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. 

Mt. Tumu: My Favorite Hike

Mt. Tumu: My Favorite Hike


02 January 2019

What better way to start off the new year than with a restful day lounging at the beach (which is basically all I did on New Years Day), followed by a strenuous hike up Mt. Tumu! Our awesome hosts, Ben and Deb, at Vaoto Lodge offered to drive us to the trailhead just pass the wharf in the main Ofu village, and we started our trek up Tumutumu.

I was super slow to start. I forgot how difficult the hike was (the last time I hiked Mt. Tumu was about 2 years ago!) and had to stop a bunch in the first hour to catch my breath, rehydrate, and rest my little legs while Rick and Polly blazed ahead. The trail looked surprisingly good for not having been maintained over the last couple of weeks since the government shutdown, and I whispered a thank you to the Ofu National Park Service team for their work.

In the second hour, I finally found my rhythm. While trudging forward, I actually tried to mentally harden myself for the hike and told myself we were probably only halfway there. But as soon as I said that, we came upon the blessed sign that said ‘Tumu Overlook’ and I almost cried hahaha. I hippity hopped up behind Ian through the last 15 minutes of the trail and laughed out loud when I heard Ian hoot at the top.

Mt. Tumu is my favorite hike thus far. Making it to the top is worth every bit of the struggle it took to get there. Besides, it really wasn’t that bad, right? We drank in the view of the Ofu, Olosega, and Ta’ū isles. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was happy to see the top of Mt. Piumafua which is normally enshrouded in clouds. Another reason I love this hike is the view below. Standing at the precipice, you can look down and see the lush green mountain drop almost straight down to the blue To’aga lagoon and stretching into the Pacific horizon. It just feels epic. Being here with Ian and his parents made my heart swell with gratitude for our time together in this magical place.

Reading on vacation | Ofu Photo Journal

Reading on vacation | Ofu Photo Journal

I love feeling like I have all the time in the world on vacations.

Reading is one of those things that I love to do but can be difficult to make time for in between a full day at work, social life, and (let’s be honest) eating and pooping. In fact, I used to do a lot of reading whilst sitting on that throne hahaha – but I digress.

I’m a slow reader so it took me all of 2 weeks to read “Coming of Age in Samoa” by Margaret Mead. I love it for its account of Samoan daily life in Manu’a, American Samoa back in the 1920s. She paints a vivid picture that I (having grown up in American Samoa in the 90s) can actually sort of relate to. Here we are lounging and reading in hammocks at To’aga beach on New Years Day.

Coconuts and Jenga – Ofu Evenings

Coconuts and Jenga – Ofu Evenings

My days in Ofu are usually spent on the beach, or biking through To’aga, or killing my legs hiking Mt. Tumu. But the evenings are lax – usually spent around the table with kindred spirits.

This particular evening involved fresh coconuts and Jenga towers. We were getting really good (or so we thought) and attempted the world record with a 41 stack, but we could only get to 34 max. We had a blast though!

Coconut Crab for NYE Dinner

Coconut Crab for NYE Dinner

The guys went out the night before New Year’s Eve and caught two coconut crabs for our NYE dinner.

I asked why they only caught two and they said it was because they wanted to hunt responsibly. Good point.

Coconut crabs are suuuuper delicious, and it’s true that there aren’t many crabs just roving the land these days. Even though there are a bunch of coconut crabs in Ofu – doesn’t mean that we should be taking more than we need.

We sat down to eat on New Year’s Eve with family and friends and shared yum food. We also ate baby rack ribs that Ian made but lo – we’re going to be cutting out red meat from our diet in 2019! So we’re making steps towards more sustainable eating habits.

Tui Ofu Well

Tui Ofu Well

Not far from the beach is an ancient historic village that’s spanned over three millenniums. And there, you’ll find the sacred Tui Ofu water well, where the high chiefs of Ofu convened/bathed.



From To’aga Road to Asaga Strait | Ofu Photo Journal

From To’aga Road to Asaga Strait | Ofu Photo Journal

After nearly falling over a bunch of times, I finally get the hang of bike riding again. Deb and Ben at Vaoto Lodge were super kind to let us borrow their beach cruisers, and Ian and I rode along the length of the stretch and walked our bikes up a couple of little hills until we got to the Asaga Strait where a bridge connects the islands of Ofu and Olosega.

Rick and Polly took the scenic stroll from the lodge and met us there. Ian checked out the bridge with his dad, and inspect the traffic cone marking the site that government cars accidentally powered through on two different occasions earlier this year and plummeted into the ocean. I can’t help but be distracted by the aqua hues all around and empty sandy beaches. We hung out for a little while and all take gulps from Ian’s flask (oops we all forgot our water bottles), and take a few pics on the bridge. Rick and Polly make their way back to To’aga and Ian and I continued on to Olosega village.

Bike Riding at To’aga + Sunu’itao Peak | Ofu Photo Journal

Bike Riding at To’aga + Sunu’itao Peak | Ofu Photo Journal

By far the best way to get around Ofu is by bike.
To’aga stretches only a couple of miles but riding around on a cruiser—
wind in your hair
pavement under your wheels
next to this hunk of a babe
at the best beach in the world
—surely this can’t be beat.

There’s this one stretch of road that is my favorite because as you come up to it, the lush greens on both sides of the path clear up to reveal the dramatic Sunu`itao Peak and to me, it’s just absolutely iconic. I am awestruck again and again.

PS… I’m a horrific bike rider, as in I’m not good at it. And my excuse is that I’m short, making virtually all adult bikes too big for me. So yeah, me saying all this means bike riding in Ofu is legit legit.

Off season in Rincon | Puerto Rico Travel Diary

Off season in Rincon | Puerto Rico Travel Diary

We drove in to Rincon in the late afternoon. The traffic and winding streets made my tummy uneasy so I was elated to get situated in this cozy Coconut Cottage for the night.

*ahem* Not really complaining because I should be used to this, but there were a lot of mosquitoes though.

We checked out the Rincon Marina to scope out the scene. It had been raining all day, and it would rain every day at noon while we were there.

It was off-season for tourism but most importantly (for Ian), off season for surf of any kind. There were absolutely no waves anywhere except on the postcards at the empty surf shops. We got skunked.

Feeling deeply grateful to be able to meet up with good friends from around the world in new and beautiful places.

We got groceries at the Econo Supermarket to last us the next couple of days that we would be there. But then we also decided to grab a nice dinner at Roots in the town square where we laughed and toasted to friendship.

The next couple of days were quality.

Snorkeling, SUPing, seeing huge barracudas fly by.

Eating, drinking, talking, playing card games.

Nobody in this quiet town, except us and the singing coqui.

We tried to plan a scuba dive or a kayak tour of the bioluminescence, but were unfortunately turned away by the operators. The fact that it was off season was one possible reason, but it could have also been our short 3 day stay not being enough time. *Shrugs*

Our friends’ love and sunset on our last evening in Rincon.

Finally a picture of all of us together!

That morning: sleeping in, snorkeling, showering (it was about time haha), and saying adios to Rincon.

We got back on the road toward San Juan.


I was sad to leave so soon, but happy to share new memories with old friends.





Briskly taking in Old San Juan | Puerto Rico Travel Diary

Briskly taking in Old San Juan | Puerto Rico Travel Diary

A brisk morning jaunt in Old San Juan checking out the National Historic Site forts before we got on the road to Rincon. We had just gotten coffee and sandwiches at Café Cuatros Sombras, a few blocks away from our AirBnB. Ian and I flew into town yesterday in the late afternoon as a result of a delayed flight, so we could only catch the sunset from Castillo San Felipe del Morro before hopping around the many restaurants and pubs. Today we were rushing our way through the blue cobblestone streets trying to soak in as much of this romantic old spanish town vibe before our road trip. We quickly checked out Castillo de San Cristobal, the Devil’s Sentry Box lookout, and the colorful colonial style homes. Here are a few snaps from this morning.

Cueva Ventana | Puerto Rico Travel Diary

Cueva Ventana | Puerto Rico Travel Diary

Some photos I snapped while on a walking tour of Cueva Ventana, or “Window Cave” in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
We followed our local guide on a short educational hike learning about the flora and fauna of Puerto Rico.
A petroglyph with unknown origins, and unfortunately some vandalism in the cave.

Tried to spot bats but they were tiny and mostly just hung around the darkest parts of the cave.

I was surprised to learn that Cueva Ventana is not actually a state-sponsored conservation forest as I initially thought, but rather a privately owned historic preservation site.

View from inside the cave, looking up at the stairs we descend from.



The magnificent “window” view from Cueva Ventana overlooking the Rio Grande dé Arecibo valley.

Our guide told us to look out for the cave residents, aka Matilda, the Puerto Rican boa constrictor. Needless to say, we got a little jumpy when we had to turn off our torches and navigated through the dark parts of the cave so we wouldn’t disturb our animal friends.

Our friends – Eli and Victoria – adoring each other and the view.