You, Me, and our baby moon

You, Me, and our baby moon

After an eventful first few days in Samoa for our combined girls trip, Ian and I were in full-on baby moon mode.

We settled in to our cozy AirBnB beach fale at Maninoa and planned a couple activities to take advantage of our time on the south side of the island.

We ventured off to check out Return to Paradise Resort, where my 2020 wedding was supposed to take place, but has been postponed for the umpteenth time lol… it’s okay, we’re not salty about it! It was a great excuse to go back and meet with the lovely team who we’ve been emailing with, and have lunch there.

Then we drove over to the Savaia Giant Clam Sanctuary (click here to read my blog post about that experience!) and swam for the afternoon with the colorful giant bivalves.

By the time we were done with our adventures, it was dinnertime. We ordered off the menu at the little surf shack style beach resto, Ocean Club Maninoa. We ordered the chicken adobo and crispy pork, both were amazinggg. And for drinks, Ian couldn’t say no to an ice cold local Vailima brew and I indulged in the fresh sasalapa smoothie.

Inspired by the warmth of the waning sunset light and the feeling of raw and natural happiness in my heart, I sat on the beach and took photos to remember these moments.

Ian rented a paddle board to catch a sunset surf in the reef break off in the distance. I paddled around for a bit with my 28 week baby bump, and we hugged and kissed and cocooned in bed back in our beach fale for the night. I love the feeling of magic that Samoa gives us…

when it’s just you, me, and our baby moon.



Baby Moon in Samoa

Baby Moon in Samoa

Flashback to a few months ago… My life was looking and feeling way too busy that I wasn’t really able to enjoy even being pregnant throughout my second trimester. I had more energy and was feeling more “normal” — thankfully. But that actually made me work harder than I probably should have, and I hurried to get as much stuff done as I could do before the impending third trimester, because I heard it was a toughie… *IT IS!

*Me now in the third trimester

Towards the end of my second trimester, I finally booked our tickets and planned our baby moon trip. It was a sort of a combo between a girls trip to celebrate our gal pal, Sam, who was getting married soon, and then I double ended it with a baby moon for me and Ian to soak up our alone time with just us and the baby bump.

The borders were finally open — Let’s go to Samoa!

We all checked in to Taumeasina Island Resort to spend a few days in luxury with all our friends. We got together for fancy dinners out, and swam and hung out by the pool. Ian paid for a 90-minute prenatal massage at the Fofo Spa because I deserved it, he said! So sweet.

Waking up each morning felt romantic, with the light pouring in through the gauzy floor to ceiling curtains that lined the walls, and when drawn, we would take in the expansive ocean views from our Deluxe Oceanview Hotel Room. We were on the first floor, which I greatly preferred because: 1) I wouldn’t have to trudge up any stairs with my newest pregnancy symptom, pelvic girdle pain, and 2) we could walk right out to the lawn and enjoy coffee outside on our patio.

Our group got a rental van and took a road trip to the south of the island for a little adventure. Because of course, what’s a trip to Samoa without visiting the famous To Sua Ocean Trench?!

With tourism just ramping back up in Samoa, there was a small crowd already there, but we got to enjoy the saltwater trench all to ourselves for about an hour too before heading back to our hotel, and going out for pizzas at Giordanos that night.

For our last night of girls night, we went on a fancy dinner out to Paddles Italian Restaurant. We all got dolled up and toasted pretty beverages to a pink and orange setting sun and feasted on all the appetizers, literally. We ordered one of everything on the appetizer menu, and by the time our entrees came out, we were pretty full and most of us took leftovers back with us. The groom to be had won big at the casino so dinner was graciously covered by his good fortune!

When we got back to the hotel, some of the girls caught the second half of the Friday entertainment by the infamous Cindy of Samoa. Meanwhile some of us went back to one of the rooms and prepared some naughty decor and drinks to surprise the soon to be Mrs. with a girls night out on the town — Vegas bachelorette style — complete with a party bus, dedicated driver, all black sexy outfits, and sassy bachelorette sashes for us and the bride to be.

With me being at the cusp of my third trimester, I impressed myself by going out in heels (though they were moderate in height), dancing sober while managing my pelvic pain, and staying out till the club closed down just past midnight (thank God it wasn’t at 2am like back home in AS).

When we finally were done for the night, I jumped back into my cozy bed back at the hotel and by mid-morning, we were packed and checked out, and ready to officially hit the road to start our baby moon!

Ian and I got a car rental and roadtripped it to the south side of the island towards Maninoa Beach Fales. Nestled between two very posh resorts, Sinalei Reef Resort and Coconuts Resort, the spot we booked through AirBnb was the perfect vibe for us. The azure sea and sky welcomed us warmly and we settled in comfortably in our beach fale.

There was a small beach wedding party there when we arrived, but they were just there for the day, and Ian and I got the beach all to ourselves for the evening. Ian dug me up a belly hole so I could lay on my belly, FINALLY, and relax in the shade with a book.

After a big night out for me, I wanted to take it super easy, so I laid out on the beach all afternoon while Ian went and made friends with some of the guys who let him take out a paddle board out for a few hours of SUP surfing.

I felt blissed out and after a shower and a delicious dinner, we chatted in bed about baby and our future and cuddled until the stars came out.

More on the next blog!



In between moments | Samoa Travel Diaries

In between moments | Samoa Travel Diaries

Samoa photo journal with my fiance in late August/early September 2019.

Visiting potential wedding venues for our big day next year. I blogged about the different venues too here.

Look at this man! He’s gonna be my husband :O

Took Ian to the Togitogiga waterfalls, and his first reaction is of course to jump right in!

I’m still a bit scarred from my last waterfall adventure back in American Samoa (you can read that story here) so me and the camera stayed dry for this waterfall adventure.

Ian is constantly falling (in love with me all over again hahah)

A much needed stop for snacks at Seabreeze Resort, waiting for our next venue appointment.

Stayed south side in this cute beach cabin.

Ian looking dreamy as ever.

Me at the beach of the venue we decided on.

Yup, we’re getting married on this very beach next year, and I’m pumped!

I had no idea they had goats in Samoa until this trip, and we drove down Cross Island Road and spotted this guy and several others.

Me running around the like a little motu girl.

In love with this pier, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Mandatory trips to To Sua ocean trench for saltwater/freshwater dips, and laying out in the sun.

This handsome guy and our dinner (paper plate wrapped in foil filled with teri chicken and mac salad, and ice cold niu with a paper straw) at the first night of the Teuila Festival in Apia town. 

Sessions: Mareike [moana/azul] – Part 3

Sessions: Mareike [moana/azul] – Part 3

Part 3 of the session with Mareike.

[ moana / azul ]

Snapped these on the same morning as part 1 and part 2 of this session, using Mareike’s Canon G12 camera and underwater housing. It was such a dream to shoot Mareike in this setting… the beach is our home. I think I met her for the first time at this very beach. I’d been meaning to take her photos for the longest time, so for it to finally happen makes me so happy. And the photos came out awesome too! She actually gifted me with the camera that I used for this shoot, and I feel so lucky to have a friend like her in my life.

Papapapaitai waterfall – Samoa photo journal

Papapapaitai waterfall – Samoa photo journal

Driving up and over Cross Island Road in Upolu (Samoa), there’s a vista that turns off the main road, and you’ll stop dead in your tracks when you see this.


Try saying this 5x really fast…






It’s the Papapapaitai waterfall.

Ian flew the drone to get some closer shots of the cascading water. He’s still practicing, he says, but he’s wayyyy better than me at piloting the drone.

At ~100meters in height, Papapapaitai is one of the tallest waterfalls in Samoa.

Papapapaitai n black and white.

As it should be, it’s free to visit the vista and get an amazing view of the dramatic cascading falls.

Saw a bunch of butterflies.

Wish I had wings so I could fly.

Here’s me looking like a herb.

A new word I just learned from The Haters, a book that I was reading on this trip; and I also realized that this is what they said on the tv show Stranger Things.

There were a ton of mosquitoes, so I’m glad I had long pants on. I was trying to journal out here because it’s such an epic spot, but found myself trying to whack mozzies the entire time instead.

We hung out and enjoyed the view for probably 20-30 minutes. I’d surprisingly never been there before, because we usually drive through the coast to go south towards Lalomanu. This was a nice new ‘discovery’ on this trip.

Till the water falls,


[ Samoa photo journal:

01 September 2019 ]

We toured 7 wedding venues in Samoa. Which should I choose?!

We toured 7 wedding venues in Samoa. Which should I choose?!

Ooh, look at me blogging about wedding planning!
I’m surprisingly really enjoying the process so far. We were pretty laissez faire about it all at first, thinking that we’d get married late next year or the following year even. The only part we got kind of stressed about was deciding on a location. We knew we wanted a destination wedding of sorts, and we also knew we wanted to keep our budget realistic and well within our means rather than splurge for a one-day event. We did a lot of looking online at AirBnB options, and wedding vendor reviews of different locations, and even considered renting an island out in the Philippines. It was fun to look at options and pretend we can afford all of it, but we ultimately decided last month we wanted to get married in Samoa. I used to hate the idea of getting married in a hotel/resort setting, but in Samoa, it doesn’t feel so touristy or overcrowded. And because it’s a destination wedding for most of our family and friends, we figured it would be a lot easier if the wedding venue, accommodations, and the coordinator were all built in to the package. So that’s my train of thought on that!
Like I mentioned in my last blog post, we visited several venues that we had either heard of or been to before and made appointments with their events and wedding coordinators. In all, we toured 7 venues over the course of 3 days. It was a lot of driving around the island, but luckily Ian and I love roadtrips and just spending ‘me-you-you-me’ time together.
Here’s a photo journal of the venues we visited, and just some of my thoughts here and there about each place.


Let the venue meetings begin!

We arrived in Apia and our rental car was waiting for us. I usually rent with DAT Car Rental because they’re so friendly and always helpful over email. Ian booked us an AirBnB in Vaivase called Eddie’s Homestay. We love staying at places like cozy small homestays like this when we know we’re going to be out and about for most of the day and just need a place to sleep really. If you’ve never used AirBnB, it’s awesome. And you can click here to get $25 off your first AirBnB stay with my referral code. Anyway, we packed only carry ons and didn’t have much else to do except meetings at the venues.

1. Taumeasina Island Resort

We’ve heard a lot of good things about Taumeasina, and this was our first time visiting so it was all new and exciting to be looking at it as a potential wedding venue. We met with the wedding coordinator, Angelphine, who was the sweetest of all the coordinators we met. She sounded like she knew what she was doing, and took us on a tour of the man-made island venue.

The Sina restaurant was an indoor reception option that could fit probably up to 60 people, and the large conference auditorium was another option that could fit up to 200 people.

Taumeasina has a wedding chapel on the property. It’s cute and architecturally interesting, but it only fits about 50 people seated. We actually were there a couple of hours before a wedding was about to start, so we got to see them in action a bit.

We had a couple of hours and a long drive to the next venue, so we stayed for a bit and had lunch at the Lapita Restaurant.



2. Aggie Grey’s Sheraton Samoa in Mulifanua

Aggie Grey’s is one of me and Ian’s favorite spots in Samoa. We’ve stayed there a few times and loved the swim up bar, sailing on the hobie cats, and lounging on the beach. The downside was that since the Sheraton now owns it, it was really difficult to get in contact with the wedding coordinator. I set an appointment online and I got an automated response but never heard back. We drove from town all the way out to Mulifanua (near the Faleolo International Airport) and we were bummed to find out though that the wedding coordinator, Sophie, was based out of the Apia town resort, and she was unavailable to meet with us. Still, we liked Aggie’s enough to consider it and gave ourselves a tour and envisioned how we might want to set up if we were to choose this venue.

We checked out the Apolima Fale restaurant and Ian liked it as a rain-contingency option for the reception. Then headed over to the beach to check out the potential ceremony situation.

I absolutely loved the palm pier back when we visited with my sister and her husband several years ago, and I was stoked to see it was being used as a ceremony venue. It looked like there was a wedding over the weekend so the arch was still set up. The palm pier was my favorite of all the ceremony venues we looked at, and I can totally see myself walking down the beautiful coconut tree lined walkway.

For the reception, we really liked this area with a large tree and a kempt field. I have a vague idea of what I want my reception to be like, so when I saw this tree and the proximity to the beach, I loved it right away. I really wish the wedding coordinator was there so we could ask her about potential set ups and other little details, but we were happy with what we saw so far.



3. Le Vasa Resort

The next venue we checked out was Le Vasa. It’s a smaller scale resort than Taumeasina and Aggie Grey’s which was cool, but it’s so small that their maximum capacity for accommodations is 38 people, spread out over 16 bungalows, villas, and fales. The venue’s coordinator, Soraya, who is also married to the owner of the resort, emailed us ahead of time to let us know she wasn’t available to meet with us, but referred us to the office manager Stephanie who gave us a little tour. We liked the place, and considered booking out the entire resort, but we’re thinking now we might rather select a spot with more capacity.



4. Seabreeze Resort

We stumbled upon this venue accidentally. We were actually killing time since we drove across the island to the south and didn’t have our next appointment for a few more hours. We were tired of being on the road, so we stopped when we saw the sign and turned in to chill there for a bit. We hadn’t originally considered Seabreeze, but we liked the vibe there.



5. To Sua Ocean Trench

This is probably the most famous spot to visit in all of Samoa. The ocean trench/sinkhole is so beautiful and instagrammable that actual influencers travel to Samoa just to get a photo in there probably. We love going for a dip in the trench whenever we’re in Samoa too. But I’d never seen a wedding there, so curious as I was, I contacted their event manager, Gerda, and she told me they could do weddings. We ended up meeting with another lady named Sina who lives and works there, and she gave us a tour of the clean beautiful property. I was surprised to learn that the last time they hosted a wedding was in 2015, four years ago! I was also bummed to hear that they only did morning weddings, as they strictly close at 5:00 p.m. as a safety precaution. To Sua as a wedding venue was a great idea, but ultimately might not be in the books for us as we are looking for something more inclusive to alleviate stress of wedding planning from afar. Oh, and I just realized that we didn’t take any photos of the actual ocean trench because we were so busy walking around and trying to picture a wedding and all the work it would take if we held it there. But we did immediately jump into the trench for a relaxing dip after our tour.



6. Return to Paradise Resort

This venue has a great story, as it was where the 1953 movie “Return to Paradise” was filmed starring Gary Cooper and Roberta Haynes. It is both Ian and I’s favorite movie about Samoa, and it was our first time at the venue. We met with the wedding coordinator, Joyce, who immediately got down to business and gave us helpful pamphlets and basically all the information we wanted and more. She was the most professional of all the coordinators we met with, and meeting with her really made a big difference as she helped us envision how we could set up for our wedding and party. She also gave us a tour of the property. The grounds were neat but looked like they were undergoing some maintenance.

This is the large Fetaui fale which would be a good option for an indoor/outdoor reception. It was really large and I liked the detail of the woodwork and wrap-around veranda.

Joyce showed us the Rock Pool Fale area where we could host an intimate pre-wedding dinner for just me, Ian, and our parents.

Then we head to the beach to check out beach ceremony options. Each beach area had either a villa or bungalow nearby, so we would have to consider booking rooms in those particular areas.

It was a really low tide when we were there, so we took note that we’d have to check the tide for our wedding date in advance. I liked how the sand formed a small slope down to the water. I could imagine our friends and family standing around on the sandy slope while we said our vows. Next, she showed us Return to Paradise’s Chapel by the Sea, which was actually pretty cute, and is an awesome next option as a rain-contingency plan.

I was happy to see that they had water refill stations, used coconut leaf baskets for rubbish, and they didn’t use any plastic straws. We had some time to kill again before our very last venue appointment, so we stayed for lunch, and stuck our toes in the water.



7. Sinalei Reef Resort

Sinalei is another favorite stopover for me and Ian to have a fancy lunch. And they make delicious ginger mojitos. We met with the wedding coordinator, Gerda, who looks a lot like Denise Richards and so happens to also be American, and she was super friendly and jumped right into a tour of the venue. We checked out the beach, which was still at a really low tide, as a beach ceremony option. Similar to other venues, we’d have to consider renting out the villas near the beach, which actually ended up being quite a bit expensive as the packages were in US Dollars and not in Samoan Tala. Sinalei is quite a bit fancy which we were expecting, but was probably the most expensive venue (package and room rates included) out of all the venues we visited.

I do love the restaurant on the pier though. We loved jumping off the pier at high tide when we were there last. It was also nice that it served as both an indoor/outdoor option for the reception.





Which venue is your favorite?

It was a really great experience getting to visit all the venues and meet with most of the coordinators. It felt like we had a solid and more concrete plan for our wedding, which isn’t too far away! We’re currently still deciding between our top two options (which I’ll share later when we do finalize), but I’d be interested to hear any recommendations or comments from anyone!

We decided on a wedding destination!

We decided on a wedding destination!


Ian and I just got back from the long weekend in Apia. Why? Because we’re going to get married there next year! The thing about wedding planning for me is this: it sucked not knowing where we were going to have it. We knew we probably wouldn’t have our wedding here in American Samoa because we ultimately knew a destination wedding was what we wanted, but we also didn’t want to stress too much with planning a wedding from afar. And so we finally decided, like last month, that we would get married in Samoa.

Samoa is close enough to American Samoa that it feels like home, yet it always feels like a getaway since we have to hop on a plane and literally time travel over. We travel there at least once a year, but usually more often than that, and yet we still feel like we’re on vacation but with the comforts of home. Plus, for all our friends and family who will come, it will still be a full on destination wedding, and they can choose to come to American Samoa afterwards to adventure with me and Ian in our actual stomping grounds! And one other big aspect is the currency exchange between USD and WST means that we can stretch our money to get better value.

We booked appointments with venues to meet with their coordinators, and got to do a walk through of the venue and the packages. This has been an incredible experience of getting to see and feel what we envision our “big day” to be like. Now we’re down to our final two options, but since we haven’t made the final final decision yet. I’ll leave that a mystery and I’ll post some photos from the different venues we toured soon!

You can see all the islands from up here!

You can see all the islands from up here!

At Mt. Alava – the next morning we woke up just as the sun was rising. Yodi was up already and wagging her tail. She slept in the tent with us. I was in between reading a book and staring at my engagement ring. I don’t normally wear rings, so it felt different, new. Ian got up to attend to nature’s call. And the light was streaming through our tent under the fale. We got up and breathed in the cool air and took in this majestic view.

You can see all the islands from up here!

Well not all of them, but way more than I’ve ever seen all at one time, so I was really excited. To the west we could see Upolu and Savaii, and to the east was very clearly Ofu and Ta`u of the Manu`a island group. We jumped back up on the platform and ate some potato chips, snapped some couple-y photos, and called our mains to break the news. This was our first day as an engaged couple, and it was off to an epic start.

Making cloth napkins + elei printing

Making cloth napkins + elei printing

A couple of weeks ago, Gabby told me she was planning her sister Siumu’s surprise baby shower and she might need some help. She said she was inspired by what I’ve been doing to live a more sustainable life and decided on an eco-friendly tropical theme for the party. What?! How cool!! This made me very excited to hear her list out all the ways she was opting for a zero waste event. I immediately offered to provide cloth napkins (instead of paper towels), and before I knew it, Gabby came over to my house with a giant bundle of orange fabric. I just had to cut and hem. But it seemed too plain, and Gabby was already pulling all the stops, so I had to level up (yassss to Ciara + Parri$).

I finally had a good reason to use this elei stencil I bought in Samoa over New Year.

It took a looooong time but once I set up my workbench and did a couple of test prints, I found my groove. I cut the long fabric into pieces that could fit 4 napkins, taped the stencil down and placed two 2×4 blocks to keep the fabric from warping, poured and painted with a roller,  took it out to the balcony to dry, and repeated this… about 15 more  times! With less than 24 hours before the event, I couldn’t leave them out to dry, so thankfully Ian helped and ironed all the pieces to heat set the fabric paint. Then I cut out the 4 napkins from each strip, and took it to my sewing machine to do a raw hem edge.

Like I said, it took foreverrrr. I started on Friday afternoon and finished at 5am the next day, just a few hours before the surprise baby shower! Oh man, if it weren’t for Gabby, I don’t think I would have done any of this but I’m glad they turned out. I’ll be posting photos from the beautiful baby shower super soon!

Trying Samoa elei for the first time |

Trying Samoa elei for the first time |

Trying Samoa elei for the first time |

Trying Samoa elei stencil for the first time |

Trying Samoa elei for the first time |

Sewing napkins |

Trying Samoa elei for the first time |

Trying Samoa elei for the first time |