Tag Archives: beaches

Hiking and Tramping to Cathedral Cove Near Hahei, New Zealand

Ever get somewhere and think “This is not worth it” and by “it” I mean the time, energy or money used to get there. I’ve had those thoughts before. Bangkok comes to mind. As does Disney and most movies I’ve seen in the theater in the last 5 years. Thousands of dollars, too many hours and all of our energy went into our two weeks in New Zealand, but I never once had that thought.

Throughout our 14 days on the two islands, never once did I regret the time, money and energy we expended to explore New Zealand’s north and south islands. One of our first stops was Cathedral Cove, a very worthwhile stop! Each mile and dollar was worth it to soak up the sun rays, dig my toes into the powder sand, and shiver when realizing the turquoise water was a tad but cooler than the Caribbean Ocean.

Prior to hiking to Cathedral Cove we sea kayaked around cliffs and corners and through caves. We battled winds and waves and each other, because double kayaks will do that to even the best of couples! Cathedral Cove Kayaks took us on a great adventure.

Cathedral Cove Kayaking

But after 3 hours out of the water we wanted to relax. The only thing between us and that relaxation was a “short” little hike. The hike out to Cathedral Cove is no Tongariro Trail, but it is not a short little jaunt either. And don’t be the person who takes a boat here. If you want the views, do the work. (Rant over.)

Pack a small bag with a few beach necessities, snacks and water and then start hiking in Hahei. The path is wide and even. There are rougher off-shoots that you can take down to other small patches of sand or view points. They’re pretty, but we just wanted to sit and swim and sip our libations, so we kept walking.

The walk itself is 30-45 minutes based on your level of fitness and pace. Once there, do not expect to have the place to yourself. It is a favorite for a reason! However, when you finally sink into the sand and see the boat drop off a “boat load” of people you will instantly be angry that more people are in your “secret spot.” You’ll get over it quickly though; Cathedral Cove is too spectacular to let anyone ruin it for you! (OK, now my rant is over.)

You can easily spend any entire day near and around Hahei as we did. On land, in the water or on water, Coromandel and the surrounding peninsula are worth every mile, penny and ounce of energy it takes to get there.

Beaches in Kauai, Hawaii

Going to the beach is an obvious activity in Hawaii. But, all beaches have ups and downs – and not just the waves and tides. Here are our favorites of Kauai and why (or why not).

Polihale Beach – I’ll start with this beach because it was my absolute favorite on the island. It is secluded and picturesque and the perfect venue to watch the sun sink into the water. It is secluded and a local favorite because you MUST have 4 wheel drive to access this beach. The roads leading into the beach and state park are sugar sand, or very deep sand, that a car with front wheel drive only just cannot make it through. Michael and I even helped a car who took the risk (and failed). We helped the couple to push their car out of sand. Meanwhile, the locals drove past and shook their heads. You can’t blame them though; there are signs posted in multiple locations along the road; so proceed at your own risk. Not to mention that they’ve likely helped their fair share of clueless tourists. So, the need for a 4-wheel drive vehicle is both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it for this beach. A pitfall of Polihale Beach are that the waters are very rough. Polihale Beach is not a swimming beach, but the fact that it is not busy and so scenic made it our favorite.

Brennecke’s Beach – Brennecke’s Beach is the opposite of Polihale in that it is very busy and easy to get to from a busy road in Poipu. But, on the flip side, you can easily swim. Another plus is that you have the chance to see turtles nesting. This is a common occurrence on other beaches on the island, but this is the only place we saw a turtle on the beach while on Kauai. You also have the option of sipping a cocktail at Brennecke’s Beach Bar while watching the waves if you want. This kind of option is always good when you’re fed up with other tourists stepping over you and screaming children. Sorry! (Not really!)

Shipwreck’s Beach – Like Polihale, Shipwreck’s Beach is not good for swimming, but it is great for watching surfers and boggy boarders. The waves crash violently at the shore, making for dramatic wipe outs and impressive rides. Parking is also very close. The beach is next to a large resort, so you will not have the place to yourself, but it was not as busy as Brennecke’s when we were there around sunset.

Tunnels Beach– Tunnels beach is a long, curved shoreline, offering beach goers space to spread out and feel like you have a place to relax without hearing other’s conversations or music. It is also great for snorkeling, a long stroll on the beach and shell/rock hunting. The large black lava rocks against the bright turquoise water make for a beautiful view when on land too. We also saw a monk seal bathing on the beach, the only sighting during our week on the island.

Ke’e Beach – Ke’e Beach is known for its snorkeling, calm waters and sunset views. We experienced all 3 and agree with its reputation. The biggest downfall of this beach is the parking problem, and it is a problem. The beach is also at the trail head for the Hanakapi’ai Trail; the most popular trail on the island. Arrive early, or wait until just before sunset and hope you find a spot. Expect to walk at least a half a mile once parked. It’s a hike; before the hike.

Hanakapi’ai Beach – Speaking of hiking, Hanakapi’ai Beach is only accessible by boat or a couple of hours of hiking. But, oh man! It is so worth it! Pack plenty of water, hiking boots and snacks and enjoy a pristine beach while eating, re-hydrating and cooling off in the water. But, again, parking is an issue as you park in the same area for this hike and beach as you do for Ke’e Beach. So, again, get there early, really early.

All beaches are not created equally, but Kauai’s beaches are known around the world for a reason. Kauai is the perfect destination for beach lovers and for outdoor lovers in general. 

Marco Island, Florida

When your friends ask you to meet them for a relaxing weekend getaway on a beautiful island you say “Yes!” There was really no hesitation for us since traveling with friends is fun and cheap(er) than traveling by yourself! Plus, this destination was a simple road trip away (read: no plane ticket to purchase!). So, we packed our bags (mine a rolling suitcase and Mike’s a duffel bag) and drove the 2.5 hours to Marco Island, Florida.

A Weekend Getaway in Marco Island

Marco Island is a (very) quiet island at the Southwest corner of Florida. It is near the Everglades and the city of Naples. It has world-class resorts, spas, golf courses and fishing. But, for this trip, all we did was enjoy the beaches, the restaurants and our friends!

We stayed at the Hilton Resort and Spa. The room had two queen beds, a small couch and a million dollar view!

Hilton Marco Island View

Hilton Marco Island Pool

Good Morning towel greeting at Marco Island Hilton

Of course you one does not stay at the Marco Island Hilton Resort and Spa for the room. Although clean and comfortable, the outside activities are the highlight of the property. The pool has plenty of seating, towel service and dining/bar area.

There is more fun out on the beach with catamaran sail boat, kayak, stand-up paddle board and wave runner rentals.

Hilton Marco Island Jet Ski

Stand up Paddle Board Marco Island HiltonSailing at Marco Island Hilton

If these water activities are not for you there is plenty of space on the wide beach to rest and relax. The sand is powdery white and perfect to lay your towel on! However, lounge chairs are complimentary to hotel guests. Umbrellas are $18.00 per hour for unlimited use each day. (*Hint: the rental price drops to $11 per hour after 1 pm.)

Umbrellas for rent at Marco Island Hilton

Marco Island Beaches

Marco Island Gilf of MexicoRelaxation on Marco Island

Seashells on Marco Island

One event that is sure to be the highlight of your stay is watching a sunset over the water. Guests are drawn out to the water’s edge on a nightly basis for this spectacle – and for good reason!

Colorful sunset GUlf of Mexico

Watching the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico

Dusk on Marco Island

Sunset at Hilton Marco Island

We spent most of our time out on the beach – drinking fruity beverages, telling funny stories, walking the beach to find shells and swimming. When not on the beach we were eating. (Tough life, huh!?) Here are the names and our opinions of the establishments we visited.

Breakfast:

  • Empire Bagel Factory – Their coffee isn’t great, but their bagels, cream cheese and muffins are! The service and prices are just right too!
  • Paradise Cafe at the Marco Island Hilton – The food is average, with above average prices. The staff is helpful and pleasant.

Lunch:

Dinner:

  • Sunset Grille– Even though eating dinner while watching the sunset is nice, I would not recommend doing so here. The wait staff does a great job, but the food is just not good. Period. It’s “bar food,” but bad bar food. I hate to write negative reviews, but honesty is our policy at WWB. We were very disappointed with our meals.
  • DaVinci’s Italian – Italian food after a day in the sun might not sound great, but it was just what we wanted. The homemade pasta and gnocchi were exquisite and the Chicken Parmesan could be cut with a fork! There is a great wine selection and a very friendly wait staff.

Dessert:

  • Beebe’s Ice Cream – We went both nights – enough said!

We anticipate another trip to Marco Island soon to kayak 10,000 Islands, play a round of golf or to just soak up the Florida sun a little more!!