• September 14, 2016

    Kauai’s Kalalalu Trail

    ©istockphoto/Onfokus ©istockphoto/Onfokus

    Visitors to the Garden Island of Kauai, following the Highway north, discover the winding scenic road comes to an abrupt end at Ke’e Beach. Beyond lies the impassable rugged Na Pali Coast and the trailhead for the world-famous Kalalau Trail.

    Ke’e Lagoon

    Ke’e Lagoon, dominated by imposing cliff faces, sheltered by a protective reef, is a small cove that provides an ideal location for swimming and snorkeling in calm waters. Lengthy secret stretches of white sandy beach extending beyond the right side of the lagoon offer a secluded retreat. This section of the sandy beach is a great place to beach comb and look for seashells, but the water is rough, and swimming here is less protected.

    Off to the left side of the lagoon, a hidden clearing within the dense jungle vegetation marks the site of Ka Ulu o Laka Heiau. The sacred heiau is dedicated to Laka, Pele’s sister and the patron of hula. Although the rocky remains of heiau have weathered considerably, one can still sense the ancient mystic power of the site. Traditionally, Hawaiians have held night rituals at the site, banishing flaming torches that are thrown off the cliff, providing a primitive fireworks display. Hula halaus continue to return to the heiau in the clearing to leave floral offerings and to renew their commitment to the ancient art in this sacred spot.

    Kalalau Trail

    The extreme dangers encountered in hiking the Kalalau Trail cannot be emphasized strongly enough.

    Three major streams, Hanakapiai, Hanakoa and Kalalau cross the trail. These streams can change from a peaceful trickle to a raging torrent in a matter of minutes, rising rapidly with no warning, swollen by rains upstream. The danger of flash floods cannot be ignored. Hikers are urged to practice extreme caution when waters rise. Do not risk crossing rain-swollen streams; one slip could cost you your life. Wait until the water recedes before proceeding along the trail.

    The steep, rugged, slippery and rough 11-mile trail leading from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach provides the only land access to this section of the Na Pali Coast. Traversing five valleys, the trail ends at Kalalau Trail where it is blocked by a sheer fluted palus (cliff). Although most of the Kalalau Trail is a gradual grade, it is never level as it crosses towering sea cliffs and wanders through lushly vegetated valleys.

    The dangers of Kalalau Trail, a part of the Hawaii State Parks System, are significant and should not be underestimated. There are several narrow sections of the trail where the soil caves off around Hanakoa. Mile seven of the trail is especially hazardous and includes the infamous “crawler’s ledge” a treacherous, twisting path following a narrow ledge against the cliff face. The convoluted trail is very dangerous when it has recently rained, leaving the red clay soil slick, slimy and unstable and prone to mudslide. On this section of the trail, as well as the switchbacks immediately proceeding, one wrong move can result in serious injury or death.

    Experienced hikers claim the breath-taking vista are worth the risk, having survived the trail, a testament to their skills. A physically fit and highly skilled trekker can make the 22-mile round trip to Kalalau Beach in a single day. All others will require an overnight stay. Camping permits are required. There are no water stations or services on the trail and hikers must carry adequate water, food, foul weather gear, and sleeping sacks. The hike, considered one of the most spectacular, yet also one of the most dangerous in the world, requires preparation and planning and at least two to three days. Beside the main trail, there are several side trails, so a waterproof map and an accurate GPS are helpful tools.

    The Kalalau Trail has been the scene of countless disasters and deaths over the decades. Do not be one of them. The trail is not where even the most confident should overestimate their level of physical fitness, agility or extreme-adventure trekking experience. Physically fit novice hikers are advised to only hike the first half mile of the trail for a taste of adventure and a glimpse of the beautiful Na Pali Coast, then turn around and head back down to Ke’e Beach for a bit of Hawaiian style rest and relaxation.

  • September 12, 2016

    Maui – The Valley Isle

    ©istockphoto/MRaust ©istockphoto/MRaust

    The warriors of Maui boasted they were “Maui no ka oi” or “Number One” –

    Today’s windsurfing watermen agree: Maui windsurfers are the best as validated in a diverse array of international completions. Maui offers some of the most ideal waters, winds, and waves for windsurfers of anywhere in the world. Masters of the art of riding the waves come from all over the globe to test their skills against the powerful winds and waves of the island’s windy central isthmus.

    Windsurfers are not the only ones drawn to Maui’s beautiful coastal waters. Migrating humpback whales congregate, making Maui their choice of destination for a winter home. Named after Maui, “a god of a thousand tricks” who is much revered through all of Polynesia, the island has lots of secrets for visitors to discover. Drawn to its spectacular scenery, sugar sand beaches, and stellar surf, more than 2.5 million people visit Maui every year.

    According to ancient myths, Maui’s golden fishhook pulled up the chain of islands from beneath the sea to provide the people a place to live, then pushed up the sky so man could stand erect. Maui stole fire from Pele to keep the Keiki (children) warm and slowed the passage of the sun. When Hawaiians talk story, they tell of how the island resembles the demi-god Maui: commenting that the West Maui Mountains are the trickster’s head, the girth of Haleakala defining a limbless torso. A narrow isthmus between the majestic mountains forms the god’s neck thus earning Maui a nickname of the “Valley Isle”.

    The majority of Maui’s population is congregated on the northern tip of the isthmus, snuggled against the base of Maui’s neck. Maui, the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands is home to a 10,000-foot dormant volcano, a lush rainforest laced with cascading waterfalls, a historic whaling village, and more than 30-miles of white, yellow, red, and black sand beaches.

    Haleakala National Park

    Maui is home to the sprawling Haleakala National Park. The park showcases the island’s highest peak, volcanic Haleakala, and a series of pools and waterfalls that cascade down Ohe’o Gulch. The park is accessible by following the scenic Hana Highway. Waterfalls hidden in the dark folds of the hills along the highway generate a silvery mist that makes a light show of magical rainbows dancing in the sunlight.

    Iao Valley

    A hike into the Iao Valley is a must on every Maui visitor’s itinerary. The Iao Valley is the steepest, biggest and deepest cleft in the West Maui Mountains. The mouth or head of the jaw-dropping valley opens into an ancient crater that forms half of the island. The spectacular rear wall of the valley rises 5,788-feet to the tor of Puu Kukui, the highest peak on West Maui. To view the valley at sunrise is a once-in-a-lifetime memory-making experience you will never forget.

  • September 9, 2016

    Kauai – Island Of Discovery

    ©istockphoto/m-kojot ©istockphoto/m-kojot

    Often called “The Island Of Discovery”, Kauai is an island located in the Central Pacific, part of the Hawaiian archipelago. Intrigued by the dramatic deep-green pinnacles and brilliantly colored sea cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, visitors are drawn back in time to a land of tropical rainforest splendor. The 17-miles of the magical Na Pali Coast, located on the North Shore of Kauai, features jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, sheer cliff faces, cascading waters and deep, narrow valleys. Appearing much as it did when the Polynesian settlers first lived in the valleys, the Na Pali Coast enchants the eye and nourishes the soul.

    Located the farthest north of the seven main islands, Kauai has several characteristics that differentiate it from the other islands in the Hawaiian Chain. Kauai is the oldest island geologically. Six million years have given the erosive elements of nature time to sculpt the mountain faces with a surgeon’s precision and ring the island with an inviting lei of white sugar sand. Kauai also holds the distinction of being the wettest island and one of the wettest places in the world.

    A shield volcano, Mount Wal’ale’ale is the second highest point on the Garden Island of Kauai. At a lofty elevation of 5,148-feet, the mountain averages more than 454-inches of rain each since 1912. In 1982, the Island was pummeled with 683-inches. The overflowing waters from Mount Wal’ale’ale feed into the seven full-fledged rivers and countless streams. Blessed with an abundance of moisture, the island is lush and verdant, resplendent with brilliant flowers that scent the air, attracting bees and butterflies.

    Kauai is distinctive in other ways as well. The Kauai Channel is much deeper, wider and rougher than channels between the other isles that lead scientists to believe that Kauai, and its satellite island Nilhau, remained rather isolated in ancient Hawaii. Kauai and Nilhau are the only two islands not conquered by King Kamehameha, not that he didn’t try. Two would-be invasions failed, turned back by angry seas and illness. To avoid bloodshed and violence, Kauai’s King Kaumualil voluntarily submitted, acknowledging Kamehameha’s sovereignty. However, the island remained a separate kingdom until Kaumualil’s death.

    Two hard-surfaced roads traverse the island, Kaumualii Highway (Route 50) and Kuhio Highway (Route 56). You can go approximately 40-miles in each direction before the roads become impassable and further travel is made impossible by the impenetrable barrier of the Na Pali Coast.

    The island offers three uniquely different regions to explore. The North Shore is the wettest part of the island, blanketed in lush rainforest. The beaches are beautiful and the hiking trails are challenging. The South Shore, with creative irrigation and plenty of sunshine, is known for its rich agricultural abundance and the birthplace of the sugarcane industry. The western region is known for brilliant red dirt canyons including the ten-mile long Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”.

    Visitors are advised to rent a Jeep or 4-wheel drive vehicle to access the islands most intriguing points of interest. Many of the roads on the island are sand tracks, rough and rutted. Remember Kauai gets a lot of rain and all roads and trails are subject to flash flooding.

  • September 7, 2016

    Oahu – The Gathering Place

    ©istockphoto/yuruphoto ©istockphoto/yuruphoto

    Home to more than 80 percent of the state’s population, Oahu is commonly known as “The Gathering Place.” The 42 x 20-mile island lies in the fold of two overlapping volcanoes. Honolulu, which means "sheltered harbor" or "calm port" is the state's most populous city and serves as the state capital. As reported in the 2010 census, there are about 397,000 persons residing in the City of Honolulu and up to a million people living on the remainder of Oahu.

    While the Isle of Oahu is considerably more populated and built-up than the neighboring islands, it still presents scenic beauty rivaling the best the other islands have to offer. In Honolulu, the major luxury resorts are built along a single beach. The majority of the city’s shoreline remains public beach. Oahu has more miles of swimming beaches than any of the other islands and the surf breaks on the North Shore are world famous.

    Honolulu Harbor and nearby Pearl Harbor established Oahu as the shipping center of the islands, assuring its commercial preeminence with Waikiki, the birthplace of Hawaii tourism. The remains of the islands volcanic origins stand as parallel mountain ranges that bisect the island northwest to southwest. The majority of urban Honolulu is constructed along the southern shore with a backdrop of the Koolau Mountains, the largest and youngest of the volcanic range.

    A modern and vibrant city, Honolulu attracts visitors from all over the world. More than 8.3 million tourists visited Honolulu in 2014. The downtown includes a thriving business district, world-class shopping, and the Chinatown District. The Chinese Historical Society presents engaging two-hour walking tours of Chinatown as well as a tour of Foster Gardens, Hawaii’s oldest botanical garden, and the water temples. At the corner of River and Kukui streets, the Lum Sai Ho Tong is headquartered. Visitors can view an elaborate Taoist Shrine ensconced in the building.

    A tour of the downtown waterfront and harbor area provides an opportunity to view the many local establishments and points of interest that are interwoven into the rich tapestry of cultures that makes up Honolulu.

    The spacious harbor at the base of the mountains facilitated the commerce that brought great wealth to the island kingdom and played a colorful role in Hawaii’s maritime history. The “discovery” of the safe and protected harbor is attributed to William Brown, a British merchant captain that dropped anchor there in 1792. Soon China clippers and whalers soon followed suit. Natives gathered at the shoreline to barter trade goods, Sandalwood, and fresh fish. A vigorous trade relationship was soon established. Western settlers arrived, and an ever-increasing community of haloes (foreigners) jumped ship and settled on the island. The village that sprang up along the shoreline was blessed with the name Honolulu.

  • September 5, 2016

    Lana’i – The Pineapple Isle

    ©istockphoto/Robert Bush ©istockphoto/Robert Bush

    Known as the “Pineapple Isle”, Lana'i is the sixth-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. The smallest and least visited island accessible to the public in the Hawaiian chain of islands, Lana'i is an isle of intriguing contrasts and pleasant surprises.

    For such a tiny island, Lana'i has witnessed many changes, enduring a rather turbulent past. For centuries, Hawaiians strictly avoided the island, believing it to be inhabited by akuas or Akua-ino, an especially mean and nasty breed of goblins or spirits: the gods of nightmares. The name Lana'i, in the Hawaiian language, means “day of the conquest of Kaulua’ae”. Kaulua’ae was a prince from Maui who has been banished to Lana’s as punishment for his wild ways and mischievous pranks in his father’s court on Maui.

    According to legend, Kaulua’ae battled and defeated the akuas, making the island safe for human inhabitation. After destroying the evil spirits, Kaulaua’ae built a giant bonfire that could be seen on Maui, signaling the people that the all was well. In celebration, people jumped in their canoes and set sail to Lana’i. Today, the only settlement of any size is the small town of Lana’I City, population 3,102. The Kalohi Channel separates Lana’I from the Island of Molokai to the North and from the island of Maui by the eight-mile-wide Au’au Channel on the east.  The little island, shaped like a comma, is only 18 miles long and 12 miles wide.

    In 1853, Mormon settlers made their way to the isle with the good intention of creating a “City of Joseph”, a model community personifying goodwill and earthly peace. The project failed, and the community disbanded when they discovered their leader, Walter Gibson, was a thief and a crook, having secretly registered the island in own name.

    Excommunication from the Mormon Church didn’t faze Gibson, who went on to bring in a new batch of settlers and to turn the entire island into an open cattle-grazing range. A sad example of poor stewardship, unrestricted grazing quickly decimated the landscape, turning the already dry landscape into a barren wasteland.

    It wasn’t until George Munroe, a naturalist from New Zealand, was employed to manage the ranch that the island began to heal. Munroe commenced an intense program of reforestation, planting thousands of Cook Island and Norfolk Pine that today are the City of Lana’I's signature statement. During the period that George Munroe labored to bring back native flora and fauna of the island, Jim Dole introduced pineapple cultivation to the arid land. In 1922 Dole purchased the entire island, turning it into the largest (90,000 acres) pineapple plantation in the world. The island was subsequently sold to Castle & Cook who maintained the land as a pineapple plantation for many years before converting to a more tourism focused management approach.

    The majority of the homes about Lana’I City date to 1922 and the town origins. Brightly colored tin roofs add quaint charm to the verdant farmlands.

    Today, discounting the 3,000 residents that reside on the isle, Lana’i is mega-billionaire Larry Ellison’s personal paradise. Ellison, who purchased the island in a single real estate deal in 2012, owns 97 percent of the island including two resorts, a water utility and a third of the island’s housing. Ellison is an innovative entrepreneur and the fifth richest person in the world.

    The island attracts adventurous visitors who come to view the abundance of wildlife that flourishes on the island including Mouflon sheep and Axis deer. Because Lana’I is the only island that does not have mongoose, game fowl thrive.  The island is bisected with rough, unmaintained red dirt roads. To explore the island, a four-wheel drive vehicle is required.

  • September 1, 2016

    Moloka’i – The Friendly Island

    ©istockphoto/VickyRu ©istockphoto/VickyRu

    Located east of O’ahu across the 25-mile wide Kaiwi Channel, Moloka’i lies north of Lan’I separated from its neighboring isle by the Kalohi Channel. The island of Moloka'i, part of the Hawaiian Island Chain, has been shrouded in secrecy and seclusion for centuries. The little island, the home of hula, is only 38-miles long and 10-miles wide. The annual Moloka'i Ka Hula Piko festival is a joyous celebration held each year on the island. At night, visitors and residents on the west end of Moloka’i can see the lights of Honolulu on O’ahu or persons along the south shore of the island can view the lights of nearby Lana’i and Maui.

    Wrapped in a legacy of ancient sorcery and carrying the social stigma of its infamous leper colony, Moloka'i’s long-time reputation as the “Lonely Island” was until the last decade reinforced by a shrinking population. Today, Moloka’i has a growing population and a new nickname: “The Friendly Isle” as the islands welcomes visitors to what remains one of the last “unspoiled” islands. Moloka’i calls itself the “most Hawaiian” of all the inhabited islands: as much as 60 percent of the residents share native Hawaiian ancestry. A genuine welcoming spirit of Aloha combined with a laid-back atmosphere reminiscent of old Hawaii invites visitors to explore the land and enjoy the island’s warm hospitality.

    In the past, the island was known for Moloka’i Ranch’s pineapple and cattle production. Perched on the Kalaupapa Peninsula, on the northern coast of the isle, settlements were established in 1866 to quarantine persons with leprosy. The settlement operated until 1969 and is now preserved by the Kalaupapa National Historical Park Society, which has stewardship of the settlement and all of Kalawao County.

    The Island of Moloka’i formed from the action of two shield volcanoes, known locally as East Moloka’I and the tiny West Moloka'i. East Moloka’I is home to the highest point on the island, Kamakou at 4,970 feet. The East Moloka’I volcano is all that remains of the southern half of the original mountain. The north half of the mountain was destroyed in a massive collapse more than 1.5 million years ago and lies scattered northward across the floor of the Pacific Ocean. The visible remains of the volcano on Moloka’i are the highest sea cliffs in the world. On its south shore, Moloka’i also holds bragging rights to the longest fringe reef in the United States., the Moloka’i official tourism site, invites visitors to discover the rich historical heritage and spectacular scenery of the island, stating, ““Hawaiian by nature,“ the island of Molokai remains true to its island roots. There are no traffic lights—just aloha—in the harbor town of Kaunakakai, where fisherman haul in their daily catch and farmers showcase fresh-picked produce from neighboring fields. Quiet your spirit and you’ll feel the mana (power) that protects the island, from an area near Maunaloa said to be the birthplace of hula to the indescribable beauty of Halawa Valley. Or, descend 1,700 feet on a sure-footed mule to the remote settlement of Kalaupapa and change your perspective forever.”

  • August 30, 2016

    Hali’a Aloha – Treasured Memories

    OKHAA Celebrate Hawaii with a grand celebration honoring, preserving and perpetuating Aloha and the unique traditions of the Islands. Aloha Festival’s 2016 theme is “Treasured Memories” where residents and visitors talk story, sharing old memories and creating new ones. Everyone is invited to sing, dance and celebrate the Spirit of Aloha and all things Hawaiian. [...]

  • August 26, 2016

    Celebrate `Ohe –Hawaii’s Annual Bamboo Festival

    OK A vigorous grower, `ohe or common clumping bamboo, a giant flowering evergreen perennial member of the grass family, is one of the most conspicuous and abundant plants in Hawaii’s rainforests. `Ohe or Hawaiian bamboo is also one of nature’s most useful. In celebration of bamboo’s diverse roles in Hawaii, The Hawaiian Chapter of The American Bamboo Society (HCABS) will host the annual Bamboo Festival to be held September 11, 2016, at Nani Mau Garden in Hilo, Hawaii. Artists, growers, and lecturers will be featured, offering visitors an opportunity to view plants, ask questions and talk story with Hawaiian bamboo growers, collectors, and enthusiasts. A silent auction is planned. [...]

  • August 24, 2016

    Kaho' olawe - Preserved For The People

    ©istockphoto/ejs9 ©istockphoto/ejs9

    The peaceful isle of Kaho’olawe, the smallest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands, is desolate and drab when compared to the visually stunning beauty of her seven big sisters. Remote and uninhabited, brown and dry, the 44.6-square mile island, now known as the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve, bears the scars of a troubled history. [...]

  • August 22, 2016

    Hawaii Hau'oli

    Dramatic Hawaiian sunset over the tropical paradise of Kauai. ©istockphoto/YinYang

    In the Hawaiian language, Hau'oli means “happy” or the “fortunate one.” Would it surprise you to learn that in a nationwide survey of quality of emotional and physical health, residents of Hawaii were most likely to rank their lives as “Hau'oli” or “thriving”?

    Over the past five years, Hawaii consistently ranked as the least stressed state, reporting one of the highest levels of enjoyment of life in the United States.

    Blessed with the life-affirming attributes of sparkling waters, waves, fresh air, sunshine, a mild tropical climate, spectacular scenic beauty, and a diverse array of active and inactive volcanoes, Mother Nature provides lots of reasons for people to get outdoors, be active, and stay physically fit. [...]

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