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.