Sunday, April 13, 2014

On the Aloha Trail to Waipa on Kaua'i

You can bag a tan and swim in warm ocean at lots of places, thankfully, but Aloha can only be found in Hawaii. It doesn't come in a package, but you can take it home as a souvenir. To actually see and feel Aloha, head to the far shore of Hanalei Bay, to the lush stream valley of Waipa, when (Tuesdays at 2 p.m.) locally grown exotic fruits, veggies, herbs and other fare are displayed under tents for the weekly market. Coco palms fringe the scene. A machete-wielding coconut man will be on hand to whack one of the big nuts so you can slurp a pint of pure life juice while surveying scenery that is prime eye candy.

The valley, walled in by jagged green ridges, is being restored as an ahupua'a (ah-hoo-poo-ah-ah). This traditional Hawaiian division of land has everything needed to survive on an island in the middle of the Pacific: coastal waters, a stream valley, and mountain woodlands. Hawaiians lived for many centuries without outside contact, and have the notion self-sustainable living cultivated to an art form. The nonprofit Waipa Foundation sponsers the market, as well as other cultural events, and leases the surrounding 1,600 acres from Kamehameha Schools. Waipa is one of the few pristine ahupua'as in the state.

But the sunshine market is just a taste. For the luau of Aloha, contact Kawika Rogers (pictured above) and others at the Waipa Foundation ( to learn how you can volunteer. You get a rare chance to walk into the valley with the keikis (kids) and rest of the locals to plant taro and other Polynesian staples.

On site is a newly constructed Native Hawaiian learning center and community center where all who visit can renew ties to the ‘aina (land and resources), and learn about traditional values through laulima (many hands working together). Hawaiian cultural traditions teach how to live in balance with our ‘aina, restoring health to the land as well as the people who work it.

Going to visit a nonprofit as a volunteer on a Hawaiian vacation is an experiental value. This one is a jackpot.

Take Kuhio Highway (52) north to Hanalei (about an hour from Lihu'e Airport). Drive through Hanalei, pass the soccer field, green church and Hanalei School on left (mauka). About ¼ mile past the School cross the one-lane concrete bridge over Waioli stream. You have now entered the Waipa ahupua'a. The road bends then straightens out. See their EAST GATE immediately on the left (mauka). Enter the EAST GATE for farmers market parking or keep going 1/4 mile and get to the Waipa headquarters building.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Looking for a quiet place to stay on Maui? Try Hana

All the sights of Maui are within a day’s drive. Almost all tourists stay on the west side, either in the south in Kihei-Wailea or on the north end at Lahaina-Ka‘anapali-Kapalua. As an alternative, try a few days in low-key Hana, where most people drive through in the midday tourist train and don’t have time to appreciate this lush side of Maui. Makawao-Haiku will also appeal to visitors who want out of the main tourist zones.

To help you choose where to stay in Hana, just click:

Hana Accommodations

Hana Paradise Cottages

Travaasa Hotel

Wainapanapa cottages and camping

Trip Advisor

Saturday, April 5, 2014

One Hawaii the Big Island Spa where you won't get soaked

How much would you pay to spend the day at a huge warm mineral springs under palm trees by the blue Pacific? At Ahalanui Warm Pond Park on the Puna Coast the answer is nada, zilch, zero. This beauty about 45 minutes from Hilo is a freebie.

The man-enchanced seaside pool is heated by geothermal energy to around body temperature. An underground channel from Kilauea Volcano's east rift zone provides warm water, which used to be chilly until a 1960 eruption altered the subterranean waterworks. High tide brings slightly cooler water, but the core temperature is set by Pele's (the volcano goddess) mood swings. The park's palm-shaded picnic tables are perfect for lunch.

The Puna Coast offers several other warm pools, as well as one of the most scenic drives in Hawaii. This is also the area to view flowing lava. See Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer for details, pages 156 to 162.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Warning/Watch from Pacific Tsunami Center: Chile 8.2 earthquake








0324 AM HST WED 02 APR 2014


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Essential Gear For Kauai

Kauai Trailblazer will guide you on a hard-to-find trail to wild Papa'a Beach, as well as a ton more jungle paths and coastal getaways. For those who want to adventure on the Garden Isle, this is the ticket to ride. All day, every day.

Ordering made simple here:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kauai Farmacy: Just What the Doctor ordered

A few weeks adventuring in Kauai is bound to cure whatever ails you, but for a little insurance of continued good health weeks after you get home,  pull in at the Kauai Farmacy Tea Wagon for some takeaway.

The wagon is not far up Kilauea's Kuawa Road on the way to Common Ground on the northeast coast.  Their teas are all organically grown in the neighborhood.  The trailer may be petite but their list of ingredients is long: allspice, aloe vera, ashwagandha, bergamot, breadfruit, calendula, cassava, cayenne pepper, chicory root, cinnamon, comfrey, curry leaf, daisy, edible hibiscus, gardenia, ginger (galangal), gotu kola, guava, Hawaiian chili pepper, hyssop, jalapeno, kaffir lime, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, lemon-grass, lemon verbena, mamaki, marjoram (sweet), moringa, mint, mulberry, noni, orange, oregano (Italian, Greek, Cretian), passion fruit, loquat, pineapple sage, poha berry, Polynesian spinach, roselle, rosemary, sage, soursop, spilanthes, star fruit, stevia, sugarcane, summer savory, thyme, tulsi, tarragon, turmeric, valerian, yacon.

The magic is in their blends, with teas such as Tranquility, Wellness, Energy and Love Potion. On sale are twelve medicinal tea blends, extracts, elixirs and culinary herb blends. Freshness is a big selling point as is the advice given by the friendly rep behind the counter.

Co-owner Jenna Wolkon oversees the operation, down to details like hand-lettering the sign on her cute mobile headquarters. Their teas are also available by the cup (you gotta try it) at the counter, or at several Kauai locations, like Living Foods, Papaya's Natural Foods, and Small Town Coffee. Kauai Farmacy is an example of the kind of green entrepreneur you see on the island, as well as a growing grow-where-you-eat mindset—and in Kauai the range of garden goodies is broad and exotic.

For more product information, go to the Kauai Farmacy website.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Oahu's Sandy Beach: Sun-scorched Wildlife

The marine mammals at Sandy Beach frolic unlike their brother-and-sisters of the sea—dolphins and whales. It is not a rare sight to see these creatures in action.

South of Kailua on the Windward Coast, and not far around a point from Honolulu, Sandy Beach is ideal habitat for these creatures. They thrive on wide-open sand, surf, and sunshine.

No binoculars are needed to observe the action, since they gather in large numbers at a near-constant shore break. Besides the crashing and hissing of the surf, the behavior of these fun-loving animals is often accompanied by the roar of car stereos. Weekends are best see them rock out, although weekdays after school lets out is also prime. For directions to this popular beach, consult your Oahu Trailblazer guidebook.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fools Rush in to Kauai's Big Surf

Wave heights reached 15 to 18 feet at Lumahai Beach on Kauai's north shore, making it dangerous for everyone except those who who didn't know enough to stay back. This couple made a run for it to escape the whitewater that came in from behind them. Fortunately, they were looking at the time.

See the smooth sand at the edge of the shadow? That indicates that surf recently passed over the sand, even though it's not wet like the sand she is walking on. She is in the impact zone for the bigger waves in a set and, because she was watching, was able to scamper ashore. Never go up to where the sand is wet during high surf. That same wet spot can be knee or waist deep foam when the large waves appear. The biggest ones only hit every 10 minutes or so.

This local guy was watching the reef break at the far end of Lumahai, so he knew when to back pedal like an NFL cornerback. He knew what he was doing.  If he stood that close in that same spot with his back turned posing for a picture, he would have been swept away.  Numerous shoreline drownings occur in Hawaii along sloping-sand beaches with a near-shore break like Lumahai.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Luxury Sniking on Maui's Gold Coast

With nearly five miles of beach park gardens, open sands, and a resort path, Kihei-Wailea is a sniker's dream. Prepare for the snike (snorkel-hike) by putting on a swimsuit, stepping into flip-flops, and putting a mask and snorkel into an equipped day pack (you can also lug the swim fins for safer snorkeling).

Start at a frock of coco palms at little Charley Young Beach Park at the north end of Kihei and drop down to the the yellow sand of Kamaole I Beach Park, where you can clip the flops to the pack and barefoot it. Three Kamaole Parks lie side by side, separated by small peninsulas and each backed by a large greenscape. You might want to take your first dip at Kamaole III Beach Park, where fish swarm a black-rock reef.

From there, climb the grassy bluff to pick up the Eddie Pu Trail, which skirts the Kihei Boat Ramp (where snorkel tours depart) and drops to Keawakapu Beach, the longest run of sand on the snike. Locals love it. At the far end of the beach begins the Wailea Resorts path, which swerves for more that a mile past several destination resorts and five coves with sandy beaches. The best place for a dip is midway at Ulua or Mokapu beach, each with a short path down.

You might want to detour inland to check out the Grand Wailea Resort, with its huge atrium with statues, flowing gardens, and fantasy-land swimming pool. The path ends at Polo Beach Park below the Fairmont Kea Lani. Along this stretch of coast (dubbed the Gold Coast in the sixties) are a dozen or more access parking lots, so options abound. For more details, see Maui Trailblazer pages 38 to 45.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Snike Hawaii

Another beautiful day in Hawaii and another big decision: Snorkel or take a hike? At last the right answer: Take a snike.

Much if not most of the coast in Hawaii is accessible on foot, whether paved resort paths or coastal trails, both of which are connected by runs of sand. Adventurers can walk for miles and pause to take a dip in any number of inviting ocean pools.

The flip flop (called slippers in Hawaii) is the shoe to wear, easy-on for paths, rocks, and trails, and then easy-off to walk sandy stretches barefooted. Look for the heavy duty flip flop with agressive sole and arch (Teva, Reef, and others. Stay away from walking in strap-on sandals in the surf, since sand gets caught in there and causes abrasions.)

Carrying the fins will be a hassle, so most sniking is done with just a mask. Not having fins greatly reduces swimming power and therefore safety, so keep your sniking dips closer to shore and in calmer waters. At some wild beaches, a hiking pole helps in steep sections that can be slick after rains.

Of course, wear your board shorts or swimsuit. Women can wear a version of the board short as well, or use some lightweight shorts to cover up (if desired) in the hike sections of the snike.

Bring a regular daypack with all the usuals, especially sunblock, water, and hat. You'll want a place to clip on the flip flops (called slippers in Hawaii) during the sandy stretches. (If you are caught on hot sand barefooted, use a foot to scoop away six or eight inches of sand to the cool sand below.)

If you get a cut or abrasion on the tootsie, use a bandage or tape right away so it doesn't get worse. Cuts are slow to heal in the tropics.

Look for tips on the best places to snike Hawaii in future blogs!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hanalei Pier: Kauai's walk down Hollywood Boulevard

This view of the Hanalei Pier is taken from the far end of the beach from the St. Regis Hotel in Princeville—which is across a river mouth from the beach of Hanalei Bay. The river didn't stop godlike George Clooney and his movie family in The Descendants, who apparantly walked on water to confront the real estate agent at his beach cottage. The vantage point for this picture is the garden terraces above the river, where some of the Academy Award winning moive South Pacific was lensed (an easy, but hard to find stroll from the St. Regis). The terraces are home to a dozen concrete ruins being swallowed up by greenery after Hurricane Iwa in 1982 blew the development away. 

These kayakers are headed from the ocean up the Hanalei River. The pier, which was given a new roof and truss beams in 2013, has also starred in several movies, including comedy clunkers McHale's Navy and the Wackiest Ship in the Army, as well as the fine adaptation on W. Sommerset Maughm's short short Rain, which was called Miss Sadie Thompson in the film version. As Valentine's Day approaches, we are taking this opportunity to experiment with our iphonography techniques here in magical Hanalei. For more romantic escapes, you'll find a wide range of special places in the Kauai Trailblazer guide.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Maui High on Haleakala

The daily pilgrimage to the House of the Sun (Haleakala) begins creepy early, people leave Lahaina and Kihei at the crack of 3 a.m. in order to drive to the pavilion at Red Hill Summit to catch the sunrise. You freeze your butt off. Often enough, cloud cover or storms cancel the show.

Try leaving a little later when you can see the summit. And bring your big-boy hiking gear for a trek down Sliding Sands Trail into the vast crater (which technically is a eroded valley). It's easy to be sucked in by the beauty and hike father than you want into the hinterlands of Haleakala.  The homeward leg can be a ball-buster. The trailhead is at 10,000 feet. 

To really enjoy the moods of the volcano, and see a night sky that's a jewel box on black velvet, try renting one of three rustic cabins availalble from the National Park Service. People plan way in advance for these cabins, but you can often snag one at the last minute. We've hiked in with just daypacks with bedding in garbage bags. 

Another way to take full measure of this otherworldly land on pink cinder cones is to ride a horse. Several stables offer day trips. You'll see all you would on a two or three day pack trip.  Maui Trailblazer has details on visiting Haleakala, including a couple of trails that are off the tourist track and totally awesome (like the Skyline Trail).

Friday, January 31, 2014

Shipwrecked, in a good way, on Kauai

If you get to choose a spot to be marooned, try Shipwreck Beach in front of the Grand Hyatt Kauai. You can take sustenece at one of Hawaii's premier destination resorts, a low-slung Asian-inspired masterpiece with a huge man-made saltwater lagoon, wide staircases leading to a sprawling pool with chutes and falls.

When it's time to rough it, try the surfing beach, which is indeed treacherous for ships, although the last abandoned hull of 1970 was swept away by Hurricane Iniki in the early 1990s. You can access it at the Hyatt or via the sweet beach park right next to it. When desperation sets in, and you need to escape, head south on the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. It climbs tawny Makawehi Bluff (pictured) and continues for several miles, passing the ruins of Ho'ouluia Heiau before descending to Gillan's Beach. Keep an eye out for whales and shorebirds, since this trail is primo for both. Complete directions are in your Kauai Trailblazer guidebook.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hidden charms of Whacky Whacky Waikiki

The shortest distance between two points—in this case the high rises of Kalakua Boulevard in the center of Waikiki Beach and the Pacific Ocean—is a straight line. A sea of flesh is the norm along the shore of Prince Kuhio Beach Park.

But, hang a left along the surf on a short barefooted stroll and relative solitude is to be found at Sans Souci (Without Care) Beach, which borders the huge greenspace of Kapiolani Park. And, for those willing to don flip-flops and and walk another 10 minutes toward Diamond Head, a truly out-of-the way jewel awaits. There is no parking at the little Makalei Beach Park, fequented by locals only in a ritzy enclave. It's small beach (Kaluahole) is a freaking dream, and you can also walk a seawall path in the backyards of the zillion-dollar homes to little Leahi Park. Oahu Trailblazer has more details on page 53.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Where the action is: Hawaii Big Island Hotspots

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park delivers the goods: towering flumes of gases erupting from the gut of the earth, glowing red rivers flowing like taffy, and the enormous bomblast where heat meets cold at the ocean in a conflict that is old as time itself. Pu'u (cone) O'o (pictured above), is part of the major Kilauea Volcano's east rift zone. It blew its cork most recently in 1983 and has been gurgling lava ever since, including 40-plus fiery fountainheads and one major explosion in 1997 that collapsed the height of the cone hundreds of feet within 24 hours. The lava rivers change direction.These days you can see the fresh stuff not in the park, but down the coast from Hilo in Kalapana. For a dramatic aerial view, hop aboard one of the Blue Hawaiian helicopters that leave from two locations on the island.

Halemaumau Crater, the home of Volcano Goddess Pele, is within the larger Kilauea Caldera, the centerpiece of the national park. In the middle of the night (fortunately) in March of 2008, Pele threw a major hissy fit, blowing away what had been the viewing platform at the lip of the crater. The road around the park has been closed ever since, but you can get a good look from the Jaggar Musuem, which is a few miles from the entrance station. 

Numerous hikes and drives give you perspective on these outbursts; Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer (new edtion 2013) has more details.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Waimea Bay: Surfin' U.S.A.

The shorebreak at Waimea Bay on Oahu's North Shore is killer. Surfers put on their big boy board shorts to ride waves memorialzied by that happy-go-lucky Beach Boys song. Specators lounge of the wide rim of sand at the shore, cooling off in the freshwater pool formed where Waimea Stream meets a sand bar.

But the real action at Waimea is the Quiksilver In Memory Aikau Big Wave Invitational, held each year—but only when wave faces are 20 feet or larger. Godzilla waves of 50-plus feet have challenged, but not defeated, the pros, who come from around the world at the drop of the hat when surf's up. The  parking lot get crammed for the Eddie. The best parking tip: drive around the bay to the top and park at the blocky St .Peter and Paul Catholic Church. Then walk a path down along the guardrail and take a seat on the embankment to watch the spectacle.

Eddie Aikau is on the short list of all time Hawaiian surfing legends. In 1978, at age 32, he was a crew member on the Hokulea (replica of ancient hawiian sailing canoe) that was swamped in heavy seas on its maiden voyage. Eddie paddled off into the darkness on his surfboard to try to seek help on the island of Lanai, and was never seen again.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Honolua Bay: Maui's world-class wave machine

Snorkelers flock to Honolua Bay, but surfers say the real action is at the bay's north tip where a sweet right-break seemingly never ends. Although not on the big-boy pro circuit, some of Hawaii's best surfers regularly show up here. It's that good, and even better for spectators. To get a ringside seat, drive around the bay and turn off to the left when you reach the top of the road. You can see well from the parking lot, but check out the eagle's nest view that is a short distance down the point on a rugged trail. 

Looking inland toward the Honolua Marine Conservation District. Tip: The better lookout is on the other side of the bay, just past Mokuleia Bay when coming north from Kapalua. From there you can scope snorkeling conditions--specifically whether stream runoff has muddied the waters.

Find full directions to this spot in your Maui Trailblazer guidebook.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Top Ten Hawaii spots to visit in 2014

Okay, let's be real for a moment: It would be easy to do a blog called "1,000 Places to See in Hawaii Before You Die."  Hawaii is brimming with epiphanies of place, both grand and intimate. But, back to fantastyland, let's assume you are traveling through the islands and want see ten knock-your-socks off spots on the four major islands. We'll start in the north and head south, and presenting Hawaii's all-star attractions (though not all are tourist spots, per se.)

1. Waimea Canyon, Kauai
One look and you'll know why it's called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, a 2,000 foot deep, 12 mile long gorge of pinkish-orange rock accented by waterfalls and exotic plants. Scenic turnouts abound. You can walk to the bottom at the Kukui Trail. But the kicker for Waimea Canyon is getting to the top rim: From the top is an eagle eye view down to the tropical Kalalau Valley. And all along the ocean side rim of the canyon are trails out the Napali (The Cliffs) with awesome views.

2. Hanalei Bay, Kauai
Pictured above, Hanalei exudes astounding scenic beauty and aloha. A 3-mile crescent of fine sand is ringed by towering jagged green cliffs. After rains a dozen or more ribbonny white waterfalls dress it up. Hanalei Town is the essence of laid-back cool.

3. Windward Wild Beaches, Kauai
For about 30 miles on the east shore of Kauai (from Anahola to Princeville) are pasturelands with mountain views. Few people realize (since signs are scarce) that most of the wild beaches in Hawaii lie along this stretch. Many require a short hike down a steep hillside, but nothing small children can't handle. Yellow sand beaches, a dozen or more,  are home to monk seals and shorebird. Midway on the coast is the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. A light house set high on the most-northerly land in the main Hawaiian chain, offers views of whales, dolhins, monk seals, Nene birds, and many species of shorebirds. Admission is cheap, like two bucks.

4. Waikiki Beach, Oahu
Yes, Waikiki is kitschy and crammed with tourists and high-rises. But it is also real to the bone, with layers of Hawaiian culture along its tiki-torched boulevards. Diamond Head lords over the scene, and there are many parklands and beaches mixed in. Pardon the word, but Waikiki is iconic on a world-class level, like the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate, and Empire State Building. While you're there, be sure to make the short trip to Pearl Harbor to see the USS Arizona Memorial, which will make even cynics patriotic, at least for the afternoon. Punchbowl Memorial in Honolulu is also hallowed among American historic sites.

5. Windward Oahu
Circle counterclockwise by car from Waikiki and you'll reach the Windward Coast, where the jagged green Ko'olau Range gives way to the Pacific. You'll have to rub your eyes to check if this dreamy landscape is true. The H3 freeway circles back to Waikiki, one of the most dramatic rides in the U.S., as it penetrates the mountains like a missile.

6. Haleakala, Maui
The crater (technically the eroded valley) of this 10,000 foot high active volcanoe is laced with trails. It's a world unto itself. People like to go up for sunrise (Haleakala means House of the Sun), but the better bet is to drive up while it's light and check out sunset.

7. Hana Highway, Maui
A conga line of rental cars cram this serpentine road each day, so don't expect quietude, unless you leave early or late. More than fifty mossy one-lane bridges traverse countless streams, and dozens of waterfalls tumble from jungle creases. This is a trip you can take many times and see new things. Maui Trailblazer readers only slow down at sleepy Hana Town, and continue another twisty stretch to the Pools of Oheo, which are part of the lower section of Haleakala National Park.

8. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island
Geology happens in real time on the Big Island, which currently has two active eruptions within the Kilauea Volano's comples system. It's very weird to see the ground glowing red and flowing. But the park also offers rich tropical forests, with a symphony of birds. Thurston Lava Tube is the most well known place to see the green side of the volanoe. From visitor centers and overlooks are many smash-mouth views into the huge Kilauea Caldera, a portion of which is now emitting a tower of volcanic gas.

9. Saddle Road, Big Island
Newly paved and graded, this space-age highway cuts through 50-plus miles of volcanic wasteland, right between the two largest mountains on earth (measured from their bases): Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Most visitors head up Mauna Kea to see all the celestial observatories. But few people know you can drive up big, round Mauna Loa, where many of the earth's weather observatories keep an eye on global warming, and other events.

10. South Kohala Coast, Big Island
Drive for 40 miles north of Kona on the island's west shore  through an apocalyptic wasteland, with square miles of jagged barren lava daring anyone to set foot. But, all along the coast, a few miles in from the road, are oases of greenery with pristine beaches. This land is too new to be eroded by streams, so the coastal waters are gin clear. Many of the beaches are at destination resorts (with public access) and many are at state and county beaches. And many of these nuggets of paradise are a short walk from the well-known areas, waiting there for you to discover.

(The Trailblazer Travel Book guides for the Islands have all the details to explore this list---as well as the treasure map to the other 990 top spots!)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013