Friday, May 28, 2010

Kula, as in Cool

About midway between sea level and the 10,000-foot summit of Haleakala is Kula, a miles-long run of pastures, flower beds (including proteas), and old-timey businesses strung along sections of a two-lane highway and rural roads. Bring a jacket, since it is chilly at 4,000 feet, but also bring open expectations to find some really kool stuff. The airborne view is across Maui toward the West Maui Mountains, as well as the three other outer islands.

Kula Lodge, draws a lunch crowd, and next door, the Kula Marketplace will fill the bill for gourmet picnic foods and a surprising array of gift ideas and artwork. Down the road is Kula Gardens, Maui's oldest botanical garden and a family-pleaser. Jog off road a tad to see the movie-like setting of Kula Sanatorium (now a medical center) then keep curling around the mountain to Sun Yat Sen Park, a tribute to Kula's Chinese heritage.

Around the bend from the park is Tedeschi Vineyards, the most popular stop in the Kula area. It's been around since 1974, taking over the historic James Makee estate, which was a favorite retreat for King David Kalakaua (Hawaii's last king) and hosted writer Robert Louis Stevenson. Taste sparkling wines made from pineapple and tour the arboretum. The winery is right next to Ulupalakua Ranch, and real live paniolos (cowboys) may be around the country store.

Make sure to veer off the highway and take sections of Kula Road. You'll find quirky places like Cafe' 808, Morihara Store, and the Church of the Holy Ghost, an octagonal edifice built in 1894. For more details, see Maui Trailblazer, pages 143-151 and pages 162-163.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

UNLOST on Oahu

Who would guess that the Likelike Pali trail leads out the back of a parking lot at a golf course on windward Oahu? With a pair of flip flops you can get to Likelike Falls and look up to where five hundred Oahu warriors were driven over the Nu'uanu Pali (cliffs) by the invading forces of Kamehameha the Great in 1795. A century later, when the first road was dug in, workers found 300 skulls. You're more likely to see wild ginger and mangoes.

This is one of those "lost" places that are right at the edge of suburban Oahu. Lost, but not really. LOST, the TV program, was not filmed here. You can check out one of the favorite beach locales for that show on the North Shore by looking at page 178-79 in Oahu Trailblazer.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cheap Hawaii flights, book now

Alaska Airlines just launched a fare sale from over twenty West Coast cities. Sample ONE WAY fares include: Portland to Maui, $179; Anchorage to Honolulu, $189; Oakland to Kona, $189; Sacramento to Maui, $189; Seattle to Kona, $219; Boise to Kauai, $274. Book by May 27 for travel June 4-30. Such a deal!

Congratulations to our five No Worries Hawaii guidebook contest winners: Anna Niendorf from Scottsdale, AZ; Jamie Story from Redlands, CA; Danny Burgess from Fort Collins, CO; John Chang from Philadelphia, PA; and Pat Dyer from Longview, TX. Hope all of you sunseekers can grab a seat before they're sold out.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Waikiki: The Best Things in Life

While not exactly free—you do need to jump on a jet to Honolulu—the warm air and balmy breezes of Waikiki may seem like a bargain this time of year, with spring refusing to give way to summer in many parts of the Mainland. It's shoulder season in the islands so you can find deals. Waikiki can really be economical, since you don't actually need a rental car and will spare the expense of an interisland flight. Discount rooms are available in beachfront resorts like the Aston Waikiki starting at $141 per night

There's a lot to do in Hawaii, but nothing more pressing or rewarding than finding a spot on the sand to call your own. No lines, no tickets, no worries.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why Hawaii? Free Book!

Maybe you've always wanted to go to Hawaii but are not sure about how to go about it. Perhaps you've been to Hawaii, but want to see something new. Send us an e-mail(brief) saying why you want to go to Hawaii and what you hope to get out of the trip. We'll send out a free copy of NO WORRIES Hawaii to the FIVE people who submit the most compelling and creative responses.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Hollywood Hills, Oahu

These "hills" are the razorbacked Ko'olau Mountains on the northern windward coast of Oahu, but they've seen more action outdoors than their L.A. counterparts. Among the movies shot on the Kualoa Ranch are Godzilla, Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young, as well as tons of TV commercials and many scenes from Hawaii Five-O. You can tour the 4,000-acre ranch via horesback, ATV, open-air jungle vehicles, or, by special arrangement, on foot.

The ranch is just inland from Kualoa Regional Park, offshore of which is "Chinaman's Hat," or Mokoli'i Island. Shaped like the floating headgear from the Asian sugar workers, the island is a prime destination for a "snike," or snorkel-hike. Though not for beginners, the swim out to and walk around the small island is one of Oahu's great adventures. The park also has a long strip of sand that extends around a point and into a bay to another snorkeling spot—Secret Island, so called because a narrow section of land is backed by a huge pond on one side and the ocean on the other.  Full directions to the ranch can be found in your Oahu Trailblazer .

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Avoiding a Killer Vacation

Hawaii hosts nature's most violent events: hurricanes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Yet, today, thanks to enhanced warning and forecast systems, few people are harmed. When mother nature punches the ticket in Hawaii, she often does so on the nicest of days, in the prettiest places, and when the victims are least suspecting. Tourist deaths happen at least monthly somewhere in the islands, in spite of great concern and efforts by the Hawaiians. The good news is that virtually all recreation-related fatalities are avoidable. Especially yours.

Among the ways to die while having fun in Hawaii, drowning is the most popular, normally caused by near-shore rip currents. The best way to avoid rip currents is to swim at a beach with a lifeguard present and to ask advice. If at a secluded beach, always spend many minutes observing the waves and reading the current before entering the water. (Higher  waves mean stronger the rip current: That's  the cardinal rule. Current is created by incoming wave water finding its way back out to sea; you can notice riffles on the water surface, a breaking down of the wave tiers,  and blue channels though the reef.)

Every beach can be perfectly safe and lethally dangerous, depending on wave conditions. Don't assume it's safe to swim because you see surfers or other people in the water. To test rip current (after observation), throw in a stick to see if it floats away. Swimming with a buddy is a good idea, probably safest when the buddy is on shore watching and able to call for help. A mask and fins greater enhance your swimming power and efficiency. While snorkeling, float face down to see if you are being carried away. If there is a strong current, get out. If the current is mild, swim against it while snorkeling so you'll be able to swim with if on the homeward leg. If you do get overpowered in a current, don't panic (easily said) and don't fatigue yourself by swimming against the force. Breathe and stay calm. If people are on shore, wave for help. Swim sideways to the current, thereby getting out of the "river." Rip current is a near-shore phenomenon, and it will release you not far offshore. Then swim around the direction of the current and back in.

All of the above tips and precautions are trumped by the mantra of sea safety: When in doubt, don't go out. For more details on swimming safety, see page 58 of No Worries Hawaii, and observe the precautions noted for the beaches in the Trailblazer guides for each of the islands.

Other common killers (that can be avoided!) include rogue waves, falling from cliffs, flash floods, and getting lost on hikes. These are also covered in No Worries Hawaii, in the Trailblazer guides—and will be the subject of future blogs. Aloha!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hawaiian Slippers

From SoHo to SoCal, flip-flops in recent years have become fashion footwear for men and women. During previous decades, the rubber sandals (a.k.a zorries, tabis, thongs, go-aheads) were hard to find among an array of strap-on  river shoes—but not in Hawaii.

Usually called slippers (“slippahs”), the airy shoes have been the unquestioned king of sole, the primary pediatric vehicle that transported the whole family’s feet from the beach to the home—where no shoes are ever worn, especially in someone’s house.

So don’t bring fancy open-toed doo-dads to the Islands. The slipper will do the job from morning to night. And don’t worry about trying to hunt a pair down in your hometown, since you’ll find scads of cheap options in all local stores, like ABC, Whaler’s, and Longs, not to mention your mom ‘n’ pop Wal Mart. They start around five dollars.

You might think about spending a little more and getting a form-fitting, arch-support model, such as those made by Teva, Reef, Montrail and other companies. They hold up well and are good for coastal hiking and sightseeing strolls.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pimping your Ride, Aloha Style

No rule says you have to rent a Ford Taurus, or even the signature "I'm a tourist" car, the red convertible, on your Hawaiian vacation. Sure, all the major car rental companies do business in the islands--and  it may well be that you'll end up finding the most economical deal renting a compact from one of them. Like a sensible pair of shoes.

But Hawaii is a place where shoes are optional, and you have the option of getting a little zany on the choice of transportation. You can try a scooter, limo, Jeep, luxury Italian sedan, or an old beater surfmobile. Or fool them all, and use the bus and a bicycle to get around.

Kauai has some excellent coastal bike paths. The Big Island invites mountain bikers who want to get way away from it all. Oahu has excellent public transportation and having a car in Waikiki can be more trouble than it's worth. Daily hotel parking fees can be a costly add-on.  On Maui ... a car is your best bet.

Use the links below to shop for something unconventional.

Maui (jeeps)
Mercedes CLK 500:  $250/day

Corvette: $350; BMW convertible: $325; Porsche Carrera: $550

Big Island
Lamborghini: $1200/day; Maserati Gran Turismo: $800


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Volcano update

This composite image of the County viewing area in Kalapana combines a thermal image, showing the active flow lobe in red and yellow, with a normal photograph. The lighter yellow areas are locations of active breakouts at the flow margin, and smoke can be seen originating from the flow front where breakouts are burning vegetation.

From a spectator:   "Yesterday we saw the flow advancing and surround new portions of the road. Then we hiked back to the old viewing area near the ocean and in the middle of a litte kipuka splitting it  a giant waterfall of red and purple lava was in a furious flow....this was not a stream of lava  but a wide waterfall tumbling over a cliff as if a damn of water had just broken, but it was all lava. If you look on the map you can see the end of the bright red lump   ..we were a little beyond that as the lava has moved further toward the was truly amazing."

Use extreme caution in these areas.  Before you go, check the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park website for most accurate viewing areas and flow field conditions.