Scuba Safety Tips for First-Timers

One of the best places in the world to experience marine life up close and personal is the shores of Hawaii. While snorkeling can be fun, there’s nothing quite like descending to more extreme, yet manageable depths via scuba diving. But, before you do so, there are a few considerations to take into account.

Receiving the appropriate certification is crucial in your first steps as a scuba diver. Many inexperienced divers may think that simply snorkeling has equipped them with the skills necessary to safely scuba. However, without proper training and a basic understanding of common mistakes made, you are putting yourself, and possibly others in danger. Be sure that you are officially recognized by your local scuba training agency before entering the waters.

Another important consideration is receiving verification from your doctor that you are physically able to take part in scuba diving. The conditions in certain depths of water can be extremely hazardous to individuals who may suffer from hypertension, breathing disorders, or certain muscular inabilities. This activity can be surprisingly demanding in terms of physicality, and the pressure that comes with extreme depths heightens those conditions.

A hazard that all divers should be aware of is what is commonly referred to as “the bends,” or decompression sickness. This occurs most often when divers swim toward the surface of the water from extreme depths without stopping every 10-15 feet to counterbalance decompression. Nitrogen bubbles can form in the bloodstream causing extreme pain, paralysis, and even death in dire situations. Divers who may experience the bends are placed in recompression chambers to counter the effects.

Maintaining a relaxed mindset throughout your scuba diving experience is imperative. Beginners will be surrounded by professional divers should a situation arise, but being able to stay calm, breathe, and manage yourself is important for divers of all levels of experience. Panicking will only worsen the situation.

Always prepare yourself beforehand. Scuba diving when you’re tired, hungry, or sick can directly affect the quality of your dive, and your ability to effectively navigate the waters. Avoid alcohol before a dive as well. Aside from the obvious inebriation, alcohol can dehydrate the body, which can dramatically worsen the effects of underwater pressure.
Scuba diving anywhere around the world can be a fun, and rewarding activity as long as the proper safety procedures are followed. Work closely with professional diver beforehand to ensure you are taking every precautionary step necessary, and have a proper understanding of the common dangers that come with it.

Rainy Days in Oahu: An Itinerary

Although the Aloha State is known for its ideal weather of constant sunshine and cooling trade winds, there are days where Mother Nature decides to look the other way. In the event of a rainy day or week, it can be hard to figure out what to do in a state known for its outdoor activities. But, there is nothing to fear. The island of Oahu is well-prepared for inclement weather, and has a variety of attractions should the day consist of rain.

Rather than staying inside your hotel room all day, consider taking a trip to Kahala Mall. This indoor community has over 90 stores and restaurants for all family members, with authentic Hawaiian-made clothing, boutiques, and more. Oahu’s indoor shopping does not end there. The Honolulu Night Market consists of a large array of goods, including clothes, art, food, and even live music, all contained within a large warehouse.

The new International Marketplace in Waikiki, which opened August of 2016, is another indoor playground consisting of 75 different retailers, seven signature restaurants (with three more coming soon), and a banyan tree that is over 100 years old. It also features Hawaii’s first Saks Fifth Avenue. The construction of the marketplace has been greatly beneficial to all locals, as Robert Taubman, president and CEO of Taubman Centers, stated that over 2,500 jobs were created, and part of the marketplace’s revenue will be donated to hospitals around the island.

Similarly, the Ala Moana Center is the largest shopping mall in all of Hawaii, and the seventh largest in the entire country. With more than 290 stores, it’s easy to get lost in a day of shopping and dining. Many of which are considered luxury stores with high-end fashion brands and name brands. Additionally, the mall houses many locally-made products from the Aloha State. Transportation here is made easy by the Ala Moana Shopping Trolley, that takes visitors to the mall and 10 separate locations around Waikiki.

If what you’re truly missing due to rainy days is the water or ocean life, look no further than the Waikiki Aquarium. Home to all of Hawaii’s natural marine life, this aquarium is the second oldest in the United States. The most remarkable feature of this attraction is its variety of exhibits. Coral reefs, local marine communities, monk seal habitats, and marine protected areas are all things visitors can see while learning a lot about the subjects themselves.

For the entire blog and more, check out Michele-Carbone.com!

Beach Safety in Hawaii

Like all travel destinations, practicing proper safety and maintaining your health when visiting another state or country is extremely important. In Hawaii, the same precautions should be followed. For those planning to visit the Aloha State in the near future looking to indulge in the beautiful beaches, here are a few tips and guidelines that will allow you to have a fun, safe stay.

With the high temperatures of the South Pacific comes an increased risk of dehydration. Always be sure to drink plenty of water, and have a bottle or two on you at all times, especially when hiking, or performing other recreational activities. When enjoying some time on the beach, the sun’s rays can be deceptively dangerous; a place you’ll want to ensure hydration, as well as protect your skin with a proper SPF level sunscreen.

People unfamiliar with the beaches of Hawaii should not assume that they are just like every other. First, pay attention to any aggressive currents or undertows. Swimming in these conditions is extremely dangerous. When in the ocean, stay within a reasonable distance of the beach to remain visible to those you are with, as well as lessening your chances of losing your footing in deep waters.

A safe rule of thumb for dealing with the waves along Hawaii shorelines is “Never turn your back on the ocean.”  What this means is that when you are exiting the water along the shoreline, always walk sideways towards the beach, looking over your shoulder at the incoming waves. It is not uncommon for people to get knocked down by unexpected waves and then have to struggle to get out of the water.

Pay attention to the surf warning flags along all of Hawaii’s beaches.Here’s a quick guide to beaches and conditions for all Hawaii island beaches, published by the Hawaii State government: http://www.hawaiibeachsafety.com/

A common misconception about Hawaiian beaches is that sharks pose a serious threat to beachgoers. Surprisingly, sightings are so infrequent that many locals look forward to spotting them offshore. However, swimming with the mindset that a sighting is impossible would be unwise. Avoid swimming at sunrise or sunset, as this is when sharks are most active. Also, stay away from murky bodies of water with little vision, as a shark’s eyesight is negatively affected in these areas as well.

The most common stings among swimmers in Hawaii are those of jellyfish. Two of the most common are box jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-war, both of which have different types of poison and should be treated respectively. Be on the lookout for floating bubble with a bluish hue and a long trail of tentacles. These are Portuguese men-of-war, and can cause painful, yet rarely serious stings. Box jellyfish on the other hand, are nearly invisible in the water, and tend to have much more painful stings. To avoid both, avoid swimming during morning hours, and when water temperatures are unusually high. If stung, do not scratch or rub the affected area. Apply an ice pack, and see a medical professional if symptoms worsen.  The box jellyfish arrive on Waikiki beaches on a rather predictable schedule, so you can check this calendar published by the Waikiki Acquarium:  http://www.waikikiaquarium.org/box-jellyfish-calendar/

An important consideration when walking into the water is to watch where you step. Many puncture wounds come from people not seeing sea urchins upon entering the ocean. Avoid areas where you can’t clearly see the bottom, and be mindful of where the current pushes you should be in a deeper area, as sea urchins tend to gather in colonies.
Open wounds or cuts should be taken very seriously. Prevention is important, and wearing wet suits, water shoes, or gloves can help. Should you experience an injury that causes bleeding, exit the water and seek the nearest medical area for help. Depending on what caused the wound, treatment may vary.

Cinque Terre: A Travel Guide

Directly translated to Five Lands, Cinque Terre is an area in the Liguria region of Italy comprised of the five coastal villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, and Corniglia; all of which sit just north of the Tuscan border. With so many places to go in this Italian territory, planning a trip can seem overwhelming.

The first step in mapping out your visit here is choosing a village to call your area of residence. Though they are all very close to one another (anywhere from a five to twenty minute train ride between each), you’ll want to do a little research beforehand to decide which town you’ll enjoy the most.

Manarola

Lined with a large number of boats, Manarola is made up of a main street and a harbor where visitors are allowed to swim. Offering some of the freshest seafood you can find, restaurants and bars alike offer anchovies right from the sea, olive oil, olives, and fresh bread for all diners. This is a great spot for enjoying a late afternoon sunset with a drink in hand.

Riomaggiore

The southernmost town of the five, Riomaggiore is a bustling town where you can hear church bells on a regular basis, a stunning castle, and a beautiful scene of lights cascaded over the water as small fishing boats depart for their daily anchovy excursion. The heart of this town lies on the main street where visitors can find restaurants, bars, cafes, and gelaterias. Bar & Vini is a great destination for those searching for a scenic meal, as it is perched along the side of the mountain overlooking the sea.

Vernazza

Vernazza is a maze of streets leading to one main street, and is arguably one of the most visually appealing towns in Italy. Comprised of waterfront restaurants, a harbor, and a lively beach, the nightlife here is bustling. The classic, brightly painted homes and buildings here add a touch of history while maintaining their true beauty.

Monterosso

The northernmost village of Cinque Terre is Monterosso, and is divided into two towns; the new town, and the old town. The new town consists of apartments, hotels, a large beach, and restaurants and cafes, while the old town is a little more laid back, much like its name. Here, visitors can quietly shop amongst the various boutiques and admire the stunning views.

Corniglia
The smallest village of the five, this beautiful town resting upon the ocean cliffs requires a bit of a hike to reach. Visitors are able to choose between climbing 365 steps (one for each day of the year), or taking a bus from the Cinque Terre National Park, driving visitors both there and back. What may seem like a chore to reach, Corniglia offers some of the most incredibly beautiful architecture set upon the cliffs of the Ligurian Sea.

4 Mediterranean Recipes with Health In Mind

One of the world’s most palatable styles of food is Mediterranean cuisine. With a historic trinity of basic ingredients in olive, wheat, and tomato, the foundation for this approach to cooking has greatly expanded throughout the years, while still remaining true to its culinary roots. Below are just a few Mediterranean recipes for the health-conscious. The key to these recipes is using good-quality extra-virgin olive oil (preferably from Italy), Italian plum tomatoes (Pomì is a brand easily available in most supermarkets), and fresh ingredients whenever possible.

Pasta with Tuna Sauce

Ingredients

  • Pomi crushed tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Canned tuna, preferably with olive oil
  • Black olives, chopped
  • Grated Pecorino cheese
  • Basil leaves, to taste
  • Salt, red and black pepper, to taste
  • Pasta (your choice of style)

Preparation

Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil and heat on low to medium. Add roughly half of a box of Pomi tomatoes, sauteing them for about 4-5 minutes. Then, add the tuna, salt, and pepper and cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes. After that, turn off the heat and add the chopped black olives and basil leaves.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta of your choice in a boiling pot. Once that is ready, add the sugo and mix. Then add the grated Pecorino cheese to taste.

 

Bell Peppers Dish

Ingredients

  • 10 mixed bell peppers, red, green, yellow, and orange
  • Dried Italian oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Black olives, chopped (preferably not canned)
  • ½-1 cup parmigiano cheese, grated (high quality product, from Whole Foods or Italian importer)
  • Capers (optional)
  • Italian plum tomatoes, chopped (Pomi tomatoes preferred)

Preparation

Start by washing and deseeding the bell peppers, remove the pits, and cut them into chunky pieces. As they dry, pour Italian extra-virgin olive oil into a large, heavy pan, and heat on low. Add the garlic to the pan and saute gently until golden, then use a fork to remove the garlic clove. Once that is done, add the bell peppers to the pan and toss, making sure they are evenly coated. Partially cover the pan and cook on low until the peppers are soft, which should take 45 minutes to an hour. After that, remove the cover and turn the heat up to medium high. Be careful not to evaporate all the water in the pan. Add about ½ a container of Pomi chopped tomatoes along with a few tablespoons of dried Italian/Mediterranean oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Continue cooking for about 10-15 minutes uncovered at medium high heat.

Once the mixture is to your liking, add as many chopped black olives as you prefer. Only cook for a few more minutes to avoid having the olives become bitter, and add a few teaspoons of capers (optional). Now that it’s finished, add the grated parmigiano cheese, stir, and taste for flavor. Remember, the parmigiano adds saltiness to the dish, so you may want to reduce the amount of salt initially used.

 

Skillet Bruschetta with Beans and Greens

Recipe from bonappetit.com

Ingredients

  • 8 ¾-inch thick slices crusty bread
  • 6 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 15oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 bunch kale or mustard greens, ribs removed, leaves cut into bite-size pieces
  • ½ cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preparation

Brush the pieces of bread on both sides with 4 tablespoons of oil total, and place in a large preheated skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, cook the bread, pressing occasionally to enhance the crispiness until golden brown, which should take about 3 minutes per side. Season the toasted pieces of bread with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Now, increase the heat to medium-high and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same skillet. Add the thinly sliced garlic and red pepper flakes, and stir until fragrant. Then, add the cannellini beans, stirring occasionally, until they begin to blister, which should take about 3 minutes. Using a spoon, lightly mash half of the beans, and add kale and broth, tossing frequently until the kale has been wilted. Add lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Serve the now finished beans and greens mixture over the toasted bread.

 

Roasted Sea Bass with Potatoes, Olives, and Tomatoes

Recipe from foodandwine.com

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and slices ½-inch thick
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • ¾ cup pitted green olives
  • ¼ cup torn basil leaves
  • ½ cup plus 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 3lb. Sea bass, cleaned
  • ½ cup pine nuts

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a very large roasting pan, toss the potatoes, tomatoes, olives, and basil with ½ cup of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Next, make 3 shallow slashes in both sides of each fish, and rub both with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, seasoning them with salt and pepper. Place the fish in the roasting pan, nestling them within the vegetables. Roast for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender, and both fish are cooked through.

A Family Vacation to Hawaii

Most people consider Hawaii as a prime destination for honeymoons or romantic getaways. However, the 50th state of the U.S. is very accommodating for families of every size. With countless resorts spanning across the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and of course, The Big Island, Hawaii offers something for everyone. While some offer all-inclusive experiences that cater to your every need, every island allows you to create your own plan of travel tailoring to all members of the family.

On the island of Oahu lies the state’s capital, Honolulu. Seeing as flights here are frequent and less expensive than those to other islands, this may be your first destination. With points of interest like the Diamond Head State Monument, ʻIolani Palace, and the USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu can start your family vacation off fantastic history lessons. For those seeking a more active trip, Hanauma Bay provides one of the most scenic snorkeling destinations in the world, as well as horseback riding, luaus, and the Turtle Eco Adventure Island Tour.

The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, just steps away from the beaches of Waikiki, is perfect for families with children, as they have two and three-bedroom suites to respect the privacy needed among larger groups. During your stay here, a dining experience at the hotel’s restaurant Mahina & Sun’s is almost necessary. This farm-to-table establishment specializes in crafting unique dishes of all sorts, with plenty of options for children.

Setting an entirely different scene, the farmland-covered island of Kauai is perhaps the greenest of all Hawaiian islands, lush with vegetation that spans across mountains and valleys. A hiking trip would be best fulfilled here, especially along the Napali Coast, though these trails may be best for more experienced hikers. If your family members would prefer less of a challenge, a drive to Waimea Canyon gives breathtaking views of coastal mountains and valleys.

Hotels like The Lodge at Kukui’ula provides amenities for all family members, like luxury rooms fit for parents, and a game room to keep the kids occupied. With the large variety of farms comes Kauai’s farmers’ markets, or “sunshine markets.” These offer some of the best produce in the state, and give great opportunities to experiment with flavor with their many exotic fruits, all of which contribute to the natural ingredients of JoJo’s Shave Ice; Kauai’s original home for sweets.

Home of the famous Wailea Beach, Maui allows you to get up close and personal with curious and friendly sea turtles through spectacular snorkeling adventures; something children of all ages can enjoy. For the early risers, catching the sunrise at the top of Haleakala National Park is an experience that won’t soon be forgotten. The Haleakala Volcano, naturally formed pools of Kipahulu, and bamboo forests set the scene for a truly breathtaking vacation. Maui’s beaches also come with a variety of sports to take part in, or view from the warm sand. Surfing, kiteboarding, and windsurfing are popular activities on this island.

If a family vacation is in your near future, Hawaii is one of the most accommodating destinations for families of any size. The numerous islands and seemingly neverending coastlines provide you with endless opportunities, with views to match.