TRAVEL: 5 Days on Kauai

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Back in August, Drake and I took off to the Garden Island to celebrate his birthday and our one-year anniversary. 
Yes, we have officially been dating for one year - a huge milestone for both of us as neither one of us have been in a serious relationship that long! 

But that's not what this post is about. Welcome to Kauai! Here's a quick breakdown on what we did, where we ate, and some tips and tricks to make your next trip to Kauai as easy as possible!

Where to stay: 
Since this ended up being a last-minute trip (like all of our trips, who are we kidding? #NonRevLife), we hopped on AirBnB and found the cheapest listing available. Not an easy feat to accomplish, but we managed to lock down a place that was less than $100/night! This cute little beach loft was exactly what we needed. It's tiny but has everything you need for a quick stay on the island! Plus, it's within walking distance to everything downtown and right by the beach. Waking up and enjoying the sunrise on the beach was one of my favorite features of staying here!

Use MY LINK to sign up and save $40 off your first trip on AirBnB!

What to eat: 
Here's an insider hack for you - AS SOON AS YOU LAND, GO TO COSTCO AND STOCK UP ON BREAKFAST AND SNACKS. You will save so much money by just buying those food groups for the time you are on the island. We had Jimmy Dean Protein Bowls almost every morning and were full, satisfied, and ready to tackle the day. It ended up saving us a lot of money AND time!

Since we stayed in Kapa'a, we ate a lot of local restaurants there - Kauai Juice Co, Street Burger, Wailua Shave Ice, Bubba Burgers, The Local, and Mermaids Cafe were all fabulous locations. Fun fact - it was on this trip that I discovered a loophole in my seafood allergy. For the first time ever, I realized I could eat raw fish. Once it's cooked my allergic reaction kicks in, but sushi and poke bowls are all fair game! Isn't that amazing? It absolutely blew my mind once I figured this out.
Another favorite we stumbled across was the Aloha Juice Bar up in Hanalei. The special of the day? A 1/2 papaya filled with dole whip and topped with coconut flakes. OH-EM-GEE. It was so damn good.

Honestly, I just recommend eating all the fresh fruit and seafood you can while you're on the island and you can't go wrong!

What to do, where to go:
First off: rent a car.  Preferably a Jeep. It's a lot of fun, and in order to properly explore the island, you'll need a reliable form of transportation.

Plus, just driving around this gorgeous place is satisfying enough. Pull over when you spy other cars on the side of the road - there's probably a secret beach tucked away nearby! Explore and see where your drive takes you.

However, some must do's absolutely include:

Waimea Canyon. And here's an insider trick - when you make the drive up the mountain, go straight for the Na'Pali Coast! The view is much better the earlier you go, before the fog rolls in. We learned that the hard way - this was as good as a view we could snag before we had to leave.
A foggy view of the Na'Pali Coast... 
We ended up taking the Waimea Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls and wow - what a workout! Be sure to pack quality hiking sandals or boots - you'll be traversing muddy terrain and steep inclines. My old Teva's have gone through a lot, but it was on this hike that the bottom sole on the left sandal tore off! I made do and was able to complete the hike, but my feet were in pain at the end of the day. Well worth it for these views though.

Queen's Bath. Get here as early as possible - the tiny dirt strip for parking fills up fast! The first time we headed out there we were unprepared for the line of cars just waiting to snag a spot. If it's full, you'll more than likely fall in line with other cars and have to wait until someone comes back up to leave. Also, be prepared for a tiny little hike down - so once again, pack those trusty hiking sandals!

My favorite moment from this spot was when Drake and I came across this pool where five sea turtles had wandered into! They were just casually swimming about, unaware of the excitement they sparked in their audience above. It was a magical moment.

Take a food tour! We went on one with Tasting Kauai, and it was such a relaxed and enjoyable experience. They have several options you can choose from, but based on our schedule and days on the island, we ended up going on the Hanapepe Walking Food Tour. We got to sample from so many local businesses and personally meet the business owners and learn their story.

And that wraps up the major highlights from our Kauai trip! Be sure to stock up on sunscreen (I was vigorious on applying and re-applying and I STILL got burnt), enjoy all the roosters wandering around, and know that no matter what you end up doing, you can't possibly go wrong on this gorgeous island. Mahalo!

SOCIAL // The Best Resources for Instagram

Monday, July 15, 2019

Hi, my name's Linda, and I'm a full-time social media manager and part-time content creator (@the_dragonfruit). I hopped on the social media train back in 2011 by starting this blog (back then known as "Trendy Teal"). Slowly I started branching out, building followings on both YouTube and then Instagram.

While only recently hopping back on this blog bus, I've spent the past few years building up my Instagram profile and learning the (at times frustrating) in's and out's of everybody's favorite app. It's led to some genuine connections with amazing people, helped me land my dream job, and overall has been an incredible asset.

How do you do it? You do your research. Social media management isn't an actual job position for no reason. There is work and time that is put into it. So here is a roundup of the best sources of information if you're looking to stay updated on ALL the tips and tricks of Instagram!

Sign up for Email Lists:
Find out about all the new updates, trends, and more by signing up for email lists that specifically target this! Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Social Media Today: This is a daily newsletter that covers EVERYTHING. New updates, digital media studies, social media trends, you name it! I really love this one to find useful information on where Instagram is taking things. For example, the new Creator account release? I heard about it several months ago through this email list.
  • Later: I always enjoy an e-mail from this company, mainly because it's so well-done visually. Their information is always valuable, and they are more specifically attached to Instagram (of course, because their company is built on service for Instagram, so it makes sense).
  • The Daily Carnage: this one's more random but definitely fun. They round up any bit of random news that might be interesting. From sharing about human spaceflight to including vintage ads from the past (some are REALLY interesting), these guys do an amazing job of finding daily articles and news bits that are unique. Oh, and every Friday they include a drink recipe for the weekend. Cheers!

Download Apps:
With social media growing at the rate it is, app developers have started creating an endless amount of apps that specifically help the budding Instagrammer. Here are just a few that I use on the daily:

  • UNUM: there are many like this, but so far, I love using UNUM to plan out my feed. You can also schedule out posts, much like Planoly and Later!
  • Unfold, Storyluxe, InStories, and StoriesEdit: I use all of these apps to get a nice variety of looks for my Instagram stories! They're pre-made layouts you can load your videos and pictures in to give your stories a more aesthetic feel. Play around and let your creativity run free with these!
  • KUNI Cam, Lightroom Mobile: These are the primary editing apps I use to add filters and edit my photos on. There are a huge variety of these types of apps though, so browse around to find what you like. But if you like adding vintage effects and light flares, KUNI Cam is a pretty solid one to start off with. 

Follow Instagram Strategists:
Want to get updates from professionals in the field? The best way is to hear directly from those people! These are just a few of my favorite boss babes on Instagram, but they're all really solid accounts that share valuable information every time they post.

You can always trust Dulce to tell you how it is! She is an Instagram strategist and has even created her own program called LaVidaSocial - so she's always sharing the best tips in her stories and captions. 
Kellie's primary job is a web/brand designer, so she's got a very analytical eye! I love hearing more about the web design aspect of social media, so her stories are always very informative to me (for example, I know to avoid GoDaddy AT ALL COSTS now). 
Johhhanna has some of the best captions around! She's an Instagram strategist specifically for branding. Her captions always share some of the most helpful tips!

Heather is a boss babe to the max! Did I mention she's also a mom? From co-hosting #SheNetworksBoise events, helping fellow entrepreneurs master their marketing, and all while being a mom, it's clear she does it all! 

I don't know what to tell you if you don't know who Quigley (aka: Casey Goode) is yet. She's grown a massive following on Instagram thanks to her combination of gorgeous photos paired with relatable, helpful captions. She shares useful tips through her blog and has even started a mentoring service called @thesoulcialmedia - check it out!

That's my roundup of the best tips and tricks to finding quality resources for Instagram! I hope it helped. What are some of your Instagram questions?

The perks of being a "fat-fit" girl

Friday, July 12, 2019

DISCLAIMER: I wrote this out of my own personal experience with being an awkwardly fat-fit girl. I'm happy to see more body types being celebrated and shown in recent publications! However, I have yet to see one that fits mine in quite the same way. I wrote this quite frankly, and if I misspoke out of ignorance, I would love to learn more. Please leave any constructive comments below!

You know that feeling when you look at pictures later and start to scrutinize? Trust me, the rolls in the above photo leaped out to me real fast. I cringed, scrolled through to find a more flattering photo, then paused. This was my body. A very honest look at what my body looks like sitting down in a skin-tight tank top.

Let's be frank, shall we? I'm a "sturdy" girl (my favorite adjective growing up) who's neither overtly obese nor especially skinny. Oh, and the curves you'd think would be a perk to being bigger? Nope, nonexistent. I have strong, broad shoulders, a flat chest, a wide waist, and legs that are naturally endowed with more muscles than most guys will ever achieve in a lifetime. #bejelly

As a woman who faces the same, discouraging body standards we all do, I decided to make a little list of things I'm grateful for thanks to my unique body type.

Because I'm all about that body positivity! And while it's easy to hand out, it's harder to give to yourself, and it's time to change that.

1. I don't worry as much when I go out or travel. 
Not to say I'm completely stupid or unaware (the complete opposite in fact!), but based on my observations, the tiny, petite girls are often prime targets for predators. Which is awful and scary and it's messed up we live in a world where women have to think like this! But growing up as a woman in this messed up culture, I'd have to say being heavier set does have its benefits when it comes to this. Most can sense that I'm not someone who's easy to push around, and if they try, I can push back with just as much force. 

2. I feel more confident about trying new, athletic things.
I used to work on the ramp for the airport, and it's an extremely physical job. However, I walked out there knowing I could keep up with the guys (if not surpass some of them as well). Loading and offloading bags, carrying cargo, and even hooking up ground power to the plane are all activities that require muscle - and even if it makes me bulky, I'm grateful I have that.

3. I've become terribly realistic about guys and how they think. 
AKA: they're extremely physical creatures, and unfortunately, your personality is not what they notice first. Duh. Being the not-fat-not-skinny girl means I'm used to being looked over and disregarded. However! That also means when a guy takes the time to get to know me, I know that he's worth mine as well.

4. I'm less self-conscious due to this. 
Thanks to the gift of invisibility, I've slowly learned that it doesn't matter so much if I say something odd, act a bit quirky, and just be myself in general. I'm much more comfortable just letting people know what you see is exactly what you get.

Outfit c/o: Fabletics
Where are you in your body confidence journey? What have you learned to like about yourself?
Let's chat about it!

TRAVEL // Skip Cancun: Go to Isla Mujeres!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

(I went on this trip over a year ago, but it's never too late to dive back into these lovely memories and share them, right? I'm planning another trip to Mexico soon, so stay tuned!)

Just a short ferry ride away from Cancun is a magical little island called Isla Mujeres. I had the opportunity to spend a charming three days here and wow, it's definitely one of my new favorite places to visit in Mexico! The Island of Women is smaller, but if you prefer a more local feel as opposed to the overwhelming, touristy vibe, you'll love it! 

How to Get There:

So how did I get there? I booked a roundtrip ride through Happy Shuttle that took me straight from the airport to the ferry, and I'm so happy I did. When you're traveling in a foreign country, are unfamiliar with the language, and doing it as a solo female, it can be quite intimidating.

What to Do:
Rent a golf cart for a day and explore the island. Totally worth it. There was a small beach we discovered called Hotel Garrafón de Castilla this way and had a small entrance fee. It was a rocky beach but a wonderful area for snorkeling! They had a lounge area with plenty of chairs and shade (or sunny spots if you wanted to tan). Since it wasn't as popular as other spots on the island, it felt more relaxed and had plenty of open seats.

If you came here to snorkel, I highly recommend going with Carey Dive Center - these guys are great! They really look out for you, no matter what level of swimmer you may be. They're a fun crew as well and make the whole experience so enjoyable. We even saw dolphins while out snorkeling, and I about screamed from excitement when I saw those adorable fins flash by (oh who am I kidding, I totally screamed).

I'm also embarrassed to admit it, but I actually got seasick at one point and fed the fishies...the captain helped me out. Because as I was kneeled over the side of his boat, throwing my guts up, he grabbed some of the extra water bottles and poured it down my head and back. It helped the sickness fade quickly. The whole time he was nothing but patient and kind, making me feel much better and (a little) less embarrassed.

If you go at the right time of the year, you'll also get to see whale sharks! So do your research and plan for it if you're lucky enough to make it work. That's still something that's on my bucket list!

It's a small island, honestly, so if you just walk around you're bound to find something interesting. Be sure to shop the local markets and vendors. Support the local artists - you'll get to take home something totally unique AND help support someone passionate about their craft!

Spot a Karaoke Bar? Do it. I conquered one of my fears and did karaoke in front of a bunch of the nicest group of drunk strangers. Nothing quite beats belting out "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac and having an encouraging crowd start swaying and dancing with you.

And if you're looking for a good spot to dance, visit the local hostel, Poc Na. They don't open up till 11PM and go past 3 in the morning! You'll meet characters from all over the world!

Where to Stay:
For this trip, I was traveling with friends and we got a lovely room at Maria del Mar.

However, if I was doing it solo or with just one other traveler, I'd recommend checking out the hostel and AirBnb's first. They're usually quite reliable and much more affordable! Just make sure you read up on all the reviews so you know what you're getting into. And if you want, use my code HERE to get $40 off your first AirBnb rental!

What to Eat:
Okay, before I get into actual restaurants, stop by Cocos Frios for the BEST fresh coconuts of your life! I swear we stopped here daily (sometimes twice a day) just to get our fix.

Go to local restaurants for the BEST authentic Mexican food - at the BEST prices! We went to Letty's, a spot behind the market area, and gorged ourselves on the best burritos I've ever tasted. The portion size is insane, especially for the price. Go early enough before they run out of tacos! That happened to us, and I plan on visiting again just to taste those next.

However, if you're feeling like splurging a bit and want some excellent steak, check out La Playita. We ate here several times and each time we were bowled over by how delectable each dish was!

Overall, my trip to Isla Mujeres was magical, and this little island holds a special place in my heart.
Skip Cancun and go here instead!

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