Unless you’re into quilting as an avocation, it’s likely that quilts aren’t a large part of your consciousness. Here in the islands, a Hawaiian quilt is considered a treasure, whether you’ve received one as a gift, bought one or made one yourself.
Long before the first Westerners reached the islands, the Hawaiian people were making a fabric called "kapa" from the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree. Kapa was pounded into layers and sewn with bone needles and natural fiber threads. The yield was clothing, bedding and canoe sails. The resulting fabric usually was dyed and decorated with elaborate patterns.
When the missionaries brought woven fabrics and piecework quilts to Hawaii, the Hawaiians quickly adopted their sewing techniques and materials – but not their methods.
Rather than cut fabrics into bits and then resew them, the Hawaiians’ designs were cut from solid pieces of cloth and appliquéd to a fabric background forming a decorative top. Batting of wool, cotton, or natural fibers was placed between this top and an undecorated backing. The three layers were then stitched together.
It’s presumed that the first Hawaiian quilt designs were inspired by leaf patterns falling on fabric laid out to dry and other designs found in nature. The quilts weren’t sold; they were gifts of love.
During the latter years of the monarchy and particularly after Queen Lili’uokalani was deposed in 1893, quilt patterns incorporating themes of royalty, "Ali`i", and of the royal palaces became symbols of Hawaiian identity. Today it’s considered a matter of courtesy for non-Hawaiians to request permission from members of the Hawaiian community before using those particular patterns.
Quilting has gained a respected place in the resurgence of traditional Hawaiian arts and crafts. Now quilters are passing on their knowledge of the past and creating new designs.
Hawaii’s visitors usually come across Hawaiian quilts – as they browse shops, see them in hotel lobbies and some rooms, or encounter them in private homes. They are easy to covet, but are bulky when it comes to getting them back home. Several companies will ship your choices to you. For your guidance, here’s what you can expect to pay for quilts of various sizes for various uses:
Bedspread: $ 650
Large Wall Hanging: $ 160
Small Wall Hanging: $ 30
Baby Quilt: $ 65
Table Runner: $ 50
And it’s easy to take quilt making lessons while you’re here.
If you’d like to follow up your interest in the quilts, let us know. Pick an agent from our Web site home page (hawaii-aloha.com), or call 1-800-5262. We’ll hook you up with the best sources.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
November 14th, 2008
Dolphins are represented everywhere in Hawaii. You’ll see them in murals, paintings and sculptures. They’re on the holding ends of swizzle sticks in bars, forming the bases of lamps in hotel rooms and decorating the walls of lobbies and cocktail lounges.
It’s more than likely that you’ll see real live dolphins on your Hawaii vacation. If you’re on a local cruise or aboard a private boat, you may see a pod of dolphins join you — riding on the bow waves or the stern wake. While that behavior probably is adapted from the practice of riding ocean swells, the wakes of large whales or a mother dolphin’s "slip stream," it seems for all the world that the friendly mammals are socializing with you. Seemingly carefree, they appear out of nowhere to put on a show for you. When they do, you may feel an almost irresistible urge to get in the water and play with them.
But swimming with dolphins in the wild is illegal. Humans and vessels have to maintain a distance of at least 50 yards. (It’s not illegal for dolphins to approach you, but it is against the law to approach, chase, surround, touch or swim with them.)
Some tour boat operators have developed acceptable self-regulating guidelines and offer small group tours with guides who are trained marine mammal naturalists. There are rules, generally including the following:
• Let the dolphins approach you and stay relaxed. Swim quietly alongside them
and when they swim away, don’t follow them.
• Don’t try to feed them. That would be harmful to their health as well as their
social behavior. They’ll find all the food they need on their own.
• Don’t try to get them to play with a toy. They can find their own toys in the
Another way to get to know dolphins is to participate in the Dolphin Quest interactive program at the Kahala Hotel and Resort on Oahu or the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island. The program provides a variety of fun and educational encounters with dolphins. At the Kahala, the staff works with a small pod of dolphins training them to, among other things, interact with people. One staffer there says the dolphins are like Golden Retrievers because they love meeting new people. At Hilton Waikoloa Village, the dolphins reside in a protected area of the resort’s four-acre, saltwater lagoon.
Sea Life Park, on the east shore of Oahu, offers interactive dolphin experiences, too. The park’s Dolphin Adventures is a deep-water experience that allows you to swim with and among dolphins, and you’ll get a personal lesson from Sea Life Park trainers with a chance to view dolphins underwater and up close.
Such adventures are enormously popular, and expensive. At Sea Life Park, you can get a kiss on the cheek from a dolphin, a dorsal fin ride and a foot push (That’s when you get thrust across the water from the bottom of your feet from a dolphin’s bottle nose.)
Sound like fun? It costs almost $200 per person and will go up to $215 after the first of the year. (There are less expensive encounters, starting at about $100 for adults and $70 for kids.)
Plan well. At all the venues, the encounters are booked months ahead.
If you want to work a dolphin encounter into your vacation, Hawaii-Aloha.com can package one for you that accommodates all your other plans, and we’ll find you the best rates available. Pick and agent from our Web site at hawaii-aloha.com, or call 1-800-843-8771.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
November 10th, 2008
On just about any restaurant menu in Hawaii, the seafood section will display the names of fish that will be unfamiliar to you. Some people assume the names are simply local translations of “perch,” “mackerel” or “cod.” Nope. They are the true names of fish caught in Hawaiian waters, served locally and even exported to restaurants near you. You’re likely to find their taste milder and less “fishy” than the seafood fare you’ve become used to at home. We’re proud of our seafood here. We eat twice as much as the U.S. per-capita national average.
Here are four of the most common fish served in island restaurants:
Mahimahi (of which you may have heard) is dolphin (the fish, not the mammal); thin-skinned with firm, light pink flesh. It has a delicate flavor that’s almost sweet. The mahimahi is the fish that’s credited with introducing Hawaii’s fish to the world.
Ahi – bigeye or yellowfish — is traditionally used for sashimi and other raw-fish preparations and now appears in “blackened” recipes. When cooked, it is usually grilled.
Opah, or “moonfish,” is commonly offered as the “catch of the day.” It’s rich and fatty; usually broiled or smoked.
Ono means “good to eat” in Hawaii. It’s not unlike mahimahi, but it’s leaner. In restaurants it’s usually poached to retain its moisture.
Feel comfortable ordering any of them in any restaurant while you’re here. They’re tasty in their simplest forms, and the chefs at high-end restaurants delight in creating original sauces and accompaniments to enhance their flavors. Your waitperson at such eateries will be well-versed in exactly what you can expect with each dish.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
October 31st, 2008
If you’re a river rat – a lover of river activities such as sailing, speed boating, fishing, water skiing, canoeing and tubing – you won’t find a whole lot of rivers in Hawaii on which to indulge your pleasure. We have no rapids to shoot here; no white water for rafting.
These islands are loaded with waterfalls (about 100 of them have names). Many of them are magnificent and several are accessible, but they’re fed by streams and springs from rain rather than by a “conventional” source such as the Great lakes-Niagara River feeding of Niagara Falls.
The Kaukonahua River on the island of Oahu is Hawaii’s longest at 33 miles, but it offers little in the way of activities other than hiking near its banks.
But there’s hope for you on the island of Kauai. The Wailua River offers the only fresh-water skiing in the state. It is, in fact, the only navigable river in all of Hawaii. Several forks in the river lead to waterfalls and can be easily explored by kayak. About a quarter of a mile wide near its mouth, it’s also a very good setting for power-boat sports. Usually smooth and warm, the Wailua attracts pros from around the world to train, play or compete on skis, wakeboards, scurfers and kneeboards.
Beginners and intermediates can have good fun here, too. Tows are moderately priced, and passengers who don’t ski ride free. The ski boat companies supply all the equipment.
And the tubing can be a special experience, even for tubing veterans. A company based in Hanama’ulu offers tube rides down the Lihue Plantation irrigation ditch and tunnel system, which runs through some of the most beautiful land on the island with spectacular views of the ocean, coastline and valleys. Beginning near the top of Mount Waialeale (the wettest spot on earth), the waterway and ditch system winds through open canals, rushing flumes and mysterious tunnels.
The most popular river trip is to the sacred Fern Grotto. A flat-bottom cruise boat will carry you 40 minutes up the river to that natural wonder.
So Hawaii is far from being “The Land of Rivers,” but river rats can find a place to play … and have a great time.
If you’d like to know more, pick an agent from our Web site home page, or call 1-800-843-8771. We can help you squeeze some river fun into your Hawaii vacation. And, of course, we can help you do everything you’d like – at the best possible rates.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
October 30th, 2008
Especially if you’re going to be on Maui during your Hawaii vacation, Haleakala will be among your plans. Please don’t consider this to be something you can just stop by and see, as you might Diamond Head on Oahu or Akaka Falls on the Big Island.
No place you have ever been will have prepared you for the experiences and feelings you will have on the summit of Haleakala. The landscape — sculpted, richly colored, and actually breathtaking — will be unlike any you have seen. There’s no way to anticipate its scale or dimensions ahead of time. (A popular comparison notes that the entire island of Manhattan could nestle within its confines.) The summit takes on another dimension at night, as the darkness reveals the brilliant night sky.
The Wilderness Area is 24,719 acres and the climate varies throughout. The elevation change from rim to the floor can be 3,000 feet. You can day hike, spend the night in a tent at one of the two wilderness campgrounds, or reserve one of the three historic cabins along the trail. As you walk, cycle or drive, you will encounter brown and red cinder cones that stretch hundreds of feet high in dry, cold desert air. You’ll experience cloud forests with red and green native ferns. Nene (Hawaiian geese) and endemic honeycreepers can be seen in the lower, wetter parts of the Wilderness area during the day. You’ll hear seabirds at night. Stars will fill the sky as you have never seen them before.
The Wilderness Area can be accessed by either of two mountaintop trailheads: Halemauu Trailhead at 8,000 feet and Keoneheehee near the summit at 9,740 feet. The two trails merge eventually and lead down the southeast side of the volcano to the relatively barren and unpopulated coast in the Kaupo district.
If you would like to camp overnight, you’ll need a permit. Cabins must be reserved, and it’s a good idea to stop by a Visitor Center before a day hike to discuss your plans. The unpredictable weather can be severe; water is scarce; altitude can be a major factor; and certain seasonal restrictions may apply.
The Kipahulu Area of Haleakala National Park can be accessed by driving ten miles past the remote town of Hana, on the famous Hana road that circumscribes the northeast coast of the island of Maui. The Kipahulu area encompasses both the accessible coastal section and the highly restricted, biologically precious upper slope reserve that is closed to all by limited research access.
Hiking is self-guided and rewarding. There are scheduled orientations and cultural demonstrations through the Visitor Center, and it’s a good idea to tune in.
Consider hiking the two-mile trail Pipiwai Trail, following the stream that runs through the Oheo Gulch. You can swim in the cool lower pools near the ocean, but the stream can be very unpredictable and flash floods are common. You’re responsible for your own safety and should not underestimate the risk. Obey all the caution signs and warnings from Rangers.
This area also offers a drive-up campground. Be advised that Kipahlu is wet and remote. If you’re going to camp, bring water. Shared grills, picnic tables and pit-toilets are available. You don’t need a permit here, but you’ll need to have paid the $10 park entry fee. (Camping is limited to 3 nights.)
Overall, the Haleakala climate is unpredictable. In any given day, the temperatures in the park can range from a high of 80° in Kipahulu to 30° at the lower levels.
As you can see, planning is essential if you are to appreciate even part of what Haleakala holds in store for you. Pick an agent from our Web site home page (hawaii-aloha.com) or call 1-800-843-8771. We’ll help you work a fulfilling Haleakala adventure into your vacation plans.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
October 29th, 2008
You’re looking ahead, planning your next vacation (or is it your first?) You’re considering where to go: The U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Far East, South America, Africa, the South Pacific? Maybe you’re considering taking a cruise. You’re debating whether to take the whole family. You’re studying your finances.
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Okay, you finally decide on Hawaii. But where? Oahu and Waikiki, the Big Island and the volcanoes, Kauai and its splendor, Maui and Haeakala and the super resorts, or one of the smaller islands with their isolation? You should even consider visiting more than one island.
Once you’ve decided on Hawaii, what kind of accommodations are best for you? Imagine, to begin with, traveling by yourself. Do you simply determine where you’re going to be and book a hotel room? The decision — especially if there will be more than one of you — takes more thought than that.
Do you want and appreciate the creature comforts of a nice hotel where the staff become familiar with you and anticipate your needs and all you have to do is pick up the phone and they “bring it”? Do you like being surrounded by an array of activities and attractions and upscale restaurants with imaginative menus? In Hawaii we have grand resorts and fine hotels at all prices ranges in great locations on all the islands with eager, professional staffs.
Or do you anticipate a laid-back, quiet, away-from-it-all vacation? You can keep to yourself, do what you want when you want, do most of your own cooking, have space among several rooms, bask in the ideal weather and recharge? There now is a huge inventory of condominium apartment vacation rentals where the accommodations are lovely, the included rooms are furnished according to the taste of the owners, the conveniences are at hand, but you pretty-much fend for yourself.
And there are compromises between those extremes. If you like the idea of sharing your vacation with some hospitable local people who gladly will offer advice and friendship as they put you up, consider a bed and breakfast. If you want to combine luxury hotel service with upscale apartment living, we have condo-hotel properties that offer both … at a price, of course.
That’s what we do at Hawaii Aloha. We help you with those decisions. We make suggestions, track rates and facilities for you, determine what you would enjoy seeing and doing, and put together a package for you that exploits all the deals, special offers, discounts and hidden bargains available. Then we book everything for you, keep in touch with you, and solve any problems you might encounter on your trip and while you’re in our islands. (Be sure there will be problems wherever you go in the world. Trying to get satisfaction yourself directly from an airline, hotel or car-rental company can be a time-consuming, frustrating adventure.)
So as you’re doing your vacation planning, pick an agent from our Web site home page (hawaii-aloha.com), or call 1-800-843-8771. You’ll have found a loyal friend with clout to be there for you every step of the way.
October 21st, 2008
You may well be planning to visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial on your Hawaii vacation, but be careful not to limit your experience to the Arizona alone. Pearl Harbor memorializes both the beginning and the end of World War II. The USS Arizona is justifiably the centerpiece of the harbor’s historic place on the itineraries of island visitors because of its emotional impact. The USS Missouri, however, has a richer and more varied history.
“Mighty Mo” was launched on January 29, 1944, and went on to participate in critical operations during the final months of World War II, including the Allied invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and the Allied advance on the Japanese home islands.
After the formal signing on its deck of the "Instrument of Surrender" on September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Bay ended the war, the battleship was not retired. She participated in training cruises for naval midshipman and was involved with other peacetime operations.
When North Korean forces suddenly invaded South Korea in 1950, the Missouri provided ongoing gunfire support for U.N. forces ashore and went on to serve two rigorous combat tours between 1950 and 1953. When that service ended, she was decommissioned on February 26, 1955, and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where she would remain for the next 30 years.
Then, in 1984, with tensions rising in the Middle East, Mighty Mo was called back to duty, modernized and re-commissioned, and sent on an historic world cruise, reflecting the one taken by President Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet of 1904. A year later, she participated in an Allied escort of oil tankers through the dangerous waters of the North Arabian Sea.
Then, in early 1991, Battleship Missouri was firing Tomahawk missiles against Iraqi forces as Operation Desert Storm commenced.
Finally, she returned to Pearl Harbor in 1991 to join in the historic commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of attack on the Hawaiian Islands.
Finally, in 1992, the "Mighty Mo" was once again decommissioned — the very last American battleship to be decommissioned. In 1998 she remains a memorial, “standing watch over the hallowed waters of Pearl Harbor,” and touring her decks is fascinating.
So, while the USS Arizona remains the first lady of Pearl Harbor, make a day of your Pearl Harbor visit and include Mighty Mo as well. To include a practical and fulfilling tour during your island vacation (Yes, there’s even more to see in the immediate area!), pick an agent from our Web site home page (hawaii-aloha.com), or call 1-800-843-8771
Posted by Jim Winpenny
October 15th, 2008
When you vacation in Hawaii, you surely will be urged to try one of those colorful, fruit-slice-filled, tiny-umbrella-embellished concoctions served up at every restaurant, lounge and visitor gathering on every island.
There’s probably nowhere in the world where a tropical drink is more appropriate than in Hawaii. The exotic colors and flavors that typify tropical drinks were inspired by the palette of colors in the Hawaii sky and landscape.
The cocktails reflect the laid back, island-style living that has helped to make Hawaii one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. There are countless exotic drink recipes around the globe with whimsical names like the “Mad Hatter,” “Bubblicious” and “Platinum Passion.” Their origins are a matter of conjecture, folklore or legend. There is some certainty, however, about the origin of some of the earliest tropical drinks – the ones that endure in paradise.
Tiki bars became popular in the 1930s, and it was in those watering holes where the first such beverages were first concocted. Amid the palms, tapa cloth, tiki heads and torches of places like The Palms and the Seven Seas in Los Angeles, bartenders were constantly experimenting to come up with new recipes. Many of those recipes were invented by Ray Buhen at Don the Beachcomber’s. Legend has it that when Ray realized that he wasn’t getting the credit he deserved, he opened up his own tiki bar, the Tiki-ti. Many new drink recipes are merely variations on the theme invented back in the 1930’s. But true tropical drinks do have some things in common, despite the fact that they are similarly diverse in color and potency. Most true tropical drinks are made from rum. There’s a utilitarian reason for that. Rum was the cheapest liquor available at the end of Prohibition when the tropical drink craze took off. Prior to that, most popular cocktails were made with whiskey or gin. As a rule, tropical drinks demand spirits that mix well. They need to allow the taste of the mix to come through without being overpowered by the strong taste of liquor. (Vodka and gin mix fairly well and are included in many recipes as well.) And ice is a key ingredient, serving to dull the taste buds so more liquor can be added to “pack a punch.” Combinations of natural fruit chunks, juices, liqueurs and sometimes sugar are mixed and matched to give us the variety of drinks available today.
The king of all tropical drinks has to be the Mai Tai. Consisting of rum and Triple Sec or Orange Curacao with lime, almond syrup and grenadine, the Mai Tai is the quintessential tropical drink. The recipe has been adjusted over the years, but most variations are still close to the original. Also mixed with a rum base are the Blue Hawaii (rum and pineapple juice), the Pina Colada (rum, cream of coconut and pineapple juice), and the Scorpion (rum, orange, grapefruit and pineapple juice).
Fancied up with pineapple or orange slices (or both), maraschino cherries, decorative straws and those tiny umbrellas, tropical drinks are tasty, refreshing and festive. But beware. They can be dangerous because they taste harmless compared to gin, vodka, bourbon or scotch simply mixed with soda, water or just ice. It’s not hard to overindulge.
So go ahead. Enjoy your choice of the genre (and you will) as you vacation on our islands. But be careful your day doesn’t end before you want it to.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
October 14th, 2008
You see the phrase in most of the “visit Hawaii” brochures, ads and on-line postings: “Whale watching in the winter months.” It’s a fairly innocuous phrase, along with “lush tropical gardens” and “white sand beaches.”
But anyone who has witnessed these fascinating monsters arch their backs and raise their tail flukes above water in preparation for dives, and has heard them emit their stored air through their blowholes (which can be heard from 800 feet away) will tell you the experience is thrilling and unforgettable. (It’s the arching of their backs maneuver that has earned them the “humpback” nickname.) Even more spectacular is the breach, a powerful acrobatic display where the humpback uses its tail to launch itself out of the water, landing back onto the surface with a resounding splash.
Every year, humpback whales of the North Pacific migrate to the main Hawaiian islands during the winter months. (The early ones have arrived already this year.) The round-trip distance they travel during this annual migration is approximately 4,000 miles, one of the longest migration distances of any animal species. During their stay in Hawaii, they do not feed, but rely upon stored energy. Near the islands, the whales devote most of their time to mating and giving birth to their calves.
While they’re here, they’re renowned for their many and various acrobatic displays: the aforementioned head lunge and blow, the pec slap (in which humpbacks roll onto their sides or backs and slowly slap the water’s surface with one fin or both fins simultaneously), the tail slap (which can be heard for miles), the lobtail slap (where the whale will thrash the surface of the water by whipping its upraised flukes from side to side), and the head lunge (not unlike a dog baring its teeth at a perceived opponent).
While whale watching in Hawaii is touted by all the islands, the protected Auau Channel and shallow warm waters off the west coast of Maui (Lahaina, Kaanapali) are definitely the best places to watch. You can get a good view from the shoreline as the whales are left undisturbed and pollution from boats is avoided.
Don’t take the hype for whale-watching lightly as you plan your Hawaii vacation. It’s a spectacle that will stay with you forever.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
October 13th, 2008