Tag: Waikiki

Living it up as a #YelpElite

What can I say? Living in Hawaii and being a Yelp Elite has its perks!

I first became a Yelp Elite in 2015. I slowly began attending events, but not regularly. It was more of sporadic thing for me.

Now that I’m a gung-ho Yelp Elite, I’ve been getting more active and involved in the community – and I must say, it’s really paying off!

To answer the most common question I receive, “How did you become a Yelp Elite, and how do you get to go to all of these amazing events for free?”

Easy: I write Yelp reviews! Luckily for me, our awesome community manager Emi sought me out to be a Yelp Elite. All I had to to do was fill out a brief form, and my by the grace of the Yelp gods, I was accepted into the Elite crowd!

Through my tenure as a Yelp Elite, I’ve been able to attend the movies, the opera, free dinner parties, concerts, and more. Some Yelp Elite events are extra special, though.

Here’s three extra-awesome Yelp Elite events I’ve been able to attend:

1. Dinner and cocktails at Stripsteak Waikiki: This event did not allow for a plus one, and I was better off for it. I was able to throw myself right into the mingling and get to know my fellow Yelp Elites. I didn’t realize how many interesting, fun, and wonderful people Yelp Elites were! They are all walks of life – young teachers, retired state workers, and everyone in between!

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The swanky vibe at Stripsteak Waikiki

Stripsteak WaikikiΒ is Chef Mina’s new restaurant at the International Marketplace, and this place certainly is swanky! We were able to try some of their gourmet bites like lobster pot pie, Wagyu steak, and foie gras. The venue didn’t disappoint – the ambiance was just right: outdoor, under the stars with the nice trade winds blowing.

2. Yelp Flight Club – Pacific Aviation Museum: Anytime you’re granted access to somewhere typically off-limits usually means a recipe for a great night. The Pacific Aviation Museum’s Flight Club Party was on Ford Island, a military base that requires special clearance for entrance.

Me and my other half were able to drive around the beautiful island taking pictures of the sunset before the event. The event itself? Simply marvelous! Imagine a swanky and upbeat party in a museum gallery full of 1940’s air crafts. It was the party of dreams!

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I want that leather flight jacket!

We had pupus like tacos, garlic chicken, ahi poke, and dessert like chocolate, ice cream, and Popsicles. The open bar wasn’t a bad addition either!

We had fun exploring the gift shop- especially lusting after the authentic aviation leather jackets.

3. Day at the Beach at the Shriner’s Club in Waimanalo: So many times driving up the highway we unknowingly passed by this incredible beachfront property. You are only able to access it as a guest of a Shriner’s Club member, and luckily, fellow Yelp Eliter Victoria’s husband was able to sponsor us as guests for the day.

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Check out this view! Waterfront beach bbq day!

This event was a fun, relaxing Sunday getting to know more about the community members which make Yelp Hawaii so special. We shared lunch pot-luck style next to the ocean, played aΒ few games of volleyball, and had lots of laughs. Thank you Victoria and Aggie for putting this Sunday Funday together!

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New friends thanks to Yelp!

Overall, I’m grateful to be a Yelp Elite. It’s helping expose me to the many wonderful places on Oahu, and more importantly, helping me to forge friendships with the beautiful people here.

A day at the Waikiki Aquarium

When one comes to visit Hawai’i, the last thing on their mind is visiting an aquarium. “Why would I visit the aquarium when I could just jump in the ocean and see a living aquarium?” Great question, but let me answer you this way. The Waikiki Aquarium showcases dozens of coral species and fish, crustaceans, sea horses, sea dragons, pipefish, predators, and ocean life from the Northwestern Hawaiian islands you just can’t see on the main islands.

The most impressive spread were the variety of colorful living corals. All the corals are thriving under conditions simulated to be the ocean in its most pristine, healthy state. The key takeaway for me was that I have never seen such beautiful, developed, colorful and healthy coral in the wild. It was amazing to see what coral could look like in the more remote reefs and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It was equally amazing to imagine what our reefs on O’ahu can and will look like when we are ready to transplant species back to where they belong.

Here are some photos I took at the aquarium. I would highly recommend this visit for any visitor to Hawai’i, especially before jumping into the ocean. It’s great to learn about the underwater world and its fragile ecosystem before diving in.

The Waikiki Aquarium is the 2nd oldest public aquarium in the country
The Waikiki Aquarium is the 2nd oldest public aquarium in the country
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An angelfish indigenous only to the Hawaiian islands swims by a colorful reef
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Sea anemone attract clown fish and other species of fish to its predatory confines
Hawaiian island reef life
Hawaiian island reef life
South Pacific reef life
South Pacific reef life

Yellow striped pipefish
Yellow striped pipe fish
Jellyfish in the "drifters" exhibit
Jellyfish in the “drifters” exhibit
Beautiful coral exhibits
Beautiful coral exhibits
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A sampling of the vibrant underwater world you can experience through thriving coral reefs
This Hawaiian Monk Seal has been at the aquarium for 31 years!
This Hawaiian Monk Seal has been at the aquarium for 31 years!

Next time you have a rainy day in Hawaii, or are just looking for a getaway to see something beautiful, check out the Waikiki Aquarium. You won’t be disappointed! They also have a predator exhibit with sharks and a vast educational/conservation exhibit, as well.

The Colors of Hawaii

It’s hard to pinpoint one thing I love the most about living in Hawaii, but one thing’s for sure: the colors here top the list. I never knew life could be so vibrant, beautiful and colorful. Here are some photos that I’ve taken in the past few months that show just how diverse and the color spectrum is here on a daily basis:

KohalaThis photo was just a typical sunset at Kohala Beach on O’ahu, but I love the orange and black contrast.

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Hiking the Kuliouo Ridge Trail

There’s so much greenery in Hawaii all times of year. This was taken in February. The reason why we get so many rainbows is because it rains nearly every day and it’s sunny a lot, too. In order to get that lush green tropical rain forest, we have to endure our share of rain storms.

View from the top at Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail
View from the top at Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail

Sometimes cloudy days lend themselves to great shots. Here’s the payoff view from the top of Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail on the east side of O’ahu. I think the most stunning colors are the water and greenery.

Ahi Sashimi Salad at Kona Brewing Company
Ahi Sashimi Salad at Kona Brewing Company

I hate to tell you, but if your Ahi Tuna isn’t that color, you’re just not living. This Ahi Tuna salad at Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii Kai was worth every penny of its $22 price tag. I love the various colors. It’s truly a work of art!

Waikiki Sunset
Waikiki Sunset

Before moving to Hawaii, I felt amazed and jealous of all those sunset shots I’d see floating around Instagram. Then one day while casually walking down the street in Waikiki, I looked to my left and saw that it was so easy to capture the beauty that is Hawaii. The shadows and natural back lighting make photographing beautiful sunsets a no-brainer. I love the clouds’ indigo/deep purple hues in the background.

Diamond Head View
Diamond Head View

It’s almost hard to accept how beautiful the colors in this moment were. I was treated to a spectacular sunset this evening and the cotton candy sky against verdant green Diamond Head were nearly enough to make me weep.

My absolute favorite
My absolute favorite at Waikiki Beach

Here’s a rule of thumb: when the sun dips into the sky, wait around 10 or 15 minutes and see what happens. Patience was a virtue this night as I captured the most ethereal, stunning color spectrum I’ve ever seen. I still can’t believe it’s real.

sistersAt the Kaneohe Sand Bar, the contrast of light blue and dark blue ocean waters against the dramatic backdrop of the Ko’olau Mountain Range is something to behold.

Koko Marina
Koko Marina

Like I mentioned before, sometimes cloudy skies give way to amazing shots. I just adore the color of the water, the white boat and the ominous clouds over the mountains. Paradise.

Rainbow from home
Rainbow from home

No Hawaiian photo shoot is complete without at least one photo of a rainbow. When you least expect it, you look up into the ordinary sky (well, ordinary by Hawaii’s standards) and see a vibrant rainbow. There’s a reason why the rainbow is on the Hawaii license plate. No matter how commonplace rainbows might be, I’m still thrilled to see one and I’m often taken aback at how colorful and peaceful they make the atmosphere.