What’s it really like moving overseas?

Great morning to everyone from the islands!  It’s been a while since our last blog post – apologies for the lack of updates during the transition, while navigating through the challenges of moving to another hemisphere, terrorism, martial law, and shootings during our journey.  But suffice to say we’re alive and well ….. Our family of five recently packed up our lives into a few pieces of luggage and moved from TX to Southeast Asia this year after having a love-affair with Philippines.  We’ve been living here for almost 4 months now and have been getting a lot of questions about our lives so far.  The first two questions people ask are, “Why did you move?” and “How do you like living there?”

My wife Joan and I share several passions in life, one of which is pizza and another one being Travel.  Our marriage started on a snowboarding trip to Schweitzer Idaho, when I proposed to her in a freezing snowstorm on New Years Eve 2004.  We also had our wedding in Italy in the hill-country outside of Rome and honey-mooned all over Europe, which deepened our love for pizza (and eachother of course ;).  Our travel frequency waned after having kids, but after breaking beyond limiting beliefs about family travel, we started globe trotting all together.  Traveling with kids is another thing people ask us about, but that’s a whole different topic – we’ll save that for another day…. But our exploration of this world gave so much connection to others in meeting people from all different walks of life, and we learned so much about things outside of our normal routine.  We decided to give our family and children the opportunity to get full-immersion experiences to expand their education not just in the classroom but in the small towns in Europe, the coasts of Australia, and most especially about our own heritage and culture in the Philippines.  Plus we decided to take advantage of living in the current and unique environment where technology allows anyone to communicate with world through an internet connection, create income streams to live on and invest/grow wealth, and truly live a laptop lifestyle.

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It’s been anything but easy, but it’s been absolutely worth it.  After returning home from a 1 year deployment with the military, my wife and I made the choice to live with no regrets nor reservations.  One of our favorite family movies is the old Disney Classic, Swiss Family Robinson, where a family with 3 sons (we also have 3 boys) gets ship-wrecked onto a deserted island, and watching it with the family sparked a conversation.  The conversation revolved around a few questions: “What if we did what we wanted, when we wanted?  And, where would we live if we could live anywhere?”  The conversation morphed into actual plans and eventually a reality.  So we sold our house, unloaded the bulk of our “stuff,” and packed only the essentials – mainly clothes, books, and laptops. It was pretty therapeutic to donate and let go of the superfluous things we didn’t need.  I’d be lying if I said that leaving our family and friends wasn’t an emotion-filled decision, but we couldn’t escape the dream nor the vision.  Our sense of adventure kept shouting at us until we finally decided it was time.  We’ve been called crazy, reckless, and wild – but we choose to live by the cliche saying: LIFE IS SHORT, CARPE DIEM … (YOLO is a little too new for us old folks 😉

Flash forward to today, we are now living in the La Union Province of the northern Philippines, where the surf is up, the people smile big, and the beer is strong!  The first few months were a huge adjustment getting used new environment.  Spending a holiday at a place is very different than living there.  The true test of a place to call home is moving into a home and getting internet!  We’re still getting used to the pace of things, especially the speed of service and life in general (it took the internet company almost 2 months to activate our service).  There were a number of world-events and irritable situations that made us think about packing up our stuff and moving back to our comfort-zone in Texas, but we talked through the uncertainty and continue to find ways for making our own peace of mind.  It doesn’t take much for the people here living the provincial life to smile & laugh, so we may as well learn from them, adopt the culture, and do the same.  Every day we wake up to the sounds of the ocean, try all kinds of tasty cuisine, spend time with great people, and catch waves when the swell comes in.  Here we get a bite-sized vacation every single day of our lives in La Union, and live a good life with the company and community we’ve discovered.  It was a real treat to discover legit coffee at El Union so good it even impresses Italian travelers; ginormous burgers at Mad Monkeys that give TX beef a run for its money, delectable chocolate perfected by it’s Italian founder at Tigre y Oliva; and unforgettable places to hang out at like Flotsam & Jetsam, where you can escape to a rustic paradise at their hostel, restaurant, and bar.  If these things weren’t enough to put smiles on our faces, the open and awesome group of locals living in San Juan make us feel at home with each person we meet and connect with.  We’re lucky enough to have befriended other people and families who have moved out of their “safe havens” to this cozy little surf town.

There’s a definite shock to the system after the initial move abroad.  It’s tested our patience, discipline, and ability to live in a constant beautiful state.  It’s not like in America, where if you want almost anything, you can easily find a way to get it.  Here, you have to spend an extraordinary amount of time and effort to do even the simplest of things.  Many people look at us like walking ATM’s as they try to charge us triple the price as soon as they hear our “foreign” accents (I do my best Filipino/Tagalog accent, but still sound like poser).  I see things every day that make me say “WTF” on a regular basis, like really bad off-pitch karaoke parties that go into the wee hours in the morning, looking at mirrors that only reflect as high as your chest, the unbelievable ant infestations, or breathing in fumes when people burn their foliage/grass (which they often cut with scissors).  Also, the insects are colossal.  Back home, they say everything is bigger in Texas.  But they haven’t been here, because the cockroaches and bugs (in which the boys love collecting) are like crawling hockey pucks.

Despite our list of complaints, the storm of 1st-worlder-frustration always settles, and we always come to realize the stuff we bitch about here actually is tolerable and not a real threat to our lives or happiness.  Sometimes, we simply have to adapt and compromise some of the little things – like learning to find ways to get comfortable without central air-conditioning or becoming local-vores, eating local food/fruits/veggies instead of what we’re used to in the U.S.  We’ve been forced to learn to be grateful for the things we have instead of counting the crap that bugs us.   Before departure for Asia we planned for the unexpected, but we didn’t expect to throw so many of our plans out the window and have to improvise.  Instead, we get to practice the art of trading expectation for appreciation.  While an element of unknown remains that is both exciting and unnerving, we’re growing more and more comfortable with the uncertainty.   Who knows what we will find or who we will meet in the coming days ahead?   We may find absolute bliss or come across an even greater challenge.  But in any case, you’ll be able to find us spending time as a family, enjoying the beach-life on a surf board, laying in the sand, or eating a fresh catch of the day.  I’ll take that any time of the week instead of the old story of my life sitting at a desk, wasting away working to fulfill someone else’s dream.

If you have any questions for us or would like to drop a line, please comment below.  We’d love to hear from you 🙂  Cheers and Mabuhay!

Love,

The Limitless Family

P.S. If you’d like to know more about how we live our laptop digital nomad lifestyle CLICK HERE 

P.P.S. Bitcoins are pretty freaking awesome too… CLICK HERE to know more

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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 Why visit the Philippines?

Our family of 5 went on a tour of the Philippine Islands and it was one of our most memorable trips EVER, if not the most memorable one.  We’ve seen so many breathtaking and unforgettable places and met so many of the happiest people on earth, and there’s so much more to explore and discover.  The Philippines archipelago is comprised of over 7,000 islands, and we only experienced a minuscule fraction at 10+ islands.  Needless to say, we cannot wait to come back again to uncover even more, and are planning another trip already.

If you’re into aesthetically stunning white-sand beaches, exotic turquoise waters, seafood, and experiencing adventure, then the Philippines is a MUST for your bucket list.  Here are some top reasons to visit:

1) See the top beaches & islands in the world

You have to see it in real life to truly know just how stunning the landscapes are. According to Conde Nast Traveler, El Nido was voted #1 as the most beautiful beach IN THE WORLD for several years now (http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-02-24/top-10-most-beautiful-island-beaches-hawaii-australia).  Travel & Leisure Magazine also lists 3 of the world’s 10 best islands in the Philippines (http://www.travelandleisure.com/worlds-best/islands#intro).

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Guimaras

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Hundred Islands National Park

2) It’s unbelievably inexpensive

It’s almost like shopping at the dollar store: Beer for $1 , Bottle of Rum for $1, Haircut $1, straight-edge shave $1, Full meal with drinks $2, $3 Pedicures, Full body 1 hour massage for $4, Fresh oysters and scallops for $6.  And for you long-term travelers there is “done-for-you/perfectly folded laundry” for $3 per load (usually charged by kilogram).

3) Most everyone speaks English, so it’s easy to communicate and get around

4) Underwater Sealife – snorkeling and diving are pristine and spectacular, with an abundance of exotic animals and lush plant-life

5) Delectable Food – you can get the freshest seafood straight out of the ocean and the sweetest fruits, many you’ve probably never even heard of.  There’s even mango-pizza in Guimaras, which is fantastic!  If you’re tastes are flavored for American food, then rest assured that many well-known American restaurants are available in all major metro areas.

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Fresh Oysters and Scallops in Siquijor

 

6) The People.  Filipinos are happy, always smiling, and love to make friends.  We were even invited to a pig roast when we befriended some locals in Siquijor

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Having Fun with Kids in Umingan, Pangasinan

Here’s some useful info to make your trip more enjoyable and to limit the stress of traveling to a minimum.

Navigating around the Philippines:

Air: Manila, Clark, Puerto Princesa, Cebu, Tagbilaran – strict luggage allowances for both carry-on and check-ins, pay for meals/drinks

Sea: Ferry, Boat (Ocean Jet, http://www.oceanjet.net/, SuperCat, http://www.supercat.com.ph/)

Land: Bus, Jeepney (usually only 7 Pesos/person, Tricycle (usually around $1 per ride), Scooters, Taxi (Uber and/or Grab is available in Manila and Cebu), Hire a Van & Driver for the entire day (usually for about $70, includes gas)

Lodging: Hotels, Pension houses (hostels), AirBnB, VRBO (Home Away), Citi Prestige Credit Card was very helpful with the (4th Night Free benefit).

Shopping:

The Philippine Peso (PHP) is the national currency, and at the time of this blog post the exchange rate is about 1USD to 49.73 PHP.  Credit cards are not widely accepted, except for major metro areas.  International ATM fees rack up very quickly, so talk with your bank for your most convenient access to cash.  There are many currency exchange places, especially in the big cities and malls, but are hard to find on the remote islands, so plan ahead.  In El Nido, for example, be prepared to pay for everything in cash.

Helpful things to pack/have:

– water shoes (some beaches have coarse rocks and coral you’ll be walking on)

– mosquito repellent

– portable battery chargers (for cell phones and cameras – your camera will be working extra hard!)

– electrical adapters (two pronged and three pronged converters).  Most electrical outlets are 220V with two prongs.

– Uber on your mobile phone (for Manila and Cebu).  Grab app (similar to Uber)

– Cash, ATM Cards (activated for overseas use), Credit Cards (with no international fees)

Mobile phone use:

T-mobile users have free international roaming texts and data (4G LTE in Manila and Cebu, 3G and wi-fi in most major metro areas) – check with your provider (click here for T-mobile Roaming info (T-Mobile Roaming).  You can also rent pocket wi-fi devices for extra connectivity.  The remote islands have VERY slow cellular & internet connections, if any.  You can also get a local cell phone where you’ll have to load minutes and data with SMART & GLOBE providers.

If you have any questions, want to know more, or are familiar with the Philippines, please leave a comment below; we would love to hear from you!  Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts with details on our favorite spots in the Philippines.  Cheers to tan-lines and sandy bottoms!

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El Nido

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Tarsier Monkeys in Bohol

How would you like to Travel the World for FREE?

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What’s up you sexy beasts out there!

If you’re reading this I’m willing to bet you have a voracious appetite to suck the juice out of life.

My name is Daniel (Joan’s husband), and I have a passion for experiencing adventure all over the world.  Since 2015, me and my family of five have been traveling using a strategy that has enabled us to explore foreign and domestic destinations for FRACTIONS of what it used to cost us before we learned a priceless life-hack.  It’s actually not 100% free, but there’s very little cost associated to the abundance of travel we’ve been doing.

We’ve recently trekked all over Colorado, Arizona, Orlando, California, Greece (the country, not the city), the Philippines, and Taiwan using a simple system, and we have many more global trips on our itinerary using this method.

If you’re interested in globe trotting for minimal expense, I’ll show you how to do the same.  Forget about having to save and cramp your day-to-day living to slowly stash your holiday funds away for next year’s vacation.  You can keep your day job, but you can upgrade your life by increasing the quantity and quality of your well-deserved time off (cue Beyonce’s Upgrade song).

For example, one expedition took our family (kids included) to an unforgettable excursion to Greece. 

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We booked round trip flights that only cost us $143.00 (no commas in that price) per person, where a regular economy plane ticket would have cost over TEN times that amount; and we even went there during the “high” season, which is significantly more expensive.  Since we had extra funds available we were able to wander the gorgeous island of Santorini (which I highly recommend to see during your lifetime), experience the historical sights of Athens, and sail the stunning blue waters of Crete. 

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And we could even splurge on some extra side trips, finer spirits, quality meats, and even nicer accomodations.  Needless to say it was a phenomenal treat to live in Greece for a short while.  Doing this with the entire family was possible through the know-how of using airlines & hotel rewards programs, credit card hacks, and being open to a little adventure.

There’s basically only two main parts to it: Earning Points and Using Points, but here’s a breakdown of this travel-hack in 7 simple steps:
1) Sign up for the Chase Sapphire PREFERRED Credit Card®  (which will get you 50,000 bonus points at the time I’m writing this)
2) Add an authorized user to earn 5,000 bonus points (no extra cost for this).
3) Use the credit card for expenses YOU ALREADY PAY FOR (i.e. groceries, dining out, utilities, gas, insurance, cell phone payments, gym memberships, and any other expenses you can charge on your credit card).  I recommend paying off the balances in FULL every statement so you avoid paying interest.  So you’re basically treating all charges as cash transactions – only spend money that you are certain you can repay!  This will get you at least 4,000 rewards points when you hit the minimum spend of $4,000 within three months of activation, but will likely get more points due to the 2x bonus points when using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for travel or dining out.
4) Transfer your points to an airline of choice in the Chase Rewards Program.  Southwest, United, Virgin, Korean, Singapore, and British transfer directly at a 1:1 ratio.  Use any extra points at a Hotel of choice to book accommodations.  Marriott, Hyatt Gold Passport, IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group), Ritz-Carlton Rewards are the hotel programs you can transfer points directly 1:1.
5) Have the time of your life at minimal cost.  This is what an investor calls asymmetric risk reward (In other words, huge upside with little to no downside).
 6) If you’re an over-achiever and really want to be even sexier, then you can also sign up for the Chase Freedom® card HERE.
Hitting the minimum spend of $500 with the Freedom card within the first three months of card activation will get you a bonus of $150 cash back (or 15,000 points).  Plus adding an authorized user will score you 2,500 bonus points at no additional cost.
7) Use the extra points (like upgrading your flight to a Business Class fare and fly in luxury).
By pairing both cards, you get approximately 80,000 points using the Chase Rewards Program!  To give you an idea of the value of points, you can use 80,000 points to fly BUSINESS CLASS on United Airlines from mainland U.S. to Hawaii on a round-trip business class saver award flight.  And your spouse or significant other can duplicate the efforts for another 80,000 points by signing up for and using the same two Chase cards.
Boom!  (once again cue Beyonce’s Upgrade song) Now you have two business class round trip tickets for two to Hawaii and unlocked thousands of dollars you can use for something else instead of your airfare.

If you’re not into traveling, you can actually use the points for other things like statement credits, gift cards, or merchandise, but you get the most value when redeeming points to an airline or hotel.  If you’re new to using credit cards and don’t have a seasoned credit record, then you can still start with Chase Freedom® card as it’s good for those who are building their credit.  There are other cards that are good for people that are rebuilding their credit too – comment or message me if you want to know more.  It’s beneficial to use credit wisely and to know your own credit score and record.  At this link you can get a free annual credit report.
So after discovering this strategy, it’s really improved our passion for globe-trotting and I hope you gain benefits from our blog.
ANYONE can do this and just like everything else in life, it gets even easier as you do it.  If you like what you’re reading, please leave us a comment and share our blog posts!  Besides actually traveling, I love talking about it too, so please let us know about your goals, experiences, and questions!  And you can further support our site by using the links on our site sign up for these great credit card deals that will help you upgrade your travel for nearly for FREE!  Your support by using our links is greatly appreciated as it helps us continue our lives of adventure and furthers our ability to share the value and benefits that we discover along the way!
Happy (FREE) Traveling,
The Limitless Family
For disclosure, we earn a referral bonus for anyone who is approved for some of the links contained in this article.

“Santorini IS NOT a Place For Kids”

I just want to set the record straight..

If you ever read in a blog/forum or someone say, “Santorini is not a place for kids.”

THAT IS A BIG FAT LIE!

While on the island of Crete in Greece we decided to take a side trip to Santorini, I really wasn’t too concerned about the kids at first because they usually adapt well in any situation..

But after I started researching on places to stay I came across some blogs and forums with people warning others NOT to bring children, mainly because of all the steep steps, which I can kind of understand, but still appalled at the discouragement of bringing the kids.

Finally, I had the opportunity to visit a famous island that you only see in the movies.. and now I was having second thoughts of even taking the kid and skipping out on the whole idea?!?!?

Fortunately, (with the power of the the internet) I came across a handful of bloggers that also traveled to Santorini with kids and had the time of their lives!

Here are a few keys that really helped Santorini enjoyable for the whole family:

How to get there: From Crete we took a high speed ferry (about 2 hours) to Santorini

SIDE NOTE my boys are ages 6, 4, and 2 at the time of this adventure —- The kids LOVED the ferry ride!

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When to go: We went at the end of May, it was just starting to get warm and it was just before peak tourist time so it wasn’t too crowded 

Best Transportation For Families Visiting Santorini: (I really wanted to rent a quad/ATV… they look awesome and fun) However a Rental Car is the best and safest way to get around the island with the family in tow.

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Where to Stay: The 2 main cities are Thira (Fira) and Oia (ia), both places have amazing views of the Caldera.  We chose to stay in Oia, in a small villa about a 5 minute drive from Oia’s main city center. I really liked how we were away from the main city but close enough to conveniently drive there.  The accommodations on the outskirts of the city are usually more quiet, more affordable, and you get a little more wiggle room for you the family. A villa with a pool isn’t too shabby either. I highly recommend Agnadi Villa

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What to do: Get lost in the sidewalks of Thira and Oia – there was always something fascinating to see (the shops, the ice cream, the views), and they really enjoyed climbing the steps and discovering new pathways.

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The boys loved this open space in Oia and enjoyed climbing the trees.

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Drive along the countryside and check out some of the beaches.

We drove away from the busy cities along the caldera and found this gem!! Awesome views AND they had a playground!!

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There is SO much to do here with the kids and they loved it.

It’s music to my ears when they say, “remember that one time in Santorini”

So if you ever have the opportunity to visit Santorini, and have the kids with you..

My suggestion is … GO!!!DSC_0188

Love,

The Limitless Momma – Joan    

P.S. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about traveling to Santorini with young kids

P.P.S. Get your lowest airfare to Greece HERE (We have found our best deals on Hipmunk..at the time of this posting airfare is as low as $589!)

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P.P.P.S.  $589 still too much???? USE POINTS!! CLICK HERE to get 50,000 Bonus Points

Our Backyard

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Just wanted to give you a quick update …

 
We are currently traveling ..AGAIN.. 
 
This time we are in GREECE!!
Here are a few photos of our backyard
For the next 20 to 30 days or so…
(and to think we settled for
2 weeks vacation for such a long time)
 
I can hardly believe it…
 
Just a few months ago while trying to 
survive a deployment, my husband and I were
hanging on a thin wire struggling through 
finances and our marriage…
 
Now, here we are, with our kids traveling the world together…
 
All with the help of this earning points by DOING THIS!! 
As always, I just want to show you what is 
possible!
 
If we can do it…
YOU CAN TOO!
 
Be LIMITESS!
 
Love,
Joan 
P.S. Instagram helped make this lifestyle happen too!! GET MY INSTAGRAM SECRETS HERE
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Waikiki? Nope I’ll Stay In This Cottage In Kaneohe Bay, Thanks

I mean if you go to Oahu you can stay in the high rise, busy, touristy, crowded Waikiki if that’s what you are into…

So… we kinda stayed at a bad ass cottage on the secluded shores of Kaneohe Bay in Oahu.

3 Bedroom 2 Bathroom – this cottage fit my family of 5 plus my in-laws. We could have definitely fit a few more people in if we needed to.

Having a kitchen was awesome!

Very large living and dining areas.

Amazing views!

My favorite part about this cottage —–PRIVATE BEACH…..HOLLLAAAAA!!!!

I hope you find your way to Kaneohe Bay soon!!

PAX and Love,

Joan

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P.S. Have you been to Oahu? Comment below if you are a Waikiki kind of person or Non Waikiki.

P.P.S. Huge shout out to my home boy Marco from X Ray Cat Travels for highlighting me on one of his latest blog posts CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT

 

The Kid Friendly Road To Hana

So, we were in Maui and The Road to Hana was a MUST-DO.. It’s basically the road to take to get to Hana, its famous for the scenic drive on the coast of Maui.  However, it is a winding road with lots of sharp and hairpin turns.  And if you one that gets motion sickness very easily (ahem- ME) it didn’t sound like something I would enjoy.. nor would my kids because they tend to get motion sickness as well.  BUT…. we wanted to do it anyways because everyone said that it’s totally worth it.  Here are a few tips and trick to doing the Road to Hana with kids!

  1.  Start early get there no later than 9:45am, and remember the road is more crowded on the weekend.
  2. Eat a light breakfast.
  3. Plan this out as a day trip.. do not try and make this a half day trip.
  4. Dramamine -helps with both the motion and it will make the kids nap for a good portion of the drive.
  5. The adult who is most prone to motion sickness should drive.
  6. Go as slow as you need to go.. just be sure to pull off to the side if there are a lot of cars behind you.
  7. Do not stop at everyone point (map out the ones you want to stop at).
  8. DO stop at the points where there’s some room for the kids to run around (Mile Marker #13 Kaumahina State Wayside Park,  Mile Marker #34 Hana Town, and Mile Marker #42 Kipahulu, Haleakala National Park)
  9. Watch the time, make sure to leave Hana a few hours before sunset, you do not want to drive in the dark.
  10. Drive the backside of the Haleakala, when exiting Hana – the road isn’t as winding .. it’s a much smoother drive – you’ll see the gorgeous sunset and beautiful countryside.  You’ll also see lots of cows… the kids loved this!
  11. Keep the stops fun and exciting for the kids.  Have them notice all the different trees, plants and bugs.  Let them climb the trees and discover new things!
  12. Allow extra time to spend time at the beaches and parks along the way.
  13. Portable DVD player kept the kids entertained, but I always had to make sure they weren’t getting motion sickness.

BONUS TIP – I was really on the fence about going on the Road to Hana with the kids, but I prayed and kept a positive attitude and everyone had a wonderful time!! ATTITUDE IS KEY!!

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Mile Marker #13 Kaumahina State Wayside Park

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Mile Marker #34 Hana Town

 

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roan to hana, things to do in maui, hana Here we are the last stop in Hana at the Seven Sacred Pools

Also, you are usually able to swim in the Seven Sacred Pools, however if there has been too much rainfall they close the pools because the tides get too strong, so you may want call Kipahulu, Haleakala National Park ahead of time.

It was definitely worth the drive!!

I hope you visit beautiful paradise soon!!

Please comment below if you would like to take an adventure on the Road to Hana… Or if you have been there comment and let me know which part was your favorite!

PAX, and Love,

Joan

P.S.  Here is how I continue to be a stay at home mom AND able to travel this amazing earth CLICK HERE

P.P.S. Grab by free ebook!

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CLICK HERE FOR MY FREE EBOOK

 

Baby Beach Lahaina Maui, Hawaii Islands

Looking for things to do in Lahaina in Maui with small children? Check out this beach in gorgeous Hawaiian Island of Maui.

Great beach for families with small children on the Lahaina Shores in the Hawaiian Islands in Maui.  About a 5 minute drive from Ka’anapali Beach Hotels.  In April the Maui Weather is perfect it was sunny and 85.

Top 5 Reasons Why This Beach Awesome!

  1. Has calm waves with the sand gradually meeting the water so no sudden drop offs, and no strong currents.
  2. Rocks and reefs for older kids to snorkel and discover the sea life.
  3. Lots of trees for shade! Bring snacks and lunch to stay all day
  4. Barely anyone at the beach in April Maui Weather – peaceful and “off the grid” kind of feeling

Aloha,

Joan

P.S. If you would like some financial and time freedom and get paid to blog about the best beaches in the Hawaiian Islands CLICK HERE

P.P.S. Comment below if you would like to visit the Baby Beach in Lahaina

“Continue to do good, and heaven will come to you” – Hawaiian Proverb