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Les Petites Choses

H A W A I I - M A U I

Kelven Ng

Our trip to Hawaii included a stop for 3 nights in Maui. Originally I was thinking that a week in one location for Hawaii would be a good idea but J really thought otherwise so being the wise man I aim to be, I listened. So glad that we got a chance to go to Maui too. This island has a very different feel compared to Oahu. The country side was beautiful and you see a lot more of it. Maui just felt more wide open and sprawled out compared to Oahu. The beaches that we visited were gorgeous and the water pristine. Seriously, we thought the snorkeling right in front of our hotel to be the best of any location in Oahu that we found. There were a few things that I wished we had time to do but skipped on including doing the drive along the Road to Hana and watching the sunset from above the clouds at Haleakala but it gives us an excuse to come back. Being in Kaanapali, the drive to get to Hana would take close to 5 hours one way without any stops and we didn’t have the time.

We stayed at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villa resort right by Kaanapali (north west point of the island). The hotel was only opened about 3 weeks before our arrival and you could tell right away that the décor and finishing’s were far more modern than the vast majority of hotels in Hawaii. By the time we paid for the rental, only 2 bedroom suites were available so we took it. When we arrived, we were shocked at how open and big the suite was (approximately 1,200 square feet). Equipped with a full kitchen and two full baths, this suite made coming back from the beach a nice and relaxing retreat.
During our stay in Maui, we made it a goal for ourselves to find some beaches that had sea turtles and swim with one. Alas, we were not able to find one but we did visit several beaches and snorkeling locations that were beautiful. While we searched exclusively for sunrises on Oahu, being set in Kaanapali meant that we were going to be restricted to sunset photos while in Maui. Not that we minded at all though – it meant more of an opportunity to sleep in.

Kaanapali Beach


Luckily, our hotel was located right on Kaanapali Beach. This beach was beautiful, nicer than anything we came across in Oahu. There were some driftwood/logs there that made for the perfect object for long exposures (see below). While a bit busy, it was no where near the density that we saw on Waikiki Beach. This might have been our favorite location all trip. It helped that the sunset here was gorgeous and only a few steps away from our hotel too. Nothing beats being able to set up and take your desired sunset photos and then take a short walk back to the hotel for a few drinks and some dinner.
This beach transformed for sunset and I could not have been happier with the sight we saw. The smooth sand and beach logs were a perfect compliment to the amazing sunsets we saw practically every day in Maui.
Oh and did I mention that this beach also had amazing clear water with lots of sea life? Perfect place for snorkeling! All videos taken with the Gopro Hero 5 (love this thing).

Kapalua Bay


Just north of Kaanapali Beach is Kapalua Bay, a very small cove that bears witness to a fantastic sunset. It is also where the restaurant Merriman’s is located. The tide was a little high on the evening that we came here so we had to trek through some slippery rocks in order to get to our sunset location to set up the tripod. Having said that, it was definitely worth it. We didn’t end up swimming here since we got there right around sunset however.

Honolua Bay


Further north from Kapalua was Honolua Bay. There is no central parking lot to get here but when your GPS tells you that you are close, it may be time to find some parking. We just followed some of the other cars that seemingly were parking in the middle of nowhere. Once you get out of the car, you have to walk a little while in the forest before you start to see the rocky beach of Honolua Bay. The water was murky near the shore but as soon as you swam about 30 feet out, you could see lots of sea life. There were also areas with some impressive coral too.

Black Rock Beach


Our hunt for sea turtles brought us just a little further south from our hotel – Black Rock Beach. This beach was pristine and the water very clear. This was a great location for snorkeling too as the waves were not too rough at all for entry. The beach was fairly quiet too but then again we went during the middle of the day when it was really frickin’ hot. Finding parking to get to this beach was a bit of a doozy though. You end up having to park at the Sheraton hotel parking and will have to pay. Just something to be aware of if you plan on coming here. It may be easier to arrange for a shuttle from your hotel.

Food



As you can tell from our previous posts, we love food. We knew that we were going to get great food options in Oahu but Maui was a bit of an unknown to us. We received some wonderful recommendations though and did our own research which ended up with us having some of the best food on our trip. Here are some of the places we visited.

Mama’s Fish House
Why don’t we begin with one of the most famous restaurants on the island? Mama’s Fish House is located in Paia (just a little east of the airport) and the beginning of the Road to Hana. We were recommended by several of our friends to go here so I made sure to make a reservation early. When we arrived and saw the setting, we could see why there was so much noise around this restaurant. This place was happening! We arrived for our 5:30pm reservation so that we could watch the sunset as we ate and we were greeted immediately by valet (the parking lot was full). The walk from the parking lot to the restaurant gave us a good glimpse of why this restaurant is so popular. To say the view is fantastic is not doing the scene justice. You see the green lawn with the palm trees swaying with the sea breeze and then you look out further and all you see is the water. We were sat at a window seat (make sure you ask for this) and had a great dinner while witnessing the sun set behind the palm trees. That is only the view but the food was great too: J had the lobster tails (2 of them) and I had the pistachio crusted mahi mahi stuffed with Dungeness crab (it even came with 1 lobster tail too). Those entrees along with a couple of glasses of good wine and dessert and we were very happy campers.
Tin Roof
I have always liked watching Top Chef. This is a show that showcases chefs with great talent and creativity and they featured a chef from Hawaii by the name of Sheldon Simeon. When we heard that he opened up shop in Maui, we knew we had to put that on our itinerary. The food served here is delicious (so good that we went twice) and so down to earth. The prices were around $15 or less. Nothing fancy here but boy did it taste good. We had the Mochiko Chicken, Pork Belly, Poke Bowl, Garlic Noodles and the Spicy Chicken Sandwich. All of the dishes (except the sandwich) was served on a bed of rice. The mochiko chicken might have been my favorite but J really enjoyed the poke bowl too. We did not have a bad meal here. We also ordered the cup of broth (a hot dashi broth) each time as well because it was so tasty and soothing. Consider ordering online so you can avoid the lineups. The restaurant is very small with very limited seating so be prepared for that as well. There were quite a few people that did take out instead. Thinking about it is just making my mouth water.
Miso Phat
With that name, we did not think we would like this sushi joint as much as we did. Goes to show you that you can’t judge too quickly about anything – especially food. The sushi here was delicious and better than most places we have in Seattle/Vancouver. The rolls were so tasty (though expensive at $24-26 per roll) and the nigiri spot on. I would definitely come back here the next time I am in Maui.
Maui turned out to be the favorite part of our trip to Hawaii. It is much more our pace versus Oahu (maybe it’s just us getting older hah!). The food was great, the views were incredible and the pace of life was just what we were looking for in a vacation. Already thinking of our next trip to Hawaii and Maui is definitely a target destination (along with Kauai). The next time we get here, we definitely plan to do the road to Hana.

H A W A I I - O A H U

Kelven Ng

Hawaii is a place that we have been looking forward to go for a few years now. Friends and strangers have nothing but great things to say about the Islands only 5-6 hours away from us in Seattle but we never committed to a trip until this year. We really needed a break since the last one we had was during our wedding/honeymoon (close to a year ago). With the 1 year anniversary mark coming up, we thought, why not give Hawaii a try? Since this would be our first time in Hawaii, we thought we should go to Honolulu and Maui since they seem to be the most popular amongst tourists looking to do a bit of everything. 

I will focus on Oahu for this post and do Maui separately. Oahu was our first stop on the trip and like many, we focused on finding a place to stay in Waikiki. We wanted to be close to the action and we had a recommendation from some friends on a hotel in the vicinity. We stayed at The Modern Honolulu - it was refreshed, modern, clean and located within close proximity to Waikiki Beach. Though, I am not going to lie, it also helped that we were placed in a room on the top floor with a partial ocean view. 
We started the days very early (4-5am) but felt like we had done and accomplished so much by mid afternoon. Unlike how I travelled back when I lived in Europe, we were out for the night by about 10pm haha. During our stay in Honolulu, we focused on doing 2 things - eat and take photos. The latter required a car but it was great to get out of the crowded city center and head out to the more secluded beaches in the west and east coast. To be honest, we didn't even walk the strip and we barely set foot on Waikiki Beach. We had to see the city's beach but we agreed with the locals that there are far better beach options on the island. Here are some of the spots we visited: 

Makua Beach


This beach was well north west of Waikiki but it was worth visiting. There might have only been about 10 people on the beach at the time which is still surprising for us, given a beach like this would be packed with people in Vancouver/Seattle. We laid on the beach for about an hour before heading out. It was getting very hot! 

What we did not realize was that you could not continue north from here. We wanted to go to the North Shore but the road stops and forces you back south before you can take another highway north. Oops! So for anyone looking to get to the North Shore via the west coast, keep in mind, you can't. 

Electric Beach


A quick stop on the way down south, this beach was definitely busier than Makua Beach by far. It is located across the way from a big industrial plant of some sort. 

North Shore


Having heard about the shrimp trucks and the shaved ice located in Northern Oahu, we knew we wanted to give this area a visit. It took a little while to get up here (a little more than an hour) from the Waikiki area but the drive was not without scenery. You get a glimpse of the countryside of Oahu that is missing from the city. The town was busy when we got there though - in particular, the parking lots where the food trucks were located were jammed. Trying to find a parking spot at Matsumoto's for shaved ice took about half an hour of circling the lot. Traffic aside, this was definitely a worthwhile visit. 

Sandy Beach


If you are a person like us who seeks out sun, you have to head out to one of the beaches on the eastern part of the island to catch the sunrise. Sandy Beach (the actual name) is only about 30 minutes away from Waikiki and not very big but if you enjoy taking photos, there are plenty of subjects to make the sunrise photo interesting.  This might have been our favorite beach in Oahu. The pictures below will tell the story but they don't do the sunrise justice. It was spectacular. Another thing you notice is that the neighborhoods get nicer as you drive out east as compared to the western part of the island. After this sunrise, I quickly realized how much I need a big/little stopper to get the photographs of the sunrises/sunsets that I wanted (I didn’t end up getting one until we arrived in Maui unfortunately).
Poor J... she was asked by another photographer at this spot that day to pose. What she thought would be a 30 second thing turned into a half hour photo session as a model. 

Poor J... she was asked by another photographer at this spot that day to pose. What she thought would be a 30 second thing turned into a half hour photo session as a model. 

She was still in great spirits though :) 

She was still in great spirits though :) 

Makapu’u Beach


Another sunrise was had a little further east North from Sandy Beach, in Makapu’u Beach. Plenty of subjects for long exposure photos in the form of rocks and tide pools were there. We arrived just before 5:30am for sunrise and were surprised that we were not the only ones there (perhaps we really shouldn't have been surprised).

Food


If you know us at all, you know that we are very food driven. Our entire itinerary was based on the places we wanted to eat (this is nothing new as we did the same for Japan, New York, etc). We were very excited for Hawaii simply because of the great things we had heard about the food. Needless to say, we were not disappointed. Here are some of the places we ate: 

Sushi Sho
Prior to arriving in Hawaii, we were excited to learn that Sushi Sho had moved from Tokyo, the location of its three michelin star restaurant, to start anew in Waikiki (in the Ritz Carlton). When we visited Tokyo back in 2013, we tried to book a reservation at Sushi Sho but it was already booked out. We came in with very high expectations but we left somewhat underwhelmed. There will be a separate blog post on Sushi Sho but I will say that the presentation was very impressive. The restaurant seats 10 and all guests are served omakase style. More than just sushi, Sushi Sho is very refined and shows incredible attention to details and the practices of old tradition. We recommend coming here if you can, open reservations are hard to come by so book very early.
Senia
A fairly new restaurant in Waikiki (open about half a year), Senia is said to be an up and coming establishment in an already very saturated food scene. Modern take on Hawaiian ingredients is the specialty of Senia and they do not disappoint. We had multiple dishes that wowed us with their creativity. Most of their dishes are meant to be served family style so we ordered about 6 dishes and went at it. We were stuffed but it was one of the top meals we had in Hawaii. We really enjoyed the atmosphere in the restaurant as well - bustling with activity in an open environment. 
Pig and the Lady
Located right next door to Senia is Pig and the Lady. The menu was a bit of a mixed bag but modern Vietnamese cuisine is the feature here and they do it very well. J had the Pho Bac while I had a Mushroom Papperdelle. We also shared twice fried chicken wings that rivaled Phnom Penh's (in Vancouver). The space is huge but by lunch hour, the restaurant was packed and there was a line forming.

The best part about this restaurant though was that I was able to meet Nikki in person for the first time. We had followed each other at the beginning of our photo journey about 8 years ago and we had talked numerous times about meeting each other but we finally did. She saw me move to London, go through tumultuous times, meet J, and on and on. I saw her photography develop as she documented her love for her two children (it practically felt like I saw them grow up) and now she's a full fledged, professional photographer. It was an honor to meet her in person and I'm so glad we had a chance to catch up.
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Tonkatsu Tomafuji
We love Tonkatsu and there are no restaurants in the Pacific Northwest that do it well (that we have found). So when we go to a city that has a restaurant specializing in this cuisine, we immediately added that to our itinerary. The menu was very reminiscent of our visits to restaurants in Tokyo and Kyoto. Though there was a bit of a wait to get in (about 45 minutes), the food was worth it. Extraordinarily crispy and light on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside, just what we look for in good tonkatsu. Fitted with thinly shredded cabbage and rice, this was the perfect meal to end the day.
Koko Head Cafe
We came upon Koko Head Cafe by accident really - we were grabbing coffee at The Curb after watching the sunrise and we asked the barista where we should go for Breakfast. He mentioned that Koko Head Cafe was very close by and that it was opened by one of the Top Chef contestants a while back. That was all the convincing we needed. We were very pleasantly surprised by the food here. Easily the best breakfast/brunch we had all trip. If you go, get their take on the loco moco (Koko Moco) and their Kelogg crusted french toast. 
It may not look like much from the outside but come here if you like breakfast! 

It may not look like much from the outside but come here if you like breakfast! 

Izakaya Torae Torae
Knowing that Honolulu had an abundance of authentic Japanese food, we set out to have as much of it as we could. Izakaya Torae Torae is set in a fairly inconspicuous location and does not look like much on the outside but the food was spot on (better in my mind than Guu or Suika in Vancouver). We ordered several dishes (as you would in any izakaya) but the standouts were surprisingly the sushi and sashimi. Very high quality fish that satisfied our craving for good sushi (even after eating at Sushi Sho). We also recommend trying the fried jidori chicken skin with teriyaki sauce.
Queen Street Cafe
It was by chance that we landed at this spot for lunch. After the sunrise in Sandy Beach, I realized that I wanted to buy a Lee big/little stopper so that I could get those longer exposures. We drove to a camera store in the Pearl Harbour area where I was very disappointed to hear that the filter I wanted was not in stock. Since we were there already, we thought we would ask the store manager where we should go to eat around the area. He said quote, “if you want to go to a place that all the locals go, go across the street.” We were sold. Everything is made fresh there every day and while we were sat inside, we saw many people come in for take out. I had the bbq chicken with steak and J had the poke salad. Both were so good! The locals know where to eat, listen to them!

Oahu was a great way to start our first trip to Hawaii. Honolulu has so many options for great food and if you are a shopper, this is the city you want to be in. The Ala Moana shopping center is huge! We ate so much we felt that we could burst but that was one of the objectives so… mission accomplished :)

S A N T O R I N I

Kelven Ng

The second half to our week long trip in Greece in June was to a place that we have had on our bucket list ever since we met. Seeing all the amazing photos taken here, we had an idea of the views we would see when we arrived but as usual, we were still left with our jaws on the floor. The temperatures during our stay were HOT though. At one point, the van we were in said it was 42 degrees Celsius!

We spent our 4 days here wandering around the island - seeing Oia but also renting a car and driving around to the surrounding towns. You could see most of the island in a day if you had access to a car so I recommend that if you find yourself in Santorini.
The main town on the island is definitely Oia. The days we spent here were extremely hot. But you do what you gotta do to see that iconic view. We honestly haven't sweat like that before but in the end it was worth it. To say that we saw the view in all of the post cards is pretty special. But, I will say that the view isn't just what you will experience if you want to see a sunset over Oia. What the pictures don't show is the immense amount of people clammering for that same view. It can be a bit stressful, loud, and not at all relaxing. But as in life, it's all in your perspective. We had a fantastic time here.
How we got there?
After our 3 night stay in Mykonos, we hopped on the Seajet ferry from the new port and headed over to Santorini. Costing about $60 EUROs per ticket, the trip is only about 2 hours long and it is comfortable ride. The only issue? Be prepared to be crowded on the way out of the ferry. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you have ever been on one of these ferry rides.

Where we stayed?
It may sound strange to say but our hotel in Santorini was one of the biggest highlights of our trip. San Antonio Santorini is located between the town of Oia and Imerovigli. The hotel is fairly isolated as it sits between in the middle of two cliffs but that is what gave this place such an incredible view. I’ll let the pictures do the talking even though they really don’t it justice.

We spent a lot of time at the hotel during our stay in Santorini simply because you had everything you would want for a honey moon here. Infinity pool overlooking the caldera, great food at the restaurant, incredible weather, outdoor private Jacuzzi and veranda with a view, you name it. The hot temperatures during the week we were in Santorini also gave us good reason to stay in our comfortable room.
What we ate
We have to admit that we ate a lot at our hotel. The food was delicious and surprisingly some of the best we had on our trip. The wine menu was extensive and there was also some great variety in the food menu too. This restaurant was the epitome of a meal with a view.

When we weren't eating at the restaurant, we were wandering around Oia and other towns and snacking away as we went. In all honesty, it was so hot on some days that we did not feel hungry at all. But, we did enjoy more of the grilled squid, roast lamb, and tzatziki with pita bread.
Overall
We are so glad that we had the chance to visit Greece. This was our first time venturing into Europe together since we met and this trip did not disappoint. Greece had always been on our bucket list and we promised that we would go and see it together. The incredible seaviews will remain with us forever. Time to look forward to the rest of Europe :)

M Y K O N O S

Kelven Ng

Wow, it has been a long time since our last entry. The last time we posted, we had just left Australia and moved to another new country and new home. A year and a half has passed! Less than 2 weeks ago, I got to marry my best friend and without a doubt, my better half, J :) But anyway, we'll save that for perhaps another post. This post is to document our recent travels to a place we both held in our bucket list, Greece.

Two days after our wedding day, we had our bags packed and headed from Vancouver to Montreal to Athens and then finally to Mykonos. Needless to say, it was a long, full day of travel. We had only 7 full days there, so we had to make the most of it.

Arriving by plane from Athens, our first stop of the minimoon was in Mykonos. Now, we were told prior to coming that Mykonos was the island known for its parties and night life but despite being hardly the party people, we had to see this town for ourselves. We were here for only 3 days and 3 nights so our time was short but here are some highlights of what we saw during our stay.

What we did

Roaming around Mykonos town was definitely a highlight for us. Streets of white walls, doors of varying shades of blue, a few purple flowers thrown in between - it all sounds too much like everything we've seen in post cards but it is truly what you see here. The streets were laid out in a confusing array of twists and turns and that was by design. The town was constructed in a labyrinth like fashion to fend off invaders in the past and it manifests a charm that you don't see very often. Within Mykonos town are the windmills which stand up on a low cliff that overlooks Little Venice. Both are must sees.
On one of the days, we rented a car and toured the island. Since Mykonos is only about 40 square miles, it was fairly easy to get around quickly. It was the only way to see some of the amazing, pristine beaches strewn across the island. The cost was 45 EUR per day. Alternatives to renting a car would be to rent a scooter or an ATV. Both are good options for exploring and will make parking much easier. Having said that, the streets of Mykonos were quite narrow and a car is definitely safer.
Set upon one of the most stunning places I have ever been to, it was a no brainer to hire a captain to take us on the water for a sunset cruise. We went with Mykonos on Board and asked Artemis to take us on a private sunset tour to surprise J. It was easily one of the biggest highlights of our entire trip. Highly recommend you find Artemis for a cruise if you are ever in Mykonos.

Where we stayed

We stayed at the Roccabella Mykonos and it was perfect. After a long 30+ hours of travel, it was such a welcome sight to arrive at this hotel. Roccabella picked us up from the airport on a private shuttle and when we arrived at the reception of the hotel, we were greeted with smiling faces and a glass of champagne. We were then given a walkthrough of all the amenities of the hotel and finally, we arrived in our room. We opted for a sea view room with rooftop jacuzzi. Needless, we were left wanting nothing more. It made it easy to stay in the hotel if we wanted some time to relax (ie. in the rooftop jacuzzi, overlooking the water, all the while with a glass of champagne) but with Mykonos town being only 10 minutes away, it also made it easy for us to get out and explore. Shuttle rides to and from the hotel were free. The breakfast served every morning was fantastic as well - fruits, greek yogurt, granola, omelettes, coffee, pastries, pretty much anything you could ask for.

What we ate

Mykonos is full of good eats and great restaurants. Katarina's Restaurant in Little Venice within Mykonos Town has an amazing view from the patio that overlooks the water and the windmills. Great place for a few appetizers and drinks while watching the sunset.
Kiki's was a place I really wanted to go based on reading reviews but it was a ways away from our hotel and the town. That was the day that we decided to rent a car and drive around the island. Located north of Mykonos town, Kiki's is a restaurant that apparently does not have any electricity or telephones. In fact, there are no signs pointing to the restaurant at all. Yet, despite all of that, when we got there, there was an hour and a half wait. Good thing there was a great view of the water and the beach below! It was a scorcher that day with temperatures at around 30+ degrees so waiting wasn't fun but while you wait, there is free house wine and water. When we finally sat down for our late lunch, we had a great traditional Greek meal with whole grilled seabass, squid, and raki.
Funky Kitchen came as a recommendation from Rocabella and it was also fun and yummy. It was our first night in Mykonos when we were here so we were admittedly zombie like from our lack of sleep but from what we remember, the service was fantastic and the food was a great twist of modern and traditional Mediterranean.

Aglio E Olio was actually a pleasant surprise for us because we felt like having some Italian after 2 months of essentially not eating any pasta leading up to the wedding. It was brand new and situated in the heart of Mykonos Town. We were commenting that the layout and decor of the restaurant was one of the most impressive we have both seen anywhere, not just Greece. The charcuterie board was... well... massive and beautifully presented. Unfortunately, by the time we finished that, we were full!

Overall

We were very pleasantly surprised by Mykonos. We came in with the impression that this would be a party island but it was so much more than that. It was everything we could have wanted for our minimoon and we could definitely see ourselves being back.

P H U K E T

Kelven Ng

It has been a year since we vacationed in Bali, a vacation that was intended as a reward for having just found our apartment that would be our home for the next year in Melbourne. It was a fantastic break that made us yearn for another "resort-y" vacation where we can simply lazy about and worry about nothing other than what to eat and how early we should jump in the pool.

Fast forward a year and a bit later and we are now planning our move back to the Pacific Northwest for a great opportunity so we thought we would commemorate it by going on another relaxing vacation - this time, to Phuket, Thailand. Having never been to Thailand, this seemed a good time to try. Phuket has great beaches, amazing food, and accommodations, so why not?

We explored the islands surrounding Phuket by speedboat and it was incredible. The weather worked out for us despite it being the tail end of the rainy season. If you get a chance to visit Phuket, we highly recommend doing a speedboat tour. There are plenty of places to see close to Phuket and a company such as Phuket Sailing Tours will give you a great idea of what is nearby.
We were also taken to a floating village for lunch which was great cultural experience. The food was great too! 

We were also taken to a floating village for lunch which was great cultural experience. The food was great too! 

We stayed at two places during our trip to Thailand. We will review both below:
Anantara Phuket Villas

Our trip to Phuket started with a stay at the Anantara Phuket Villas. The resort is just 20 minutes from the airport so it was a relief to be able to relax so soon after our long flights. From the moment we arrived at the gates, we were treated like honored guests. We were served a refreshing drink and given jasmine bracelets (the smell is just heavenly) as we were checked in. The resort has a  traditional Thai feel to it, luxurious but not over the top.

We rented a private villa with our very own pool and were we ever glad we did. The villa was beautiful and spacious. Everything about this villa oozed luxury but not in the cold, sterile, modern way. The pool was big enough for a nice swim to cool down during the day and attached to the pool was an outdoor bath. Our only complaint was that the outdoor bath took ages to fill up (you would need about an hour to fill it up so start drawing the bath early).

There were a few options at the Anantara for food. La Sala is the venue for the buffet breakfast (quality Thai or western breakfast with lots of options, this was included in our room rate) but you could also come here for any other meal during the day. This is where you would want to go within the resort for a more traditional Thai meal. To be honest though, the food fell short of our expectations considering the price we paid for our meals ($30-40 per person).

The other restaurant was Sea Fire Salt. More of a fine dining experience, your meals are served on hot blocks of Himalayan salt. It is a unique experience but again, the food was not exceptional. We paid almost $80 per person (keeping in mind that we are in Thailand and street food usually costs less than $5) and we were left feeling underwhelmed.  There were not too many local food options near the hotel, so we had to stick to what was available.

Overall our stay at the Anantara was fantastic other than a few hiccups. If you want to experience staying in a resort that is more traditional, luxurious, and private, Anantara is a great option. However, don't expect great value for the food available at this resort.
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Sri Panwa

Well I will start off by saying that our stay at the Sri Panwa was the highlight of our trip.  The private ocean view villa with pool was everything you could ever want. The suite was enormous (over 1,000 square feet) and included two separate buildings - one for the bedroom and ensuite bathroom and a second one for a living area with a separate kitchen and bath.

The views from our apartment were jaw dropping. Imagine a vacation where you have the choice to wake up to and/or swim in your very own infinity pool while overlooking the ocean from a view about 50 meters from sea level. You can expect the private ocean villas to all have fantastic views.

The food at Sri Panwa was also really good. We found the food to be more authentically Thai and although much more expensive than the street food you could find in the city, still far better value than the food we had at our previous stay at the Anantara. The must-do at this hotel though, had to be the Baba Nest open air roof top bar. No pictures do this setting justice. Basically 360 degrees of unobstructed panaramic view of the ocean and islands in the vicinity, this is a setting that makes you feel like you're a million miles away from home and you're so content with that.

Whether you're looking for a honey moon or just a vacation to really spoil yourself, the Sri Panwa was all that and more. We couldn't have asked for anything else here and we cannot wait to come back.
One of the highlights of Sri Panwa though... had to be the roof-top bar (below).

One of the highlights of Sri Panwa though... had to be the roof-top bar (below).