtown, were a mix of tangerine, coral pink, and deep blue. Like this adorable pink hotel lined with conch shells!

Hotel in San Pedro Belize #travel

Give me the details…

Maybe you’ve heard of the Great Blue Hole? You now, the massive underwater sinkhole that ends about 400 feet into the earth. It’s absolutely insane, and I had the chance to scuba dive in it! There’s also Shark Ray Alley for snorkling and free diving. Besides being a natural treasure, Belize is super easy to deal with.

Swimming in Hol Chan #explore #travel

Belize is the only country in Central America with English as the national language. This makes doing business and making plans a breeze. However, the majority of Belizeans speak Spanish in the home and personal affairs. If you know even a phrase or two, I highly recommend trying to communicate in the Belizean language of choice. Creole is also spoken, but Spanish might be a little easier to pick up with a translator.

Additionally, U.S. currency is accepted pretty much everywhere. There is a fixed rate of 2:1 for U.S. to Belizean dollar, which is pretty much the easiest conversion rate I’ve ever had to do!

True to a mermaid’s paradise, Ambergris Caye had amazing food. We’re talking fresh conch ceviche with limeade. Lobster caught 30 feet away from the restaurant. The most appetizing vegetarian refried beans and juicy chicken burrito for $2.50. Full fruit smoothies. These delectable shrimp tostadas for $3 USD. We were in heaven.

Food in #belize #travel

Getting Around The Island

Ambergris Caye is very thin and only gets about a mile wide. From the northernmost point to the very southernmost tip is 25 miles. The main roads are paved, including all of downtown San Pedro. However, if there’s a good chance you might be staying in an Airbnb, I have to mention the side roads get gnarly. The majority of streets are sign-less with numerous rocky potholes. Walking, taxi, golf cart, and biking are all viable options. Personally, bikes were a little rough for me. The golf carts are gassed up with off-roading wheels, and account for about 95% of all vehicles you see on the road. Instead of using blinkers, drivers are expected to use hand signals to help out the other drivers. The only issue with the golf carts were the illusive speed bumps. Every few hundred feet, sometimes less, sometimes more, there are unmarked bumps or dips in the road. After nearly breaking our necks a few times, we learned to pay very close attention to how fast we were going. Cabbies and policemen were driving the only true automobiles I saw.

The Weather…

…is extremely similar to the southern U.S., toasty, moist, with a bit of afternoon rain showers. Ambergris Caye has a wet (June-December) and a dry season (February-May). Tourists tend to flock to the island during the dry season, but we had a superb time even with the rain. I would not recommend taking a very short trip (less than three days) during the wet season. Give yourself enough time to have all the nautical adventures you came for. We can’t really blame a snorkeling tour for canceling when it’s pouring out. Sandals, yoga pants, and a t-shirt are perfectly appropriate attire.

Another option is purchasing an adorable sun hat! I snagged this one for about $20 USD. Sun hats are also great on travel days because it effortlessly jazzes up any outfit. Seriously got a dozen compliments including from the passport control people.

Boating in Ambergris Caye #belize #travel

The Bad Stuff

Mosquitos. Our room was located on the ground floor, receiving no sea breeze. This allowed the mosquitos to post up outside of our room, patiently waiting to sneak in and harass us. Armed with coils, a mosquito net, and heavy-duty bug spray, we survived. Shell had gotten eaten up the night before I had arrived, but luckily she hadn’t contracted any illnesses.

Sun poisoning. As a Florida girl, I totally understand the power of the sun. It’s not to be f****d with. We reapplied sunscreen constantly on the boat and any time after getting out of the water. This allowed me to come home with a lovely tan instead of pealing burns.

Liquor prices. For being away from the mainland, Ambergris Caye is affordable, and pretty well stocked. The exception is liquor. Highly recommend grabbing what you need duty-free from the airport in Belize City.

Stay tuned for new posts on swimming with sharks, visiting a local chocolate factory, and bringing home the best souvenir ever. I’ll give you a hint on the last one– it has fur 🙂

 

A Mermaid's Paradise  || Ambergris Caye, Belize || Everything you need to know! #tips #travel #explore #mermaid

Chasing Waterfalls: Unreal Helicopter Ride Over Na Pali Coast, Hawaii (+Video!)

Flying high over the Na Pali Coast in Hawaii! +Videos || #travel #wanderlust #hawaii #napali #traveltips

Hawaii is more than coconuts and pineapples, surfers and hula girls. Although these are aspects are all pretty lovely,  and tasty, these luscious islands have so much more to show and preserve. The area has a longstanding tradition of living off of the land through fishing and hunting wild hogs. People respect mother nature and rejoice in her gifts nearly every day. The ocean is a perfect example, filled with little heads bobbing up and down, getting smaller and smaller out to the endless sea.

I had been to Hawaii in 2012 and absolutely fell in love. The speed limits were 35, macadamia nut pancakes were everywhere, and the people were lovely. Heaven on earth is Kauai, and more specifically, the Na Pali Coast. Maybe you’ve seen, and lusted over, scenery in Lilo and Stitch? Oh yeah, that’s what the movie was designed after.

Chasing Waterfalls: Helicopter Ride Na Pali Coast #travel #explore #hawaii

The headphones are multipurpose- first and foremost, for aesthetic pleasure. We look pretty badass decked out in our ‘copter gear, yeah? Realistically, we had them on because the helicopter gets QUITE loud. Notice the little headset as well? Press a button and the rest of the crew can hear your, “Ooos” and “Aaahs.”

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The rain started to trickle, then proceeded to come down in rapid ping-ping-pings. Generally, weather issues tend to rattle my senses in flight, but it was so gorgeous I didn’t even care.Okay, maybe I was a little nervous. The massive waterfalls between ethereal clouds was a prime distraction though.

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Any guesses on how large that waterfall is?

Chasing Waterfalls: Helicopter Ride Canyon in Na Pali Coast #travel #explore #hawaii

The canyon was a magnificent pumpkin orange with flecks of brass, that went on for miles. Allegedly, Mark Twain called it the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” but it truly is stunning enough in it’s own terms. Could you imagine having a little home tucked away in these crevices? With all the canyons and waterfalls I almost forgot what we had came for- the Na Pali Coast.

Chasing Waterfalls: Helicopter Ride Canyon in Na Pali Coast #travel #explore #hawaii

Y’all remember the Care Bears? Every time I fly through clouds, my heart is filled with mixed feelings. On one hand, I feel bad for cutting through the homes of such lovely little imaginary creatures. The other part of me can’t believe how fun it is! There’s something thrilling about not really being able to see where you’re going.

Chasing Waterfalls: Helicopter Ride Canyon in Na Pali Coast #travel #explore #hawaii

The ridges in the cliffs were so striking!

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Emerald green leading into turquoise blue. We could see thousands of trees scattered throughout the island, but the best part was the moment we saw the big ole blue ocean.

Chasing Waterfalls: Helicopter Ride Canyon in Na Pali Coast #travel #explore #hawaii

There was one thought that kept rolling through my mind. Our planet is so beautiful and we (okay, fine, I) have to take better care of it. Hate to admit that out of all the consciously proactive behaviors to have, environmentalism is not my strong point. The state I live in now, California, makes very easy while out in about, but honestly my home life is lacking.

Chasing Waterfalls: Helicopter Ride Na Pali Coast #travel #explore #hawaii

The flight continued further down the Na Pali coast, and we could see people on boats and cars driving below. Crazy to think how isolated of a place Hawaii is. The flight was over 6 hours from San Diego. The closest country to the west is Japan and even that’s at least a nine hour flight. The helicopter wouldn’t even be able to transport us that far!

Chasing Waterfalls: Helicopter Ride Canyon in Na Pali Coast #travel #explore #hawaii

Even crazier to me, Hawaii has only been a state of the U.S. since 1959. Even visiting briefly, you can see that Hawaii doesn’t really adhere to the culture of the mainland. People pluck fruit on the side of the road for breakfast, fish for lunch, and hunt pesky hogs for dinner. Unfortunately, there has been an influx of recent transplants to the area who attempt to illegally block off public beach access. In plenty of countries, it is illegal to block beach/ocean access for food and navigation reasons. Our cab driver, who we spent quite some time with, was stressing how difficult it was becoming to continue their traditional lifestyle of living off the land. To them, it’s disrespectful to mother nature to ignore her gifts.

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After the helicopter ride, my brothers and I went met up our buddy/taxi driver who had invited us out earlier and given us a bomb breakfast spot, called Tip Top. Definitely make a stop and order their macadamia nut pancakes- the tastiest I’ve had thus far!

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Hawaii is one of those places where almost everyone is named XYZ, and our buddy Jon, was not there when we arrived. My family is great, but they go pretty hard. By day 8, I had sworn off hard liquor. But, y’all know I’m weak so long story short, after a dozen or so shots, losing a pool game, and some tears, my night got turned around.

The bar began to close down, kicking the ten or so patrons out into the pouring rain. Plot twist- I like rain when it’s warm outside. It’s like a spa treatment from mother nature. Additionally, we picked up a friend along the way. The best kind of friend. The friend that has a…

PUPPY!

Needless to say, I was a happy girl.

But back to the Na Pali Coast…

Traveling to beautiful places, natural or man-made, always makes me appreciate what I never noticed prior to leaving. Na Pali Coast is a must visit for ANYONE. You know what they say, you only conserve what you love, and you only love what you know.

Have you ever visit Kauai? Did you love Lilo & Stitch?