Monday, November 28, 2011

Trailblazer Cyber Monday Deal

We offer a 40% discount on the purchase of six or more books, with free shipping (to a single address only). Think about gifts, employee perks, a set for the family, or bundle-buying with friends. 

Groups can buy the books at this price and then re-sale to members as part of a fundraiser. For a book costing $16.95, you pay $10.17, with no tax and no shipping. To order, send us a request via email, to

Friday, November 25, 2011

Airborne on Kauai's Nualolo Trail

You'll need a hang glider to continue from the terminus of the the Nualolo Trail, at the Lolo Vista Point, a barren cinder nub lofted about 2,000 feet above Kauai's precipitous northwest coast. The trek is about 8 miles, round trip, with a 1,600 drop on the way out. Sure-footed hikers can make a car-shuttle hike out of it by taking a hairy connector trail that reaches the Awa'awapuhi lookout (pictured in the distance in the bottom photo). After heavy rains, erosion can make the connector trail an experience best left to goats.

The Nualolo Trail is one of ten trails and hunters' roads that radiate out from the road at the edge of Waimea Canyon to Koke'e State Park. All end at oh-wow vistas and all involve 8- to 10-mile treks with a drop approaching 2,000 feet on the way out.

To the right of the highway on the way up, is the road's main attraction: red-walled Waimea Canyon, a.k.a. the Grand Canyon on the Pacific. Several trails lead into the canyon, or into the birdland forests along its rim. But wait, there's more: The canyon road ends past Koke'e at stunning overlooks of the Kalalau Valley, with view trails along its upper rim and into the fabulous Alakai Swamp. You want tropical trekking? Head to Kauai (and take a look at pages 151 to 171 of Kauai Trailblazer).

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Green World of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island centers around the Kilauea Caldera, a barren crust of lava that is currently (from its Halemaumau Crater) spewing metric tons of noxious gasses into the atmosphere. The vast moonscape of the park on the island's east side is connected to, but a world away, from its newest section: 116,000 acres of tropical forest that will bring out your inner Tarzan.

In 2003, HVNP doubled in size when a portion of the former Kahuku Ranch was added. The easiest access to the lush forest is a long way from the main park entrance. The best way to get there is off Lorenzo Road, near the turnoff to South Point, about 50 miles away (see Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer, page 117). Park official guess that plans to develop and publicize this area of the park will be completed in 2016. But it's open for adventurers right now.

Friday, November 18, 2011

From the Big Apple to the Big Pineapple

New Yorkers: start making Hawaii vacation plans for June. Hawaiian Airlines is touching down in your city. A 294-seat Airbus A330-20 will make the ten hour flight. Check out the discounted fare promotion....$212 one way....a steal!

This fare gets you to Oahu and Waikiki Beach, pictured here. From this airborne view, you can see that Diamond Head, the iconic dormant volcano that lords over the resort strip, is indeed a crater and not just the jagged ridge that can be seen from the beach.

To get to the other islands—Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawaii—you'll need to make a connection in Honolulu. In order to figure out which island is best for you, and everything else needed to plan a Hawaiian vacation, take a look at No Worries Hawaii, a planning guide for all the islands. If possible, give yourself at least two weeks in Hawaii, the minimum time needed to let aloha work its magic on a New York state of mind.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Seating with a View: Dining alfresco in Hawaii

All the islands have first-class restaurants, many with celebrity chefs reinventing pan Pacific cuisine. But if you want to save a boatload of money and eat at a restaurant with unmatched views and atmosphere, not to mention unlimited seating, then make like a Hawaiian and head for the beach.

For the menu selections, head for a Hawaiian plate lunch restaurant— L&L is a popular chain, but every town will have its locally owned offerings. For well under ten bucks, you'll get a meat or seafood selection, with a starchy side dish of rice or Hawaiian potato-mac salad. The leaning is teriyaki, but plate lunches reflect Hawaii's "calabash" of cultures. The first Hawaiian settlers brought food and cooking techniques with them from Polynesia, while Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Portuguese immigrants have since each contributed their own culinary sensibilities.

Another option is a supermarket, like Foodland or Big Save, where bargain-priced sushi selections are prepared fresh and ready to go.

Then get to the beach before the sun goes down. Kihei on Maui has a number of plate lunch places with the three Kamaole Beach Parks nearby. On Kauai, head for Hanalei Bay after picking up dinner in town a few blocks away. Hilo on the Big Island has excellent take-out options and a huge beachfront park on Hilo Bay. On Oahu, the offerings are numerous near Waikiki Beach—but why huddle at a table when you can head for Kuhio Beach Park and dine in the sea breeze with the nightly free hula show as entertainment?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Find Your Dream: No Worries Hawaii now an eBook

Trailblazer Travel Books announces that their No Worries Hawaii guidebook is now available on Amazon's Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook. Have it with you wherever you go and happy vacation planning.

This planning guide is full of freebies and tips for all the islands, including all the nuts-and-bolts needed to plan a vacation that lives up to expectations. At the heart of No Worries Hawaii is a self-test that allows would-be-visitors to hone in on which island to visit, where to stay, and to choose from the best activities and attractions. Each person will have a different take on what constitutes a "dream" vacation: No Worries Hawaii has put it all together.

A large section of the book offers 36 different categories of Hawaiian activities (e.g., beginner snorkeling beaches, museums, tropical hikes, botanical gardens, places to watch surfers, wild beaches). The top 20 places for each category are grouped by island—and boldfaced entries note Hawaii's top five in each category.

As the title suggests, the end result is a worry-free vacation—with time spent having fun and not trying to find it. A Wikiwiki phonebook appendix lists the best accommodations, tours, campsites, attractions, with contact information. No Worries Hawaii has been out in paper for several editions. The authors have spent decades in Hawaii, and also have written a detailed travel guide for each of the islands, which go hand in hand with the planning guide.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lawn Surfing at Kauai's Hanalei

Well, not exactly. These boards of all sizes are only taking a break on the green stuff before finding a new owner and heading onto the wet blue stuff, only a few blocks away at Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Hawaii.

The surfboard swap meet happens on the occasional Saturday, at the Hanalei School Shopping Center in the middle of town. Some boards are new, handmade by locals, but most are used, whose owners are looking to trade up, or just find a new ride. Prices are right.

Hanalei has one of the best beginner surfing breaks in Hawaii, at Black Pot Beach, which is home to the photogenic Hanalei Pier. Farther out, the bay also has the big-boy break called Queens (and others), offshore the Hanalei River. In the middle of the bay is the rough-and-tumble, many-tiered shore break at Pinetrees—home surf spot to former world pro champ, the late Andy Irons, and his brother, Bruce, who continues a tradition of excellence. Many of the surfers at the board swap will know the Irons brothers—Andy's death in 2010 hit the Kauai surfing family hard.