Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Do you love me Pipeline Surfergirl?

The Banzai Pipeline (Pipeline, or just plain Pipe) is a long barrel breaking on a shallow near-shore reef at Ehukai Beach Park on the North Shore of Oahu. An inspiration for Surfer-Joe songs and movies of the 1960s, the picture-perfect curl is on the circuit among the big-boy breaks of the world professional surfing tours.

In 2006, the wahines arrived, holding the first ever professional event on the women's tour at Pipeline—and they've been rolling with the wave ever since. Pipe breaks both left and right (the back door) and produces those triumphant moments when surfers, hidden in the barrel for a moment, spit out in the spray and slice toward shore. Or not. The curl routinely claims even the best and is a notorious board-breaker. The Pipeline Women's Pro 2013 is hitting again now through March 22. The event will feature an Open division, as well as a Bodyboard, Longboard, Junior Pro Women and Men categories. Some surfers will be competing in all divisions and the best athlete wins the gold ring. Defending champion Bianca Valiente will try to reconquer the title. For all the action on North Shore Oahu, consult your Oahu Trailblazer guidebook.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Oahu's Ko Olina: Unreal

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Don't come looking for Old Hawaii at the Ko Olina resort development on Oahu's west shore, about a 40 minute drive from Waikiki. Give the credit to bulldozers and explosives rather than nature for carving our four picture-perfect lagoons rimmed by sandy beaches, gardens, and a walking path at what was once a largely and industrial wasteland just north of Pearl Harbor. Still, Ko Olina fills the bill for families looking for guaranteed sunshine and safe swimming in a relaxing surround. The NFL players stay here during the Pro Bowl.

Ko Olina has several hotels and "beach clubs" along the 2-mile shoreline. A slow economy put the brakes on two larger destination resorts, one by Disney that features a host of man-made lagoonlike swimming pools serviced by Mickey and the gang and scheduled to open in mid-2011, and another (The Grand Ko Olina Resort) by local developer Steve Case that has been scaled back from an original plan that called for a huge aquarium and artificial reef. A gated entrance controls the crowds, but each of the four lagoons has public beach access.

On the north end on Ko Olina is a natural cove, Lanikuhonua Hawaiian Cultural Park, where community groups and private parties gather, dating from 1939 when it was purchased by Alice Kamokila Campbell, the daughter of uber-rich James Campbell. Before then the cove was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lying Around Oahu's Lyon

Manoa Valley, home to Lyon Arboretum, is a short hop from the hubbub of downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, but it is eons away in terms of state of mind. The university-run botanical garden offers 200 acres of both manicured and wild greenery, with benches to contemplate the wonder of it all and a network of trails to get purposefully lost.

The patio behind the gift shop and visitors center is at a perfect elevation above the floor of the valley—high enough so that the gardens slope downward in the foreground, while the jagged green ridge of the Ko'olau Range rises in the distance. Plantings date from 1918 and some big-boy trees shade a host of flowering trees and shrubs, including plants with leaves the size of surfboards. Lyon's entrance is very near the trailhead for Manoa Falls, a popular tourist trot, and also by the Treehouse Restaurant, a place to bag lunch afterwards. Oahu Trailblazer has deets beginning on page 78.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kindle + Trailblazer Hawaii

Did you know you can follow the Trailblazer Hawaii team on your Kindle? Here's your link for Hawaii Vacation Blog.

We thank Digger from Minneapolis for his five star review:


"I write blog reviews for The Kindle Blog Report.

The people who write this blog live in Hawaii, so they know what they're talking about. I heartily recommend this blog for anyone who intends to travel to the various islands of Hawaii, or who merely wants to read and wish they were there."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kauai's Grand Canyon of the Pacific

About 10 miles long and almost 4,000 feet deep, Waimea Canyon can stand alongside those geologic sites in the American Southwest as a scenic wonder. A rugged hunter's trail follows the river from sea level into the gorge—not an advisable route when tropical rains fall in the interior and send a churning deluge through the canyon. It's easier to reach the bottom via the Kukui Trail, which is off the road that climbs along the rim of the canyon, a trek of about five miles round-trip that drops more than 2,000 feet.

This shot is from farther up the canyon on the Black Pipe Trail, part of a network of trails near Koke'e State Park. The trail connects with the Canyon Trail and crosses midway along the courseway of Waipo'o Falls. This place is a hiker's paradise. See Kauai Trailblazer pages 151-171 for canyon trails, as well as the many trails that radiate seaward along the Napali (The Cliffs) coast and into the Alakai Swamp.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Big Island of Hawaii's Steam Heat

Even on a sunny day the Steaming Bluffs at the Kilauea Caldera add a wispy special effect to the fern forest at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Add a little overcast or moonlight to the day and would-be thriller directors can shoot a movie on the cheap.

A trail hugs the rim of the crater and reaches the Jaggar Museum, about a half-mile distant. From the museum is a point-blank view of the towering plume of noxious gas that has been billowing since 2008 at from Halemaumau Crater, a smaller caldera within Kilauea.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Leap of Faith at Black Rock, Maui

Keka'a Point, or Black Rock, is where spirits of the dead were said to launch themselves in ancient times to join their Polynesian ancestors in the other world. Today, jumpers are just aiming for the water, just offshore the Sheraton Resort along the posh resort path of Ka'anapali on the north leeward coast of Maui.

The swimming is safe along the volcanic formation that forms the north end of the long sandy beach. Several lower leaping spots give newcomers options, without having to go to the top. Dubbed "Dig Me" Beach in the 1970s, Ka'anapali is still a spot where tourists can strut their stuff. Complete directions in your Maui Trailblazer.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Kalalau Trail is Open, Man

After an eight-week closure the DLNR has announced that reservations are now being taken for hiking and camping activities at the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park and Kalalau hiking trail. The recent project included rockfall mitigation at Ho'ole'a Falls and sea cave areas at Kalalau Beach and removal of illegal campsites.

The rugged trail, which hugs the roadless Na Pali coast on the north side of Kauai, is one of Hawaii's most popular. Bring an equipped daypack and sturdy shoes. A hiking pole will make you the envy of fellow hikers. directions for this trail and others in the vicinity can be found in the Kauai Trailblazer guidebook. Don't attempt this hike during heavy rains.

Camping is only allowed for 5 nights at Hanakoa and Kalalau and reservations may be made online.  Visitors are advised to reserve far in advance since this trail is one of the most popular wilderness camping areas in the world.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hanalei mourns Andy Iron's passing

Trailblazer Travel Books extends its deepest condolences to Andy's family and friends.

The 32-year-old legendary surfer died Tuesday morning in Dallas en route to Kauai from Puerto Rico.  No official cause of death has yet been determined.  The competitive surfing community has been stunned by the loss of this three-time ASP world champion.  For more details go to Kauai's newspaper, The Garden Island or check out the special tribute video on SurferToday.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Surf's Up Kauai

Strong rip currents and high surf expected on Kauai remaining in effect until Thursday. Surf along the north and west facing shores is expected to be 25 to 35 feet.

Check out these links for up-to-the-minute conditions.  Obey safety precautions on all beaches and only swim where a lifeguard indicates it is safe:  Poipu, Salt Pond, Lydgate and Kekaha should be smart choices at this time.

Weather forcast