AboutFood for thoughtHawaii

Sam’s 2016 Recap – The Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge

By December 31, 2016 6 Comments

Hey there! It looks like it’s time for my 2016 recap and a look toward my 2017. As strange as this might be, I have liked answering questionnaires since I learned how to write and I am ALWAYS the person that thoroughly fills out the customs form, front and back, every time I head back to Hawaii from my travels. So, when we came across this I, of course, was in full agreement that we should participate.

While my 2016 was a little lighter on the travel aspect than Erica’s (most of my time was spent island hopping to Hawaii’s outer islands and visiting family on the mainland), it was jam-packed with life-changes and new experiences. So without further ado…

If you had to move to a country you’ve never been to, and live there for 10 years, where would you go?

Oh man, this is a doozy. I have a bit of a split personality when it comes to my preferred living situation. I want to be out in unpolluted nature where there isn’t a soul around and I can just revel in the sounds and smells of the world around me (this is simply just good for my soul!), but I also really like the convenience and safety of having stores and hospitals nearby. I am also someone who enjoys variety in nature and I like being on a beach as much as on top of a mountain. So after mulling it over for far too long, I would have to go with New Zealand. With its towering volcanic peaks and the sandy descent into the teal blue of the Pacific Ocean, this place has it all. In addition, it is known to have some of the friendliest people and wildlife that is unique to this beautiful country. Finally, the fascinating culture of the Maori people is the icing on the cake and if you have never seen the Haka performed, then you are missing out!


If you had to live in a hotel for the rest of your life, which hotel would you choose and why?

Easy, the Four Seasons on Lana’i, Hawaii.

While I love to spend small amounts of time in boutique hostels and hotels, how can you NOT choose the kind of service and pampering you get while staying in a Four Seasons? The rooms and grounds are gorgeous and the one on Lana’i Island sits on a cliff overlooking Manele Bay where you can spend your days watching hundreds (and I really mean HUNDREDS) of dolphins frolicking in the marine sanctuary below while the attractive staff bring you complimentary smoothies, iced water pitchers and cool towels. While there isn’t much to do on the island of Lana’i, I would assume that since I am living in the freakin’ Four Seasons that I have plenty of money to fly off to wherever my heart desires for some fun and human contact!

2016 Recap - Swimming with Dolphins

Swimming with Dolphins
(Photo GoPro)


If you could only eat the cuisine of one nationality forever more, which would you choose?

I would love to say Chinese but I know the stuff at the all-you-can-eat buffets isn’t really authentic and I wish I could say Mexican but let’s face it, Chipotle is just American food wrapped up burrito style. Bare with me because I have to admit I was not blessed with a sophisticated palate.  So, I guess I would have to say food from the good ‘ole US of A. The beauty of it is that nothing is truly American (except maybe corn on the cob) and it is all a mixture of cultures and tastes all blended and remixed with extra sugar on top sitting on a slice of processed bread.  Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed food in every place I have traveled but growing up in the US, with all of the flavor enhancers and additives, really does a number on your taste buds making it hard to enjoy more subtle flavors. (But that is a whole other blog post for some other time.)

Who has given you “holiday envy” this year, and how?

Jackson Groves | IG: @jackson.groves | journeyers.com

This native Kiwi has been traveling around Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and more. His instagram is made up of ALL the good stuff… blue ocean water, mountaintop views, colorful sunsets and lots of adventure! Bonus, he’s a total babe.

Photo by Jackson Groves | @jackson.groves

Photo by Jackson Groves | @jackson.groves


If you had to look at the same sunrise or sunset everyday, where in the world would you never get bored of seeing?

Sunsets and sunrises are my favorite things and so far the best I have seen are on the North Shore here in Hawaii. The mix of intense sun with the frequent partial cloud cover does wonders on the sky. And you’re in luck if it was raining that day because it usually brings out some crazy purples and pinks! I have probably taken 400 photos of sunsets and sunrises since I moved to Oahu in 2014. Here are some of my favorites:

2016 Recap - Sunset on the Treasure Seeker - Hawaii Pirate Ship Adventures (Photos by Sam)

Sunset on the Treasure Seeker – Hawaii Pirate Ship Adventures
(Photos by Sam)


2016 Recap - Sunset in Waikiki (Photo by Sam)

Sunset in Waikiki
(Photo by Sam)


2016 Recap - Sunset wedding at Papa'iloa Beach (Photo by Sam)

Sunset wedding at Papa’iloa Beach
(Photo by Sam)


2016 Recap - Sunset at Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon in Waikiki (Photo by Sam)

Sunset at Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon in Waikiki
(Photo by Sam)


2016 Recap - Sunrise on Waikiki Beach (Photo by Sam)

Sunrise on Waikiki Beach
(Photo by Sam)


If you were taking a “staycation” in your hometown, where would it be and what would you recommend others do?

Columbus, OH is a highly-underrated, fantastic city with friendly people and tons of stuff to do. I could go on and on about the Short North Arts District, the nightlife, festivals, markets, sporting events and more but I will spare you the chapter book and give you my top 3 favorite things in Columbus.

  1. The SPORTS – There is nothing like being on Ohio State’s campus during football Saturday’s and even if you don’t like the sport, the tailgating debauchery is enough to amuse and delight. The drinks are cheap and the range of bars from upscale to dive to dance club are plentiful.
  2. The FOOD – Start the day with some breakfast from Super Chefs (I recommend the Juggernaut – a gourmet version of chicken and waffles in sandwich form). For lunch or dinner you can try your hand at the Thurmanator burger at The Thurman Cafe (featured on Man vs Food – Food Network).  Your visit wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams where they feature unique and ever-changing flavors such as Wildberry Lavender, Goat Cheese w/ Red Cherries, and their most popular flavor, Salty Caramel. There is also an ever-growing network of craft breweries such as Seventh Son Brewery and many give tours of their digs and if after a few beers you get snacky, there is no other place to go than Mikey’s Late Night Slice where  you can grab a Plain-Ass Pepperoni pizza and slather it in the legendary “slut sauce.”
  3. The TALENT – Columbus College of Art and Design is one of the oldest design colleges in the nation and Columbus is home to surprisingly exceptional music and art scenes. Some notorious personalities from this great city are author R.L. Stine, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, actor Josh Radnor, and musical artists Rascal Flatts, Twenty One Pilots, BowWow and Attack Attack. You can find local talent at the monthly Short North Gallery Hop and the various festivals such as the annual Community Fest (Comfest for short).

Describe your most perfect travel day of 2016.

My best day of travel this year was conquering the 11 mile Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast of Kauai out to the secluded Kalalau Beach that can only be reached via the trail and has no access to civilization as there is no power and no phone lines. After descending the last of what seemed like 600 peaks down to the beach, we rounded the corner and came to the most incredibly unspoiled, undeveloped view. Waves crashing into mountainsides and sea caves as far as the eye can see and an incredible waterfall cascading into the ocean. Best of all, I got to see it with my Hawaii ohana and my handsome gentleman caller.

My worst travel day of the year was going 11 miles back to civilization…

2016 Recap - Kalalau Trail | Kauai, HI (Photos by Sam)

Kalalau Trail | Kauai, HI
(Photos by Sam)


What have you ticked off your bucket list in 2016?

Hiked the 22 mile (round-trip) Kalalau Trail on Kauai, HI.

2016 Recap - Kalalau Trail | Kauai, HI (Photo by Sam)

Kalalau Trail | Kauai, HI
(Photo by Sam)

Watched (and photographed) as friends got married.

2016 Recap - Beach Weddings

Nick + Jordyn (left) | Mike + Jordan + Zaelyn (right)  
(Photos by Sam)

Traveled to Michigan, Key West, and North Carolina with my love to visit our families.

2016 Recap - Charlevoix Lighthouse on Lake Michigan

Charlevoix Lighthouse on Lake Michigan
(Photo by Sam)


2016 Recap - Fort Jefferson in Key West, FL

Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas | Key West, FL
(Photo by Sam)

And best of all, adopted our little bundle of fur!

2016 Recap - Frankie Dog on the Beach

Frankie on Ewa Beach
(Photo by Sam)

What is at the top of your travel bucket list for 2017?

I can’t wait to watch my best friend walk down the aisle into the arms of the most perfect man for her. All the while, in beautiful Puerto Rico! Combining the two best things in the world… love and travel! #weddinghashtagTBA

2016 Recap - Puerto Rico (Photo by Erica)

Puerto Rico
(Photo by Erica)


What is your favorite Instagram photo of 2016?


2016 recap - Lanikai Pillboxes at sunrise over looking the Mokes (Photo by Sam)

Lanikai Pillboxes at sunrise over looking the Mokes
(Photo by Sam)

I truly enjoyed reliving the highlights of this year and exploring some fun hypotheticals.

For more Travel Whispers Blogger Challenges check out

About Sam

Manini girl Sam is our travel curator and sustainable travel expert. When she isn't busy with Manini stuff, she's enjoying the mermaid life in Hawaii, taking long walks on the beach with her pup and boyfriend, scrubbing teeth, or improving her skills in graphic design.

Join the discussion 6 Comments

Leave a Reply

Subscribe for More Goodies!

Join our mailing list to stay in the know about trips, blog posts, and happenings at The Manini Experience!

High five! You're subscribed!