Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why do few tourists go to the best beach parks in Hawaii for swimming?

Four beach parks are strung like pearls along the outer shores of Hilo Bay on the Big Island, each with clear water, abundant sea life, breakwaters that make for safe swimming, and exquistely landscaped parks and picnic tables along the backshore.  In the distance, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea rise toward heaven. Okay, so why are tourists absent for the most part?

Answer One: Because it's Hilo. Indeed, it rains like crazy here, so catching the right day to enjoy fun in the sun is not a gimme. Answer Two: Because it's Hilo. Most visitors stay in Kona or South Kohala, and when making a trip to the east side they are headed for Hilo Town, Puna, or Hawaii Volcanoes National Park—all worthy destinations that eat up days.

If you head this way on the Big Island, do yourself a favor and make space for a side trip. All the parks are within five miles from main highway junction in Hilo. First up is Onekahakaha Beach Park (first pic above), favored by families who love the picnic pavilions and huge man-made swimming oval. A mile down the road is Carlsmith Beach Park (second pic above). Stairs provide entry into another protected swimming area, a fave among sea turtles. This park comes with a bonus walk into lush pandanus groves at the Lokoaka Wildnerness Park. 

Not far from Carlsmith are two winners sitting side by side, Leleiwi Beach Park and Richardson's Ocean Park, connected by lagoons and gardens, pictured above. The BBQ's are smokin' on weekends at Leleiwa, while surfers flock to the outer break at Richardson's. Historic buildings add to the charm.

Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer (pages 152 to 156) has more details on this remarkable coastline, including swimming ponds, a hidden beach, and a totally wild park at the end of the road, just past Richardson's. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hawaii: Eat it green! Eat it raw!

Since 'you are what you eat,'  here's one thing you may not want to have in common with the fruits and veggies on your plate in Hawaii: A trans-Pacific airline flight. Most of the fresh foodstuffs in Hawaiian supermarkets travel 2,500 miles to get to the tables in the Islands.

Many restaurants, of course, feature locally grown produce, but you will be paying a premium for small portions. Instead, plan to pick up a low-cost cornucopia of tropical goodies at the beginning of your visit. In the offing are apple bananas, machette-whacked coconuts, papayas, mangos, avocados, a wide-range of citrus, leafy greens, flowers, and herbs—plus some exotics you've possibly never imagined, like soursop, star fruit, rambutan, and lilikoi. Enjoy these fresh foods, and you'll go home with Hawaii in your body as well as your memories. From the pages of Trailblazer Travel Books (one for each island) here are some directions to get down the garden path while on vacation.


Each day somewhere on the island, you'll find at least one of the pop-up outdoor stores called Sunshine Markets. Several take place on Saturdays. Be sure to show up on time—but no one gets in early—and bring your own bags and dollar bills. Wherever you are on Kauai, keep your eyes peeled for roadside stands, usually run on the 'honor system,' which offer whaver grows in someone's backyard. Many on these are located near Kilauea on the north shore, but some are above Kapa'a off Olohena Road, and outside of Lihue, in Kipu. Some vendors set up on the two-lane highways.


With a million people and several freeways, much of Oahu is not exactly rural. But fresh local produce is plentiful. The most fun place to shop is Chinatown in Honolulu, where, amid the tattered film-noir neighborhoods, are teeming indoor food-fests, like the Oahu Market and Mauna Kea Marketplace. Prepare for sensory overload. On the weekends head for the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet (although most of the 700-plus vendors sell gifts, not veggies) or the Kamehameha Swap Meet, where produce in primary. On sundays, head for the very scenic Windward Open Market, at He'eia State Park just north of Kailua.


Locals gather around at 7 a.m. for the opening of the Maui Swap Meet, set on the open expanses of Maui Community College in Kahului. You can pick up souvenirs and artwork to go along the bounty from gardens. Kumu Farms, one of the better in the islands, is open every day. It's located at located at the underrated family attraction of Maui Tropical Plantation, set on many acres at the foot of the West Maui Mountains. Another favorite is fruit stand at the trailhead for Twin Falls Botanical Preserve, at the beginning of the Hana Highway. Near Hana, take the short drive to Waianapanapa State Park, and you'll find several honor stands.


The Hilo Famers Market is the best in the Islands. It rocks on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but you'll find ample supplies every day. No trip to the Big Island is complete without a stroll of quaint Hilo Town, and getting there is much easier these days thanks to the new Saddle Road. You can also pick the garden stuffs, along with tacky-tack trinkets, at the Kona Farmers Market, right on the main street of Ali'i Drive. If staying in the resortville of South Kohala, check out the mom-and-pop market in Kawaihae, where folks bring fruits and veggies from the Hilo side—and also where you can get gourmet fresh fish and some huli huli chicken hot off the grill. On Saturdays, drive up to cowboy country for the Waimea Homestead Farmers Market and the Waimea Town Farmers Market; on Wednesdays, add meat and eggs to the shopping bags along with greens at the Pukalani Stables Market at Parker Ranch.


Hawaii is not lacking quality health food stores, where you can add to the fruit bowl and also fill in the menu with yogurt and a rainbow of organic foods. Most of these places are windows into the the eat-local scene in Hawaii.

On KAUAI on the north shore, step into Healthy Hut in Kilauea or  Harvest Market in Hanalei; on the eastside, try Hoku Hut and Papaya's, both in Kapa'a. On MAUI Mana Foods is the with-it epicenter of the arty-surf town of Paia. On the BIG ISLAND, Abundant Foods anchors the main drag of the old town on Kamehameha Avenue. On WAIKIKI, nachos would be consdired a health food, but you can  find organics at  Ruffles Natural Foods. On the NORTH SHORE of Oahu, Celestial Foods in Haleiwa is where to be.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hey Siri! What are best seven snorkeling spots in Hawaii?

Three of the best seven are on the BIG ISLAND of HAWAII (Two Step, Captain Cook Monument, and the Waiopae Tide Pools), two can be found on MAUI (Chang's Point and Molokini). One of the best is on KAUAI (Tunnels) and one is on OAHU (Makai Research Pier).

Wow Siri, that was fast! Thanks!
No problem. I used No Worries Hawaii.
Siri, what is No Worries Hawaii? ............Siri?!

I heard you the first time. It is a vacation planning guide for Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.
In it you will also find the top twenty snorkeling spots, as well as other good ones for each island. 

I feel you want more. The book also includes best five and top-twenty  tropical ridge hikes, walk-around towns, museums, secluded beaches, ancient Hawaiian ruins, beachside bike paths, places to surf and watch surfers. Thirty six "best-of" lists overall. No Worries Hawaii includes a self-test to figure out how to put together a vacation style that works for you. Okay, time to get back to work.

Hey! I said time to get back to work!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Hey Siri. How do we find Aloha in Hawaii?

Hey there yourself. I suggest you read Trailblazer Travelbooks for Kauai, Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island.

Um, Siri, can you be more specific?
Sure. The books by Janine and Jerry Sprout are very specific and easy to read. You will find Aloha.

Okay, but what is Aloha?
Today, Aloha is said to mean 'hello,' 'good-bye,' and 'I love you.'  The word derives from ancient times when Hawaiians would touch foreheads, breath in on 'alo,' and exhale on 'ha,' exchanging air thus symbolizing the commonality of mankind ...

To some, Aloha is a state of mind.
What is it like, this state of mind?
That is not a question I can answer, so don't rub it in.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Kauai's Ke'e Beach: Inspiration Guaranteed

At the end of the highway on Kauai's north shore—and at the beginning of the notorious Kalalau Trail—sweet Ke'e Beach can get killed with kindess on prime-weather days. The main parking lot gets jammed, and so does the overflow lot that is a ten-minute walk from road's end. Don't despair. You have outs to find some private space, just like this dude (above and below) an endangered Hawaiian monk seal, whose breathing room is assured by federal law.

This is a telephoto of our little friend, the only mammal (unless you want to count a species of bat) to arrive in Hawaii without the aid of a ship or plane.

Ke'e is a reef-protected cove, with enough fish to please snorkelers. This shot is taken from an unsigned trail that skirts the cove to a point. In ancient times, Hawaiian girls would have to swim this opening, said to be the home of tiger sharks, as a last part of their initiation to become hula dancers. Don't worry about sharks, but avoid the opening, since it is a one-way riptide ticket to open waters.

The trail leaves the beach view and penetrates greenery. A navigation heiau (temple) was located here, but its ruins have been lost to plantlife and erosion.

Not so for one of this most sacred spots in Hawaii, the Kauluolaka Hula Heiau, which is a short hike on an overgrown trail to terraces about 100 feet above the sea. It is revered and meticulously maintained by current practitioners of the Hawaiian dance and chant. Treat it with the respect you would the inside of a church.

The 11-mile Kalalau Trail hugs the roadless Napali (The Cliffs) and ends at Kalalau Valley. Second only to Diamond Head State Park on Oahu in yearly visitors, the trail can be a three-ring circus. Get there early. Or, to get a view of Napali without tackling the trail, do what our monk seal did and go right down the sand at Ke'e. Big views open up after a hundred yards or so. Keep going and you'll be at the site of Taylorville, where, back in the Hippie Days, the brother of actress Elizabeth Taylor granted free access to flower kids who formed a little city that lasted long enough for babies to be born.

Friday, January 1, 2016