Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kaupo: Could this be Maui?

The south (Kaupo) coast of Maui is an alternate universe removed from the long run of resort strips on the entire west coast of the island. The arid slopes of Haleakala rise abruptly from a rugged coast that is totally undeveloped yet accessible. You won't find sand beaches, but Nu'u Bay serves up good snorkeling and petroglyphs that tell the story of inhabitants from centuries past.

The Kaupo Trail is the backdoor into the National Park, a ball-busting climb through pasturelands and native forests that finally reaches the vast red crater that is out of this world (not unlike its sister volcano to the south, Mauna Loa on the Big Island, where habitat studies today are preparing humans to go to Mars in the near future).

Huialoha Church sits on a cove facing a wild sea, one of the most serene and beautiful spots in Hawaii. Built in 1859, the church was hit by vandals in recent years, but dedicated locals have restored the interior, adding hardwood floors to this place of worship.

The center of this alternate universe is the Kaupo Store, open 24/7, except when it's not, a policy that dates from 1925. Grab an ice cream, bag of chips, or cold drink and watch the world not go by.

Only a few miles away is St. Joseph Church, erected in 1862, when there were enough people around to fill the place on Sundays. Maui Trailblazer has five trailhead sections devoted to this wild, off-beat coastline.  (Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer has details on how to visit Mauna Loa on the Big Island).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Announcing the newest edition of Kauai Trailblazer

Here it is, hot off the press, our spanking new edition ready for your upcoming trip to the Garden Isle:

This NEW 2015 SIXTH EDITION of our bestselling guide has been completely reivised and updated. It's packed with new activities, dozens of fresh photos, and a special Trailblazer Kids chapter for families headed to Hawaii's adventure island.

Trailblazer guides, in print for more than two decades, are popular among independent and active travelers. The books are known for their user-friendly format, readability, and sharp graphics.

You'll find all the mountain ridges, tropical gardens, beaches, coves and lagoons, jungles, rivers, historic landmarks and cultural sites, coral reefs, ancient ruins, and coastal bluffs-all the places to get wet, muddy, and have fun on Kaua'i. Less energetic visitors will appreciate the book's driving tours, which hit the headliners along with the island's out-of-the-way charms.

The authors have spent years exploring Kaua'i, and it shows. A Resource Links section gives visitor information and cultural contacts, recommended recreational outfitters, museums and attractions, Hawaiiana shops and hula shows, as well as a hand-picked list of restaurants and places to stay. Safety precautions and traveling tips are not to be overlooked, and a Best Of section lets you select among activities to suit your mood.

122 hikes and strolls to mountain ridges, tropical gardens, beaches, jungles, coves, reefs, historic landmarks and ancient ruins, swamps, craters, forests, coastal bluffs and tide pools, towns, canyons, waterfalls and river valleys.

70 beaches, including 23 reachable only by trail.

44 snorkeling pools, both the island favorites and hidden coves.

66 mountain bike rides along forest, coastal, and countryside trails, as well as resort paths.

27 kayaking waters: 13 rivers and streams, 14 bays and lagoons.

38 surfing spots, including the best places to watch.

10 maps and 175 photographs including a four-page color insert.

Driving Tours, featuring heiaus, wildlife sanctuaries, cultural and historical sites, tourist attractions and natural wonders.

Resource Links to recreational outfitters, stables, golf courses, camping, transportation, accommodations, local-style eats and shops.

Appendices of Hawaiian words, place names, movie locations, hula performances, farmer's markets, weather, flora, history.

Here's a link to find it on Mahalo and happy trails!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Beyond stereotypical Hawaii: O'Keeffe and Ansel

Between 1939 and 1957 Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams made visits to the Hawaiian Islands.
Adams was commissioned by the Department of the Interior for a commemorative publication for Bishop National Bank of Hawai'i (now First Hawaiian Bank) and Georgia was invited by Dole Pineapple to create illustrations for advertisements. Both were inspired to do more.

During her two month stay in Hawai'i, O'Keeffe traversed Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and The Big Island, visiting beaches, rainforests, and pineapple plantations, and painting the dramatic coastlines, volcanic terrain,  and exotic flora. She painted dramatic landscapes of coastlines and waterfalls; but most extensively the island flowers.

The photographs and paintings included in the "Hawaii Pictures" exhibition at O'Keeffe's Santa Fe Museum express the islands’ unique sense of place, at the same time they reveal the complex continuities with the whole of O’Keeffe and Adams’s respective oeuvres.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawai'i Pictures February 7 - September 17, 2014

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum 217 Johnson St, Santa Fe, NM 87501 (505) 946-1000

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hot-footing Hawaii: Lava hikes on the Big Island

New land is being created every second at Hawaii Volcanos National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii and—let's hear it for the Park Service—visitors are allowed to explore at will. The lava pictured above is the good kind, called pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy), which rolls and tufts like brownie batter. When fresh, the surface has an oily sheen. To actually see flowing lava these days, you need to leave the park and head to the Puna Coast, about an hour east of Hilo. 

Although prepared hikers will have no problem, there are hazards: heat exhaustion, getting lost, falling with landslides near the coast, getting caught in a blast caused by buried vegetation, and, of course, getting burned by the actual molten rock. Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer describes the best hikes in and out of the park, as well how to prepare for a safe trek.

One of the most popular hikes is the Kilauea Iki Crater, which a smaller 'bay' of lava, off of the park's main Kilauea Caldera. You drop down through a bird-filled, tree-fern-and-ohia tree forest, cross the still-fuming field of lava, and then climb up through the lush forest to complete a loop hike. The trailhead is across the road from the most-popular stroll, through the massive Thurston Lava Tube.

BTW: The bad kind of lava is called a'a (ah-ha). Instead of rolled batter, this lava hardens in jagged piles that are virtually unwalkable. South Kohala, which is home to the Big Island's best destination resorts, is in a sea of this stuff. The King's Trail penetrates large sections of this no-man's land, an ancient route that is marked in places with flat rocks embeded in the slag heap.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Maui's Windward Beaches: Where the Locals go

Maui has more safe swimming beaches than any other Hawaiian island, and most of them are on the leeward (west) coast, a run of sand most of the way from the Gold Coast (Kihei-Wailua) in the south to Lahaina-Ka'anapali in the north. And all along this coast are condos, cars, and resorts.

To check out the more-serene locals' scene, cross the island to the windward coast. Kanaha Beach Park (above) is laid back, in spite of its proximity to the airport in Kahului. You can take a short stroll to privacy in Spreckelsville, or hang around the beach park to watch some of the world's best kite-boarders and windsurfers.

Just up the road toward Paia is one of the best locals' haunts in the Islands: Baldwin Beach Park. Families and local boys have been chillin' and surfing here since Baldwins beginnings in the late 1800s as a spot for sugar cane workers to relax. The place embodies Hawaiian style living, especially in the late afternoons and early evenings. A few hundred yards down the sand from the beach park is Baby Baldwin Beach, a protected swimming oval with safe swimming even on days when the surf's up (you can also drive to Baby Baldwin).

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Getting High on 'Mount Olympus' Oahu

As is the the case for many hikes into Oahu's razorback Ko'olau Mountains, the trailhead begins at the end of neighborhood streets only a few miles from Waikiki—in this case at the Wa'ahila Ridge Recreation Area. Suburbia becomes wildlands after only a few steps. After a few thousand steps (three-plus miles and 1,900 feet in elevation) you achieve the narrow crest of the range, with a straight-down look at the Windward Coast.

The Mount Olympus trail rends skyward in ramps and benches, narrowing to two feet in some places, where snarls of greenery disguise vertical dropoffs. But it is not as dangerous as other trails on Oahu. Take care with foot placement and bring along a hiking pole, and you'll be fine. Several view knobs on the way up are worthy destinations for shorter hikes, and families can take an even shorter stroll in the recreation area, through ironwood trees and Norfolk pines to picnic tables with views of Honolulu.

Oahu Trailblazer has more details for this trek, as well as others that are a short drive from the high rise beach resorts.