Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Announcing the newest edition of Kauai Trailblazer

Here it is, hot off the press, our spanking new edition ready for your upcoming trip to the Garden Isle:

This NEW 2015 SIXTH EDITION of our bestselling guide has been completely reivised and updated. It's packed with new activities, dozens of fresh photos, and a special Trailblazer Kids chapter for families headed to Hawaii's adventure island.

Trailblazer guides, in print for more than two decades, are popular among independent and active travelers. The books are known for their user-friendly format, readability, and sharp graphics.

You'll find all the mountain ridges, tropical gardens, beaches, coves and lagoons, jungles, rivers, historic landmarks and cultural sites, coral reefs, ancient ruins, and coastal bluffs-all the places to get wet, muddy, and have fun on Kaua'i. Less energetic visitors will appreciate the book's driving tours, which hit the headliners along with the island's out-of-the-way charms.

The authors have spent years exploring Kaua'i, and it shows. A Resource Links section gives visitor information and cultural contacts, recommended recreational outfitters, museums and attractions, Hawaiiana shops and hula shows, as well as a hand-picked list of restaurants and places to stay. Safety precautions and traveling tips are not to be overlooked, and a Best Of section lets you select among activities to suit your mood.

122 hikes and strolls to mountain ridges, tropical gardens, beaches, jungles, coves, reefs, historic landmarks and ancient ruins, swamps, craters, forests, coastal bluffs and tide pools, towns, canyons, waterfalls and river valleys.

70 beaches, including 23 reachable only by trail.

44 snorkeling pools, both the island favorites and hidden coves.

66 mountain bike rides along forest, coastal, and countryside trails, as well as resort paths.

27 kayaking waters: 13 rivers and streams, 14 bays and lagoons.

38 surfing spots, including the best places to watch.

10 maps and 175 photographs including a four-page color insert.

Driving Tours, featuring heiaus, wildlife sanctuaries, cultural and historical sites, tourist attractions and natural wonders.

Resource Links to recreational outfitters, stables, golf courses, camping, transportation, accommodations, local-style eats and shops.

Appendices of Hawaiian words, place names, movie locations, hula performances, farmer's markets, weather, flora, history.

Here's a link to find it on Mahalo and happy trails!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Beyond stereotypical Hawaii: O'Keeffe and Ansel

Between 1939 and 1957 Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams made visits to the Hawaiian Islands. Adams was commissioned by the Department of the Interior for a commemorative publication for Bishop National Bank of Hawai'i (now First Hawaiian Bank) and Georgia was invited by Dole Pineapple to create illustrations for advertisements. Both were inspired to do more.

During her two month stay in Hawai'i, O'Keeffe traversed Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and The Big Island, visiting beaches, rainforests, and pineapple plantations, and painting the dramatic coastlines, volcanic terrain,  and exotic flora. She painted dramatic landscapes of coastlines and waterfalls; but most extensively the island flowers.

The photographs and paintings included in the "Hawaii Pictures" exhibition at O'Keeffe's Santa Fe Museum express the islands’ unique sense of place, at the same time they reveal the complex continuities with the whole of O’Keeffe and Adams’s respective oeuvres.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawai'i Pictures February 7 - September 17, 2014

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum 217 Johnson St, Santa Fe, NM 87501 (505) 946-1000

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hot-footing Hawaii: Lava hikes on the Big Island

New land is being created every second at Hawaii Volcanos National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii and—let's hear it for the Park Service—visitors are allowed to explore at will. The lava pictured above is the good kind, called pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy), which rolls and tufts like brownie batter. When fresh, the surface has an oily sheen. To actually see flowing lava these days, you need to leave the park and head to the Puna Coast, about an hour east of Hilo. 

Although prepared hikers will have no problem, there are hazards: heat exhaustion, getting lost, falling with landslides near the coast, getting caught in a blast caused by buried vegetation, and, of course, getting burned by the actual molten rock. Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer describes the best hikes in and out of the park, as well how to prepare for a safe trek.

One of the most popular hikes is the Kilauea Iki Crater, which a smaller 'bay' of lava, off of the park's main Kilauea Caldera. You drop down through a bird-filled, tree-fern-and-ohia tree forest, cross the still-fuming field of lava, and then climb up through the lush forest to complete a loop hike. The trailhead is across the road from the most-popular stroll, through the massive Thurston Lava Tube.

BTW: The bad kind of lava is called a'a (ah-ha). Instead of rolled batter, this lava hardens in jagged piles that are virtually unwalkable. South Kohala, which is home to the Big Island's best destination resorts, is in a sea of this stuff. The King's Trail penetrates large sections of this no-man's land, an ancient route that is marked in places with flat rocks embeded in the slag heap.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Maui's Windward Beaches: Where the Locals go

Maui has more safe swimming beaches than any other Hawaiian island, and most of them are on the leeward (west) coast, a run of sand most of the way from the Gold Coast (Kihei-Wailua) in the south to Lahaina-Ka'anapali in the north. And all along this coast are condos, cars, and resorts.

To check out the more-serene locals' scene, cross the island to the windward coast. Kanaha Beach Park (above) is laid back, in spite of its proximity to the airport in Kahului. You can take a short stroll to privacy in Spreckelsville, or hang around the beach park to watch some of the world's best kite-boarders and windsurfers.

Just up the road toward Paia is one of the best locals' haunts in the Islands: Baldwin Beach Park. Families and local boys have been chillin' and surfing here since Baldwins beginnings in the late 1800s as a spot for sugar cane workers to relax. The place embodies Hawaiian style living, especially in the late afternoons and early evenings. A few hundred yards down the sand from the beach park is Baby Baldwin Beach, a protected swimming oval with safe swimming even on days when the surf's up (you can also drive to Baby Baldwin).

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Getting High on 'Mount Olympus' Oahu

As is the the case for many hikes into Oahu's razorback Ko'olau Mountains, the trailhead begins at the end of neighborhood streets only a few miles from Waikiki—in this case at the Wa'ahila Ridge Recreation Area. Suburbia becomes wildlands after only a few steps. After a few thousand steps (three-plus miles and 1,900 feet in elevation) you achieve the narrow crest of the range, with a straight-down look at the Windward Coast.

The Mount Olympus trail rends skyward in ramps and benches, narrowing to two feet in some places, where snarls of greenery disguise vertical dropoffs. But it is not as dangerous as other trails on Oahu. Take care with foot placement and bring along a hiking pole, and you'll be fine. Several view knobs on the way up are worthy destinations for shorter hikes, and families can take an even shorter stroll in the recreation area, through ironwood trees and Norfolk pines to picnic tables with views of Honolulu.

Oahu Trailblazer has more details for this trek, as well as others that are a short drive from the high rise beach resorts.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Oahu's Makapu'u Beach is sooooo un-Waikiki

Just one look from Makapu'u Point up the Windward Coast and you will realize that an exotic Oahu awaits beyond the tiki torches of Wailkiki. The point (which has a great whale-watching trail) is at the south tip of the island, the beginning of a long string of sandy beaches with mountainous backdrops that extend all the way to the North Shore.

Makapu'u Beach Park is bodysurf-and-boogie-board  central, home to the first-ever surfing championships held on Oahu in the 1950s. The breaks are called Middles, Baby Makapu'u, and Generals, the last of which was named by legendary bodysurfer Bobo Tabayoyon after the two subsurface coral heads. The beach park gets high marks among spectators who can view from an onshore rock formation in the center of the beach.

Drive there with directions in your Oahu Trailblazer.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Hawaii Big Island's sans-sand beaches

You won't have to worry about windblown sand getting into sandwiches and evertthing else on the on the Kona (west side) beaches of the Big Island of Hawaii. At Ho'okena Beach Park (pictured below) and many other locales, only smooth sheets of pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy) lava grace the shoreline.  You'll have to wait an eon or two for wave action to grind coral chunks and lava rocks into grit.

You also won't find streams on the Kona side, since erosion has not taken place and the fresh water percolates through the lava land mass and finds the ocean via underground channels or alkaline ponds near shore. All this means these shorelines have some of the clearest seawater in the world. Just north of Ho'okena is Two Step, a world-class snorkeling venue where swimmers spread towels out on an acre or two of flat lava and then enter a crystal clear embayment using natural steps cut into the rock.

A complete directory of all the beaches on the Big Island can be found in  Hawaii Big Island Trailblazer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

La Perouse Bay: Get out-there on Maui

A few years ago, visitors would swarm over jagged piles of lava in the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Reserve Area south of Wailea on Maui in order to get to a little snorkeling cove called the Aquarium: A prime example monkey-see, monkey-do tourism. Concerned over the ecological impacts, state officials have closed this area to give it a rest. Not to worry: There is still good snorkeling at "Dumps" and Ahihi Cove, which are in the reserve.

Visitors don't have to go far to get beyond the crowds, which gather a couple miles south of Makena State Park (Big Beach) on Maui's southwest coast. The bumpy road ends at La Perouse Bay, named for a French explorer whose ship passed this "dismal coast" in 1786. A sandy trail passes Beau Chien (Pretty Dog) Beach (above) and then joins the Kings Trail that keeps going .... and going. First built in the 1500s, and then fortified in the 1800s, this wide, rock inlaid route penetrates a wasteland of lava heaps. You'll find two little beaches off the trail along the way—Oasis and Kanaio beaches. Old village sites mark the beginning of the trail. You can keep on trekin' for 10 miles (though the route becomes rougher and overgrown in spots) to Manawanui, the next vehicular access on the south coast.

Maui Trailblazer has more details on page 29, and page 164 to 172.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tips for Hiking Kauai's Kalalau Trail

The end of the road on Kauai's north shore is the beginning of Napali (The Cliffs), which can only be accessed on land via the Kalalau Trail—an 11-mile squiggley scramble that ends in the Kalalau Valley. On a busy day, nearly 500 souls set foot on the Kalalau, quite a circus, and second only in popularity to the Diamond Head Crater trail on Oahu.

Make sure to pick a dry day, since rain makes this route the bad kind of adventure. It's also a good idea to show up early, if you want a nature trip rather than a social scene. Stuff your daypack with plenty of food and water. Wear sturdy shoes, and plan on getting them wet and muddy. A hiking pole will be a godsend.

Hanakapiai Beach is two miles in, though this is a rocky, dangerous swimming beach, and requires a stream crossing to reach. Ribbony Hanakapiai Falls is another two miles inland from the beach (so, 8 miles round-trip from the trailhead) and requires several more stream crossings. The fall's hike will feel like 12 miles, so be ready. BTW: Sure, many adventure hikers can pound 22 miles in a day, but don't even think about dayhiking to Kalalau Valley.

You can achieve a great view of the Napali Coast my walking in about a half mile on the trail. The easiest way to see the coast is to walk about a hundred yards to the right at Ke'e Beach, which is also at the end of the road.  Only a few, if that, visitors among the daily 500 people take one of the best hikes here, which is to follow a coastal trail around the point and then up to the ancient hula temple, the birthplace of the tradition in Hawaii. Another nearby attraction that is a totally five stars is Limahuli Garden (less than a mile before the end of the road). This place is Eden on earth. Complete directions for all these hikes are in the Kauai Trailblazer guidebook.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Safe Hiking Hawaii with Kids

Kids are well-suited to staying safe in most circumstances on trails in Kauai, as this young boy demonstrates with the time-tested butt-slide on the Kalalau Trail in Kauai. Closer to the ground, children are less likely to do damage with a face plant than their taller parents.

And some dangers are obvious, like drop-offs at cliffs with railings, like this one at the Awa'awapuhi Trail also on Kauai.

But other hazards are not so obvious, so parents should be aware of situations leading to accidents, which sadly are fatal all-too-often somewhere in the islands.

1. Stay on the trail. Mountain and jungle trails are usually bordered by tufts of greenery that look like solid ground, but are actually disguising thin air that will lead in a free fall. On flat ground, it's very easy to get lost when wandering from a trail.

2.  Stay back from the surf line at the beach and on coastal trails. Being swept from the land is very possible. Don't venture along wet rocks or reef at the shoreline, and stay back from the foam line at the beach. Of course, these hazzards pretty much go away when surf in down. Always keep and eye on the waves; you can usually flee if you see one coming.

3. Don't swim in fresh pools beneath a waterfall, where rocks fall with the water.  Watch for stream contamination signs.

4. No running on mountain trails. Trails are rooty and uneven, and often slick after rains. Kids might take a good bump, or, worse, fall from the trail.

5. Most parents know this one: Keep the children within sight, and within hearing distance.

The Trailblazer guides for each of the Hawaiian Islands have special sections for families. Includes are hikes, safe beaches and kid friendly attractions and restaurants.''

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Wild beaching it in Hawaii

La creme de la creme courtesy of your No Worries Hawaii guidebook authors.

Spend the day lolling, dipping, reading, splashing.

Larsens Beach A short hike down from pasturelands leads to more than a mile of wild beach. Monk seals and shorebirds like the rough lava-and-coral reef, and backshore flora.
Waiakalua Beach A hike-to-only special near Kilauea. The first beach is easy, and several other secluded beaches are reachable by rock-hopping the shore.
Moloa‘a Bay A few private homes, yes, but this lush stream valley and bay has a half-mile of curving sand and coral tidepools right for a swim.
Mahaulepu A few miles of bumpy road from the Grand Hyatt in Poipu leads to this beach. Great swimming. A coastal trail toward Hoary Head Ridge provides a getaway from this getaway.
Kepuhi Beach You can always find quietude, even when the crowds are pounding Tunnels and Ke‘e beaches, which are just down the road.
Waikoko Beach The north end of Hanalei Bay has some lonesome sand and great mountain views—especially if you take the surfer’s trail and not the roadside turnout.

Kawela Beach Until the nearby Turtle Bay Resort achieves its grandiose expansion plans, this North Shore cove remains a sublime spot for a beach day.
Ka‘alawai Beach Finding and parking near this beach near the Shangri La mansion at Black Point (below Diamond Head) isn’t that easy. That’s why it remains such a find.
Malaekahana State Recreation Area A huge, forest peninsula, rimmed by a sandy beach, points at Goat Island—which beckons adventure snorkelers.
Makaleha Beach Say hi to horses on a short walk though pastures to this beach that is one of the settings for Lost, the television program. Not far from Haleiwa on the Mokuleia Coast. Worth a Look: Eternity Beach (Halona Blow Hole), Laumilo access-Waimanalo Beach (Windward), Makalei Beach Park (near Kapiolani Park)

Po‘olenalena Beach New, big homes have risen in the backshore, but two little beaches near Wailea remain relatively serene—due to many other choices in the vicinity.
Spreckelsville Beach-Sugar Cove True, this run of fine sand is under the flight pattern for the airport. But that doesn’t really spoil getaway. Beach walks also in the offing.
Worth a Look: Maluaka Beach (Makena), Montana Beach (Paia), Oneloa Beach and Windmill Beach (Kapalua)

BIG ISLAND Makalawena Beach A horrendous road and a hot, 45-minute hike thin the visitors to this beautiful run of dunes and trees. One of several Kekaha Kai State Park beaches.
Honomalino Beach Take a 20-minute walk from the village of Miloli‘i, south of Kona, and you reach a crescent beach with palms.
Beach 69 (Waialea Bay) The word is out on this once secret beach next to Hapuna—the state has added a real parking lot, a few tables, and restrooms. But you can still find a private spot.
Kapalaoa Beach Head south on the sand from the popular beach park at Anaeho‘omalu Bay (near the Hilton) to find sand suitable for snorkelers, turtles, and the occasional kite-boarder.
Worth a Look: Kehena Black Sand (19-Mile) Beach (Puna), Alula Beach (Honokohau)

For even more categorized beaches consult your No Worries Hawaii guidebook a companion book to Diamond Valley Company’s Trailblazer Travel Books. These books include more than 1,000 recreational activities and attractions, with 36 maps, and some 900 photographs—much more than could be put into this planning guide. Each island guide gives directions, descriptions, and historical backgrounds for all the activities referenced in No Worries Hawaii—plus many more that didn’t make the cut.

You'll find complete driving directions to all of the above in your Trailblazer Travel Books: Maui Trailblazer, Kauai Trailblazer, Oahu Trailblazer, Hawaii Big Island Trailblazer.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Iao Valley is the beating heart of Maui

Iao (rhymes with "meow") Valley is on the tour bus circuit and most visitors do a quick  trip up a long flight of stairs to blast a few selfies with the famed Iao Needle and then haul ass. But there's lots of stuff around the needle at this state park in the center of Maui—where in 1790 Kamehmeha's forces attacked, killing so many of the local  warriors that the fallen bodies were said to have dammed the Kepaniwai Stream and turned its waters red.

On site is a botanical garden loop trail along the banks of the stream. But the real deal for adventure hikers is to hop the rail at the Iao Needle viewpoint (leaving the park and entering a forest reserve) and taking a well-used, unsigned trail to a ridge just above the needle that has spectacular views of the mountains that frame the park, including the 3,000-foot-tall Wall of Tears. A half-dozen waterfalls adorn the cliff face after rains. The trail continues into the Iao Tablelands—the route taken by the few Maui warriors who survived Kamehameha's onslaught—but it gets tangled in the jungle. Don't plan on making it across the island to Olowalu, like those guys who were running for their lives.

In the valley about a mile before the state park is sweet Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens, a county park that is the best garden picnic place on Maui. A Hawaiian village re-creation, Japanes garden, and Chinese pagoda are surrounded by a variety of palms, banyans, and other towering trees. Other buildings create the styles of Portugal, the Philippines, and New England missionaries, all meant as a tribute to the calabash of cultures that have called Hawaii home.

Nextdoor to the park is the Hawaii Nature Center (museum, guided walks), and nearby is Tropical Gardens of Maui, an underrated botanical garden with a cheap admission. Maui Trailblazer has more details on page 94. (Almost forgot: Kapilau Ridge, a little known hike into the West Maui Mountains, is also very close.)

Hilton Hawaii Deals - Rates starting at just $169 per night

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mom's Day in Hawaii

You deserve a break. Soak it up.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kauai's Powerline Trail: Take A Walk on the Wild Side

Some 'adventure hikes' in Hawaii are tourist trots, with hundreds of visitors lined up to check off the experience. Not so the Powerline Trail, which cuts through the middle of the island from above Kapa'a to Princeville on the north shore. Only a zillion plants and a hundred thousand birds are there to share the trail.

The PT begins at the Kehaua Arboretum, about 10 miles inland on the Coconut (east) Coast. Even here, other trails (Blue Hole, Kuilau Ridge) are more popular. Perhaps the drab name, dissuades hikers, even through the power lines are rarely seen in the riot of jungle greenery.

The first short leg of the trail is an uninviting uphill scar of a road. But this ramp quickly ends and then  swerves and undulates through a wild botantical garden. Openings in the canopy reveal panoramas of jagged ridges. You need to stop and look down here and there to comprehend the detail in the micro world. Kauai Trailblazer has the details (on page 84) for the Powerline Trail, as well as other routes that are off the beaten track.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hawaii's Keiki (Kids') Beaches are, yes indeed, Fun for the Whole Family

Any beach in Hawaii can be perfectly safe and fun one day, and then due to various weather conditions, morph into being not so safe, or even lethally dangerous, the next.  Keiki (baby) beaches, as they are known locally, are an exception. These are where on most any day the kids can wade about at the shore or swim with parent's in nice calm coves. 

Some keiki (KAY-key) beaches are naturally occuring pools, protected by a near-shore reef or rock formation, while others are man-made, or man-enchanced at least, where boulders have been placed to protect the shore.  Here are a only few beach swims where waves and current are not an issue:

On KAUAI,  Lydgate Park (pictured) is a crowd-pleaser with a shallow lagoon, beach and multi-tiered wooden playground on site. In nearby Kapa'a, Fuji Beach, is more of a local's scene. A long, narrow pool with sandy bottom is right beside palm trees in a sleepy neighborhood. On the west side, sunny Salt Pond Beach Park, will keep you coming back. Palms, lawns, big crescent beach, with little pools to each side,

On OAHU, Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park is the mother of all baby beaches. Its big oval pool abuts many acres of tree shaded picnic tables and lawns, where locals hang out on weekends, rather than nearby Waikiki. For a more mellow scene, go just around Diamond Head from Waikiki to Mothers' Beach in ritzy Kahala. On the north shore, take a ten-minute walk up the sand from Turtle Bay Resort to the tiny jewel of the Kaihalulu Keiki Pool.

MAUI has one of the best: Baby Baldwin Beach near Paia. A natural swimming beach is backed by a bleacher of shaded sand, with views of the West Maui Mountains. Nearby, is Spreckelsville Keiki Beach, known more to locals. You can expect privacy on week days. Across the island in Lahaina, you'll find sweet Baby Beach, with killer views of Molokai and Lanai.

Near Kona on the BIG ISLAND is Airport Baby Beach, a big sandy opening in a reef of smooth lava. Just north, Kekaha Kai State Park has a fantasy-island natural baby beach, but it takes a bumpy drive and mile-plus walk to reach. The most underrated kids' beaches in Hawaii are on the outer rim of the big bay from Hilo. Check out Onekahakaha, Carlsmith, and Richardson beach parks.

Trailblazer guides for each island have details on each these safe-swimming spots, as well as about ten times more. Hawaii has many nooks and crannies.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

From Champs Élysées to Waikiki: The Aloha Shirt is Back!

Not many people look to the streets of  Paris to find out what to wear in Hawaii. Yet, now that Yves St. Laurent has come out with a flashy red shirt that screams Hawaii, you can bet a resurrgence of the Aloha shirt is officially ON. So, if you visit the islands, consider picking up a wardrobe for your next trip to Paris. Shopping is a pleasant passtime in Hawaii, especially on rainy days. With thrift shops aplenty, finding the perfect vintage souvenir is a worthy quest.  Oui, oui. Helluva lot cheaper than France where the shirt sells for $750.

You also can buy authentic fabric at stores such as Kapaia Stitchery in Kauai, Kmart's sewing department, Hawaii Fabric Mart in Maui, Discount Fabric Warehouse in Kona. You'll get plenty of inspiration to make your own keepsake by window shopping the Islands' beach towns or discovering hidden lagoons on of your Trailblazing expeditions.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gear Up for Hawaii


Organize your daypack so that it can be used not only for hiking and beach use, but also as a “purse” that you can drag with you everywhere, thereby leaving your car free of valuables.

Antibiotic ointment. Little cuts linger in the tropics.
Band Aids (add gauze pads and Ace bandage for extra safety)
Bandana - For sun protection, towel, napkin, fashion accessory, sling
Hydrogen peroxide in small squeeze bottle (optional, to wash cuts)
LED Flashlight or headlamp plus extra batteries. Also a good idea to carry matches or a butane lighter.
Food (energy bar, jerky, nuts). In addition to packed lunch. Good for big and little emergencies.
Ibuprofen (or other pain tablets and other medications you use)
Mosquito repellant (needed more in summer)
Sunscreen/lip balm
Swiss Army knife
Water (drink at least two liters per day)
Water pump, SteriPEN, or treatment tablets (optional). Do not drink stream water in Hawaii.
Whistle. Can be a lifesaver to call for help.


Hiking pole (retractable). Very useful on Hawaii’s steep, slick trails, and for stream  crossings and beating down spider webs. Also helpful to probe thick greenery for footing.
Snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, fins). Snorkeling gear can be purchased cheaply in Hawaii at Costco, Long’s, Wal Mart, etc. Fins that will accommodate your surf shoe are good for rocky entries and the snorkel-hikes (sniking) to offshore islands. Rentals are also available and may be cheaper if you only snorkel a day or two. Also pick up some mask de-fogger, which comes in a little squeeze bottle and works better than spit.
Umbrella (retractable, optional). Easy to pack. Can be a smart choice on shadelss beaches and town rain walks.
Camera. GoPro makes a good waterproof model.
Cell Phone. Coverage is not available everywhere, but almost. A cell phone to call 911 in an emergency makes all the difference. Doubles as a camera.
Shoes. A sturdy flip flop (Teva, Reef) is ideal for beach hiking. Be wary of strap-on sandals since sand gets caught inside and chews up your skin. A low-cut or lightweight cross-training or hiking shoe is good for mountain trails. Don't worry about waterproof shoes, since you will most likely end up slopping through the mud and crosssing streams above the top of the shoe.
Your Trailblazer Travel Book. Essential gear for the trail, beach, river, park, grotto, lagoon, cultural site, off-the-beaten track hotspot.

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.