ATV Tour on Kipu Ranch | Off-Road Kauai Scenery & Film Spots

If you've ever wondered where those exotic locations from movies such as Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones have been filmed, then look no further! On a trip to Kauai, I learned that you will find some of the most memorable spots from films on several tours whether you're hovering above in a helicopter or zooming through the forests on an ATV.

One of my excursions on my trip was an ATV tour on Kipu Ranch, which was definitely a new experience for me. Typically, groups sign up for tours like these, so since I was traveling alone I opted to ride with a guide for two reasons.

1) Because I'm not used to driving on such terrain or in an ATV and I'll admit I was a little scared! While the guides do safety checks and brief trainings before and along the way, I personally thought this would be best for me.

2) I wanted to be able to get all of the photos and video footage I needed to share with you all, of course!

Overall, the Ultimate Ranch Tour offered on Kipu Ranch is a 3-hour tour, so here are a few tips to help you prepare:

  • Bring sunscreen to reapply throughout the tour! The most shade you'll probably get is in the ATV and under the lush, shady trees.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you don't mind getting dirty. This is not the time to dress up! 
  • Don't worry about makeup! I know it can be tempting to look cute for Instagram, but prior to the tour, you'll be given goggles to wear which will definitely come in handy as you embark on the route. Plus, makeup will likely sweat or be wiped away. I actually don't think I even wore very much makeup during my entire trip!
  • Pack a camera to get photos. There are tons of stops, so you will have plenty of opportunities to snap away. They don't need to be fancy -- iPhone cameras are great, too! Just make sure you do not drop them while you're in the ATV. 
  • Have fun, of course!

This tour honestly wasn't anything I ever would have chosen for myself and I'm SO glad that I was able to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I mean, who wants to do the same old boring things on such a beautiful trip to a Hawaiian island? Not I! 

Learn more about Kipu Ranch and book your tour on Kauai!

Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by the Kauai Visitor's Bureau, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Weekend Itinerary | Kauai of Hawaii

Literally "30,000 feet in the air" just like one of my favorite Kendrick Lamar songs. Last month, I traveled to the Hawaiian island, Kauai, for the very first time. In fact, it was my first trip to Hawaii -- period. I'd always thought about taking this trip, but I'm very early on in my travel journey as an adult and I had yet to check it off my list.

I was invited to Kauai Fashion Weekend to cover the event, and I was truly ecstatic to not only experience the fashion, but to capture the natural beauty and culture of the island as well.

Wednesday | Check-In & Chill

Front driveway entrance at Kauai Beach Resort

Front driveway entrance at Kauai Beach Resort

Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls

Upon arriving on my American Airlines flight, I was picked up by the Kauai Beach Resort complimentary airport shuttle bus and quickly transported to the resort. I loved how close it was to the Lihue airport -- so convenient! I hopped in my car, stopped by Walmart for important things that I forgot to pack and checked out Wailua Falls before retiring for the evening. I was so sleepy!

I stayed at Kauai Beach Resort for 5 nights and I enjoyed every night after long, exhausting (yet fun) days. Like everyone I encountered during my trip, the staff was very friendly and helpful if I needed them. One of the most important parts of a trip for me is the hotel. Kauai Beach Resort was clean, of excellent quality and affordable.

Thursday | Safari Helicopter Tour

Safari Helicopter getting ready to take off for a tour of the island

Safari Helicopter getting ready to take off for a tour of the island

I can NOW check 'helicopter ride' off of my bucket list and over Kauai was the best way I could have done it! Eighty-percent of Kauai is not able to be seen by car as it's not accessible, so I highly recommend doing it this way. My flight was with Safari Helicopters and they were amazing! Everyone was personable and our pilot, Bruno, gave us all of the history and geographic facts about each part of the island. It was educational and so breathtaking that I was speechless as we flew over the massive mountains and sparkling blue Nā Pali Coast. I got TONS of photos, of course!

Afterwards, I was able to explore the South Shore with Lani of the Visitor's Bureau.

Read more and see the views from the helicopter tour

Meet & Greet with Meghan Edmonds

Meghan Edmonds with the Director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, Sue Kanoho

Meghan Edmonds with the Director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, Sue Kanoho

Me with Meghan Edmonds -- and I have an authentic lei on!

Me with Meghan Edmonds -- and I have an authentic lei on!

On Thursday night, just days prior to the main Kauai Fashion Weekend event, there was a Meet and Greet with Meghan Edmonds of The Real Housewives of Orange County at the Kauai Marriott Resort. Attendees sipped champagne, nibbled on light bites, and were able to take photos with & ask Meghan questions. It wasn't Meghan's first time on Kauai, so she had a lot to say about the island and how it is a must-travel vacation spot...and I can most certainly agree!

My question to Meghan was:

Most people ask, "What one item would you bring if you were stranded on an island?" Well, you're on the beautiful island of Kauai by choice, of course, but what is the ONE beauty product that you can't travel without?

She mentioned that the product she never travels without is her concealer. After remembering the name of the brand, she told me that she's obsessed with Glō Minerals (available at Dermstore). I'm finding that concealer in general is great for light summer makeup, so I may need to try her fave!

Friday | ATV Tour on Kipu Ranch

Safety orientation prior to the Kipu Ranch ATV Off-Road tour

Safety orientation prior to the Kipu Ranch ATV Off-Road tour

An ATV off-road tour is definitely not anything I would have ever thought to book for a trip! I'm such a foodie when it comes to traveling, but this tour at Kipu Ranch was so much fun and high-energy. If you're traveling with family or friends, I would totally recommend it for a unique group outing. I rode with our tour guide, Marlon, to get photos during the ride and we got to see all of the famous filming spots from movies such as Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park.

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Read more about my ATV tour and my tips for the excursion

Saturday | Kauai Fashion Weekend

After my adventurous days, I decided to spend my Saturday in my room and relax. As the sun set over Kauai on Saturday evening, I was busy getting ready for the big Kauai Fashion Weekend show which I found to not only be about fashion and the immaculate designs, but also about culture. From from women's formalwear to menswear to swimwear, there were a variety of designs gliding down the runway on models of all body types from local and international designers.

Kauai Fashion Weekend celebrated its 5th annual show this year featuring Meghan Edmonds as the special celebrity guest and the designs of Sha Ali of Ahmad Couture. The evening began with shopping, photo ops and, for VIP attendees, a three-course dinner with the runway show to follow.

I even won one of Sha's designs in the raffle drawing at the end of the fashion show (photos soon)!

Meghan Edmonds and Sha Ali walking the runway during the final walk

Meghan Edmonds and Sha Ali walking the runway during the final walk

See more designs from Kauai Fashion Weekend

Sunday | Captain Andy's Nā Pali Coast Tour

The catamaran for the Captain Andy's tour, Akialoa

The catamaran for the Captain Andy's tour, Akialoa

Passengers snorkeling along the Na Pali Coast

Passengers snorkeling along the Na Pali Coast

Unfortunately, I don't snorkel because I never learned how to swim, but there's much more to Captain Andy's Na Pali Coast tour! Light breakfast and a full lunch is served over rippling water views. I took this time to gaze at the ocean and towering mountains of the island completely forgetting that I'd brought magazines to read. It was a tranquil way to spend a Sunday morning/afternoon and the tour gave me time to reflect and brew inspiration.

We boarded the Akialoa catamaran and jetted through the water for approximately an hour before arriving at the Na Pali Coast. I relaxed and captured photos as the other passengers snorkeled for about 20 minutes. People saw dolphins, fish glimmering underwater, and even sea turtles! This is a great tour for capturing cool video clips and photos underwater with a GoPro or other waterproof camera. 

Once we returned to the port, I had the rest of the day to myself to explore! If there's one tip I can give for traveling, it's to leave room to venture out and explore. Don't schedule your days too tightly and go where the wind takes you. Be spontaneous! Some of the best memories are the ones where you stumble upon a non-chain restaurant or a little market with unique items to buy.

On Monday morning, I really didn't want to leave Kauai OR the fabulous view of the pool at resort! The residents were all so pleasant and helpful, driving was much less stressful than in Dallas, and experiencing the culture firsthand was an honor. If you have a weekend to escape to Kauai, there are plenty of excursions to go on that everyone can enjoy, local markets and events to discover, and tons of delicious food spots full of freshness. I'm still on a high from this trip, but I can't wait to return so I can experience more of the island!

Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by the Kauai Visitor's Bureau, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Hotel Review | The Troubadour, A Joie de Vivre Hotel in Downtown New Orleans

We checked out of our first hotel of Essence Festival weekend early after a negative experience, but luckily we were able to find a lovely room at The Troubadour just less than 3 minutes away walking distance. As terrible as our situation was, I was a little afraid to check-out during such a busy and booked weekend, but it all worked out.

Just half an hour before 3PM, we called to make a reservation with the front desk and were in our new room by 3:15PM. I'd seen several photos of The Troubadour while planning the trip to New Orleans and fell in love, but decided to go with "the other hotel" -- mistake. The experience at The Troubadour was exceptional. Everyone was personable, the property had plenty of charm with its '20s art deco-inspired design, it was clean and I felt far more comfortable overall. Needless to say, it surpassed my expectations.

Young adults who appreciate a more modern style hotel would love this chic property! It's not like a Ritz-Carlton (as far as style) or anything, but I think it gives you a youthful New Orleans vibe and it's totally Instagram-worthy. Check out the room:

This was my first time in New Orleans and I really wish I had more time to explore the property, but this will be my first choice when I return! I'd love to try the dining options and the chill-looking rooftop bar. An excellent first stay at The Troubadour for sure! It seems that depending on when you plan to go, prices aren't incredibly expensive either. I'd recommend this spot for anyone going to New Orleans for a girlfriends getaway or a weekend Baecation. It's very updated and designed with the millennial in mind!

Learn more about The Troubadour, A Joie de Vivre Hotel

Hotel Review | Catahoula Hotel in Downtown New Orleans

If you're looking for beautiful, convincing photos of this hotel, then you will not find them here on my blog as this is not a positive review and my experience was quite negative; therefore, this will not serve as any type of positive advertisement on my platform. If you're looking for the sugary shxt, go to their website or any travel booking site. I also reached the 1500 character limit for a review on Expedia where I booked the room, so I decided to share my raw experience here because I absolutely needed more.

The Story

My best friend and I arrived at Catahoula Hotel during Essence Festival weekend. The rates were pretty close to others in the area for such a busy holiday weekend with a handful of large events going on and the photos were beautiful online...but then we checked in. My issue wasn't with the size of the rooms or aesthetic -- it was with the service and (most of all) cleanliness.

First room: We checked in early at around noon on Friday so we could quickly get to an event we were scheduled for shortly after. Once we got back, I took a shower and switched into some comfy clothes for the time being. I pulled back the covers and plopped down. After a few minutes or so, I began to notice multiple tiny bugs in our bed. I'm not sure if they were fleas as it is a pet-friendly hotel or bed bugs...but either way, they were BUGS. Immediately, we both went to the front desk to alert the staff. The man at the desk honestly didn't even seem very surprised -- this should have been a red flag, but I was in a good mood and enjoying New Orleans outside of the hotel experience. He did switch our room within a few minutes and we were able to move our things immediately.

Second room: After gathering our belongings and moving to our new room, we checked the bed for anymore bugs. Luckily, there were none in this room. Upon entering, I noticed that the room was bigger which I thought was great and the open shower wasn't directly in front of the bed this time allowing for more privacy...but we were just happy to be in a room with NO bugs in the bed.

Early the next morning (Saturday), we went out to the New Orleans Natural Hair Expo and came back to the hotel afterwards with our purchases before grabbing lunch. I noticed that the beds had been made up while we were gone, so I started taking photos of the room since I planned to write about the overall experience and feature [here] on the blog. After I was done, we were sitting on the bed figuring out our plans for the rest of the day when my eyes zoomed in on an incredibly dirty pillow on my best friend's side of the bed. Somehow I'd missed it while taking photos, but now that I look back, it was definitely there. I couldn't believe someone would make a bed and leave noticeably dirty linens.

Catahoula Hotel New Orleans dirty pillow

On a trip, the cleanliness of where I stay is incredibly important to me especially when I'm paying good money to stay there and this disturbed me. First the bugs in the bed and, now, a dirty pillow left on the bed. I tried to control my emotions in the moment and take in the situation before making my next move...then decided to call the front desk. I explained to them that the bed was made with dirty pillows while we were gone and the ONLY response I got was, "would you like for us to bring you new pillows?" Well...DUH! 

Again, no apology and any indication of surprise in the employee's voice. Why the hell was everyone so damn nonchalant?! I replied, "yes" and that was the end of the conversation.

We probably waited for about 10 minutes and no one seemed to have a sense of urgency to bring us new pillows or to come check the room. Eventually, after getting tired of waiting, I went to the front desk to make my dissatisfaction known, ask for a refund AND to check-out ASAP. The two employees at the front desk seemed fairly apologetic at that point, but I refused to have us pay almost $300 per night for THAT kind of service. 

Update: As of Tuesday, July 3rd, our money for the second night was successfully refunded.

The Verdict & Our Solution

We were able to get a room at The Troubadour just around the corner for basically the SAME rate and we received much better service. Interestingly, this was my first choice for a hotel when I first started planning. Note to self: trust your gut! | Read about our experience at The Troubadour and see photos, here.

I would not recommend Catahoula Hotel to any of my friends or readers planning to travel to New Orleans. It's cute in aesthetics as a boutique hotel that gives you the hipster essence of "NOLA" and all, but they really should get the cleanliness, service and attention to detail together like...YESTERDAY. I'm still kinda upset that we wasted the first of our two nights in New Orleans here, but at least we know where to stay next time.

Disclaimer: This stay was paid for with our own money. It is not and was never sponsored. All thoughts and opinions are 110% my own.