Jim Spellman/Getty Images Nick and Vanessa Lachey
Nick and Vanessa Lachey's plan for regular weekend trips from Los Angeles to Hawaii may have sounded great in theory, especially while the actress and mom-of-three was filming "NCIS: Hawai'i," but little did they know, they would be permanent residents of the Aloha state almost a year later.
"We thought we were going to do a Hawaii to L.A. 'travel-on-the-weekend' thing," Vanessa, told Travel + Leisure of first heading out to Oahu last June to film the CBS show. However, just two weeks into their new travel schedule, Vanessa realized how difficult the back-and-forth routine would be — and made a big decision.
"We sold our house and now we've got Hawaii license plates!" the 41-year-old said, noting that beyond logistics, the family was drawn to the islands.
"This is the most beautiful place I've ever been emotionally," Vanessa explained. "There's a magic. When you live here and are surrounded by the loving people…you can't help but feel it and get moved by it."
As for the times they do need to get back to the mainland with their kids Camden, 9, Brooklyn, 7, Phoenix, 5, they've got their travel routine down to a science, Vanessa told T+L.
Her no. 1 tip? Be prepared.
"Give them headphones that fit, make sure everything's charged, and you're good to go," she advised, adding that favorite comfort items like stuffed animals or new toys — that are sometimes even gift wrapped — are always a help too.
"When you have three kids under 10 years old, out of respect for the other passengers, anything goes," she said.
On top of Vanessa's 10- to 14-hour-days on set, the family has settled into daily life in Hawaii as the kids hang with friends and play sports like baseball and soccer on weekends. But even though they're on their way to becoming locals, the family still has a list of hikes, restaurants, and places to visit.
Getting to know Oahu's beaches, Vanessa said the kids have nicknames for each, calling Waikiki Beach "boogie board beach," the beach by Hawaii Kai "shell beach," and Kāhala Beach "slow beach" since it's in a bay.
Nick, 48, and Vanessa especially like "slow beach" because they can stop in at The Kahala Hotel & Resort for a mai tai and a burger while the kids play. Vanessa has also taken Brooklyn and Phoenix to Disney's Aulani Resort, just five minutes away from their home, where they enjoyed a luau and "did all the things."
"It gives a whole new meaning to staycation," she said.
The couple, who co-host Netflix's "Love Is Blind," have also found time for themselves, celebrating their 10-year wedding anniversary last July on their first Hawaiian date night at the luxe Espacio, The Jewel of Waikiki, and dining at its restaurant Mugen.
"It's like French cuisine meets island cuisine," Vanessa said of the restaurant. "It was a chef's tasting with a drink pairing—and we had the best time."
They've also taken a romantic getaway to Maui's Kaanapali area and Montage Kapalua Bay.
On the top of the growing to-do list as the Lachey family gets used to island life, are hikes — especially at Waimea Falls — as well as exploring more of the other islands since it's about a half hour charter flight to both Maui and the Big Island.
"We right now are in the heart of Waikiki, so it's beautiful but we see it all the time," Vanessa said. "I want to find things that are off the beaten path."