Best Day Trips from San Diego

Best Day Trips from San Diego

Best Day Trips from San Diego

day trips from San Diego, Blue Eyed Compass

San Diego is so wonderfully located that it’s a perfect place to head out for various day trip excursions. The city is truly surrounded by beautiful destinations such as national parks, beach towns, wineries and islands. So not only is San Diego an incredible vacation destination, but for those who live here, it’s a great place to venture away from and explore other parts of Southern California and Baja Mexico.

The following best day trips from San Diego are organized by area via north, south, east and west of San Diego.

San Diego Day Trips that are WITHIN San Diego County

– San Diego Safari Park –

Distance from San Diego: 45 minute drive north of central San Diego

The San Diego Safari Park is the sister zoo to the world famous San Diego Zoo. Located in the northern area of Escondido, this refuge away from the bustle of Balboa park (where the San Diego Zoo is located) provides much more open space and traditional landscapes for the animals here.

It is well worth the drive for a day trip to the San Diego Safari Park, especially when you arrive at the exhibit that hosts their giraffes, rhinos, antelope and other animals, all in one large open space (larger than I have ever seen in a zoo before).

As a sustainable travel blogger, I am often not a big fan of zoo’s, as they often feature small enclosures and unnatural breeding habits for the sake of making money, but the San Diego Safari Park is no such place. It has become a haven for animals from downtrodden zoo’s and is focused on conservation of their animal species.

– Carlsbad, California –

Distance from San Diego: 45 minute drive north of central San Diego

While I consider Carlsbad to be a part of San Diego, its distance north of the main parts of the city leaves many to assume it is its own entity (and it’s possible the residents of Carlsbad prefer it that way too). Carlsbad’s downtown area is quaint yet modern, with plenty of delicious eateries (including one of my favorite San Diego local breakfast chains Swami’s cafe!).

Carlsbad is host to many hiking trails & beautiful beaches with its most popular & easiest to access beach being the Tamarack Beach. The city has also become well known for its Carlsbad Flower Fields that bloom every spring. And while yes, the blooms can bring with them a flock of instagrammers capturing their perfect shot, it’s nonetheless a beautiful place to explore. And for families in the area, Carlsbad is also home to Legoland.

For anyone who loves a good spa escape, Carlsbad’s Omni La Costa Resort will be perfect for you. I’ve walked throughout the property of this resort and it is absolutely stunning.

– Palomar Observatory –

Distance from San Diego: 1 hour & 30 minute drive from central San Diego

Located at the top of Palomar mountain lies the astronomical research center, Palomar Observatory. It hosts visitors year round to visit & learn about the Hale Telescope. Another reason to visit this area is to camp and hike the Palomar Observatory hiking trail. The drive to the hike is curvy, but well worth it as there is a great chance hikers can see wildlife while they hike to the top of the mountain.

San Diego Day Trips that are EAST of San Diego County

– Salvation Mountain –

Distance from San Diego: 2-2.5 hour drive from central San Diego

Salvation Mountain has become a trendy destination for road trippers and San Diegans to take photos of. Salvation Mountain is not actually a mountain, it’s a man made, colorful monument located in the middle of the desert.

The ‘mountain’ was created by Leonard Knight who built it with natural materials and then painted over it with vibrant colors, bible verses & christian phrases. While it may not be the most exciting place to visit in the world, it is a sight to see the bright colors against the beige desert backdrop.

If you chose to visit Salvation Mountain, you are also close enough to explore the Salton Sea. I don’t have it listed here as it’s own day trip destination, as I don’t feel it warrants it’s own trip. Salton Sea has quite a sad tale – the area was once being built out to be a resort destination as the area had become a large lake. But due to agricultural runoff & other issues, the sea/lake became polluted and its salinity levels were too high for animal life. If you drive out to Salton Sea you will see abandoned homes, cars, and more. Imagine an eerie ghost town but with fish skeletons included.

Stay with me here, the remaining day trips from San Diego are much more exciting than Salton Sea…

girl in front of Salvation Mountain California | Day Trips from San Diego

San Diego Day Trips that are NORTH of San Diego

– Laguna Beach –

Distance from San Diego: 1 hour & 15 minute drive from San Diego

If you grew up watching MTV’s ‘Laguna Beach’ then you may already know that Laguna Beach is a stunningly gorgeous destination. The area is like something out of a postcard. The downtown area has adorable shops and is known for its art galleries, but if we’re being honest, you need to visit Laguna for its beaches.

Yes, traveling from San Diego beaches to Laguna beaches sounds redundant, but trust me, it’s worth it. Here are a few of the beaches in Laguna that are well worth the day trip drive from San Diego:

  • 1,000 Steps beach (it’s easy to get down to, and a workout to get back up)
  • Crystal Cove State Park
  • Victoria Beach – known for its Disney princess-like tower
  • Crescent Bay Beach (which may be my favorite beach in Laguna!)
Laguna Beach cove | Day Trips from San Diego

– Catalina Island –

Distance from San Diego: 1.5 hour drive to Dana Point harbor, then a 1 hour boat ride on the Catalina Express

Catalina Island is a romantic escape for many Southern Californians. This rocky island reminds visitors of vacations to the coastal towns of the Mediterranean. Santa Catalina island is the main island of a cluster of small islands known as the Channel Islands of California.

This place is a car-free destination, so visitors can rent bikes, golf carts or boats to explore. There is snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and groups that will take you to find the island bison. The main area of Catalina island hosts quite a few bars & restaurants that are perfect for ending your day before hopping on the ferry boat back to Dana Point harbor. While Catalina Island can be better for overnight stays, it’s close location to San Diego makes it a very doable day trip destination.

Catalina Island | Day Trips from San Diego

– Temecula Wineries –

Distance from San Diego: 1 hour drive from central San Diego (more or less depending on which winery you choose to visit)

Temecula is Southern California’s Napa Valley, it’s our wine country (as is Valle de Guadalupe, discussed below!). The Temecula area has over 40 delicious and beautiful wineries to enjoy. You can also spend time walking around Temecula’s Old Town or finish your day with a hot air balloon ride that Temecula has also somehow become known for… could either be a really fun or potentially dangerous way to end a day of wine tasting, but regardless, a hot air balloon ride would definitely be a beautiful way to catch the sunset.

– Julian –

Distance from San Diego: 1 hour drive NorthWest from central San Diego

Julian is a town known for apples and it’s homemade apple pies. You can start your day picking apples at one of the many apple orchards, and then spend your afternoon exploring the quaint town of Julian. It almost feels like a step back in time with 1960 themed soda shoppes and boutique stores. A day trip to Julian from San Diego wouldn’t be complete without stopping at Mom’s Pies. I suggest you enjoy a fresh slice while there and then bring home a pie to enjoy for later.

Julian is also near Cuyamaca State Park which is a great area for hiking too.

– Disneyland –

Distance from San Diego: 1.5 hour drive north of San Diego

Disney is a household name around the world, so I won’t dive too far into what Disneyland is. However I will share that there are two parks that Disney hosts in Anaheim – Disneyland and California Adventure Park. If you are looking for a traditional Disney experience, then visit Disneyland. If you prefer more rollercoaster-type attractions, then check out the California Adventure Park. As with any major theme park, visiting on a weekday will mean smaller crowds.

Disneyland day trip from San Diego

– San Juan Capistrano –

Distance from San Diego: 1 hour drive from San Diego

San Juan Capistrano is a small historic California city. There is the old town area or Los Rios Historic District to explore, which has small shops & cafes. The main attraction here is the Mission San Juan Capistrano. The mission is an 18th century Spanish chapel that is still beautifully maintained.

San Diego Day Trips that are  SOUTH of San Diego in MEXICO

– Tijuana, Mexico –

Distance from San Diego: 20 minute drive south of central San Diego

With a quick drive south, you can be across the border in Tijuana, Mexico and enjoy mouthwatering food for a fraction of the price in San Diego. Tijuana is a vibrant city that San Diego locals enjoy visiting for delicious lunches and dinners. The main street is Avenida Revolucion, but it’s been suggested that visitors explore areas outside of this main tourist street. My suggestion – enjoy a beer and lunch at Telefonico, a food truck destination that offers vegan options and it’s own brewery!

– Rosarito, Mexico –

Distance from San Diego: 50 minute drive south from San Diego

Drive a bit farther south from Tijuana and you will be in Rosarito, a popular Baja coastal town. Visitors to Rosarito can easily walk around town and walk to the beach. However, I don’t believe Rosarito to be a great place for everyone. It seems to be home to a big party scene and I’ve witnessed horses being used for tourists on the beach, which I strongly disagree with.

If you drive a little outside of the main area of Rosarito you can find some beautiful & quaint resorts to stop at for margaritas and delicious meals.

– Ensenada, Mexico –

Distance from San Diego: 2 hour drive south into Baja Mexico

Ensenada is a seaport town further south from Rosartio, but with a lesser party scene. Ensenada is great for outdoor activities like kayaking and mountain biking, as well as plenty of restaurants to enjoy delicious mexican cuisine.

– Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico –

Distance from San Diego: 1.5 hour drive south east from central San Diego (more or less depending on which winery you choose to visit)

San Diego is happily book-ended with two wine areas, Temecula & Valle de Guadalupe in Baja Mexico. This area of Baja Mexico has over 100 wineries to enjoy (compared to Temecula’s 40+ wineries). You can book a wine tour company to pick you up in San Diego & chauffeur you around to their favorite wineries in Valle de Guadalupe or book a nights stay at a boutique hotel for two days of wine tastings & delicious Mexican food.

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Epic Travel Guide to Lisbon, Portugal

Epic Travel Guide to Lisbon, Portugal

Epic Travel Guide to Lisbon, Portugal

Travel guide to Lisbon - things to do in Lisbon Portugal, an epic travel guide to Lisbon, Blue Eyed Compass

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There is something for everyone who travels to Lisbon. This Portuguese city will dazzle you with its charming streets, traditional yellow trams, tiled architecture, balconies & vistas. Lisbon has become a favorite European destination, which means it has become busier over the last few years, but fear not, as it’s still a budget friendly destination. You will need at least three days to visit Lisbon, as it has so much to offer.

This travel guide to Lisbon, Portugal includes both well known & more obscure things to do in and around the city. And provides greater insight into the culture and foods to try while in Portugal.

If you need assistance with planning your trip to Lisbon, you’re covered with this post:

Defining History of Lisbon & Lisbon Culture

Europe has done a fairly great job at preserving its history within the streets of their main cities, and Lisbon is no exception. Learning about these defining historic moments in Lisbon’s history and a few of their staple cultural aspects will make your travel that much more fun. This way you can better understand & immerse yourself within the culture of the city.

  • Lisbon is the 2nd oldest capital city in Europe (after Athens, Greece) which means that their history goes way back. The city is perfect for those who love historic tales of classic ‘days gone by’.


  • The 1755 earthquake was the most impactful natural disaster Portugal has seen to date:

This earthquake is mentioned a lot throughout this post & you will hear about it when in Lisbon because it was so impactful – not only was the earthquake devastating but the quake lasted for over ten minutes, and was followed by a tsunami in the Tagus River, AND fires broke out throughout the city that lasted for days.


  • Fado music is cherished- Fado is a traditional form of music in Portugal. The word translates to mean ‘destiny’ or ‘fate’ in Portuguese. It’s a soulful & melancholy blend of music played with mandolins & guitars, typically with a singer performing poetic lyrics. Fado performances are fairly easy to find in the Alfama neighborhood of Lisbon in the evenings.


  • Saudade – Saudade is a feeling of melancholy & nostalgia, and is a characteristic of the Portugese temperament. 


  • The ‘Age of Discovery’ began in Portugal – the ‘Age of Discovery’ was a time in Europe’s history where exploratory voyages departed to India and beyond. They brought back spices & foods from across the ocean into Europe. This all started in Lisbon and many of its main attractions are mementos to that time.


  • Lisbon really started being internationally noticed as a tourist destination when it hosted the World’s Fair in 1998.

Portuguese Words to know when visiting Lisbon

These are just a few Portuguese words that will come in handy when you travel to Lisbon. Some of which you’ll see throughout this post as well.


  • Miradouro – viewpoint – there are over 30 miradouros in Lisbon, with beautifully dramatic views of the entire city
  • Por Favor/Obrigado – Please/Thank you – the language spoken in Lisbon is Portuguese. While there are a few similarities to the Spanish language, it’s important to know that ‘thank you’ is not the same in Spanish as it is in Portuguese.

You can find more useful words and Phrases for Getting Around Lisbon here.

How much does Lisbon cost (to travel)?

As with any destination, the cost to travel there & within the city will vary on your travel preferences. Here is an average of the travel costs for Lisbon, Portugal:

  • Hotel: $50-$100/night
  • AirBnB: $100/night
  • Food: $20-$60/day
  • Cafe’s: 1-2 euros
  • Activities/Entertainment: $40/day

Getting to & around the city of Lisbon

Lisbon Public Transportation

Getting to Lisbon

Travelers can get to Lisbon by direct flight into the capital city. There are also bus connections that typically drop off at the Lisboa Oriente bus station.

You can get to Lisbon city from the Lisbon airport via their subway system. It’s easy to navigate and it is only a 25 minutes ride to the center.


Getting around Lisbon

One of the many reasons Lisbon is such a great European city to visit is that it’s fairly easy to navigate around. The city is said to be spread over seven major hills (there are many more than seven hills, but ‘seven’ is the main number that the city officially references)

  • Getting around Lisbon by Foot: you can easily walk around the city, but parts of Lisbon are steep/hilly. If you’re willing to get a good workout in, walking around Lisbon is a great way to take in the city’s charm
  • Public transportation: visitors to Lisbon can safely take the city’s public transportation. There are buses, a metro system, and trams. Purchase a VivaViagem card at a metro station to use throughout the city. You can find a downloadable pdf map of the Lisbon metro on the Metro Lisboa website

  • Tuk Tuks: a newer addition to Lisbon’s transportation are tuk tuks. Tuk tuks are smaller than cars & taxis, so they can more easily navigate the narrow streets of the Alfama & Bairro Alto neighborhoods. You can find more popular tuk tuk companies in Lisbon here.

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Best Food(s) to try in Lison

  • Pastel de nata – Pastel de Nata has become a staple for visitors to enjoy when they travel to Lisbon. They are lightly sweet, custard tarts often topped with cinnamon. The pastry became world famous thanks to the Pasteis de Belem shop, but you can purchase the treat from any bakery in Lisbon.
pasteis de nata in Lisbon, Blue Eyed Compass


  • Bacalhau – Bacalhau is codfish, it’s very popular in Lisbon. On any given menu you will most likely see codfish cakes, fried cod, grilled cod, etc. There is also an entire store in Lisbon that sells tinned sardines. As a coastal city, they enjoy a plethora of seafood.


  • Ginja – Ginja is a delicious red cherry liqueur. You can typically find Ginja in small hole-in-the-wall bars & kiosks that will sell shots (sometimes in chocolate shots!).


Things to know about eating out in Lisbon, Portugal

Top things to do & see in Lisbon, Portugal

This section is organized by areas within the city of Lisbon


  • Explore the Alfama neighborhood 

The Alfama neighborhood in Lisbon has become quintessential for a quiet life in Lisbon. The area is ancient, colorful & hilly. You can reach the neighborhood by getting off at the Santa Apolonia station. Then meander through the labyrinth of cobblestone streets, colorful homes & beautiful architecture. Almost everyone falls in love with this neighborhood of Lisbon.

Alfama neighborhood in Lisbon, Blue Eyed Compass
  • Sé Cathedral/Lisbon’s cathedral

Cost of entry: Free
Hours: 9am-7pm to enter the church, to visit the cloister & treasury are different times

Lisbon’s Cathedral is the city’s oldest church. In fact, it survived the damaging 1755 earthquake – it was technically in ruins after the earthquake but it’s bone structure remained and has been rebuilt many times over. The cathedral boasts Romanesque, Gothic, Neoclassical & Rococo styles.

Lisbons Cathedral in Portugal, Blue Eyed Compass


  • Miradouro das Porto do Sol

This miradouro looks over the Alfama neighborhood. It’s a great place to catch sunrise. Miradouro das Porto do Sol has a spectacular view of the colorful rooftops of Lisbon’s Alfama neighborhood.


view from Miradouro das Porto do Sol in Lisbon


  • Castelo de Sao Jorge

Cost of entry:  €10

Hours: 10am-9pm

This castle is located on the highest hill in the city. It’s a must see in Lisbon. Many suggest visiting Castelo de Sao Jorge at dusk so that you can catch the sunset view over the city with an uninterrupted 360 degree view. Frankly, any time of day is great to visit this castle, as the views are always beautiful and the castle itself is fascinating to walk through.


  • Sao Vicente de Fora Church & Monastery

Cost of entry: free to enter the church, €5 to enter the monastery

Hours: 10am-5pm, closed on Mondays

Sao Vicente de Fora Church & Monastery is an extraordinary church & monastery. With over 100,000+ tiles and a terrace area with great views, it’s worth a visit for travelers. There is also a local flea market (Feira da Ladra) that is hosted next to the church. However the flea market may not be something that travelers will find much value in. (I still remember the random doll heads being sold here, but I’m not an avid flea market shopper, so it may be your thing – it’s up to  you to decide).

Sao Vicente de Fora Church in Lisbon, Blue Eyed Compass


  • National Pantheon/Panteão Nacional –

Cost of entry: €4

Hours: 10am-5pm, Tuesday-Sunday

Lisbon’s National Pantheon is the resting place of many of Portugal’s most important figures. The building showcases a beautiful white dome that stands out among the Alfama neighborhood skyline. Visitors can climb to the top of the dome for another view of Alfama.


  • Miradouro de Santa Luzia

The Santa Luzia miradouro has a romantic terrace with gorgeous florals and a cafe, so you can enjoy a beverage with your view.


  • Miradouro da Graça

Miradouro da Graça stands out because you can see the Alfama neighborhood on the left & the Bairro Alto neighborhood on the right, as well as St. George’s castle & all of central Lisbon.

LEARN MORE about travel in europe by exploring these different destinations!


  • Mosteiro dos Jerónimos –

Cost of entry: €10, first Sunday of the month is free entry for Lisbon residents. purchase with Archeology Museum ticket for combo price of €12

Hours: 10am-5pm (May-September closes at 6:30pm), last entry 30 minutes before closing time. Sundays 2-5pm, closed on Mondays & major holidays

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is a UNESCO World Heritage site & monastery. The Belem district of Lisbon is best known for this monastery (and pastries). The monastery is breathtaking, and definitely a place that every visitor to Lisbon should witness firsthand. It was built in 1501 and the building’s structure took over 100 years to build!


inside of the Jeronimos Monastery cloisters in Lisbon Portugal

To this day, it is still a perfectly preserved masterpiece. Both the church and the monastery cloisters showcase the Late Gothic & Manueline style (named for King Manuel I). The cloisters are mesmerizing as they are two levels of identical stone craftsmanship – fun fact, the cloisters were built as a tribute to Vasco de Gama (a famous explorer), who prayed at the Church of Santa Maria prior to his explorations. The Church of Santa Maria stands out with its epically high ceilings & sculptured columns that lead to one single nave.

This monastery is significant to Lisbon’s history thanks to the Age of Discovery. Ships departing left from Belem, so many sailors would come to this church to pray before they set out to sea.

There is also an archeology museum located adjacent to the monastery – see the next item!


inside of the Jeronimos Monastery cloisters in Lisbon

  • Archeology Museum –

Cost of entry: €5, purchase with Mosteiro dos Jerónimos ticket for combo price of €12

Hours: 10am-6pm Tuesday-Sunday, closed on Mondays

Lisbon’s Archeology Museum, located adjacent to the Jeronimos Monastery, has the most impressive collection of archaeological items in all of Portugal; from Egyptian times to the Middle Ages, Moorish to Roman artifacts. It is located in the west wing of the monastery.


  • Belem Tower –

Cost of entry: €6

Hours: 10am-5:30pm (May-September closes at 6:30pm), last entry 30 minutes before closing time. Closed on Mondays & major holidays

The Belem Tower used to be a defense mechanism for the city of Lisbon. It was able to see if intruders were coming into the Tagus River & then notify the city in time to defend itself. The tower also housed prisoners, who may have gotten the best view from a prison. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site & is a tall standing reminder about Portugal’s historic successes.

I would suggest that you visit the Belem Tower early in the day as the queue can be over an hour long later in the day. To get to the Belem Tower requires a ten minute walk from the public transport station. As it’s across the road from the Jeronimos Monastery, the Belem Tower is worth a visit to truly experience the architecture that speaks to  Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Afterwards, go to Pasteis de Belem if you’d like a few famous pastries afterwards.


  • Padrã dos Descobrimentos

Cost of Entry: €3-€6

Hours: 11am-5pm, Monday-Friday

The Padrã dos Descobrimentos is a monument dedicated to the explorers who allowed Portugal to transform into a superpower in the 14th & 15th century – the Age of Discovery truly was impactful for Portugal, and really all of Europe. There is a viewing platform at the top of the monument that visitors can pay to go up to the top of & see the views.


view of Padrã dos Descobrimentos in Lisbon


  • Pasteis de Belem

Cost of entry: none

Hours: 8am-11pm

This pastry shop was created by a member of the monastery back in the 1830’s, after the members of the clergy were expelled from their monastery. They sold the sweet pastries that visitors grew used to enjoying at the monastery, and thus this shop became a landmark in the Belem district of Lisbon for traveling visitors. You can either wait in a long line to purchase the custard tart pastries to eat in the shop, or save yourself time and instead go to the to-go line to purchase a box for take away.

Bairro Alto

  • Experiente Bairro Alto nightlife –

The Bairro Alto neighborhood of Lisbon is best known for its nightlife scene. During the day, the area is serene and vibrantly transforms in the evening.

  • Church of Sao Roque –

Cost of entry: none

Hours: 8:30am-5pm

Previously a Jesuit church (in the 1500’s), this church maintains its Jesuit style exterior, however the interior of the Sao Roque church is what makes this a must-see place in Lisbon. Be sure to check out the Chapel of St John inside. It’s made entirely of gold & it was the most expensive chapel in all of Europe at the time it was commissioned.

  • Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara

Cost of entry: none

Hours: n/a

This miradouro has a beautiful garden that has become a popular meeting point. It can be especially crowded at dusk when the view from the miradouro is at its most beautiful, so be sure to arrive early enough to grab a good resting place.


view from Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara in Lisbon (2)


  • Church of Santa Catarina –

Cost of entry: free

Hours: depends on services

The Church of Santa Catarina can easily be missed as it has a bland exterior. But inside, the church is home to a gorgeous golden baroque decor and rococo stucco ceiling. The entire place is a masterpiece of craftsmanship.


  • Rossio Square / Praça de D. Pedro IV

The Rossio Square, which was created during the Middle Age, is located in the very center of Lisbon, and is the liveliest part of the city. The square is teeming with monuments, cafes & restaurants and shops to explore. It’s a perfect spot to hang out with friends and people watch.

  • Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Lift) –

Cost of Entry: €5.15-€6.65

Hours: 7am-10pm

This 45 meter high famous elevator in the city of Lisbon was originally created to connect two neighborhoods to one another (lower streets of Baixa to Bairro Alto) so that pedestrians didn’t have to walk up and down the steep hills multiple times each day. The Elevador de Santa Justa is a drastic dark color, compared to Lisbon’s colorful buildings. This is because the design was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Elevador de Santa Justa is also known as the Carmo Lift.

  • Praça do Comércio – Town Hall Square

Praça do Comércio is Lisbon’s main square next to the Tagus River. It was formerly used to unload goods from ships in the river. The square is surrounded by what was previously a royal palace (which was destroyed after the 1755 earthquake & subsequent environmental destruction), it now houses restaurants & shops below.

Praça do Comércio is a symbol of Portugal’s wealth & ambitions. The statues surrounding the square are notable figures in Portugal’s history, and the square itself is seen as the symbolic entrance to the city via the Arco da Rua Augusta; also known as the Door to Lisbon’ (see next item)

Praça do Comércio Lisbon travel guide

  • Arco da Rua Augusta

Cost of Entry: to climb to the top €3

Hours: to climb to the top, 9am-7pm

This arch leads from the Praco do Commercio to the main shopping boulevard of the city & heart of Lisbon. The arch was a part of the recovery from the 1755 earthquake & commemorates the city’s loss. Visitors can pay to climb to the top of the arch.


  • Carmo Convent –

Cost of entry: €5

Hours: 10am-6pm Monday-Saturday

One of the best places we visited in Lisbon was the Carmo Convent. It’s a medieval convent that was destroyed during the 1755 earthquake (are you seeing a pattern of how the earthquake shattered the city?) What makes the Carmo Convent incredible is how stable the remnants of the convent are. You are able to walk through what still stands of this religious building. It’s so quiet within that you can easily forget you are in the heart of a bustling city.

inside of Carmo Convent in Lisbon


  • Largo do Chiado –

Largo do Chiado is a quaint & quiet square that was recommended for us to visit by our hosts. It’s near the Carmo Convent with great shops to explore in the area. A perfect place to catch your breath from walking the hills of Lisbon.

  • Rua Nova do Carvalho –

Rua Nova do Carvalho is a street that is known as“Pink Street”. It’s an internationally known nightlife hotspot. The street & surrounding area used to be considered Lisbon’s Red Light District. While great to experience for nightlife, I would not recommend staying near here as it’s noisy well into the morning.

  • Miradouro de Santa Catarina –

Miradouro de Santa Catarina is great as it’s not often visited by tourists. There are many cafes & restaurants nearby with views too.

  • Timeout Market

Cost of entry: free

Hours: 10am-12am

Timeout Market is a massive food market and music venue. It also has multiple bars. A perfect place to enjoy a nice meal & experience local cuisine in Lisbon.

Outskirts of Lisbon

  • Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte –

I dare you to say the name of this miradouro five times fast – what a mouthful! If you travel outside of the main part of Lisbon, make time to ascend Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte for the best view of Lisbon. From here you’ll have a panoramic view of the city & Castelo Sao Jorge. It’s great at sunrise to see the soft morning glow over Lisbon.

  • Oceanário de Lisboa/Lisbon’s Oceanarium –

Cost of entry: €19

Hours: 10am-6pm, last entry at 5pm

Lisbon’s Oceanarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world, and the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. If you’re traveling with children, it would be a great place to spend a day.

  • Museu Nacional do Azulejo/National Tile Museum –

Cost of entry: €5

Hours: 10am-6pm, Tuesday-Sunday

Lisbon is known for its beautiful tile work throughout the city so it’s no wonder there is an entire museum dedicated to it. The Museu Nacional do Azulejo is located within a Baroque style 16th century convent (Madre de Deus). Every inch of the inside of this museum is covered with azulejos (tiles), and the museum goes through different types of tiles throughout the ages You can download their mobile app & use it like an audio guide while there (just bring your own headphones).

tiles of Lisbon Portugal

  • Basilica da Estrela –

Located in the Rato neighborhood, the Basilica da Estrela is a Neoclassical church. It’s known for its interior that has pink, grey, yellow & black marble. If you’re in the area it’s worth a stop to check out.

  • Mercado de Campo de Ourique

Cost of entry: free

Hours: 10am-11pm

Mercado de Campo de Ourique is slightly smaller than the Timeout market. It’s less crowded than Timeout too. I’d suggest stopping here for lunch. The market offers fresh food outside and prepared foods inside- from portugese tapas, to sushi. Note – Some places/stands are closed on Sundays.

Where to stay in Lisbon

Lisbon Neighborhoods

Here are the best neighborhoods in Lisbon that you should stay in when you travel here:

  • Alfama– known for its picturesque streets
  • Chiado – an enchanting area with cute cafes & tiny boutiques
  • Baixa– located in downtown Lisbon, and has plenty of shopping available
  • Bairro Alto– known for its vibrant nightlife scene. The area literally transforms from a quiet area in the day to a party hub at night
  • Lapa & Madragoa– Lapa & Madragoa are both much quieter areas compared to much of Lisbon

Day Trips outside of Lisbon

including Sintra!

Lisbon is wonderfully close to many other beautiful destinations that can easily be reached for day trip excursions. Here are the best places to visit outside of Lisbon:

We spent one full day with Lisbon Riders, a local tour company, and absolutely loved it! We took their Sinta & Cascais full day tour. I would highly recommend using them as your tour guide if you would prefer to sit back, relax & enjoy the scenery while someone else drives you around.


Sintra, Portugal:

Sintra is only 18 miles from Lisbon, about a one hour car ride, and even shorter train ride, from Lisbon. There are three main royal palaces and castles to explore, each of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Throughout Sintra there are extensive gardens & colorful architecture.

It should be noted that there are many smaller palaces to check out in Sintra. However, they are more easily accessed by car.

While in Sintra, be sure to stop in to Piriquita. It’s a famous bakery in the area, and has the original custard tarts that true Lisboans know of.

*Note – The main palaces are closed on Christmas Day & New Years Eve

Cascais, Portugal

Cascais is a charming fishing village with soft sand beaches that’s only a 40 minute train ride from Lisbon. It is home to the wealthy, but still maintains its small town charm

Azenhas do Mar

Azenhas do Mar is another gorgeous little seaside town in Portugal.

Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca is Europe’s most Western point. It’s fun to drive to and stand out near the edge for pictures.

Boca de Inferno

Boca de Inferno translates to the “Devils Mouth”. If you are already visiting Cascais, this is a quick stop to see this stunning Tacliffside. Waves crash into the cliffs and form a spectacular view of the coastline.

Don't Forget to Pack:

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Maxi European Dress

Travel Cutlery Set

Portable Charger

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Travel guide to Lisbon - things to do in Lisbon Portugal, an epic travel guide to Lisbon, Blue Eyed Compass
things to do in Lisbon Portugal, an epic travel guide to Lisbon, Blue Eyed Compass
Travel guide to Lisbon - things to do in Lisbon Portugal, an epic travel guide to Lisbon, Blue Eyed Compass
things to do in Lisbon Portugal, an epic travel guide to Lisbon, Blue Eyed Compass

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San Diego’s Best Sustainable & Holistic Businesses

San Diego’s Best Sustainable & Holistic Businesses

San Diego’s Best Sustainable & Holistic Businesses

San Diegos Best Holistic and Sustainable Businesses, Blue Eyed Compass

San Diego is a hub for entrepreneurs and exciting new businesses, so it’s no wonder that with our laidback, outdoor lifestyles that San Diegans love to support new and unique sustainable and holistic businesses.

You’ll want to save this post, because I have a feeling that this list will continue to grow as San Diegans continue to outshine the nation in sustainable businesses.

Check out these holistic San Diego businesses to support local, environmental and health conscious groups!

San Diego Holistic & Sustainable Businesses:

– Saffron & Sage –

Saffron and Sage is a holistic health club. They have a holistic wellness practice, multi-sensory wellness classes and offer a variety of in-house and highly vetted lines of clean beauty and body products. It’s like walking into a yoga studio combined with your Sephora and doctors office, but with the most calming and zen atmosphere that you could think of. The owner, Cristin has created a beautiful synchrony of modern medicine with holistic wellness.

Saffron & Sage offers a monthly membership that includes access to all of their services or you can drop in for appointments and classes. They also offer seasonal educational workshops throughout the year.

You can find Saffron & Sage at 2555 State Street San Diego, CA 92101

– Remedy Pharmacy –

Located in Little Italy, Remedy Pharmacy is exactly that – a pharmacy! But with a unique and holistic twist. They provide a holistic and personalized approach to medicine. Remedy Rx offers consultations for pharmacogenetic analysis, medication analysis, birth control consultations and more! You can pay a small fee to meet with a trained professional who will actually tell you how your medicines will react to your individual body because they evaluate you as a whole entity, and not just another customer. They also offer herbalist consultations, vaccines, and over the counter items such as skincare items and supplements. And trust me when I tell you that you’ll want to go in and explore this space. Their interior is beautifully done and is so well organized. Remedy Rx is female run and owned too!

You can find Remedy Rx at 320 West Cedar Street Suite 103 San Diego, CA 92101

– Eco Chic Salon –

Eco Chic Salon is San Dieos’ first full service vegan, eco-friendly,  and toxic free hair & nail salon. For anyone who enjoys treating themselves to a good manicure and likes to maintain beautiful hair care, Eco Chic Salon needs to become your go-to spot. If you didn’t already know, salons can be extremely toxic for your body and very wasteful. From the chemicals used in nail polish to the hair dyes used, and the amount of single use items being tossed daily. Eco Chic has completely transformed what a salon can be. They offer eco-friendly, 100% vegan products inside of a colorful yet relaxing environment.

Every step of the salon process has been meticulously groomed for their customers, as they believe that beauty and wellness are synonymous. From proper recycling of ALL materials at the end of each day, to minimal water use, and so much more, Eco Chic truly cares about their carbon footprint and having a sanctuary for toxic-free care.

Most importantly they care about their customers beauty and well-being (because the two don’t have to be exclusive!). The salon is certified sustainable through Green Circle Salons(GCS). Which to you as a customer means that GCS collects, recycles and repurposes their salong waste, and diverts it from landfills and waterways. Eco Chic Salon is also ammonia, PPD and resorcinol free (all three of these are incredibly toxic chemicals typically found in hair color), and their retail products contain high quality organic ingredients that are made ethically.

I can’t speak highly enough about Eco Chic, quite possibly because I’ve seen and met the owners on multiple occasions at local events in San Diego (which has shown that they immerse themselves into our community!).

You can find Eco Chic Salon at 1727 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92103

Eco Chic Salon, San Diego Sustainable businesses
Eco Chic Salon, San Diego CA Sustainable Businesses
Eco Chic Salon, San Diego Sustainable businesses 1

– Shop Good –

Shop Good is a clean beauty skincare shop and spa. Owner, Leah, is an expert in non-toxic beauty and all natural skincare. Each product sold in this store is carefully vetted by its ingredients and tested by the staff. Shop Good is also a spa and offers 100% customizable, holistic facials, known as the Shop Good Facial. Their other spa options include brow waxing, sugaring and beauty & wellness consultations.

You can find Shop Good at  3665 Paseo Place, Suite 960 San Diego CA 92130

– Tribe Medicine –

Within one of San Diego’s best vegan cafes and yoga studios is Tribe Medicine, a naturopathic and functional medicine practice, with a focus on women’s hormonal health and fertility. While I haven’t personally utilized Dr. Leah Gordon (at least not yet), I have only ever heard raving reviews about her services as a naturopathic doctor.
You can find Tribe Medicine at 7650 Girard Avenue Suite 401 La Jolla CA

– Organifi –

Organifi is a superfood supplement retailer that provides some of THE best tasting & best for you products on the market. The level of scrutiny that they put behind any of the ingredients in their products is incredible and comforting. While they may be an online marketplace, their office is located in San Diego and they embody what so many San Diegans stand for – community, empowerment and being healthy. I can personally recommend their Green Juice, Red Juice, Pure, Immunity and Chocolate Gold (in fact, I may have an obsession with their Chocolate Gold and I drink their Green Juice every morning).

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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San Diegos Best Holistic and Sustainable Businesses, Blue Eyed Compass
San Diegos Best Holistic and Sustainable Businesses, Blue Eyed Compass
San Diegos Best Holistic and Sustainable Businesses, Blue Eyed Compass
San Diegos Best Holistic and Sustainable Businesses, Blue Eyed Compass

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Top Craft Cocktail Bars in San Diego

Top Craft Cocktail Bars in San Diego

Top Craft Cocktail Bars in San Diego

It’s no wonder that there is no shortage of unique & delicious craft cocktail bars in San Diego. As one of the best vacation destinations in the United States, the city has become known for its incredible bar and restaurant industry, keeping locals and visitors excited to try the best quality & most ambient-filled places.

Below is a list of the best cocktails bars in San Diego. And don’t worry, in San Diego our bars don’t choose between ambiance and amazing quality. Here we pride ourselves on outdoing both. So no matter which location you choose to frequent, know that you’ll be getting a feast for the eyes & your taste buds.

Here are the:

San Diego’s Top Craft Cocktails Bars


Starlite calls itself a hidden gem, and is true to its word. Few non-locals would happen to wander past their front doors, as it’s not central to the Gaslamp district or Pacific Beach’s beachside bars. And honestly, I’m more than okay with that. Starlite has an incredible architecture design starting with a hexagonal hallway and a sunken bar, and embedded lights throughout to create a truly ethereal experience. Their bar staff craft amazing cocktails & they keep an incredible menu of spirits. Another perk is that they serve drinks until 1am and food until midnight. It’s by far one of the best places to get a late night meal paired with a beautiful cocktail.


Located in Hillcrest, Trust Restaurant is community forward, with a focus on a fine dining experience that feels approachable. This may be the spot to round out a date night before heading out for the evening in Hillcrest, North Park or University Heights. Come in for fresh, local food fare and order yourself a craft cocktail here… and maybe one of their beautiful desserts as well.


Ironside is part of a restaurant group called Consortium Holdings, who creates “public gathering spaces that help cultivate our neighborhoods through the fostering of creativity, dialogue, questions and conversations”. I don’t often put entire quotes in these posts, but their dedication to the San Diego community is felt throughout their spaces. Ironside is well known for their oyster & seafood menu, but as a vegetarian I go for the cocktails & interior design. With their large, open spaced warehouse-like interior that hosts soft teals and the perfect lighting, you’ll feel like you’re under the sea here.

Lion’s Share

Lion’s Share is known for serving uncommon meat options on their charcuterie boards, but more importantly for their deliciously fresh cocktails. Their staff prides themselves on giving customers their undivided attention. When you visit Lion’s Share be sure to keep an eye out for their unique artwork that will be sure to spark up conversation.

Kettner Exchange

Kettner Exchange has become a San Diego must visit due to their beautiful rooftop lounge, that is elegant, yet approachable. The ambiance adds an air of austerity that effortlessly pairs with their refreshing cocktail menu. Seasonal libations and views of Little Italy make Kettner Exchange perfect for an evening out.

The Grass Skirt

The name may give it away, but The Grass Skirt is a Pacific Beach tiki bar staple. This place has some of the best cocktails in San Diego that are perfect for celebratory occasions. It’s also one of the city’s speakeasies, so guests can enjoy the element of finding their way into the restaurant and reward themselves with a tropical cocktail.

Born & Raised

for table side cocktails

Born & Raised is praised as being the best steakhouse in San Diego, but I prefer the title of best cocktails in San Diego instead. Considered to be both swanky and elegant, I feel it’s best to enjoy your craft cocktail on their rooftop with panoramic views of Little Italy. Born & Raised may possibly have the largest scotch menu, but if you prefer a classic martini with your meal you can have it prepared on a rolling cart right at your table.


best saki list

A bit outside of the typical tourist area of San Diego in the Kensington neighborhood lies Tanuki Sake Bar. Tanuki is a great cocktail bar in San Diego, and you can feel confident with that as the owner was once the chef at San Diego’s upscale restaurant, Nobu. Tankui offers over 100 different saki’s, and is also a coffee bar by day!

False Idol

fun cocktails

False Idol hosts a fully immersed environment that celebrates the tiki lifestyle. Their cocktails are beautifully made and range from classic to tiki-eccentric. And better yet, False Idol is another speakeasy bar for you to explore in San Diego.

Craft & Commerce

Another Little Italy top cocktail bar is Craft & Commerce. Craft & Commerce embodies that feeling of ‘enjoying a craft cocktail while lounging in your library staring deep into your taxidermy work’. And not to reveal too much, you could visit both Craft & Commerce and False Idol in one afternoon.


Kindred boasts its incredible cocktail menu alongside a delicious vegan menu. Their food menu often reflects their cocktail menu and aligns with seasonal availability, giving patrons a seasonally exciting menu to choose from. Located in South Park, Kindred has some of the most bold and eye-catching interior design in San Diego.

You & Yours

vodka & gin tasting

Personally, I love You & Yours as it’s a female run business that has masterfully intertwined delicious spirits with a beautifully designed tasting room. The tasting room is located in East Village and offers the city’s best vodka and gin tasting.

Sycamore Den

late night

Sycamore Den is a neighborhood staple in Normal Heights that serves classic craft cocktails while embracing a ‘feel at home’ atmosphere.. This place is loved for its 1970’s interior design that pays homage to the living room style of our grandparents, offering a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy your drink.

The Guild Bar

The Guild Bar lays inside the lobby of one of San Diego’s newer boutique hotels, The Guild. The entire hotel was previously a YMCA that’s been completely transformed into one of San Diego’s top hotels, while maintaining its historic 1920’s exterior. Visitors can enjoy their craft cocktails at the chic lobby Guild bar or at Luca, their outdoor Mediterranean restaurant.


Located within the historic US Grant hotel, lies Rendezvous, a vintage French cocktail bar in San Diego’s Gaslamp district. This hotel bar offers a historic feeling as it was opened just after Prohibition was repealed and continues to offer the quality of service and cocktails that many feel has been left in the past.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Travel Guide to Kauai Hawaii

Travel Guide to Kauai Hawaii

Travel Guide to Kauai Hawaii

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!  You can view our disclosure page for additional details

Kauai is one of the smaller islands that travelers frequent in Hawaii. It’s known as the ‘Garden Isle’, and for good reason – this island is extremely lush & still feels a bit wild. We loved the wildness of Kauai, especially since it’s the oldest of Hawaii’s islands, and travelers can still enjoy a less crowded Hawaiin getaway (compared to Oahu’s Waikiki beach).

Who is Kauai best for?

Kauai is best for those looking to explore the great outdoors. There are endless hikes that lead to gorgeous view points, and stunning beaches worth the two hour drive to get to for beautiful snorkeling & scuba diving.

While you can, of course, enjoy some epic lounge time at a five star hotel in Kauai, if you visit here you should enjoy the lush landscape that locals proudly boast about.

Getting to, in and around Kauai

As it’s an island, you need to get to Kauai via airplane. You can fly from another Hawaiian airline or from the US mainland.

If you need help finding great airline deals save your destinations & dates here.

The Kauai airport is quite small, which makes it easy to navigate for travelers who feel anxious when traveling. The airport is shaped like the letter ‘T’ with the airport gates essentially being open spaced/outdoors.

Visitors to Kauai will immediately notice that the whole of Kauai is stunningly green as soon as they walk out of the airport doors. If you’ve visited any other Hawaiin islands then you know there will be frequent sightings of wild chickens. Well in Kauai, the wild chickens are even more prevalent!

Enough about the adorable wildlife… Kauai does not have a ton of infrastructure (which is something to love about the island), so you will need to rent a car if you wish to explore the island beyond your hotel.

If you’re a fan of saving money & good deals, then I’d recommend renting a car through your Costco membership.


There seems to be two versions of getting around Kauai; either seamlessly with no traffic or being stuck in traffic behind the same car for hours. This is because Kauai has only a few main roads on the island. Single lane roads, not highways. So, when it’s commuting time for the locals, traffic will be dense. Keep that in mind when you drive around on your trip to Kauai. *Also, as much as we innately dislike traffic, try to keep an open mind & love the fact that Kauai is still somewhat underdeveloped compared to its counterparts like Oahu & Maui. You can still enjoy a more laid back and authentic time in Kauai than you can elsewhere. Embrace that!

Top things to do in Kauai

Every Hawaiin island has so much to offer to travelers, and Kauai is no different. Except, think of Kauai as the wild, older sister to the other islands. There are over 60 beaches & so many less traveled hikes waiting for you to explore them!

This list of top things to do in Kauai is in no particular order, so be sure to create a map to visualize the best way to spend your time here.

Enjoy cocktails at Lava Lava Beach Club

Located at the Kauai Shores Hotel Club, Lava Lava Beach Club is a beautiful mix of hotel comfort without the extreme price tag, plus it’s the only ‘toes in sand’ restaurant you may find in Kauai.

I’m still in awe over their ‘Skinny Dipper’ cocktail that has fresh passion fruit juice & mint. Order one of those bad boys and sit at one of the tables in the sand under their gently swaying string of lights. All while enjoying your view of the ocean, Kauai’s mountains, and live music strumming in the background. 

*Dress is low key

Catch sunrise on the beach in Ka’paa

The sun rises near Ka’paa so it’s the best area to catch a gorgeous sunrise 


See Kalalau Valley from above

Drive to the Kalalau lookout & witness the view point that’s been in many feature films. This peak into the Kalalau Valley is what any novice Hawaiin traveler would expect to experience, and an excellent way to fall in love with Hawaii easily.

View Waimea Canyon from above & below!

Waimea canyon is known as ‘The Grand Canyon of the Pacific’! And it does not disappoint.

It’s located about one and a half hour drive from Kapaa. If you aren’t a fan of hiking you can enjoy the gorgeous views of the canyon at the Waimea Lookout. There is a short trail to get to the good view point & it can get muddy, but is only a short five minute walk from the parking lot.

There are multiple hikes down into the canyon. I almost always use the All Trails app to find hikes when traveling. You can find Waimea Canyon hikes here.

Relax on Kekaha Beach

I love that Hawaii has a variety of beach types, but I know many who prefer those miles of soft sand, smooth water type of beaches – which is exactly what Kekaha beach is like.

Spend an afternoon lounging at Kekaha’s long, soft sand beach and teal, calm waters.

When you’re ready for refreshments at Kekaha go to…


Waimea for lunch

There are only a handful of local joints in Waimea, and I can happily recommend the thai food place. They offer fresh smoothies & coconuts which will make any vegetarian traveler happy.

Visit the Na’pali Coast

Visitors can explore the 15 mile stretch of the Na Pali Coast from a boat or hikes. The hikes are quite strenuous & will require careful planning to do, where as a visit by boat is much more manageable for many.

Capt Andy’s was recommended by quite a few people when we researched which boating company to use in Kauai. And they have a great compilation resource about hiking around Na Pali here

Be adventurous & get to Palihua Beach

I love this wild beach. The journey to get to Palihua beach is a blast (worth the laughs & jostling) and you never know what kind of weather you will get here.

Be sure your rental car can handle terrain, as driving to Palihua beach requires three miles of dirt road and then some sand. In fact, once you find the large tree near the beach, park your car there. We found a poor guy who tried to drive the sand dunes & got his car stuck. Insert hilarious video of Marcus helping with the car.

Palihua is a long, sandy beach with gorgeous views. However, as it’s on a more secluded side of the island has the possibility of lots of wind.

Don’t let the dirt road or the wind deter you. As Palihua is more difficult to reach, it means you will basically have this beach to yourself. If you know of or have experienced Over Tourism before then you know that having a beautiful Hawaiian beach to yourself is a rarity.

Stock up on Kauai Coffee

Once you leave Palihua beach you’ll be close to the Kauai Coffee Company! Yes, there will be tour groups here, and there is a strong possibility it will be a lot of elderly, but there are free samples of every flavor they offer, and typically a bulk discount. Imagine, a one stop shop for all of your souvenir gifts for friends & family!


Hike the Sleeping Giant Trail for sunrise

I’m a sunrise lover, sorry to those who aren’t fans of early birds. But, I promise hiking in mud, in the dark, is worth it to get the sunrise views at the top of the Sleeping Giant Trail.

We took the Nounou Mountain WEST trail, so I can’t speak to the other trails to the top. The west trail was muddy, involved rock climbing (not very high, at most four feet tall) and stellar views. And I can’t forget all of the wild chickens we saw!

Check out the viewpoints of Wailua River State Park

Soak in the views of the Wailua river on one side & ocean views on the other


Spend a day (or more!) in Hanalei Bay

Hanalei definitely feels like a local neighborhood. Located on the northern side of the island, it requires driving a winding road to get down to the bay. En route you’ll experience stunning views and quite a few scenic overlooks.

*If the weather is rainy or stormy the main road to get to Hanalei Bay could be closed.

Relax on the beach at Hanalei Bay – you may even catch a local surfing competition. The north side of Kauai has much moodier weather than you may anticipate any Hawaiin island to have. It reminded me of the beaches in the US Pacific Northwest, but the low key vibe is extremely relaxing, so worth a visit regardless of clouds.

Taste the local flare at the Hanalei Bay food trucks

While all of the food trucks had delicious sounding menus we chose Fresh Bite & Tumeric for vegan & vegetarian friendly fares. My advice, try the house made hot sauce from Fresh Bite (I may have tried to convince them to sell me a bottle of it, it’s that good).


Make your way to Makua “Tunnels” Beach

Makua Beach is best known for its stellar snorkeling, and gorgeous backdrop of the island. It’s located near Hanalei Bay, so plan your trip to this area accordingly. Parking can be difficult to find at the actual beach, so if you see a spot at Haena beach park there and walk to Makua.

Enjoy Kauapea Beach

Kauapea beach is a bit difficult to get to but so worth its secluded views. Set your GPS to the trailhead at Secret Beach. You can park your car along the dirt path. Wear shoes you’re comfortable getting dirty since you have to hike down a muddy path to get to the beach. (I did it in men’s flip flops – typical hawaiin lifestyle where I forgot my shoes at home – and was fine on the hike down, albeit shaky). Once down to the bottom you’ll enjoy a relaxing afternoon soaking up the sun on this secluded & pristine beach.

Sample local kombuchas at Potions

Potions is a kombucha bar located near Kapaa town. Each one is handmade by the owner & delicious.


Walk around Kapaa town

The store fronts in Kapaa town are reminiscent of an old western town but with far more color. Here you can find restaurants, water adventure rentals, an antique shop & so much more.


Walk along Shipwreck beach & the Heritage Trail

Located on the Hyatt’s property, Shipwreck beach is the start of the Heritage Trail – if you go to one, you might as well visit both. The trail offers beautiful coastal views & is a nice easy walk along the cliffs. Know that the currents at Shipwreck beach are powerful so it’s not ideal for casual ocean swimmers.

Snorkel at Poi’pu beach

Poipu beach is such a fun & cute beach area. There will be more tourists here, but that’s because the water is clear and calm. Be sure to bring your snorkel gear to Poipu! There are two bay areas that combine to form Poi’pu beach. One is best for children & novice snorkelers… I’ll be frank, I’m a fan of calm waters for snorkeling, so feel confident knowing I swam in both. Visitors can easily find parking across the street.

Interested in sustainable travel? Learn about how you can help prevent Overtourism

Where to Stay in Kauai

You can read about where you should stay in Kauai, Hawaii in this post:

Where to stay in Kauai, Hawaii

Tips for visiting Kauai

✔ Stock up on fresh food & snacks at Papaya’s Natural Food Store, outside of Kapaa town. Kauai is expensive at many restaurants, so enjoy local fruits & vegetables and splurge your money on water adventures instead. Papaya’s has a fresh made to order area too that was great for our flight home.


✔ There is only one road to all places on Kauai, so there may be traffic. Plan your days accordingly so you don’t waste time sitting behind the wheel of your car.


✔ Kauai is a much more laid back hawaiin island compared to Oahu and even Maui. I would suggest visiting Kauai if you are interested in lush settings, lots of outdoor activities & discovering hidden beaches.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Where to stay in Kauai

Where to stay in Kauai

Where to stay in Kauai

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!  You can view our disclosure page for additional details

There is no one answer for where you should stay in Kauai. The best answer you could get would be- it depends! It will depend on your personal preference & travel style based on the type of accommodation you prefer, what activities you want to do while there and the overall vibe of the area you’d like to experience.

Overview of the areas/regions of Kauai island

There are four main regions to the island of Kauai:

North Shore

South Shore

East Coast &

West Side

Each area of the island has its own unique vibe, typical weather & sights to see.

Keep reading for details on each area to help you choose where to stay in Kauai.

North Shore

South Shore

East Coast

West Side

Hanalei Bay











Don't Forget to Pack:

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Zip Up Snorkel Top

Flowy Boho Dress

Reusable Cloth Bags

Where to stay in Kauai


✔ beautiful, lush greenery & mountain backdrops

✔ waterfalls

rainy from November through March


Most well known for Hanalei Bay, the north shore area of Kauai is the most verdant on the island. Upon entering this area you’ll see waterfalls and mountainscapes as your backdrop, and be well within the more popular beaches such as Kee & Haena.

*Keep in mind that ‘rainy’ weather in Hawaii can often mean rain for a few hours & then sunshine soon after.

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✔ sunny & dry year round

✔ plenty of beaches to enjoy

✔ lots of dining available

beaches are popular with visitors, so they can feel crowded compared to other parts of the island


The south shore of Kauai is home to the warmest & driest parts of Kauai. It’s definitely popular with travelers, but you can’t beat the stunning beaches here.

Interested in sustainable travel? Learn about how you can help prevent Overtourism


✔ more affordable lodging compared to other areas of the island

✔ in between the North Shore & West Side, so is convenient to access most of the island

many beaches here are local – some think they are less beautiful/accessible compared to the North & South parts of the island


The east coast of Kauai is the second most popular area of the island which means there are lots of accommodation options. It’s also close to many beautiful areas such as Wailua Falls & Wailua River and the Fern Grotto


✔ great home base for those looking to do lots of hiking

much more isolated than the other parts of Kauai


You could technically split the west side into northwest & southwest.

The northwest area, also known as the Napali coast, is essentially inaccessible save for boats, which makes it a beautiful place to experience as there is no infrastructure there. Whereas the southwest part of the west side is dryer and has beaches like the stunning Polihale beach.

This area isn’t built for tourists, so it still maintains that local Hawaiin vibe.

With so many beautiful options to choose from where would you choose to stay in Kauai?
Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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