Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hawaii for Keikis

Kids in Hawaii are called keikis (kay-keys), the same name given to young banana plants. Bananas are grown on plants, not trees, and each year the young green shoots spring forth, like a a new generation that brings life to the ohana (community) and perpetuates Hawaiian culture.

Hawaii is great place to bring kids. Each Trailblazer Travel Book has a Trailblazer Kids section, which lists beach parks, fun museums and cultural sites, short walks, and safe swimming area for the family. So when the daily vacation query surfaces ("What are we going to do today?) parents will have a ready answer. Although paid attractions are included, most of the outings come with zero price tag.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Oahu's Yokohama Beach

Yokohama Beach on the Waianae Coast is generally not on the Oahu tourist's agenda. The beautiful stretch of sand invites sun worshippers and the left break bodyboarder wave riders. The best chance for getting safely in the ocean during the winter is the Kaena Keiki Pond. Drive past the first parking lot and the lifeguard tower and park along the road near the spillway, about .25 miles before the end of the road. A reefy section opens to a few pools, bath tub sized. Throw in a great view toward the Waianae escarpments and you have yourself a secluded spot to enjoy your day in Hawaii. Word of warning: don't leave valuables in your car. For other beaches in the area consult your Oahu Trailblazer guidebook.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

To Watch: Na Mele: Na Lani Eha from Iolani Palace

With rare access provided by the Friends of Iolani Palace, PBS Hawaii recently brought some of Hawaii's top local musicians together inside the country's only royal palace to perform songs composed by four siblings of the Hawaiian monarchy. The result, Na Mele: Na Lani Eha from Iolani Palace presented by Hawaiian Airlines, airs on King Kamehameha Day, Monday, June 11, at 7:30 pm on PBS Hawaii. The program will also be accessible online via live stream on

The television music special will feature performances by: Marlene Sai, Robert Cazimero, Nina Kealiiwahamana, Haunani Apoliona, Dennis and David Kamakahi, Aaron Mahi, Kuuipo Kumukahi and the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Serenaders, Jeff Peterson, Helene Woodward, Ilana Mahiehie Davis and Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus directed by Nola Nahulu.

PBS Hawaii was allowed to film inside the palace's Throne Room, Blue Room and along the grand staircase. Produced in May, it took ten hours to record multiple takes of more than a dozen songs by nearly 50 performers. For many, if not all, it was a magical, once-in-a-lifetime experience. During his performance of "Kalakaua," Robert Cazimero strongly felt the monarch's presence. "To know that I had that opportunity, in a way, with his portrait right there in front of me, I'm kind of flying high right now," said Cazimero. Rev. Dennis Kamakahi grew up near the palace grounds and would often play there as a child. "Coming back as a musician and singing the songs of Liliuokalani and Na Lani Eha, in the place where they would come to meet, you can feel the spirits," said Kamakahi. "They're there."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hiking Hawaii: Seven Must-do Safety Tips

Normally, a "please stay on trail" sign is there to protect the environment from being trampled. In Hawaii, the tables are turned, and it's Mother Nature who kicks butt on hikers who wander. Sadly, people die monthly somewhere in Hawaii from a recreational mishap. Happily, almost all deaths and injuriess can be easily avoided. Here's a few tips:
1. Stay on trails. On mountain hikes, the greenery at the edge of a trail can hide a sheer drop off. Never head off in a direction based on a GPS reading. Venturing into the wilds is to get lost and tangled in flora, even when the terrain doesn't look like a jungle.
2. Don't let even big kids go jetting ahead. See above. And trail junctions are often not well signed. Keep the group together.
3. Don't cross a fast-moving stream. If you get caught on the wrong side, wait it out. People oftern get swept away. Streams rise on some occasions when rain is falling inland, unbeknownst to hikers.
4. A hiking pole is a very good idea. Ridge trails are often very steep and narrow. Going up is okay, but coming down can be difficult, especially when rain turns the hard-packed soils slick.
5. If you lose the trail, return to a known point. If the route is not passible, there is no trail fit for a human. Hawaii has been hiked for centuries. If it's possible to walk someplace, then a trail will exist.
6. Know how much daylight you have left. If you get caught out at night, stay put in most cases (good trail, flashlight is needed).
7. Carry an equipped day pack, even on short hikes. Lack of food, water, and outerwear can turn an inconvenience into a major eff-up, even a mile or two from the trailhead.

Friday, June 1, 2012

How Far Will a Surfer Hike on Kauai?

Not a trick question: As far as it takes to get to the surf. While all the islands have board-carry breaks, and Oahu is the surfing capital of Hawaii (and the known Universe), Kauai has by far the best surfing beaches that are reached by beating the feet down a trail. Pictured is the rickety staircase down to Hideaways in Princeville.

Most of these hike-to beauties are on the islands northeast (windward) shores. This shot is at Hideaways a well-known dirt staircase at the ultra-posh Princeville St. Regis Resort. The snorkeling is also very good at this classic cove, but the steep trail wards off visitors with pedicures and strappy sandals, so the scene is always quiet. The other beaches on the coast from Princeville south to Anahola-Kealia are much more rural. Several are outright wild. Among the more popular and easy-to-find: Secret Beach in Kilauea and Donkey Beach in Kealia. Kauai Trailblazer has details on these another 10 beaches on this coast.