Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

Adidas One-Piece | Adidas NMD Sneakers

Nate surprised me with a trip to Oahu, Hawaii for my birthday and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was under the impression we were going to Mexico, which is one of my favorite places in the world, but Hawaii was definitely on my wish list. I’ve always been detoured because of the 8-hour flight but I had been missing out. Oahu is an island similar to the size of Houston. Honolulu is the capital and Waikiki is the beach in Honolulu. We flew out on a Thursday at 9:30 am and still made it to Hawaii by 2 that afternoon. We were unsure on whether or not we needed to rent a car, but we knew we wanted to explore the island and not be confined to our hotel area. Once we landed, we decided to get a rental and that proved to be a great decision. We checked in at Prince Waikiki, which is a newly renovated resort and it certainly lived up to its name. The hotel lobby was stunning and that didn’t end there, we were greeted with cold face towels and checked in very quickly. Our room was on the 26th floor overlooking the marina and the sunset from it was worth every penny. The hotel rooms are very well thought out and service our entire stay was exceptional. From the telephones having chargers for every phone device just in case you forgot yours, to the toilet seats being heated – the entire room had things I wanted to bring into my own home. I asked for a clothes steamer my first night and they let me keep it my entire stay. They also put water bottles in our fridge daily and gave us a chic black and gold Prince Waikiki bag to carry to the beach or around town with us if we needed somewhere to store towels or items we purchased. Parking was included in the standard hotel fees, unlike some hotels that make you pay per day so we were very relieved to find parking wouldn’t be additional.

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

We went down to the pool on the 5th floor and had Mai-Tai’s while the sun set. I’m not the biggest rum drinker, but those drinks weren’t playing! We had enough time to relax, get situated and ready for our dinner later that night. We’d Yelped a handful of restaurants earlier and so many had great reviews, but they were also off of the beach and since we’d missed the sunset we figured we’d try something more in town. A couple we met in the elevator suggested Roy’s and it did not disappoint. I wasn’t too hungry but still got the Misoyaki Butterfish while Nate had Mahi Mahi. Both were delicious. Our waiter at the restaurant suggested that we go to The Study inside of The Modern Hotel for live music. After leaving dinner, we caught the tail end of a guitarist playing Marvin Gay’s “What’s Going On” and I wished we would’ve gotten there earlier. I was loving the old school R&B vibes they had going but was having a hard time adjusting to the time difference. It was midnight in Hawaii, but 4 am Houston time so we decided to call it a night and start fresh in the morning.

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideOahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideOahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideSkirt comes in 4 colors | Top | Heels | Lip

Thanks to the time change, I couldn’t sleep past 6 am so we decided to get up and enjoy the day. We knew we had a few places outside of Honululu we wanted to go, and since rain was on the radar everyday of our trip we decided to go to the North Shore because it’s almost always dry. We grabbed coffee + a pastry downstairs at Honolulu Coffee then took off. If you do visit Honolulu, I highly recommend exploring other parts of the island.Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

Red Maxi | also available in three colors hereOahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

North Shore is mostly known for it’s surf worthy waves and delicious food trucks. We had lunch at Haleiwa Beach House before heading to the beach. They were just opening up but the food was awesome. I had the Kahlua pulled pork grilled cheese and Nate had the salmon sandwich. They also have a seaweed and Parmesan topping you can put on your fries that was so good! Sunset Beach Park is popular and when the tide permits, there’s a cliff you can jump off of. Unfortunately, the waves were way too rough for us to jump off of the cliff or to hardly swim (and I consider myself a pretty good swimmer) so we enjoyed the water from a distance.

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideOahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

Cover up | Ray Bans on sale for $73 | Similar Espadrilles here and hereOahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideBikiniOahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideThe sun getting ready to set from our room

We heard that the Hilton Waikiki has a firework show every Friday at 7:45, so we wanted to get back into town in time to watch that. Barefoot Beach Cafe was said to be one of the best places to catch the show so we took an uber there at about 7 since seating is on a first-come first-serve basis. We ordered two plates of food and a pineapple and spent $52 bucks, so it was a bit pricey for what it was worth. The food was still pretty good and they also had live music so it was a great place to vibe. This famous firework show, wasn’t a show at all. In fact, it was so short that I couldn’t even get my camera out fast enough to snap a photo. We legitimately felt bamboozled, but we were enjoying ourselves so we ended up asking our Uber driver to take us to a karaoke bar. We ended up in a hole in the wall karaoke spot where 4 drinks cost us $20, my kinda party. We stayed there for a while before heading back to the hotel because my allergies were kicking my ass. That was a wrap for day 2.

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideOahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideNike Fly Knit Racers | Sports Bra | ShortsOahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

The next morning we woke up and knew we wanted to go to Lanikai Beach. If you do visit, start with the Pillbox Hike in order to get the best view of the town. It’s pretty easy and only took us about 45 minutes to reach the highest pillbox. The sun over this island is to die for! After the hike we stopped to eat at Kono’s, which is kinda like a Hawaiin Chipotle with bombers or “burritos” and rice bowls. They’re known for their 12-hour slow cooked Kahlua pork and both of our bombers were sooooo good! I think we ate them in record time. We spent the rest of the day drinking at the beach, which was so much prettier and (actually swimmable) than North Shore and we got lucky because the sun would peak out from under the clouds every so often. On our way back to Honolulu we ate at Bob’s Pizzeria, where one slice of pizza is actually 1/4 of a huge NYC style pizza. We had the option to go to two night clubs that night, but I honestly didn’t go all the way to Hawaii to go out. We heard both District and Ginza were good, but we were just fine enjoying ourselves at the hotel. The pool area at our hotel was open 24 hours (MAJOR PERK), so even if we didn’t want to sit in our rooms, we could go down and order drinks, swim, or grab food.

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideBikiniOahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideCoverup | Sandals similar here and here

We hadn’t been getting very much sunshine throughout our trip so the next morning we took an early morning swim. The pool area at our hotel was good enough to not need to go to the beach. They had a salt water infinity pool overlooking the marina, a large pool in the middle, a hot tub, a bar and cabanas. We enjoyed our morning before finding a bar to watch the Super Bowl game at since it started at 1 pm in Hawaii. This had to have been one of the funnest things we did! We ended up at Mai Tai Bar, which is an open-concept bar on the third floor of Ala Moana Center, a huge shopping mall. Nate is an Eagles fan, so this was his moment of glory. The bar was already packed when we walked in, but there were two guys sitting at a table with two seats open across the way that I signed Eagles wings at and we laughed. After walking around and not being able to find an open table we were just about to leave when the two Eagles fans I waved at earlier offered us their table. They had happy hour all day long, so we had pitcher after pitcher of beer and ordered wings and fish tacos (which were delicious) and had the best time watching the game. We sat with a Chicago couple that were so much fun and stayed for about an hour after the game was over just chatting.

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideCover up | One PieceOahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideOahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideTop | Shorts

That night we forced a dinner at Noi Thai Cuisine after a lot of beer and several shots of Patron, which is why I have no photos to show for it (I looked cute though!). The decor of this restaurant was so pretty and the ambiance was awesome. We weren’t very hungry so we shared some salmon fried rice and crab wontons but the food and service was 5-star. We also spent less than $50, so for it to be a gourmet restaurant, I’d say that’s quite the deal.

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideOahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideBikini, similar Here
Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideOahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

On our last day in Hawaii our flight didn’t leave till 8:30 pm, but check-out was at 11 am. We tried to be strategic about mapping out our day and knew we wanted to go to one more beach before leaving. I called down and asked about a late check-out and they happily extended our stay until 1. That would give us enough time to head to Waimanalo Beach and still get back in time to shower and get dressed for the day. We arrived at the beach by 9 am and it was pouring rain. I didn’t care, I wanted to soak up all of Hawaii in the time I had left with it. Before we could even reach the water, the rain had stopped – which was so weird. The sun was shining over the water and on different parts of the beach, and behind us it was pitch black. This beach was hands down the prettiest we’d seen and because it’s not a big tourist area, no one was on it except for us. It was beautiful and peaceful. It was literally like being in someone’s backyard with the perfect mix of beach, trees and mountains. The way the clouds would hang over the tops of the mountains was stunning. We swam and laid out for a few hours before having to head back to the hotel.

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideRomper, also comes in redOahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

Since we still had a full day ahead of us, we showered and got ready to check-out. We didn’t make it out of our room until 1:30 and they didn’t once call us and ask us when we’d be out or tell us our time in the room had expired. Our hotel was THAT awesome. They held our bags for us so that we could explore the city before our flight. We grabbed a quick lunch upstairs at the bar of 100 Sails. The restaurant was so pretty it make us regret not eating there one of the nights for dinner. We decided to visit Pearl Harbor and I’m so glad we did. It was one of my favorite movies growing up but to see it with my own eyes was really moving. We took the free tour where they show you a quick 15 minute video in a theater on the history of Pearl Harbor and then take you out on the water over the USS Arizona, which is still sitting where it landed after the attack. Most of the men from inside that ship were never removed. It was a really sentimental and eerie memorial and I loved every second of it.

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After leaving Pearl Harbor, our final stops of the trip were going to be spent eating goodies Hawaii is known for – shaved ice and malasadas, which are like donuts without the hole. Several locals told us the best place for shaved ice was Shimazu Shaved Ice and they were right. The kid size shaved ice looked like an extra large but was SO good! It’s not like the sno-cones we have here in Houston, the ice was shaved so thinly and the flavors were lighter and less sugary but still the perfect amount of sweet. Leonard’s Bakery is famous for their malasadas so we ordered the original, which is just sugar, one cinnamon and one li hing, which is kind of like a sweet and sour version. I’m glad I tasted it, but it had nothing on Shipley’s. I’ll remain loyal to my American donuts LOL.

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We made it back to the hotel in time to change our clothes, grab our bags then head to the airport. Oahu has so many other things that are worthwhile that we didn’t get around to doing like Electric Beach (known for its sea turtles, so bring fins and a snorkel!), Pipeline Beach, Chinaman’s Hat, Cockroach Cove, Dole Plantation, Diamond Head Crater Hike, Mermaid Caves, Waimea Bay, and activities like zip lining, luaus, underwater scooters, tours and hikes. What I loved most is that Hawaii felt like I was out of the United States, without the trouble of exchanging currency or not being able to use your phone. I’d heard rumors that Hawaii was pricey and for the most part, it was. You can still have a fairly inexpensive trip depending on what you decide to do and spend your money on during your stay. This isn’t an island where you’ll be bored. I suggest spending at least 5 days, since there is so much to do and the first two days you’ll easily spend trying to adjust to the time. If there are any other questions you have about Oahu, feel free to comment below and I’ll get them answered!

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide Oahu, Hawaii | Travel GuideFloral JumpsuitOahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Guide

Items Packed but Not Worn:

A Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston

A Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdCargo jacket [sold out] similar here | 7 for All Mankind Denim | Sunnies | Mules [sold out] similar here

Thanksgiving has come and gone and while I call it “Thanksgiving break”, it was the busiest one I’ve had in years. This year was the first I shared with Nate’s family and the night before, one of his good friends had a surprise birthday party. After waking up early to cook on Thursday, heading to his parents and my sisters house and not making it home until almost midnight – I needed a break from Thanksgiving.

A Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B Werd

We’re both Houston natives, but the city’s so big that being on a different side of town can really feel like we’re visiting. We decided to spend a night downtown at the brand new Hotel Alessandra Houston. It’s a stunning new luxury hotel that opened in October that I suggest you visit, whether you’re in from out of town or live here. They have a second floor bar and restaurant with floor to ceiling windows even if you want to pop in for food or drinks. As soon as we pulled up, we were greeted by doormen and given cold Fiji waters. Check-in was seamless and we were escorted to our cozy room.

A Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B Werd A Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B Werd

I started my stay with a visit to the spa, which is becoming one of my favorite things to splurge on. Typically, I’ll opt for a facial or full-body massage, but the experts at Spa Alessandra suggested something I’d never had before. I received a seasonal body treatment that included a lavender exfoliation, chocolate mud mask and this charcoal mask for my face that I ended up purchasing for at-home use. This particular treatment is pretty hands-on, but you can adjust what you’re comfortable with being touched. Once I was wrapped in a head-to-toe mask, my arms, legs, stomach, chest and back was covered in plastic and wrapped inside what looked like foil. It was hands down the best spa experience I’ve had thus far. I doubt I’ll ever want a massage or facial when I go to one now. When you visit, ask for Keiara. She was sweet, energetic and explained the entire process to me so I understood what she was doing and using.

A Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdA Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B Werd A Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B Werd Greeted with cheese and wine, I am NOT mad.A Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B Werd

We had drinks at their bar, Bardot and snacked on some chicken tenders and truffle fries (so good we ate the crumbs) before we took a round up to the 21st floor where there’s a rooftop sitting area to take in the view. The pool area is small, but so nice! Later that night we had dinner at Hearsay Gastropub, which is one of my favorites. Try it for dinner if you’re ever downtown. The lobster, shrimp & andouille pasta was delicious and came with a homemade lobster sauce. The salmon was as well! Bardot is open until 2 am on the weekends, but I couldn’t hang. We spent the rest of our evening in our room watching SVU enjoying the bottle of wine we were gifted.

A Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdA Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdWatchA Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdThe terrace on the top floorA Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdA Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdA Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdA Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdA Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B Werd

Boots | Similar Dress here and here

Sunday morning I enjoyed coffee in the room while we packed up and got ready for breakfast. A great thing about this hotel, is that it’s walking distance to so much fun stuff. You can cross the street and be at Starbucks (ideal for me) or go over to the House of Blues pavilion that’s packed with restaurants and other venues. Honestly, one night wasn’t enough. I plan to be back soon to try their restaurant, Lucienne, out for dinner and get another seasonal body treatment from their spa.

A Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdSimilar robe hereA Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdA big deal for meA Staycation at Hotel Alessandra Houston | The B WerdThe cutest restaurant

Tulum, Mexico | Travel Guide

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideBlack and White Bikini

Tulum is a small town in Mexico about an hour and a half away from Cancun. I originally visited it for a day trip three years ago while vacationing in Playa Del Carmen on an excursion to see the Mayan Ruins. It was underdeveloped then but still had a whimsical feel to it. Since then, it’s changed quite a bit with hotel and restaurant additions so instead of visiting my go-to Playa Del Carmen, I decided to take on Tulum for a few days.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel Guide

My boyfriend and I booked our flights just two weeks before Memorial Day because we wanted to take advantage of the day-off from work. We had a 7 a.m. flight that got us to Cancun by 9:30. A two-hour flight was especially efficient to allow us to get a full day in. We decided to rent a car, as opposed to attempting to take a shuttle from the airport. We used National rental car and ended up getting a small Nissan for about $35 a day. This is when blogger life kicked in… I had to make a detour in Cancun because I needed Wifi to post Weekend Deals before it got too late. Desperate, I know. We found a really nice restaurant off the water where I was able to do so.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel Guide Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel Guide

We drove an hour and a half to Tulum and got there right before our check-in time. Even though I had cell phone service, my GPS didn’t direct me to our Airbnb accurately. If you do decide to rent a car and drive yourself, contact your host prior to your trip for specific directions. We checked in, got settled then got changed to check out the property as well as the beach. Los Amigos is a nice apartment-like rental property with a gorgeous pool deck on the roof. We went towards the beach (a 15 minute drive) for a few hours and had happy hour drinks at a bar before catching the sunset. In order to get to the beach, you will likely have to go through a hotel and they generally charge day passes unless you’re eating or staying at the hotel.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideFlamingo Jumpsuit | Heels

After getting suggestions from our host, we had dinner at Mateo’s, which is a popular three story open-face restaurant. It’s one of the few places that stays open past midnight off of the beach and the food was delicious. Papaya Playa is the biggest Saturday Night beach party in Tulum. It was about $30 for entry for two people. They played techno music the entire time we were there which was a bit disappointing and I didn’t stay long enough to see if it would change. Heels are fine, unless you plan to dance in the sand. If when the party ends at 2 a.m. you’re still not ready to go, head over to KiKi in the city. It gets good late at night.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideRomperTulum, Mexico | Travel Guide

The following morning I was on the hunt for coffee, of course. We found a cute coffee spot off of the beach road called Tunich that was cozy, but delicious. I had an egg white breakfast burrito with two almond milk lattes and I was in heaven. The owner actually works the restaurant and stopped to chat with us, which made the experience more enjoyable. On the way to the beach we picked up a group of hitchhikers (risky I know) who were so nice! We all stopped to have a beer and round of shots together. Coco Beach Club is known to have a fun crowd on Sundays and it was true. They have tables, beds, and a patio with swings and a dance floor. We drank, ate, took naps and swam all day before heading back to the house.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideGold Bikini Top | Bottoms |  Leopard Sarong  | Beach Bag | Shades

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel Guide

We originally had plans to go to an Italian restaurant called Pasada Margherita for dinner since a friend had suggested it but they were closing right as we arrived and insisted that we try Cenzotle, also called The Secret Garden. It was such a cute vibe and really made you feel like you were eating in a secret garden, plus they offer you organic bug spray. We tried duck tacos, spare ribs and a flavorful whitefish. We wrapped up dinner around 11:30 and headed to La Zebra for salsa night. What we thought was perfect timing was the end of the night for them. There are no power lines off of the beach so everything is ran off of generators, causing them to close early. Once things are closed, it’s pitch black so make sure you begin your nights early unless you want to party in the city. We drove past several little bars you could walk into that were playing music on our way back home.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideFloral embellished romper | Tasseled Sandals
Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideWhite beach shorts | Bandeau

Our last day was without a doubt our most fun because we’d finally got the hang of the town. We had breakfast at Tunich again before visiting the Mayan Ruins. The last time I’d visited I was with a tour guide that led us around the park. This time we winged it and ended up accidentally entering through the exit. Why they would put the exit before the entrance makes no sense to me but I ended up getting into a small altercation with a disrespectful guard who assumed we intentionally had snuck in. It escalated QUICKLY and I know my boyfriend’s first thought was that he was gonna go to Mexican jail LOLLL. It ruined my mood instantly but I wanted him to still get to experience it, so I sucked it up. Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen because the sun will be blazing. There’s an incredible view of the beach once you reach the top and you can also stay for a swim.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideBlue BikiniTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel Guide

Once we left we went back to Pasada Margherita to lay out on their beach beds and enjoy some drinks and ended up staying around for lunch. This was one of the pricier meals we had in Tulum, but it was still amazing. There wasn’t a plate on the menu cheaper than $27. I just recently started eating seafood a year or so ago so the fish was a bit too fresh for me but the flavors were light and perfect for a hot beach day. There are happy hours all along the beach zone from 4 until 7 so you can pull in anywhere and have a drink. We stopped at Mateo’s after leaving the beach to catch the sunset since it’s known to have the best view. We were so pleasantly surprised when we arrived to find a DJ playing reggae and I almost cried tears of joy. I had heard no Spanish music the entire time I was in Mexico which was disappointing, but I happily settled for music I would’ve heard here in Houston. I ordered drink after drink and danced ’til it was dark out. I don’t think I sat down at all.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideOff the Shoulder Dress | Panama Hat | Gold Sandals Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel Guide

There are food trucks all along the street in Tulum and while they’re delicious, my stomach regretted that decision the entire next day. We had to drive back into Cancun to for our flight but stopped at a restaurant in the Maria Del Mar Hotel before breakfast before leaving. If you do decide to stay in an Airbnb, there are still so many gorgeous hotels that you can enjoy the beach at. The closer we got to leaving the more we wished we had another day to enjoy the things we’d found.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel Guide Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel Guide Floral Shorts | Floral Top | Espadrilles [sold out] Similar Here and Here | ShadesTulum, Mexico | Travel Guide Tulum, Mexico | Travel Guide Tulum, Mexico | Travel Guide

If you’re planning on visiting, make sure you have cash on you at all times. Many places only accept American dollars or Mexican pesos. We were leaving the hotel with about $100 in American money a day and still had to use the ATM quite a few times at a $8 fee. The places that did accept debit and credit cards took all American Visas, Mastercards and Amex’s. If you decide not to rent a car, which I highly suggest, avoid taxis as much as you can. They charge tourist outrageous amounts to go from place to place and because they have no meter, you can’t tell them that their amount is wrong.

Tulum is definitely the “Austin” or hippie town of Mexico and felt much less authentic to me than the other parts I’ve visited, which isn’t a bad thing depending on what you’re wanting. It’s beautiful and has a certain simple majestic charm to it that’s hard to match. There are an overwhelming amount of restaurants in Tulum so deciding where to eat can be tricky. Bikes and scooters can be rented from several different places and I suggest them if you’re going to be staying in one area. A beach party we missed but heard great things about is at La Eufemia. It’s known for it’s cool crowd and cheap food and drinks. We didn’t get the chance to check out any lagoons (Laguna Kaan Luum) or cenotes (Cenote Naharon, Cristal & Escondido, Dos Ojos, El Pit, Ik Kil and Gran Cenote), which are what make Tulum so unique so we’ll definitely be back.

Things I Packed and Didn’t Wear:

48 Hours in L.A.

Jumpsuit for my flight

Most of you all follow me on Instagram and know I spent this past weekend in Los Angeles for one of my best friends Christina’s birthday. To say she had a rough year would be an understatement, so there would’ve been no way I would’ve missed the chance to celebrate with her. I took a 7 a.m. flight out Friday morning which was painfully early, but if I’m only going to be there for two days I like to make the most of my time.

I landed at 8:30 a.m. California time, which is one of the perks of the time difference. Christina picked me up and we went to breakfast at Coffee Co. which is a really cute breakfast spot near LAX that puts a Middle Eastern spin on breakfast foods. We figured mimosas at 9 a.m. was a good idea and I had an egg white skillet with potatoes, mushrooms, turkey sausage cheese and avocado and it was BOMB.

Christina had made reservations for us to go to The Broad Museum at noon about a month before my actual visit which I definitely suggest. It was 92 degrees in L.A. and people were in line around the building baking in the sun. As soon as we pulled up, we parked and our reservation time was heading right in. It was one of the best museums I’ve been to. From Andy Warhol, to Jeff Koons to Basquiat. Most people visit this museum specifically for the Infinity Mirrored Room and we’d forgot about it completely. We were about to walk out when the security guard asked us how we liked the room. He let us back in, led us to the front of the line and we got to see it. It was kinda scary because you can only stand on a small black step inside of the room and they only allow you about 90 seconds in it, but it is beautiful.

Sweatsuit short set

Once we wrapped up there, we went to go get Ciera and we headed down to Santa Monica for the night which was a dream. The feel is much different than L.A. and I love the boardwalk, beach and strip-like feel of the hotels and restaurants. We checked into The Shore Hotel and hit the pool for a bit before having to get dressed for dinner. The rest of our friends joined us and we had dinner at Del Frisco’s Grille, then went to the Penthouse at Huntley Hotel which ended abruptly after my poor friend had a moment. We handled it as quickly as we could and ended up enjoying cigars back at the hotel. Side note: using the Hotel Tonight app for booking hotels is amazing. You can find 4 and 5 star hotels the day of your stay for way cheaper than their usual cost.

High waisted swimsuitOrange Pant Suit

The next morning we all got dressed, checked out and had brunch at The Independence where the truffle fries were the best thing on the menu. Of course I took advantage of the bottomless mimosas and shared a breakfast burger with Christina. They also have a really good Cuban sandwich. We drove back to L.A. and took a quick nap before heading to the JBL pool party at the Mondrian Hotel.

Blouse | Shorts@CieraRogers | @ChrissZoe | @DinaLeonne | @AlexandraSafir | @OrangeCalderonSwimsuit

Listen, when I tell you………. this party was so lit – I am not lying. All of us are from Texas and there was a significant difference in how we enjoyed the party and how L.A. girls enjoyed it LOL. We drank, twerked and laughed till it was a wrap and then headed to Berris for Pizza. You MUST have the risotto and lobster pizza. We devoured two 20″ pizzas and were in bed by 11. Being the life of the party is exhausting LOL.

Bodysuit by Shop Chriss Zoe

Sunday morning me, Christina and Alex were up pretty early so we drove to Burbank to have breakfast at Another Broken Egg. Damn we eat a lot huh? We rode down to Venice Beach and rented bikes to ride along the beach, stopping to eat corndogs, fries and funnel cake. It was the most gorgeous day to be outside and the vibe at Venice is always fun. I can’t lie and say that I don’t consider moving my life to L.A. but my family and money is in Houston so.. we shall see.

Shirt | Bralette | Shorts | Sneakers

Things I packed but Didn’t Get to Wear: 

Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel Guide

Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideJacket | Bodysuit | Vans

It normally takes me a couple of weeks to get around to creating a Travel Guide because I have so much to catch up on once I’m finally home, but this one couldn’t wait. I had the most amazing time in Jamaica. The people, the food, the vibe was all one of a kind. In actuality, my older sister Christian and her long time friends were planning a getaway. I was there when it was being discussed and included myself (just like the good ol’ days) so we ended up being a group of five.

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We flew out on an 11 a.m. flight on a Friday morning with Southwest. All of our flights were relatively inexpensive (roughly $350) but I prefer Southwest for several reasons. They let you check multiple bags with no extra costs and they fly out of our smaller airport here in Houston, which saves you a lot of time. Getting through customs in Jamaica took a little over 30 minutes but when we walked out of the airport it was pouring rain. Not just a gloomy sky and some sprinkles, but hardcore tsunami rain. We instantly felt disappointed. We came to Jamaica for blue water and sunshine and after checking the weather, we saw there was a 90% chance of rain expected the entire time we’d planned to be there. I was already thinking of ways to get to the other side of the country hoping the sun would be out there.

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We’d decided to rent a car, which ended up being a great idea but there were a couple of things we needed to do prior to heading to our rental home. For one, get gas since Sixt gave us a rental on empty. We were also all starving so we stopped at Jerky’s to eat. My sister got wings and fries and I got spicy shrimp with rice and peas and cabbage. The food was amazing and the restaurant was full of locals. Men and women fresh off of work enjoying a drink and children in their school uniforms eating with their parents. Mind you, people in Jamaica move slooooow. There’s not rushing to eat, serve you, or get anywhere so we waited over 30 minutes for food. By this time the rain had let up but we needed to begin heading to our Airbnb. It was high up in the mountains so our GPS wouldn’t direct us and because it had no physical address, we were reading step-by-step directions given to us by the hosts. We begin driving up into the jungle on dirt roads in a Mitsubishi Lancer packed with five women and their luggage trying to read off the directions listed. Finally after about 15 minutes of driving upward, we reach a point where we’re completely lost. The drive was steep and the hills were sharp and at one point our car began rolling backwards. The roadway was so narrow there was no option to turn around, only to reverse and we were losing the sun quickly. We sat in silence not wanting to panic one another but we were all scared as hell. Finally, a car drove up behind us and it was our host! We were so relieved because we had all started thinking worst case scenario. We followed her to the home that we were disturbingly close to LOL.

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We chose to stay in this Airbnb because of the view and it was absolutely worth it. The home was so beautiful we really didn’t have to leave and our hosts James and his wife D were so welcoming. They had a fire going and we had some welcome drinks. We also met another James (we’ll call him Jamesy boy) who agreed to drive us back down the hill to go out later that night because we were terrified of trying it after dark. We got dressed and headed out to Pier One, which is where Stella got her groove back and now I know why LOL. We walked in, ordered rum by the bottle and danced till 3 a.m. in the same spot. We may or may not have even attracted a crowd. What I loved most was the healthy mix of locals and tourists. It was an authentic sweaty Jamaican party that had the perfect mix of classic reggae and turn-up which exactly what we wanted. Me and my sister loooooove reggae so we were in heaven when it wasn’t just the 15 minute mixes we get in Houston. On our way out we had smoked jerk chicken from off of the street and it was incredible. Throw out all cleanliness and health stigmas when eating here, you’ll be just fine.

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The next morning we enjoyed a few hours out by the pool of our AirBNB. We had coffee and fresh juice while overlooking Montego Bay. It was gloomy, but still beautiful and to be honest, I was just glad it wasn’t raining. Our host was an incredible chef and he made us a breakfast of the best pancakes and bacon I’ve ever had. I’m not exaggerating, the best. I had them every morning. Rain was on the schedule so we decided to drive to Negril to see if we could escape it, and we did. Jamesy boy drove us through rain about an hour into Negril where the sun was indeed shining. We pulled into Margaritaville located on Seven Mile Beach which is easily one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to, where we found a DJ and dozens of people laying out. We found some chairs and enjoyed some drinks before deciding to pack up and head back to the house. Travel tip: do not eat at any franchises while in Jamaica. Pull into whatever hole in the wall you see and order food. You won’t regret it. We stopped into a tiny restaurant that felt like a relatives living room and I had the best beef tips. My only regret is not bringing my own hot sauce LOL.

Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel Guide

That night we got dressed up and went to Margaritaville in Montego Bay, which turns into a huge night club. We were all drained from staying out late, being up early and then in the sun all day but forced it anyway. This particular Margaritaville seemed to be a tourist stop with tour buses lined up on the curb loading them inside. The music was top 40 from the 2000’s and the vibe was nothing like what we had encountered the night before at Pier One so we decided to head home early for some much needed sleep.

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Sunday morning we woke up knowing that we wanted to head to the beach, but also knew to expect rain eventually. We enjoyed more pancakes at our house then drove about 20 minutes to Doctor’s Cave Beach. It’s a beautiful beach so they charge you $6 to enter and another $6 for a beach chair. Unfortunately it was too gloomy for us so of course Jamesy Boy agreed to drive us back to Negril. We stopped along the road about halfway there for more Red Stripe and some Rum Punches while we all took photos. Of course when we attempted to get back into the car the battery was dead LOL only us! James came to our rescue again (you see a theme here?) and found someone to jump our car. We made it to Negril and went to a bar called Woodstock that ended up being the highlight of our trip. There were only about 20 people there and the DJ played whatever we wanted. For $2 each, we kept the Red Stripe coming for hours and had an entire day party. It rained for about 45 minutes and we all hung out under the covered bar dancing until it cleared. It was the perfect day.

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We had to head home around 6 pm because we had asked James to make us a big traditional Jamaican meal for our last night in Montego Bay. We all got dressed for dinner and were really blown away at what he prepared. It was by far the best food we had during our stay. Jack fish, jerk chicken, zucchini, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, festivals, cole slaw, green beans and carrots, chard and rice and peas. We asked both James’ and D to join us for dinner and we sat around enjoying wine and had a cigar in front of the fire before calling it an early night.

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One of the girls we were with had to head to the airport at 5 a.m. Monday morning so I got up when she did. The sunrise was beyond words. I sat by the pool with a cup of coffee and watched it come over the top of the mountains. Sights like that make me so grateful that I’m in a position to even experience views like that, especially with my sister. Once the sun came up, I went for a swim, had my final order of pancakes (James if you’re reading this, send more) and enjoyed the last few hours of Jamaican sun before having to head to the airport. The hardest part was leaving Jamesy boy behind. We would not have had a good time if it wasn’t for him hosting us and showing us around. We had formed a little family, even with the pups Vybez and Cookie.

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Everything in Jamaica is inexpensive. I used American money the entire time and outside of the food ordered at our house, I spent less than $150. Nonetheless, bargain everything. I talked down beers, cigars and souvenirs instead of giving in the first time. Call your banks prior to arriving and let them know you’ll be in Jamaica. You’re able to use the ATM’s there to pull out both American and Jamaican dollars but I suggest downloading a money conversion app onto your phone because the numbers do get tricky.

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Had we not rented a car we would have spent a few hundred dollars getting around with drivers, so that saved us a lot of money. Being able to drive an hour to a different beach or make as many stops as we wanted was really helpful. Keep in mind that they drive on the opposite side of the road and the drivers seat is on the right hand side, so be up for the challenge. While there are so many beautiful things to do in Jamaica like jump off of the cliff at Rick’s Cafe, swim in a blue hole and see a waterfall, or float down the Martha Brae River, we didn’t get around to doing any tourist activities due to the weather which is honestly what I prefer. I hate that I waited so long to visit Jamaica but will definitely be back.

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Things I Packed but Didn’t Get to Wear: