Monday, March 26, 2018

Trailblazers are Hawaii's Trip Advisor

hawaiioutside tripadvisor hawaii adventuretravel

Keep it simple and do it right: Rather than sort through thousands of posts written by hundreds of people on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, pick up a Trailblazer guide. You will find the answers to all your questions.

captaincook kona bigisland

Trailblazers are called the "Swiss Army Knife" of travel guides, since they are organized, comprehensive, and easy to use. The activities on each island are organized geographically, meaning things that are close by each other on the island are also close by in the book. Trailblazers also include Best Of sections that list the top choices for activities, a Trailblazer Kids section for families, and tips for saving money and staying safe.

hawaii beaches

Trailblazers are for independent, active people. You can pick what looks good and find a place to call your own.

hawaii adventure hawaiian history

All the top tourist attractions are listed in Trailblazer guides, but the books are also known for cultural and historic sites, as well as nonprofit centers.

hawaii cliff jumper   bigisland  hawaiioutside . trailblazerhawaii

When traveling to Kauai, Oahu, Maui, or the Big Island, pick up a Trailblazer before you go. These books take the guess work out of traveling to Hawaii. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Kauai's Sleeping Giant is no yawner

sleeping giant hike kauai

The signature landmark on Kauai's Coconut Coast (the east shore) is Nounou Mountain, known as the 'Sleeping Giant,' since its ridge looks like the face of a rather large warrior in repose. Hikers have a choice of three trailheads. All routes cover three-plus miles round-trip and climb just over 1,000 feet before converging below the giant's 'forehead.'

jungle hike kauai

Lower elevations of the trail penetrate a diverse forest reserve. Common along the trail is the pandanus tree, whose long pointed leaves were (are) used to make baskets, hats, and footwear. The exposed root spokes of the pandanus actually allow it to slowly move toward water sources. 

The east side trail affords sea views all the way, but also is exposed to the sun, which can be a bad thing.

Nounou is a stand-alone peak near the coast—larger peaks rise inland. From the summit are circular views.

One portion of the trail is steep, requiring use of all four limbs, though it is not dangerous for the careful hiker. What is dangerous is the walk out to the giant's chinny chin-chin (above), where one slip leads to a free fall. 

Nounou Mountain is a ridge cleaved by the Wailua River by far Hawaii's largest waterway. This agricultural heaven was chosen as the major settlement by Hawaii's first Ali'i (royalty). They built seven heiau's (temples) from the coast inland, extending to the base of Mount Waialeale, the wettest spot on earth with about forty feet (yes, feet) or rain per year.

Kauai Trailblazer has the details on all three Sleeping Giant trailheads, as well as many other trails on the Coconut Coast. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Spend a glamorous day at the 'Hollywood of Hawaii'

chinaman's hat oahu trailblazer

Kualoa Regional Park on Oahu's windward coast is next-door to the darling of Hawaii attractions, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and for that reason gets overlooked by most tourists. But locals are hip to this place, and so are Hollywood directors, who have shot dozens of movies here.

The park's signature landmark is tiny Mokoli'i Island, which was known affectionately for a century as 'Chinaman's Hat,' since its profile is similar to the head gear worn by Chinese sugar cane workers who came to Oahu in the 1800s. This stretch of beach at the park is called Secret Island, a strip of sand backed by large Moli'i Fishpond, making it feel like an island. Snorkel tour companies bring people here, but it's an easy walk from the park's camping area.

oahu beach chinaman's hat

Mokoli'i  is just over a quarter-mile offshore, a destination for adventure snorkelers. Sea caves add interest to the shoreline and waters on the way are five- to ten-feet deep. A rugged trail climbs 200 feet to the top. (When the surf is up, currents make this a difficult swim.)

kualau mountains oahu hawaii

The ridge line just inshore, at Kualoa Ranch, has been the backdrop for may films, including 50 First Dates and Jurassic World.

horse rides oahu windward oahu hawaii

The ranch is private, but  they offer several ways to see the country. You can ride open-air vehicles, or go old school and travel horseback.

Oahu ranch Trailblazer guide

The cafe at the Kualoa Ranch is the best choice for lunch on this coastline, and the gift store will entice souvenir seekers. You are free to roam the immediate grounds to look for remnants of the historic sugar cane plantation. 

Another underrated attraction is just on the outskirts of the ranch: Tropical Farms.  Macadamia nut samples and free coffee are on hand, along with a remarkable selection of artwork and crafts. 

Oahu Trailblazer has more details on the discoveries to be found along this coast.