5 Relaxing Things To Do In Hawaii

Nick and I just returned from what I’ve been jokingly referring to as a “forced vacation.” I know I know, cue eye-roll.

A few months back, our business partner asked us when we wanted to take time off this Fall, and Nick and I responded with blank stares. Time off? Like… intentional time off? Just because? As we travel often for work, the idea of going on a vacation for rest and rejuvenation is a bit of a foreign concept to us. We chatted about it for weeks, and deliberated between a few ideas: a road trip up to our old stomping grounds in the Pacific Northwest? Maybe head to Southern California for some surf and family time? And then the idea of Hawaii came up, and all bets were off: nothing beats a Hawaiian vacation. We used points to fly over there, and booked a few nights in Maui at Fairmont Kea Lani (which I’ve stayed at before and is one of my favorite resorts), before heading to the Big Island to crash at Nick’s dad’s house in Kona.

5 Relaxing Things To Do In Hawaii

In need of a “forced vacation” yourself? Trust me, Hawaii has what you’re looking for — here’s how we did it:

1. Start In Maui

Maui is the quintessential Hawaiian escape: gorgeous white (and black!) sand beaches, palm-framed jewel-toned sunsets, and endless adventures around every corner. I truly love staying at the Fairmont Kea Lani. Located in pristine Wailea, it’s an easy 30 minute Uber drive from the airport. Upon walking into the stunning lobby, you’ll be greeted with a lei and shown to your room. Check out the new Wellness Suite Package, which includes spa products, workout equipment, and one perfect view. Normally when we travel, Nick and I like to be pretty adventurous, but this time, we just enjoyed lazily swimming with turtles at the beach and hanging poolside at our own private cabana. Even just typing this makes me want to go back!

5 Relaxing Things To Do In Hawaii

2. Eat At Ko

My favorite restaurant at Fairmont Kea Lani, and arguably one of the best restaurants on all of Maui, is . The menu features a blend of Asian cuisines, all paying homage to the various influences you can find on the Hawaiian islands, including Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean and Japanese. The seafood is all caught the same day, and specials rotate seasonally. Order a bunch of options just to try — the “sear your own ahi” appetizer was our personal favorite. This is a popular restaurant, so I definitely recommend making a reservation in advance!

3. Hop Over To The Big Island

If you want to check out another island during your relaxing getaway, definitely consider the Big Island, just a quick 30 minute flight from Maui. There are multiple inner island flight options available, but I would recommend looking into Mokulele. They often have really great deals (I’ve flown from the Big Island to Maui for $50 before!) and best of all — as they fall into the “commuter” category, you don’t need to go through airport security, or even really go inside the airport at all. Super easy and convenient. The plane ride itself almost feels like an attraction you’d pay for — it’s a really small aircraft that can only seat 10 passengers. Plus those views are hard to beat! P.S. Heading to the Big Island and looking for a place to stay? I love Fairmont Orchid Hawaii!

5 Relaxing Things To Do In Hawaii

4. Go For A Run Or Bike Ride

Hawaii’s heat and humidity is NO JOKE. Maybe I’m extra sensitive as I am used to a cold, dry climate in the mountains, but exercising in humidity is not easy for me. The trick is getting out and doing it early, around sunrise or just after. There’s also not a better way to explore a new area than by bike or on foot. When we stayed in Kona at Nick’s dad’s house, we borrowed bikes from the garage to go downtown and watch the Ironman World Championships, which was pretty incredible. I have a whole new level of appreciation for the grit and dedication that these athletes possess, after watching them swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, then run a marathon (26.2 miles), all in the aforementioned humidity! So inspiring.

5 Relaxing Things To Do In Hawaii
5 Relaxing Things To Do In Hawaii
5 Relaxing Things To Do In Hawaii

5. Go Snorkeling

Did you even go to Hawaii if you didn’t snorkel? You can snorkel just about anywhere in Hawaii, as long as the waters are relatively still. You can rent gear, bring your own or go with a guided group (bonus: Fairmont Kea Lani has free snorkel gear they loan out). On this trip, we snorkeled on the Big Island at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, also called Two Steps, one of the best spots for snorkeling I’ve ever been to. This lava rock beach, several miles south of Kealakekua Bay on the Kona side of the island, is quite popular, as it’s so easy to access, right next to the road where you park. I have heard it’s common to see Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins in the morning, although unfortunately I never have. As always, be respectful of wildlife and give them plenty of room if you do encounter them. Two Steps is pretty close to Captain Cook Monument, which is also an excellent spot for snorkeling, although involves a long and arduous hike with little shade protection.

Are you traveling to Hawaii soon? What adventures do you have planned?

Disclosure: This post is in partnership with Fairmont Kea Lani, one of my favorite resorts, who hosted us in Maui. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

World Sight Day 2019

This content is sponsored by Herbal Essences — as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 October is Blindness Awareness Month, and today is World Sight Day — an incredibly important day for me and millions of other blind and vision impaired people around the globe. I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (commonly referred to as RP) in 2010 — an incredibly rare condition slowly rendering me blind. Read my diagnosis story here if you’re interested in hearing the backstory! 

A few stats about blindness and visual impairment: 

●      285 million people worldwide are vision impaired, according to the World Health Organization

●      217 million people worldwide are ‘severely’ vision impaired (I would fall into this category)

●      39 million people worldwide are blind

●      Visual impairment is not the same thing as needing glasses or contacts. If you’re able to fix your bad eyesight with a prescription, you are not legally blind!

And about retinitis pigmentosa:

●      100,000 people in the US have retinitis pigmentosa, according to the Foundation Fighting Blindness

●      It’s a genetic condition that often runs in families

●      The photoreceptor cells in the retina (rods and cones) are affected, creating symptoms that vary a bit from patient to patient

●      Typical symptoms include loss of peripheral vision, night vision, glare + depth perception issues

●      RP is degenerative, meaning it worsens over time — it leads to progressive vision loss, and sometimes blindness

●      No treatment or cure is known at this time

World Sight Day 2019

Since my diagnosis almost a decade ago, I have honestly not noticed a significant progression in my vision loss. I even participated in a four-year clinical trial hosted by my opthalmologist Dr. Jacque Duncan of UCSF a few years back, and at the end of the trial period, she told me my vision had not altered. I’ve written blog posts on here about this — how it seemed essentially miraculous that I hadn’t experienced significant change and that my vision has been relatively stable since the initial diagnosis. RP symptoms vary from patient to patient, so there’s not a guaranteed “timeline” of when things will get worse.

It was during our first Truckee Thursdays of the summer, earlier this June, that I noticed something was different. 

I had set up a booth at the summer street festival in our hometown every year for the past four years. With little peripheral vision, navigating large crowds has always been challenging for me, but I rarely feel truly “impaired” on a day-to-day basis, aside from not being able to drive. Being able to work the booth: set it up, take it down, schmooze with people all night long, had not ever been especially challenging. Until recently.

Out of nowhere, I can visibly see a difference in my vision, both in my peripheral and night vision. I’m noticing I am hanging back more: I have a slower time being able to adjust to my surroundings and scanning is taking more time and energy. I now need to hold onto Nick’s arm almost all the time when we’re walking into unfamiliar and dimly lit places. I am knocking things over more frequently (including a full wine glass all over my mother-in-law’s dining room chairs the other night… not fun) and feeling more timid about outdoor activities. With these physical changes, comes emotional and spiritual adjustments as well. I can literally remember what it was like to see better a mere few months back.

It feels like I’m processing my diagnosis all over again.

I have an appointment scheduled with my opthalmologist this December to try and figure out what is going on, but the reality is that it’s not unusual in my condition for years to go by with no significant change, then notice progressive changes swiftly. As my therapist recently said, it sucks.

Given all this, I’m especially grateful to see brands like Herbal Essences embrace inclusivity and create products that are friendlier for the blind, in a world that tends to forget about the vision impaired community. These shampoo and conditioner bottles have subtle etchings on the back (circles = condition, stripes = shampoo), so people who can’t see in the shower can differentiate which is which. SO AWESOME. By 2020, Herbal Essences has committed to including tactile indentations on all their shampoo and conditioner bottles to help vision impaired people do their hair and feel beautiful every day – you can purchase them now on Amazon. They’re also redesigning their website to be accessible for the VI community, and they’re already using Instagram’s Alternative Text feature. I’m hoping it’s changes like this that pave the way for other brands to make products that are more accessible to the blind community.

World Sight Day 2019
World Sight Day 2019

If you are blind or vision impaired or know someone who is, check out the Be My Eyes App here today. It’s a free app that connects blind and low vision individuals with sighted volunteers and companies through a live video call. Herbal Essences has trained people on call ready to answer your personal hair care questions on Be My Eyes! Also, Herbal Essences is introducing an Alexa skill that allows customers to ask questions about Herbal Essences bio:renew products, ingredients and benefits. We live in such a technologically advanced age; it’s incredible to see technology make life easier for the disabled community who fight for independence and inclusivity every day.

As always, thanks for the support. It truly does mean the world to me. If you have additional questions about retinitis pigmentosa, or about Herbal Essences products, feel free to leave me a comment below!

World Sight Day 2019