Shannon Did What / Travel + Lifestyle Blog

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Snorkeling with Sail Maui

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

The main theme of my blog is to go out of your comfort zone and do something that scares you.  I always go back to the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that says, “Do one thing everyday that scares you”.  I think it’s really important to make yourself try something new.  I know for me, a big motivating factor is the fear of regret or as the young-ins today call it “FOMO” (fear of missing out).

During the planning for this Maui trip, snorkeling was one activity that came up.  Since I’ve been encouraging myself to conquer my fears through my blog, I thought, well, maybe this time I should try again.

I’ve been snorkeling before.  Maybe I should say, I’ve tried to snorkel before.  My family vacationed in Hawaii every summer growing up. I had multiple chances to snorkel in the lagoon at the resort we always stayed at.  It was a favorite activity for my dad and brother.  One year I decided I wanted to join in.  I was probably about 9 years old.  I got into the shallow water, tried to put my head down, but as soon as the fish came near, I bolted in the opposite direction.  Thinking about it, this could stem from the fact that I’m not an animal person.  Nevertheless, me and fish didn’t mesh well from a young age.

It’s funny because I am such a beach person.  I’m a beach person but for some reason I don’t really love the water.  The idea of fish, the deep water and the unknown just don’t sit well with me.  It doesn’t matter how clear the water is - I still don’t like it. So, how does someone with fears of the deep water and sea life go snorkeling?

You find a great tour company with an experienced staff and a great boat.  That’s where Sail Maui comes into play.

Let’s be honest, there are quite a few tour companies you can choose from to go on a sailing or snorkeling adventure during your time on Maui.  This was very apparent as we were walking down the pier searching for Sail Maui’s Paragon II.  The major thing we noticed was that every other boat tour was jam-packed full of people.  The boats were either stacked with people sitting shoulder to shoulder or had a good couple hundred aboard a larger boat.  One thing I don’t like is large crowds of people, especially on vacation.  We really lucked out on the day of our tour.  We only had 11 people total on our boat.

We chose to explore Molokini Crater as it’s a top snorkeling destination.  After an early morning arrival, you check in and board the stunning Paragon II.  You’re treated to a continental breakfast that can be enjoyed while lounging on the front hammock areas of the catamaran.  It took us just over an hour to sail to Molokini Crater so there was plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and digest or in my case prepare mentally for the adventure ahead.  The great part about Sail Maui is that they provide all of the snorkel gear you could possibly need including pool floats to help you stay above water.

Right about now is when I got a bit more nervous about snorkeling.  In preparation for this adventure, Nick had us do a test snorkel just days before in the shallow waters in front of our hotel.  Thank god he did because after the captain informed us that the water was 30 feet deep, I had some doubts.  I put on all the gear, got prepared and headed down the stairs into the water.  I’m pretty sure I screamed a bit after the initial shock of looking down and seeing the 30 feet of open water beneath me.  After a few seconds and lots of reminding myself to slow my breathing down, I realized, hey I’m snorkeling.

I think my mental toughness came out in full force because once I started believing there wasn’t a giant shark swimming behind me, I started to enjoy myself.  I think my initial fears are really just stories I make up in my head of something going wrong, but if you take a second to take in the beauty of the scenery that all rushes away.  I think the fact that I had a camera with me, also, was a great thing as it served as a distraction for me.  I was focused on documenting my adventures and  wanting to film the colorful coral.

After you’re done snorkeling, the crew sets out a delicious buffet lunch for you to enjoy while you sun bathe on the journey back into the harbor.  Can I just say, I was expecting mediocre food on a boat, but Sail Maui pulled out all the stops and the food was fresh and delicious.  

Moral of the story, if you don’t face your fears, you’ll never know if you’re missing out on something fun.  I’m so happy that I was able to not only go snorkeling, but enjoy myself in the process.

Second moral of the story, next time you’re in Maui, choose Sail Maui to go on an awesome adventure on the water.  They not only offer snorkeling tours at the Molokini Crater, but also sunset cruises, trips to Lanai and even whale watching tours.  Check them out here or if you want to go on this snorkeling trip to Molokini Crater, click here.

Happy snorkeling!

Yours Truly // Shannon

*Sponsored Post: My tour was provided in collaboration with Sail Maui! All opinions are my own.

The Ultimate Guide to Maui Eats

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

When I was trying to figure out what blog posts to write about Maui, I started outlining out the usual ones - where to go, Instagrammable Spots, hidden finds - and then I thought, wait, how could I forget about the food?  It dawned on me.  When I do my research for my trips, I usually focus on the places and things I’d like to do and see and not on food.  Food should be at the top of your list the next time you visit Maui.

This foodie guide basically is ten+ years worth of eating and research.  Big kudos goes to my mom who could probably tell you about any eatery on Maui because she’s eaten at them all.  I actually heard of a couple of places on Instagram to eat at and her response was no don’t go there, t’s a tourist trap and the food’s not actually good.

So, this guide is approved by mom which undoubtedly makes it the best places you should eat at while on Maui.  I realize now that I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I should have of my food, but it makes sense.  All my dishes smelled and tasted so good, they were consumed way faster than I could’ve taken out my camera.

DA KITCHEN

This is probably one of the most authentic Hawaiian places you can eat at.  It’s become the place my family eats at directly off our flight because it’s just 10 mins outside of the airport and right near the Costco.  Here’s how it goes - land in Maui, eat ’til we can’t eat anymore at Da Kitchen and then pick up more food at Costco.  It’s all about food.

It used to be more like a hole in the wall, locals only stop but more recently more people have heard about it causing there to be long wait times multi times a day.  And when I say hole in the wall, it’s a term meaning the best possible, authentic type of place.

Try the fried spam musubi or if you’re feeling super hungry and brave get the Notorious B.I.G. Moco.  It’s Loco Moco on crack, literally.  If you don’t know, Loco Moco is hamburger patties topped with fried egg over rice covered in gravy.  Imagine that with four times the amount of food.  That’s the Notorious Moco.

ALOHA MIXED PLATE

Someone asked me the other day if I had Poke while in Hawaii.  My response was, “I don’t go to Hawaii for Poke, I go for the mixed plate”.  Really, poke may have been invented in Hawaii, but if you want real Hawaiian food you get mixed plate.  Aloha Mixed Plate is the absolute must go-to spot in Maui.

I’m pretty sure everything on the menu is delicious, even though I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything but a Kalbi Ribs plate here.  For you newbies, mixed plates are usually meat, rice and the famous Hawaiian macaroni salad.  My family also highly recommends the Kalua Pig sandwich.  It comes with some pretty tasty local farm grown sweet potato chips.

This was also a hole in the wall place but over the years they’ve really done amazing expansions and renovations.  You’ll most likely encounter a line here, as well.

ULULANI’S SHAVE ICE

Not all shave ice are equal.  I’m telling you, it all comes down to the consistency of the ice.  Some places just don’t have the right kind of machines.  Ululani’s have the right kind of ice machines.  Their shave ice is that melt in your mouth, super fine ice.  Just like snow.

My new favorite flavor combination: Mango, Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) and Guava.  The perfect tropical Hawaiian flavors.

There’s a great location in the heart of Lahaina.

LEODA’S

I’m starting to think every recommendation on this list usually has a wait out the door.  Leoda’s is no exception.  Unless you catch it at exactly the right time, like we lucked out on.

Leoda’s is famous for their homestyle comfort food and homemade pies.  My boyfriend and brother happened to order the special of the day and it was literally the only thing they both talked about the entire rest of the trip.  They had the special pastrami sandwich that had caramelized Maui onion, sweet bbq sauce on a fresh potato roll. Oh boy was it incredible.

STAR NOODLE

Most of the spots I listed above are lunch spots, maybe dinner, but Star Noodle is a can’t miss dinner spot.  If you guessed their noodles are absolutely delicious, why yes you would be correct.  You can’t go wrote with the Hapa Ramen, Star Udon, Singapore Noodles or Pad Thai. Literally writing this is making me hungry.

Come here for the noodles, but order the pork buns, too.  Pictured above. Best piece of advice I have is share.  That way you can get all the dishes to try. That’s why there’s only one pork bun shown above! Normally comes in three.

Make sure you make a reservation, otherwise, like the rest, you’ll definitely be stuck waiting!

JAPENGO

This has become my family’s last dinner in Maui tradition.  I don’t know if it’s more because of the view or the food.  It really is a combination.  Japengo is located inside the Hyatt in Ka’anapali perched just above the pool, overlooking the ocean.  If you time it right, you can catch the sunset from your table.  And there is nothing like a Hawaiian sunset.

Japengo does Asian, Hawaiian, farm-to-table fusion like no one else.  Literally you can’t go wrong with anything on this menu.  My absolute go-to on the menu is the Japengo Fried Rice.  The malasadas are delicious for dessert too.  Though they’re not quite Leonards on Oahu, they come with to die for dipping sauces.  Guaranteed, you’ll be liking your fingers.

Bottom line, come here for the food or come here for the view, either way you won’t be disappointed. 

KULA LODGE

We more or less stumbled upon the Kula Lodge this trip and were so surprised we had never visited before.  Their food is delicious, but their location is the beyond.  Located on the side of the Haleakala volcano in upcountry Maui, the vantage point from Kula Lodge is pretty much incomparable.  You can see almost the entire island of Maui.  They also have a really cute garden that has a very Hobbit-eque vibe.  Its unique architecture just makes it they much more enticing to see.

I will also say the Caesar salad here is one of the best I’ve ever had.  There was just something about their house-made Caesar dressing.  I can just taste it now, yum.

MALA

Mala is the place to eat for ocean side dining in Lahaina.  When I say ocean side, I literally mean on the ocean.  There’s maybe 3 feet between the ocean waves and Mala’s windows.

If you like oysters, you have to try the Hood Canal Oyster Shooter (pictured above).  In all honesty, it looks a bit suspect when it arrives at your table, but oh my, this is one savory, tasty shooter.

You can also head over to their sister restaurant located directly next door, Honu.  The same breathtaking ocean views, but seafood and pizza based.

I hope my lack of food porn photos don’t discourage you from putting these places on your food bucket list.  I promised they will not disappoint.

Happy eating!

Yours Truly // Shannon

48-hours in Portland

TravelShannon Guerrero4 Comments

Oh the challenges of working and wanting to travel.  Cue the weekend.  Yes, the two days of the week of freedom.  Granted now that I don’t work a corporate nine to five, I don’t necessarily have as much of a constricting schedule.  Since I don’t want to travel solo though, that means I travel with friends who do have those nine to five jobs.

Anyway, weekends.  How do you travel in just two days and two nights?  Well, it is difficult, but it’s not impossible.  Here to prove this, is my 48-guide to visiting Portland.  Fly in Friday night and grab a late flight out on Sunday.  Friday you probably can grab a late dinner, but be prepared to make the most out of the full day Saturday and Sunday.

There is a lot to see and do in Portland and while renting a car could be fun, but for the amount it is, you definitely can still get around without having to rent a car.  Besides the sightseeing, the two best things about Portland: beer and food.

SATURDAY


First things first - get up early.  I think it’s way easier to get up and get going early when you’re traveling because you don’t want to miss out on all the things you can do and see.

VOODOO DOUGHNUTS - The other advantage to getting up early is beating the crowds and getting in line to try the infamous Voodoo Doughnut store.  Their doughnuts are not only legendary but very popular having originated in Portland, Oregon.  You’ll sure be tempted to get a whole signature pink box worth’s of donuts because they all look delicious. 

KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD SIGN - Looking back I realized I was going to grab a photo of this iconic sign after I ate a donut (or two) but I think I forgot because I might have been in a food coma.  When you visit, don’t make the mistake I did, grab a picture before you fall into a doughnut coma.  It’s really easy because it’s right across the street from Voodoo.

MULTNOMAH FALLS - The main thing I wanted to see when I was planning my trip to Portland was to see Multnomah Falls.  The only problem is that it is a good hour outside of the main Portland tourist area.  

I found the best way to not have to rent a car while still getting to see Multnomah Falls and it's called the Columbia Gorge Express.  And guess what? It’s crazy cheap!  These luxury buses actually stop at Rooster Rock State Park, Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks and Hood River.  An all-day pass online will cost you $12 - that’s a round-trip, hop on and off ticket.  Just a round-trip ticket to the falls is $5.  Grab your tickets ahead of time, here

PORTLAND SATURDAY MARKET - After you visit nature, head back to the city to grab some lunch.  The Portland Saturday Market is much like Food Pod Carts that I’ll tell you about later.  There are so many different areas of food to choose from and shop a little if you’d like.

10 BARREL BREWERY - You’ll probably be a little burnt out by now, so head on over to 10 Barrel Brewing for drinks at their rooftop bar.  If it’s a pretty day out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this rooftop.  Grab a flight of their beers - they offer everything from light and cidery to dark and stout.

ALDER ST FOOD CART PODS - Really you don’t have to head to these pods as there are food cart pods literally at every other corner in Portland.  This one just happens to be the largest collection of pods downtown.  What I absolutely loved and was so surprised about was the diversity of foods.  I saw carts serving food from Egypt, Mauritius and even Iraq, as well as, typical staples like Thai, Mexican and Middle Eastern.  Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to one cart either.  Sharing is caring! My friend and I got one dish from 4 separate carts to share and it was the best decision ever.

SALT AND STRAW - If you saved any room in your stomach (which you should), head over to Salt and Straw.  This Portland staple may be located in more places outside of Portland but grabbing some ice cream from the original is a must.  The freshly baked treat smell when you walk in will make you want a giant scoop of everything.

 

SUNDAY

CHERYL’S ON 12TH or TASTY N ALDER - Grab a real sit-down breakfast today at one of these delicious spots.  They’re actually a block away from each other, so take your pick.  Full disclosure, we intended to grab a bit at Tasty N Alder but they had over an hour wait so we walked down the block to Cheryl’s.  I had the french toast with lemon curd and blueberries and let me tell you it was amazing.  Ask for extra lemon curd! 

PEARL DISTRICT/POWELL BOOKS - Take a stroll after breakfast around the Pearl District and through the famous Powell Books.  This bookstore literally takes up a whole street block and claims to be the largest bookstore in the world.  There are also multiple other great shops in the Pearl District.

PORTLAND JAPANESE GARDEN/INTERNATIONAL ROSE TEST GARDEN - I’m grouping these two together because they are literally right next to each other.  After your breakfast head over to stroll through some beautiful gardens.  We grabbed an uber, but you could rent a bike, if you wanna work more of that french toast off.  Biketown is a great way to do this and they're sponsored by Nike which is located in Portland. The awesome thing about the Portland Japanese Garden is that is is considered the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan.

The International Rose Test Garden is also a beautiful place to walk around.  It’s free, unlike the Rose Garden.  It also features around 650 varieties of roses. 

MISSISSIPPI AVENUE - This area is a little north of the main downtown area but is super hip and up-and-coming.  It is filled with eateries and bars literally at every corner.  Here are a few of the places we stopped at on Mississippi Avenue:

  • STORM BREAKER BREWING - The cute open and outdoor patio of Stormbreaker Brewing was the perfect place to spend an hour or two to grab some beers after a long touristy morning.  They even make their own potato chips that are oh so good and giant, might I add.
  • BLUE STAR DONUTS - Another Portland original and staple, Blue Star donuts shouldn’t be missed.  I will say these donuts are often compared to Voodoo but I think they are different.  Blue Star is more cakey with different flavor combinations while Voodoo’s are more doughy and have different flavored icing.  You should try them both for yourself.
  • INTERURBAN - After a beer, or two, and some snacks along the way, we stumbled into this gem of a place.  Head to their quaint covered patio in the back complete with a fire pit.  We enjoyed a good 10 minutes out here before it started pouring on us even though it was blue skies and sunny that morning.  Never the less, Interurban was a great place to have a drink and hang out.

LUC LAC VIETNAMESE KITCHEN - I have to say I was greatly impressed with the food here at Luc Lac.  I actually really loved that you order at the front and then have your food brought to you.  I always feel like I get my food faster this way.  Perfect when you’re hungry from touring around all day.  They have a great selection of small plates but if you’re hungry, go for the combination vermicelli bowl.  It has pork, chicken, shrimp, nom neon and crispy rolls.  My friend had it and it was so freaking good.  

I know, I know - there are so many places I missed or could’ve eaten at because let’s face it, this blog post really should’ve been “where I stuffed my face during 48 hours in Portland”, but there’s only so many meals a day you can eat.  The only other highly recommended restaurant we were going to eat at but didn’t get a chance to was Pok Pok. I don’t regret forgoing it though because we were tired from afternoon drinks on the 10 Barrel rooftop and decided to grab from 4 different food cart pods instead.  I think we still won in the food department.  

I hope you get to experience Portland soon if you haven’t.  This was actually my first trip and I definitely want to plan another trip back.  You know to eat more there.

 

Yours Truly // Shannon

 

PS if you're looking for a great place to stay, check out the Hi-Lo hotel.  It's the perfect mix of luxury and hip design right in the center of downtown.  It's walking distance from so many of the locations I listed in this post.  Check them out, here.