September 15, 2014

A Dive to Remember: Swimming with Wild Dolphins in Hawaii

When people come to Hawaii, they are typically coming to stay in Waikiki. To clarify, Waikiki is a region in the city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu. And to be honest, Waikiki is a city in and of itself. Many people will come to the island and never leave this area and if they do they certainly won't head over to the west side of the island.

The west side of Oahu is very different from other parts of the island. First of all, it gets way less rain and is practically a desert. Two, there are almost no tourist attractions over there. In fact, if you do any tour of Oahu called "Circle Island" it will certainly cut out this chunk. Three, it's known for being the places where "real locals" come from.

Many people do not realize, however, that this is also the best part of the island to meet another kind of locals; dolphins.


Spinner dolphins are one of the four types of dolphins that can be found in the Hawaiian isles though they all go by the name nai'a in the native language. Despite the many myths and stories surrounding dolphins in Western cultures, dolphins are surprisingly absent in Hawaiian history. Which is funny because sharks are actually quite common in Hawaiian mythology and are generally depicted as kind and benevolent towards seafarers. Perhaps there was a translation error somewhere?


After about a 40 minute drive from Honolulu (which is really the longest you can drive on this island without ended up where you started) we arrived at Waianae Harbor. The staff on our small boat are all young and friendly. They give us the basics on how to use our snorkel gear and the boat sets out.

Except we don't really set out to sea. Our boat motors for a couple minutes, just barely out of the harbor, and stops.

'Alright, there they are!"

'Really?' I thought to myself looking back at shore, 'I could swim to here from the beach. There's no way dolphins are just chilling this close to land.'

Putting my faith in the crew, I get my gear together and jump in the water. I look down into the water and, to my disbelief, is a pod of dolphins swimming briskly right below me.


"Now don't swim at them," our guide reminds us, "They're technically sleeping so swimming towards them will trigger their defenses and they'll wake up."

This is a rule I didn't mind abiding as I know how much I hate being woken up. Also, as I mentioned when I did my shark cage dive, I'm all about tourism that considers the health and safety of the animal.

So I did exactly as the guide instructed; watched the patterns of the pod who were in fact just swimming in an oblong circular pattern and then swam to the next point they were going towards rather than swimming after them.

This proved to be a great technique and allowed me to get quite close to the dolphins without disturbing them. And look at that tiny little baby! I think I was living the dream of 8-year-old Aryn.


After snorkeling with the dolphins for a bit the crew gathered us up and boated us over to a 'turtle cleaning station'. I didn't know this would be a part of our itinerary but it was awesome!

All around us were tropical fish, nibbling at the shells of honu (sea turtles) in a beautiful reef. We swam with them for a while before returning to the boat for lunch and paddle boarding. The whole time we swam in the bay I could look out and still see the dolphins coming up for air from time to time.


I am happy to say that this tour is a great option for someone who is looking to see dolphins while traveling in Hawaii. While there are plenty of places to go on Oahu that have captive dolphins, I will continue my practice of only supporting organizations that promote the safety of the animal over monetary profit.

What's your favorite animal encounter while traveling?

This Wild Dolphin Snorkel was done with Discover Hawaii Tours in partnership with Eo Waianae Tours. Mahalo nui loa!

September 13, 2014

I Would Wear There: Trip to Hawaii


+ Always have a bathing suit with you cause you never know when you're going to find an amazing beach and have an impromptu swim session.

+ You may be tempted to wear tank tops but don't do it! You will surely burn unless it's evening! For the day time, wear a top that covers your shoulders.

+ In Hawaii we have a constant ocean breeze which can make wearing skirts or dresses awkward. Stick to shorts which will give you coverage and keep you cool.

+ Unless you're here for business or intend to do some hardcore hiking, there's no reason to even pack closed toe shoes. Stay comfortable and live in sandals, just like the locals,

What would you wear/pack for a tropical vacation?

September 11, 2014

Where You Should Travel According to Astrology

Sometimes you just don't know where to go next or where you should be now. Sometimes you can browse the internet and scroll through guide books for hours and just think "What place in the world is right for me? Where do I belong in the world?"

Well, have you ever considered that the stars may have the answers?


Just like people have astrological signs, so do places! Finding a place that coordinates with your sign can help you find balance in certain areas of your life. The first step is to...

Find Your Signs

Most people know their star sign which is the position the sun was in when you were born. When people ask the question "What's your sign?" they're referring to this but did you know you have other signs? In fact, you have one for every planet in the solar system (and the major moons as well!) based on the position of that particular heavenly body when you were born.

So the first step to figuring out where to live based on astrology is to find out your signs for each planet. Here are links for seeing all past and future planetary positions for Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Mercury. To help figure your sign for each planet, I'll use my birthday as an example. I was born April 28, 1991. When figuring out my Venus sign I scroll through the list and find that on Apr 12, 1991 at 7:10 PM, Venus entered the sign of Gemini and remained there until May 8, 1991 at 8:28 PM. Therefor, my Venus sign is Gemini.

Moon sign is a bit trickier as you have to have much more exact details. If you know exactly where you were born and the time you can use this calculator to find your moon sign.

Great, so now you've got all of your signs! So now what do you do with them? Well, first you need to understand...

What Each Planet Rules

If you're into Roman mythology you will probably already have a clue as to what each planet means symbolically as they were each named after a Roman god and thus, assigned the qualities of that deity.

Venus was the goddess of love and sensuality. Travel to places ruled by your Venus sign and you can find love (romantic or friendship). Jupiter was the king of all the gods. Traveling to places ruled by your Jupiter sign will bring you to spiritual enlightenment or push your cultural awareness. Jupiter also represents luck and chance and can be a good place to "start over". Saturn was the god of time. Traveling to places ruled by your Saturn sign will help you learn patience, self discipline, and hard work. Mercury was the god of communication and intellect so visiting countries ruled by your Mercury sign can help stoke your own intellectual curiosity. It can also be a place to amp up your social interactions.

Your sun sign rules your career so these places are where you'll have most success in that area of life. Your moon sign represent emotional well-being, material comfort and home. When picking a place for a permanent move, consider your moon sign.

Colorado falls under my sign of Jupiter which is Leo

Putting the Pieces Together

So now you know your sign that aligns with each planet and what each planet rules. Now it's time to put all that information together and find out which places align with you. Here is a brief list of countries:

Aries
Palestine, England, Germany, Poland, Syria, Israel, Lithuania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe
Taurus
Cyprus, Tasmania,  Ireland,  Capri, Switzerland, Rhodes, the Greek Islands, Cuba, East Timor, Serbia, Tanzania, Yemen
Gemini
Iceland, Sardinia, Morocco, Tunisia, Belgium, Wales, Ecuador, Eritrea, Guyana, Kuwait, Norway, Montenegro, Tonga
Cancer
USA, Paraguay, Scotland, New Zealand, Holland, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Belize, Burundi, Cape Verde, Columbia, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Croatia, Dijibouti, Kiribati, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia
Leo
Afghanistan, France Italy Macedonia, Romania, Sicily, Zanzibar, Bhutan, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Chad, The Ivory Coast, Gabon, Indonesia, North Korea, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Mongolia, Seychelles, Singapore, Ukraine
Virgo
Crete, Brazil, Greece, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay, West Indies, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mali, Mexico, Moldova, Qatar, Tajikistan 
Libra
Tibet, Argentina, Austria, Burma, Canada, China, Japan, Siberia, Botswana, China, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Iraq, Israel, Lesotho, Nigeria, Palau, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Tuvalu, Uganda
Scorpio
Angola, Morocco, Queensland, Korea, the Transvaal, Bavaria, Antigua, Barbuda, Cambodia, Dominica, Latvia, Lebanon, Micronesia, Panama. Turkey, Turkmenistan, Zambia
Sagittarius
Spain, Australia, Chile, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Singapore, Bangladesh, Barbados, Cameroon, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania
Capricorn
India, Bulgaria, Mexico, UK, Albania, Afghanistan, Lithuania, India, Bosnia, Brunei, Czech Republic, Haiti, Nauru, Slovakia, Sudan
Aquarius
Iran, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Syria, Ethiopia. The Holy Vatican City, Sri Lanka
Pisces
Normandy, North Africa, Portugal, Samoa, Egypt, Scandinavia, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Tunisia 

And also U.S. States:

Taurus
Maryland, Louisiana, Minnesota
Gemini
S. Carolina, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Wisconsin, W. Virginia
Cancer
New Hampshire, Virginia, Idaho, Wyoming
Leo
New York, Missouri, Colorado, Hawaii
Virgo
California
Scorpio
N. Carolina, Nevada, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, Washington
Washington
Sagittarius
Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama,
Capricorn
Georgia, Connecticut, Texas, Iowa, Utah, New Mexico, Alaska
Aquarius
Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Kansas, Arizona
Pisces
Vermont, Ohio, Maine, Florida, Nebraska

Hawaii is also ruled by my Jupiter sign of Leo

Case Study

So how much truth do these hold? Going over the list of countries which corresponded with my various signs I realized 1) Wow, I've hardly traveled anywhere in the world and 2) I've almost exclusively traveled within my Jupiter sign which is Leo.

In fact, every place that I've lived for an extended time (Hawaii, Colorado, France) falls under the sign of Leo. If we recall that Jupiter represents spiritual growth, I would have to say that this list of places is eerily accurate. I consider my time in France to be the time when I really came out of my shell and started understanding who I was and my time in Colorado was extremely meditative and helped me figure out my goals in life. Jupiter also represents luck and I've never experience luck more than I have since moving to Hawaii. Honestly, I got off the plane with nothing lined up and had a job in two days after four months of unemployment!

However, that's about where my case study ends as I haven't spent much time in any of these other places which align with my signs but I am curious to apply this to future travels. Not necessarily that I will plan my travels around astrology but it will be fun to look back after each new trip and see if it coordinates with the information that I have just presented to you.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your guy's feed back. Does any of this hold true to you and you travels?

*Countries and state astrological signs from Astro Lada

September 9, 2014

Top Four Things to See at Pearl Harbor

I've mentioned before that I'm really bad at modern history. So going to Pearl Harbor I was really in the dark as it seems the Pacific part of WWII is often forgotten about and glazed over in history lessons and the attention is diverted to the atrocities occurring in Europe.


I know I'm not the only one who has this issue as my job often entails booking tours for Pearl Harbor. Here is the conversation I have at least once a day:
Guest: Hi, I'd like to buy tickets to visit Pearl Harbor.
Me: Actually, there are no tickets for Pearl Harbor.
Guest: Oh, I read that it's really hard to get tickets for Pearl Harbor which is why I'm calling in advance.
Me: The Arizona Memorial requires tickets but Pearl Harbor does not.
Guest: Oh, is that a different place?

No, they are not different places. Pearl Harbor is one naval base with several points of interest within it. On December 7th, 1941 this military base was attacked by Japan without provocation, causing the USA to join WWII. Visitors from around the world now come here to remember the sacrifice of our soldiers. Here are the top four sites at the base:

The Arizona Memorial

Several ships were sunk when Pearl Harbor was attacked but the USS Arizona was one of the most poignant for the violent explosion and the amount of people lost (over 1,000). For most of the men, this is still their final resting place. A somber, white memorial is now on the water above the ship and can be visited by a short ferry ride. Oil still leaks from the ship and is known as the black tears. Some people say they can see the faces of loved ones in the oil.

The USS Bowfin Submarine

Nicknamed the Avenger, this submarine was one of the most active vessels during WWII and led to several victories. Stepping inside of the submarine you can only imagine what it would be like to live in such a cramped space. Quarters were small and some bunk beds were even situated right next to torpedoes.

The USS Missouri Battleship


This ship actually didn't see any battles during WWII but became famous for being the ship on which the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II. This ship is basically a huge, floating city. Inside there are classrooms, law offices, a jail, banks, libraries, and so many dining halls. Today it is used as a museum and holds a lot of amazing propaganda material from WWII.

The Pacific Aviation Museum

This original hanger still stands to this day where you can see bullet holes from the attack on Pearl Harbor. Inside you will find planes not only from WWII but all wars fought in the Pacific theater. I also loved the PanAm exhibit with lots of vintage Hawaii posters.

Travel Tips

-While entrance into the park is free, tickets to board the Arizona Memorial are often sold out months in advance. A certain amount of tickets are held for walk-ups but they are given out on a first come first served basis. If you are making plans to visit the memorial last minute, it's better to book a tour company who will arrange the tickets for you.

-Park security are allowed to stop visitors at any time and ask for proof of identification so bring a government issued id on you when you visit!

-Bags are not allowed at the visitor center. If you do bring one you will have to leave at the front entrance and pay 3 dollars.

-Complete a historical tour such as this one by visiting the Punchbowl Cemetery. Just outside of downtown, this volcanic crater is now the resting place for soldiers who served in wars across the Pacific Ocean.

Visit these historical sites on Discover Hawaii Tours Complete Pearl Harbor Experience Tour.

September 7, 2014

Snapshots of Stockholm

I don't know why but for some reason this original post was attracting an insane amount of spam bots so I decided to delete it. Which is ok because it gave me an excuse to go back and edit my old shoddy pictures and vamp them up a bit. Here's a throw back to my 4 day trip to Stockholm, Sweden during March 2011. During this trip I visited the world's largest outdoor museum which featured recreations of Swedish villages, check out ancient viking ruins, and even ate reindeer! It was an extremely cold trip but Stockholm quickly became one of my favorite cities in the world!


August 11, 2014

I Would Wear There: Study Abroad in France

+ I once read an article about the secret to French style and it's pretty much the opposite of American style; buy very few things but invest in expensive, quality pieces. Classic silhouettes and high quality materials like leather will help you blend in like a local.


+ French style isn't fussy. Keep it sweet and simple with classic styles.


+ Shoes should be flat for running between classes on old cobbled roads. Heels are cute but you'll never wear them.

What would you wear for study abroad?

August 4, 2014

Turning 23 in a Shark Cage


When I was a child I loved going to the zoo. I'm pretty sure every child did. But as I got older zoos began seem a bit weird to me. This was solidified during my trip to the Wuhan Zoo when I saw the abysmal state the animals were housed in. Ever since I could never see zoos the same way.

As I've grown up and matured as a traveler, I now have learned there are other ways to see animals. Ways that don't make the animal endure any unhealthy stress but still teach the public about preservation.

I now choose to go to the animal in the wild. So when I drove up to the North Shore to see sharks, I decided I'd rather see them through a cage than in a cage.

As we loaded onto the boat and started heading out to sea I asked a crew member, "So where's the chum?"

"Oh, we don't need that. The sharks are already there. They're so used to fisherman going by and throwing scraps over board that the sound of the boat engine is enough to attract them."

This was good news for me as it meant I wouldn't be swimming in bloody fish water. It was also nice to know that the tour wasn't disrupting the daily patterns of the sharks but instead just playing on their natural inclinations. This was as anti-zoo as an animal encounter could get.

The boat pulled up to the cage and the crew fastened it to the side. Automatically, sharks came up and began to circle the boat, their dorsal fins just barely below the surface of the water.


"Ok, you first!" the captain said pointing at me.

With a boat full of eager tourists waiting behind me there was no time to hesitate. I grabbed my snorkel gear and jumped into the cage.

From here I could take in everything clearly; nothing but deep, blue ocean below and about ten Galapagos sharks swimming around me, some measuring over ten feet long.

While everyone else in the cage bounced around excitedly trying to film the sharks on their GoPros, I sat still at one spot in front of the plexiglass window and watched the sharks glide in and out of view.

"At this time of the day", a crew member had explained, "it is too hard to hunt. The sharks prefer darker lighting to take cover in. But sharks can't sleep or they'll drown. So right now they're just on 'autopilot' trying to conserve their energy until they can feed again."

Watching the sharks lazily drift through the water, you could almost forget what they were capable of doing. There were, however, moments when I would watch a shadowy figure start coming towards me from the hazy blue distance, becoming clearer and clearer as it approached. Inside of me I felt a primordial fear telling me to run away but then I remembered that I was secure in the cage.



At one point, a strange new shape caught my eye. I looked out and saw a large mahi mahi cruising off in the distance. In an instant, one of the sharks snapped out of his sleepy swim and darted for the fish. It was mind blowing how quickly he moved, covering meters in mere seconds. Everything happened so fast that my eyes didn't even have time to process what happened. A blink and it was over. The mahi mahi was gone and the shark was chomping down on something. It was stunning to experience and reminded me again how glad I was that I wasn't at some boring zoo. Here I was in the wild, watching sharks actually hunt and feed.

When our session was over I climbed back into the boat and gave a thumbs up to the captain.

"You know, you really picked a perfect day to do this." He said gesturing at the beautiful blue sky.

"I know," I replied, "It's my birthday!"

This North Shore Shark Cage Encounter was done with Discover Hawaii Tours.

August 1, 2014

#OurKakaako


This up and coming neighborhood is the center of urban island culture. Art and energy burst from every  seam of this hippest streets of Honolulu.

July 30, 2014

Learning to Surf in Waikiki


At the time of hitting publish on this post I will have been living in Hawaii for 8 months. I am ashamed to say that it was only 2 weeks ago that I finally went surfing.

I never meant to put it off this long. My roommate is a surfer, I live in the place where surfing was invented, and even my favorite magazine, Foam, is a surfing magazine. By all means I should have been hitting the waves long ago. Sadly, life and being an adult sometimes gets in the way of what we really want to be doing.

When my boyfriend came to visit, however, I found it harder to make excuses for why I wasn't in the ocean more. It was on his Hawaii bucket list and mine as well. It was time to cross it off.

Learning the basics with my instructor, Maui
I have a couple friends who surf but I didn't want to bog them down with two newbies so I decided to go to a surf school instead. There are several to pick from in the Waikiki region alone so I decided to go with the one with the best yelp deal: Big Wave Dace Surf Co.

The lesson was quick and to the point. "Here's the front, there's the back. Cup your hand and paddle like this to go left, do the opposite to go right. Do a push up when you want to go over a wave. Pop like this when you want to catch it." my instructor, Maui, explained.

I appreciated the direct manner of the lesson because, well, I'm 23 and don't need to be talked to like a child. Plus, I had 8+ years of snowboarding experience. It can't be too different right?

After 20 minutes on the ground doing basic lessons and working on some muscle memory we grabbed the boards and dragged them into the ocean.

My first thought as I began paddling out to the waves was "Damn, this is nothing like snowboarding!" My shoulders were killing me and I wanted nothing more than a ski lift that would simply transport me to the waves. Seriously, why has no one though of this yet? Not even a tow rope or something? My little arms were so exhausted by the time I finally reached the break.

So there I was, tired as hell already, when my instructor shouted "Turn around and catch this one!"

I mustered my energy to swivel my huge board around just in time to catch the waves momentum.

"Fuck, this is nothing like snowboarding!"

I went down quickly.

I think what surprised me was feeling the world moving below me. When you snowboard, you are in control. But with surfing, I was at the will of the ocean and I could feel it's energy swirling underneath me and dragging me forward. I freaked out and bailed off my board.

I popped up quickly, though, and paddled back out for more.

Catching my first wave
The ocean, maybe in an attempt to test us newbies, began bashing us with waves larger than when we originally went out. I held on to my board and took the waves head on, not realizing that the current was pulling me farther away from my instructor.

Eventually I had enough and turned my board back towards the beach. A wave came and grabbed hold of my board (without my permission!) and started hurtling me towards shore.

"Damn, this wave is too big but I'm already on it. Might as well stand up!"

So I did just that and started riding the wave that was way out of my league but somehow not dumping me. This time I embraced the energy of the ocean and just followed it.


When I finally regrouped my instructor look at me in surprise.

"Nice wave you caught there!"

"Thanks!" I said but I wasn't really listening to him. I was too busy paddling out to catch the next one.

Mahalo nui loa to Big Wave Dave's Surf Co for an awesome afternoon!

July 29, 2014

The Two Day Guide to Big Island


On the largest of the Hawaiian Islands you can encounter a world of extremes; the world's most active volcano, the southern most point of the USA, and some hella good coffee.