Archive for July, 2010
"Where could I work and feel like I was on vacation everyday?" That's the question that led Abby Lapointe to Hawaii, and her position as an agent with Hawaii Aloha Travel. Hawaii won out as a destination over the many countries throughout the world where Abby has traveled.
Abby's degree in Wildlife Biology and Environmental Science is the result of a university career that began in Canada and concluded in Australia — although she is a native of Vermont. That educational experience melded a love of the outdoors, of animals (hence her photo friend) and of travel that continues. "I've always been a traveler," Abby says. Before landing in Hawaii, she traveled through Asia and lived on a beach in Thailand for a year.
Abby uses her experience as a traveler now to do the same planning for other people. Her favorite thing? "I love booking cruises for people," Abby says. "For first time travelers, a cruise of the four main islands lets you get a whole taste of the islands, a little of everything." True to her love of being on the water, Abby is an active paddler for the Lanikai Canoe Club and she sails with her significant other on his boat.
In addition to being a cruise specialist, Abby loves focusing on return clients. "A lot of my business is referrals — bringing people back out to Hawaii. I love it when I book a honeymoon for a couple and they return for an anniversary or bring along parents, friends and family." Developing a long-term relationship with her clients allows Abby to remember what they have already experienced, what they enjoyed, and make suggestions of what to try next. "I try to focus on making good relationships, to keep it in the family, Abby says. "That way I know what they would like."
Living in Hawaii allows Abby to feel like she is on vacation and her work lets her share that feeling with others: "I love to travel and I love to make people happy. We live in paradise! My job is making people happy every day."
July 31st, 2010
The huge ship in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie is in Kanehoe Bay this week, shooting scenes with Hawaii’s starkly beautiful mountains as a backdrop. The bay is a sheltered area with magnificent views of the Ko‘olau Mountain Range on the windward (eastern) side of the island of Oahu. Only a slight turn of the camera lens puts the ship at sea, with an unimpeded view of the Pacific Ocean.
The ship was referred to as the Black Pearl by many when it first arrived in Hawaii in February. However, this movie, subtitled On Stranger Tides, features the pirate Blackbeard and his ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. In this installment of the series, Captain Jack Sparrow (defined by Johnny Depp) is searching for the Fountain of Youth. Depp filmed a special greeting for the recent Comic Con in which he managed to spend almost two minutes and reveal only that if he were going on a search for the Fountain of Youth, it would be very dangerous and he’d need a map – and perhaps a Bloody Mary. The video greeting also set the movie release date as May 20, 2011.
The pirate ship is in Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor, located along the Kamehameha Highway opposite the Mokapu Peninsula, which is home to a Marine Corps Base. As you look at a map of the island of Oahu, the Mokapu Peninsula looks like the tail of a whale sticking out into the ocean. On the right side is Kailua Bay, ringed with a sandy beach that is perfect for kite boarding and wind surfing. President Obama stayed on this side of the peninsula in a house right next to the Marine base on his most recent trip. The left side of the peninsula is Kaneohe Bay, home to four boat harbors, including the public harbor in Heeia State Park.
If you take any of the circle island tours – either driving or on a bus – you’ll pass this area of Oahu. It’s a great opportunity to take a photo of yourself in an exotic movie location, even if the pirate ship has already sailed away.
Photo by Richard Denton.
July 30th, 2010
Nothing says “Hawaii” like pineapple. A cooking segment on national television yesterday featured pineapple recipes as part of a luau theme. And yet, even while living in Hawaii, I learned three things about the fruit when I visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation.
First: Pineapples do not grow on trees.
Until then, my closest encounter with a pineapple was from a can or in the produce section of a grocery store. Even after moving to Hawaii, I found pineapples at the weekly Farmer’s Market. (They were a product that I could identify without photos from the Farmers Market Cookbook.)
When my sister visited from the mainland, we stopped at the Dole Pineapple Plantation on our tour of Oahu. I was introduced to pineapples in the wild — on short bush-like plants. Not only were they much closer to the ground than I imagined, they also came in many varieties. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that pineapples come in different types, like apples, but I always equated the name with a standard yellow icon. Twenty varieties are grown in a display garden near the entrance with helpful nameplates.
Second: Pineapples are not native to Hawaii.
The plantation has a series of signs that tell the history of pineapple in Hawaii. Although the fruit seems almost synonymous with Hawaii, it is not native to the islands. In fact, the Hawaiian name for pineapple means "foreign fruit" (halakahiki). Wandering around the pineapple display garden and reading the signs is free and, for me, the most interesting part of the stop (except maybe getting a photo of my sister and me with our heads stuck through a board so it looks like we’re in a pile of pineapple, also free – and priceless for embarrassing our children).
Third: Sometimes you learn more as a tourist than as a local.
I would not have driven out to the plantation on my own – at least partly because I now think that driving 30 miles is SO FAR AWAY (a consequence of living on an island). But there is a lot of information presented in an entertaining manner aimed at visitors who are interested in Hawaii but don’t know a lot about it. Sometimes, that’s more valuable than an authentic “local” experience.
July 29th, 2010
Savvy tourists and locals alike know how to save money in Hawaii by buying local.
Yes, Hawaii can be expensive. Not because it can be, because it has to be. Everything has been brought here, making its way across thousands of miles of ocean and air. That isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap!
Buying local saves the money spent on transportation and the farmers market is a great place to do that. Kauai has multiple farmers markets going on every day plus loads of small, family run road side stands selling everything from ahi and leis to avocados and passion fruit; plus you can learn about things like the white pineapple. Tender, juicy, white flesh that is not as acidic as the common yellow ones. The farmers usually reserve them for the locals but you can find them at the farmers markets.
If you are visiting, renting a condo or time share with a kitchen, it is a smart way to save money. Some hotel rooms also include small kitchenettes. Dining out can be expensive so save one meal a day for that and supplement the other two by frequenting the farmers market and making meals in your condo.
One of my new favorite finds is Island SOL Bakery. SOL is an acronym for Seasonal, Organic and Local. This bakery has something for everyone; savory meat and cheese or veggie and cheese filled pastries. Sweet scones with creative combinations like peanut better, strawberry jam and local bananas. Cookies, coffee cakes, and their signature treats scruffins. Little coffee cakes with surprise fillings. There are regular, gluten free, dairy free and vegan choices. You can find this bakery at the KCC (Kauai Community College) and Hanalei markets.
Some markets, like the large one in Kapa’a, only sell vegetables. Sometimes there is a truck parked outside the market selling fresh eggs. Some, like the markets in Hanapepe, Lihue and Kilauea signal the start of selling with a whistle blow or the honk of a car horn. You can browse but you can’t buy until the signal, then it’s every man for himself! Some sell kim chee, slushies, hand made jewelry, jams and all manner of hand made products. It’s the perfect way to get outside, meet people, support small business and save some money!
July 28th, 2010
Lava from the Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii has reached the sea but is still threatening homes. Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the action are being warned not to disturb area residents.
Although the lava flow was able to push up and over a slope to the sea, lava is still flowing along the ridge to the coastal plane near homes in Kalapana. Over the past 24 hours, the lava has advanced 425 feet toward Kalapana Gardens. According to the United States Geological Survey, "A nearly continuously active flow front is creeping into a remaining and topographically low kipuka at the western edge of the subdivision, causing small brush fires and methane explosions." One home was destroyed over the weekend. Authorities warn that Kalapana Gardens is a private subdivision and access is granted only to residents. The land along highway 130 is also private property. Hawai‘i County police are monitoring the area. There are also minor scattered flows to the west and upslope of the Highway 137 flow.
Lava is continuing to enter the ocean, but the USGS estimates that less lava is headed that direction than is flowing toward the residential area. Earlier estimates had been that once the lava was able to make its way to the sea, the amount flowing towards homes would decrease. That appears not to have happened, at least not yet.
By late Monday, lava had created a small delta in the sea, which is growing as more lava flows onto it from the sea cliff.
Kilauea is an active volcano, with quiet periods and times of increased activity. This update and photos are provided by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Posted by Cindy Scheopner Follow me on Twitter @Scheopner
July 27th, 2010
It may be difficult for the casual observer to identify trees by their appearance (it’s easier if they grow fruit.) But in the case of the sausage tree in Hawaii, it’s hard to be mistaken.
The distinctive brown lobes hang from the tree in great abundance. This tree is on the UH campus at Manoa, but there are others on Oahu and the other islands of Hawaii. The tree is native to tropical West Africa. Its proper name is Kigelia Africana, it is a cousin of the Calabash Tree (both are members of the Bignonia family of flowering plants.)
While the fruit is eaten by many animals, the fresh fruit is poisonous to humans. It may be dried, roasted – or fermented. According to Wikipedia, an alcoholic beverage similar to beer is made from the fruit of the sausage tree. The fruit is used in African herbal medicine as a treatment for a variety of illnesses and apparently in skin care products.
The tree has beautiful flowers that open at night and attract bats, who pollinate them. According to the Honolulu zoo, the bat is considered to be Hawaii’s only native land mammal. Bats are common on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai and Maui but only rarely seen on Oahu. The Hawaiian Hoary Bat is an endangered species and federally-funded research on the bat is ongoing on the Big Island.
Given the scarcity of bats, I’m not sure how this sausage tree is pollinated but it seems very productive. Sausage trees are often planted as ornamental trees in tropical regions because the flowers are pretty and the fruit is so unusual. I don’t often quote Wikipedia, but I have to repeat this caution, “Planting sites should be selected carefully, as the falling fruit can cause serious injury to people, and damage vehicles under the trees.”
I will refrain from any further comment about things that fall from trees in Hawaii. Feel free to insert your own joke here.
July 26th, 2010
The islands of Hawaii will figure prominently in the new Hawaii Five-O television series. Producers refer to Hawaii as the "fifth character of the show."
"Our president is from Hawaii. We have a perfect storm of Hawaii being relevant and an important hub internationally," say executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. They describe Hawaii as a gateway into the United States and from the US out to the world. This allows them to tell not just American stories, but ones with an international flavor as well. "Hawaii is an international destination and the stories will reflect that position in the world rather than the neighborhood murder."
Kurtzman and Orci produced Fringe and the recent Star Trek movie. The Hawaii Five-O creative team also includes Peter Lenkov, whose credits include 24 and CSI:NY. Lenkov says the original Hawaii Five-O was his dad’s favorite television program. "It is important to honor the original show," he says. "One of the pitfalls in a remake is not respecting or being passionate about the original material. We are all very passionate about the original show and understand what made it work."
The producers spoke this week at Comic-Con in San Diego, along with the director of the pilot, Len Wiseman (Underworld and Live Free or Die Hard). Wiseman and Lenkov were asked what it was like working in Hawaii. They responded, "People in Hawaii opened arms and doors to us, because of the brand. Nobody said no to us, we were able to do whatever we wanted to do." Lenkov said he did some ride-alongs with the police department and spent a lot of time talking with them to get a sense of the types of crime that are unique to this area of the world.
Hawaii Five-O won the award for Most Anticipated New Show at Comic-Con. Fans had a chance to win one of three surf boards signed by the cast, limited run t-shirts, collector edition posters, ringtone cards with the show’s theme song and a "vacation getaway to the filming location of H50 on the tropical and vibrant island of Oahu" — the show’s fifth star.
July 25th, 2010
Lava can again be seen flowing from a volcano on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Lava flows today have reached the edge of a slope, which is sending the lava along the ridge to the east and west. Eastern flows bring the lava closer to residences. The United States Geological Service says that if the flows get stronger, they may push over the ridge and into the ocean. The USGS created a composite image that uses a normal photograph along with thermal imaging to show the active flow front in Kalapana.
Beginning last weekend, eruptive activity took place at two locations. One is in what is called the "east rift zone" where lava is flowing through tubes to the surface along highway 137. That advance is near homes. As the lava met the Kalapana access road, the burning asphalt created a plume of thick, black smoke.
Big Island police caution visitors that travel is restricted in that area. Vehicles are allowed to drive into the roadway from the point where Route 130 is covered by lava up to a parking lot with a guard shack. Beyond that point, the road is closed to everyone but residents. The only people allowed to park along the road beyond the warning sign are those who work with the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
A second area of activity is at the summit eruptive vent within Halema‘uma‘u Crater. There, a "crusted and circulating lava pond produced red glow visible from the Jaggar Museum overnight." A description of this vent is provided by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
"Halema`uma`u Overlook vent: has been difficult to describe concisely. The vent is actually a pit, or crater, in the floor of the larger Halema`uma`u Crater in the floor of the larger Kilauea caldera or crater – a crater within a crater within a crater. It is easiest to describe as a pit inset within the floor of a crater within a caldera. The pit is about 140 m (460 ft) in diameter at the Halema`uma`u Crater floor, is about 50 m in diameter at the pit floor, and is about 200 m (660 ft) deep. As of November, 2009, a lava pond surface has been visible in a hole in the floor of this pit."
Kilauea is always an active volcano, but fresh lava flows do not always extend out to where they are visibile by residents or visitors. Kilauea erupts from three main areas: its summit and two rift zones. The summit is high due to the frequent eruptions but the USGS says more eruptions occur at the long rift zones, which creates ridges that reach out from the summit. Many of the eruptions are gentle, with lava flows of several yards that increase the hight of the summit and build up the rift zones. According to the USGS, sporadic explosions will continue to cause destruction, "We cannot tell how much larger Kilauea will grow or when it will stop, but it will surely continue to erupt through the rest of human history"
(Photo of lava on road by Richard Denton, thermal image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.)
July 24th, 2010
Canoe races for island championships are happening this weekend in Hawaii, top crews will go on to compete at the State Canoe Race next month.
Hawaiian Canoe Racing is a popular sporting event in the islands. Racing canoes are made from Hawaii’s giant Koa tree. The Koa tree is one of the tallest trees in Hawaii, often reaching several hundred feet in height with a diameter of over 10 feet. The Koa trees are resistant to salt water, making them perfect for boat-building.
This is a team sport as there are 6 paddlers in the canoe, each trying to mimic the paddler in front of you with the same rhythm, timing, press and totally becoming one. When everyone is working together and in sync, the canoe glides with ease thru the water with such a rhythmic force.
On August 7th, you can watch an actual canoe regatta in action during the State Championship Canoe Races at Keehi Lagoon (near the airport) on Oahu. It’s an all day event, beginning at 8:30am until the last race is completed, approximately 6pm. There will be lots of yummy ono (good) food for sale including plate lunches, shaved ice, and other local favorites. Local vendors will also be selling clothing, canoe paddles, bags, souvenirs, stickers and many other fun items.
This is a culmination of summer long regatta races, with only qualified crews racing. Until now, each association has only raced against other clubs in the same association, but now at the state race the best paddlers finally get a chance to race against crews from other associations and neighboring islands. It’s an exciting race for all paddlers!
Like many other islanders, I have been paddling since I was a teenager, and as long as I am capable will continue to do so. I am in this photo (seat 1) with my crew from a race on July 17th at Keehi Lagoon. We’ve been getting 2nd place all season, so were happy to win 1st place this week.
Hopefully we’ll see a Hana Hou (do it again) this weekend at the Oahu Championships.
July 23rd, 2010
If "sea level Hawaii" is all you've experienced, you are definitely missing out on many of Hawaii's scenic treasures–and some real adventure.
Many people, when they think of Hawaii, immediately see images of white sand beaches, coconut trees and mai-tais in the tropical sun. Not that there's anything wrong with that–you aren't likely to find anyone who lives here turning down a luxurious beach day or their favorite sunset cocktail! But, on your next visit, may I suggest getting to know Hawaii at higher elevations?
On the Big Island, there are a number of opportunities to experience "upcountry" Hawaii, but people taking a Hawaii vacation often put at the top of their itinerary a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park–a great place to get your first taste of the Big Island at 4,000 ft. above sea level. The Park is a designated International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site, so if you spend some time here you can explore up to seven ecological zones (seacoast, lowland, mid-elevation woodland, rain forest, upland forest, subalpine, and alpine) in one trip.
I recommend, if it is at all possible, staying at a Volcano Village bed & breakfast for a couple of nights during your Big Island visit. Most folks don't realize how long the drive from Kona or the Kohala coast to Volcano will really feel by the time you reach the Volcanoes National Park. Being able to relax and enjoy the Village as well as the Park will make your trip to Hawaii's Big Island much more enjoyable.
There are a few great restaurants in Volcano–Kilauea Lodge is one favorite of mine (we've gone there for many special occasions and, for a few years, going to the Lodge for Thanksgiving Day dinner was a highly-anticipated treat). But you'll also want to reserve some time just to slow down and soak in the stunning beauty of the lush rainforest. Ohia forests and hapu'u ferns abound here–making Volcano Village an ideal place for a restful morning cup of coffee and or reading on your lanai as well as for getting up close and personal with "madame Pele" and her volcanic playground when you're ready to explore the Park.
(Photo: Though beautiful, kahili ginger is an invasive species commonly found in the Volcano area.)
Posted by: Cynthia Hoskins. Follow me on Twitter.
Related post: Waimea and the Kohala Mountains
We are happy to welcome Cynthia's contribution to the Hawaii Aloha Travel blog this week. Cynthia will tell us about other ways to see Hawai‘i at higher elevations in future posts, as well as other notes about the Big Island.
If you live in Hawaii and would like to contribute a post, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 22nd, 2010