Friday, October 28, 2016

Kauai's Haena Beach: How sweeeeet it is!

The right moment at Haena Beach is one you will never forget. 

It's a couple miles from the end of the road on Kauai's north shore. This couple is sitting at 'Tunnels,' one of Hawaii's best snorkeling beaches, about a ten minute walk from the parking lot at the beach park itself. The saw-toothed ridge is called Makena, but it s known by many as  'Bali Hai,' a moniker bestowed by the movie, South Pacific.

When the conditions are good, parking right at Tunnels, or even at the beach park, can be hell on wheels—but Kauai Trailblazer has a couple parking spots that are car-free. These quiet entries are from Charo's Beach, around a sandy point from Tunnels. Charo's is a locals' beach that is unpopulated even on the busiest of days.

Wave play is fun when the conditions are right. Big-boy surfers head to Cannons, a surf spot next to Haena (which you can see in the top right of the top picture). 

One of the best beachcomber walks in the universe is from Haena, past Cannons, and on to Ke'e Beach, which is the darling at road's end near the Kalalau Trailhead. About halfway along the walk is the site of Taylor Camp, where hundreds of hippies homesteaded under a grove of leafy trees for years in the sixties (guests of the landowner, who was the brother of actress Elizabeth Taylor).

During the winter months, surf at Haena can be fantastically lethal. Lifeguards post signs along the beach, but you'd be surprised how many people get too close. Trailblazer guides are full of specific safety warnings for all the beaches and trails in the Aloha State. For independent and curious travelers, these books are essential gear.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Aloha begins at the tarmac with Hawaiian Airlines

As publishers of guidebooks, we have taken nearly 100 flights to and around the Islands, and all but 5 or 6 were as passengers of Hawaiian Airlines. We've learned to go with the Hawaii specialists. Their hospitality gets the vacation started once you fasten the seatbelt.  BTW: We have no deals or partnerships or any reason to tout this carrier.

Some  flights from major West Coast Airports fly direct to the outer islands, like Maui. But most flights go through Honolulu (Oahu) and you have to transfer across the airport to catch an inter island flight.

At the main terminal in Honolulu a free shuttle bus (the Wiki Wiki) makes the five-minute journey to the smaller terminal. Or, if you have time to spare, load the carryons and walk (your bags will be checked through to the outer island).

In the post war romantic period of the Islands, ocean liners brought most visitors. Hawaiian Air today is the closest you're going to get to vintage tourism.

More often than not, you will get a good eyeful of Waikiki coming into Oahu (from the south in this shot). Flights that approach from the north go over the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

A delayed flight on Hawaiian is very rare—they are the on-time industry leaders. And they will never fail to get you to your final destination, even if they have to break out small planes, like the one above that mainly services Lanai and Molokai. Most of their inter island flights are on full-sized jets, and the trans-Pacific planes are all jumbos.

To keep the aloha spirt alive once in Hawaii, check out the Trailblazer guides to all-things-outdoors, plus all the cultural sites and tourist attractions. The visitor safety sections in the Trailblazers are a good enough reason to bring one along—possibly a life saver.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hike the 'back door' into the dreamy Mauna Kea Resort

The Mauna Kea set the standard for beach resorts when it rose from the sands of pretty Kaunaoa Bay in 1960. Arnie and Jack teed off at the resort's world-class golf course. Today, the swimming and on-shore wave play is some of the best in Hawaii—but the bad news is that public parking is limited and the lot fills up just when you need it.

The 'back door' to Mauna Kea is via Hapuna State Beach, which is just down the coast on this northern end of the Big Island's South Kohala. Hapuna is very popular, but the lot does not fill up.

A recently hewn trail skirts a rugged coastal section for a mile-plus from Hapuna to Mauna Kea. It's a whale-watcher's special in the winter. Non-native vegetation was removed when the trail was built. After leaving Hapuna, the trail passes the green grounds of the Hapuna Prince Resort, and a nice little snorkeling cove complete with a concrete-stair entry.

The route takes you through the site of and the ancient village, Ouli Ahupua'a.

After passing a few new mega-homes, the trail reaches the nice public facilites at the beach. This is a sweet  experiece you will want to repeat. Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer has more details on how to find private, spectacular places.