Sunday, December 30, 2012

Surf's Up in Hawaii!

A northwest swell, perhaps rising to 30 feet by Monday, is good news for the Big Boy surfers, particulary on Kauai and the North Shore of Oahu. Big wave action also beckons both locals and visitors who want to take a seat in the sand to see some of the world's best athletes in action—and for free. To be a spectator on Oahu, head for Waimea Bay (the bluffs along the guardrail by the church) and to Ehukai Beach Park, where Pipleline makes its famous curl on a near-shore reef. On Kauai, one of the best viewpoints is Kalihiwai Beach Park, although more people head for Princeville to check out Hideaways and Queens, breaks offshore the mouth of the Hanalai River. The Hanalei Pier is also a great perch for the near-shore break. For a northwest swell on Maui, try the seawall in Lahaina. But to see the best, head north of Ka'anapali to Honolua Bay, where cliffside seats are easy to get to and put you right in the action. (Trailblazer guides have sections on the surfing beaches of Hawaii, including the best places to be a spectator.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Oahu 's Haleiwa: The Real Surf City

If everybody had an ocean, across the USA, there would still be only one Surf City, the undisputed surfing capitol of the universe, and it would still be Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu. The laid-back berg strung along a mile of the rural Kamehameha Highway is within a few miles of dozens of surfing beaches, including four on the world pro tour: Haleiwa Ali'i, Waimea Bay, Pipeline, and Sunset Beach.

The town is an assemblage of wood-frame buildings, some quaint and some unremarkable, strung out over about a mile of beachfront. Haleiwa began as a missionary settlement on Anahulu Stream in 1832, but its real growth came along with the pineapple and sugar cane industries that brought the railroad later that century. And with the rail came weekenders from Honolulu who sought a weekend getaway at the Hale Iwa Hotel, built by tycoon Benjamin J. Dillingham. Agriculture receded, but an infinite supply of waves remained, which became the town's new economic product. The beach business was given a boost by the surfer-Joe movies of the 1950s and 60s. Although developers faithfully hatch schemes of resort grandeur, the North Shore has so far resisted and retained its country vibe of benign neglect.

When the surf's up, surfers are always present. When big surf rolls in (25-feet and up) you can take a seat in the sand for free and watch some of the world's best and ballsiest athletes in action.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Give Hawaii for Christmas

For the hiker, stroller, surfer, kayker, biker, snorkeler, sun worshipper, armchair traveler, or lover of all things Hawaiian on your list. These books exude "aloha" and are designed for families and independent travelers. Order a set at a discount on the Trailblazer Travel Book website: Or if your gift recipient also enjoys the High Sierra, San Francisco/Marin or Paris, they have adventure books for those locales too. Mele Kalikimaka, Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, have a Cool Yule!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Camping in Hawaii

Camping in Hawaii, with a few exceptions, is not exactly a wilderness experience, especially if you fantasize a pseudo-little grass shack on the beach. But it's definitely the choice for those on a budget—even though airline fees for checked bags (tents) have altered the math a bit.

Beach campgrounds are mostly run by the county (each island is its own county) and are usually closed for a day a week (varying, depending on the park) for maintenance and to keep everybody moving. Bringing a larger, walk-in dome tent has advantages, lending a degree of privacy, a larger place to put your stuff and change, etc., and a nice dry pocket in case of rain or strong wind.

On Kauai, Anini Beach is a good bet for visitors. On Maui, Waianapanapa State Park near Hana is sweet, but isolated from the best beaches on the west and south coasts. Oahu's Malaekahana State Recreation Area on the north Windward coast has room to roam. On the Big Island, little known Kapa'a Beach Park in Kohala has some choice spots.

Mountain camping will a more private experience but (you guessed it), you will be in cooler temps and a long way from the beach. The Big Island's Kalopa State Park is a find, on the north end of the Hamakua Coast.

Each Trailblazer guide has a rundown on campgrounds—as well as rustic accommodations and cabins, which are a good alternative for budget travelers. A summary is also included in
No Worries Hawaii, an all-island planning guide.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Waikiki: Hotel rooms with a view

While not exactly your little grass shack (which you could still find on Waikiki a century ago) many glittering high-rise hotels offer peace and quiet just flip-flop footsteps away from the beach. Vacations at Waikiki save money, since the cheapest flights go directly to Honolulu, and you really don't need a rental car. There's much within walking distance, and trolleys and buses serve Oahu's major tourist attractions. See No Worries Hawaii and Oahu Trailblazer for other choices, including those for the budget minded. Our recommendations for your stay near Waikiki and Honolulu, Hawaii:

Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki from $189 100 Holomoana Street, Honolulu, HI 96815 Phone: (808) 956-1111 away from noisy crowds, good value, ask for upper floors

Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa from $199 extends true Aloha spirit 2552 Kalakaua Avenue, Oahu Honolulu, HI 96815 Phone: (808) 922-6611 Ask for a room on the 30th floor with view of Diamond Head

The Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach from $299 front and center on Waikiki Beach 2335 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815 Phone: (808) 923-0711 The Outrigger's flagship hotel. Walking distance to everything. Get a room on the 11th floor.

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel from $193 2570 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815 (808) 922-2511
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Ilikai Hotel & Suites from $199 1777 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu Oahu, HI 96815 Phone: (808) 949-3811 situated next-door to the Hilton Hawaiian Village with much better rates. very clean, great staff.

The Royal Hawaiian from $365 2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815 Phone: (808) 923-7311 The "pink palace of the Pacific", luxurious, historic, totally grand

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Maui Trailblazer recommended in New York Times



"Many of the attractions of the Hana district are easy to find: the black sand beaches with wild lava formations and lush rain forests extend along the coastline, and the natural swimming pools of Oheo Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools, are a clearly signposted part of the Kipahulu section of the Haleakala National Park. Hamoa Beach, just south of town, is renowned as one of the most beautiful and pristine in Maui. But some of the other specific places O’Keeffe and Patricia Jennings visited are off the beaten path. I recommend a guidebook called “Maui Trailblazer,” which has detailed descriptions of trails and remote natural sites.

-Tony Perrottet, New York Times Click on "New York Times" for full article.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Hiking the Napali

The aptly named north-northwest Napali Coast of Kauai is a 25-mille stretch of roadless shore where big seas do battle with a series of 2,500-foot-high cliffs separated by valleys. The notorious trail to the biggest of these valleys, the Kalalau (pictured) is an arduous 11-mile trek that begins where the road ends on the north side of the island.

But for the best views and a number of lesser-know trails that descend from above the precipices you need to head to the west side of the island and make the drive up to Waimea Canyon. Above the canyon are great views into the Kalalau from overlooks you can drive to. Or, select from a half-dozen or more trails—typically requiring 10-plus miles round-trip hiking with about 2,000 feet of down-and-back-up elevation. One of the best is the Nualolo Cliff Trail (pictured), which ends at a red-dirt escarpment that will curl your toes. For complete directions for all the hikes in the Waimea Canyon check out the proven classic, Kauai Trailblazer guide.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Maui's Iao Valley State Park

Iao (rhymes with meow) Valley State Park gets hammered with tour buses and can be a turnoff to those seeking a jungle adventure. To enjoy the place, you need to cobble together a series of attractions, beginning outside the park--which is only two miles from Maui's county seat in Wailuku.

The Maui Trailblazer guidebook has the details, beginning on page 91. The heftiest hike in the area is Kapilau Ridge (up to 5 miles round-trip, with 2,100 feet of elevation), which passes the Wailuku Cross on the way up a skinny ridge with sea views. Just before the park is a sure-thing for families: Kepaniwai Heritage Park. The county park has an arboretum of banyans, palms, and mangos that shade recreations of buildings from the cultures that formed Hawaii's sugar cane culture. Next door to this park is the privately run Hawaii Nature Center, with a gift shop, kid's museum, and nature walks (around $30) that visit the stream where the bloody battle of the Iao Valley took place in 1790. Finally, also outside the park is the Tropical Gardens of Maui, whose lush acres also span the stream. Garden admission is priced right, about five bucks.

Iao Valley State Park has several short hikes, including botanical gardens, streamside trails, and the steps that rise to a kiosk to view the park's namesake, a 2,250-foot green spire known as the Iao Needle. Most visitors stop here, not realizing you can step over a railing to a trail that leads up past the Needle to a narrow ridge that is one of Maui's (and Hawaii's) most scenic spots. Reaching this spectacular spot requires only a modest investment of energy: 1.5 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of 250 feet. The trail continues beyond the vista, following the route the fleeing warriors took in 1790 to escape to Olowalu Valley on the other side of the island. But this trail is badly overgrown and not recommended, even if Kamehameha himself is chasing you with a club.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Trailblazers

Thank you readers for sharing adventures with us in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. Enjoy the holiday!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Super Storm Sandy's Hawaiian "Refugees"

The effects of Hurricane Sandy are being felt at another ocean some 5,000 miles away, on the sandy beaches of Hawaii. Still without power and with homes devastated, well-off residents of the Northeastern Seaboard have fled to the tropical climate and warm waters of the Extreme West Coast. Maui and Oahu (Waikiki) have seen most of the uptick, with hotels running at pretty much full capacity, but Kauai and the Big Island have also extended an aloha to Easterners. Of course, most of those impacted by Sandy remain with the grey sands and fridgid air of New Jersey and environs. Hawaiians, and everyone else, are encouraged to send aloha and donations to the American Red Cross. Every offering will make someone's Thanksgiving that much better.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dat's why they call it the BIG Island

Hikers looking for out-there experiences can find them on any of the Islands, but on the Big Island of Hawaii (about twice the size as the other islands combined), you have to go looking for someplace that isn't some form of wilderness. And it's not all wild-and-wooly. These oceanside paths at Ninole Cove are pocked with unmarked Hawaiian archeological sites, located just south of Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, which is a tour-bus stop about 40 miles south of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the east shore. Inland from these black-rock beaches is Wood Valley, site of a Buddhist retreat nestled into the huge Kau Forest Reserve, with subtropical groves and trails leading up the slopes of Mauna Loa volcano, lofted at about 14,000 feet. About 20 miles offshore Ninole, and 3 miles under sealevel, is Loihi, a bubbling mountain of lava some 15,000 feet high that is expect to see daylight in about 10,000 years. Hawaii the Big Island Traiblazer has more on this coastline, begining on page 117.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hiking poles: Not just for geezers in Hawaii

Some adventure hikers may see using a pole (the retractable kind that easily fits in a suitcase) as a crutch for injured or older people. Not so in Hawaii. In many circumstances, a pole is a literal life-saver.

Mountain trails in the islands often go straight up ridges and sometimes narrow to several feet or less, with big drop-offs on either side. This is okay when ascending under dry conditions. But coming down, even a light rain can turn the tacky red earth to muddy grease. A pole is a much-needed helping hand.

Stream crossings are frequent in lush valley trails. Rains can quickly cause stream levels to rise, making crossings difficult: A hiking pole helps keep you upright (although, during flash floods, hikers should use common sense and wait out the storm until stream levels recede.)

Poles also are a good way to probe the thick greenery that borders trails, to ensure for solid footing. Greenery can disguise drop-offs. In lush trails in the morning hours, poles are also helpful in clearing the spider webs that lace the bushes (although there are no posionous insects in Hawaii). And, should you ever find a wild pig, common to mountain regions, a hiking pole is a ready aid for self defense. (That is a joke, sort of.)

Poles are also useful on coastal routes to remote beaches, when rock-hopping is required.

If you plan on getting 'out there' in Hawaii, a hiking pole is essential gear, in much the same way swim fins are essential gear to add swimming power in the face of rip currents. For more precautionary advice in the water or on the trail consult your No Worries Hawaii guidebook.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Poipu is Kauai's Sunny South

Cacti aren't usually among the images on postcards of Hawaii. But you will see plenty of those desert plants, as well as other dry-loving flora along the miles-long sand-and-sun coast that is centered around the resorts of Poipu Beach. (Moir Gardens, nestled into the Kiahuna Plantation Resort, is one of the world's top cactus gardens.) The interior mountains of Kauai get nearly 40 feet of rain per year. The sunny south coast gets around 10 inches. The west side of this coast features two of the world's five National Tropical Botanical Gardens (Allerton and McBride), as well as some of the island's best snorkeling at Prince Kuhio Beach Park.

Poipu Beach is a run of low-slung condos and resorts, with the Sheraton at one end and the fabulous Grand Hyatt at the other. Poipu's yellow-sand beaches have year-around swimming, surfing, and snorkeling. Shipwreck Beach (pictured) in front of the Hyatt, also has great surfing, and is the starting point for a several-mile coastal hike on the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. Whale-watching, bird viewing, and ancient sites keep hikers' eyes full. You can also drive a (very) bumpy road from the Hyatt to Mahaulepu. Monk seals, Hawaii's endangered mammals, are known to share the sand with tourists. From road's end, a trail continues along the tawny bluffs to rugged Haula Beach (also pictured). Kauai Trailblazer covers the sunny south coast in detail from pages 115 to 126.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mahaiula Bay

The South Kohala coast on the Big Island of Hawaii is a scorched slag heap of sharp lava, the last place you'd think to wander looking for luxury. But fasten the seat belt on the rental car and inch along the 1.5-mile rutted road (its condition varies) and you will be rewarded with three beaches worthy of world-class destination resorts—Kekaha Kai State Park.

The first beach, Kekaha Kai, is a beach park with picnic facilities, right at the parking lot. Mahaiula Bay (pictured) requires a walk of less than a half-mile, to a classic sand crescent rimmed by palms and other beach trees. The third beach, Makalawena, is a round-trip walk of about two miles across a sun-baked rocky path, but the walk doesn't prevent it from being the most popular. Makalawena's charms include a little oasis pond, decent surfing, and a long run of sand backed by dunes. There's also a nice keiki pool—a protected swimming area inside the reef that is great for kids.

For more details, see page 72 of Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

History at your feet: Petroglyphs on Hawaii's Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii has thousands of acres of smooth (pahoehoe, "pa-hoi-hoi") lava, where rock etchings tell the history and happenings from about 2,000 years ago up to the late 19th century. This field, the Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs, is well-marked, off Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. At times (as pictured) volcanic activity makes driving park roads difficult.

Some half-dozen sites on the island are signed and protected. Adventure seekers can find twice that many petroglyph fields, mostly on the Kona (west) side of the island. Just look for the pahoehoe lava, as opposed to the jagged slag-heaps (called a'a, "ah-ah"), the second form the molten earth takes when it reaches the surface. The carvings tell of births, deaths, and significant happenings, such as the most recent drawings that depict Western sailing ships and rifles. All the recognized sites are noted in Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer. If you find a site that is "off the map," be sure to take care not to step on or disturb the etchings.

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hawaii's Coolest Beach Parks

Like all "Best" lists, this one must be taken with a grain of sand. There are hundreds of awesome beach parks and beaches in Hawaii. But, okay, let's assume you are on one of the islands and looking for a place where locals and toursts alike hang out at sunset and all feel happy about having the good sense to be in Hawaii. (Listed from north to south.)

1. Black Pot Beach Park, Hanalei, Kauai: The signature Hanalei Pier (pictured) has been featured in many movies, and this stretch of sand most recently is where George Clooney et. al. took a stroll in "The Descendants." Hanalei Bay has several miles of walkable sand. Surfing and canoeing provide entertainment. The nearby town is the place to pick up a libation and watch the sunset turn into a starry night.

2. Sans Souci Beach, Waikiki, Oahu: In the shadow of iconic Diamond Head and just off the glitz of Wakiki, this small run of powder sand attracts well-healed locals and visitors on a beach stroll. The huge greenspace of Kapiolani Park is right across the street. Chill here, or walk down to catch the nightly hula show at Prince Kuhio Park--in the heart of Waikiki.

3. Baldwin Beach Park, Paia, Maui: This former sugar workers camp is now a magnet for islanders ready to kick back after a long day. Body boarders like the shorebreak in the middle of the bay. Walks include a sandy trudge (pictured) to Baby Baldwin Beach, which features a reef-protected pool that is alway safe for swimming. A rustic trail leads the other direction to uber-funk Paia, where fine dining and good eats await. Baldwin is not far from Hookipa, the windsurfing capital of the world.

4. Bayfront Park, Hilo, the Big Island: A long greenspace with a bandstand in the center lies just across the street from delightfully dilapidated Hilo Town. Canoe clubs stroke the near-shore waters, which are protected from tsunamis and high waves by a huge breakwater far offshore. A short drive or long walk gets you to expansive Liliuokalina Gardens and tiny Moku Ola (Coconut Island). A footbridge arches toward the small island, which sports a ring of palms like a tiara. You look across the bay to Hilo, with the giant volcanos of Mauan Loa and Mauna Kea rising to nearly 14,000 feet inland: Talk about a sense of place.

Good directions to all these beaches are in the Trailblazer Travel Books. Find them on,, or your favorite indie bookstore.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Learning to hula

Here's a tip: If atttending the sort of tourist-oriented free hula show that usually takes place in shopping centers, don't sit near the front row. Such seats are reserved for those who want to be dragged from the seclusion of being a spectator into the bright light of being a performer. It's all in good fun. Although the shopping center shows are performed in the authentic hula styles, they are to be distinguished from other offerings where the onlookers are meant to stay in their seats. Hula is a many-centuries-old method of dance—accompanied by chants and percussion—that memorializes the events of Polynesian culture. On each island are hula halaus, which are groups of men and women, young and old, who perpetuate the tradition. Statewide competitions are held, most notably the Merry Monarch Festival on the Big Island.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

He Haw! Hike or Bike to Kauai's Donkey Beach

Not long ago, Donkey Beach on Kauai’s Coconut Coast was a surfers’ hangout and sometimes nudie beach reachable via a coastal pineapple road or an unmarked path down through the cane fields. Though still a quiet place to spend the day, the beach is now on the tourist map right off the new (2009) Kealia Coastal Bike Path, a paved route with several arty bridges that hugs the coast for several miles from Kapa’a Town, and only a mile or so from Kealia Beach. A signed trailhead with fancy paved parking lot makes Donkey a short trot (less than a mile round-trip) for hikers.

The waters are normally too rough for swimming, but surfers take on a choppy inshore break, as well as a right-slide off the bay’s south point. An unpaved trail continues to little-seen House Beach and then for several miles to Anahola. Be Aware: All Hawaiian beaches are public spots, so keep your pants on.

Complete walking and driving directions in the Kauai Trailblazer guide.
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Friday, September 21, 2012

If you're Maui bound, take the eco-friendly Trailblazer

A guide for families and outdoor adventurers alike, Maui Trailblazer 2012 covers all of the island, and includes day trips to the neighboring islands of Molokai, Lanai, and Molokini.

Clear directions and concise descriptions lead to all of Maui's well-known attractions, as well as to hidden discoveries that Trailblazer readers have come to expect.

137 hikes and strolls to tropical rain forests and remote valleys, coastal bluffs and lava caves, Haleakala crater and the Hana Highway, cascading waterfalls, beaches, ridgetops, towns, whale-watching perches, historic sites, and archeological ruins.

Among the 44 snorkeling spots are hike-to coves and the secret places that tour boats go.

Kayakers can pick from about 20 put-ins.

Surfers can select from 38 beaches and decide whether to boogie, board, or body surf. Onlookers will find the best places to watch the surfers, windsurfers and kite-boarders ride the big ones.

The text is complimented by 10 maps and 240 photographs, including a four-page color insert.

Nine driving tours take readers to all the attractions, natural wonders, and historic sites.

A Resource Links section provides numbers for free visitor information and recreational outfitters, as well as hand-picked accommodations and local restaurants to suit every budget and taste bud.

A Best Of section lets you pick the right activity to suit your mood and the day. Appendices include free hula shows, farmer's markets, what to pack, climate, history, fauna, and a Hawaiian glossary.

This new and completely revised fourth edition for 2012 includes a Trailblazer Kids section for adventuring families.

Available at,, Barnes and Noble, Powell's or your favorite Indie bookstore.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Iki not Icky on the Big Island

It's a shame to visit the Big Island and not take the Iki Crater Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a four-mile loop that drops 400 feet into a side crater of Kilauea Volcano. You start out in the lush ohia-and-tree-fern forest on the south rim of the crater and then make your way across broken tabletops of pahoehoe (smooth) lava that seep steam. The crater is active though it has not blown its cork since 1959.

The trail climbs again into the rain forest and joins the Crater Rim Trail on an undulating journey with a variety of songbirds providing the soundtrack. Iki Crater is among the best of many excellent hikes in this section of the Big Island. For a complete rundown, see pages 125-133 of Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Goatspotting on Kauai

Among the rules to ensure safety when hiking Kaua'i's NaPali Coast is this: Never follow a goat trail.

These smug critters like to chill at the terminus of the Awa'awapuhi Trail, the most popular among the down-and-up, out-and-back trails on the ridges that lead seaward from the upper edges of Waimea Canyon. Provided you manage your time and avoid foul weather, the treks are safe for the careful hiker, unless you  sprain the shutter-finger snapping pictures.

Find driving directions to the trailhead in your Kauai Trailblazer guidebook.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wild Blue Yonder: Maui

Head to Kanaha Beach Park on Maui's windward coast to see some of the world's best adrenaline-juice junkies go kiteboarding, zipping airborne on a sail with a surfboard clipped to their feet. The trick for the boarders (among many tricks, including having the cohones to do it) is to have the right amount of sail for their body weight so that they can swing above big waves in a pendulum motion, and not go lifting off into the Pacific skies. These guys and wahines come from around the world.

Windsurfers also like Kanaha, as much almost as they do the glamor-puss spot for this sport, Hookipa, which is a few miles down the coast. You won't believe how close it is to the airport, though it's not on main roads. See the Maui Trailblazer guidebook for more.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Snorkeling Anahola, Kauai

The pointed peak in the Anahola Mountains that rises above this bay is named Kong, as in King (since it looks like the ill-fated ape in profile), but that movie was not filmed on Kauai, but instead the peak's downslopes were featured in Jurassic Park. (The local joke is that everyplace in Hawaii has been in either those dinosaur films or TV's Hawaii Five-O.)

A two-mile strip of band of yellow sand rims the bay, broken in the middle by the usually slack waters of Anahola stream. Coral reefs make for better-than-decent snorkeling, but shallow water and rip current (during higher surf) are drawbacks. From this side of the Bay, at Anahola Beach Park, a dirt track skirts a wild coast through Hawaiian Homelands, making for a non-tourist getaway hike. Driving directions in the Kauai Trailblazer guidebook.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Crawling Kauai's Nualolo RIdge

Most people think exploring Kauai's roadless Napali (The Cliffs) coast means driving to the end of the road on the north shore and embarking on the 11-mile odyssey that is the Kalalau Valley Trail.

Not so. Some of the best hikes begin on the other side of the island, off the road that climbs alongside Waimea Canyon to Koke'e State Park.

From this mountainside direction, the cliffs radiate out in ridges, like spokes of a wheel, separated by valleys about 2,000 feet deep. All are reachable via 4WD roads/trails. One of the best, the Nualolo Cliff Trail, begins very near the state park visitors center, a 7.5-mile roundtrip trek through native subtropical birdlands that drops about 1,500 feet along the way---and reaches a red-cinder lookout that will curl your toes (though it's not inherently dangerous).

A connector trail links the Nualolo to its sister ridge, the Awa'awapuhi Trail, also spectac. (Ask locally before making this loop, since the connector trail sometimes gets thrashed by heavy rains.) See pages 163 and 168 in Kauai Trailblazer.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Maui's Keanae village: Family freebie

Most tourist cars stream by the turnoff to Keanae, a quiet hamlet (near mile marker 17) that is set upon a penninsula of lava that spilled from Haleakala volcano. The center of "town" is a tiny stone church with a big name (ihi'ihioiehovanona Kaua) that dates from 1860. The recommended dining experience is Aunty Sandy's petite loaf of apple banana bread sold at the Keanae Landing Fruit Stand. Wave watching (white water bashes lava columns), kayaking, and swimming in two freshwater pools are among Keanae's attractons. Just before the turnoff to the village is Keanae Arboretum, with easy family trails alongside Pi'inau Stream, in the shade of huge trees brought here from both sides of the equator. Admission is free. Just after the Keanae turnoff is a second hamlet, Wailua, which sports two historic churches and taro field set below the green ramparts of the Ko'olau Forest Reserve. More to see on pages 112 through 113 in the Maui Trailblazer guidebook.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Duke

On the short list of the koolest kats who have ever lived is Duke Kahanamoku—Olympic swimming champion (medaling in events from 1912 to 1924), surfing legend, and the ranking royalty on Waikiki Beach during the post-War golden years in the 1940s and 50s. Go to Duke’s Restaurant & Barefoot Bar at the Outrigger Waikiki and you’ll see walls of photos of the Duke with JFK, Will Rogers, John Wayne (wannabe Duke in Hawaii), Shirley Temple, Amelia Earhart, Ed Sullivan, and just about every celebrity from the period, along with other shots with his surfing buddies and calabash family of greater Honolulu.

At Kuhio Beach Park in the heart of the hubbub is a bronze statue of the Duke, his muscular arms outstretched as a greeting of Aloha to all. Farther down the beach is the War Memorial Natatorium, a 100-meter pool encased by an Art Deco structure, built in his honor in 1927 as part of a bid for the Olympics. The games never came, but Duke and fellow swimming great Johnny (Tarzan) Weissmuller put on a show there.

Duke’s family owned 40 acres in Waikiki where the Hilton now stands, and a cozy beach park is named in his honor. The Kahanamoku’s didn’t get rich on the deal, but the Duke was the kind of rich that is beyond money. With all the hoopla, he was man without apparent ego. “Try meeting or leaving people with Aloha,” Duke said. “You’ll be surprised by their reaction. I believe it and it is my creed. Aloha to you.”

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kicking Back at Kauai's Kealia Beach

Drivers headed to or from the north shore on Kauai have many reasons to pull in at Kealia, which is near mile marker 10 just north of Kapa'a on the Coconut Coast (east shore). You won't have trouble spotting it: Look for a line of surfer mobiles and local cars mixed in with tourist convertables along a mile-long strip.

On the agenda: Body-boarders love the rough-and-tumble shorebreak, which also draws spectators. One end of the beach has a protected cove for swimming. The long crescent of yellow sand attracts beachcombers and whale watchers. Cyclists pedal by on the long paved path that connects with colorful Kapa'a and extends another mile or three beyond Kealia to wild Donkey Beach (not reachable by car) as well as other hidden coves. Across the highway is the metropolis of Kealia, site of a weekend outdoor market and the beginning of a scenic backroad that climbs past Spalding Monument and then rejoins the highway at Anahola.

Kealia is just the spot to add a little more aloha to a fun day on Kauai.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Easy Thrill: Manoa Falls, Oahu

Not far from Waikiki, Manoa Falls Trail sees a lot of footprints, among them unsuspecting tourists who sign up with a tour guide and pay for an "adventure hike." Still, the 1.5-mile roundtrip jaunt climbs about 800 feet into the jungly Manoa Valley and delivers the goods for hikers looking for a quick getaway. The falls is a tropical classic, a 200-foot white ribbon tumbling down a cliff into a large pool. A parking fee of $5 is charged at the trailhead.

If you go to Manoa Falls, be sure to also stop in at Lyon Arboretum, which is just up the hill before the falls trailhead. A spiderweb of trails cover the garden's 200 acres, which were planted nearly 100 years ago. The plantlife is truly astounding. The University of Hawaii took over in 1953. Also in the neighborhood is a short (2 miles roundtrip, 375 feet elevation) to Pu'u Pia, an extinct volcanic cone now covered with greeney that affords a view of Manoa Valley and the Ko'olau Range. Oahu Trailblazer has more details, beginning on page 79.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maui's Road to Hana: The Journey is a Destination

Hana is a sleepy hamlet at the end of a long and winding road (to paraphrase George Harrison, who had a getaway pad halfway along). The highway's dozens of narrow bridges and cliff-hanging skinny roads are a right-of-passage for Maui visitors, most of whom do a daylong round trip.

But repeat visitors learn that several days of exploring are to be had at lesser-known waysides in this rainforest wonderland. Some spots are well-marked, often by a convergence of hastily parked rental cars. Other trails, some of the best, take a keen eye to spot. A few of the roads into the jungly state-owned lands require a permit from the East Maui Irrigation District, which controls agricultural water flows. It can seem a bit complicated to newcomers. Maui Trailblazer has a detailed description of the Hana Highway from beginning to end. The takeaway: use one day to explore the road, and a second day to see Hana and the Pools of Oheo (the lower section of Haleakala National Park). And keep your eyes peeled.

BTW: Pull over at turnouts to let the local people pass.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Island Hopping Hawaii's Restaurants: A sampling to try

They're popular and we like them too. Special occasions only as most are pricey (but worth it).

Naupaka Terrace 92-1001 Olani Street Kapolei, HI 96707

Pagoda Floating Restaurant 1525 Rycroft St. Honolulu, HI 96814

Mama's Fish House 799 Poho Place Paia, HI 96779

Sushi Sasabune Hawaii 1417 S. King St. Honolulu, HI 96814

Merriman's - Poipu 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka Street Koloa, HI 96756

Hukilau Lanai 520 Aleka Loop Kapaa, HI 96746

Lahaina Grill 127 Lahainaluna Rd. Lahaina, HI 96761

Blue Dragon Restaurant 61-3616 Kawaihae Road Kamuela, HI 96743

Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant 19-3948 Old Volcano Rd. Volcano, HI 96785

Kamuela Provision Co. 69-425 Waikoloa Beach Dr. Waikoloa, HI 96738

Monkeypod Kitchen 10 Wailea Gateway Place, Unit B-201 Kihei, HI 96753

Lanai City Grille 828 Lanai Ave. Lanai City, HI 96763

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hawaii's Biggest Wave: JAWS

Hard to get to, tempermental, dangerous to ride, rumored to reach heights of 120 feet on the face of the wave and move as fast as 30 mph, that's Maui's Jaws (Pe'ahi). You'll know Jaws is going off when you see cars parked on the highway that parallels the site. It's a long walk and driving to the viewing area is prohibited. The day we shot this we hiked through old pineapple fields to reach a high cliff precipice with limited space. To watch the heroic death-defying big wave riders and their tow-in partners was the thrill of a lifetime.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Waikiki: Every Enchanted Evening

An eight-block grid of highrise hotels packed between the Pacific and the Ala Wai Canal, Waikiki Beach is indeed a ticky-tack post-war contrivance to bring tourists by the boatload (now plane load). But it is also real Hawaii, real to the bone.

The action centers around Prince Kuhio Park, in the center of a two-mile beach between Diamond Head volcano and the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. A free Hawaiian dance performance is held nightly (as pictured). Prince Jonah Kuhio, who became Hawaii's congressional representative, turned his former homesite into a park. Before Kuhio, this high-ground in former swamplands was the home of Hawaiian Royalty, as attested to by the Wizard Stones, four huge boulders representing the mana (spiritual power) of four Tahitian ali'i (kings) who first sailed here circ 1350. Not far away is Kahi Halia Aloha (Place of Loving Rembrance) a burial mound for the remains of ancient Hawaiians that were uncovered during the construction of Waikiki.

At Kuhio Park was also the home beach for Duke Kahanamoku, surfing legend and Olympic swimming champion whose family owned the land where the Hilton resort now stands, not far north on Waikiki. The main drag, Kalakaua Avenue, hums at night with designer fashion shops, trinket stores, and fine dining, all lit by tiki-torch streelights. A few blocks away, Kuhio Avenue rocks out—and gets kind of seedy at night. The tourist scene is overwhelming, but the observant tourist will find roots of Hawaiian history at the core of Waikiki. (See Oahu Traiblazer pages 42-53 to take a walk that includes the glitz and culture.)

Here are some hotels that we recommend:

First Class:


Reasonable and well located: