As is the case is most metropolitan areas, Honolulu is trying to figure out what to do with its homeless people. Part of the dilemma has resulted in major improvements to beautiful, 500-acre Kapiolani Park, which is located between Diamond Head and Waikiki.
Kapiolani Park was created by King Kalakaua in the 1870′s. A lot of its exceptional trees date back more than 100 years. It encompasses the 42-acre Honolulu Zoo, the Waikiki Shell, Sunday Art Shows, a tennis complex, soccer fields, an archery range, and a three-mile jogger’s course that includes a portion of the Honolulu Marathon course.
Local families as well as visitors enjoy the shady picnic sites and open grassy areas. The Royal Hawaiian Band provides free concerts every Sunday afternoon on the park’s bandstand.
Honolulu officials have launched a new effort to clean up the park, which will have the ancillary effect of evicting the homeless people who have relocated there following their having been pretty successfully removed from the beaches, Downtown Honolulu, Chinatown and the rest of Waikiki.
The four-stage park renovation is in response to a rising “level of anxiety” among both visitors and residents who have been worried about safety, sanitation and security due to the presence of homeless people.
Beach pavilions will be closed from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. for daily cleaning. For the next month, the ocean-front grass area in Kapiolani Park between the Waikiki Aquarium and Kapiolani Beach Center will be closed and refurbished.
Upcoming renovations will include the grass areas around the Queen’s Surf beach, the Waikiki War Memorial and the Kapiolani Bandstand.
And, beginning March 30, there will be temporary closures for the painting and repair of comfort stations and pavilions along the Beach and in Kapiolani Park. Each closure should last about one week.
Beginning April 20 and lasting indefinitely, areas of the park mauka (toward the mountains) of Kalakaua Avenue will be closed from midnight until 5:00 a.m., including the tennis courts; and areas makai (toward the ocean) of Kalakaua Avenue will be closed from 2:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
The police are enforcing the new program by ticketing people who do not abide by the closures and arresting them if necessary, and night sleeping in the park has been banned.
What’s happening, of course, is that the city is sweeping its homeless problem to some other location, not solving it.
But while you’re vacationing on Oahu and thinking of spending some pleasant time in a lovely park, Kapiolani Park will be at its very best for your visit.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
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March 26th, 2009
It happens. The old standby gets accused of being trite, boring, no longer fashionable.
Compared to the other islands, Oahu is still holding its own, but now it seems to be cool to downgrade it. Waikiki is too “touristy.” Honolulu is a big city now, with the inevitable traffic, industrialization and loss of the Aloha Spirit.
Okay. Maui has been called “the world’s greatest island.” It has the amazing Haleakala, the charm of Hana, the history of Lahaina, the lure of the Iou Needle and the resorts of Kaanapali.
Kauai has an abundance of natural wonders and great resorts. The Big Island has its volcanic action, enormous variety and even greater resorts. Molokai and Lanai have their intimacy and peace.
They’re all terrific. But never shortchange Oahu. Oahu is a big island, too, stretching ‘way beyond Waikiki and Honolulu. And Waikiki and Honolulu embody most of the things you envision when you first consider Hawaii for a vacation.
Waikiki is where the action is. The entertainment is first-class. A lot of the acts have been at it for a quarter of a century; newer ones are laced with high tech and imagination. World-class performers appear in Waikiki or Honolulu regularly. The beaches in Waikiki are everything you’ve seen and read about. The shopping is top-drawer.
Honolulu is almost as historical as (and perhaps more interesting than) Boston or Philadelphia. Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial should not be missed if you’re going to come to Hawaii.
The outer areas — the North Shore, Windward Oahu, East Oahu and the emerging West Coast with its “Second City” of Kapolei are all worth your time.
Seasoned visitors to Hawaii would offer you a suggestion like this:
On your first visit, do Oahu. If you have time, then take in a neighbor island or two. On your next visit, do a day or two in Waikiki to see what’s new, then do the neighbor islands.
When you consider the entire picture, spending your entire vacation on a neighbor island can be restricting. Think of a smorgasbord and spending the entire evening at the salad bar. However much you might love salads, there’s a whole lot more for your table.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
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For Non-touristy Hawaii Vacation ideas on Oahu, Look East
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February 2nd, 2009
For a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is avoiding severe winter weather where you live, Honolulu is a lovely place to be during the holiday season.
"Honolulu City Lights,” now in its 24th year, is Hawaii’s premiere holiday event. Each year it draws hundreds of thousands of people to Honolulu’s City Hall and the Civic Center grounds. Its opening day – December sixth — kicks off the holiday season. Indoor Christmas trees and beautiful wreath exhibits will be on display in the City Hall lobby. Outside, the grounds are filled with giant illuminated displays. Companies all over the island sponsor bus and trolley excursions through the area, usually winding up at restaurants and bars for celebratory evenings.
Admission is free. It’s a month-long holiday celebration that includes the beautiful City Employee’s Christmas Tree Exhibit, a decorated 65-foot Norfolk pine tree, strolling musicians and entertainment, and nightly visits with Santa.
December 17th, 2008
Arkadi Kuhlmann has been called a "rebel with a cause" with his unconventional approach to banking — offering customers saving accounts with high-interest rates and no minimums. His philosophy has always been that saving money and investing should be as simple as having a cup of coffee.
His company, the online bank ING DIRECT, has opened its first Waikiki Cafe on Kalakaua Avenue. It expects an average of between 500 to 600 people to walk in daily, even though all of ING DIRECT’s banking takes place either online, over the phone or by mail. It has a base of about 25,000 customers in Hawaii.
The 9,500-square-foot space will provide ING Direct, an online bank with no branches, with a place where associates can discuss financial products with clients. It also features a conference room where the company can hold financial seminars.
Younger customers seem to like the convenience of online banking, and seniors appreciate the high interest rates.
Aside from a full-service cafe that serves espresso drinks, there are pastries as well. And ING DIRECT also offers a meeting space for nonprofit and community groups.
If you’re in Waikiki check it out, its a great place to relax, and enjoy Waikiki. The Honolulu cafe, is the largest in the U.S.
December 16th, 2008
You’ve heard of the enormous variety that’s represented by today Hawaiian cuisine. What with the Asian Fusion, Hawaiian Regional, European, Mediterranean, Hispanic, Chinese, Japanese … there seems to be no limit.
With all the wonderful restaurants to choose from, only one has earned the Triple-A’s Five Diamond award for 2009: Chef Mavro in Honolulu. The award honors the highest level of excellence in every facet of operation.
Owner/chef George Mavrothalassitis was born in Marseilles, surrounded by the passionate calls of fishmongers and the farm-fresh flavors of southern France. His award-winning French-Hawaii cuisine is also rooted in training with numerous masters of contemporary French cuisine and his experience as owner of two superb restaurants in Marseilles in the seaside village of Cassis. A founder of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, Chef Mavro also has been recognized with the James Beard award. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and it’s considered the top culinary honor in the U.S.
Current influences are from his life in Hawaii and he loves to tell the story of his first morning in Honolulu. “At sunrise I looked out over Waikiki Beach to Diamond Head and I said to myself – That’s it! I’m home!” Ever since that day 1988, Chef Mavro has embraced the multi-ethnic people and foods of Hawaii and become close friends with dozens of boutique farmers and specialty fisherman. On the occasion of the 5th anniversary of Chef Mavro restaurant in December 2003, he gathered his longtime purveyors around a Chef’s Table to honor them as the foundation of his success.
Needless to say, make your reservations well in advance. Your Hawaii-Aloha agent can help you do that.
December 8th, 2008
When you vacation on Oahu, the center of attraction is Waikiki. Even if you stay in a remote resort area such as Turtle Bay or Ko Olina, you expect to see some action in Waikiki before you go home. That’s where the glitter and the glamour are.
Downtown gets bypassed way too much, except to perhaps check out the “historic” section on the way to or from Pearl Harbor. Too often you hear remarks such as, “There’s nothing downtown,” and “Don’t go downtown at night.”
It’s a bad rap that originated (with justification) after WWII, when martial law was lifted and military personnel with passes were free to prowl Honolulu streets and businesses sprang up everywhere to satiate their appetites. In the mid-sixties, even though prostitution was illegal by then, lots of shady goings on were tolerated to accommodate the military, the growing merchant marine force and the workers from the plantations. It was a good place for vacationers to avoid.
That’s all changed.
Today, in a tight 12-block area surrounding the Honolulu business district, you can find more than two dozen arts-related businesses and galleries, three live-performance theatres, two performance art venues, an alternative movie theater, and some of Honolulu’s trendiest nightclubs and restaurants. More than 75 ethnic restaurants — the variety is indescribable — dot the surrounding neighborhood. Most of the buildings were built at the end of the19th century.
The linchpin of this renaissance probably has been the Hawaii Theatre Center. The theater itself was built in 1922 as a venue for theater, popular entertainment, and film. In the mid-1930s, it became predominately a popular grand movie palace, and remained such until television arrived in the 1950s. From then it degenerated into what was essentially a foreign porn theater until its closing was announced in 1984. A group of local citizens, with additional funding provided by the Honolulu City & County, raised the funds for the theater’s purchase along with several adjoining properties. In 1986, the center was closed for massive renovation until it was rededicated and re-opened in1996. Now the Hawaii has once again become a popular venue for national touring shows, theater, concerts, film, television; and it’s attracted hundreds of thousands of patrons back through its doors to witness its resurgence as Honolulu’s preeminent venue. Restaurateurs, storeowners, artists, patrons of the arts and Oahu’s residents have caught on and the resurgence is amazing.
Downtown Honolulu has become an experience to plan for.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
Your Blogger’s Side Bar
When we first moved to Honolulu in 1972, my wife Mary and I had business at the downtown courthouse. We knew nothing about Hawaii. I had visited my father here for a few weekends in the 60’s, but had spent most of my time visiting with him at his home, not taking in the sights.
It was mid-afternoon and we wandered through town, poking our heads into shops and sleazy bars, not seeing anything worth lingering to explore. We came across a large corner bar called Bill Lederer’s. Hey, we’d heard of William Lederer! He and Eugene Burdick had written that controversial bestseller, "The Ugly American," about our country’s shoddy diplomacy in Southeast Asia. This place should be pretty classy.
It wasn’t. It was filthy. It smelled of stale beer and urine. For some reason we went to the bar and ordered a couple of beers anyhow. Mary asked for a wet napkin and wiped the sticky space right in front of us. Apparently curious about the suddenly clean surface, a cockroach the size of a half-smoked cigar with six hairy legs skittered to the center of it and seemed to size Mary up. Before I could slap down a five-dollar bill, Mary had made it to the bus stop. Once back at our new apartment, she implored me to move us back to Philadelphia. I promised I would if I ever raised the airfare.
Although most of the offices where I worked were in downtown office buildings, Mary and I avoided entertaining ourselves downtown until well into the 1980s.
December 3rd, 2008
Narrowing down your Hawaii vacation destination is even more difficult than it may seem to be at first. Most people try to decide which island – or islands – they think would appeal to them most.
The problem is that, except for little Molokai and Lanai, each of the islands actually has three or more distinctly different areas within their beaches.
On Oahu, Waikiki – on the south shore – is where the action is, and it’s close to most of the island’s other attractions. On the north shore, Turtle Bay is a full-blown resort near “Old Hawaii,” those humongous winter waves and the quaint little town of Haleiwa. Ko Olina is a newer, sprawling, self-contained resort area well west of Honolulu in leeward Oahu.
On the north shore of Kauai, the beautiful Hanalei and Princeville area is quiet and scenic with nice resorts. The south shore has Poipu and a whole bunch of ritzy resorts with all kinds of things to do. On the east shore, the town of Lihue is the island’s business and population center, with good accommodations that are convenient to most of Kauai’s spectacular attractions.
Maui is said to be two islands. West Maui has Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kapalua and those spectacular resorts. The island’s larger portion contains the rustic Upcountry, the mammoth Haleakala crater and the Waimea resort area. Way to the east, the fantastic Hana area is an isolated destination unto itself.
The Big Island is generally divided into the Hilo side – the east – and the Kona side – the west. But it’s far more than that. On the Kona side, the coast is lined with one spectacular resort after another, and farther inland is ranch country in the rural areas of Waimea and Kamuela, the majestic Mauna Kea and the world’s most powerful telescopes. The Hilo side is far less touristy, but that’s where you’ll find Volcanoes National Park and the amazing lava flows.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider beyond a choice of islands. The best thing to do is pick an agent from our website and begin a relationship (No obligation, of course). Our agents all are experts in Hawaii – have lived here and can guide you with passion and professionalism. Or, if you prefer, call 1-800-843-8771.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
November 26th, 2008
We blogged a few weeks ago about a Indianapolis-based Republic Airways was planning to form a partnership with Kailua-Kona-based Mokulele Airlines in order to provide more passenger seats for Hawaii’s interisland travelers and to create competition for Hawaiian Airlines in the market.
Well, they’ve done it, spurring hopes for lower fares and more options. Starting November 19th, Mokulele will begin flying 14 flights a day between Honolulu and Lihue, Kauai, and between Honolulu and Kailua, Kona, using 70-seat Embraer E170 jets operated by Republic. Service to Maui and Hilo is to start in January.
Republic Airways also will provide $150 million in financing, which will include a line of credit and spare engine parts for the new service.
It’s expected that some 200 of the employees who were laid off when Aloha Airlines folded will now be hired by Mokulele.
If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, this could be good news for you, too. Maybe prices will be more favorable for interisland travel, and we now have more options for booking convenient travel arrangements for you.
November 18th, 2008
It’s probably too late for you to see the show in Honolulu, but Hawaii residents have been blown away by the Cirque du Soleil show “Saltimbanco,” which has been in town since last month. Its final performance here is November 16th, at the Neil S. Blaisdell Arena.
Saltimbanco, which literally means "to jump on a bench" in Italian, looks into the universal urban experience — the people who live in cities, their idiosyncrasies and likenesses, their families and groups, the hustle and bustle of the street and the towering heights of its skyscrapers. The show takes its spectators on a spectacularly acrobatic journey into the heart of a metropolis. It’s a fanciful, dreamlike world, an imaginary city where diversity is a cause for hope.
It’s full of nonstop tools and techniques: Adagio (based on acrosport), Chinese poles, juggling, boleadoras (percussion instruments), Russian swing, hand-to-hand, bungees and trapeze. All those form the language the characters of Saltimbanco use to assert their identities, and the audience journeys with them at the heart of an imaginary city brimming with optimism.
The characters include the Baron, Eddy and the Sleeper, who interact with one another under the eye of the Ringmaster, who guides the audience on this whirlwind journey into the heart of the city. The orchestra’s music keeps things moving along at an almost frantic pace.
Everybody here loved the show. The kids, in particular, have been spellbound with even the little ones sitting quietly in amazement throughout.
If you are in Honolulu now, plenty of seats remain for the final performances. You can get tickets at the Blaisdell box office or on line at www.ticketmaster.com
If you live in or near one of the following areas, make note of when Saltimbanco will be in town:
Prescott Valley, AZ
Tim’s Toyota Center, Nov. 20-23
Tucson Arena, Nov. 26-30
Oklahoma City, OK
Ford Center, Dec. 3-7
BOK Center, Dec. 10-14
Dodge Arena, Dec. 17-2
Posted by Jim Winpenny
November 13th, 2008