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Health Foodie Guide to NYC

Many of you may not actually know this, but I used to live in New York. Back then, I was a very different person, excited by very different things (insert martini and dance emoji)! Nevertheless, NYC holds a very special place in my heart for two reasons: firstly, it was my dream to live there and I got to do it with my incredible best friend, so I have 1000s of fond memories made there! Secondly, my brother and his wife (and baby-on-the-way) still live there, so I get to go back often. Now, I have a third reason to add to the list, my oldest brother just got married there… So, you could say the love of NYC runs in the family!

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(My brother and I mins before he walked down the aisle)

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(My brothers wives, my sisters!)

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(The beautiful Bride and Bloom ;))

Which was the reason for my most recent visited… Having not been back since I really changed my life around, this time, I wasn’t looking for exotic cocktail lists or the best NY slice… it was all about the plant-based, healthy dining scene. And let me tell you, what a scene it is! I literally did not have enough meals in the day to keep up with extensive list I had been recommended and had researched. New York is bursting with trendy health hubs! So here is my must-see list that I have compiled, with a few on there that I didn’t quite get to myself (for you locals or those with more time)…

Happy travels!

To Dine in:

Blossom – I was so pleasantly surprised here, we had such an interesting and mouth-watering spread for lunch – vegan caesar salad, mushroom “scallops”, “fish cakes”…

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Avant Garden – upscale but not overly fancy, best to make a reservation. Insane plant-centered meals that make veggies the star of the show!

ABCV or ABC Kitchen – I have been to ABC kitchen previously, but this time had to try their vegetarian version, ABCV. I love the vibe, and the menu was interesting. I only made it to breakfast (I recommend the mango smoothie bowl) but I think lunch would be more impressive!

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The Butcher’s Daughter (below) – go here for those vegan pastrami sandwiches / cheese toasties you likely have to (or want to) skip whilst visiting NYC. This place makes them vegan-ized, healthy and so tasty! The toasty is insane. I also really enjoyed the adzuki bean bacon 🙂

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Inday – this place is literally bowls of heaven! Cute bowsl, cute drinks, cute vibe. Not 100% vegan but tonnes of options! So healthy!

Sun in Bloom – it can be difficult to source savoury plant-based options… this is a great spot for a vegan breakfast/lunch if you are in search of one in Brooklyn. You can have lunch for brekky too, so I tried their collard wrap burrito, definitely add avo! Their tofu scramble was also very tasty. I don’t recommend their acai smoothie though :

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Cafe Clover – I didn’t get here, but my brother recommends it for a nice evening out. Looks really interesting and has a few veg options.

Westville – an old favourite of mine I used to go here a lot, even when I was less health-conscious. I couln’t go past “market plate” whereby you can choose 4 sides and turn it into a divine, veg-filled plate!

Urban Vegan Kitchen – didn’t make it here but looks like my kinda place!

Souen- organic, macrobiotic restaurant that serves up delicious Asian-inspired dishes. Easy, well-priced, bursting with flavour.

Hearth – we had a big family dinner here and they had several vegan options for us! Great for large groups or a night out. Lots of veg!

Double Zero – no need to miss/crave cheese on a pizza when the toppings are this tasty! Cool vibe, would be great for a date night and a drink of vino too.

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On the fly:

Pressed Juicery – not only good for a quick juice fix but also for all fruit soft serve with the best toppings like raw nuts, vegan choc chips, nut butter etc.

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Juice Generation – In Equinox, good for a post-workout juice or smoothie.

Liquiteria – I was a little underwhelmed with their acai just FYI, but its a good go-to if you can’t find anything healthy as there are a few around and you can bet you can get a greens fix!

Sweet Greens – I didn’t get here, but hear it is a salad bar dream!

By Chloe – healthy-ish fast food! Hehe, it makes plant-based eating enticing for the masses. We had an insane creamy green smoothie and a small mac n cheese with mushroom bacon to share… delish!

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Taim – yummy, different flavoured falafel pockets! Great after a busy day shopping in Soho 🙂

Orchard Grocer – Reallllllyyyy wanted to go here. Please tell me if you do! They have vegan cream cheese and lox… need I say more?

Beyond Sushi – all vegan sushi! Exotic & interesting combos for all you plant-based sushi lovers who are perhaps a little over avo and cucumber… amiright?!

Screamers Pizza – Didn’t make it here, but feel like it is a take on NYC slice (whereas Double Zero is a little more “fancy pizza”). Would love to try it!

Erin McKenna’s bakery – all vegan baked treats, missed this one, tell me if you go!

Union Square Markets vegan bakery stall – Ahhh so many options! I got a delicious corn bread scroll at the recommendation of the stall holder, it was yum!

To workout:

Soul Cycle – the vibe here is insane, I hate spin but I loved this class! Wish I could go back for more.

Laughing Lotus – Gorgeous yoga studio with great teachers

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Strala Yoga – Try make a class with Tara! So much fun

Equinox – All your gyming needs 🙂

Healthy Guide to Maui

Having just arrived home from my island holiday, I thought I would put pen to paper (figuratively) and give you all my best tips for the beautiful island of Maui. Now, I have to be honest, I do prefer Kauai – and you can find my blog post on all my fav things to eat and do here. However, I had to broaden my horizons and see another Hawaiian island (even though I would very happily chain myself to Hanalei Bay for the rest of eternity). Maui is a much bigger island, with some incredibly gorgeous golden beaches and crystal clear, aqua waters. There are so many little towns that it makes it tricky to navigate if you aren’t familiar with the island, and didn’t bother doing any research (that was me). However, after familiarising ourselves, I thanked heaven that we chose to stay at the first place we came across – which just so happened to be toward the North Shore rather than the tourist-ridden West. Don’t get me wrong, the West has some insanely stunning beaches, but they are all backed onto by huge, concrete hotels, and to me, that isn’t really the island vibe I seek.

So, my recommendation to stay is the north shore, if you are looking for something more low-key, secluded and equally beautiful. I stayed at a place that was gorgeous, but did feel a little out of the way. I stayed here because I was looking for a health retreat, but I will caveat this by saying it didn’t really live up to my expectations of that. Whilst it does have a lot of daily classes, I mainly just went to the yoga, which for the most part, was really nice (albeit slightly easier than I would have liked. But hey, that’s not a bad thing). The food was overpriced and nothing crash hot, so after the first day we didn’t go back to the on-site restaurant. The rooms, grounds and pool are really clean and lovely. It is called Lumeria for those of you interested. Just expect a nice, quaint hotel, and don’t rush to it if you are looking for a full health immersion. They did have a beautiful organic veggie garden, see the avocado tree below! Note, you must hire a car in Maui, otherwise you will be hotel-bound.

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Ok, so with accomodation out of the way, let’s get into the food!

To eat:

Maui Kombucha – Haiku – This was my fav spot so naturally, it goes first on my list 🙂 Don’t be fooled, it is not just a kombucha bar, it has some incredibly innovative vegan food. I had the most amazing gluten-free waffles with faux tuna (made from sunflower seeds, not gross processed soy stuff) and it was OUT OF THIS WORLD! Their acai bowls are also heavenly, and they have some really delicious and unusual kombucha flavours. Do not hesitate, put this at the top of your list too!

BEST EVER! "Save-da-tuna Waffles" from @mauikombucha They use sprouted sunflower seeds for the faux tuna, Aquafaba & almond flour for the incredible waffles Need to recreate

Choice Health Bar – Lahaina – Ummmm, yum! I was spoiled for Choice here 😉 :p hehe we got acai bowls here on the way to the beach over on the West side, and also bought a box of Mexican-spiced sushi rolls to share as a beach snack. Wish I could have gone back a second and third and fourth time…

Mexican inspired sushi has been a bit of a theme on this trip I'm not complaining! This spiced tempeh was delish! A quick note on soy- people often ask me if it's ok to be consuming it regularly. I have to giggle with them because really, the (phyto)oestrogens in soy is nothing compared to the synthetic & natural oestrogen found in meat & dairy (hello heavily pregnant cow).... yet people never question their intake of those food items? So yes, my answer to you would be it's fine to be consuming whole-food, organic soy products (tempeh, tamari, tofu, miso) daily. There's certainly bigger things in people's diets to worry about. You don't have to consume soy, of course, to have a nutritionally complete vegan diet, but I'd say swapping out a meat/dairy based meal with tempeh or soy milk isn't a cause for concern at all ☺️ I have a whole blog post on this "a love note to soy" if you want to read more...

Paia Bowls – Paia – Your go-to acai in the area. Their acai blend is really delicious, and they offer lots of tropical fruit toppings.

Des Amis – Paia – So close to where we were staying, and a really fun tiki-vibe. We had a cocktail here and two different vegan curries, both delicious. They also play live music.

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Nuka Sushi – Haiku – This was described to me as the best sushi on the island! Lots of veg options, and they even do rice bowls with tofu and veggie sauce (as opposed to fish). Win!

Mamma’s Fish House – Paia – We missed out as they were booked up and I forgot to make reservations for our last evening! But the place is busy and always popping!! I looked up the menu and they have a nice vegan option- so don’t worry if you are vegan or feel like a plant-based meal. The location/view is a drawing card, and the vibe is sensational.

 

To stock up:

Down to Earth – Kahului – Great spot for an easy lunch from their self-serve section, they even have slices of vegan pizza! Similar to Wholefoods or About Life, they have a vast array of natural food stuffs and beauty/household products. Great stopover after your flight in as they are close by the airport. I stocked up on my fav kombucha here- GTs 🙂

Mana Foods – Paia – Oh gosh, whyyyy did I only decide to go here on my last night?! They are great because they stay open until 8:30pm making it a perfect stopover for some vegan chocolate after dinner in town :p They also have a fantastic selection of grocery items and are ideally positioned if you are staying near Paia.

Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods – Kihue – What a health food store! Picked up a bag of longan here (I love!), some delicious spicy tofu, vegan cheese and gluten-free crackers. They have everything! My mum had to hold me back 😉

 

To treat:

Ululani’s Shave Ice – Kihue – Shave, not shaved, ice is a hallmark of Hawaii, and it wouldn’t be right if by my fifth trip to the state that I didn’t finally try it!! Balance, right? We stumbled across this place, and saw a huge line and a big sign claiming it had been voted no.1 in Maui. So, naturally, we joined the cue. It did not disappoint! I assumed it would taste like an icey snow-cone, but it is so much more. It really tastes more like super-sweet sorbet. Different places offer “healthier” versions i.e. organic v non-organic, pure raw cane sugar v high fructose corn syrup and some offer sugar-free (note this place’s sugar-free meant aspartame so I emplore you to just get the pure can sugar ones!). My flavour choice was red raspberry, pina colada (which they offered to just use pineapple and coconut mixed as opposed to the pre-mixed version which they told me was more artificial, and mango. My mum got sour cherry which I definitely recommend! Let’s just say I am glad I only tried it on the last few days of my trip, or I may have gone back for more!

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I don’t think I quite nailed the activities, here so I won’t go into that too much. We did visit a few beautiful beaches – Baldwin beach, Ho’okipa beach, Ka’anapali beach, Mokapu/Ulua Beach – and the twin falls (cover photo) on the way to the Road to Hana. Given we drive on the other side of the road in Aus, I didn’t want to chance it going the full way to Hana with mum and I!! I heard they offered tours, but we ended up deciding on a helicopter tour of the island. If you do decide to helicopter here are my tips: do it first thing on your stay, as they give you some great tips for what to do in Maui on tour, and if you are choosing between going on a helicopter in Maui or Kauai, choose Kauai 😉

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So there you have my advice for a beautiful, healthy, sunny stay on Maui! I hope they are helpful. Please let me know if I missed anywhere, and if you go to any of the places I recommend!

Love & health, always…

Sami

x

A Day By The Billabong

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Billabong Retreat for a few days for a little reset. Just one hour from the city, Billabong is an incredibly convenient escape for a day or two or even one week. Fortunately, I was there for the meditation program, which really allowed me to tap back into my practice, as I have let it slide recently (I go in and out of phases, yoga is my constant :)).

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I thought it would be a good idea to share what a typical day was like, as I have to say, my expectations were exceeded. It was better than the impression I received from the website – it was pure and blissful and very authentic. The staff there have a genuine enthusiasm not only for health and reconnecting with yourself but for ensuring you have the best experience possible. So let me share with you a day by the Billabong…

Morning:

Optional yoga was at 7am so I would wake up around 6:15am to the sounds of nature outside my balcony and natural light streaming through (the best way to wake up, don’t you think?). We had relaxing music available in the rooms so I would put that on, make a lemon and ginger tea and slowly get ready. No reception made checking my phone impossible, another small luxury.

Class would run from 7-8:00am in the morning, and was a more invigorating flow than the evening, but still available to all-levels and very relaxing. The studio is spacious, light-filled and gorgeous! All mats and yoga equipment were there and set up for you. Basia was a beautiful teacher and I loved the way she intertwined philosophy into our practice.

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Breakfast was straight after at 8am, and was always gluten-free and vegetarian. I of course got the vegan option, which wasn’t hard to do – basically no eggs and avoid the yoghurt. Think coconut milk chia puddings with lemon curd and berries, buckwheat pancakes, almond milk oatmeal with berry coulis and granola and/or roast vegetables.

Breakfast by the billabong with @nastasiamarj Vegan pancakes & lemon mousse chia puddings @billabongretreat @straightup_pr

Next, there was a meditation class at 9am for one hour. We were taught different methods of meditation throughout the few days, and got to try 2-3 each class.

After this, it was time to hit the pool – which was actually a magnesium pool!! Magnesium is great for achy muscles and joints, skin conditions and a general feeling of relaxation. It was very warm when I was there so reading by the pool and taking a few dips was just what I needed.

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Another day I decided to explore, and so I went on a 1.5-2 hour walk around the area. I saw some amazing properties, endless green fields, gorgeous trees and wildlife. Beautiful birds and farm animals and even a goanna up a tree which was the size of me!

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Afternoon:

Lunch time was 12:30pm and was again, another incredibly tasty delight. Many of the guests were not vegetarian and kept gushing about how yummy the food was. I feel like it definitely motivated them to eat healthier and try more meatless meals. This made me so happy! A bunch of different salads such as an avocado Greek salad, beetroot quinoa salad, roast pumpkin with black sesame were paired with dairy-free sauces like tahini, pesto or vegan aioli and often there was a frittata to accompany. I was made a special eggless frittata or loaf to replace, which was absolutely divine! I left very satisfied! There was also live music (guitar and vocals) on one of the days too.

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You can book spa and beauty treatments at Billabong, so I had a 60 minute massage, which was heavenly. I felt a little floaty after!

Afterward, it was back to my book or a wander around the Billabong. There is a gorgeous reading and sitting lounge area if you don’t want to read by the pool.

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They provide afternoon tea too, which was either a raw brownie or some bliss balls!!

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I grabbed one and would then head back to my room to run a bath in the outdoor tub on my balcony (I had the deluxe cabin). It was very private and overlooked the billabong. I stayed in here for over an hour reading with a tea. Bliss!

It's about to go down! Epsom salts, tea, book, outdoor tub with a treetop view..... Tranquil sound effects (ie birds) & more of the view on my Insta-story!! @billabongretreat

Evening:

There was an afternoon yoga class from 3:30-5pm…. A very gentle practice that really wound you down and prepared you for a quiet evening. People would then go shower or continue reading, or even colour-in a mandala (a form of meditation we were taught) before dinnertime at 6pm.

Dinner was either similar to lunch – a plethora of colourful salads and vegetables with a baked loaf – or it was a delicious vegetable curry and dahl dish. And don’t worry, they do provide desert! I had an incredible apple crumble one night and avocado mousse the other 🙂

All the colours of the rainbow - gluten-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan .... @billabongretreat you get me ☺️ ps you gotta check out at my Insta story I saw a gigantic goanna today!!!!!!!

After this, there was a final meditation class for the day, before we would head back to our rooms and get ready for bed. I brought my dry brush with me, and some natural beauty products to have a little spa session of my own. Then, I would curl up in bed, read and fall asleep (very easily) to the frogs. You can imagine after a day like that, that sleep was very peaceful! It was so nice to get to sleep a little earlier than usual – no TV, internet, and social distractions – and I made a commitment to myself to carry this through when I came home!

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Thank you Billabong Retreat for a most restful, tasty, and rejuvenating experience! I will definitely be back. I highly recommend this spot for a quick getaway if you live in Sydney, or an extended stay if you are from afar. As I said, it is extremely authentic and has been curated with health, education and self-love in mind. There were people from all walks of life there and they all left talking about when they would be booking back in. A good sign!

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Healthy Hot Spots: Melbourne

My boyfriend, Mike, and I escaped for the weekend to Foodie-heaven i.e. Melbourne. It hadn’t been long since I was walking Melbourne’s beautiful streets, as I visited my brother who was living there last year, however since making the transition to 100% plant-based, I was desperate to go back, show Mike around and try out all the incredibly healthy, vegan creations! (Read: Will travel for food!!)

Not only is Melbourne a mecca for clean-eating, however there are also so many great yoga studios to explore as well. Whilst we live in Sydney, by the beach, with access to so much good food and yoga, it is definitely nice to change up the pace and be tourists for a weekend. It gave us the time we needed to slow down and enjoy the simple things – walking through different neighbourhoods (when do you do this in your hometown?!), try exciting menus and different yoga/exercise studios, sit in a park, travel far for a vegan croissant (!!!), indulge, read, take a bath, go to bed early, and of course, each other.

So, I thought I would share with you some of the little gems we found so that you can curate your own Melbourne getaway whenever you get the chance…

Transformers: My favourite dinner spot – the tofu buns and kelp noodles are our favourite! I love how you can do wellness shots before dinner too ;)

Smith & Daughters: Vegan Nachos, need I say more? Save this one for dinner, it’s really vibey and full of Mexican deliciousness.

Serotonin Eatery: Probably my favourite daytime cafe, the Vietnamese Rice Paper Roll Bowl (pictured) was bursting with vibrance and flavour, my ginger and lemon tea was perfection (they have a tea sommelier :O), and the choc mint mini magnum on the way out was heaven! A must.

Monk Bodhi Dharma: This place is so effortlessly cool. It’s different to all the usual “clean” cafe’s that are all shiny and brand new, and is much more New York City – less hype, a little grungey, very creative, extremely creative and delicious. The vegan pancakes are insane, and I was dying to try the mushrooms on toast (but didn’t get a chance, so you should! Tell me how it is…), so I will definitely be back. They also have a few baked goodies I had my eye on!

Tall Timber: Spectacular food for all taste buds + great coffee

Top Paddock: Gorgeous, cosy interior, delicious coffee, delicious green juice (didn’t get a chance to eat here, but I am told it doesn’t disappoint!)

Matcha Mylk Bar: The infamous fake egg- actually the reason I went to Melbourne! I had to try it! Turns out, it is made from coconut and sweet potato puree. It’s not bad, but don’t expect it to taste like egg! What really blew my mind were the eggplant meat balls. Definitely go here and order anything, soo many stand-outs!

Drugstore Espresso: This is where you come for good coffee, juice and Acai. Perfect when you need a shopping break from Chapel St.

Barry: Try the crunchy peanut butter, heirloom tomatoes and peanuts on toast! Don’t judge, just try…

Two Birds One Stone: My brother is a coffee connoisseur and when we told him where we were located, this was his pick. We both loved the coffee, and I also picked up a green juice which was yummy.

Mr Nice Guy Bake Shop: A whole bakery dedicated to veganism? Yes please! Croissants, brioche doughnuts, cinnamon buns?? You get it… 😉

Didn’t quite get to these places, but will definitely be back for them…

  • Shokuiku

  • We are Combi

  • Sister of Soul

  • Smith & Deli

How to cater a clean camping trip

Need a break? Fresh air? Moments of solitude and stillness? You truly don’t need to go miles away to feel very far away from “it all”. Over the weekend, my lovely friend Sam (yes, we are both Sam’s!) and I packed up our things, loaded her car and headed just 1.5 hours away to Cattai National Park. It was spectacular! As soon as you enter, your phone reception dwindles, you hear the sounds of lyrebirds and rustling trees, you breathe in the fresh air and take in the gorgeous views of the Hawkesbury. Not to mention coming face to face with Kangaroo’s! There is something about being surrounded by tree’s and the autumn leaves without a building in sight, you just feel calmer.

To compliment a relaxing weekend away resting mind and body, it only seems fit that you would support your detox with delicious, healthy food. Without a fridge and all the utensils, it can seem a little daunting. Must we resort to drive through food on the way? Sausages on the BBQ? Soggy sandwiches? No, no, NO! That would never do for two nutritionists in the making! We hustled the night before and came up with a beautiful menu that served us very well for the weekend. We ate like queens!

So to take the pressure off you, and to encourage you to plan a camping getaway yourselves, I thought I would share some good ideas to take with you on a trip. These can be applied to any getaway you have in mind, really. Overall, it is important to take into consideration how long your stay is to work out how much you need to bring, and structure when you are going to eat what by working out what keeps the best. For a 1-3 night stay, these options will all work perfectly!

Helpful supplies:

  • A gas stove with a large pot (helpful for heating up food, teas etc)
  • Esky/cooler with ice packs (Definitely need)
  • A chopping board
  • Bread Knife
  • Paper/plastic bowls, plates, cutlery (or some from home, if you only need a few)
  • lemon squeezer/juicer
  • Glass Tupperware, for storage of the below meals, and/or double as serving bowls
  • Napkins
  • Tea towels
  • Sponge
  • Detergent
  • Hand sanitizer

Menu ideas:

BREAKFAST

  • Green smoothie – e.g. 1 cup water, ½ lemon juice, 3 cups leafy greens of choice, 1 large stalk celery, ½ cup frozen mango, ½ banana, 5 drops vanilla stevia
  • Bircher muesli, soak the oats in coconut water
  • Chia pudding
  • Pre-made muffins
  • Sliced bread with smashed avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper
  • Warm breakfast? Bring oats or quinoa, banana, stevia and cinnamon and make a porridge with water on your stove top

LUNCH/DINNER

  • Kale and brussels sprout salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, herbs, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast (this will last well for 2 days as the dressing breaks down the tough raw kale/brussels) with roast sweet potato
  • A whole raw sweet potato, to roast on the fire’s embers, in tin foil (if permitted)
  • Pre-made veggies burgers/patties with salad or roast veggies
  • Bruschetta – bring a loaf of quality bread, avocado, chopped tomatoes, basil, pomegranate, hummus, pesto, antipasto veg etc.
  • Zucchini Lasagne
  • Cooked quinoa with stir-fried veggies, heated up on the stove or eaten cold
  • Vegetable stock soup with lentils, chopped kale and wild rice or millet, heated on the stove
  • Pumpkin soup, heated on stove
  • Tempeh stir-fry, heated on stove

SNACKS

  • Carrots, celery, capsicum, other veggies of choice
  • Hummus, pesto, or dairy-free dip of choice
  • Corn chips/Crackers
  • Seaweed (nori) sheets
  • Olives
  • Fresh fruit that doesn’t require chopping e.g. berries, grapes, apples etc.
  • Bliss balls
  • Vegan chocolate
  • Homemade muffins
  • Raw nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • OR make a platter with all these things for a lunch-time picnic,  like us…

 

BEVERAGES

(This is where the stove is handy!)…

  • Filtered water
  • Lemon, for your morning warm lemon water
  • Green smoothie
  • Kombucha
  • Herbal tea
  • Chai tea with almond milk

Make healthy choices prior to your trip so you have plenty of options whilst you are there. This really is an example of food prep setting you up right. Indulge a little! Chances are, you are going to want something sweet around the fire 🙂 so have your dairy-free, refined-sugar-free chocolate, bliss balls or chai tea handy, and enjoy them. Most importantly, embrace your time away and don’t stress about the finer details.

 

My Bali Travels: Eat, Stay, Yoga

Bali is a dream come true for a health-foodie yogi and surfer couple like us! It is a warm, tropical paradise that offers incredible healthy food, a variety of exciting activities, culture, kind people, yoga (everywhere), and of course, many luxurious and affordable hotels and villas. We have been a few times but I must say that this time was most definitely our favourite. Having learned a thing or two from our past travels, I think we nailed it! There are so many different places to go and stay and eat in beautiful Bali, and there truly is something for everyone. I like to think we found some real gems on our recent stay! If you are reading this blog post and follow me on social media, you likely have an interest in health. Read my post here for why I think it isn’t necessary to spend ridiculous amounts on a health retreat if you are after a healthy getaway. Wherever you choose to stay, whether it is one of the below places or not, be sure that it has air-conditioning (no matter what season) and some kind of mosquito protection (either a mosquito net, enclosed four-poster bed, or an in-house zapper!).

Uluwatu / Bingin

Stay

We stayed at Sal Secret Spot (a boutique eco-hotel), Mu Bungalows, and The Temple Lodge. Sal was under renovations in the main area which was a shame. Where we stayed was a little further away down a windy cliff path which I wouldn’t recommend, although this was where the view of the ocean was. The other area has a pool and seems to offer a little more privacy between rooms. I would look into those rooms if going back.

After Sal we went to Mu Bungalows which was stunning. It was a very Balinese experience with dim-lit bungalows and huge outdoor bathrooms. Even more spectacular than the individual bungalows are the grounds. This is what makes Mu! Daybeds and cute sitting areas adorn the garden, a beautiful infinity pool overlooking a panoramic view of the ocean, the best coconuts of my trip (and I had one a day!), yummy fruity breakfast, and in-house yoga.

The Temple Lodge – we didn’t stay here but I went here a few times and looked into rooms. I will be trying it on my next trip!

Yoga

We went to The Temple Lodge, Uluwatu Surf Villa’s and Mu for classes, and my favourite was Naomi at Uluwatu Surf Villas. Her class was wonderful, they offer a cold young coconut after and you really can’t go passed that Shala and the view!

Eat

Cashew Tree

– Soul Bowl, falafel wrap (no tzaki or cheese and add avo if dairy-free), gado gado rolls, pitaya bowl

Nalu Bowls

– Uluwatu bowl or the Pipeline! Sub granola for raw nuts and always, always add dragon fruit and mango 🙂

Nusa Lembongan

Stay

Tigerlillys

Prepare to be in boutique bali heaven! We ended up getting the Suite and it was a two-story bungalow with a large outdoor bathroom. Despite being outdoors it is so clean! Tigerlillys has a cute little pool and also has a delicious cafe on property with some really healthy options – smoothies, smoothie bowls, vegan salads, tempeh, san choy bow etc. Great location and fantastic service.

Yoga

– Yoga Shak

– Serenity Yoga (newer than ^ and probably my preferred choice. It offers “fly-high” yoga too!)

Eat

– Pisang Pisang (in Rama Gardens) – everything is good! Tofu peanut butter shake, pineapple garlic juice (all their juices are unusual and amazing), Japanese hand rolls, tropical rice paper rolls, potato curry, papaya salad… everything we tried we loved! The staff are so sweet and accommodating too.

– Tigerlillys – mushroom tempeh san choy bow, the lychee mint smoothie with coconut milk, super smoothie bowl, the asian salad.

– Blue Corner Dive – this place has a really cool social vibe with beanbags on the beach. Portions are a little small so don’t be afraid to over order. Both vegan salads are delicious, the mini gluten-free tacos and an unusual green juice made with prickly pear!

– Eco Deli – look, it’s not my favourite place but it does offer some healthy food on an island where this is quite limited. I do recommend the above places first but do try it for a smoothie or a juice – The Date Shake is pretty good!

Keramas

Stay, Yoga, Eat

Komune – an all-in-one health resort that has amazing facilities in front of a popular surf break. It has a great spa, two pools (one is a lap pool), a 24-hour gym and yoga on-site. There is a healthy menu at one of the restaurants which was pretty good, however their “health key” is often off and there is no vegan key, just vegetarian (despite some of the items being vegan, but this can get confusing). I would probably only recommend this spot if you surf or your partner does, as there are other health resorts around Bali in a better location and with better food! It is very well priced though, and the spa was divine.

Ubud

Stay

The Stonehouse Villas

Just incredible! There are no words. This is a small facility with 3 rooms/houses and each is uniquely decorated to the nines. We stayed in the longhouse which is a boho balinese paradise! Think four poster bed, draping curtains, an antique bathtub, a swinging lounge, two balconies, and the most gorgeous furniture and decorative pieces in Bali. The staff are lovely, the area is pristine, the décor is one-of-a-kind and the location is central enough yet you feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets.

Yoga

Yoga Barn – you can’t go past the classes here! I highly recommend Les and Denise.

Eat

Seeds of Life – all raw and vegan. Get the mexican lasagne, live pizza, breakfast burrito, granola with almond milk and choc sauce, banoffie pie, creamer tonics, the Inca Gold smoothie, Green Juice with lavender and aloe.

Sage – Must go here! All vegan. Jackfruit tacos, cauliflower frittas, tempeh buffalo wings, vegan gluten-free pancakes, breakfast burrito.

Alchemy – make your own salad and definitely get their sweet and spicy cashews and rawmasen, cauliflower rice sushi, Raspberry Lips smoothie, bounty bliss ball and the “French Kiss” nice cream.

Down to Earth – start your day with the detox special (ACV, cayenne pepper, psyllium husk, maple syrup and betonite clay)! They have a giant menu. We had lunch and recommend the basil tofu rice paper rolls, the vegan burrito and the dragon bowl.

Kafe @ Yoga Barn – pop in here for a quick shake or juice post-yoga but I recommend food elsewhere.

Five Elements – fine dining, a delicious vegan dinner experience at a world-class health retreat. Definitely get the vegan mushroom burger – it tastes like a healthy cheese burger!!!!

La Pacha Mama – Vegetarian Mexican. We went here when it had just opened. Our smoothies were phenomenal, the space is beautiful and the staff lovely. I really enjoyed my vegan mushroom tacos, but my boyfriend who is a burrito connoisseur was a little disappointed with his burrito!

Places we didn’t get to but wish we had:

Bambu Indah (another great place to stay, I hear) and they have an organic cafe

Green School and their cafes (closed during our stay due to school break)

Clear Cafe

The Elephant Cafe

My Own Bali Self-Retreat

I don’t believe you have to go to an expensive health retreat to have a healthy experience in Bali. I believe that wherever we go – Bali, Bowral or Bermuda – we can curate our own health holiday.

While I was booking my trip I toyed with the idea of booking a fancy retreat for at least some of the trip. My partner and I do this trade off where he get’s to do what he wants for half the trip (it’s a no brainer – chase waves and surf all day) and I get to own the other half (duh, yoga). So I knew that I had a get-out-of-jail-free card to pick a hotel of my choosing. But the truth is, I ended up finding so many gorgeous boutique hotels that either offered daily yoga themselves or were close enough to a studio that did. What’s more, they were much more affordable, just as luxurious and most even had a couple of healthy items on the menu. But I knew from my previous time in Bali that there is absolutely no need to worry about where will I find gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan, healthy food, because Bali, especially where we were going, fully caters to this crowd.

So I booked into the places that appealed to me, knowing full well that I could create my own cleanse/detox/retreat with all the healthy food and yoga Bali has to offer and a few of my own guidelines to follow. I’m not going to pretend that the below “rules” were all planned out from the beginning – as a health coach and nutritionist-in-training, I guess these sort of came naturally to me as I went. By day 4, as I was sipping my daily coconut poolside, I had an idea that I was indeed creating my own wellness escape and that perhaps some of you who have lusted over a luxurious health retreat might benefit from me sharing my experience with you. So that is all this is – me guiding you on your own no-guilt getaway. All you need to do is pick a destination, do a bit of research on cafes and yoga spots (or gyms, pilates, whatever you are into), and commit to a clean holiday experience. It might seem a bit crazy, planning a trip without planning to drink, party and over-indulge on ice cream, but to be honest it really is what a vacation should be about – relaxing and recharging.

I’d prefer to come home from a holiday with a clear mind, fresh body and rejuvenated spirit so I can settle right back into the swing of things.

The below tips are specific to Bali but there is no reason they can’t be tweaked to a destination of your choice. So without further ado, here is my own Bali self-retreat that I hope can help you on your next trip to paradise!

Daily yoga most hotels offer morning yoga for around $10 but if not, a hotel or studio nearby will.

Incidental cardio walking around sight seeing, beach walks, not having a car, snorkeling, swimming etc. will all have you leading a much more active lifestyle then you probably do at home. I was making a conscious effort, where there was a long pool to swim 20-40 laps every other day – a luxury I don’t often get at home.

Ocean swims most days – if you can squeeze it into the schedule, jump into the ocean or pool. There is something so cleansing about this. It is especially nice after your morning yoga.

Vitamin D – 15 minutes of sun exposure each side (laying down) before creaming up with sunscreen and/or sitting under an umbrella. This might sound controversial considering “slip, slop, slap” has been ingrained in us here in Australia, but the research supports this. Sunscreen nullifies your bodies ability to receive adequate amounts of Vit D. Watch this video here for more if you are interested/concerned.

A coconut a day – sometimes 2! You obviously don’t have to if coconut is not your jam but other then the well-renown health benefits (hydrating, alkalizing, rich in potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, cytokinins → anti-aging, anti-cancer effects) It helps you feel like you are on vacay (in case you forgot), replaces the need for a pool-time cocktail and makes a delicious mid-morning healthy snack. Enjoy the young coconut flesh too!

Vegan diet – I always subscribe to a vegan diet when I travel through Asia, and I can honestly say I have never been sick to date. No Bali belly… ever (I’ve been 5 times). This might scare some of you or sound drastic but I truly believe a break from heavier foods such as meat can do your digestion wonders. There is a reason that most health retreats cater this way. It gives your digestion a well-deserved break, alkalises the body, cuts out a lot of processed sh*t and encourages you to eat more plants/raw food. Obviously don’t binge on hot chips and soy milkshakes, but open your mind up to the endless possibilities of plant-based cuisine, try those quirky cafes and most importantly embrace wholefoods.

Find your nearest health cafes – Bali is full of them! My 3 x a day looked something like… B: smoothie bowl or fruit salad with nuts and granola, L: quinoa or red rice salad with hummus, avocado & seeds or jackfruit tacos (!!!), D: Coconut curry with tempeh and extra veggies with a green/fruity juice. Snacks = coconut + flesh and maybe some local fresh fruit. Salaks are a favourite! Oh, and we would often make room for a raw, refined-sugar-free dessert. This is the kind of holiday indulgence I am all about!

10 glasses+ of FILTERED water – again, no Bali belly here please! Stick to filtered water. Obviously so important to stay hydrated in hot climates.

No alcohol – fruit juice, smoothies and coconuts for me!

8-10 hours sleep each night – I slept like a baby whilst I was away. It wasn’t that we were wasting our days sleeping in, but rather, getting to sleep earlier, especially without TV or computers keeping us up and messing with our sleep cycle. 9pm bedtime 6-7am rise!

Reading, writing, minimal social media use each day – do the things that better you not that waste time, make you feel insecure and distract you from the good all around you.

Massages and body scrubs – take relaxation to the next level and treat yourself to one, two, or twelve massages and other beauty treatments to really zen out and indulge your body (it’s not always about our tastebuds). They can be as little as $20 for one hour in Bali, so enjoy it whilst you can!

Meditate – this is one of those things we “just don’t have time for” in our everyday lives, so why not make the commitment to making the time for it now that you are on vacation. If you are new to it, download an app (I like insight timer – they have short and longer guided ones too), commit to 5-15 minutes and do it whenever you can. Feel the benefits and see if it’s something you want to bring in to your life back home.

And don’t forget to bring some of these essentials…

  • Dry Brush
  • Hair serum – anti-frizz, hydrating
  • Face mask – I like this cacao banana one.
  • Hydrating face mist – to freshen up mid-day. I’ve been using this one.
  • Books – lots! Some I brought with me were Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic”, Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and Gabrielle Bernstein’s “Spirit Junkie”.
  • Diary / Scrap book
  • Earphones – for those long beach walks
  • Goggles – in case you want to do laps
  • Lavender oil – to induce calm/sleep
  • Water bottle – refill and carry with you

A Healthy Guide To London

Just before I started my blog, I travelled to London and explored the best and most nutritious cafe’s and stores! I have so many goodies, past and planned, for this travel section, and I don’t want to skip sharing any of them with you. So here is a throwback to my time there 🙂 I went to London for a family wedding a few months ago, and while I had been before, I certainly hadn’t done London like this! I think in my short stay I got to see and try most health food stores and cafes, so here is my itinerary for you health foodies out there to follow. To make it easier I have * the places that are a strong must!

YOGA

While I travel, I like to go to as many studios as I can fit in. However, as this was a family trip for a special occasion, I had lots of family commitments and was only away a short amount of time. So I only got to one place, but I did go a few times and absolutely loved every class! Highly recommend this awesome studio with fantastic teachers.
Tri Yoga* – there are a few locations. I went to the one in Camden which had a cute café. I got a yummy warming chai and bliss ball here after classes!

 

FOOD

I’ve tried to group these delicious spots according to their location. I wish I could have sampled breakfast, lunch and dinner at each!

Good Life Eatery* – South Kensington – mind-blowing menu at this cafe… I got the goodness bowl. Wow. Just look at the photo below… they aren’t messing around! Delicious!

Tanya’s* – Chelsea – plant-based raw café – amazing almond butter chai!

Juice Baby – Kings Road – juice bar and snacks
Roots and Bulbs – Marleybone + other locations. Juices, smoothies, snacks etc. a great takeaway spot.

The Natural Kitchen – Marleybone – cafe, grocer, takeaway, great snacks!

Grain Store – Kings Cross – great café with healthy options

Daylesford Farm – Notting Hill – I chose three fresh salads, and spent some time looking through the grocery store attached. I bought some delish coconut kefir!

Nama* – Notting Hill – incredible sundried tomato savoury crepe, raw pancakes and smoothies. Get the turmeric latte! They also have some great take away snacks like the cacao mint spirulina bliss balls and raw crackers.

Ottolenghi** – Notting Hill – Can. Do. No. Wrong. Best idea I had was popping in here before my flight back home and taking grilled salmon and roast vegetables with me so I didn’t have to eat plane food!

Bills – Notting Hill – just like home!

Sunday* – Barnsubry – cute small café with healthy options. Great for brunch!

Wildfood Café* – Covent Gardens – raw vegan café – amazing cakes and fudges, I had a delicious raw coconut savoury wrap with falafel

Lab Organic – Covent Garden – yummy juice bar and snacks, I loved their green lemonade! I think it’s great they do fruit-free juices, sweetened instead with stevia

Raw Press – Dover St – another great juice bar

Yoobi* – Soho – amazing rice-less sushi!!

The Detox Kitchen – Soho

The Juice Well – Soho – juices and snacks

Leon – Soho + at the airport! Healthy fast food! I ate here at the airport before my flight and grabbed a quick green juice to-go + some veg with hummus. Amazing to have these options!

 

HEALTH STORES

House of MistryHampstead – where I did a health food stock up to show my aunty how to cook yummy and clean

Plant Organic – several locations – where I found some of the snacks I took with me on the plane.

 

 

 

A Healthy Guide to the Garden Island…K A U A I

I must say, Kauai truly is a special place. From the moment we hopped off the plane we knew it. The warm sunshine, fresh air, friendly smiles and natural beauty all around us (even on the side of the highway!) were all so welcoming and postcard perfect. We went around the corner straight from the airport and found a cute little farmers markets at Vidinha Stadium where we stocked up on fruit and veg for the drive to the North side of the Island. The highlight was a big bag of small but juicy lychees with the tiniest pips!

We stayed on the North, in Hanalei. In my opinion, it is the most aesthetically beautiful area of the island, very lush and green. I’d recommend staying here or closer East (where the majority of cafes are located). In our condo we had a kitchen so we cooked a few healthy dinners with the amazing local organic produce from the markets as well as the delicious products from the health food stores. Exploring health markets is one of my favourite things to do on holiday so it was nice to be able to buy and cook with local produce, plus it felt like we were local! Speaking of locals, there are beautiful chickens roaming freely around the island, unexpected in this lush oasis but endearing all the same! Much nicer than seeing them caged like you come across in other beautiful holiday destinations 🙁 They are pretty much part of the furniture, and are not shy!

Below I have listed the incredible farmers markets, cafes, juice bars, fruit stands, activities, yoga studios and health shops we visited during our stay. I only recommend what I thoroughly enjoyed. It is definitely an active escape, but please, you can make it as energetic or relaxing as you choose. I think Kauai is the perfect place for adventure as well as for pure restoration. Nature’s beauty surrounds you and the tropical, easy-going vibe is contagious!

Travel tip: hire a car. Kauai is a large island with each area offering a lot so make sure you can access it all!

It's my favourite place on earth!!! Beach walks at dusk along Hanalei Bay ✨❤️ #weddingdestination #bestholidayever

Farmers Markets

Vidinha Stadium – 3pm Fridays (East)Farmers markets just around the corner from yoga Hanalei... What a view to drink in post practice! Everywhere we look is postcard picture worthy. And these local #markets were #beautiful! Fresh fruit & veg, soaps, jewellery etc & lots of drinking coconuts which you could take back to get chopped & have the meat scooped! My kinda coconut situation #healthytravel

Hanalei Markets – 9:30am – 12pm Saturdays (North)

Waipa Ahupuaa Field – 2pm Tuesdays (North)

Another day in #paradise, another farmers market, another coconut From tree to me! #local #fresh One of the best ways to replenish the body of water & electrolytes lost on a hot summers day is hydrating with coconut water ☀️ It's no wonder coconuts are prevalent in so many hot climates... Nature has our back! #hydrate #refreshing #summer

 

Fruit Stands

Aloha Juice Bar – Hanalei (North) – for the very best acai! We went here every morning. My toppings were to add blueberries, macadamia nuts and bee pollen 🙂

The last Acai bowl of the trip Best #acai in Hanalei! Delicious crunchy granola, crushed macadamias, bee pollen, sliced banana & blueberries to top What a way to start every day here!!! Mahalo @alohajuicebar

 

Moloaa Sunrise Fruit Stand – (North-east) Gotta get the “date with fate” smoothie!!

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Kalalea Juice Hale – (North-east) … King Kong acai bowl is a must! Chocolate Peanut Butter lovers dream!

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Akamai Juice Company (North) – I adored! Found on the last day and wish I found it sooner. The Magic Dragon juice is a must. Try a hot shot if you are feeling a bit sniffly.

Banana Joes (North) – small juice bar, lots of yummy, organic produce and snacks. They stock some Rainbow Foods dishes!

Kombucha

Potions Kombucha Bar (East) – a must for kombucha lovers! The friendly owner, Gadhai, is a monk with extensive knowledge on kombucha and herbs and has created some carefully and cleverly constructed masterpieces to create tasty brews that deliver all the goodness of kombucha plus more to your bodies.

Kauai Juice Co (North-East & East locations) – juices, health shots, kombucha, kim chi plus more! You can find their kombucha at most supermarkets on the island, some delicious flavour combos!

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Cafes & Restaurants

Rainbow Living Foods (East) – Raw Vegan… a must! Smoothies, wraps, pizza, burgers, tacos, sushi, salads, chia caviar, falafels and desserts…. A health foodie lovers dream!

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Postcards (North) – best dinner spot in the North that offers vegan/vegetarian/healthy options. Mostly we cooked but if we went out for dinner North, it was here.IMG_7732

JO2 Natural Cuisine (East) – A great dining experience with friends. There are a lot of vegan options on the menu – I recommend the papaya tacos, cauliflower bisque and mushroom risotto 🙂

Café Coco – A Jamaican vibe with gorgeous, fresh, colourful creations!

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Sushi Girl – perfect little stop over when coming back from Key beach or the Hanakapi’ai hike. A sushi burrito is a must! We got ours “just veggies”, and it was delicious.

A SUSHI BURRITO??!! 2017 already shaping up We got the "just veggies" version- do add seaweed salad, ponzu & chilli sauce, don't wait to too long to eat it @sushigirlkauai

Health Food Stores/Supermarkets

Papayas Natural Food Market (East) – THE BEST! It has all your needs, beautiful fresh produce, endless aisles of packaged goods, health food products, extensive range of teas, pick-n-mix nuts, seeds, grains, pastas, legumes… It also stocks some of Rainbow Living Foods dishes in the fridge! Plus beautiful oils, soaps and toiletries…. Could spend hours in here.

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Hanalei Organic Market (North) – a pretty good range of products, supplements and snacks. Didn’t have the best Acai bowl here (go across the rd to Aloha instead) but definitely a great stock up spot for the area

Banana Joes (North) – a cross between a juice stand and a small grocery store, it stocks some items from Rainbow Living Foods, fresh produce, dips, kombucha, soaps etc. and has a small smoothie selection.

The Healthy Hut Market & Cafe – a great selection of health food products and fresh produce! Try the spirulina popcorn!

 

Yoga

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Yoga Hanalei (North)

Metamorphose Yoga (North) – we had the best class with Tulasi!

 

Activities

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Na Pali Coast hikes:

  • Hanakapi’ai Trail (North-west) to a beautiful, breathtaking 300ft waterfall… Just gorgeous!
    • You can also do the Kalalau Trail which is 35km so an overnighter, but you can camp! We didn’t do this but I am sure it is definitely worth it… it is rated top 10 adventure hikes in the USA.

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Kayak to “Secret Waterfalls” (East) – a 2 mile kayak to a spot where you can leave your kayak, jump out and hike 1 mile to the falls. 6 miles round trip! A nice activity to incorporate into your stay, not many places I have come across where you can leave your kayak on the side of a river without worrying it will get taken away. However, when we were there the waterfall was a little sad! Not much water flowing, not in comparison to the Hanakapi’ai Fall we saw the day before. I still recommend it for the exercise and experience.

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Paddle Board around Hanalei Bay (North) – you can paddle into town down or up Hanalei river which feeds out into the ocean. Some of the best scenery around. The silence is so calming and the greenery is unparalleled. We saw a big turtle here! I recommend Kayak Hanalei.

Queens bath – a couple of watering holes that are beautiful to swim in, in summer. In winter they can get very rough, wavy and dangerous, however you might find yourself there on a calm day during low swell.

Bathing like royalty in Queens Bath The Bondi Icebergs of Kauai

Helicopter ride around Kauai (East) – we went with a company called Island Tours, which I would recommend. There are plenty of options though, even open door helicopters. They take you to the Jurassic park waterfall, over the canyon and around the coast. Choose the one that suits your budget and definitely prioritise it in your trip. The best way to see the island!

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Snorkel – unfortunately, on our first trip, our snorkel tour was cancelled due to the wind. We hired snorkels for $5 and took them to different beaches around the island. Do the same! Or buy your own from the ABC stores. On the second trip we went on a small boat to view the Napali coast by boat and it was absolutely stunning! You get to see parts of the island inaccessable by land, dozens of waterfalls, secluded beaches, sea caves, and even dolphins and whales!! Afterward we jumped off the boat for a bit of a snorkel. Such a beautiful part of the world.

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Wailua falls – stunning lookout to the falls

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Anini Beach – the most beautiful beach!

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