Showing posts with label Kauai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kauai. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hanapepe ~ Beyond the Beach and Back in Time

We aren't the lay-in-the-sun, bake-yourself-on-the-beach-people we were a few decades ago. So it isn't just the inviting beachscape, toasty sun and rolling waves alone that bring us to Hawaii each year. It is all the amazing places this island state has tucked away beyond its beaches that bring us back as well.

Just last week during a trip to Kauai's west side, we found ourselves doing a bit of time travel. . .

Hanapepe Swing Bridge - Kauai

. . .during a visit to Hanapepe (ha-na-pay-pay), a little spot that proudly calls itself Kauai's 'biggest little town'. It may be small, but it is one of our favorite destinations on this island.

Walking across the town's swing bridge that connects the old Main Street to the fertile valley on the other side of the Hanapepe River, we couldn't help but think of a time - long before Captain Cook visited in 1778 - when ancient Hawaiians populated the area. The main staple grown in the area was 'kalo' or taro as it is commonly called today. The area's earliest commerce was the trading of salt from the Hanapepe ponds. The 1880's brought sugar cane cultivation and that drew Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Portuguese immigrants to work in the fledgling industry.

These days the old foot bridge - once a transportation link between the fields and the town - is a source of entertainment for tourists who want to test their courage in walking across the creaking, swaying structure. Visitors who make it across the bridge are asked to turn around and not disturb the residents who make their home on the other side of the river. (The original bridge was destroyed during Hurricane Iniki's rampage over the island back in 1992 and was rebuilt and strengthened as part of the storm recovery efforts.)

Hanapepe - Kauai's biggest little town or so they say!
Hanapepe, 18 miles (29 kilometers) from Lihue (where the island's major airport is located), was a bustling economic center from the early 1900's through World War II. Bars and shops lined its streets. Two movie theatres and three skating rinks were in operation. You can't see the ocean from its historic Main Street, but it isn't far away.

By recent accounts, there are more than 40 buildings and structures along the old Main Street that qualify for state and national historic status, but no one in this laid-back part of the island has gotten around to doing any of the required paperwork to get them recognized.

One of the old theatres in Hanapepe

That doesn't mean the town doesn't take pride in its history!  A stroll from one end of the street to the other provides a fascinating glimpse into the 'way it was'  thanks to the photographs from yesteryear, each displayed with a paragraph or two telling the story of how it used to be. Hawaiian 'talk story' at its finest.

History proudly displayed in Hanapepe

Today many of the old wooden structures house tourist shops and art galleries. An old service station is now a convenience store. A former  bar is  home to a bakery. Each shop and the building it is housed in has an interesting story behind it. All are worth a visit, but the one that brought us back to this quaint little spot we'd discovered two years ago, was Talk Story Bookstore; 'the westernmost independent bookstore in the United States'. We simply had to see the store's cat again and to purchase some books.

Owners Ed and Cynthia Justus opened the store 12 years ago with no business plan in mind, he told us.  They were simply moving their ebay business to a storefront. Today they have 100,000 books from which to choose, new, used, collectibles and rare and receive 3,000 new books a month. (To give you an idea of the variety of books in this small, unassuming-looking store, I purchased a book called "Savushun" a novel about modern Iran. It was the first novel ever published in that country by an Iranian woman).

And yes, the cat came to greet us just as it had during our first visit here two years ago.

PicMonkey Collage
Talk Story Bookstore

We also returned to the fragrant shop - just down the street in another old wood frame structure - of the Aloha Spice Company. We couldn't resist buying couple of packages of Anahola Granola. The company was started by Becky, a single mom, who lived in Kauai's Anahola.  She was born and raised in Orcas Island and Seattle, Washington. The early '80's found her living in Kauai and a few years later she began selling her homemade granola in at a farmers market. Today several varieties are commercially packages and sold including the "Tropical" mix which combines macadamia nuts, sun-ripened papaya, pineapple, sweet coconut, whole grain oats, nutritious seeds and Hawaiian honey. Who could resist that wholesome combination, right?

A mouth-watering and fragrant stop in Hanapepe, Kauai

Across the street, as we'd peered through the screen door of the Midnight Bear Bakery, the driver of a delivery truck parked nearby called out to us, "That is the best bakery on the island. I make it a point to stop here every time I come to this side of the island." With that kind of recommendation who wouldn't go inside?  It was soon decision time: Meyers Lemon Danish or Macademia Nut Cinammon Rolls? The just-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls won out, but next time, we'll throw calorie-counting to the wind and try the Danish as well!

Scene from Old Main Street Hanapepe

Another thing we'll make it a point to do next time is to return for their Friday Night Art Walk which takes place every week from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It is the biggest event in the island's biggest little town!

Bridge over the Hanapepe River - Kauai

That's it for this week. Time to go enjoy a bit of that tropical sunshine. We'll be back next week and until then our wishes for safe and happy travels!

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Travel Inspiration

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

First a trip to Costco, then to Hawaii

Based on temperature alone it really seemed a no brainer, that decision of ours eight days ago, to head to Hawaii sooner than our planned mid-January departure.

Directional sign Kaua'i
2017 began at our Seattle area home with daytime temperatures in the low 30F’s (-1C) and nighttime’s dropped to 20’s (-6.6C) and below. Snow had dusted our lawn and blanketed other surrounding areas.

In Hawaii day time temperatures were 79F (26C) and nighttime 67F (19C).

Beach on Kaua'i
A no brainer for sure.  But we were already booked to depart in mid-January for our timeshare life on Hawaii’s island of O’ahu and weren’t sure that a last-minute change of airline tickets and finding a reasonably priced accommodation on short notice was in the realm of possibility.

Sunrise island of Kaua'i

We put our spur-of-the-moment idea into action by checking the rental sites that specialize in timeshare and interval-home rentals. Our reasoning was that having a kitchen and eating at home would save both money and calories. Our go-to sites include and (timeshare users group).  While both sites offered plenty of  ‘short-notice’ choices, the prices were somewhat inflated to our way of thinking, which might have been why they were still available only a week before the rental period would start.

Of course, we are talking January, the highest of high seasons – when many, like us, are desperate to leave the cold behind - so we expanded our search to include hotels. The destination didn’t matter, we were open to staying on any of Hawaii’s eight major islands.

Mural - Maui, Hawaii
Hawaii, our youngest state, sits in the Pacific Ocean southwest of the United States mainland, and is made up of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts that extend 1,500 miles from the Big Island (Hawaii) in the south to the Kure Atoll in the north. (Early day explorer James Cook happened upon them in 1778 and named them The Sandwich Islands, not because of their grouping but to honor the First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.)

State of Hawaii
Our search took us to our favorite booking sites including, and In each case accommodations could be had, but when coupled with the potential airline change fee, a week’s rental car and a possible inter-island flight, we’d just about given up when a TripAdvisor reviewer mentioned traveling there via a Costco Travel Package. . .hmmmm, hadn’t thought to check there . . .

Maui, Hawaii
Costco, for those who aren’t familiar with the name, is a big-box, big-quantity warehouse-type store, that got its start in our town, Kirkland, Washington, several decades ago. There are now 674 Costco stores world-wide including those in Canada, Australia, Mexico, United Kingdom, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. It is a membership store that we’ve belonged to for many years.

In addition to large quantity supplies and food, we’ve found some of the best prices for rental cars are on its on-line travel site and we check there routinely before booking cars. (By booking through Costco the second driver  - me! - is always free.  That isn’t always the case when booking directly with the car company.)  Thinking back, a couple years ago we booked a Hawaiian get-away package for a hotel that had provided us a few nights of fun in Waikiki. Why hadn’t we thought of it earlier?!

Beach - Lana'i Island
Once again, Costco came through with a six-night getaway package on Kaua’i, nicknamed The Garden Island for its lush foliage that carpets its hillsides and valleys.

Kaua'i - the Garden Island
The package includes: six nights in a standard room at the Marriott Courtyard Coconut Beach, near Kapaa, an Alamo full-size rental car, buffet breakfasts for two, and a $50 gift card to Costco.  The hotel’s daily $20 fee is extra.

So was it a real savings? Yes! To the tune of $800, as a matter of fact.  We compared the prices of renting the hotel either from one of the sites mentioned above or from Marriott, the cost of renting the car (through Costco) and of paying for the breakfast separately. Our cost would have been $1,986 but instead paid the package price of $1,194.  The buffet breakfasts alone cost $23 per person and that would have amounted to $276.

Saved money changing our flights
The change fee with Alaska Air was a $125 per ticket, but the fare to Kauai was less than that we’d paid to Honolulu, so our change resulted in a $65 refund! (Sometimes changes do work to the benefit of the passenger, you just don’t hear about them as often as the horror stories related to cost increases.)

Hybiscus bloom - Hawaii
The inter-island flights will cost about $200, which we reason, we’d have easily spent going out for dinner and wine a couple of times here in the frigid Northwest.

Land of Aloha 
So here we are in Kauai where the morning temperature is 66F at 6 a.m. The Weather Channel tells us it is 35F and snowing back in Kirkland.  We standing on our deck barefoot wearing tee shirts and shorts, toasting the new day with a cup of Starbucks, awaiting sunrise.  Yes, that spur of the moment idea was a no brainer - and a good one at that! 

When we began the blog one of our purposes was to share tips about travel deals – and sources for travel deals – with our friends.  I want to assure you we don’t get any kick-backs or deals from the companies we recommend, including those mentioned in this post.  It was just such a good deal – and such an easily missed one – that we wanted to tell you about it. It also is a reminder to ourselves to think outside the usual box when we come up with one of these last-minute travel ideas.

Well be back next week and hope to see you here as well.  Until then, Ahh-Low-HA! as we say in Hawaii! 

Linking up with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Travel Inspiration

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Something to Crow About: Kauai’s Birds of Paradise

KauiSm2014 008It was easy to be captivated by the beautiful birds that unknowingly entertained us during our time this fall on Hawaii’s island of Kaua’i.

This twosome clucked and cooed sweet nothings to each other early each morning, oblivious to the two of us sitting below them sipping coffee and watching the sun wake the day during our time in Princeville on Kauai’s North Shore.

PicMonkey Collage
Morning love songs - Princeville, Kaua'i
Birds of paradise – just the phrase evokes images of cooing doves and graceful tropical creatures, like the swan that glided past our Poipu condo with regularity – undisturbed by the camera-toting visitors, like me.

KauiSm2014 003

But, wait! These aren’t the ‘real’ birds of paradise on this island!

The real birds of this paradise – the one’s that give the island something to crow about -- are the hundreds of roosters, hens and chicks that freely roam the streets, sidewalks, parks, and public areas from restaurants to rental car lots.

Kauai2014Aug 036

This fellow was patrolling the parking lot at a scenic overlook. . .

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And this one was ducking rain drops at the end of the road on the North Shore’s, Ha’ena Beach Park, in much the same manner we tourists were scurrying to find shelter from the often intense rain squalls there.

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But the funniest by far were the resident trio of mischief makers (pictured above) at the Marriott Waiohai in Poipu.  One morning while I was on our fourth floor deck, the normally quiet surroundings came to life with a commotion below me.

A guest in the ground floor unit just below us -- a grown man -- was shooing this Fowl Flock from his patio by doing what one might call a chicken dance -- hopping about while flapping his bended arms.  It worked for a minute or two then they chicken danced right back to him.  It went on for a few minutes .
(I was so busy laughing I didn’t think to get the camera).

PicMonkey Collage
Chicken Marketing in Kaua'i
What Came First – the Chicken or the Egg?

One might ask from where the multitudes of these strutting troubadours came.  Historians can’t put all their eggs in one basket so I found two answers: the Polynesians who discovered the islands centuries ago brought chickens with them and they’ve been here since then. Some say the large numbers of Feral Fowl can be blamed on 1992’s Hurricane ‘Iniki that blasted the island with 145 mph winds (gusts of 165 mph) and scattered domestically raised poultry far and wide. 

PicMonkey Collage

Whatever the origin, they are a permanent part of the population now.  Souvenirs with roosters are everywhere from tee-shirts to home-décor, notepads to Christmas tree ornaments!  The tourism folks really do have something to crow about!!

Post Script: Your thoughts on Columbus Day

HAL 2009 cruise photos 051I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank those of you who responded to last week’s post about celebrating Columbus Day. 
The responses to that post are examples of what blogging should be – a thoughtful exchange of ideas and opinions from across the globe.

Too often we bloggers get caught up in a quest of statistics – the more ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ the better. This post and its responses reminded me why blogging should be a richer experience than that. For that, I thank you! (Click here to access it and the comments.)

As a result of that post, one of our blogger buddies, currently residing in Fiji, shared a link to a post written by Jose Alejandro Amores, a professor at Grand Valley State University who wrote an insightful piece with a headline that begins, “We are all Columbus. . .”   I’d encourage you to take a moment to read it.

Hope to see you back again next week ~ until then, Happy Travels!

Linking Up this week at:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Travel Photo Monday – Travel Photo Discovery
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

Monday, September 22, 2014

Kaua'i: Where Memory Lane leads to Louise’s

She was as exotic as any I had person I’d ever seen back then.
(I’d spent my life in an agricultural community in Central Washington State). 

She was enormous.
(from my five-foot-almost-one-inch point-of-view)

And she had a smile that just wouldn’t quit. She made you feel warm and welcomed – prompting that  kind of ‘I-don’t-want-to-leave’ feeling and a desire to return soon when you finally did leave.

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Louise Hauata - Tahiti Nui, photo March 1983
That’s how I remember the woman, Louise Hauata, from the Austral Islands of French Polynesia, just south of Tahiti. We met her back in 1983  in Hanalei on Kauai’s North Shore. She was a single mother running the Tahitian style bar and restaurant that she and her American husband, Bruce Marston, a former Lt. Col in the U.S. Air Force, had opened in 1964. They had met and married in Tahiti then moved to Kauai. He had died in the mid 70’s.
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The Scout - reluctantly posing - Princeville, Kauai, March 1983

We were young back then – barely married three years -- and travel was doled out in brief 10-day-per-year-doses by our employers. Hawaii, a mere six-hour flight away from the Seattle airport, was  a favorite destination for us.  Kauai’s North Shore was of particular appeal; in part because of Louise’s Tahiti Nui.

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Tahiti Nui - March 1983
We’d sit in those cushioned rattan chairs on her front porch sipping Mai Tai’s and watch the occasional car go by on the two-lane road that gives way to hiking trails and the rugged NaPali coast a few miles beyond Hanalei.  The bar made such an impression that to this day we have an enlargement of this photo hanging in our den.

PicMonkey Collage
Scenes from the Tahiti Nui luau - March 1983
It was at this little place we attended our first – and only – Hawaiian luau.  The dishes were prepared primarily on site, but we recall some dishes were brought by locals – think potluck style.  We paid some ridiculously small amount and dined on authentic Hawaiian dishes: roasted pork, poi, salads, lomi lomi, lau lau. . .the works.
Before we sat down to eat, Louise had us encircle our tables, join hands and she said grace. Then the feast and entertainment was on. The hula show provided by local talented young ladies.

PicMonkey Collage
Hanalei Valley 1983 left, 2014 right
The Hanalei Valley really hasn’t changed much during the decades that have passed since those youthful visits of ours to paradise. The landscape is still carpeted with agricultural fields– with a fair share of golf courses and visitor accommodations in nearby Princeville, where we stayed. 

The town of Hanalei has a grocery store now, a small (tourist-oriented) shopping development and several restaurants and bars from which to choose. However, prior to our return, we were delighted to read in the Lonely Planet’s guidebook, “Kauai” that the Tahiti Nui is run by Louise’s son, Christian and her nephew, William Marsten.

Although Louise had died in 2003, we were eager to follow memory lane back to her Tahiti Nui.

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Tahiti Nui, Hanalei, 2014
I raced up the stairs after taking this photo to peek inside as it was early Sunday morning and the place -  now twice the size it had been -- was closed. Just as I got to the doorway, a woman inside snapped, “We open at 11!” and shut the door in my face. 

So much for that warm welcome I remembered. . .

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The "Nui" now - 2014

Oh well, not to be deterred, we were pleased to learn they still have a weekly luau. . .not so pleased to learn it was capped off at some hundred guests or so, each paying $75 a person.  Maybe a regular dinner there would work, we reasoned. . .

We stopped by the one evening we were in town and the place -- with its cross between funky Tahitian and dive décor -- didn’t look much different from how we remembered it. It was, however, crammed with diners and drinkers thus making its interior stifling hot and stuffy.

But no smiles like Louise’s greeted us from the bartender or the wait staff.

ManitoKauai2014 120There really seemed no room nor real reason to stay.

We took a final look around.

Then tucked those sweet memories away. . .

. . .and ate pub grub at Kalypso a bar/restaurant down the street where we were greeted with a warm welcome.

If You Go:

Tahiti Nui
5-5134 Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, Kaua'i

5-5156 Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, Kaua'i

Linking up:
Foodie Tuesday – Inside Journeys

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kauai: Luxury for Less, Part II

“You own here?” a fellow guest sitting next to us at the Marriott Waiohai Ocean Villas beach bar asked.

“No, we rented a week,” The Scout answered, adding, “I think we got a deal. . .two-bedroom, two bath unit for $109 a night.”

“You bet you did!,” he exclaimed, “I am paying $495 a night!”

Beach at Marriott Waiohai - Kauai
And so began our second week of Luxury-for-Less on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

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Our condo was the one far right top floor, with its deck nestled between two palm trees and overlooking this fabulous lagoon.

In Part I of our Kauai Luxury-for-Less series, I told you about our plush digs at the Westin and its steal-of-a-deal price in Princeville. This Marriott Vacation Club (these are also timeshare condos) is on the sunnier south side of the island at Poipu.

PicMonkey Collage
Top left clockwise: Living room, guest bedroom, guest bath, master and bath, kitchen
The two-bedroom, two-bath unit with fully furnished kitchen, a table to seat eight and full living room had been available for rent from an owner for $109 a night – the only additional cost was a $50 booking fee and nightly room tax which brought the price up to $116 a night.  Wi-fi, athletic facilities and pool use – all included; no extra charges.

PicMonkey Collage
Our deck, and gardens between buildings
Admittedly, we had a garden view but with gardens like this, it wasn’t tough to sit on our deck (a table with seating for four and a lounge chair) and then walk the garden path to the beach.

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Sunset from the Marriott's Honu Beach Bar - Poipu, Kauai
If You Go:

Map picture

Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and is considered the chain’s Garden Island (translated that means it does get rain, however, the showers came and went quickly during our two-week stay).

KauiSm2014 056A number of airlines fly directly from the U.S. west coast to its airport, Lihue.  Inter island flights connect in Honolulu (but they can add a couple hundred dollars more to the cost of the trip).

Another money-saving tip:  There are a number of U.S. ‘big box’ stores on the island, including Costco (where food and beverages prices were definitely less and the selection greater than at local markets.)

Finding The Deal:

The Scout booked this rental through which he found when searching the site,

Our stay was the first week of September and a quick check for September rates for a 2-bedroom, 2-bath, island view at the Waiohai:

Marriott:  $412 a night
Expedia:  $412 a night
Our rate, $116 (including tax) compared most favorably!

As always, we thank you for the time you spent with us. Hope our tips come in handy on your future travels. If you’ve got some tips for ‘deals’ do let us know in the comments below or shoot us an email.  Hope to see you back again later this week~ when we'll take you to "Pigi Heaven"! Happy travels~

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Kauai: Luxury Travel for Less, Part I

The sky turned golden precisely at 5:55 a.m. then went gray and within 30 minutes was a brilliant blue background to the rising sun's antics of playing peek-a-boo through pink-tinted clouds and palm frond silhouettes.

That was how each day began during our first week in Kauai.

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Sunrise in Kauai from our room
We were at the Westin Ocean Resort Villas in Princeville on the island’s North Shore.  Princeville, with its high-end accommodations is nicknamed 'the Bel Air of the island', after California’s similarly ritzy city.

Kauai2014Aug 052From the deck on our studio condo we’d sip both morning coffee and evening wine – there was no better ocean view to be had in the complex than ours.

 We like luxury.

And we’ve surrounded ourselves in it on this trip.

What we like even better is when we find luxurious accommodations for less!

And that’s what The Scout does best. . .so let me show you what he found and how much it cost.

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Our home away from home - week one Kauai
The Westin Villas are ‘time shares’ or ‘interval ownership units’ where a week is purchased (either deeded land or points), maintenance fees are paid annually, and you’ve got your own – albeit, tiny – piece of Hawaii, in this case. (We own such property on the island of O’ahu and Arizona and for those new to the blog, check the links on the homepage for more about those).

PicMonkey Collage
Westin Ocean Resort Villas - Princeville, Kauai
Often times owners can’t use their reserved time and choose to trade it for somewhere/sometime else or they rent the reserved time. A number of web sites are designed for just that and that’s where The Scout found this Westin unit for rent.

PicMonkey Collage
Bathroom, kitchen and laundry off the entry hall
Our spacious unit had a large walk-in shower, jacuzzi tub for two with a shuttered wall that opened to the ocean view, an en suite washer and dryer and a kitchen that included garbage disposal, dishwasher, microwave/convection oven and was stocked with more dishes and pans than I planned to use! Once a week maid service brought new towels and sheets and a room tidy. And our bed was “Heavenly” the kind trademarked by Westin and used in all their hotel and vacation villa properties. For parents out there: the couch was a sleeper sofa - bedding provided.

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BBQs with a view
Food and drink prices were high at this end of the island, so we ate ‘at home’ often. BBQ’s were cleaned daily for use by residents. I tell you sipping wine and enjoying the view while cooking was one of the stay’s high points. . .and it was a better views than many of the restaurants.

PicMonkey Collage
Beach at St. Regis Hotel - and its view: NaPali Coast
A real plus was  regular shuttle service to the nearby St. Regis Hotel where we could sunbathe on its beach or dine in its restaurants and bars (rooms at that luxury hotel began at $500+ a night).

So . . .What we paid:
This room is called a Premium Studio, 512 sq. ft. plus 44 sq. ft. balcony. 
Rate per night on the Westin site: $450;
on Expedia $399.
We paid: $150 per night, booking through the owner’s rental site. I’ve listed a few of them below.

If You Go:
The Scout did a quick Google search for ‘timeshare rentals’ and found a number of websites, including,, TUG (Timeshare Users Group)com.

Note: We didn’t expect to have an ocean view as it hadn’t been specified in the rental - it was luck of the draw. “Ocean views” -- should you book one -- can be tricky because some places consider even a peek-a-boo view of water as ocean view.  Do a bit of research and check floor plans.

Common Sense Note:  We rented from owners using two different web sites. We did not send full payment at the time of booking. We made a payment to hold the reservation but waited until confirmations were sent, in this case from The Westin, with our name on the rental and a confirmation number before we made the final payment. (We also called The Westin prior to arrival to make sure we did have a reservation.)

Next week I’ll “show and tell” the luxury for less we found on the island’s other side our second week. Hope you’ll come  check it out~ until then, Happy Travels. And thanks for your visit!

Linking to three incredible blogs:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Travelers Sandbox
Weekend Travel Inspirations – Reflections en Route
Mosaic Monday- Lavender Cottage Gardening


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