Tag Archives: Hawaii

Kailua Beach and Then Home

I never get tired of seeing tropical beaches, but in case you are getting weary, rest assured: Future posts will be set in dreary Seattle. In the meantime, here’s how hubby and I spend the last few hours for warm, windy weather in Kailua.

morning at the beach

The city is in the windward side of the island–perfect for kiteboarding, surfing, and working on getting a “beachy waves” hairstyle.



The homes along the water were amazing (and really expensive!)

beach house

Why did we keep finding fruit in the water?


And why was I so obsessed with taking pictures of it?


I love how Mr. Jean of all Trades dressed during our trip and I’m proud to say he bought the entire Hawaiian wardrobe at Goodwill the week before we travelled. He’s not normally a shorts-and-t kind of guy, but I think he pulls it off well.


We had a fantastic whirlwind of a time and we hope to be back soon.




Filed under Fashion, Photography, Thrifty, Travel

Meeting Spinner Dolphins in Hawaii

Today was the day I’d been dreaming about for the past month. We’d booked a catamaran tour and were hoping to see dolphins, whales and turtles off the west coast of Oahu. Nothing in nature is guaranteed, so I didn’t know what to expect.

We headed over to the Waianae Boat Harbor as the sun was rising. The west coast is the least touristy (and some would say slightly dangerous). Sure there’s poverty, but I think the dangerous reputation is exaggerated. The rumors might benefit the locals though, who probably don’t want swarms of tourists invading their towns.

highway to Waianae

A rainbow at the harbor was a good sign. There were three couples on board, us included, and three crew members: Captain Tori, a marine biologist, and two grad students who were studying the behavior of the animals we were hoping to see.

rainbow at harbor

I chose Wild Side Hawaii because they focus on conservation and ecologically sound business practices. The tours are small and put the animals first. Like me, they don’t condone captive swim-with-dolphin programs or marine parks that emphasize “entertainment.” Dolphins don’t belong in chlorinated cement tanks. I’ve seen the movie The Cove and I’ve learned that untold numbers of wild dolphins are slaughtered to catch the few that are suitable for captive programs. Families are torn apart and I don’t want to be any part of that.


But on this day, I was thinking of the free dolphins in the waters and wondering whether they’d choose to make an appearance. Even if they didn’t, the views were amazing, and the day was perfect. The clouds were blowing away, I had on my reef-safe sunblock, and I was ready for anything.

ready for anything

on a boat

We got to see a surfing competition from “backstage.” I’ve never seen something like this from the ocean side before!

surf from behind

Captain Tori explained all about the indigenous people who used to live in the valleys on Oahu and how they were agrarian and self-sustaining. Some were fierce warriors too and greatly feared.


Then, we saw a humpback whale! Wow! It was amazing to see her come up for air and “wave” to us. Then she disappeared into the water with a splash.


humpback again

I decided to live in the moment instead of living through my camera lens, so the pictures here are less than stellar. But I have the memories that will stay with me forever.

When the dolphins arrived, I was giddy. We watched them surf our wake and easily keep up with the boat. Spinner dolphins are small compared to the bottlenose dolphins people are familiar with. A male might be 6′ long at the most.

dolphins arrive

dolphin with boat

They still seemed big to me.

dolphins from boat

When the captain gave us the all-clear, we jumped in the water. I’m hope you’re not disappointed that I don’t have stories to tell of me riding dolphins or giving them kisses. These are, after all, wild animals. I was honored to be in their environment. I snorkeled quietly on the surface and watched pods of five to 13 “float” by under me. They seemed to move without even trying and the effortless way they glided through the water was not lost on me, a lousy swimmer.


I’m new to snorkeling and I’m still getting used to the calm, silent otherworld-ness of being underwater. And this was a great place to practice. The water was warm, calm, and clear to the bottom (even though it was probably 40′ deep). I didn’t use any lens filters–it really is that blue!

dolphin flukes

I have to include a farther-away shot so you can see the dolphins aren’t in a blue-painted tank. It is the ocean!

dolphins leaving

I would love to go back and snorkel again. I still have to see a sea turtle! If you want to experience nature and wild, free dolphins and whales, check out Wild Side Hawaii.


After the tour, we drove to the North Shore, a famed surfing location, and stopped for lunch and for a refreshing fresh fruit smoothie at Kahuku Farms. We continued clockwise around the island until we got back to Kailua. When we got back to our bungalow, we got ready for dinner and found a delicious Greek restaurant nearby.

Our trip was nearing its end. Last stop: A morning at the beach before flying home.


Filed under Ethical, Events, General

A Hike, Art, and the Trip to Kailua

Saturday morning we grabbed breakfast at an outdoor café and returned to the hotel to pack our bags. We were leaving Honolulu already. But not before we tackled a one-mile urban hike to Manoa Falls, a beautiful, 100′ tall waterfall about ten minutes north of the city.

Manoa Falls Park

bamboo, trees, and the falls

I wore Timberland sandals with grippy soles and a sturdy construction, but the 2″ heel brought me a lot of attention. I think I heard the words “look at those shoes” in a few languages. I swear they weren’t impractical for a short hike! If anything, they kept the mud off my feet.

Jean in Timberlands, with Jeep

After the hike, Hubby had a terrific surprise in store: Lunch at the Honolulu Museum of Art courtyard café. From our table, I took in the sculptures as I drank Riesling and munched on an apple-walnut salad.


More sculptures

I recognized a small Henry Moore sculpture (middle right, above). They had a Seattle import there too: A ceiling installation by glass artist Dale Chihuly.


We took a quick walk through the open, airy space, which seemed like a blend of Spanish and Asian styles.

arches and nests

flowers and windows

Our drive to Kailua was shorter than I expected. The mountain pass led us straight to the beachside town and we settled into our bungalow. We booked through Airbnb and chose this place based on a lot of positive reviews. Beth, our host, introduced us to her dogs, walked us across the street to the beach, and left us to do our thing. I highly recommend her place. It’s decorated so nicely, is completely private, and sleeps 5.


bungalow collage

Compared to Friday, today seemed relaxed. We explored the town, relaxed in the bungalow, and found a neat dinner spot at a Korean-Thai restaurant.

We had to get to bed early though. Sunday was a big day: Our trip to Waianae Harbor for a boat tour and snorkeling!

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Filed under Art, Fashion, Travel

Exploring Honolulu

Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii (which itself is made up of eight main islands). It’s at the south end of Oahu, the most populated island. The island has close to a million residents, with more than 1/3 living in Honolulu. Visiting a big city might be a strange way to “get away from it all,” but being city folk, it’s was a nice transition stop for us.

Friday Morning we awoke to a gorgeous view. Hawaii really is the Rainbow State!

rainbow in Waikiki

First stop: Diamond Head, a volcanic cone at the edge of Honolulu. The crater is a 1.1 mile winding hike up to the top, where we were rewarded with a 360 degree view of the city and ocean.

view from Diamond Head

If you go, go early. The throngs of tourists slowed us down a bit on the way up. We passed most of them and even ran the last portion–99 steps straight up–to an old military lookout.

Jean with Honolulu in distance

After descending back to our rented Jeep, which I fell in love with by the way, we drove to Chinatown for lunch.

lava wall

Top: Gifted
Purse: Shiraleah
Pants: Calvin Klein via swapped
Shoes: Naturalizer
Sunglasses: Corner store in Santa Fe

My dreams of vegan dim sum were shattered when we found out the restaurant had changed hands and was now just a regular dim sum place. So we wandered around until we stumbled on Adega Portuguesa. Hubby and I ate and drank and prepped for the afternoon.

The highlight of my day was finding a cluster of shops near the restaurant, in the Chinatown Arts District. First stop: Roberta Oaks. I met Roberta, who designs, sews and sells all the clothes in her store.

RO womenswear

RO menswear

I bought a chambray dress from her, as well as a upcycled cuff made in Namibia of old PVC pipe. It’s hand-carved and looks like bone or horn–but it’s vegan and sustainable! The fair-trade company, The Base Project, enables artisans to hone their crafts, helps their communities, and earns them money for education, healthcare, and food. Hubby bought aviators, and I also got a leather-look rubber wrap bracelet, a ring made by a friend of Roberta.

My purchases at RO

Around the corner was Owens & Co., which I’d read about in Lucky Magazine. Missy, owner of the shop, has a wonderful collection of gifts and accessories. I found books and onesies, bags and stationary.

Owens & Co

Owens collage

I bought an upcycled, locally made make-up bag, two sparkly hair clips, and an adorable pair of earrings by Umi, another local designer.

purchases from Owens

Next door is La Muse, another great store. By now I was trying to reign in my spending so I only grabbed a pair of earrings and two stretchy spiked bracelets.

purchase from La Muse

Owner Juli Chu makes all of the jewelry in the shop–many pieces with Swarovski crystal, and also stocks it with fresh casual wear perfect for Hawaii.

La Muse

We stopped back at the hotel so I could change my top and shoes–mostly because even though I’d packed lightly, I was afraid I wouldn’t wear all the things I’d brought, which would prove I’d hadn’t packed light enough.

Jean and Teddy

Top: Target
Shoes: Timberland

We walked from our hotel to the shopping center of Waikiki. It was hugely popular, but I just wasn’t interested. After meeting local designers and shop owners, big name brands didn’t cut it. I can buy a designer handbag in Seattle or any other city. But it was fun to grab a latté and wander around the avenue, people watching and taking in the warm breeze.

designer stores in Waikiki

Walking all day in the heat tired us out so we grabbed a quick nap at the hotel before heading back to Chinatown for cocktails. We’d heard great things about Hotel 39, and stopped by for drinks on a rooftop courtyard. Inside, the DJ spun house music and we watched the regulars mingle and dance. I wore my new Roberta Oaks dress.

Our trips might be short, but we sure do cram a lot into them. We didn’t stay past midnight; we had another busy day ahead of us.

Next stop: Kailua to check into our cottage on the beach!


Filed under Fashion, Travel

Hawaiian Getaway

Mr. Jean of all Trades and I took a quick Hawaiian vacation recently. We left Seattle on a Thursday morning and came back on Monday. It was a long-long weekend. Probably too short in retrospect, but any time away is better than none.

It’s a five-hour flight to Honolulu, and that gave us the afternoon to wander through Waikiki, the busy, touristy part of the city. I was thrilled when The Pacific Beach Hotel upgraded us to an ocean-view room. Those little dots in the water are surfers waiting to catch a wave. The water seemed calm but every now and then, they’d ride a wave to the shore.

view from the room

Hotels in Waikiki are pricy so I picked a less expensive, no-frills place to stay. It was clean and close to everything. That’s all we needed. This picture is of the hotel next door.

Waikiki hotel

The beach was beautiful and it was a treat to see palm trees again.


The last time I saw any was in Florida last year, when I met up with my parents who were staying in Pompano Beach.

Evening in Waikiki

We savored the sunset and watched the ships along the horizon. It was hard to believe we’d been in Seattle that morning.


When the sun lowered, the glow was gone.


But it stayed light later than it does in Seattle this time of year.

pre-valentines' day dinner

Best of all, it stayed warm! We wandered the beach before heading off for a Valentine’s Day dinner.

I picked up this maxi dress at a clothing exchange this past fall. I jokingly said that I didn’t have anywhere to wear it but I’d take it for my next trip to Hawaii (not knowing I’d be heading there so soon)! We ate in an Italian restaurant where I found a delicious vegan pasta dish and a drink made with sparkling wine and hibiscus juice. Welcome to paradise!

Next up is our first full day on Oahu: Exploring Honolulu.


Filed under Architecture, Fashion, Photography, Travel