Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge


Located on Maui’s south-central coastline, this scenic wetland area encompasses about 700 acres and is home to a variety of Hawaiian waterbirds including the black-necked stilt and Hawaiian coot. The Refuge is the site of habitat restoration projects as well as local environmental education, bird watching, photography, and other wildlife-oriented activities.

Kealia Pond National Wildlife Reserve

This scenic wetland area encompasses about 700 acres and is home to a variety of Hawaiian waterbirds

The Reserve was established in 1992 and is a natural basin for the 56-mile watershed in the West Maui Mountains. A boardwalk over ponded areas allows close-up viewing of native Hawaiian waterbird species as well as migratory waterbirds who come from as far away as Asia, Canada, and Alaska. The ponds were initially created by entrepreneurs beginning an aquaculture catfish venture which closed in 1995. Subsequently the ponds were restored by the Fishand Wildlife Service.

Need To Know

The public is allowed to visit the Reserve for wildlife observation from Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 4 pm. Visitors are allowed access along the Kanuimanu Ponds levees providing a leisurely walk that will also accommodate wheelchairs though it is a bit bumpy. Mornings are best to avoid strong sun and winds. Due to the lack of shade it is recommended you bring sunglasses
sunscreen, and water.


Kealia Pond National Wildlife Reserve is located about one mile north of Kihei on Mokulele Hwy. (Hwy. 311) at the junction of Piilani Hwy. (Hwy. 31) & Mokulele Highway. Look for the entrance road at Milepost 6. Phone: 808-875-1582.

Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary


Set in the shadow of the Haleakala Volcano and the West Maui Mountains, this lovely wildlife sanctuary in Kahului between the harbor and the airport was formerly a fishpond for the Hawaiian monarchy. According to legend the stone for the walls of Kanaha Pond were passed from hand-to-hand all the way to the site. Kanaha Pond now serves as an important breeding area for endangered Hawaiian waterbirds including the tall and pink-legged Hawaiian black-necked stilt, the brown koloa duck, and the white-billed Hawaiian coot. Migratory waterbirds such as Canadian geese also stop here during their annual journeys south each winter. In all more than 90 bird species are seen at Kanaha Pond including teals, wigeons, dowitchers, sandpipers, plovers and more.

Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

Kanaha Pond now serves as an important breeding area for endangered Hawaiian waterbirds


Kanaha Pond is thought to have been built in the 1700s by the island’s ruler Kapiiohookalani to raise and fatten fish. The pond produced large quantities of mullet until the early 1900s though in the following decades the whole area was severely degraded by surrounding industries and development including the dredging of Kahului Harbor.Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary was formally designated as a bird refuge in 1951 and then became a registered national natural landmark in 1971.

Need To Know

Admission to the Pond is free. No swimming or fishing is allowed. Near the main gate to Kanaha Pond is a small birdwatching platform.


Near Kahului Airport, take Amala Road which fronts the ocean near Kahului Harbor. Near the entrance gate to the Sanctuary is a small, paved parking lot. See map.

Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum

This interesting educational museum in central Maui displays various exhibits about sugarcane and the early years of Hawaii plantation life including the many different immigrant cultures who came to Hawaii to work on the sugarcane plantations.
An exhibit about the production of sugarcane features a scale model of a cane crusher. The museum building itself was formerly the home of a Hawaiian plantation supervisor, known as a luna.

Alexander Baldwin Sugar Museum

The Sugar Museum includes a gift shop, library, many artifacts and exhibits, and picnic areas

The museum also tells the story of sugar barons Samuel Alexander and Henry Baldwin including huge irrigation ditch projects and political battles involving the Hawaii’s sugarcane industry. Alexander & Baldwin was one of Hawaii’s “Big Five” companies that controlled virtually all of the sugarcane industry in the Hawaiian Islands.

Today they are still one of Hawaii’s biggest companies and own Matson Navigation as well as many real estate holdings. Across the street from the Sugar Museum is the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company sugar mill which opened in 1902 and at one time was the largest sugar mill in the world. The town of Puunene housed more than 10,000 sugarcane workers by 1930.

The Sugar Museum includes a gift shop, library, many artifacts and exhibits, and picnic areas. The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. From February to April, and in July and August, the Museum is also open on Sundays. Call (808) 871-8058 for more information.


Follow the Mokulele Hwy. (Hwy. 350) south from Kahului Harbor and then turn left on Hansen Road. You will see the Sugar Mill Museum on the right.

Iao Valley

Surrounded by the walls of Puu Kukui Crater, Iao Valley is a great place to hike near the Iao Stream with its natural pools surrounded by tropical plants.

Hawaii Nature Center

The Hawaii Nature Center offers educational programs and hikes. Open daily from 10 to 4, the Nature Center (located within Iao Valley) features an Interactive Nature Museum with more than 30 hands-on exhibits about Hawaii’s plants, animals and natural history. A lookout atop the ridge has great views of the valley as well as Kahului Harbor.

Iao Needle

The 1,200-foot-tall Iao Needle stands at an elevation of 2,250 feet above sea level. Iao means “Cloud Supreme,” and ancient rituals were practiced at this prominent rock pinnacle in the sacred valley that was also the burial place of chiefs.

Iao Valley And Iao Needle

The impressive stone pillar of the Iao Needle is just one of the wonders of this historic valley


King Kamehameha won a famous battle in 1790 leading to the ruler’s ability to unite all of the Hawaiian Islands under a single ruler. The battle of Kamehameha’s forces against the Maui army began in Wailuku and proceeded deep into Iao Valley where the Maui army was prevented from escaping by the steep valley walls and a cliff at the head of the valley. Dead warriors from both sides were said to be so numerous they blocked the river and gave the battle its name, Battle of Kepaniwai (“The Water Dam”). Kamehameha was victorious and Maui came under his rule.


Directions to Iao Valley State Park: Follow Kaahumanu Road (Hwy. 32) west from Wailuku where it turns into Hwy. 320 leading directly to the park.


Haleki‘i-Pihana State Monument

This site has panoramic views of central Maui and consists of two heiau: Haleki‘i Heiau and Pihanakalani Heiau. Haleki‘i Heiau was rebuilt in 1958 with the goal of replicating the original structure as it looked when it was built, which is thought to have occurred around A.D. 1200. Today the lava foundations and remains of these ancient temples provide a glimpse into Hawaii’s past.

King Kamehameha I’s sacred wife Queen Keopuolani was born at this site, and it was also the residence of Kahekili, a famous warrior who was also the last ruling chief of Maui. Pihanakalani was a luakini heiau where human sacrifices were performed, and the rising warrior who would become King Kamehameha came to Pihanakalani after a major battle and made an offering to his war god Ku.

Need To Know

The heiaus are now are listed on the State and National Registry of Historic Places. A 1/2-mile walk around the site takes about 20 minutes. These sites are among Maui’s most accessible cultural sites, which also provide great views of central Maui including Wailuku and Kahului. Halekii-Pihana State Monument is an important Hawaiian cultural site and should not be disrupted in any way. Please do not climb on or remove any stones. Admission if free. There are no facilities on the site.


Directions to Halekii-Pihana State Monument: In the town of Wailuku take Waiehu Beach Road (Hwy. 340) to Kuhio Place and go left, then turn left onto Hea Place where you will see an entrance sign.

Bailey House Museum

This charming historic structure on main street across from Kaahumanu Church was built for missionaries Edward and Caroline Bailey in 1833 on the former site of Hawaiian royal compound. Lava rock and native woods including koa were used in the construction of the building which originally housed the Wailuku Female Seminary.

Bailey House Museum

Lava rock and native woods including koa were used in the construction of the building

This was Maui’s first Hawaiian girls school and later it was the Baileys’ home. Now known as the Bailey House Museum, the site is run by the Maui Historical Society and also goes by the Hawaiian name Hale Hoikeike, meaning House of Display. Bailey House Museum displays a variety of missionary artifacts as well as Hawaiian artifacts and 19th century paintings by Edward Bailey. Historic gardens on the grounds contain native Hawaiian plants as well as plants typical of the missionary era. The Museum Gift Shop sells books and Hawaiian handicrafts.


Bailey House Museum (808-244-3326) is located at 2375 Main Street in Wailuku and is open from Monday to Saturday from 10 to 4. From Kahului follow Kaahumanu Hwy. (Hwy. 32) west from Kahului toward Wailuku. The road becomes Hwy. 320 and you will see Bailey House Museum on the left just after Kehalani Parkway.

Ahihi Kinau Marine Preserve



This secluded Marine Preserve about 7 miles south of Wailea spans from La Perouse Bay to Ahihi Bay and includes great snorkeling and scuba diving areas featuring some of Maui’s clearest blue waters. The rocky shoreline gives way to underwater coral and lava formations that make for interesting exploring. No fishing is allowed, and you are not allowed to take any coral or other items from the area.


La Perouse Bay was created in 1790 by Haleakala Volcano when the lava flows formed the Cape Kinau Peninsula and changed the shape of Maui’s seacoast. La Perouse Bay was named in honor of a 1786 visit by the French admiral Jean Francois de La Perouse who, for King Louis XVI, commanded two 500-ton armed frigates, the Astrolabe and the Boussole. Perouse landed at the bay, then known by the Hawaiian name Kalepolepo, and exchanged gifts with the Hawaiians.

Ahihi Kinau Marine Preserve


No. There is no lifeguard and no facilities in this area so remember to always use extreme caution in and around the ocean and never go in the water during times of high surf or rough water.

Need To Know

Limited roadside parking allows access to the beach. Water shoes are recommended due to the rocky seafloor. While this is an excellent snorkeling beach area it is not so good for swimming due to the lack of sand. The winds can get strong in the afternoon here so it is best to come early.


Ahihi-Kinau Marine Preserve is located at the end of Makena Alanui Road in south Maui. Ahihi Bay is located about 1.5 miles south of the Maui Prince Hotel, and then another 2 miles south is La Perouse Bay.

Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens



This charming county park in central Maui includes various ethnic displays memorializing the different cultures that have played a role in the history of the Hawaiian Islands. The memorials at Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens include traditional Hawaiian dwellings of ancient times as well as the traditional homes of the people who came from Portugal, China, New England, the Philippines, Japan, and China. The park is located in the lush Iao Valley and also includes memorial Gardens from the various represented cultures. The site was completely restored in 1994 and is now a wonderful showcase of important Hawaiian history.

Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens

The park is located in the lush Iao Valley and also includes memorial Gardens from the various represented cultures

Kepaniwai Park’s Heritage Gardens were established in 1952 to celebrate the diverse heritage of Hawaii’s immigrants as well as the original people to inhabit the islands. Traditional structures include a Japanese tea house, Hawaiian grass shack, Chinese moon gate, New England salt box, and Portuguese outdoor oven. Throughout the gardens are small waterfalls and ponds all fed by the Iao Stream. This beautiful park is a great place to have a picnic or just relax and enjoy the scenery.


Facilities at Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens include restrooms, picnic pavilions, and barbecue grills. Admission is free.


To get to Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens follow Hwy. 32 west from Kahului toward Iao Valley. You will come to the gardens just before you reach the town of Wailuku.

Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area


A section of the 5 mile loop


This 384-acre park above Aiea north of Pearl Harbor and about 12 miles from Waikiki includes the historic Heaiwa Heiau which is near the park entry. Farther down the paved road are campgrounds as well as picnic areas and the trailhead for the Aiea Loop Trail. The 4.8-mile trail leads through a forested area above Pearl Harbor and Aiea town features many large eucalyptus trees and Norfolk pines.

About midway along the trail is the high point of Puu Uau where native ohia lehua and koa trees can be seen. Running along the west side of Halawa Valley, the Aiea Trail provides great views of Pearl Harbor as well as the Waianae and Koolau mountains as well as Diamond Head. Also seen along the trail are the remnants of a military plane that crashed in 1944. The hike is not exceedingly strenuous though it has one fairly steep switchback section and can also be quite muddy if it has rained recently. Allow about 2.5 hours walking at a leisurely pace.

Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area

Farther down the paved road are campgrounds as well as picnic areas and the trailhead for the Aiea Loop Trail


In ancient times Keaiwa Heiau was used as a healing temple where kahuna laau lapaau, priests who used plants for medicinal healing, practiced their craft. Important Hawaiian plants for healing grow in the area. The heiau may date to the 16th century and terraced stone structure includes an enclosing wall measuring 160 feet by 100 feet by 4 feet tall. Keaiwa means “The mystery,” and is said to be to refer to the mysterious healing powers of an ancient kahuna (priest).


Facilities at Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area include restrooms, showers, drinking water, picnic tables, camping area, pay phone. Admission is free. Hours are from 7 am to 7:45 pm from April first until Labor Day, and then from 7 am to 6:45 pm from Labor Day until March 3.


Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area is located in Aiea Heights at the end of Aiea Heights Drive. Take the H-1 to the Moanalua Highway (Hwy. 78) and then take the Aiea cutoff to the third traffic light. Turn right on Aiea Heights Drive and go about three miles to the end of the road. Camping permits are available through the State Parks office.

Hawai‘i State Archives—Kekauluohi Building


Located next to the Hawaii State Library on the grounds of Iolani Palace, the Hawaii State Archives houses a vast collection of important Hawaiian history including personal papers, collections, government documents, speeches, press releases, and documents from all governmental branches including the Judiciary, Legislature, and Executive. More than 100,000 photographs are preserved within the Archives along with more than 9,000 books and 1,800 maps. The public is allowed to access Archive materials for free and make copies or take photos of these documents. Users of the Archives are able to locate photos and documents by looking through well-organized catalogs and indexes that are available for perusal in the Reference Room. When a desired item is found then the user fills out a form a form and gives it to a clerk who retrieves the materials.

Hawaii State Archives Kekauluohi Building

The front desk at the Hawaii State Archives Building

The governmental papers in the Archives include materials from the early days of the Hawaiian monarchy before the overthrow in 1893 as well as papers from the Republic of Hawaii (1893-1900) and the Territorial Government (1900-1959) as well as the State of Hawaii (1959-present). Formerly these important archival materials were kept in The Territorial Archives Building still standing just in front of the Hawaii State Archives. Opening in 1906, the structure was designed in the Renaissance Revival style with a domed, stained-glass skylight in the foyer and a terrazzo floor.

At the time the Territorial Archives was the United States’ first buildingconstructed for the sole purpose of preserving public archive materials. The new building for the Hawaii State Archives was constructed in 1953. Friends of ‘Iolani Palace restored the Old Archives Building in 1987.


The Hawaii State Archives is located in the Kekauluohi Building on the Iolani Palace Grounds just behind the Kanaina Building (Old Archives Building). Phone: 808-586-0329.

Kahana State Park

View of Kahana Bay from top of Kahana state park trail

Ahupuaa O Kahana State Park is located between Laie and Kaneohe on Oahu’s windward side. The park is a traditional Hawaiian ahupuaa, which is a land division extending from the mountains to the sea and including everything needed for subsistence. Kahana Valley is one of only a few ahupuaa in the state that is owned by the public. Families living in the park assist with the park’s interpretive programs that help to educate people about Hawaiian plants, culture, and history. To arrange for cultural programs for groups call (808) 237-7766. Kahana extends from the top of the Koolau Mountains to sea level at
Kahana Bay and encompasses more than 5,000 acres. This is one of Oahu’s wettest valleys, receiving up to 300 inches annually at the back of the valley.

About two miles wide by four miles long, Kahana Valley was planted extensively with taro by Hawaiians in ancient times. Many archeological sites have been found throughout the valley including heiau (sacred sites), fishponds, irrigation channels, and agricultural terraces.

Kahana State Park

Kahana Valley is one of only a few ahupuaa in the state that is owned by the public

Huilua Fishpond

Huilua Fishpond is on the east side of the bay and is fed by freshwater springs. The pond is said to have been built by the legendary ancient race of people known as menehune. Two hiking trails at Kahana State Park are open to the public with trail
maps provided at the Orientation Center. Nakoa Trail is a 5 miles through a tropical rainforest, crossing the Kahana stream twice and featuring native koa trees. Kapaeleele Koa and Keaniani Lookout Trail is only one mile long and provides a leisurely
hour walk. Both trails provide scenic views of Kahana Bay and also pass near important Hawaiian cultural sites. Facilities at Kahana include a Visitor Center, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and a pay phone. Permits for the ten beach campsites can be obtained from the State Parks Office at (808) 587-0300.


Kahana State Park is located at 52-222 Kamehameha Highway (Highway 83), about 26 miles from Honolulu. The park is open during daylight hours. Admission is free.

James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge

This refuge near the northernmost point of Oahu was established in 1976 with the goal of providing habitat for Hawaiian waterbirds and migratory waterbirds as well as native plants that require a wetland habitat. Kahuku Point marks the end of the north shore and the beginning of Oahu’s windward coast. Just south of the point is the historic sugarcane town of Kahuku. The shopping center in Kahuku was created by converting an old sugar mill and using the old sugar machinery in the decor of the shopping center.

James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge

Guided tours of the Refuge are available by reservation only during the non-breeding season

Formerly just 164 acres in size, the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge was expanded in 2005 to encompass 1,100 acres making it Oahu’s largest refuge and a favorite gathering place for Oahu bird watchers. The refuge includes spring-fed marshes and mudflats that are home to at least 117 species of birds including the endangered Hawaiian stilt (aeo), coot (alae keokeo), moorhen (alae ula), and Hawaiian duck (koloa). The refuge also has Oahu’s last remaining intact coastal dune system. Some of the migratory birds seen at the refuge include Northern pintails, Northern shovelers, Pacific golden plovers, and ruddy turnstones. Many of the migratory birds come from Alaska, Siberia, and Asia.


Guided tours of the Refuge are available by reservation only during the non-breeding season from the third Saturday in October through the third Saturday in February on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings of the first two Saturdays of the month, and then in the afternoon on the last two Saturdays of the month. The remainder of the year is a stilt breeding and nesting time so no access is available in order to provide the birds with an undisturbed habitat. For reservations contact the refuge at (808) 637-6330.

Koko Crater Botanical Garden



Set in a 60-acre basin within the landmark Koko Crater in eastern Oahu is a lovely botanical garden featuring a dryland collection of plants that is a model of xeriscape concepts supporting a drought-tolerant landscape in tune with the surrounding environment. Koko Head is known geologically as a tuff cone, and forms the south-west side of Hanauma Bay. The 642-foot summit of Koko Head includes two craters.

The two-mile loop trail meanders through various dryland plant collections from around the world as well as native Hawaiian plants. The major collections at Koko Crater Botanical Garden are arranged according to geography including the Americas, Hawaii, Madagascar, and Africa. Significant collections of cacti, baobabs, dryland palms, aloes, Euphorbias, and Adeniums are also thriving, as is a notable stand of Hawaiian wiliwili trees. Koko Crater Botanical Garden, part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens.

Koko Crater Botanical Garden

The two-mile loop trail meanders through various dryland plant collections from around the world


While the inner slopes feature garden plantings the outer crater is colorful with collections of bougainvillea and plumeria cultivars. A self-guided tour through the garden lasts about 1-1/2 hours, or you can make an appointment for a guided tour by calling (808) 522-7063.


Koko Crater Botanical Garden is located at the end of Kokonani Street. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission is free but there are no facilities.

The Waikiki Beachboys

Waikiki Beachboys & Duke Kahanamoku Popularized Surfing

The beachboys were symbolic of everything that was great about Hawaii.


The Beachboys of Waikiki are a renowned group of Hawaiian watermen who worked on the beaches of Waikiki from the 1920s to the 1950s when guests from all around the world began arriving to stay at the two luxurious new Waikiki hotels: the Moana Hotel and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Many of the guests coming to stay at the Waikiki hotels would stay for lengthy periods of time, allowing them a chance to develop friendships with the Beachboys who would share the Hawaiian culture and aloha spirit. The first official Waikiki Beach Patrol was formed in the 1930s, and one of the most famous of the Beachboys was renowned Hawaiian swimmer and Olympic gold medallist Duke Kahanamoku who had formed Hui Nalu (Club of the Waves) in 1911. Many of the original members of this club later became Waikiki Beachboys.

Fact: Without the Waikiki Beachboys, Hawaii’s ancient ritual of surfing may have been forgotten

Among the clients of the Beachboys were many wealthy and often famous visitors who enjoyed outrigger canoe rides and also liked to try surfing the waves of Waikiki. The Beachboys also catered to the Hawaiian royalty of the time. Over time the Beachboys also developed somewhat of a reputation for their amorous adventures with the many women who sought out their services and aloha. Since many of the Beachboys were also talented musicians it is likely that more than one female client was wooed with sweet tropical melodies.

Waikiki Beachboys

Duke, in the red aloha shirt on the right

The Beachboys were experts at reading the ocean—including the waves, tides winds, and currents—as well as fishing and harvesting limu (seaweed). Skilled at much more than surfing and steering canoes, the Beachboys were leaders in the revival of surfing and other watersports in the early 20th century. Despite the rumors, the Beachboys were required to adhere to a strict code of conduct that showed great respect for all guests, and they also worked to keep the beach clean and safe. Many of the Beachboys had colorful names such as Blue Makua, Toots, Turkey, Chick, Panama Dave, and Steamboat. Other renowned beachboys were Rabbit Kekai and Sam Kahanamoku.

Eventually the nature of Hawaii’s tourist industry began to change as average U.S. citizens, and not just wealthy people, were able to travel to the Islands. The typical visit to Hawaii became shorter and shorter. Things changed drastically in 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor when the United States entered World War II. With the imposition of Martial Law, Hawaii’s famous carefree lifestyle was put on hold and this also signaled the end of the golden era of the Beachboys of Waikiki. Decades later in 1973 the Waikiki Beach Boys Canoe Club was formed. The goal of the group was to revive the original image of the famous Waikiki Beachboys which included not only the water skills of canoe paddling and surfing, but also the aloha spirit that embraces a unique Hawaiian sense of generosity and friendship.

Heeia State Park and Fishpond



Heeia State Park is located at Kealohi Point in Kaneohe Bay on Oahu’s windward side and provides scenic views of one of Hawaii’s largest fishponds as well as Heeia-Kea Harbor. Three of Oahu’s five remaining ancient fishponds are located on Kaneohe Bay. Heeia State Park serves as an outdoor classroom for community groups.

The non-profit organization called Friends of Heeia serves as a steward of the park and organizes various educational programs as well as community work projects to restore the ahupuaa (traditional Hawaiian land division) including Heeia Stream which flows into Kaneohe Bay. Friends of Heeia formed in 1982 to save Kealohi Point and Heeia Fishpond from development. The group now offers interpretive programs for the community, including teachers and students, covering such topics as marine science, coastal ecosystems, Hawaiian ethnobotany, and water quality testing.

Heeia State Park

Oahu’s windward side provides scenic views of one of Hawaii’s largest fishponds as well as Heeia-Kea Harbor

Heeia Fishpond encompasses more than 88 acres and is enclosed by a 5,000 foot wall. Scenes from Karate Kid 2 were filmed here. Facilities at Heeia State Park include restrooms, outdoor showers, drinking water, and a pay phone.


Heeia State Park is located at 46-465 Kamehameha Highway (Highway 836) at Kealohi Point in Kaneohe Bay. The park is open from 7:30 to 6:30 daily. Admission is free.

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden



This 400-acre park above Kaneohe on Oahu’s windward side lives up to its name which means “Peaceful refuge.” Hoomaluhia is Oahu’s largest botanical garden. The plants are grouped to represent major tropical growing regions including Polynesia, Melanesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and India, Africa and Tropical America. Plants at Hoomaluhia include palms and aroids, heliconias, native Hawaiian plants, and a variety of ethnobotany exhibits. A network of trails leads through the gardens, and a 32-acre lake adds a serene beauty to the walk.

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden

This 400-acre park above Kaneohe on Oahu’s windward side lives up to its name which means “Peaceful refuge”

Numerous programs are offered at Hoomaluhia including camping, cloud-watching, and nature walks emphasizing ecology and environmental awareness as well as botanical and horticultural activities. To register for guided nature hikes at 10 am on Saturdays or 1 pm Sundays call (808) 233-7323. Facilities at Hoomaluhia include camping grounds and picnic facilities as well as a Visitor Center that includes an exhibition hall and a lecture room as well as a botanical library. Camping is allowed from 9 am Friday to 4 pm Monday.


Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden is located at 45-680 Luluku Road in Kaneohe. Take Kamehameha Highway (Hwy. 83) to Luluku Road 2¼ miles north of the Pali Highway intersection. Then take Luluku Road 1½ miles to the park entrance. Hours are from 9 am to 4 pm daily except for Christmas and New Years Day. Visitors Center phone: (808) 233-7323.

Wahiawa Botanical Garden

This 27-acre city park between the Waianae and Koolau Mountains in central Oahu features hiking trails and more than 60 types of old trees as well as a distinguished fern collection. The park is one of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens. Set on a plateau at an elevation of nearly 1,000 feet above sea level, the garden receives about 65 inches of rain each year. The cool and humid climate supports a lush growth of tropical flora from taro to Hawaiian ferns. Wahiawa Garden is particularly noted for its collections of Hawaiian palms as well as the aroid garden, Hawaiian tree ferns and epiphytic plants.

Wahiawa Botanical Garden

The garden receives about 65 inches of rain each year

The park was founded in the 1920s by the Hawaii Sugar Planters’ Association which used the area as an experimental arboretum. Wahiawa, which means “place of noise,” opened as a botanical garden in 1957. The garden is open from 9 to 4 daily except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Volunteer docents will conduct guided tours by appointment. Call (808) 621-5463.


Wahiawa Botanical Garden is located at 1396 California Avenue in Wahiawa about one mile east of Kamehameha Highway (Hwy. 80). From Waikiki take highway H-1 west to the H-2, then take the H-2 north to Exit #5 (Wahiawa). When you see California Avenue follow the signs to Wahiawa Botanical Garden.

Senator Fong’s Plantation & Gardens

This lovely 700-acre tropical garden is a nature preserve and bird sanctuary that is family owned and set in a majestic location beneath the strikingly beautiful Koolau mountain range.

Senator Fong's Plantation

This lovely 700-acre tropical garden is a nature preserve and bird sanctuary


Highlights of the Garden are 70 varieties of edible fruits and nuts as well as a palm garden with more than 80 types of palms, a rare pili grass slope, and extensive exhibits of plants the Polynesians brought to Hawaii in ancient times including kamani, kukui, breadfruit, noni, and taro. Also featured are native trees such as the fragrant sandalwood tree. A Guided Walking Tour of the gardens covers about one mile at a very leisurely pace that takes about 1-1/2 hours as you meander through tropical flower gardens, fruit and nut orchards (including tasting), stands of exotic palms, and a lush valley of growth that includes many native Hawaiian plants in valleys and on scenic plateaus with the stunning Koolau’s in the background.

The expansive view from the open-air Visitor Center makes it a popular spot for weddings, receptions, and other celebrations. This is also the site of daily lei making classes using the plenteous flowers on the grounds including many plumeria, bougainvillea, and orchids as well as Hawaiian ferns.

Senator Fong’s Plantation and Gardens

Highlights of the Garden are 70 varieties of edible fruits and nuts as well as a palm garden


The gardens had their beginning when Hiram Fong, the first Asian American elected to the U.S. Senate, purchased the plantation in 1950. Hong’s father came to Hawaii from China as an indentured sugarcane plantation worker. Hiram Fong, the seventh of eleven children, passed away in 2004 at age 97. The Gardens have been voted as the “Best Attraction” by the Hawaii
Visitors and Convention Bureau in 1999.


Senator Fong’s Plantation and Gardens is open from 10 am to 2 pm daily except for Christmas and New Years Day. Guided walking tours are provided at 10:30 and 1 pm daily. The gardens are located on Pulama Road one mile off Kahekili Highway (Hwy. 83).

Hawaii State Library



The Hawaii State Library is housed in a historic Classical Revival style building in downtown Honolulu just to the west of Honolulu Hale. The structure serves as the central branch of the statewide library system. The library’s main building is a four-story rectangular structure with a six-story tower in the rear. The library’s entrance features 20-foot high Tuscan columns and 18-foot arches.

The State Library was designed by Henry Whitfield, who was the brother-in-law of renowned industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie whose bust graces the entrance. Carnegie donated $100,000 toward the library’s construction. Books as well as financial donations toward the library were received from Princess Pauahi, Queen Emma, Queen Kapiolani, and King Kalakaua.

Hawaii State Library

The library’s second floor is an official Federal Depository Library housing federal documents


The library had its beginnings as a “Reading Room” that opened in 1879. At that time only men could check out books because the goal of the library was to keep rowdy seamen out of trouble. The collection included about 5,000 volumes. In 1930 architect Charles William Dickey designed two wings that expanded the library’s size and creating an open-air courtyard in the center of the building. The library’s second floor is an official Federal Depository Library housing federal documents.

Also on the second floor is Hawaii’s only Patent and Trademark Depository Library where patent and trademark searches may be completed. A popular community resource, the library’s palm-lined center courtyard also provides a nice place to relax and read a book. The library’s Mural Room features artwork depicting ancient Hawaiian legends.


The Hawaii State Library is located at 478 South King Street in downtown Honolulu at the corner of King and Punchbowls Streets.

Bishop Street


Bishop Street in downtown Honolulu is the nexus of Hawaii’s business world including banking and other major financial activities. Honolulu is considered the financial center of the Pacific, and Bishop Street is the financial center of Hawaii. Downtown Oahu’s business district is centered on Bishop Street and Fort Street Mall and bounded by Vineyard Boulevard, Richards Street, Nuuanu Avenue and the Nimitz Highway. Located at 999 Bishop Street in the center of the financial district is the First Hawaiian Center, the tallest building in Honolulu rising to 429 feet. The structure is the world corporate headquarters of the First Hawaiian Bank which is Hawaii’s oldest bank.

Bishop Street

Bishop Street is known as Wallstreet of the Pacific


The First Hawaiian Center, which opened in 1996, utilized Hawaiian architectural principles including louvered windows framing views of the sea and horizon on the makai (ocean) side and vertically proportioned windows enhancing views on the mauka (mountain) side. Other prominent as well as historic buildings in the business District include the Alexander and Baldwin Building, Bishop Bank Building, C. Brewer Building, Judd Building, McCandless Building, Melchers Building, Dillingham Transportation Building, Yokohama Specie Bank, Stangenwald Building, and the Oahu Railway and Land Terminal.

Bishop Street is named after prominent banker and public official Charles Reed Bishop who was also the wife of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the granddaughter of King Kamehameha I. Born in New York, Charles Reed Bishop sailed around Cape Horn bound for Oregon at age 24. The ship stopped in Hawaii to take on provisions, and then when the ship left Bishop did not. Bishop opened a mercantile business with A. W. Aldrich in 1858 on the Honolulu waterfront. Their firm of Aldrich and Bishop later became the Bank of Bishop & Co. Ltd. and primarily lent to whaling and sugar companies including Hawaii’s “Big Five”: C. Brewer, Alexander & Baldwin, Castle & Cooke, Amfac, and Theo H. Davies.

The Bank of Bishop & Co. Ltd. was renamed First Hawaiian Bank in 1969 and remains strong today as one of the state’s oldest financial institutions. Charles Reed Bishop and Princess Pauahi traveled to England in 1876 and were presented at Queen Victoria’s Court and later received by Pope Pius IX in Rome. Charles Reed Bishop founded the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in 1889 to honor his wife, whose will endowed Kamehameha Schools.


Washington Place-The Governor’s Residence


Just across the street from Hawaii’s State Capitol building in downtown Honolulu is Washington Place, the former home of Queen Liliuokalani. Twelve of Hawaii’s governors also lived in the home. In 2001 a new 5,000-square-foot governor’s residence was constructed on the same land as Washington Place, which became a museum for visitors to learn more about Hawaii’s history.

Washington's Place

The home is also used as a public reception area and was named a National Historic Landmark in 2007


A historic interpretive center exhibits personal effects of the Queen as well as historical documents. The home is also used as a public reception area and was named a National Historic Landmark in 2007. Merchant and sea captain John Dominis, who was also the father-in-law of Queen Liliuokalani, finished building Washington Place in 1847 after five years of construction. The two-home was built in the Colonial Greek Revival style. A wealthy New England trader, John Dominis sailed for China in 1846 to acquire elegant furnishings for Washington Place. He disappeared at sea and was never seen again. For many years after the disappearance of her husband, the widow Dominis was still seen gardening on the property.

The name of Washington Place was chosen by King Kamehameha III to honor the United States President George Washington. Queen Liliuokalani lived in Washington Place for 55 years, though part of this time she was confined there after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. Queen Liliuokalani passed away at Washington Place in 1917. On the sidewalk outside the home is a plaque with the words Aloha ‘Oe, the famous song penned by the Queen.


Washington Place is located at 20 South Beretania Street in downtown Honolulu and open to the public on special occasions. Call 586-0248 to inquire about tours of Washington Place.

Aliiolani Hale


Aliiolani Hale—King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center of Hawaii

The historic Aliiolani Hale building was the first major Western-style structure built by the Hawaiian monarchy and is notable for its distinctive clock tower. Today the building houses the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center which features exhibits as well as multimedia presentations on landmark Hawaii court cases as well as Hawaii’s legal history.

The Center Theater presents two multimedia shows, Kanawai, and Law of the Land while the Monarchy Courts Gallery exhibits information about Hawai‘i’s judicial processes, and the 1913 Court Room exhibits a complete courtroom from that era.


The cornerstone of Aliiolani Hale was laid in 1872 by King Kamehameha V who planned and initiated the building’s construction. Originally intended to be the Royal Palace, Aliiolani instead housed Hawaii’s Supreme Court and also the Legislature. The name Aliiolani means “Chief unto heavens” referring to Hawaiian royalty’s heavenly nature. Aliiolani Hale is the site of many famous events in Hawaiian history including the 1889 revolt led by Robert Wilcox when 150 armed insurgents leading a revolt against King Kalakaua took over the building as well as Iolani Palace. The rebels were disbanded by sharpshooters atop the tower of Kawaiahao Church along with dynamite thrown onto the grounds of Iolani Palace.

Aliiolani Hale

The historic Aliiolani Hale building was the first major Western-style structure built by the Hawaiian monarchy

After the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 Sanford Ballard Dole stood on the steps of Aliiolani Hale and announced the formation of a Provisional Government. At that time the building was renamed “The Court House” and served as a meeting place for the House of Representatives and House of Nobles until 1896 when the meeting place was moved to Iolani Palace, renamed “The Executive Building.” Aliiolani Hale underwent major reconstruction in 1911 and a new wing was added in 1944. The structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.


Aliiolani Hale is located at 417 South King Street in downtown Honolulu. Hours are Monday-Friday, 7:45 am to 4:30 pm. Phone: (808)539-4999. Free admission. Reservations are required for guided tours.

Lanai Cathedrals

Lanai Cathedrals Scuba Adventure

Huge Caverns Create Underwater Temples of Marine Life

Imagine yourself in a huge stone cathedral underwater with sunlight shining down from above through large holes in the ceiling and the golden rays creating a stained glass window effect through the crystal blue waters. This is exactly what you will experience at the Lanai Cathedrals.

First Cathedral

Located off Lanai’s southern coast, the Cathedrals are spectacular Hawaiian diving sites suitable for intermediate and advanced divers. The site is reached by a 45- minute boat ride from Lahaina Harbor on Maui. The First Cathedral scuba diving site has water depths of 45 to 60 feet and includes a 100-foot-long lava tube nearly two stories in height. The site features a wide array of fascinating sea life from octopi to sea turtles and Moorish Idol fish. The Second Cathedral site ranges in depth 15 to 65 feet in depth and with a visibility of up to 100 feet. This is a great place to see lots of marine life from blue-stripe snappers, trumpet fish, and pyramid butterfly fish to cowry shells, and eels.

Second Cathedral

The huge cavern of Second Cathedral, which is bigger than First Cathedral, has a large main chamber with a break in the middle and two beautiful archways. Black coral trees grow from the ceiling and many shrimp can be seen by shining a flashlight into holes in the reef. Divers explore the site’s many rooms and passageways as they look for crabs and lobsters. Some things to watch out at the Cathedrals are rough ocean conditions and shallow areas with ceiling holes, as this sometimes causes surging water. If the surf is strong your dive instructor may designate some areas off limits. The Cathedral sites are accessible by boat on guided tours. Water temperatures are typically around 21-24 C (70-75 F) from November to April and 24-27 C (75-80 F) from May to October.

Snowboarding Mauna Kea Volcano

Snowboard atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Volcano. For one of the most unique skiing or snowboarding experiences of your life consider an adventure to the Big Island of Hawaii and its tallest volcano called Mauna Kea, which means “White Mountain.”

Snowboarding Mauna Kea Volcano

A unique skiing or snowboarding experience

10 Tips To Ensure A Safe and Thrilling Hawaii Ski Adventure

1. Best Time To Go

From late January through March are typically the best months to experience snow skiing on the summit of Mauna Kea. The snow lasts much longer during certain years (e.g., El Nina years), and one year there was even a ski meet in July!

2. What You’ll Need

There are no ski lifts or snow grooming machines on Mauna Kea, however, and no fancy resorts, but there is often lots of snow. You will need a four wheel drive vehicle to get to the summit, and also a designated driver to take you to the top and then pick you up at the bottom of the run. You will also need your own skis or snowboard, and just so you know, there is a pretty high risk that your equipment will receive some damage from lava rocks.

3. Temperature

Temperatures atop Mauna Kea during the winter months range from about 25 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 to 4 Celsius), though the high altitude as well as windy conditions can make it seem much colder. During the summer months the temperatures may range from 30 to 60 degrees F (0 to 15 C).


A highlight of skiing Mauna Kea is the spectacular view. From atop the nearly 14,000-foot summit of Mauna Kea you can see the island’s other massive volcano, called Mauna Loa, as well as Haleakala Volcano on Maui.

5. Safety

There are significant safety issues involved with this adventure including hitting exposed rocks, and you should definitely not plan on skiing at high speeds. Enjoy the views, shush around the mountain, but always be safe and be aware of potential dangers including rocks suddenly jutting up in your path.

6. Need to Know

Make sure there are not high winds at the summit as this may create difficult conditions and also may lead to the closure of the road up the mountain. Check out the Mauna Kea Forecast by the Hawaii Institute for Astronomy to get up-to-date weather conditions on Mauna Kea. You can also check out these driving directions.

7. Other Things to Do

The road that leads to the summit of Mauna Kea also leads to the world class astronomical observatories, making this journey for some a science lesson as well as a thrilling winter sports activity. The most famous telescopes atop Mauna Kea are the twin Keck telescopes, each of which is 111 feet tall. The Onizuka Center for International Astronomy offers Summit Tours, and there is also a Visitor Information Station at the 9,300-foot level of the nearly 14,000 foot volcano. Guided stargazing adventures are also offered by Mauna Kea Summit Adventures (808-322-2366) and Hawaii Forest and Trail (808-331-8505). Organized Mauna Kea ski tours are led by Ski Guides Hawaii (885-4188). They will pick you up in the town of Waimea and give you all the equipment you need and also feed you lunch. The runs near the summit area are fairly short, ending where the road loops around providing a good place for you to be picked up and taken back up for another run.

8. Physical Requirements

Only people who are in reasonably good physical condition should go to the summit of Mauna Kea because the air is very thin. The air pressure is less than 60% of the air pressure at sea level, and this can make it very difficult to breathe if you are not in good physical shape.

9. Lava Rock Warning

Another caution worth repeating is that you need to be very aware of the snow potentially ending abruptly when you are skiing down the mountain. Since there is no soft vegetation beneath the snow but instead only hard lava rock and abrasive cinder, you will need to use great caution and never ski too fast where you will not have time to react to rocks in your path. Though Mauna Kea’s short runs may be enjoyed by inexperienced skiers or even kids on bodyboards, the general rule with Mauna Kea is that the skiing is for only intermediate and advanced skiers who are very confident in their skills.

10. Sun Protection

The sun at the summit can be very strong so bring sunscreen and sunglasses—the shiny white surface can quickly cause snow blindness without proper eyewear. With good preparation you will have a thrilling adventure skiing atop a Hawaiian volcano. A day in the snow will also give you a new appreciation of Hawaii’s warm and sunny beaches.


Bishop Museum

For lovers of Hawaiian history and culture, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu qualifies as a “must” visit. Not only is it the largest museum in the state—since its inception in 1889, it’s acquired nearly 25 million items that tell the story of Hawaii and Polynesia—it’s also widely regarded as the premier natural and cultural history institution in the entire Pacific region.

Hawaii Bishop Museum

Visiting the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum


Charles Reed Bishop founded the museum in 1889 in honor of his late wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family. The museum was built on the original grounds of Kamehameha Schools, which was established by the princess to educate Hawaii’s children. The museum was meant to augment their education and help develop a greater pride in their heritage.


The museum renovations are complete and exhibits are open to the public

Today, a visit to the museum should include a tour of Hawaiian Hall, which houses Hawaiian treasures as well as unique artifacts of the American, European and Asian immigrant cultures. The entire three-floor exhibit is housed inside a magnificent 19th-century Victorian-style building. The Polynesian Hall, meanwhile, features two floors of exhibits representing the peoples of cultures all across Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. And the Natural History Hall spotlights Hawaii’s rich natural environment, including rare endemic birds and insects.

A more recent addition to the museum is the Castle Building, which houses traveling hands-on exhibits geared for families. Past subjects have included robotics, ocean life, space exploration, dinosaurs, insects and even chocolate!

In addition, the museum’s state-of-the-art Jhamandas Watumull Planetarium offers a wide variety of astronomy-related programs for the general public.

No doubt, the Bishop Museum today continues to live up to its ambitious mission statement: “Our mission is to record, preserve and tell the stories of Hawaii and the Pacific, inspiring our guests to embrace and experience our natural and cultural world.”


The Bishop Museum is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed on Christmas Day). Guided tours and cultural demonstrations are held daily.

Hawaii Quick Facts

Information about the State of Hawaii that you might not know:

Merrie Monarch Festival

In Hawaii, there are hula festivals, and then there are major hula festivals.

And then there is the Merrie Monarch Festival.


Held each spring at the Edith Kanakaole Tennis Stadium in Hilo, the Merrie Monarch Festival is one of the most prestigious cultural events in the state. If there were a “Super Bowl” of hula, this would be it. People come from countries all around the world to witness this one-of-a-kind celebration of the Hawaiian dance.

The competition was founded more than 40 years ago by the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce to perpetuate, preserve and promote the art of hula and the Hawaiian culture. Now under the auspices of the private Merrie Monarch Festival community organization, the festival is considered the world’s greatest stage for gifted hula halau (hula schools) and individual dancers to display their talents and knowledge of ancient and modern hula.

Merrie Monarch Festival

Hula dancers at the Merrie Monarch Festival

Competition categories include group kahiko (ancient hula), group auana (modern) and the solo Miss Hula event.

The Festival

The festival is dedicated to the memory of King David Kalakaua, Hawaii’s “Merrie Monarch” who ruled the Hawaiian kingdom from 1874 until his death in 1891. Hawaii’s last king, Kalakaua was a major patron of the arts, especially music and dance.

“Auntie” Dottie Thompson, longtime event organizer, told us that the festival has helped spark a renaissance of the Hawaiian culture. “I could see the potential in the Hawaiians to be self-sufficient in their arts and crafts,” she said. “I think that’s been proven, and the festival played a big part in it.”

Merrie Monarch Festival

The Merrie Monarch is like the “Super Bowl” of hula

Thompson retired in 2003 after more than 30 years of service to the event. Her daughter, Luana Kawelu, has assumed the mantle of event coordinator.

The Merrie Monarch Festival presents a full week of festivities, including free hula exhibitions, a hoolaulea, arts and crafts fairs, cultural demonstrations and a colorful parade through downtown Hilo. Order your tickets early because the competitions are usually sold out weeks in advance. Proceeds from the festival support educational scholarships, workshops, seminars and symposiums, as well as the continuation of the festival. The festival is televised on a delayed basis by KITV-4 and videos/DVDs of past festivals are available.


Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace had electricity and telephones before the White House

In the middle of downtown Honolulu sits Iolani Palace, the only royal building in the United States. The Palace is an ever-present reminder of the royal heritage of the Hawaiian Islands.


Built in 1882 by King David Kalakaua and his wife Queen Kapiolani, the palace had electricity and telephones even before the White House. King Kalakaua found inspiration for the design of the palace during his European travels. Indeed, with its high ramparts and commanding presence, one can see in Iolani Palace the influence of European castles. Yet, certain features attest to the fact that the palace was built in a place where the climate invites one outdoors. Walkways encircle the exterior on both the first and second floors, and lanais offer splendid views of the palace grounds.

In January of 1895, Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii, was imprisoned in the palace during the overthrow of her government. Some say you can still hear the Queen pacing back-and-forth in the room where she was held captive. The palace then served as the capitol of the territory when Hawai’i was annexed to the United States, in 1959. In 1969, restoration began, and today the palace is a museum to the era.


Iolani Palace offers 2 tours: a docent guided tour, and a self-guided audio tour (in addition to the tours a basement gallery only admission is available). Both tours visit the first and second floors of the Palace followed by self-guided exploration of the basement gallery exhibits. Allow approximately 90 minutes for either tour. Tour options vary based on the day of the week and time, so make sure to check out their current hours and admission.

Tip: Free tours for Kamaiana are generally available the first Sunday of every month.

For the docent guided tour, reservations are recommended (contact the ticket office to book a tour time). Tours are available every 15 minutes. Japanese language tours are given at 11:30am Monday-Saturday. Guided tours in Mandarin Chinese or American Sign Language can be pre-arranged.

In addition to the tours, a free introductory video “A King’s Noble Vision” is shown every half-hour in the Iolani Barracks.

Virtual Tour

Aloha Tower is part of our self guided Honolulu walking tour


The Palace is open from Monday through Saturday, with hours varying depending upon the type of tour you take. The Palace is closed on Sunday except for noted Kama’aina Sundays.  It is also closed on the following holidays: New Year’s Day (January 1st), Indepedence Day (July 4th), Thanksgiving Day (November 25th), and Christmas Day (December 25th).

Lanai’s Visiting Artist Program

First known as the “Pineapple Island,” then renamed “Hawaii’s Private Island,” Lanai next called itself “Hawaii’s Most Secluded Island.” That was changed to “Hawaii’s Most Exclusive Island,” and now Lanai plans to be known as the “Most Enticing Island.” We’ll let you decide for yourself, but one thing everyone agrees on is the highly regarded Lanai Visiting Artists Program.

Established in December 1992, the program gives visitors and community residents the opportunity to meet and mingle with some of the world’s most celebrated luminaries in literature, film, the fine arts, music and the culinary world. One month, for example, award-winning filmmaker David Wolper may reveal behind-the-scenes insights on his latest project. On another month, you may find yourself in the kitchen with Emeril Lagasse, whipping up a sumptuous recipe worthy of a five-star restaurant. Or perhaps you’ll sit face-to-face with film critic Roger Ebert as he shares his views on the current state of the movie industry.

Ebert, Lagasse and Wolper are just three distinguished “alumni” from past Visiting Artist programs. Other guests have included humorist Dave Barry, actress Jane Seymour, novelist Paul Theroux, chef Thomas Keller, classical pianist Jon Kimura Parker, former presidential press secretary Marlin Fitzwater, longtime Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, painter Guy Buffet, classical guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima, jazz great Arturo Sandoval, actor James Woods, chef Jean Louis Palladin, journalist Linda Ellerbee, Hawaiian guitarist Keola Beamer, author Larry McMurtry and legendary sports columnist Jim Murray.

The setting for these unique encounters is as intimate and relaxed as the island of Lanai itself. It’s a rare chance to rub elbows with these world-famous virtuosos and enjoy memorable moments of informal camaraderie.

Clearly, the celebrities enjoy the interaction as well. It’s their chance to unwind, let their hair down and quietly retreat into Lanai’s ever-soothing embrace. Besides, what better excuse to escape for a few days and enjoy the island’s great golf adventures, snorkeling opportunities and miles of untouched beaches?

Facts About Hawaii

Hawaii, “The Aloha State,” is comprised of eight major islands: Oahu, Hawaii (also known as the Big Island), Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau and Kahoolawe. Collectively, the Hawaiian islands are renowned for their spectacular natural beauty, year-round sunny climate and the “aloha spirit” of Island residents.


The total resident population of Hawaii is 1.2 million, which is roughly equivalent to the populations of Idaho. Only a century ago, there were a million fewer people here. One unique aspect of Hawaii’s demography is that no one ethnic group makes up the majority of the state’s population. Over a third of Island residents, in fact, are of mixed races.

Facts About Hawaii

The Hawaiian islands are renowned for their spectacular natural beauty


Scientists believe it took millions of years for the Hawaiian islands to break the ocean surface. For thousands of years, the islands remained isolated—barren and devoid of life—each a world unto itself. Eventually, seeds and spores carried from other lands, ocean currents and migrating seabirds reached Hawaii’s undiscovered shores, bringing life to the islands. It wasn’t until the third or fourth century that seafaring Polynesians from the Marquesas—2,000 miles to the south—made their way to Hawaii. Some 500 years later, a second wave of voyagers arrived, this time from Tahiti and its neighboring islands. They brought animals, plants and their cultures. In 1778, Captain James Cook made his “discovery” of the Hawaiian islands. By this time, the islands were in turmoil, with chiefs from the different islands waging war to gain or maintain control. In 1810, Kamehameha the Great gained control of the entire Hawaiian kingdom after Chief Kaumualii of Kauai ceded his island to his rival. Hawaii’s Monarchy period lasted until 1893, when an insurrection led by American businessmen forced Queen Liliuokalani to surrender her throne. Hawaii was annexed as a U.S. territory in 1900. Hawaii was admitted to the union as America’s 50th state on August 20, 1959.

The Hawaiian Flag

Salute the Flag. Hawaii’s state flag consists of eight red and white stripes (representing each of the main Hawaiian islands) and an upper left-hand corner design closely resembling the British Union Jack. The flag’s origin can be traced to the War of 1812. At the time, King Kamehameha had been flying the British flag—a gift from Captain George Vancouver—above his royal residence. American officers suggested the king show more neutrality. Thus, Kamehameha and his advisers collaborated on a new flag design, which combines elements from both the American and British flags.

About Hawaii

Hawaii is the most isolated population center on Earth

Fast Facts:

Hawaii’s state motto is “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono,” or “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” King Kamehameha III declared these words in 1843 after his authority was briefly usurped by the British. The state flower is the yellow hibiscus. The lyrics for the state song, “Hawaii Ponoi,” was written by King David Kalakaua, Hawaii’s last king. The state bird is the Nene goose (a relative of the Canadian goose), while the state tree is the kukui, or candlenut tree.

Did You Know? Hawaii is the most isolated population center on earth: 2,390 miles from California, 3,850 miles from Japan, 4,900 miles from China and 5,280 miles from the Philippines….From east to west, Hawaii is the widest state in the U.S….Hawaii has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time) and does not recognize daylight savings time. HST runs two hours behind Pacific Standard Time and five hours behind Eastern Standard Time….There are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet; a, e, i, o, u, h, k, l, m n, p and w….The Hawaiian islands are actually the projecting tops of the largest mountain range in the world.

Watch a quick Hawaii overview

The Monk Seal

Monk Seal

A mother monk seal and her pup sunbathe on the beach

The Dog that Runs in the Rough Seas

Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua is the name used to describe the Hawaiian monk seal. Literally it means, “the dog that runs in the rough (seas).” These seals get their common name “monk seals” because of their bald appearance, solitary habits and a fold of skin behind their heads which resembles a monk’s hood.

In recorded history there have only been four seals born on the main Hawaiian islands. Two of those births occurred in 1991 on the North shores of Oahu and Kauai.

In both cases, volunteers from the community guarded the mother and pup from a distance to ensure that they would not be disturbed.


A newborn pup is jet black in color and weighs about 30 pounds. Its loose, velvety skin cloaks its body like an over sized coat. A mother seal will nurse her pup for a period of five or six weeks. During that time she is constantly at her pup’s side and does not go off to feed herself. At the end of the nursing period the depleted mother will leave her pup to tend to her own nutritional needs.

The newly weaned pup, called a weaner, is by then fat with blubber. It can live off of its stored fat for a while but must soon learn to catch food on its own.

Seal Life

Monk seals feed largely on fish, eels, octopus, and lobster that they usually catch at night. In the daylight hours, the seals spend much of their time sleeping. When on land, they may look lethargic, sick or even dead. Actually, the seals come ashore to get their much needed rest and should not be disturbed or approached.

Monk seals are an endangered species. Most of them inhabit the tiny islands and atolls which lay to the northwest of the main Hawaiian islands. In recent years, however, monk seals are being sighted around the main islands with increasing regularity.

More Info

For more information about Hawaii’s native seal read The Hawaiian Monk Seal (University of Hawaii, Honolulu, 1994) by Patrick Ching.

Born and raised in Hawai’i, Patrick Ching has spent a lifetime getting to know native flora and fauna of the islands. Ching works part time for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has written and illustrated several books on Hawaiian animals.

Canoes Of Ancient Hawaii

Modern Hawaiian Canoes

Modern Hawaiian Canoes are used for sport and pleasure.

Ancient Hawaiian Outrigger Canoes Were Used for Travel

The master steersman of our village, his white hair pulled back tightly into a top-knot on his head, is stocky, not of great height, with dark skin aged from the sun. Across his chest are the tattoos of his ancestral line. On his right thigh are the tattoo markings of his victories. He awaits on the sandy shoreline for the new racing outrigger canoe to be brought forth. Firmly gripped in his large hands is the steering paddle that has been with him in many triumphant canoe races.

Our village waited with great anticipation and eagerness to view the new outrigger canoe that was chosen to be our village’s racing vessel. One young native had been carving day and night during the past three full moon cycles, ever since the large tree was brought down from the uplands. Finally it was completed! The young carver was to debut and introduce this new sleek racing canoe as the “newcomer” to the village. The entire village was there to greet them. Praises from his peers and expressive smiles on the faces of the young and old were rewarding affirmations for the young carver.

The young carver observed from the rocks on shore as his uncle and four other family members sat in his finely carved canoe. “It will fly like no other,” were the words whispered in the breath of the young carver. On the starting line, dozens of racing canoes from neighboring villages lined up side-by-side in the ocean bay.

With the sound of the conch shell, the newcomer sprang from its place, and it flew like no other. With the mastery of his uncle’s steering backed by the paddling strength of his family, their canoe pulled ahead. Now, the most challenging portion of the course was within seconds—the turning point. Anchored with a long rope and stone was a large round gourd that floated on the ocean surface.

This was the buoy that the canoes must successfully turn around before heading home to the finish line. Many competing crews have lost a race while making a turn around the buoy. With the signal of the middle man, the canoe crew readied itself for the turn. Within a breath, the newcomer turned on command. Sprinting ahead of the other canoes with great velocity, the newcomer glided as a graceful bird to the finish.

As the tears came to the eyes of the young carver, a pat on his right shoulder indicating total approval came from his father. From where he stood, the young carver could also see the smile on the face of his uncle. It was truly a victorious moment!

Hawaiian Quilts

Several Hawaiian quilts hanging

Traditional Hawaiian quilts hanging

Hawaii’s first residents made their cloth, kapa, by pounding bark from the mulberry tree into thin sheets, then decorating it with plant dyes. Later, introduced to the fabrics and sewing techniques of American missionaries, islanders developed the elaborate appliqued flower, leaf and vine designs that have become the hallmark of a “Hawaiian quilt.”

Today’s Hawaiian Quilts

Quilts are being made throughout Hawai’i by women and men of all ages, professions and ethnicities who stitch away in quilt shops, in classes and at home. Many of today’s quiltmakers combine design motifs from the past with creative ideas of their own, producing textiles as unique as the artists themselves.

Helen Friend is one Hawai’i artist whose quilts reflect current events and contemporary vision. A passionate needlewoman since the age of five, it wasn’t until 1985 that she discovered quilting as a form of expression. While her large quilts and hangings honor traditional patterns, she prefers to explore her own ideas and create something totally new.

“Every quilt should have a reason behind it; that’s where the mana (spiritual power) comes in,” says Friend.

Friend has drawn inspiration from the challenges of major competitions, from nature’s power, from news articles, from conservation work on historic textiles, and from class assignments at the University of Hawai’i fiber arts program. Since her first quilt 10 years ago, Friend has tried to make a quilt a year to enter in local, juried mixed-media exhibitions.

Her first piece, Liberty Quilt, represented Hawai’i at the Great American Quilt Festival in 1986, a competitive show held in New York to celebrate the Statue of Liberty Centennial. After Liberty Quilt, Friend turned her attention homeward and created a series of quilts that originate in traditional Hawaiian quilt motifs but depart from rigid convention.

Her latest creation is Red Wall, hand-sewn in reverse appliqu?©. Says the artisan, “The idea first came from a color combination I saw a few years ago. But as I began to work, the catastrophe of Rwanda unfolded. And as I finished the project, the war in Bosnia continued. I like to think that each stitch recognizes a life lost.”

No matter what project she’s involved in, it’s clear that Friend loves her work. “To me,” she says with a satisfied smile, “quilting is a most satisfying way of recording my life.”

Kona Sport Fishing

Living To Fish

Young and living in Kona, I always put in my time on the job—but I lived to fish! One time, after a couple of 60-hour work weeks, I took a day off with my friend Kapena, boarded his boat and headed away from shore.

Rod and Reel

Waiting for the sound of a screaming reel

About the time the hum of the engine and the rocking of the boat conspired with the bright sunshine to drug me into a lazy doze, Kapena, who’d been grinding chum for ‘ahi (tuna), gave a great shout. There they were—six of them! Kapena dropped the chum-filled net and hook over the stern; it didn’t descend far before one of the ‘ahi grabbed the package. Sixty feet of line unwound with startling speed.

This fish was Kapena’s. He gripped the rod high and tested his weight against the ‘ahi, straining backward. His body jolted, as if kicked from behind. He grunted and heaved, inhaled and hit the tuna again. The reel screamed, line evaporating from the spool. After another half hour of battling the fish, Kapena brought the ‘ahi in. Four hundred pounds of the finest eating imaginable lay on its side in utter defeat.

Kapena had his catch. And a few hours later, it was my turn.

The Next Strike….A Little Later

We were just taking it easy, cruising, when my strike came. It was a marlin, or au. This great sea warrior came exploding out of the water, then crashed back in and disappeared below the surface. My reel whined, the line sizzled out and I knew he was going to jump again. He did. And then he jumped again.

Rod And Reel

The great sea warrior came exploding out of the water

The muscles of my arms and back felt shredded by the pain of exhaustion. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to lose this maniacal foe, when he unexpectedly turned and sped straight towards the boat, high dorsal fin dividing the surface in a show of fierce determination. I wound on the reel desperately, cursing and gasping.
He never stopped.

The collision was jarring. Fortunately, the fish didn’t impact us straight on; the glancing blow had hit just below the counter.

The marlin circled around and leapt again, so close we felt the spray of its reentry. I was fatigued, but the a’u was more so. After an hour and a half, he conceded his defeat.

It was about nine feet in length and weighed more than 600 pounds. Kapena and I were in perfect agreement: We had been victorious.

Finally, we called it a day. And what a day it was!


Go fishing aboard a local Hawaiian boat

Hawaiian Coffee

Hawaiian coffee beans on a table

Coffee isn’t just a fad in Hawai’i.

As the sixth-largest diversified agricultural crop in the state, it’s also big business. There are currently 580 coffee farmers working 6,800 acres on five islands across the state, contributing $10.4 million in annual revenues to Island coffers. What’s more, some experts predict that Hawai’i can double its four-million-pound annual yield within the next ten years.

Attention, coffee addicts: You’ll get your fix in Hawai’i. From locally grown to imported exotic varieties, the aroma of fresh-brewed java permeates the air everywhere you go in the Aloha State.

The Island of Kaua’i leads the state with 4,000 acres in production. The Big Island ranks second with 1,800 acres, and Moloka’i is third with 550 acres. The islands of Maui and O’ahu produce the remainder.

Kona Coffee

The most famous Island-grown coffee, if not the most abundant, is Kona coffee, grown on the southwest side of the Big Island. Kona is the only place in the United States where coffee has been grown commercially for more than 100 years. The “Kona Coffee Belt” extends to the upland slopes of Mauna Loa and Mount Hualalai. Today, Kona coffee ranks among the most elite and sought-after coffee in the world.

Hawaiian coffee beans on the stem

The Kona coffee bean is colorful and sweet when ripe before picking

The first coffee plants were brought to the Islands in 1828 by the Reverend Samuel Ruggles, an American missionary. The plants flourished in the favorable soil and climate conditions of the Big Island. As the years passed, Japanese immigrants brought in as contract laborers for the sugar companies served out their contracts and started small, family-run coffee farms.

The hard-working Japanese farmers eventually owned their own land, and their children worked the fields with them. One old-timer remembers picking 400 pounds of coffee beans per day when he was a child. Today, the term “Kona character” has come to mean rugged individualism and a “can-do” attitude. Of the 500 Kona coffee farmers remaining, some are able to produce 1,000 pounds of processed coffee on two acres of land.

The coffees of Hawai’i and the world are brewed in dozens of cafes, coffee carts and gourmet restaurants around the islands. And of course, getting your hands on some of Hawaii’s finest-tasting coffees are just a few clicks on the Internet away.

When it comes to Hawaiian coffees, something good is always brewing!

Hawaiian Language

Language of the Hawaiian Islands

{noun} Land, earth.

{noun} Tongue, language.

{noun-transitive verb, noun-stative verb} Love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness, sentiment, grace, charity; greeting, salutation, regards; sweetheart, lover, loved one; beloved, loving, kind, compassionate, charitable, lovable; to love, be fond of; to show kindness, mercy, pity, charity, affection; to venerate; to remember with affection; to greet, hail. Greetings! Hello! Good-by! Farewell! Alas!

aloha ‘aina
{noun-verb} Love of the land; to nurture and care for the land.

{noun} Long house, as for canoes or hula instruction; meeting house.

{noun-intransitive verb} To go, come, walk; going, moving.

{noun-transitive verb} 1. A dance characterized by rhythmic body movements, a hula dancer; to dance the hula. 2. Song or chant used for the hula; to sing or chant for a hula.

{intransitive verb} To turn, reverse; to curl over, as a breaker; to change, as an opinion or manner of living.

{noun-stative verb} Sea, sea water; area near the sea, seaside, lowlands; tide, current in the sea.

{noun-intransitive verb} Native-born, one born in a place, host; acquainted, familiar. [Commonly referred to a long-time resident of Hawai'i, as distinguished from a visitor.]

kanaka maoli
{noun} Full-blooded Hawaiian person. [Also refers to an indigenous person of Hawai'i whose ancestry predates the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778, such as a Native Hawaiian.]

{noun} Tapa, as made from the inner bark of various plants.

ki’i pohaku
{noun} Stone carving, petroglyph.

{noun-transitive verb} Help, aid, assistance, relief, assistant, associate, deputy, helper; co-operation; to help, assist, support, accommodate.

{noun} 1. Teacher, tutor. 2. Beginning, source, origin; starting point. 3. Bottom, base, foundation, basis, main stalk of a tree, trunk, handle, root; hereditary, fundamental. 4. Reason, cause, goal, justification, motive, grounds, purpose, object, why.

{noun} 1. Grandparent, ancestor, relative or close friend of the grandparent’s generation, grandaunt, granduncle. 2. Starting point, source; growing.

{noun} Garland, wreath; necklace of flowers, leaves, shells, ivory, feathers, or paper, given as a symbol of affection; beads; any ornament worn around the head or about the neck; to wear a lei; crown.

{noun} Hawaiian feast, named for the taro tops always served at one. This is not an ancient name, but goes back at least to 1856, when so used by the Pacific Commercial Advertiser newspaper; formerly a feast was pa’ina or ‘aha’aina.

{noun-transitive verb} 1. Thanks, gratitude; to thank. 2. Admiration, praise, esteem, regards, respects; to admire, praise, appreciate.

{noun-stative verb} On the seaside, towards the sea, in the direction of the sea.

{noun-stative verb} Parent, any relative of the parent’s generation, as uncle, aunt, cousin; progenitor; main stalk of a plant; adult; full-grown, mature, older, senior.

{noun-transitive verb} To take care of, tend, attend, care for, preserve, protect, maintain; care, preservation, support, fidelity, loyalty; caretaker, keeper.

{noun-stative verb} Stranger, foreigner, newcomer, tourist, guest, company; one unfamiliar with a place or custom; new, unfamiliar, unusual, rare, introduced, of foreign origin; for the first time.

{noun} Inland, upland, towards the mountain, in the direction of the uplands.

{noun-transitive verb} Song, anthem, or chant of any kind; poem, poetry; to sing, chant.

{noun-transitive verb} Wave, surf; full of waves; to form waves; wavy, as wood grain.

{noun-stative verb} Family, relative, kin group; related.

{noun} Dancer, as contrasted with the chanter or ho’opa’a (memorizer); now, any dance accompanied by chanting and drumming on a gourd drum.

{noun-transitive verb} Language, speech, word, quotation, statement, utterance, term; to speak, say, state, talk, mention, quote, converse, tell; oral, verbatim, verbal.

{noun-transitive verb} Chant that was not danced to, especially with prolonged phrases chanted in one breath; to chant thus.

{noun-transitive verb} Delicious, tasty, savory; to relish, crave; deliciousness, flavor, savor.

{noun-intransitive verb} Trouble of any kind, great or small; problem, nuisance, bother, distress, adversity, affliction, accident, difficulty, inconvenience, perturbation, tragedy, lack; in trouble, troubled, bothered, cramped, crowded. See ‘a’ole pilikia.

{noun-transitive verb} Prayer, incantation, blessing, grace; to pray, worship, ask a blessing.

{noun} A four-stringed instrument shaped similar to a very small guitar. [Literally defined as "leaping flea"; probably derived from the Hawaiian nickname of Edward Purvis, who was small and quick and who popularized this instrument brought to Hawai'i by the Portuguese in 1879.]

{noun-stative verb} Water, liquid or liquor or any kind other than sea water; to flow, like water, fluid.

{stative verb} Fast, speedy; to hurry, hasten; quick, fast, swift.

Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey

Elizabeth Kapu'uwailani Lindsey

From Beauty Queen to Hawaiian Story Teller

Back in 1978 when Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey represented Hawai’i in the Miss America pageant, contestants didn’t need favorite causes or “platforms” like they do today. But deep in her heart burned the desire to share the story of the Hawaiian people with the world.

Those long-sewn seeds of an idea came to fruition in Lindsey’s 1995 film, Then There Were None.

The 26-minute documentary was Lindsey’s first project on the other side of the camera. The O’ahu-born actress appeared on TV’s “China Beach” and “Byrds of Paradise” before trying her hand at writing, directing and producing.

Through archival film footage, photographs, period and contemporary music, and Lindsey’s own narrative, the Then There Were None traces how the native Hawaiian population and culture have been continually challenged by foreign influences.

More than half a million native Hawaiians were living in the Islands at the time of European contact in 1778. Within 50 years, that population was cut in half as Western diseases claimed thousands of lives. A litany of events followed: American missionaries preached unfamiliar ideas and customs; sugarcane and pineapple plantations absorbed individual farmlands; waves of immigrant workers arrived, making Hawaiians a minority in their own land; and World War II brought a lasting military presence.

University of Hawaii sociologists estimate that the extinction of full-blooded Hawaiians in the islands could come within the next 45 years.

“I wanted to tell our story in a concise form for people outside Hawai’i,” explains Lindsey. “They know Hawai’i as a tourist destination, but they don’t know our history.” On the issue of Hawaiian sovereignty, Lindsey says it was important that the film strike a balance. “I wanted to raise my voice in a proactive and positive way,” she says. “There is a great deal of pain (regarding native rights issues), and I didn’t want to diminish it or put a sunny face on it.”

But neither did she want to belabor the subject. “I think that much of the anger expressed in the sovereignty movement comes from a feeling of helplessness,” says Lindsey. “Open discussion, like that triggered by seeing the film, is a first step in healing.”

“This was the most exhilarating experience of my life,” says Lindsey. “The group of people I worked with, the archival footage, doing a project about Hawai’i and my ancestors—it was a tremendous personal voyage.”

Hawaii Sharks

Sharks of Hawaii

Tiger sharks are the most dangerous and aggressive type of shark found near Hawaii’s shores

Famous Hawaii Shark Attack

Bethany Hamilton was lying on her surfboard, rocking gently with the waters off Makua Beach on Kauai’s North Shore. The 13-year-old surfing prodigy was getting ready to take on another set of waves.

“The shark just came and attacked me,” she later told a news reporter. “He got hold of my arm and kind of jerked me back and forth a little, and then he was gone.”

The attack occurred on October 31, 2003. Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm that day to a tiger shark, estimated to be between 10 and 15 feet in length. It was the 12th shark attack in Hawaiian waters in three years. The last fatal shark attack occurred in 1991, when a woman was mauled by a tiger shark in waters off Olowalu, Maui.

Hawaiian Legend

According to Hawaiian legend, each island has its own shark god. The king of all shark gods was Kamohoalii, brother of the fire goddess, Pele. Many Hawaiian families also had personal shark aumakua (guardian spirits).

Shark Species

There are numerous types of sharks found near Hawaii’s shores. The most dangerous and aggressive is the tiger shark, which averages 12 to 13 feet in length. Other sharks in Hawaii include hammerheads, reef sharks, black tip sharks, white tip sharks and sandbar sharks. Sharks may be viewed Hawaii’s marine life attractions, including Sea Life Park and the Waikiki Aquarium on Oahu and the Maui Ocean Center on the Valley Isle.

Safety Tips

Shark attacks are very rare. Still, it helps to heed these safety tips:

Bethany Hamilton remained calm, and experts say that may have saved her life.

Sharks In Hawaii

Bethany’s life-changing experience hasn’t prevented her from pursuing her dreams

What’s more, her life-changing experience hasn’t prevented her from pursuing her dreams. Just 10 weeks after the attack, Hamilton placed fifth at a National Scholastic Surfing Association tournament on the Big Island.

Inside a Shark Cage

Get an up close and personal view of sharks from inside a shark cage

Hawaii Spas

Spas In Paradise

The Pohaku lomi massage is the ultimate in relaxation

Banana-coconut scrubs, pineapple body polishes, ti leaf wraps and lomilomi massage are just some of the lavish treats awaiting you at the luxury spas in Hawaii.

One of the most popular spa treatment is lomilomi massage. Authentically Hawaiian, this very spiritual massage uses long, rhythmic strokes and was an important part of ancient Hawaiian culture.

Many of the treatments feature local ingredients, such as sugar, coffee, honey and macadamia nut oil from Maui. Try the ultimate in relaxation, the Lomilomi Pohaku (stone) massage, a lomilomi massage where the massage therapist uses steamed lava stones to rub rich avocado and olive oil into your skin. Or delight in the Lokelani Facial, where fresh petals and essential oils of rose will leave you radiant.

Popular Hawaii Spa Treatments:


This deep foot massage uses shiatsu techniques to relieve irritation caused by inflammation around soft tissues and joints.

Clay Body Masque

After exfoliating the skin, the body is painted with a clay masque blended with essential oils and aloe to detoxify and hydrate.

Hawaiian Salt Glo Scrub

Polynesian Body Glo with native island red clay from Mount Wai`ale`ale, kukui nut oil and island sea salts that are massaged onto the skin to exfoliate, detoxify and soften the skin.

Healing Drop Therapy

Essential oils are used to stimulate the nervous system with very light strokes.

Honey Ginger Body Masque

This treatment begins with a ginger body polish, followed by a Hawaiian honey and ginger body masque. Warm bath sheets allow the nutrients to be absorbed.

Kahakai (Beach) Massage

Clients will also enjoy the tranquil, soothing sounds of the ocean waves as they experience a massage in a peaceful, relaxing beachside cabana setting.

Limu Awapuhi Wrap

This treatment begins with an herbal, citrus scrub, followed by a mask of blended sea enzymes, ginger and green tea to relieve muscular aches. It ends with a hydrating massage.

Lomilomi Massage

This traditional form of Hawaiian massage employs broad, flowing, rhythmic strokes with a generous portion of aloha to relax the body and nurture the spirit.

Lomiiwi Massage

Lomilomi massage techniques are used along with local herb-soaked hot towels for this treatment.

Plush Papaya Body Polish and Massage

The body is first exfoliated and polished with Papaya Pineapple Body Scrub. The scrub includes aromatic ingredients such as grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera, as well as pineapple and papaya extract. The treatment’s finale is a nourishing 25-minute massage with Epicuren’s deep penetrating Papaya Pineapple Lotion.

Pohaku Lomi Massage

This ancient Hawaiian art uses hot-rocks to massage and relieve sore, tight muscles.


This ancient Japanese method of hands-on healing relaxes the mind and body while improving the healing process.

Seaweed Body Masque

After a body polish, the skin is covered with a heated mineral-rich seaweed masque to detoxify and stimulate circulation.

Shiatsu Massage

This traditional Oriental technique uses the shi (finger) atsu (pressure) to stimulate and calm the body without oil.

Swedish Massage

Three basic strokes are used in this massage: long, kneading and circular. It reduces tension and soothes muscles.

Thai Massage

This massage manipulates the body by using unique positions for stretching and focuses on pressure points.

Go ahead, pamper yourself. We promise you’ll come away relaxed, rejuvenated and ready for more.

Polynesian Cultural Center

Experience multiple Polynesian cultures on your visit.

Imagine launching yourself into the ultimate Polynesian adventure, visiting Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand and the Marquesas. Envision yourself discovering their peoples, cultures, customs and histories. Sample their foods. Learn their languages. Enjoy their hospitality.

Now imagine yourself doing it all in a single day!

Millions of people have done just that by visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), a 42-acre attraction located in Laie on Oahu’s rugged North Shore. Opened to the public in October 1963, the PCC offers a wide range of unique visitor experiences—everything from a top-notch luau to a spectacular evening show with more than 100 performers.


Guests are able to explore seven recreated Polynesian villages and gain a hands-on appreciation for the intriguing cultures of Polynesia. Learn how Samoans crack open a coconut or climb a 40-foot coconut tree. Make joyous Fijian music with a derua, a bamboo percussion instrument. Tour a Tahitian garden and learn a native dance. Play a Maori stick game or get a temporary tattoo. Or try your hand at weaving leaves and flowers into beautiful Hawaiian leis.

Polynesian Cultural Center

Hawaii’s Polynesian Cultural Center is the top paid Hawaii attraction


Other highlights at the PCC include the Alii Luau, the “Rainbows of Paradise” canoe show, an IMAX Theater presentation and the highly acclaimed revue, Horizons: Where the Sea Meets the Sky. Each spring, the PCC hosts the World Fire-Knife Dance Championships, featuring the world’s top Samoan fire knife dancers vying for the prestigious “world champion” title.

The PCC, staffed primarily by students at neighboring Brigham Young University-Hawaii, has lived up to its goal of serving as “a unique treasure created to share with the world the cultures, diversity and spirit of the nations of Polynesia.”


The PCC is open Monday-Saturday (closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas). The box office opens at 9 a.m., and the gift shops, snack bar and luncheon buffet opens at 11 a.m. Island tours and cultural presentations begin at 12:30 p.m., with other island activities spread throughout the afternoon. The PCC is located at 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, nearly 40 miles from Waikiki. Transportation to and from the PCC is available.

Garden of the Gods, Lanai

About seven miles north of Lanai City is perhaps Hawaii’s ultimate “rock garden,” an awe-inspiring lunar-like setting that’s as shrouded in mystery as it is in stark beauty.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is a visual wonder

Keahikawelo, also known as Garden of the Gods is a visual wonder uniquely characterized by boulders of varying sizes, shapes and colors. Its appearance is simply unmatched in all the Hawaiian islands, and you won’t have to be a geology buff to appreciate the dramatic formations that litter the landscape.

Science will tell you that these formations are the result of thousands of years of erosion that created pinnacles and buttes in one remote canyon area. Just one look, however, and you’ll wonder whether each rock has been placed for some divine purpose.


One Island legend tells us that the rocks and boulders were dropped from the sky by the gods tending their gardens. Another ancient tale explains that the rocks house the spirits of ancient Hawaiian warriors. And still another legend says that the gods enjoyed creating art, and this spot on the island is where they made their favorite sculptures. They created powerful winds to literally sculpt each rock formation (perhaps explaining why there is no vegetation in the Garden of the Gods).

Need To Know

The best time to view the Garden of the Gods is during the early morning hours, when the sunlight casts eerie shadows against the boulders and bring out the rocks’ most dynamic colors. Bring your camera, but don’t do anything disrespectful like rearranging the rocks (would you tamper with artwork created by the Hawaiian gods?).

The area also provides fabulous views of the Pacific Ocean, Molokai and (on clear days) Oahu.


The Garden of the Gods is accessible via bicycle or four-wheel drive vehicle. The dirt road is well marked, but be sure to check accessibility beforehand, as rains may force temporary closures.


Lanai Petroglyphs

Lanai Petroglyphs

Scholars have always been baffled by petroglyphs.

Long ago, these primitive renderings depicting people, animals, canoes and other objects were painstakingly carved onto rocks or old lava flows, but their exact meanings remain a mystery.

Are they the result of some sacred rituals practiced by the early Hawaiians? Were they used to record family genealogy? Were they meant to provide directions to certain places? Or could it be that petroglyphs were simply doodlings carved by bored or weary natives?

No one knows for sure. Curiously, petroglyphs aren’t mentioned in chants or myths that have been handed down through the generations, making it even more difficult for historians to piece together the petroglyph puzzle.

Petroglyphs can be found throughout Hawaii. On Lanai, ancient rock carvings may be viewed in an area near Shipwreck Beach (north of Lanai City. Depicted appears to be a hunting scene with 13 men, a horse, a dog and either a wild pig or cow. There are also many petroglyphs showing men, women and children in an assortment of poses; they’re depicted performing a number of activities, including surfing, fishing and hunting.

One petroglyph shows a man with a dog and Axis deer. It’s believed that the first wave of Polynesian settlers to Hawaii brought dogs with them. Axis deer were brought to the islands from India in the mid-1800s. Today, there are more than 8,000 Axis deer on Lanai.

Another petroglyph reserve is located in the southern part of Lanai. From Lanai City, head toward Manele Bay on Manele Bay Road, then turn left on the first dirt road. The petroglyphs are just beyond the large water tank on the slopes of the hill. Most of the petroglyphs found in this three-acre area are found on the south faces of the boulders.

Even though the exact meanings of these images may forever be a mystery lost in time, they remain important vestiges of Hawaii’s past. Always show respect for the petroglyphs and take care not to damage them.

Hawaiian Sailing Canoes

Polynesians Made Long Ocean Voyages With Only The Stars as Their Guide

Across the vast ocean sailed a stalwart people into the pillars of the rising sun. They ventured forth towards the untouchable horizon until they entered the realm known today as Polynesia.

These journeys were on large sailing canoes that were specifically designed for these long voyages. Soon these people settled virtually every habitable island and atoll within the Central Pacific Ocean. The earliest migrations to Hawaii, which originated from the Marquesas Islands, are said to date back over two thousand years. Subsequent migrations to this archipelago, from Raiatea in the Society Islands, flourished during the 11th and 12th centuries.

At this time, we shall voyage into new horizons with some of those early kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) who settled the Hawaiian Islands.

The homelands were inundated with ‘newcomers’ whose imposing customs, philosophies, and religious rituals were contrary to the teachings of the ancient ones. Warring between island districts escalated and threatened to envelop the isolated community. The elders of the village gathered together to contemplate the impending dangers. At this council meeting, an eminent seer brought forth her message. She had ventured in her spirit form and was shown new lands located many nautical miles beyond the horizon. It was unanimously decided by all in the council to send a contingent to resettle in this archipelago. The leaders of the village assigned the necessary tasks in order to hasten the expedition.

Hawaiian Sailing Canoe

While modernized, the Hawaiian sailing canoe is still used and enjoyed today

Finally, the day arrived for the four large sailing canoes to depart. Venturing into unexplored waters, the navigator plotted his course by the heavenly signs that were previously charted by the seer of the village. The steersmen helped to keep the vessels on course, and the canoe bailers always remained alert in order to keep the vessels afloat.

Signs of certain sea birds, varied coloration in the clouds, debris floating on the ocean waters, and a particular scent in the air foretold of land nearby. Sure enough, the course of the sailing fleet headed straight for these dark features that suddenly appeared on the horizon.

Now, a safe landing area or sheltered bay was sought as the canoes encircled the island for the first time. The ocean waters along the reefs and shoreline sparkled with hues of turquoise and aqua-blue. Water cascading down the cliffs could be seen in the interiors of the island. Lush velvet green terrain enveloped the valleys and mountain sides. Amongst the reefs, silvery-colored schools of fish could be seen shimmering in the sunlight.

Landfall was safely made! Still, many tasks lay ahead for these voyagers as they began their new journey on these “lands of the rainbows.”

Na Pali Coast

Regarded by many as the most beautiful coastline in the world

Inaccessible by car, Kauai’s Napali Coast may be viewed by foot, air and sea. As one tour operator put it (and we agree), “It’s nice to explore the coast in a boat because ancient Hawaiians traveled the Napali by canoe. You can experience the Hawaiian presence this way.”

In This Section…

What Is It?

Na Pali is a 17-mile stretch of coastline on the Garden Isle‘s west side. It took millions of years of wind and water erosion to form these majestic 4,000-foot cliffs (“na pali” means “the cliffs” in Hawaiian) with lush green valleys, cascading waterfalls and mysterious sea caves. In ancient times, this impenetrable coast protected Hawaiians from invasion, and the waterfalls helped the natives build thriving fishing and farming settlements in the area. Thousands of Hawaiians lived within the Napali’s beautiful valleys.

In more modern times, Na Pali Coast has been a backdrop for several Hollywood blockbusters, including Jurassic Park and the remake of King Kong.


Hiking begins from Kee beach. Boat tours leave from multiple locations, check with your boat tour company. Helicopter tours leave from Lihue.

Molokini Crater

Molokini Crater

Molokini is a crescent moon-shaped islet less than three miles off Maui’s southern coast.

Molokini is as beautiful as ever and is considered one of Hawaii’s premier dive spots. Its striking crescent shape acts as a shield from strong waves and currents making it ideal for beginner snorkelers.

Molokini Snorkeling & Scuba Diving

Molokini offers areas that appeal to novice, intermediate and expert SCUBA divers. The crater basin, for example, provides protected waters and is only 35 feet deep, making it ideal for beginning divers and snorkelers. Intermediate-level divers, meanwhile, can head to the underwater wall area that sinks to 70 feet. And expert divers can enjoy the sights within the back side of the crater, which has a depth of 350 feet.

No matter what part of Molokini’s undersea world you choose to explore, you’ll encounter crystal-clear waters and schools of colorful fish. Molokini is home to about 250 fish species, including surgeon fish, tangs, parrot fish, Moorish idols and more.

Boat Tours

Snorkeling Molokini

Tip: Avoid the crowd! Choose a boat tour with an early morning departure

Boat expeditions offering half-day and full-day Molokini adventures are available daily from Maalaea Harbor or the Kihei Boat Ramp. These excursions usually include snorkeling/SCUBA gear and refreshments. The morning hours provide the best viewing conditions.

Need to Know

Molokini is a marine life conservation district, which means the fish are not to be fed, caught or removed. Also, visitors are not allowed to walk on the island itself.

Legend of Molokini

Legend has it that Molokini was once a beautiful woman. She and Pele the fire goddess, the story goes, were in love with the same man. The jealous Pele cut her rival in two and transformed her into stone. The woman’s head is supposedly Puu Olai, the cinder cone by Makena Beach.


Molokini lies along Haleakala‘s southwest rift zone. Scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory believe that Molokini, whose summit rises about 160 feet above sea level, last erupted about 230,000 years ago. While many geologists believed that the islet was a fairly young volcanic formation, recent evidence suggests that Molokini is much older—possibly older than Haleakala Crater itself.


You can only visit Molokini with a certified tour company. You may not walk on the islet itself.

Leeward Coast, Oahu

Experience “Local Hawaii”

It’s only 25 miles from from Waikiki to Oahu’s Leeward Coast, but it may as well be in another universe. Located on the coastal side of the Waianae Mountain Range, the Leeward Coast is everything Waikiki is not: untamed and wide open.

It doesn’t require a leap of any kind to discover the beauty of Oahu’s west side. While few visitors make the trip to the Leeward Coast, those who do are rewarded with a generous taste of “local Hawaii.”

Things To Do

Hawaii’s Plantation Village

Ancient Hawaiian Hut at Hawaii Plantation Village

Tour replicas of old plantation structures at the Hawaii Plantation Village

A worthwhile stop in Waipahu is Hawaii’s Plantation Village, an outdoor museum that tells the story of life on Hawaii’s sugar plantations. Here, restored buildings and replicas of plantation structures form a sort of living museum. Between 1852 and 1946, approximately 395,000 people from Japan, Korea, Portugal, China, Puerto Rico and other places came to Hawaii to work in the sugar fields and lived in “camps” or villages just like these.


Ko Olina Beach, Oahu Leeward Coast

Kids playing at beautiful Ko Olina Beach on Oahu’s Leeward Coast

The climate is generally dry and sunny, and the coastline offers pristine white sand beaches that are prime spots for swimming, snorkeling and fishing. The Leeward beaches also provide the best seat in the house for the island’s most spectacular free show: sunset.

The winter months bring some of the world’s best surfers to the Leeward Coast, as large waves roll toward Makaha and Yokohama beaches. One of Hawaii’s best-known surfing spots, Makaha Beach offers great action for both surfers and boogie-boarders. Yokohama Bay, the last sandy beach on the Leeward Coast, represents one of few places on Oahu completely unspoiled by development.

Waianae Mountains

Farming below the Waianae mountain range

Farmers working below the Waianae mountain range

Geologists conclude the Waianae mountains were formed about three million years ago. Its tallest peak, Mount Kaala, rises 4,017 feet from the ocean, making it the highest point on the island.


Leeward Oahu includes the communities of Waipahu, Ewa and Nanakuli to the coast of Maili, Waianae and Makaha.

Honolulu, Oahu

Downtown Honolulu is more than just the state’s main business center and financial district. In and around this small jungle of office buildings and bank towers are some of Hawaii’s significant and cherished treasures—all within comfortable walking distance of each other.

Ariel view of Honolulu

Iolani Palace and other important Honolulu landmarks in the background Photo by: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson

7 Must See Landmarks

Experience these 7 must see Honolulu landmarks yourself on our suggested 2.3 mile Honolulu walking route. View map and suggested walking route

1) Aloha Tower

A tour of downtown might begin at the Aloha Tower Marketplace, a harborside complex of shops and restaurants surrounding historic Aloha Tower. When it was erected in 1926 to welcome passenger ships arriving at Honolulu Harbor, this 10-story tower was the tallest building in the state.

2) Hawaii Maritime Center

Next door is the Hawaii Maritime Center, which traces Hawaii’s colorful ocean history from the ancient Polynesian voyagers and rowdy whalers to the luxury liners of the 1920s and ’30s.

3) Chinatown

Walk mauka (towards the mountain) and west, and you’ll come to Chinatown bustling area filled with ethnic eateries, lei stands, fresh produce vendors, herbal shops and more. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii offers weekly guided walking tours of Chinatown.

Tip: Make a quick stop at the Aloha Market for fresh local produce.

4) Iolani Palace

Heading east on King Street, walk through the main business district until you reach Iolani Palace, the only royal palace standing on American soil. The palace served as the royal residence for Hawaii’s last two monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. Guided tours are available here five days a week.

5) State Capitol Building

Behind the palace is the State Capitol Building, where the governor and state legislature fight their political battles. The building opened in 1969 and remains a unique work of architecture. The cone-shaped chambers symbolize Hawaii’s volcanoes, and the building columns are reminiscent of palm trees. The large pool of water surrounding the building symbolizes the fact that Hawaii is the only island state in the U.S.

6) King Kamehameha Statue

Across the street from Iolani Palace is the Kamehameha statue, which fronts Honolulu’s old judicial building. The bronze statue stands eight feet and six inches high (not including the 10-foot-high base). Every June 11 on King Kamehameha Day, the statue is adorned with beautiful floral leis, some as long as 18 feet in length.

7) Mission Houses Museum

Cross Punchbowl Street to find the Mission Houses Museum, where the first American Protestant missionaries established their headquarters in 1820. The structures you see here include the oldest surviving Western-style buildings in the state. They house a treasure trove of original artifacts, including furniture, books, quilts and other household items that once belonged to missionary families.

Self Guided Walking Tour

Virtual Tours→ |  Enlarge map→

Sea Life Park



If the recipe for success at Sea Life Park Hawaii sounds rather “fishy,” there’s a good reason: People love the ocean and its fascinating inhabitants. Thus, this popular marine park attraction offers a wide range of sea life, including sharks, dolphins, false killer whales, stingrays, sea lions, reef fish, sea turtles and much more.

Sea Life Park, however, is more than just a visitor attraction displaying Hawaii’s ocean life. Marine education and conservation awareness are both integral parts of each exhibit.

The 300,000-gallon Hawaiian Reef Aquarium provides a unique view of Hawaii’s underwater ecosystem “from top to bottom.” Featured here are more than 2,000 reef animals and organisms, from sharks and rays to all kinds of tropical fish. For an added cost, you can take part in “Sea Trek,” a program that lets visitors actually get into the aquarium and get an up-close close at its inhabitants. Keep an eye out for the humuhumunukunukuapuaa, Hawaii’s unofficial state fish!

Sea Life

Keep an eye out for the humuhumunukunukuapuaa, Hawaii’s unofficial state fish!

Things To Do

Other park offerings include the Stingray Lagoon, Sea Turtle Lagoon and Sea Bird Sanctuary. Don’t miss the Dolphin Cove, an ocean-side lagoon with picturesque views of the windward coastline. Dolphin shows are held here twice a day. Also, the Hawaiian Ocean Theatre showcases dolphins performing in a large glass tank. The trainers share their latest training techniques as well as detail the park’s ongoing conservation efforts.

Sea Life Park is also the home of Kekaimalu, the world’s only wholphin (half whale, half dolphin). When Kekaimalu was born in May 1985, she was noticeably darker than a dolphin and had an uncharacteristically short snout. It was later discovered that her mother, an Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin, had bred with a false killer whale.

Sea Life Park

Marine education and conservation awareness are both integral parts of each exhibit

For a memorable interactive experience with the park’s dolphins, enroll in “Splash U,” a special program that lets you interact with these friendly mammals. Professional trainers provide hands-on instruction on the positive reinforcement techniques that are used to train the dolphins. The program fee includes a souvenir “certificate of graduation.


Sea Life Park is located near Makapuu Point in East Oahu. The park is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Waimea Valley

Waimea Waterfall

Waimea Falls Park was known primarily for its spectacular cliff diving exhibitions

Waimea Valley on Oahu’s North Shore has had its ups and downs over the years.

As a visitor attraction, Waimea Falls Park was known primarily for its spectacular cliff diving exhibitions, ancient Hawaiian games and hula performances. Later, under new management, the park added ATV rideshorseback riding and other recreational activities, but the results were the same. The park was losing money.

Waimea Valley Adventures Park was put up for sale in August 2000, and the City & County of Honolulu agreed to purchase the 1,875-acre site for $5.2 million. “The city intends to preserve and protect the historical, cultural and environmental assets of the park,” said Mayor Jeremy Harris.

Enter the National Audubon Society, an organization whose stated mission is to conserve and restore national ecosystems, with an emphasis on birds and other wildlife. Waimea Valley is home to 36 botanical gardens and about 6,000 rare species of plants. In ancient times, the valley was a thriving area for taro farmers. Archaeological excavations uncovered many house foundations and several large heiau (sacred temples).

Waimea Valley

Today the valley is as beautiful as ever

The Waimea Valley Audubon Center

The Waimea Valley Audubon Center opened to the public on June 28, 2003 with a “Community Volunteer Work Day.” More than 300 volunteers joined with National Audubon Society staff members to clean the area. Said Audubon President John Flicker, “Perhaps the most gratifying part of the event has been the response we are receiving from the community…the overwhelming turnout of volunteers was more than we ever expected.”

Today, the valley is as beautiful as ever. Visitors can enjoy a 3.5-mile self-guided nature walk to the park’s focal attraction: 40-foot Waimea Falls. On warm days, nothing is more refreshing than a cool dip in the pool below the falls.


Located above the world-famous Waimea Bay, Waimea Valley is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day).


Panaewa Rainforest Zoo

Even a sleepy seaside town like Hilo has its wild side. For proof, just head to the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo, the only zoo in America situated in a tropical rain forest.


Set on 12 acres, the zoo spotlights the cuddly, feathery or sometimes scaly inhabitants of our world’s rainforests, including a water buffalo, axis deer, a pygmy hippo, spider monkeys, an iguana, feral goats, vultures, parrots, sloths, reptiles and more. Also available for viewing are some native Hawaiian species, including the nene goose, Hawaii’s official state bird.

The Star Attraction

The zoo’s star attraction is Namaste, a white Bengal tiger whose name, loosely translated from Indian to Hawaiian, means “aloha.” Namaste was raised in Las Vegas and donated to the zoo by magician Dirk Arthur, who was impressed with the zoo’s facilities. According to the zoo, Namaste and every other white tiger currently in captivity—about 250 in all—are descended from Mohan, a wild white Bengal tiger caught by the Maharaja of Rewa in 1951.

If watching a 450-pound kitty enjoy his supper is your idea of fun, Namaste’s feeding time is 3:30 p.m. daily. We’re told that his regular diet includes 10 pounds of meat and three whole chickens (now that’s a hungry tiger!).

Panaewa Rainforest Zoo

Namaste, or “aloha,” a white Bengal tiger, is the zoo’s star attraction

Zoo Size

This isn’t an exceptionally large zoo—the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo houses a total of about 150 animals in all—but it’s big enough to delight animal lovers of all ages. If anything, the zoo’s intimate size gives almost every featured critter a unique celebrity status. Besides Namaste, of course, you’ll be able to say hello to Arnie the water buffalo; Cupid the axis deer; and Curly, the black and white Colobus monkey. In 2003, when Spike the giant anteater celebrated his first birthday, congratulatory wishes were extended all the way from the University of California-Irvine (the school’s mascot, naturally, is an anteater).


The zoo is open daily except for Christmas and New Years Day. While there is no admission charge, donations are accepted. A petting zoo is open every Saturday from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Dole Plantation-Where Pineapple Still Rules

Dole Plantation-Where Pineapple Still Rules

Nearly a million people visit Dole Plantation each year

The Plantation

Hawaii’s pineapple industry is no longer what it once was, but at Dole Plantation on Oahu, this prickly fruit is still king.

Nearly a million people visit Dole Plantation each year. It originally opened in 1950 as a simple fruit stand, and reopened in 1989 after an extensive remodeling of its facilities to provide the complete “pineapple experience.” In 1997, the site underwent a $125,000 interior renovation to simulate building facades patterned after old Haleiwa Town.

A favorite attraction here is the Pineapple Garden Maze, made from 11,400 colorful Hawaiian plants. Covering an area of more than two acres (with a path length of approximately 1.7 miles), the maze in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records as the “world’s largest maze.”

Dole Plantation

Historians believe the pineapple was introduced to Hawaii in 1527

Additional Attractions

Once you find your way out of the maze, take some time to enjoy Dole Plantation’s other offerings: The Pineapple Express train tour is a two-mile, 20-minute, fully-narrated tour that provides insights on the history of the pineapple; the rigors of plantation life; and the story of James Dole, who pioneered the pineapple industry in the Islands. The Plantation Garden Tour, meanwhile, is a self-guided walk that brings you face to face with a variety of agricultural crops in Hawaii.

Dole Plantation also features informational displays and presentations about the pineapple. The visitor center offers a wide variety of pineapple-related merchandise. You can even treat yourself to an icy-cool cup of world-famous DoleWhip.


A quick look at the Dole Plantation

It’s believed that the pineapple originated in the lowlands of Paraguay. Historians believe the fruit was introduced to Hawaii in 1527, after a Spanish shipwreck near the coast of South Kona on the Big Island brought a number of goods to the Islands. In later years, a Spanish adventurer named Francisco de Paula Marin experimented with raising pineapples in Hawaii in the early 1800s. James Dole would later pioneer the pineapple industry, earning acclaim as Hawaii’s “Pineapple King.”


Dole Plantation is located at 64-1550 Kamehameha Highway near Wahiawa in Central Oahu. (It’s about a 45-minute drive from Waikiki.) The attraction is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Hawaii Maritime Center, Oahu

Located on Pier 7 at Honolulu Harbor, the Hawaii Maritime Center houses a variety of exhibits detailing the Islands’ maritime history, from Polynesian navigators and whalers to present-day nautical wonders.

Falls of Clyde docked at the Hawaii Maritime Center

Falls of Clyde docked at the Hawaii Maritime Center

Exhibits & Tours

Visitors are provided handy tape machines that provide expert narration on the center’s displays. The two-level museum is packed with insightful exhibits tracing the history of surfing, canoe racing, whaling era, Hawaii’s “Boat Days” and more.

Admission to the center includes the opportunity to board the Falls of Clyde, the world’s only surviving four-masted, full-rigged ship. Built in 1878, the Falls of Clyde served Hawaii as the largest ship in the sugar trade. After the turn of the century, she brought petroleum to the Islands. The ship was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In 1989, she was named a National Historic Landmark.

Hawaii’s Maritime Center is part of our self guided Honolulu walking tour

A second historic vessel moored at the Hawaii Maritime Center is the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokulea, a double-hulled canoe that has traveled throughout the Polynesian Triangle for more than a quarter of a century. The Hokulea is regarded as an important symbol of the revitalization of the Hawaiian culture.

Another unique exhibit at the center is a complete skeleton of a humpback whale, which is suspended in a diving position in the first-floor gallery. In January 1986, the humpback’s carcass was found washed up in a cove on the island of Kahoolawe. Six years later, the skeleton was restored and reassembled—an eight-month process that pieced together 159 bones ranging from inch-long digits to the 12-foot, 750-pound skull.

The whale’s new Hawaiian name is Leiiwi, which translates to “Lei of Cherished Bones.” Said museum director Dr. Evarts Fox, “As we originally envisioned, the humpback skeleton has become the impetus for many excellent opportunities. We are proud to have reconstructed and displayed this rare artifact in trust for the people of Hawaii and our visitor.”

Exploring the maritime heritage of Hawaii. Watch the 2nd half of this video→


The Hawaii Maritime Center is operated by the Bishop Museum, the state’s largest museum. Hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except Christmas Day.

Statehood in Hawaii

“A phone call from Governor Quinn in Washington today is expected to set off the biggest wingding in Island history to celebrate Statehood Day. The Governor will ring Hawaii the minute the House passes the Statehood Bill. Since the Bill has already passed in the Senate, this will mean that Hawaii is in…Every church bell in town will begin pealing. Every ship in harbor will blow her whistle. Most folks will do a little shouting of their own, and, of course, there’s nothing to stop you from hula-ing in the streets if you want to.”—The Honolulu Advertiser, March 12, 1959

Statehood In Hawaii

At 10:04 in the morning, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 323 to 89 in favor of granting statehood to Hawaii

Thousands of Islands did, indeed, do a little “hula-ing” on that historic day 45 years ago.

Dixieland bands took to the streets of Waikiki and played music. Teenagers jitterbugged and waved banners at Iolani Palace. Shops closed and car horns sounded. Outside a schoolyard in Honolulu, thousands of children paraded about, waving signs and stopping only momentarily to dutifully recite “The Pledge of Allegiance.”

And outside the suddenly obsolete Statehood Commission Office, someone gleefully hung a hastily scrawled sign. The sign read “Out of Business.”

The 50th State

The celebration was all because of this: At approximately 10:04 in the morning (Hawaii Standard Time), the U.S. House of Representatives voted 323 to 89 in favor of granting statehood to Hawaii. As the Honolulu Star-Bulletin pointedly observed, “Congress ended decades of procrastination today and sent to the White House a bill to give the Statehood it has so long deserved.”

Statehood in Hawaii

People of all ages celebrate Hawaii’s statehood

Five months later, on August 21, President Dwight D. Eisenhower made it official, signing the proclamation that welcomed Hawaii as the 50th state of the union. Hawaii had been annexed to the United States in 1898 and became a territory two years later.

Local historians say that it wasn’t until Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 that people on the U.S. mainland fully recognized the importance of Hawaii to the rest of the country. Having served faithfully and with patriotic zeal in World War II, Hawaiians assumed statehood was forthcoming. In fact, there are several collectibles (including buttons, record labels and license plates) that proudly proclaim Hawaii as “The 49th State.” (That turned out to be premature, as Alaska got the nod in 1958.)

But as Hawaiians discovered, it’s still nifty to be fifty. Hawaii songwriter Harry Owens even penned a tune for the occasion:

“Hawaii is the fiftieth star in the U.S.A.
Aloha means how joyful we are
For at last we are brothers today
We know that you’ll be happy
When Hawaii falls in line
We sing a song of gladness as we
Join the forty-nine.”

Today, each third Friday in August is a state holiday: Statehood Day.

Maui Weddings

The Valley Isle

Getting married? Few places on Earth celebrate nuptials quite like the island of Maui. Spend your special day at a lavish beachfront resort, exchanging vows in a gazebo tropical garden setting framed by waterfalls and bridges. Tie the knot in a traditional Hawaiian-style chapel on the slopes of the majestic West Maui mountains, with sweeping views of the Kaanapali coastline. Or say “I do” on a sun-kissed white sand beach with towering palm trees and the rolling surf at a distance.

It’s true: The wedding of your dreams can be realized on Maui, the Valley Isle.

Maui Wedding

Few places on Earth celebrate nuptials quite like the island of Maui

Unless you are very familiar with the island, using a full-service wedding planner is recommended. Wedding planners can help you arrange everything from photography and video services to the wedding cake and catering. They can provide helicopter trips to romantic and secluded locations, private boat charters, weddings on horsebackSCUBA aficionados can even have underwater weddings!

Hawaii Marriage Laws

To get married in the state of Hawaii, you will need a marriage license that is obtained from an authorized agent. There are no state residence or U.S. citizenship requirements, and blood tests are not necessary. The legal age to marry in Hawaii is 18 years for both parties. Couples 16 or 17 years of age who wish to marry need the written consent of both parents, legal guardians or the family court. Proof of age is required. The prospective bride and groom must appear together in person before a marriage license agent to apply for the license. (No proxies are allowed.)

A marriage license in Hawaii costs $60, payable in cash at the time of application. The license is valid anywhere in the state of Hawaii and expires and is good for 30 days.

Once the license is issued, there is no waiting period before the marriage can take place. Marriage performers must be duly licensed in the state of Hawaii.

More Information

More information on marriage licenses may be obtained by calling (808) 586-4545. The Maui office of the Department of Health is (808) 984-8210.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific


Formed some 75,000-100,000 years ago during a period of secondary volcanic activity, Puowaina Crater in Honolulu is today the setting for the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as “Punchbowl.” Among America’s national cemeteries, this is often considered to be the most beautiful and poignant.

The 112-acre cemetery serves as the final resting place for more than 44,200 U.S. war veterans and family members. These include men and women who perished in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

National Cemetary of the Pacific

An aerial view of “Punchbowl” crater, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

The most common translation for Puowaina is “Hill of Sacrifice.” Historians say the first known use of Puowaina was as an altar where early Hawaiians offered human sacrifices to their gods. In the early 1800s, the crater served as a key stronghold for Oahu natives who tried in vain to defend their island from Kamehameha‘s invading army.

Punchbowl’s Purpose

In the early 1940s, the U.S. Congress appropriated funds to establish a small cemetery in Honolulu. In 1943, the governor of Hawaii offered Punchbowl for this purpose. The cemetery finally opened to the public in 1949, with services honoring five war dead, including an unknown serviceman, two Marines, an Army lieutenant and one civilian. The civilian was famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who was killed by a Japanese sniper on an island off the northern coast of Okinawa on April 18, 1945.

Punchbowl Cemetery

The 112-acre cemetery serves as the final resting place for more than 44,200 U.S. war veterans and family members.

Other notable names buried at Punchbowl include Ellison S. Onizuka, Lieutenant Colonel with the U.S. Air Force and astronaut aboard the ill-fated space shuttle Challenger when it exploded on January 28, 1986.

The cemetery contains a memorial pathway lined with 39 memorials honoring America’s veterans from various organizations. Most of the memorials pay tribute to soldiers of 20th-century wars, including those killed at Pearl Harbor.

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.


In addition, Punchbowl hosts the Easter Sunrise Service, Honolulu’s oldest ecumenical event. Thousands attend this annual service, which is sponsored by a coalition of churches. The city bus runs a shuttle service from Waikiki to Punchbowl.


The cemetery is located at 2177 Puowaina Drive in Honolulu. Visitor hours are daily, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (till 6:30 p.m. from March 2 through September 29).

Buying a Home in Hawaii

Living in Paradise

Honolulu ranks as the seventh most expensive American city to live in

There are many things that make wonderful places to visit and experience—but not for too long. As the saying goes, “It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there…”

There are exceptions to every rule. Each year, without fail, there are visitors to Hawaii who fall head-over-heels in love with the islands—so much so that they never leave. Some are mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the islands, while others are drawn to the aloha spirit of the inhabitants. We’ve heard more than one malihini (newcomer) explain, “This is where I belong. This feels like home.”

What You’ll Pay

Buying a home in Hawaii isn’t anything new. Over the past several years is has grown in popularity. Home prices in resort locales like Hawaii have risen sharply. And despite the recent economic downturn Hawaii real estate prices remain high (however, you can now find many deals). If you’re interested in buying your own piece of paradise you should probably start by searching the Hawaii MLS.

Living in Hawaii, even as a part-time resident, may require some sacrifices and adjustments. According to state statistics, Honolulu ranks as the seventh most expensive American city to live in. Home prices are, well, pricey: The median sales price of a single-family home on Oahu is $569,000, while the median price tag for a home on Maui recently dropped to $450,000. The median prices for single-family homes on the Big Island and Kauai are $220,000 and $420,000, respectively. The median sales price for a condominium on Oahu is $307,000.

Overall, the median value of owner-occupied housing units in Hawaii is more than double the national average.

Besides Price

There are other things to consider: learning how to pronounce the Hawaiian street names (knock yourself out with “Kalanianaole”), figuring out the local slang (called Pidgin) and even having to watch “Monday Night Football” on a delayed basis (early evening sports reports often begin with, “If you don’t want to know the score of tonight’s game, close your eyes now…”)

Buying a Home-Living in Paradise

Big city or country living, Hawaii has it all.

Visit First

When shopping for a home in Hawaii, take the time to get to know the surrounding area. One real estate expert recommends making at least three visits and working with an agent who is familiar with the market area.

Which Island?

Each of Hawaii’s six main islands is different in its characteristics. If you enjoy big city life, for example, you’d prefer living on Oahu rather than Lanai. If you absolutely can’t deal with traffic, Molokai (with no traffic lights) would be more attractive to you than Maui. Whichever island you choose, you’ll find a full menu of home options, from lavish resort condominiums and single-family abodes to attractive townhouses and upscale homes.

Road to Hana

Traversing the road to Hana is one of Maui‘s most rewarding daylong adventures.

Hana rests at the end of the 50-mile Hana Highway (360) that features 600 hairpin turns and 54 one-lane bridges. Stop often to drink in the sheer natural beauty that surrounds you: bamboo jungles, tropical flowers, tranquil ponds and scenic vistas.

Tip: If you are prone to motion sickness, this may not be the activity for you.

5 Tips For a More Enjoyable Journey

1) Plan to spend the entire day in Hana

Leave early in the morning and don’t rush. Like a fine wine, Hana is an experience you’ll want to savor.

2) Let Locals Pass

While you’ll want to bask in every postcard-perfect moment on the way to Hana, be sure to pull over on occasion and let the local drivers pass (they’ve seen it all before, and they probably just want to hurry home).

3) Don’t Go Empty Handed

We recommend packing a light jacket, sunscreen, snacks, drinking water, insect repellent and spending money.

4) Take a Motion Sickness Pill

This is a warning, if you get car sick, you probably won’t like this drive.

5) Hike at Haleakala Park

A 30-40 minute drive past Hana brings you to the bottom Eastern side of Haleakala National Park with several hiking choices including our favorite: Pipiwai Trail.

Bamboo forest Hana

Past Hana you can journey through the mystical bamboo forest at Haleakala National Park

Located on the eastern tip of the island, Hana is Hawaii’s very own Garden of Eden—an unspoiled tropical oasis teeming with shimmering waterfalls, fragrant flowers and breathtaking cliffs. It is said that Hana was discovered by Maui, the mischievous demi-god who delighted in watching the misty rains roll off the ocean and sprinkle the area with rainbows. When Maui’s daughter was born, he named her after his favorite vision: Noenoe Ua Kea O Hana, or “the misty, light rain of Hana.” Mark Twain, Jack London and Charles Lindbergh are among the luminaries who fell in love with Hana’s charms. Lindbergh, in fact, is buried on a seacliff near the Hoomau stone church in Kipahulu, just outside of Hana.

Skyview soaring Hana Coast

Make it through the windy roads and you’ll reach a little place of Maui heaven known as Hana.

The adventure doesn’t end once you reach Hana’s sleepy village.

Head to Hana Bay and have a picnic lunch. Take a sightseeing trip on horseback or visit the Hana Cultural Center, which includes Hawaiian artifacts, photographs, and even an old courthouse and jail. And don’t forget to visit the famous Hasegawa’s General Store and purchase the obligatory “I Survived the Road to Hana” T-shirt. (Hey, you deserve it!)

People often say, “It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey.” And while that may indeed be true, when it comes to traveling the long, scenic road to Hana, we think the destination is pretty worthwhile, too.


Hawaiian Flower Leis

Giving a lei is a simple but lovely gesture

Sometimes the old traditions are still the best traditions. Want an example? Even in this age of high-tech gadgets and cleverly packaged products, few gifts are as meaningful—and heartfelt—as a fresh flower lei.

What It Means

A floral lei says “I care about you.” It’s a personal expression of love, kindness and appreciation,” says Emily of the Hawaii Flower Lei company. “Giving a lei is a very simple but lovely gesture. It’s a gift of aloha.”

In Hawaii, leis are presented for almost any special occasion, including birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, luaus and farewell parties. Go to any high school or college graduation in the islands and you’ll see teary-eyed seniors draped with these colorful and fragrant garlands—the stacks of leis often reach the top of their heads!


Most historians trace the origin of lei giving to Hawaii’s earliest settlers, who brought flowering plants to be used, in part, as items for adornment. The ancient Hawaiians even presented leis to their gods during solemn religious ceremonies. Farmers of the day adorned themselves with leis to receive divine blessings upon their crops, and expectant mothers wore them to take advantage of their life-symbolizing mana (power).

May Day

The most visible celebration of the flower lei takes place each May 1, otherwise known as “Lei Day.” This annual cultural festival was founded by the late Don Blanding, the famous poet, author and artist whose love affair with the Hawaiian islands is still in full bloom with every Lei Day event.

Hawaii Flower Lei

The most visible celebration of the flower lei takes place each May 1, otherwise known as “Lei Day.”

Like everything else, floral leis have evolved with time. There are still the familiar favorites, including plumeria, ginger, orchid, ilima and carnation leis. But new lei styles and fashions are continually being introduced. Visit a lei stand in Chinatown in Honolulu to see the amazing variety of lei creations now available.

Make Your Own

Lei-making classes are available at many hotels and resorts in Hawaii. You’ll be able to string a fresh flower lei to bring home as a souvenir. For a more lasting memento, you may elect to create a non-flower lei, including one made with kukui nuts, seashells or dried leaves. Most floral leis last only a day, although the more hardy ones can last a few days if they’re refrigerated after every use.

Foster Botanical Garden

Listen to the sounds in the Foster Botanical Garden


Looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Honolulu? Just a few blocks removed from Honolulu’s business district is one of Oahu‘s best-kept secrets: Foster Botanical Garden, a serene oasis full of beautiful plants from tropical regions around the globe.

Set on nearly 14 acres, Foster Botanical Garden has one of the nation’s largest collections of tropical plants—about 10,000 species in all, including rare and endangered varieties. Highlights include a lovely orchid garden; rare and endangered trees (some of which are extinct in the wild); an herb garden; a prehistoric garden (spotlighting primitive plants from around the world); and an impressive “economic garden,” which features plants that are used for food, medicine, fabrics and dyes.


The garden originated in 1853, when Queen Kalama leased a small patch of land to a young German doctor named William Hillebrand. An avid botanist as well as physician, Hillebrand and his wife built a home in the upper terrace area of the present garden. After some 20 years in Hawaii, he returned to Germany and produced a lengthy dissertation titled Flora of the Hawaiian Islands.

Foster's Botanical Garden

Foster’s Botanical Garden is a serene oasis full of beautiful plants from tropical regions around the globe

Later, the property was sold to Thomas and Mary Foster, who added to surroundings. Upon Mrs. Foster’s death in 1930, the 5.5-acre site was bequeathed to the City & County of Honolulu as a public garden. Foster Botanical Garden opened to the public in November 1931 with Doctor Harold Lyon as is first director. (Dr. Lyon introduced 10,000 new types of trees and plants to the Islands over a span of 27 years.)


The garden was placed on the Hawaii Register of Historic Places in 1988 and served as the setting for several Hollywood films and TV shows. To preserve the garden’s historic collection, visitors are not allowed to pick any part of a growing plant or remove any plant material from the garden.


Foster Botanical Garden is located at 50 North Vineyard Boulevard in downtown Honolulu. Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. (Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.) Guided tours are offered Monday through Friday at 1 p.m., and by appointment.

Nuuanu Pali State Park

The Nuuanu Pali Lookout is a perennial favorite stop among visitors to Oahu. The panoramic views of the Windward side of the island from this expansive cliff will blow you away.

Just make sure the winds don’t blow you away, too.

The Nuuanu Pali Lookout


Located at Nuuanu Pali State Park, the lookout overlooks the 985-foot cliffs of the Koolau Mountain Range. (Translated, “pali” means “cliffs.”) And yes, it is extremely windy. The trade winds blow through the valley between the high mountains on either side, forming a strong wind tunnel of sorts. On extra windy days, you can even lean into the wind and let the gusts hold you up.


The Nuuanu Pali was the setting for one of the most significant battles in Hawaiian history. In 1795, Kamehameha I and his army invaded Oahu, arriving in an imposing fleet of war canoes at Waikiki Beach. The Oahu warriors were led by Kalanikupule, the alii nui (chief) of Maui and Oahu.

Nuuanu Pali State Park

The Nuuanu Pali State Park is a perennial favorite stop among visitors to Oahu

Kamehameha’s army marched to Nuuanu Valley to face Kalanikupule’s troops. The ensuing battle was fierce, bloody and unrelenting. Gradually, Kamehameha’s men gained an advantage, forcing Kalanikupule’s forces to retreat further up the valley. The Oahuans attempted to make a final stand, but Kamehameha’s army was too strong. Thousands of Kalanikupule’s men were pursued and driven over the steep cliffs to their deaths. It’s said that the victory was so complete that not a single Oahu warrior that got into the upper part of the valley escaped alive.

An engineering firm was hired in 1897 to build what is now the Old Pali Road, a winding road used to carry traffic across the mountains. During construction, workers found an estimated 800 human skulls and other human bones at the foot of the cliffs—the century-old remains of Kalanikupule’s slain warriors.


Today, Nuuanu Pali State Park is open daily (weather permitting) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, and there is ample free parking. A light jacket is recommended. Remove hats, caps or anything else that may be blown away by the winds. Take the H1 freeway (eastbound) from Waikiki, then take the Pali Highway, Route 61 via Nuuanu Pali Drive. Follow the signs to the lookout.


King Kamehameha Statue


King Kamehameha the Great (1756-1819) is perhaps Hawaii’s greatest historical figure. Born in the Kohala district of the Big Island, Kamehameha unified the Hawaiian islands under one rule and set the stage for the kingdom’s proud-but-turbulent monarchy period.


The King Kamehameha Statue pays tribute to Hawaii’s warrior king. In fact, there are four statues: one in downtown Honolulu, fronting the old Judiciary Building; another in Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. and the original statue at the king’s birthplace in Kapaau on the Big Island, and a 14-foot, five-ton statue in Hilo.

Statue Information

American sculptor Thomas R. Gould was commissioned by the kingdom of Hawaii to create the statue. Gould modeled the figure in his studio in Rome in 1879. A year later, it was cast in bronze in Paris and shipped from Germany. During its voyage to the Islands, however, the ship caught afire and sank off the Falkland Islands. A second statue was cast from the original mold and sent to Honolulu, where King Kalakaua dedicated it in 1883.

King Kamehameha

Every June 11 is Kamehameha Day, a state holiday

Standing eight and a half feet tall, the statue depicts Kamehameha in his royal garb, including a helmet of rare feathers and a gilded cloak. The spear in his left hand serves to symbolize the kingdom’s willingness and ability to defend itself from hostile nations. His right hand, however, is extended in a welcoming gesture of aloha.

The original statue was eventually recovered and brought to the Big Island. The statue in Washington D.C. was made from a mold taken of the Honolulu statue. It was dedicated as a gift to the National Statuary Hall collection in 1969. More recently, a fourth Kamehameha statue was erected in Hilo.

Kamehameha Day

Every June 11 is Kamehameha Day, a state holiday. Among the festivities is a late-afternoon lei-draping ceremony, where the Kamehameha statue is splendidly adorned with fresh flower leis of all types. Fragrant strands of yellow and pink plumeria are placed on the statue’s outstretched right arm. Garlands of royal ilima are hung around its neck. Signifying power and strength, a special lei made from braided ti leaves adorns the king’s spear.

Each of the statues serves as a fitting tribute to Hawaii’s greatest king, the “Napoleon of the Pacific” who unified the Hawaiian kingdom and ruled it for nearly a decade.

See what the Kamehameha statue looks like on camera

Kawaiahao Church


Kawaiahao Church in downtown Honolulu is widely known as the “Westminster Abbey of the Pacific.” Dedicated in 1842, this history-laden church is one of the most beloved structures in all of Hawaii.

A quick tour of Kawaiahao Church

The church itself traces its origin to 1820. On April 23rd, just three days after the first contingent of Christian missionaries arrived on Oahu, the Reverend Hiram Bingham gave his first sermon on Hawaiian soil. One of the Bible passages he shared was from the Book of Luke: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

The missionaries endured an arduous five-month journey from Boston, Massachusetts. Their trip was inspired by Henry Opukahaia, a Hawaiian convert who studied at Cornwall Mission School in Connecticut. It was Opukahaia’s dream to bring Christianity to the Hawaiian people. He never got to see his dream realized, however; he died of typhus in 1818, at the age of 26.

The congregation’s initial houses of worship consisted of four huts made from pili grass. Finally, in 1836, King Kamehameha III called a meeting of chiefs to develop plans for a new stone church. Bingham himself contributed to the design. Construction work began a year later.

The Church

Kawaiahao Church

Construction workers collected wood from their own lands and hand-carried coral reef rocks from the ocean

It took five years and the labor of more than a thousand men to build the church. They collected wood from their own lands and hand-carried coral reef rocks from the ocean. It’s estimated that more than 14,000 stones were used, including a half-ton boulder cut from a ledge in Waianae and brought to the island’s southern coast by canoe.

Many members of Hawaiian royalty are a part of the church’s rich history. It was at Kawaiahao Church in 1843 that Kamehameha III uttered the phrase that would become Hawaii’s official motto: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono” (“The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”). The church was also the site of King Kamehameha IV’s coronation as well as his wedding to Queen Emma.


Today, Kawaiahao remains one of the few remaining churches in Hawaii to offer services in the Hawaiian language. The church is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places.


Hiking Diamond Head

Diamond Head from Waikiki

Photo by: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

The World’s Most Recognized Volcanic Crater

Visitors travel thousands of miles to get a first-hand glimpse of Diamond Head crater, one of Hawaii’s most recognized icons. Having hiked Diamond Head several times, I’ve never heard anyone say that it wasn’t worth the effort. The usual response, in fact, is just the opposite: “Wow! I’m glad we did this!” There’s just something empowering about walking up the side of an extinct volcano. More than 3,500 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit, Diamond Head in Waikiki is perhaps the world’s most recognized volcanic crater. It is a lasting remnant of a volcanic explosion that occurred about 500,000 years ago. Ancient Hawaiians called it Laeahi, which translates to “brow of the tuna.” The name “Diamond Head” can be traced to the 1800s, when British sailors mistakenly thought there were diamonds lodged in the crater’s soil. The “diamonds” turned out to be calcite crystals embedded in the lava rock.

Tip: Go in the early morning or late afternoon if you want to avoid potential crowds.

The 0.7-mile hike up Diamond Head is considered a moderate climb.

It’ll take about an hour to reach the summit, and half that time for the return. The trail climbs the inside slope of Diamond Head for about 0.6 miles. It’s a switchback trail with the mountain on one side and a railing on the other. After a lookout point that doubles as a rest stop, the trail takes a steep upward ascent through a series of stairs and tunnels. The last set of stairs is a 99-step climb—just take it slow and steady—that eventually leads to a World War II bunker. From there, the stairs reach an end and you step up to some of the finest panoramic views on Oahu. Take a short walk around and savor the moment. On a clear day, you see forever. Standing atop the lookout, viewing Oahu’s entire leeward side, feeling the trade winds and hearing waves crashing far below, one can’t help but feel humbled to be on this glorious island.

Diamond Head Summit

At the top of Diamond Head is a legend pointing out Oahu’s landmarks.


Park hours are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.


There are no facilities at the summit.


Bring a bottle of water and sunscreen—and don’t forget your camera.



Mission Houses Museum


When Reverend Hiram Bingham and the first group of Christian missionaries to Hawaii arrived in the Islands in 1820, few people could predict the impact they would have on the native culture and environment. Lucretia Bingham, the great-great granddaughter of Reverend Bingham, once wrote in ALOHA Magazine: “Rarely has such a small group exerted so much influence over an established culture.”

Many people believe the missionaries made significant contributions to the Islands, while others believe that they caused irreparable harm.

Mission House Museum

The structures that make up the museum are the oldest surviving Western-style buildings in Hawaii


To gain a better understanding of what life was like for these missionaries, visit the Mission Houses Museum in downtown Honolulu. The museum tells the story of cultural change in 19th-century Hawaii and details the daily life and work of the missionaries. On display are original artifacts such as clothing, furnishings, books and other household items belonging to the missionary families.

The structures that make up the museum were built between 1821 and 1841, making them the oldest surviving Western-style buildings in Hawaii. The white Frame House served as the residence of several prominent missionaries. The Chamberlain House was used as a storehouse and separate home. And the Printing Office housed the first printing press in the Pacific. This printing press brought literacy to the Hawaiian kingdom. (Tidbit for trivia buffs: The first printed sheet in Hawaii was produced on January 7, 1922. Oahu Chief Keeaumoku was given the privilege of pulling the lever.)

The museum also boasts an impressive exhibit of Hawaiian quilts. Quilt making in Hawaii evolved from foreign influences on the traditional Hawaiian fiber arts. Today, Hawaiian quilts are prized for their beauty and craftsmanship.

The museum also has a gift shop that carries an extensive selection of Hawaii-related gift items and books.


The Mission Houses Museum is located at 533 South King Street in downtown Honolulu, near Kawaiahao Church, Iolani Palace and the Kamehameha Statue. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. House Tours are held Tuesday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.

Hawaii Transportation

There are many ways to get from place to place in Hawaii. From trolleys and taxicabs to one of America’s finest bus systems, you’ll find a number of convenient transportation options at your disposal.

Rental Cars

Most visitors get around by renting a car. Hawaii has all the major car rental companies, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Thrifty and others. Service desks are located at the airports and at major hotels.

Taxicabs are also available on the major islands.

InterIsland Travel

Island hopping is done via interisland airlines, primarily Hawaiian Airlines. Hawaiian Air is known for their great customer service, earning the #1 ranking in overall quality from the Airline Quality Rating study in 3 of the past 4 years. G0! Mokulele is another option that is generally a little less expensive, but you’re flying in a small aircraft and it can be a bumpy ride.

Resort Shuttles

Many resorts provide shuttle transportation within the area. Check your hotel concierge for more information.


On Oahu, many visitors choose to explore the islands via TheBus, the City & County of Honolulu’s award-winning bus system. TheBus was twice named “America’s Best Transit System” in the past decade (most recently in 2000-01). As a result, Reader’s Digest recently named TheBus to its “America’s 100 Best” list, which spotlighted people, places, inventions and ideas that make “the nation worth celebrating.”

Getting Around Hawaii

The City & County of Honolulu’s award-winning bus system; TheBus

“New York hauls the most people, and Chicago does a fine job of moving its citizens through wind, sleet and snow,” the magazine noted. “But TheBus, as it’s known in Oahu, has them beat.”

TheBus currently offers 93 routes serving the entire island. There are approximately 4,200 bus stops on Oahu. According to the City & County of Honolulu, TheBus travels approximately 21.5 million miles each year with a fleet of 535 buses. Weekday ridership is about 68 million annually.

Another popular option is the Waikiki Trolley, which takes passengers to a number of Oahu’s most popular visitor attractions, including the Waikiki Aquarium, King Kamehameha Statue, Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum and more. The open-air trolleys provide a pleasant way to get you from place to place. Full-day and four-day passes are available.


The Maui Bus Public Transit System provides service in and between Central, South, West, Haiku, and Upcountry Maui. The bus operates 7 days a week including holidays. You can view bus routes here.

In addition, the Maui Bus Commuter Service is designed to help with early morning and evening commuting. View commuter routes here.


The Kauai Bus provides service from Hanalei to Kekaha. Cost is $2. Monthly passes as well as discounts for children and seniors are available.

Big Island

The Hele-On Bus offers free islandwide passenger service on all scheduled routes.

There are no municipal bus services on Molokai or Lanai.

Historic Hulihee Palace

Once a royal retreat, today Hulihee Palace is a museum filled with historical treasures from Hawaii’s past.


The palace was built in 1838 under the direction of Big Island Governor John Adams Kuakini. The builders used native lava rock, coral lime mortar, and koa and ohia timbers to create this magnificent two-level structure, which includes an entry hall, parlor, dining room, sitting room and two bedrooms.

The palace originally served as the home of Governor Kuakini. Upon his death in 1844, it was passed to his adopted son, William Pitt Leleiohoku. Leleiohoku, however, died only a few months later, leaving the palace to his wife, Princess Ruth Keelikolani. During this time, the princess opened the home to Hawaii’s monarchs. Every Hawaiian monarch from Kamehameha III to Queen Liliuokalani spent a good part of each year at Hulihee.

Hulihee Palace

Hulihee Palace is a museum filled with historical treasures from Hawaii’s past


Treasures abound at Hulihee Palace: The second-floor sitting room is filled with traditional Victorian-style furnishings, oriental rugs and marble statues. The Kuhio Room features a large koa dining table that belonged to the Kalakaua family. The entry hall includes a striking bust of Kalakaua and several redwood pillars that the king acquired in California. The Kuakini Room contains artifacts from pre-Western contact through the Monarchy period. And Princess Ruth’s Bedroom features many of her favorite personal items.


In 1925, the palace was purchased by the Territory of Hawaii and turned over to the Daughters of Hawaii, an organization whose mission is “to perpetuate the memory and spirit of old Hawaii and of historic facts, and to preserve the nomenclature and correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian language.” The Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company sought to purchase the land under the palace to build an oceanfront hotel in Kailua-Kona, but the Daughters refused to give up the property.

Hulihee Palace was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1973.


Hulihee Palace is located at 75-5718 Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona. A nominal admission fee is charged. Admission to the palace grounds, the giftshop, and many concerts is free.  Museum hours are Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., plan on arriving by 2:30 p.m. to allow time to tour the palace. The museum is closed on major holidays.


Maui’s Best Theatrical Performance

The Honolulu Advertiser hailed it as “a feast for the senses…a yardstick by which future productions are measured.” Spirit of Aloha magazine called it “unlike anything that’s ever been presented in Hawaii.” And TravelAge West described it as “perhaps the most stirring theatrical experience in all the islands.”

“It” is Ulalena, an epic musical that explores the unique cultures, traditions and mythical history of Hawaii. Similar to Cirque du Soleil in its visual presentation, the show skillfully weaves lighting, dance, costume and music. The show’s name was derived from the Kumulipo, the Hawaiian creation chant. “Ulalena” refers to a wind associated with upcountry Maui as well as a rain that takes on the color of twilight in Haiku.

Ulalena begins with the first verse of the Kumulipo, which effectively sets the show’s theme. A lone man on a spiritual quest is shown carrying kaai (a woven burial basket used to hold the bones of ancient ruling chiefs) to an unknown place. Taro, a staple food in the Hawaiian culture, emerges from the ground, dancing its first breath of life.

Subsequent scenes highlight the first migrators from Tahiti, who used the stars to navigate their vessels as they pursued their vision of Pele, the goddess of fire; a group of men pounding poi from fresh taro roots in a village; the Makahiki, the annual celebration honoring Lono, the god of agriculture; the arrival of the first European explorers; the Hawaiian monarchy; and much more.

The live musical score is performed by musicians who use a variety of instruments, from brassy percussions to primitive bamboo nose flutes.

Even five years after its debut, Ulalena reigns as one of the state’s hottest entertainment attractions. The 75-minute production features more than 20 professional performers from Hawaii and includes contributions by Island entertainment legends Keola Beamer, Nona Beamer and the late “Auntie” Irmgard Aluli.


Ulalena is staged at the $10-million, 684-seat Maui Myth & Magic Theatre in Lahaina. The venue was built especially for the production. Ulalena is presented five nights a week by Cove Entertainment and ARRA-Maui.

City of Refuge


In ancient times, Hawaiians lived under strict laws. Commoners could not get too close to the chief, nor were they allowed to touch any of his possessions, walk in his footsteps or even let their shadows touch the royal grounds. The penalty for violating a sacred kapu (taboo) was death.

Breaking a kapu was believed to incur the wrath of the gods. Hawaiians often chased down an offender and swiftly put him to death unless he could reach a puuhonua, or place of refuge. There he could be absolved by a kahuna (priest) in a purification ceremony, then return home with his transgression forgiven. Defeated warriors and non-combatants could also find refuge here during times of battle.


Puuhonua O Honaunau on the Big Island of Hawaii is the most famous and best preserved of Hawaii’s ancient places of refuge. Designated a national historical park in 1961, this 182-acre site includes the puuhonua and a complex of archeological sites, including temple platforms, royal fishponds, sledding tracks and some coastal village sites. Join more than 375,000 visitors each year and immerse yourself in the rich history of the area and discover intriguing facts about the early Hawaiians’ way of life.


At the park, you’ll encounter canoe builders constructing an outrigger canoe the way it was built in ancient times. There are demonstrations of traditional Hawaiian games, including spear throwing competitions. Examine a massive L-shaped wall, built around 1550 from thousands of lava rocks, which separated the chief’s home from the puuhonua. Inside this 1,000-foot-long wall are fine examples of temples and homes of old Hawaii.

City of Refuge

Puuhonua O Honaunau is the most famous and best preserved of Hawaii’s ancient places of refuge

Hikers can follow a trail that winds along the coast for about a mile to the park boundary. The trail includes several archeological sites, including heiau (temples) and sledding tracks.


Orientation talks are provided several times a day at the park’s amphitheater. On the last weekend of June, the park holds its annual cultural festival with hula performances, Hawaiian games, and arts and crafts demonstrations. Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park is open daily.


Samoan Fire Knife Dance

A Little Sizzle with my Luau

The Samoan fire knife dance is more than a popular spectacle that adds sizzle to a Hawaiian luau. It’s a tradition that has been passed from generation to generation, with each adding a new layer of style, boldness and skill.


Letuli Olo Misilagi was the first man to add fire to the traditional Samoan ailao, or knife dance. The ailao, a fierce traditional dance that involves the twirling of the nifo oti (war knife), was a pre-war ritual in Samoa used to psyche up warriors.

In his recently published book, Flaming Sword of Samoa: The Story of the Samoan Fire Knife Dance (2004, Watermark Publishing), Letuli revealed how he got the idea to add fire to his knife dance routine. “(In 1946), I was asked to perform my knife dance at a Shriners Convention in San Francisco,” he wrote. “A number of entertainers were practicing their routines at Golden State Park. Among them was a Hindu man named Abe Sing, who rehearsed his fire eating routine. There was also a young girl practicing her baton twirling, and the baton had light bulbs attached to each end.

“I stared at the fire-eater, then the baton twirler. The baton twirler, then the fire-eater. And just like that, I had an idea to add sizzle’ to my fire knife dance.”

Letuli died in July 2003 in Honolulu during the writing of the book. The “father” of the Samoan Fire Knife Dance was 84. Flaming Sword of Samoa is available at Hawaii bookstores as well as through the publisher.

Samoan Fire Knife Dance

The Samoan fire knife dance is a show-stopping staple in Polynesian revues or luaus

Today, of course, the Samoan fire knife dance is a show-stopping staple in Polynesian revues or luaus. There are fire knife dance competitions held throughout the Pacific, including the annual World Fire Knife Dance Competition at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) on Oahu.

Each May, competitors from around the world gather on the island’s North Shore to display their fire knife skills. There’s even a Junior World Fire Knife Competition, which spotlights youngsters ranging in ages from 12 to 17.

Says event founder Pulefano Galeai, “This unique event combines great athletic skill, unflinching bravery and ever-present danger to bring out the best in these competitors. It’s exciting to see the culture of Samoa take center stage with participation from people around the world.”

Oahu Shopping


For visitors, Hawaii’s shopping scene has evolved over the years from friendly tourist traps selling tacky souvenirs—although admittedly there’s something endearing about those “I Got Lei’d in Hawaii” T-shirts—to malls and shopping centers that offer the complete shop-till-you-drop experience.

For most people, the island of Oahu is Hawaii’s shopping capital, offering everything from big box retailers and upscale boutiques to unique specialty stores and outlet shops.

Oahu Shopping

The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center offers more than 150 shops and restaurants

Shopping Centers

Great shopping adventures are available right in Waikiki. Located on Kalakaua Avenue, the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center offers more than 150 shops and restaurants. Here you’ll find retailers offering a variety of merchandise, from small kiosks peddling Hawaiian mementos to world-famous boutiques like Cartier, Hermes and Fendi. The shopping center also offers hands-on craft demonstrations and live entertainment.

Across the street is the International Market Place, an open-air shopping bazaar with more than 130 vendors offering jewelry, apparel, souvenirs and novelty items. The kiosks, stands and shops surround a century-old banyan tree. Also located here is the International Food Court, which serves a variety of local and ethnic foods. Free entertainment is provided five nights a week.

King’s Village in Waikiki includes about 45 shops and eateries. A favorite tradition here is the “Changing of the King’s Guard” ceremony. Wearing exact replicas of uniforms worn by King Kalakaua’s Hawaiian Royal Palace Guard in 1875, the King’s Guard performs an amazing rifle drill exhibition each day at 6:15 p.m. The show is free to the public.

Oahu Shopping Adventure

The largest and most well known shopping venue on Oahu is Ala Moana Center

The largest and most well known shopping venue on Oahu is Ala Moana Center in Honolulu. Included here are major department stores such as Sears, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus, as well as more than 220 other shops and restaurants. In addition, 20 new stores and restaurants are slated to open at the center by spring 2005. Live entertainment is presented daily at the mall’s Center Stage.

A short walk from Ala Moana is the Victoria Ward Centers, a lively shopping complex that includes Ward Warehouse, Ward Centre, Ward Village, Ward Gateway, Ward Farmer’s Market and the Ward Entertainment Center. Ward Centers offers more than 140 shops and restaurants, and a 16-screen, state-of-the-art megaplex.

Located at historic Honolulu Harbor is the Aloha Tower Marketplace, home to numerous specialty stores, kiosks and restaurants. Crafts, Hawaiiana, artwork, gift items and souvenirs are among the many types of merchandise to be found here. The centerpiece is the 10-story Aloha Tower, once the tallest building in the state. Visitors can take the elevator to the top floor and enjoy sweeping views of the harbor and downtown Honolulu.

Heading toward Leeward Oahu, visit the Waikele Premium Outlets, a favorite stop for bargain-hunters. More than 25 stores and restaurants are here, including Banana Republic Factory Store, Bebe, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Kenneth Cole, Mikasa, Off 5th-Saks Fifth Avenue, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and more.


Take a tour of the Ala Moana Shopping Center

Magic of Polynesia

There’s nothing really magical about John Hirokawa’s rise to the top of Hawaii’s entertainment scene. His success is no illusion, either. It’s all a product of the Wahiawa-born showman’s lifelong passion for making the impossible possible—right before our very eyes.

Get a sneak peek of the Magic of Polynesia


Hirokawa, who stars in the award-winning Magic of Polynesia dinner show at the Waikiki Beachcomber, started doing magic at an early age. “My mom and I would go to the library and borrow magic books,” he recalled in an interview with ALOHA Magazine. “She would read the instructions and teach me the tricks.”

At the age of eight, Hirokawa began taking magic lessons at the now-defunct Magic & Novelty Center in Honolulu. Before long, he found himself working with an illusionist who’s now known across the world: David Copperfield. At the time (mid-1970s), Copperfield was performing at the Pagoda Hotel, and Hirokawa became his warm-up act.

“By working beside him and learning, I had no choice but to become a professional magician at an early age,” said Hirokawa.

By the time he was 16, Hirokawa was established enough to earn numerous accolades, including winning he junior division of the prestigious Federation International des Societes Magiques in Belgium.


Today, Magic of Polynesia is a mesmerizing showcase for Hirokawa’s wizardry. Equal parts magic, Hawaiiana, humor and downright fun, the show includes hula and chant performances as well as Hirokawa’s world-class illusions. Audiences gasp in awe as the gifted showman makes objects (and people) vanish and reappear. His escape artist feats are nothing short of spectacular.

As a Honolulu Star-Bulletin critic put it, “Hirokawa delivers a first-class show. Handsome, trim and buff enough to go shirtless at one point in the show, he is an appealing and engaging star who proves himself an entertainer as well as a master illusionist.”

In 2004, Hirokawa received the prestigious International Magicians Society Merlin Award for the “Most Original” magic show.


Hawaii Super Stars

From the entertainment industry to the sports world, Hawaii has always contributed its share of superstars. Don Ho is a show business legend. The great Duke Kahanamoku put the Islands on the sports map. Bette Midler and Jim Nabors have earned their own stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Don Ho performing

Don Ho is one of Hawaii’s superstars

Rising Stars

Hawaii’s galaxy of celebrities, however, also includes several rising stars who are currently carving their own path to success. They aren’t legends—yet—but time is on their side. Here’s a look at a few of Hawaii’s best and brightest young talents.

Jasmine Trias

Jasmine Trias admits her life was forever changed after her amazing run on TV’s phenomenally successful “American Idol.” Trias, a 17-year-old Mililani resident who recently graduated from Maryknoll High School in Honolulu, probably never imagined rubbing elbows with the likes of Elton John, Barry Manilow and Gloria Estefan. Nor did she envision Hawaii Lieutenant Governor James Aiona proclaiming last May 13 as “Jasmine Trias Day.”

Jasmine Trias amazing run on “American Idol”

Trias was among the final three contestants on “American Idol 3,” charming millions of TV viewers with her vocal talents and stage presence. What’s next? No doubt, a major recording contract is in her future. “Anything’s possible,” she told one local reporter. “I didn’t think I could make a career out of this, but I remembered to never give up and always try your best.”

Jerome Williams

Jerome Williams pitching

Jerome Williams is the Giants “Top Prospect”

Jerome Williams has come a long way from his days at Waipahu High School, a public school in Leeward Oahu. The gifted athlete is now a starting pitcher with the San Francisco Giants, sharing the field with a future Hall of Famer by the name of Barry Bonds.

Born December 4, 1981, Williams made his Major League debut in 2003 and posted a 7-5 record. Baseball America named him as the Giants’ “Top Prospect” prior to the 2002 season.

Even with his “big league” career, Williams hasn’t forgotten his roots. He wears a Hawaiian puka shell necklace during games in memory of his mother, who died in 2001 from breast cancer. The Giants have even sold puka shell necklaces at home games, with proceeds benefiting breast cancer research.

Hoku Ho

Hoku Ho and dad performing

“Daddy’s Girl”

For a certain legendary Hawaii entertainer, Hoku Ho will always be “daddy’s girl.” But Ho is more than Don Ho’s daughter. the 23-year-old singer and actress proved that with her Top 30 single, “Another Dumb Blonde,” which was featured in the 2000 film, Snow Day. Her debut CD, Hoku, was also released in 2000.

Expect more exciting projects from Hoku in the future. Still, there’s no doubt who’d get top billing if she and her dad appear in concert together. “Are you kidding?” she told a local reporter. “Definitely Dad—he’s Don Ho!”

Michelle Wie

Many golf experts will say that Michelle Wie has already earned superstar status. The young prodigy is already one of the top attractions in women’s golf, and she’s held her own playing against the top pros on the men’s tour. And the scary thing is, she’s only 14.

Born in Honolulu on October 11, 1989, Wie took up golf when she was only four. At the age of 10, she became the youngest player ever to qualify for the USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. In 2003, at the age of 13, she won the event. In the spring of 2004, the Punahou School freshman won the Laureus Newcomer Award, beating out other nominees including basketball superstar LeBron James.

Wie continues to set high goals for herself, including beating Tiger Woods head-to-head or playing in the sport’s grandest event: The Masters. “These are really long-term goals, and that’s what makes me work harder,” she has said. “I think if you put your goals really high, that makes you practice harder.”

Jason Momoa

Hawaii has always been close to Jason Momoa’s heart, even while growing up in Norwalk, Iowa. The Honolulu-born model-turned-actor spent many summers in the Islands. “My dad gave me the aloha spirit,” he recalled to a local reporter. “He’s a big water man, and we’d paddle, surf and go boogie boarding.”

Now, at age 24, Momoa is riding the waves of Hollywood success. He landed a recurring role on the syndicated series, “Baywatch Hawaii” and starred in “Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding.” More recently, he made his movie debut with Johnson Family Vacation, starring Cedric the Entertainer, Vanessa Williams and Steve Harvey.

Momoa also starred in the Fox hit series, “North Shore.” Momoa played the role of Frankie Seau.

Brian Viloria

Although he’s small in height and weight, professional boxer Brian Viloria is a giant in the ring. Nicknamed the “Hawaiian Punch,” the 2000 Olympian and NABF Flyweight champion is on the verge of a world title shot. It’s just a matter of time.

Viloria, who grew up in Waipahu on the island of Oahu, has a professional record of 15-0 with nine knockouts. His exciting style and punching power has made him a headliner on several ESPN2 fight cards.

Hawaii has a proud line of world-class fighters, from Carl “Bobo” Olson to Andy Ganigan and Jesus Salud. And although he’s only 5’4″ and 112 pounds, Brian Viloria could very well be Hawaii’s “next big thing” in boxing.

Big Island Volcanoes

Get an up close and personal view of a lava flow

Pele, Goddess of Fire

Legends say that the Big Island of Hawaii is the home of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. Using fiery lava, Pele shaped and formed her beloved islands. Ancient Hawaiians paid their respects to the goddess by presenting offerings to please her or placate her wrath.

Pele, perhaps, lives on in the form of Hawaii’s five volcanoes. One is extinct, another is dormant and the remaining three are categorized as active.


The oldest is Kohala Volcano, which is believed to have emerged from the sea more than 500,000 years ago. Over the centuries, lava flows from its two neighbors, the much larger Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes, have buried a portion of Kohala. Today, Kohala is considered to be an extinct volcano.

Mauna Kea is the tallest of Hawaii’s volcanoes; in fact, standing at 13,796 feet, it is the world’s tallest mountain (measured from the floor of the ocean to its summit). Mauna Kea is considered a dormant volcano, having last erupted about 4,500 years ago.

Hualalai on the Big Island’s western side is the third-youngest of the island’s volcanoes. The 1700s, scientists say, were a period of significant volcanic activity for Hualalai, with six different vents spewing lava, two of which produced lava flows that reached the ocean. The Kona International Airport is build atop the larger of the two flows.

Big Island Volcano

A lava flow that has reached the ocean

Mauna Loa

Extending from the Big Island’s northwest region near Waikoloa to the entire southwest and to the east near Hilo, Mauna Loa (“Long Mountain”) covers about half of the island. It is the world’s largest volcano. It’s also considered one of the most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times since 1843. Its most recent eruption occurred in 1984. Scientists believe that Mauna Loa is certain to erupt again.


Finally, there is Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. It has been spewing lava continuously since January 1983. Situated near the southeastern section of the Big Island, Kilauea was once considered a part of Mauna Loa. Subsequent research, however, showed that Kilauea has its own magma-plumbing system

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Big Island’s top visitor attraction, offers a wealth of information about the island’s volcanoes. With over half the acreage designated as wilderness, the park provides great hiking and camping opportunities.



Hawaii Dinner Cruises

The views are just one reason why dinner cruises are such a popular activity in Hawaii. From sumptuous cuisine to stellar entertainment, a lavish dinner cruise can provide a memorable way to culminate your Hawaiian stay.

Hawaii Dinner Cruise

The views are just one reason why dinner cruises are such a popular activity in Hawaii


For Oahu visitors, few sights are more beautiful or romantic than a Waikiki sunset—and being on the water only adds to the experience. Most Oahu dinner cruises set sail from Honolulu Harbor and glide along the waters off Waikiki and Diamond Head. As the sun dips below the horizon, the Honolulu skyline comes alive with millions of sparkling lights—it’s a spectacle that can only be seen from offshore.


The island of Kauai also offers a good number of dinner cruises. Sailing adventures from Poipu, for example, take visitors on a scenic trip along the Garden Isle’s southern coast. Or enjoy a sail from Port Allen Small Boat Harbor on Kauai’s west side, with Makena Ridge serving as a glorious backdrop.


Maui dinner cruises depart from either Lahaina in West Maui or Maalaea in South Maui. Excursions along the island’s south coast offer Mount Haleakala as a backdrop, while Lahaina cruises spotlight the West Maui mountains and the brilliant lights of lively Lahaina Town.

Big Island

On the Big Island of Hawaii, few dining adventures are more spectacular than a sunset sail along the Kona coastline, with 13,679-foot Mauna Loa volcano providing a majestic backdrop.


Some cruises offer gourmet meals worthy of Hawaii’s finest restaurants. Of course, with a dinner cruise, the focus isn’t really on the food; you’re paying for the overall experience. Similarly, the onboard entertainment is a highlight for some visitors, and practically ignored by others. (Understandably, even the best performers may find it difficult to compete with the scenic views from the deck.) Some boats are large enough to provide dance floors.

The NFL Pro Bowl


NFL Pro Bowl 2009


For hardcore football fans, it doesn’t get much better than the NFL Pro Bowl. And for the NFL players themselves, there’s no better place to hold this all-star game than Honolulu, Oahu.

As perennial Pro Bowl player and future Hall of Famer Reggie White once noted, “I can’t imagine (the game) ever being played anywhere else.”

The Pro Bowl is the National Football League’s all-star showcase pitting top stars from the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC). Held the week after the Super Bowl, the nationally televised exhibition has been played in Honolulu since 1980.


For Hawaii sports fans, the Pro Bowl is a chance to see football’s finest performers perform at 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium in Halawa. The list of past MVPs reads like a “who’s who: in the sport’s all-time annals: Lee Roy Selmon, Kellen Winslow, Dan Fouts, Joe Theismann, Phil Simms, Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Marshall Faulk, Randy Moss, Rich Gannon and others.

NFL Pro Bowl

For Hawaii sports fans, the Pro Bowl is a chance to see football’s finest performers perform

Other players who have participated include gridiron legends like Walter Payton, Lawrence Taylor, Howie Long, Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson, Mike Singletary, Marcus Allen, Earl Campbell, Herschel Walker, Steve Young, Brett Favre, Joe Montana and more.


The games are usually high-scoring affairs. The 2004 contest, for example, the NFC defeated the AFC in a 55-52 thriller. Marc Bulger of the St. Louis Rams was the game’s MVP, throwing a Pro Bowl record four touchdown passes.

The game itself is the climax to a weeklong slate of special Pro Bowl events. There are also autograph signings, special appearances by the NFL cheerleaders, Pro Bowl parties and other activities for the public.

Every few years or so, there’s talk of letting another U.S. city host the Pro Bowl. Ask the people who participate in the event, however, and they’ll say the game belongs in the Aloha State.

“We enjoy being around the people of Oahu,” Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid told a Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter. “If the NFL came back here every year, I think there would be a lot of people, in particular the players, who would be happy.”

Added New York Jets center Kevin Mawae, who is part Hawaiian: “If God could make someplace this beautiful, think heaven is like.”


Lahaina Town

Lahaina skyview

Aerial of Lahaina Town and harbor

Not counting the beaches, Lahaina is the most visited spot on Maui.

Although the days of rowdy sailors roaming the streets are long gone, Lahaina hasn’t lost any of its zest for life. As the only town on Maui with a competent menu of nightlife options, Lahaina is where you can find the action.

Lahaina is nestled between the calm waters of the Auau Channel facing the island of Lanai and the verdant peaks and valleys of the West Maui Mountain Range.The town is perched on the western edge of Maui and is known as the gateway to the pristine beach resorts of Kapalua and Kaanapali which are located just to the north. Lahaina Town hosts some two million visitors a year. A little more than 9,118  people reside within the town’s 5.8 square miles.

Hawaiian Capital

The first Polynesian settlers arrived at Lahaina more than a thousand years ago, no doubt attracted by the area’s abundant freshwater streams, lush valleys, pleasing climate and bountiful sea. In 1710, Kamehameha I made Lahaina his seat of government. From 1820 to 1845 Lahaina served as the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom under King Kamehameha III (the son of King Kamehameha I). His palace was located near the center of town on Mokuula, a one-acre island in a fishpond.

Whaling Town

During much of the 19th century, Lahaina served as a bustling whaling port. During the peak years of the mid-1800s, more than 400 ships a year dropped anchor in Lahaina for supplies and recreation. The sailors’ bawdy behavior often put them at odds with the missionaries who lived and worked in Lahaina. This dramatic clash of wills came to a head in 1927, when the island’s governor arrested the captain of the John Palmer for allowing women to board his ship. The crew retaliated with a round of cannonballs shot at the home of William Richards, Lahaina’s first Protestant missionary.


After the whaling industry died out, Lahaina turned to growing sugar as its primary industry. In the 1970s, the town enjoyed another resurgence, this time as a lively tourist destination.

Today Lahaina still retains a great deal of its historic past, though Lahaina’s ports are now filled with pleasure craft as well as whale watching and fishing boats that allow tourists to enjoy the ocean as much as the land. Lahaina’s Front Street is the center of activity, and part of the downtown area has been declared a National Historic Landmark due to its rich history.

Seaside Lahaina Town

Seaside Lahaina Town has something for everyone

Front Street

Front Street is the town’s main thoroughfare. The many restaurants, pubs, shops and art galleries make Front Street a great place to stroll and people watch. Lahaina gets absolutely crazy on October 31, when the Mardi Gras-style “Halloween in Lahaina” welcomes thousands of costumed revelers to her streets.

Lahaina front street

Lahaina’s Front Street is where most of the action takes place

Notable Buildings

The most notable buildings in Lahaina’s historic district are the 1859 Courthouse, the 1836 Baldwin House (home to early missionaries), and the Old Prison (Hale Paahao) built in the 1930s. Other notable historic structures include the Pioneer Hotel originally constructed in 1901, and Maria Lanakila Catholic Church built in 1858.

The Hokoji Shingon Mission is a historic Japanese Buddhist temple. The famous Banyan Tree Square has as its centerpiece the renown Banyan Tree that was planted in 1873 as a memorial to the first arrival of missionaries fifty years earlier. This is also the location of the 1832 Lahaina Fort that is now a reconstruction of the ruins. This historic Wainee Church (now called Waiola) includes a cemetery with graves of Hawaiian royalty dating back to 1823.


The climate of Lahaina is typically very sunny and dry, helping to explain the town’s name which means “cruel sun.” Rainfall in Lahaina is only about 13 inches annually.

Ulalena – Musical Extravaganza

A relatively new addition to Lahaina is the talk of Maui: Held at the 700-seat Maui Theatre, Ulalena is an award-winning musical extravaganza with more than 20 professional performers. TravelAge West praised the show as “perhaps the most stirring theatrical experience in all the Islands.”

A Must See! A moving depiction of Hawai’i's history, people and traditions. Experience Hawai’i's culture!


Captain Cook Monument

Capt. Cook Monument, Big Island

No doubt, Captain James Cook was a man of great ambition.

His life’s goal, the famed voyager once wrote, was to journey not only “further than any man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.”

Captain Cook Monument

A monument to Captain Cook stands at Kealakekua Bay. The inscription reads, “In memory of the great circumnavigator, Captain James Cook, R.N., who discovered these islands on the 10th of January, A.D. 1778 and fell near this spot on the 14th of February, A.D. 1779.”

The Life Of Captain James Cook

Born on October 27, 1728 in Marton, England, Cook began his career at the age of 18 on a coal transport ship on the Baltic Sea. During England’s war with the French in 1755, he enlisted as an Able Seaman on the Eagle. He was promoted to Master’s Mate within a month, and four years later found himself at the helm of his own ship.

Cook’s three Pacific major voyages helped provide his country with unprecedented information about the Pacific Ocean and the people who inhabited its islands. His third exploration of the Pacific resulted in his “discovery” of the Hawaiian islands.

Cook and his crew departed Plymouth on July 12, 1776 in the Resolution and the Discovery. The primary goal of the trip was to determine whether there was a northwest passage above the North American continent. Cook sailed around Africa and made stops at Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti on the way north. He named Christmas Island and passed by the Hawaiian islands, then sailed up the Alaskan coast.

On the way back, Cook returned to the Hawaiian islands to replenish and repair his ships. He named this group of islands “The Sandwich Isles” after a friend and supporter, John Montague, the Earl of Sandwich.

Searching for a safe harbor, Cook eventually moored in Kealakekua Bay on the Kona coast of the Big Island. Many historians believe that the Hawaiians regarded him as a representative of Lono, the god of fertility and harvest. Cook’s arrival happened to coincide with the Hawaiians’ Makahiki season, a period when all wars ceased and games were held to honor Lono. Thus, Cook was treated like a god, with natives lavishing him with gifts and holding ceremonies in his honor.

After Cook and his crew departed, a storm damaged the Resolution, forcing a return to Kealakekua. Suddenly wary, the natives could not understand how a god could have allowed this to happen. Their respect for Cook waned, and relations between the Hawaiians and the foreigners grew tense. A misunderstanding led to a fierce battle, and Cook was killed by angry natives.

Hawaiian Heirloom Jewelry

Hawaiian heirloom bracelets

The beauty of Hawaiian heirloom jewelry is exquisite, refined and certainly unparalleled.

It’s a treasured keepsake that is given from parent to child, friend to friend, sweetheart to sweetheart. And more than anything else, it’s a lasting gift that is unique to Hawaii.


The origins of Hawaiian heirloom jewelry can be traced to the days of the Hawaiian monarchy. In February 1862, the sailing ship Comet arrived in Hawaii with sad news: Prince Albert, consort and husband to England’s Queen Victoria, was dead. Soon after, jewelry accented with black jet or enamel and carved with floral, vine or scroll designs became the height of fashion in England. (During the queen’s time of grief, only mourning clothes and black-accented jewelry were acceptable apparel at the royal court.) These pieces came in the forms of rings, broaches, pendants and bracelets.

Jewelry from Hawaii's monarchy period

Jewelry from Hawaii’s monarchy period

The Hawaiian kingdom had long enjoyed a favorable relationship with England. Reacting to Prince Albert’s death, a 23-year-old Hawaiian princess named Liliu Loloku Walania Kamakaeha ordered gold jewelry that precisely followed the style and detail of the black-enameled English mourning jewelry. Liliu went on to become Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning queen.

Engraved jewelry in the Islands grew in popularity in 1893 after Liliuokalani presented a gold enameled bracelet to Zoe Atkinson, headmistress at Pohukaina Girls School. The inscription on the bracelet read “Aloha Oe” (“farewell to thee”) and “Liliuokalani Jan. 5, 1893.” The inscription proved to be prophetic: Just days later, the queen was forced to abdicate her thrown and the Hawaiian Monarchy had come to a sudden end.

Atkinson, who was an active socialite, became the envy of many young ladies, who then asked their mothers for engraved bracelets of their own. The “Aloha Oe” bracelet is on display at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

See how a Hawaiian bracelet is made

Today, Hawaiian heirloom jewelry includes earrings, ankle bracelets and watches as well as rings, pendants and bracelets. They are usually adorned with favorite Hawaiian motifs. Prices depend on the karat, thickness and width of the gold; the price of gold; and the intricacy of the engraved design.

Hawaiian heirloom jewelry remains an enduring—and endearing—symbol of Hawaii’s monarchy period.

Wailea Resort

Nestled comfortably at the base of Haleakala along Maui‘s southern coast, Wailea is a resort community consisting of luxury hotels, private homes and condominiums. Its name translates to “water of Lea.” (Lea is the goddess of Hawaiian canoe makers.)

Grand Wailea resort poolside

Poolside at one of the luxury hotels, the Grand Wailea Resort

For the privileged few, this 1,500-acre master-planned community offers a respite from the real world (the census reveals less than 5,700 people live in Wailea and neighboring Makena). Wailea has almost everything a visitor or resident could want.


Wailea features three 18-hole championship golf courses. One plays host to the annual Wendy’s Champions Skins Game, featuring four of the sport’s greatest legends (in 2004, the quartet included Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson).

Wailea golf

Wailea golf course


The Wailea Tennis Club has 11 Plexipave courts, including three lit for night play. Clinics, lessons, game-matching services and a fully stocked pro shop are also available.


Wailea has some of Hawaii’s finest spa facilities, including the 50,000-square-foot Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort & Spa.


Whether you’re looking for Tori Richard aloha wear, stylish gifts from Tiffany & Co. or a hot new item from Tommy Bahama’s Emporium, The Shops at Wailea are sure to please those who wouldn’t consider it a vacation unless some shopping was involved.

Shops at Wailea

Enjoy a shopping day in the most beautiful and exclusive shopping center in Hawai, Shops at Wailea


Wailea is home to five crescent-shaped beaches. In 1999, Wailea Beach was named “America’s Best Beach” by Doctor Stephen P. Leatherman (a.k.a. “Dr. Beach”). Wailea aficionados think it deserves the top spot every year, but according to Dr. Beach, once a beach wins a “Best Beach” title, it is excluded from subsequent surveys and rankings. The survey’s 50-point criteria include sand quality, water quality, water temperature and litter.

If life’s a beach, then life at Wailea is very, very good.

Late afternoon at Wailea beach

One late afternoon on Wailea beach


Kauai Shopping

While renowned for its raw natural beauty, the island of Kauai offers the complete vacation experience, from outdoor activities and attractions to fine dining and shopping. The shopping scene here, in fact, may pleasantly surprise you—although it’s the least populated among Hawaii’s four counties, the Garden Isle offers a wealth of retail shops and mini-malls worth a visit.

Kauai Shopping

The Garden Isle offers a wealth of retail shops and mini-malls worth a visit


Our shopping tour begins in Poipu, the resort area located at the southern point of Kauai. Once known as the Kiahuna Shopping Village, the Poipu Shopping Village features an open-air garden setting with an array of shops, services and eating establishments. The specialty shops here sell jewelry, artwork, apparel, accessories and more.

East Side

In Kapaa on Kauai’s eastern side, the Coconut Marketplace is a unique open-air shopping complex with more than 70 shops and restaurants on its premises. The layout includes plantation-style kiosks situated within the center of the exterior in-line shops. Here you’ll find resort wear, jewelry, local artwork, collectibles, crafts and more. Hula performances are held every Wednesday at the Center Stage.

Kukui Grove Center, situated just south of the government seat of Lihue, bills itself as Kauai’s largest shopping center (35 acres). Included here are well-known stores like Macy’s, Sears, K-Mart, Borders Books and a variety of smaller shops. Also here is a four-screen multiplex theater.

Centrally located in east Kauai is Kapaa Village, which offers 110,000 square feet of retail space. Opened in 1990, the shopping center has about 30 shops and restaurants that appeal to both residents and visitors. Among the distinctive features here are two impressive “whaling wall” murals painted by Wyland, the internationally renowned marine artist.


Heading north, stop by the plantation-themed Princeville Shopping Center and browse through more than 35 shops and restaurants.

Other shopping centers on Kauai include Ching Young Village in Hanalei, Kauai Village in Kapaa and Rice Shopping Center in Lihue. Additional shops and specialty boutiques are available at individual hotels and resorts. Happy shopping!

Aloha Shirts

Wearing “Aloha” On Your Sleeve

The aloha shirt has come a long way over the years. What was once a colorful (if not gaudy) tourist memento has evolved into a prized art form combining fashion, style and an unabashed love for all things Hawaiian.

Aloha Shirts

The Waikiki Beach Boys in their Aloha Shirts.

“It’s an upscale T-shirt,” said an executive at Tori Richard, a prominent aloha shirt manufacturer. An aloha shirt with a thematic design, whether it be cars or surfing, is not much different than a T-shirt with that same kind of imagery, except that you can wear an aloha shirt at a nice restaurant or even at the office.” Added an executive at Kahala Sportswear, “An aloha shirt is a work of art. It’s a canvas that enables you to convey a feeling. It’s not an abstract. It’s not without meaning. There’s a story behind every shirt.”


Ellery J. Chun is generally regarded as the creator of the first aloha shirt. The owner of the downtown Honolulu shop, King-Smith Clothiers, coined the term in 1936. His sister, Ethel, created different aloha shirt designs. “I was just trying to figure out a way to increase business in the store when I got the idea to promote a local style of shirt,” Chun told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in a 1987 interview. “Since there was no pre-printed Hawaiian fabric around, I took patterned Japanese yukata cloth and had a few dozen short-sleeve, square-bottomed shirts made up for me. I put the shirts in the front window of the store with a sign that said Aloha Shirts.’ They were a novelty item at first, but I could see that they had great potential.”

Ethel Chun’s original aloha shirt designs were donated to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Textile Collection in 1998.

Hollywood helped heighten the popularity of aloha shirts. In the 1953 classic From Here to Eternity, leading men Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra and Ernest Borgnine all sported Hawaiian-themed shirts.

Aloha Shirts

Today, there are aloha shirts for every taste and budget

Today, there are aloha shirts for every taste and budget. Different manufacturers have even secured licensing agreements to include the likenesses of some of the world’s top pop culture icons, from the NFL and Harley-Davidson to Walt Disney and Major League Baseball.

One thing hasn’t changed about aloha shirts: They still make fabulous mementos of a Hawaiian vacation, tangible reminders of Hawaii’s famous aloha spirit. Explained a representative from Hilo Hattie, Hawaii’s largest manufacturer of aloha apparel, “Aloha shirts have staying power because people enjoy them and they’re fun to wear.”

Hawaiian Taro

Although varieties of taro are grown in nearly all the world’s tropical regions, the plant maintains its closest ties to Hawaii. For many Hawaiians, in fact, taro represents the staff of life.

Waipā ahupua’a on Kaua’i, students learn about traditional Hawaiian techniques for growing taro.

One Hawaiian legend tells of Wakea, Father Heaven, who bore a child with the Daughter of Earth. Born prematurely, the deformed infant, Haloa, was in the shape of a bulb. Wakea buried the body at one corner of his house. The couple’s second-born child, also named Haloa, was a healthy boy who would become the ancestor of the Hawaiian people. Haloa was to respect and look after his older brother for all eternity. The elder Haloa, the root of life, would always sustain and nourish his young brother and his descendants.

Early Hawaiians supposedly consumed up to 15 pounds of taro (as poi), per person, on a daily basis. It was such a revered source of nourishment that only men were allowed to grow it.

Even today, much of the Hawaiian culture is based on taro cultivation. For example, no one is allowed to fight or argue when a bowl of poi is open. According to Hawaiian custom, it is disrespectful to fight in front of an elder. And as the living embodiment of Haloa, taro is the “elder brother” of all Hawaiians.

Hawaiian Taro

For many Hawaiians, in fact, taro represents the staff of life

What is Taro?

Taro that is cultivated using both dryland and wetland methods. It’s primarily used for making poi, that starchy, pasty staple served at every Hawaiian luau. But it’s also used to make taro chips. The taro leaves are used for luaus as well.

Life as a taro farmer is often demanding and relentless, and the financial return can be slow. Farmers often work knee-deep in mud and water in deep valleys far removed from the conveniences of modern society. Today’s taro farmers also face problems that go beyond droughts, hurricanes and other natural calamities. One major pest is the apple snail, which was promoted in the late 1980s as a potential aquacultural product for Hawaii. In the early 1990s, the snails began to appear in taro fields, devouring taro plants with alarming efficiency. As a result, taro production in Hawaii declined to a record low of five million pounds in 2003, down 18 percent from the previous year. For consumers, this means smaller inventories and higher prices.

Nonetheless, for many of Hawaii’s people, taro remains a way of life—the heartbeat of the land and its people.

The Falls of Clyde


Mention “sailing vessels in Hawaii,” and most people automatically think of Polynesian canoes. But Honolulu, Oahu is also the home of the Falls of Clyde, the only surviving, fully-rigged, four-masted sailing ship left in the world. Docked at Honolulu Harbor next to the Aloha Tower Marketplace, the ship now serves as a floating exhibit at the Hawaii Maritime Center.

Over 265 feet long and weighing in at over a thousand tons, the Falls of Clyde took a circuitous rout in reaching the Hawaiian Islands. The ship was built in 1878 in Port Glasgow, Scotland and served as a trade ship. Her maiden voyage took her to Karachi, with subsequent trips including stops in Australia, India, New Zealand, the British Isles and California.

Falls of Clyde

Falls of Clyde, is the only surviving, fully-rigged, four-masted sailing ship left in the world


In 1899, the ship was purchased by Captain William Matson and became the first four-masted ship to fly under the Hawaiian flag. When Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1900, it took a special act by Congress to give the foreign-built ship the right to fly the American flag. Rigged down as a bark and adding passenger accommodations, Falls of Clyde brought general merchandise from San Francisco and sugar from Honolulu.

An oil company purchased the ship in 1907 and converted her to a bulk tanker. Following World War I, the ship sailed to Denmark and made her last voyage under sail, to Brazil. In 1925, the Falls of Clyde was sold again, this time to the General Petroleum Company, which used the ship as an oil barge in Alaska. Finally, in 1963, the bank holding the mortgage on the ship decided to sell her to be sunk as part of a breakwater at Vancouver, British Columbia. At the last minute, however, the Falls of Clyde was purchased and transferred to Honolulu to be used as a public exhibit.

Restored to her past glory, the Falls of Clyde opened to the public in 1968. Her restoration was assisted by the grandson of her original builder, Sir William Lithgow. His Glasgow shipyard donated masts and other fittings.


The ship is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Admission to the Hawaii Maritime Center includes a tour of the Falls of Clyde. The Center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kapalua Resort

Kapalua Maui

Kapalua is know for the “good life.”

The resort community of Kapalua is host to some of the most exclusive and prestigious special events held in Hawaii. Even before tourists found this magnificent 1.7-square-mile patch of West Maui, Kapalua was known for “the good life.”


In old Hawaii, Hawaiians residing in Kapalua grew taro and caught fish from the bay. The area was abundant in natural resources and much of the land was considered sacred. Ruling alii (royalty) would bring their families to Kapalua to relax and play.

In 1836, Dwight Baldwin was granted 2,675 acres of land as a reward for his missionary services. Through various dealings, that expanse grew to 24,500 acres in 1902 and came to be known as Honolua Ranch. Later, 20 acres of pineapple were planted, and a cannery was constructed. In 1914, the first pineapples were shipped to the mainland. Baldwin Packers eventually merged with Maui Land and Pineapple Company, which is today the largest employer on Maui. Seeking to diversify, the company envisioned a resort on some of the prime oceanfront pineapple land—a world-class retreat that, once again, would be worthy of royalty.

Kapalua Resort

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

The dream has been realized. Kapalua Resort includes a trio of award-winning hotels—the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua (recent $180 million remodel), Kapalua Bay Hotel and The Kapalua Villas—as well as three 18-hole championship golf courses, two tennis facilities and nine communities of condominiums. Its trio of white sand beaches includes Kapalua Bay, named “America’s Best Beach” in 1991 by “Dr. Beach,” one of the country’s foremost beach experts (once a beach wins the award, it is ineligible to win again).

Each year, the Kapalua resort hosts a number of pull-out-the-stops festivals and events. The Kapalua Food & Wine Festival celebrates the best in wines, food and good living. The Celebration of the Arts is regarded as Hawaii’s premier hands-on arts and cultural festival. And Kapalua’s Plantation Course is the host site of the annual PGA Mercedes Championships.


Sweetheart Rock

Legend of Sweetheart Rock

Lanai’s Most Recognizable Landmarks

Standing 80 feet tall, Puu Pehe—also known as “Sweetheart Rock”—is one of Lanai’s most recognizable landmarks. It is also the setting for one of Hawaii’s most enduring legends.

The Legend

The story goes that a ravishing young princess from Maui, was captured by a young warrior from Lanai. He took her as his wife and brought her back to his home island. He was so stricken with her beauty that he was afraid to let other men see her, and thus he confined the princess to a sea cave near the rock.

One day, as the warrior was away, the weather suddenly changed drastically, and the raging surf began to pound this side of the island. The warrior rushed back to the cave, but it was too late: His beloved Puu Pehe had drowned. Heartbroken, he retrieved her body and, with the help of the gods, climbed the steep rock island, where he buried her in a tomb. Overcome with grief, the warrior then leapt off the rock to his death.


Puu Pehe is situated about 150 feet offshore between Manele Bay and Hulopoe Bay along the island’s southern coastline. A closer look at this picturesque sea stack reveals, indeed, a tomb-like structure resting at the summit. Archeologists who have studied the rock will tell you that there are no human remains in this “tomb.” The tomb, in fact, may actually be a bird heiau constructed by the ancient Hawaiians, as numerous bones from sea birds have been found near the heiau.

Need To Know

While the story of Sweetheart Rock is romantic and haunting, don’t let the legend overcome your common sense. Do not attempt to scale the rock. The walls are impossibly steep and the rocky waters below are swift and treacherous.


To get to Puu Pehe, take Highway 440 south from Lanai City and follow the signs to Hulopoe Beach Park. A trail from the beach will lead you to a breathtaking overlook of Puu Pehe. A number of tidepools, a sea arch and Sharks Cove are found along the trail.

Princess Kaiulani

Princess Kaiulani

The Heir To Hawaii’s Would-Be Kingdom

The story of Princess Kaiulani, it can be argued, is a telling reflection of her would-be kingdom. It is a somber tale of unfulfilled promise, dashed dreams and a life cut tragically short. And in the end, it leaves us all wondering about “what might have been.”

Born on October 16, 1875 during the reign of King Kalakaua, Victoria Kaiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiui Lunalilo was named for England’s Queen Victoria, a longtime friend to Hawaiian royalty. Her mother was Princess Miriam Likelike, sister to Kalakaua. Her father was Scottish-born Archibald Cleghorn, one-time governor of Oahu.

Movie depicting the life of Princess Kaiulani

At birth, Kaiulani was given an estate in Waikiki by Princess Ruth Keelikolani, the last surviving member of the Kamehamehas. Called Ainahau, the estate was near the ocean and surrounded by trees and flowers. Peacocks strutted amongst the ponds and footpaths. As a child, Kaiulani spent many hours riding her white pony.

When she was 13, the princess met poet Robert Louis Stevenson, who had moved into the residence next door. The two became fast friends, with the famed writer mesmerizing Kaiulani with intriguing tales as they sat in the garden.

Shortly thereafter, Kaiulani was sent away to England to further her education. During her absence, the Hawaii’s monarchy fell on troubled times, including the unexpected death of King Kalakaua in 1891. His sister, Liliuokalani, ascended the throne as Hawaii’s queen. Among her first acts was naming Kaiulani as her heir apparent.

Kaiulani wanted to return home, but the queen would not permit it. So the princess bided her time in England, attending royal balls, theatrical events and other social functions. Tall, slim and beautiful, Kaiulani captured the hearts of all who met her.

Alas, by the time the princess returned to the Islands in 1897, her homeland was already a much different place. Liliuokalani had been forced to abdicate her throne four years earlier, and the monarchy was no more. Instead, Hawaii was about to be named a republic by U.S. President William McKinley.

“I must have been born under an unlucky star,” said Kaiulani, “as I seem to have my life planned for me in such a way that I cannot alter it.” Months later, while horseback riding on the Big Island, she was caught in a rainstorm and fell ill. The cold lingered for months. Finally, on March 6, 1899, Kaiulani died fo pneumonia. She was only 23.


Kailua Pali (Cliff) Lookout

Kailua Pali (Cliff) Overlooking Kailua

A beach town just 30 minutes away from Honolulu and Waikiki

The Windward Oahu town of Kailua—population 36,513—is only a 30-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of downtown Honolulu, but it may as well be a world away. There are Oahu residents who go for years without making the drive over to this part of the island. And to be truthful, Kailua residents are perfectly okay with that. They rather enjoy having a scenic slice of Hawaiian heaven all to themselves.
Getting to Kailua was always a challenge. Ancient Hawaiians only had two options: hiking over the Koolau Mountains or sailing around Makapuu Point along the island’s eastern shores. More often than not, they chose the direct route and climbed a trail up and over the pali (cliff). Today, most drivers reach Kailua via the Pali Highway (Route 61). No matter how rough of a day Kailua residents may have, the feeling they get as they emerge from the highway’s tunnel and take in the sweeping panorama in front of them is one of instant comfort and reverence.

Kailua Beach

Another perfect day at Kailua Beach

Another perfect day at Kailua Beach

Kailua is first and foremost a beach community. In fact, the steady onshore trade winds makes Kailua Beach one of the world’s preeminent windsurfing destinations. Robbie Naish, regarded by most observers as the sport’s greatest champion, grew up at Kailua Beach.

In 1998, Kailua Beach Park was named “America’s Best Beach” by coastal expert Doctor Stephen Leatherman and then “retired” from subsequent consideration. As one Kailua resident noted in ALOHA Magazine, “If I feel stressed out, boom, in three minutes I can be at the beach and rigging up my sailboard. Even if you’re not at the beach, it’s never far away. It’s in the air, you can smell it.”

Kailua is a self-sufficient town with a strong sense of community. Christmas and Fourth of July parades are held here every year. There are Little League games, block parties and canoe paddling events. For its residents, Kailua represents the good life.

“Once I come through the tunnel (from Honolulu) at the end of the day, that’s it,” said another Kailua resident. “I see Kailua and the ocean, and I’m home. I leave work on the other side.”


Discover the wonders of Kailua Beach with Wayde’s World Hawaii



One of Hawaii’s most famous legends is built around naupaka, a shrub found in the mountains or near the beach. The flower’s unique appearance—it resembles a half-flower, with petals missing—caused early Hawaiians to believe it was the incarnation of an ancient native separated from her lover.


Naupaka (Scaevola sencea) is one of Hawaii’s most common beach plants

The Legend

In ancient times, one version goes, there was a beautiful Hawaiian princess known as Naupaka. One day, the villagers noticed that Naupaka looked very sad. They told her parents, who approached Naupaka and asked her what was troubling her.

“I have fallen in love with a man named Kaui,” replied the princess. “But Kaui is not of noble birth—he is a commoner.” According to Hawaiian tradition, it was strictly forbidden for members of royalty to marry people from the common ranks.

Distressed, Naupaka and Kaui traveled long and far, seeking a solution to their dilemma. They climbed up a mountain to see a kahuna who was staying at a heiau (temple). Alas, he had no clear answer for the young lovers. “There is nothing I can do,” he told them, “but you should pray. Pray at this heiau.”

So they did. And as they prayed, rain began to fall. Their hearts torn by sorrow, Naupaka and Kaui embraced for a final time. Then Naupaka took a flower from her ear and tore it in half, giving one half to Kaui. “The gods won’t allow us to be together,” she said. “You go live down by the water, while I will stay up here in the mountains.”

As the two lovers separated, the naupaka plants that grew nearby saw how sad they were. The very next day, they began to bloom in only half flowers.

Naupaka Bushes

One of Hawaii’s most famous legends is built around naupaka, a shrub found in the mountains or near the beach

There are different versions of the naupaka legend, but all carry the same unhappy theme: lovers that are separated forever, one banished to the mountains, the other to the beach.

About the Plant

Legends aside, the naupaka (Scaevola sencea) is one of Hawaii’s most common beach plants. There are nine different species of naupaka, which typically grow up to 10 feet tall and six to 15 feet wide. The plant has large leaves with flowers in small clusters. The flowers are typically white with purplish streaks. The fruits are white.

On Oahu, naupaka can be seen at popular visitor sites such as Ala Moana Park, the Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu Zoo and Sandy Beach.

Hawaiian Flowers

Hawaii's Flowers

Hawaii’s official flowers are as diverse and beautiful as the islands they represent.

From white kukui blossoms to pink cottage roses, these native Hawaiian flowers provide color and allure to each of Hawaii’s main islands.

Hawaii State Flower

The official state flower is the yellow hibiscus (hibiscus brackenridgei), also known as the pua aloalo. Hawaiians originally adopted the hibiscus flower (of all colors) as their official Territorial flower in the early 1920s. It wasn’t until 1988, however, that Hawaii’s legislature legally adopted the yellow hibiscus as the official state flower.

The hibiscus originated in Asia and the Pacific islands. It is believed that there were originally only five hibiscus species native to the Hawaiian islands. Subsequently, other varieties were imported, and growers began to develop unique hybrids to produce the variety of colors and sizes found today.

Each Hawaiian island has its own designated official flower:

Oahu Flower

Oahu’s flower is the yellow ilima (Sida fallax), which is a very popular flower used for leis. Each flower is about an inch across and somewhat resembles a small hibiscus. Early Hawaiians used ilima flowers as a cure for general illnesses. Juice from the pressed flowers was given to children, and pregnant women sometimes ate the flowers until childbirth.

Big Island Flower

The official flower of the Big Island is the red ohia, which is the blossom of the native ohia tree. Lehua blossoms can also be orange, yellow or white. The flower is often used for leis. It’s said that the lehua flower is sacred to Pele, Hawaii’s volcano goddess.

Kauai Flower

Kauai’s flower actually isn’t a flower at all: The mokihana (Pelea anisata) is a green berry grown only on the slopes of Mount Waialelae. Strung like beads and woven with strands of maile, these hardy berries have a scent of anise.

Maui Flower

Maui’s flower is the pink lokelani (Rosa damascena), or pink cottage rose. Brought to the Islands in the 1800s, the lokelani is prized by gardeners for its beauty and fragrance. The lokelani is the only non-native plant to be recognized as the official flower of any of the Hawaiian islands.

Molokai Flower

The flower of Molokai is the white kukui blossom (Aleurites moluccana). These tiny white flowers are popular among Island lei makers.

Lanai Flower

Lanai’s flower is the kaunaoa, or yellow and orange air plant. Lei makers take the thin, light orange strands of this vine and twist them together to form leis.

Niihau Flower

Niihau’s designated “flower” is the white pupu shell, found on the shoreline of this rocky island. Even uninhabited Kahoolaw has its own official flower, the hinahina (Heliotropium anomalum), a silver-gray plant whose flowers and stems are used in lei making.


Kahala Hotel & Resort


Quick, what do a Saudi prince and rocker Ozzy Osbourne have in common? Unless members of Saudi royalty make a habit of gnawing off the heads of rodents, we can only think of one thing: Both have stayed at the Kahala Hotel & Resort’s luxurious Presidential Suite.

Kahala Hotel and Resort

The Kahala overlooks the ocean as well as both Diamond Head and Koko Head craters

They’re in good company. Sony President Nobuyuki Idei and actors Pierce Brosnan and John Travolta are also among the luminaries who have stayed at the hotel’s premier suite. Of course, you don’t have to be a major celebrity to be treated like one. All it takes is a little green ($4,325 per night) to enjoy the Kahala Hotel & Resort’s 2,285-square-foot suite, which includes two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchenette and exercise room.


Integrating both contemporary and traditional Hawaiian as well as Asian design, the suite overlooks the ocean as well as both Diamond Head and Koko Head craters. Two lanais offer views of the hotel’s famous dolphin lagoon (home to six Atlantic bottlenose dolphins).

The master bedroom features a four-poster bed with Egyptian cotton linen. The master bath includes a separate glass show and whirlpool spa (complete with coconut bath salts). The spacious living and dining areas are ideal for entertaining small groups.


Speaking of entertaining, guests at the Presidential Suite have the full complement of state-of-the-art equipment, including Sony Trinitron TV, stereo system and five-disc DVD player. Other amenities include a cordless telephone, Aveda bath products and a Life Fitness Lifecycle.

For many visitors, staying at the Kahala Hotel & Resort is a treat in itself. The 364-room upscale hotel is located next to the Waialae Country Club in Kahala (a 10-minute drive from Waikiki). The hotel includes a fully equipped business center, five spa suites, exotic gardens, the dolphin lagoon, a shopping arcade and a number of eateries, including its award-winning signature restaurant, Hoku’s.


The Bungalows at Mauna Lani Bay

Now this is living. A gourmet picnic’s been prepared, your shopping’s all done, the day’s activities have all been carefully arranged and here’s a private limousine waiting for you outside. And you never had to lift a finger.

The butler did it.



Such is life at the Bungalows at Mauna Lani Bay, part of the Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii’s Kohala Coast.

There are five bungalows at Mauna Lani: the Plumeria, Hibiscus, Orchid, Bird of Paradise and Heliconia. Situated on a 16th-century lava flow and surrounded by 15 acres of ancient Hawaiian fishponds, historic parks and petroglyph preserves, each bungalow offers blissful seclusion, yet is conveniently located within a minute’s walk of the main hotel. Privacy is maintained with a gated driveway, private entry to the main hotel grounds and private access to the beach.


Each bungalow is spacious (2,700 square feet) and provides views of the ocean or mountain/golf course. The interior decor reveals a timeless elegance that reflects the colors and textures of Hawaii’s flora and fauna. There are two 340-square-foot bedrooms (one with a king-size bed, the other with two doubles) with walk-in closets; a built-in safe; a TV armoire with a 32-inch flat-panel television and DVD player; and sliding glass doors that open to the outdoor lanai and pool area. The private bath area includes a large hydrotherapy tub, separate shower area (that doubles as a steam room) and a private garden accessed through the glass doors.

Mauna Lani Bay

The view from a bungalow’s lanai

Each living room (895 square feet) features a private bar, in-room Facsimile and a state-of-the-art Sony entertainment system that includes a 50-inch flat-panel TV, CD player, DVD player and VCR. Twenty-foot sliding doors open to a private lanai.

Outside, each bungalow has a private 30′ x 10′ heated swimming pool, a private Jacuzzi and a gas barbecue.


In addition, the Mauna Lani staff is available 24 hours a day to cater to your every whim, whether it be setting up a session with a personal trainer, arranging a private helicopter tour, organizing a dinner party or making a tee time. And as we hinted at earlier, each bungalow comes with the services of a fully trained butler who can assist you at a moment’s notice. Their availability is entirely up to your discretion.

Daily rates are $5,600 (oceanfront) and $4,900 (ocean view).


Kamehameha the Great

In ancient Hawaii, legends told of a day when a great king would unite all the Hawaiian islands. The sign of his birth, kahuna (priests) claimed, would be a comet.

Kamehameha statue next to Hawaiian flag

Kamehameha the Great

Birth of a King

And so it goes that Kamehameha was born in 1758, the year Halley’s Comet made an appearance over Hawaiian skies. Kamehameha was born in Paiea on the Big Island of Hawaii. His father was said to be Keoua, a grandson of Keaweikekahialiiokamoku, who once ruled a large portion of the island. Translated, Kamehameha means “the lonely one.”

Another legend tells of a kahuna who prophesized that the man who moved the 7,000-pound Naha Stone would become the greatest king of Hawaii. When Kamehameha was 14, the story goes, he moved the massive rock, and then lifted it and turned it completely over.

Rise to Power

Kamehameha grew up in the court of his uncle, Kalaniopuu. When Kalaniopuu died in 1782, his power was divided between Kamehameha and Kalaniopuu’s natural son, Kiwalao, who inherited his father’s throne. Civil war broke out, however, and Kamehameha emerged as the Big Island’s ruler.


Many more battles ensued. During one raid in Puna, Kamehameha slipped and caught his foot in a crevice of lava. Seeing this, one of his fleeing opponents returned and beat him on the head with a canoe paddle until it broke. As a result, Kamehameha proclaimed Mamalahoe Kanawai, or “Law of the Splintered Paddle,” providing protection to unarmed noncombatants in war. “Let the aged, men and women, and little children, lie down safely in the road,” his law decreed.

The war at Nuuanu

The bloody battle at Nuuanu

Uniting the Hawaiian Islands

Having gained control of his home island, Kamehameha turned to the other Hawaiian islands. Using weaponry purchased from American and European traders, the king conquered Maui and Molokai, then turned his attention to Oahu. In 1795, Kamehameha invaded the shores of Waikiki beach and led his army to Nuuanu, where a bloody battle with Oahu chief Kalanikupule ensued. Hundreds of Oahu’s warriors were killed, driven over the valley’s Pali cliffs.

In 1810, Kaumualii, the king of Kauai, peacefully surrendered his island to Kamehameha to avoid further bloodshed. With that, Kamehameha fulfilled his destiny of uniting all the Hawaiian islands under one rule.

Kamehameha’s Reign

The Hawaiian kingdom enjoyed a period of peace during Kamehameha’s reign. The king unified the legal system and used taxes to promote trade with the Americans and Europeans.

Kamehameha died in 1819, and his son, Liholiho, took the throne. Kamehameha’s bones were hidden by his kahuna. Today, his final resting place remains a mystery.

Queen Kaahumanu

Queen Kaahumanu

Queen Kaahumanu was more than Kamehameha’s favorite wife.

She was, at one time, the most powerful figure in the Hawaiian Islands, helping usher in a new era for the Hawaiian kingdom.

Many historians believe Kaahumanu was born in a cave on March 17, 1768. Her father was Keeaumoku, a Big Island alii (royalty) who became a fugitive and fled to Maui. Her mother, Namahana, had been the wife of Kamehameha Nui, the king of Maui.

Kaahumanu spent much of her childhood in the Kau district on the Big Island of Hawaii. When she was seven, she met a young warrior by the name of Kamehameha, who was destined to become Hawaii’s greatest king and unifier of the Hawaiian islands. Ten years later, the two were married.

It’s said that Kamehameha and Kaahumanu had a tempestuous marriage. Both were fiercely possessive and strong-willed. The king was hardly faithful to Kaahumanu—he would acquire 21 additional wives—but he constantly assured her that she alone was his “favorite wife.” One story has a jealous Kaahumanu making an 18-mile journey between Kailua-Kona and Honaunau in an attempt to catch her husband in an act of infidelity. Indeed, some storytellers say she swam the entire distance!

When Kamehameha died on May 8, 1819, the crown was passed to his son, Liholiho, who would rule as Kamehameha II. Kaahumanu, however, revealed that her husband believed that Liholiho lacked the leadership abilities required to lead the kingdom. Therefore, Kaahumanu said, the king had created an important position for her: kuhina nui, or prime minister. She would rule as an equal with Liholiho.

Kaahumanu wasn’t shy in wielding her power. Within six months, she recruited Liholiho’s mother, Keopuolani, to join her in convincing Liholiho to break the sacred kapu system which had been the rigid code of Hawaiians for centuries. The young king accomplished this simply by eating a meal with women. When the Hawaiians saw that Liholiho was not struck down by angry gods, the entire kapu system was discarded.

For his part, Liholiho preferred to indulge in gaming, drinking and being entertained. He had little use for the drudgeries of government. Kaahumanu, therefore, was the true power of the monarchy.

Soon after the first Protestant missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1820, Kaahumanu embraced Christianity. Under her rule, stringent laws were passed against murder, theft, smoking and Sabbath breaking.

In May 1832, Kaahumanu fell ill. Recognizing that the end was near, she requested to be taken to her mountain home in Manoa Valley on Oahu. On June 5, with the Reverend Hiram Bingham at her side, she breathed her final words: “I’m going now…where the mansions are ready.” Kaahumanu was 64.

King Kamehameha III

King Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli

Kauikeaouli Ruled As Kamehameha III

Faced with growing foreign influence and a declining native population, Kauikeaouli’s 30-year reign as Kamehameha III was marked with incredible challenges. In the end, however, the Hawaiian kingdom remained intact.

Born on August 11, 1813 on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kauikeaouli was the second son of Kamehameha the Great and Queen Keopuolani. Kauikeaouli was 11 years younger than his brother Liholiho, who ruled as Kamehameha II.

It’s said that Kauikeaouli had a troubled childhood. He was torn between the Christian guidelines imposed on the kingdom by the kuhina nui (prime minister) Kaahumanu and the desires to return to the ways of old Hawaii. Under the influence of Oahu governor Boki, Kauikeaouli turned to alcohol in a clear rejection of the Christian standards of morality.

Kauikeaouli was only 11 when he ascended to the throne in June 1825, 11 months after the death of Liholiho. For the next seven years, he was guided by Kaahumanu and the high chief Kalanimoku. When Kaahumanu died in 1832, she was replaced by Kauikeaouli’s half-sister, Kinau. Kinau died when Kauikeaouli was only 25, and the young king found himself consumed by the burdens of kingship.

When Kauikeaouli came to the throne, the native population numbered about 150,000, which was already less than half of the Hawaiian population at the time of Captain Cook’s arrival to Hawaii in 1778. During his reign, that number would be halved again, thanks in part to a smallpox epidemic.

In 1843, a British commander named George Paulet pressured Kauikeaouli into surrendering the Hawaiian kingdom to the British crown. It was during this brief period of uncertainty that the king uttered the phrase that eventually became Hawaii’s motto: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono”—”The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” Less then five months later, Britain rejected the commander’s actions and the kingdom was restored to Kauikeaouli.

As the years passed, Kauikeaouli found himself resigned to the changing landscape of Hawaii. His rebellious nature softened as his authority was compromised by outside influences. In 1854, he had his foreign minister, Robert Wyllie, “ascertain the views of the United States in relation to the annexation thereto of these Islands.”

Kauikeaouli died on December 15 of that same year. He was 41.

Kilauea Lighthouse, Kauai



The lights are off at Kilauea Lighthouse. They’ve been off for nearly 30 years. Nonetheless, the lighthouse still “shines” as one of Kauai’s most recognizable monuments. In fact, the 52-foot structure stands at the northernmost point in the entire Hawaiian Islands.

Located on Kauai’s North Shore, Kilauea Point is itself a remnant of a former volcanic vent that last erupted about 500,000 years ago. (Today, only a small portion remains, including a 568-foot bluff.) The U.S. government purchased the Point in 1909 and began construction on a lighthouse, which was completed in 1913. For the next several decades, the Kilauea Lighthouse served as an important navigational aid for commercial shipping vessels sailing through the Hawaiian archipelago to and from the Orient. The lighthouse’s beam could reach 90 miles out to sea, and its lens was the largest of its type ever made.

Time and technology stand still for no one, however, and in 1976 the lighthouse was deactivated by the Coast Guard and replaced with an automatic beacon. Three years later, Kilauea Lighthouse was designated a National Historical Landmark.

Kilauea Lighthouse

In 1979 Kilauea Lighthouse was designated a National Historical Landmark


Today, Kilauea Point continues to play an important role on Kauai. The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1985. One of the few wildlife refuges open to the public, it includes more than 200 acres of protected land and serves as the home to migratory birds such as the Pacific golden plover, seabirds such as the Laysan albatross and even Hawaii’s state bird, the nene goose. It is the most prominent nesting and roosting habitat for seven of Hawaii’s native seabirds. Additionally, Hawaiian monk seals, humpback whales and spinner dolphins can be viewed from the refuge.

The refuge includes a visitor center with various exhibits spotlighting the birds, native plants and marine animals that reside within Hawaii’s National Wildlife Refuges. Volunteers are on hand to answer questions and lead nature hikes. The refuge receives about 300,000 visitors per year.


Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hawaiian Conch Shells

A Large Seashell Played Like a Trumpet

Pu, a Hawaiian conch shell, is a large seashell played like a ceremonial fanfare trumpet. Made of two kinds of large shells, Triton or Cassis cornuta, it is capable of emitting a loud sound carrying as far as two miles. The volume depends on the style of blowing rather than breath volume capacity.

Hawaiian Conch Shell

Pu, a Hawaiian conch shell, is a large seashell played like a ceremonial fanfare trumpet


In ancient times, the pu was sometimes used to accompany chants, and most often used to announce the beginning of a ceremony. There is a story of a group of Menehune, a legendary race of small Hawaiian people, who lived in Waolani in Nuuanu Valley on Oahu. Chief Kiha used a conch shell to control the little gods, as the Menehune were often referred to. The Menehune took the conch shell from him and blew it so much at night that residents began to complain. A thief retrieved the shell for Chief Kiha, but chipped it on the way back. This very shell is now in display at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

In 1998, a pu was recovered from King Kamehameha II’s sunken royal yacht in Hanalei on the North Shore of Kauai. The long lost treasure was believed to have been used to herald the arrival of King Liholiho and his royal yacht Haaheo O Hawaii (Pride of Hawaii). The shell had been buried in the sands of Hanalei Bay for 164 years before it was recovered. The pu along with the other recovered artifacts have been conserved by the archaeological team from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Listen to the sound of a Hawaiian conch shell

Legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku was honored with a conch selling blowing ceremony for his 112th birthday. The Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hawaii Loa arrived at Duke Kahanamoku Beach accompanied by a fleet of 112 surfers and canoes to honor Kahanamoku. As the group came through the channel, the pu announced their arrival, while another pu on-shore responded with a callout to the North, South, East and West, signifying the gathering of all powers.


Today the pu is used to announce the opening of the Hawaii State Legislature, presentation of the royal court at hula festivals and for traditional ceremonies. The pu is also a popular commencement tool at weddings and luaus, and also have been used to honor royalty and famous people.

The next time you’re waiting for a ceremony or luau to begin, just listen for the call.

King Kamehameha II

Kamehameha II, Liholiho

Kamehameha the Great’s First Son

He never lived up to the standards set by his father. But it’s doubtful that anyone could have fared better. After all, how do you follow the legacy created by Hawaii’s greatest king?

The son of Kamehameha the Great and Keopuolani, the king’s highest-ranking wife, Liholiho was born in November 1797 in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. At the age of five, he was declared to be his father’s eventual successor and began learning the religious and political traditions of Hawaiian rule.

Kamehameha the Great died in 1819, and Liholiho, per tradition, headed to the mountains for a period of mourning. Upon his return, the young king met with the Council of Chiefs, which included Keopuolani as well as Kamehameha’s favorite wife, Kaahumanu. It was decided that Liholiho would assume his father’s ceremonial role, while Kaahumanu would serve as kuhina nui, or prime minister. In practical terms, Liholiho held very little power.

The new king was generally well liked and admired. As one American missionary observed, “There is nothing particularly striking about his countenance, but his figure is noble, perhaps more so than that of any other chief; his manners polite and easy, and his whole deportment that of a gentleman.”

Within six months after assuming the throne as Kamehameha II, the religious and political code of old Hawaii, collectively called the kapu system, was abolished. It’s believed that Kaahumanu and Keopuolani persuaded Liholiho to eliminate the kapu system by eating a meal with women—a definite taboo at the time. It’s also said that the Hawaiians had grown increasingly dissatisfied with the ancient system.

Liholiho’s reign was also marked by his efforts to ensure the lasting independence of the Hawaiian kingdom. In 1793, British Captain George Vancouver formed an alliance with Kamehameha I to protect the Hawaiian islands from foreigners. That agreement, however, was never officially acknowledged by the British government. Thus, in 1823, Liholiho and his favorite wife, Kamamalu, sailed to England in an attempt to finalize his father’s negotiations with King George IV.

Liholiho and Kamamalu arrived in England in May 1824. Sadly, before Liholiho could meet with his British counterpart, both he and his queen contracted the measles. Kamamalu died on July 8. Six days later, Liholiho himself succumbed to the disease. Their bodies were placed in extravagant coffins and returned to their homeland.

Although the reign of Kamehameha II lasted only five years, it was an eventful period that helped shape the future of the Hawaiian kingdom. One wonders what legacy Liholiho might have created for himself if not for his untimely death.

King David Kalakaua

In his 54 years of life, King David Kalakaua certainly lived up to his nickname, “The Merrie Monarch.” He had a passion for music, dancing, parties, and the finest food and drinks. The king’s reign, however, was also marked by tragedy, pain and dark clouds hovering over the Hawaiian kingdom.

King David Kalakaua

A statue in memory of King David Kalakaua

Kalakaua was born on November 16, 1836 in Honolulu. His parents were the high chief Kahana Kapaakea and the high chiefess Analea Keohokalole. Per Hawaiian custom, the infant was adopted by the chiefess Haaheo Kaniu, who took him to the court of King Kamehameha III on the island of Maui. When Kalakaua was four, he returned to Oahu to begin his education at the Royal School.

Fluent in English and Hawaiian, Kalakaua took to studying law at the age of 16. His various government positions, however, prevented him from fully completing his legal training. Instead, by 1856, the young Hawaiian was a major on the staff of King Kamehameha IV. He had also been a leader of a political organization known as the Young Hawaiians; the group’s motto was “Hawaii for the Hawaiians.” In addition to his military duties, Kalakaua served in the Department of the Interior and, in 1863, was appointed postmaster general.

When Kamehameha V died in December 1872 without having designated an heir, an election was held to determine his successor. Prince William Charles Lunalilo emerged victorious over Kalakaua by a wide margin. On February 3, 1874, however, Lunalilo also died without naming a successor. Another election was held, and Kalakaua won handily over Queen Emma, widow of Kamehameha IV.

Supporters of the queen rioted. Kalakaua requested help from American and British warships in the harbor, and the uprising was quelled. Because of the ill feelings, however, the new king’s plans for a lavish celebration were put on hold and his reign began on a modest note.

In late 1874, Kalakaua sailed to the United States amid much fanfare. In Washington, he negotiated the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875, which eliminated the tariff on sugar and other Hawaiian products. As a result, Hawaii’s sugar industry boomed and the kingdom enjoyed a period of economic prosperity.

Upon his return, Kalakaua moved into his palace with his wife, Queen Kapiolani, the granddaughter of King Kaumualii of Kauai. He decided he needed a more luxurious home, however, and had Iolani Palace built at a cost of $350,000—an unheard of sum at the time.

The Hawaiian culture enjoyed a revival of sorts under Kalakaua, including hula and chants. In July 1887, however, an organization called the Hawaiian League forcibly took control of the government and presented the king with a new constitution. Called the “Bayonet Constitution” (for obvious reasons), Kalakaua had little choice but to sign it. The new constitution severely restricted his powers and signaled the end of the monarchy.

In November 1890, an ill Kalakaua sailed to California for medical treatment. He died at a hotel in San Francisco on January 20, 1891. His final words were, “Tell my people I tried.”

Queen Liliuokalani

Hawaii’s last sovereign queen was born on September 2, 1838 in Honolulu. According to Hawaiian tradition, she was adopted at birth by Abner Paki and his wife, Konia (a granddaughter of King Kamehameha I). Liliuokalani’s childhood years were spent studying and playing with Bernice Pauahi, the Pakis’ natural daughter.

Liliuokalani received her education at the Royal School and became fluent in English. She was also a member of Kawaiahao Church, which was built under the direction of Hiram Bingham, the leader of the first group of missionaries to Hawaii in 1820. In 1862, she married John Owen Dominis, the son of an American sea captain.

Queen Liliuokalani

Hawaii’s last sovereign queen was born on September 2, 1838 in Honolulu


In 1874, Liliuokalani’s brother, David Kalakaua, was elected as Hawaii’s new king. One of his first acts was to name William Pitt Leleiohoku as his heir; just three years later, however, the crown prince died at the age of 23. Liliuokalani was now directly in line for the throne.

Kalakaua himself died in January 1891 in San Francisco. On January 29, the USS Charleston was sighted off Diamond Head, its hull draped in black and the Hawaiian flag at half-staff. Suddenly, the Hawaiians knew: Their king was dead. Government ministers insisted that Liliuokalani immediately sign an oath to uphold the constitution that had been forced upon her brother.

Under the constitution, Liliuokalani wielded little power. She formed a Cabinet three times, and each time it was rejected by the Legislature. She drafted a strongly royalist constitution, but no one supported it.

Finally, on January 17, 1893, pro-American forces overthrew the government and proclaimed a provisionist government with Sanford B. Dole as president. Liliuokalani had no choice but to surrender her throne. She made a plea to the U.S. government for reinstatement, and a representative of President Grover Cleveland found the overthrow to be illegal. Dole, however, refused to accept the decision.

The queen withdrew to her residence, Washington Place, and urged her supporters to be patient and avoid bloodshed. A fierce uprising was firmly squelched in January 1895, and although she denied playing a role in the attempted takeover, Liliuokalani was arrested and taken to a second-floor room at Iolani Palace. It would serve as her jail cell for nearly a year. During her confinement, the queen wrote one of Hawaii’s most beloved songs, “Aloha Oe” (“Farewell to Thee”).

Liliuokalani was pardoned in October 1896. In her remaining years, the deposed queen fought for the restoration of the Hawaiian kingdom. She died in 1917 at age 79.

Hawaii’s Entertainers

ukelele performance

There’s more to Hawaiian music than Don Ho. A lot more.

Just take a look at the concert listings in Honolulu’s daily newspapers and you’ll find a number of top-notch Island performers making appearances around town. Some play traditional Hawaiian music, while others present more contemporary stylings. Whatever your preference, these vocalists and musicians have raised the quality of Island music to an entirely new level.

Kealii Reichel

A gifted composer and musician, Kealii Reichel is one of Hawaii’s most revered and respected performers. His blend of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music has captured the attention of music lovers across the world (his recordings are fixtures in Billboard magazine’s World Music charts). He’s opened concerts for everyone from Celine Dion and Sting to Bonnie Raitt and LeAnn Rimes. Reichel has also performed at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.

Kealii Reichel performance

Na Leo Pilimehana

When it comes to sweet vocal harmonies, nobody does it better than Na Leo Pilimehana (in Hawaiian, the name translates to “voices blending together in warmth”). Since their debut in 1984, this award-winning trio has soared in popularity, both in Hawaii and beyond. In fact, their 1996 CD recording, “Island Breeze,” is the all-time best-selling Hawaiian album in Japan.

Brothers Cazimero

For more than a quarter century, the Brothers Cazimero have been synonymous with Hawaiian musical entertainment. Their annual Lei Day concerts at the Waikiki Shell remain a much-anticipated tradition for local residents and visitors. The duo’s musical talent and showmanship have allowed them to perform around the globe, from New York (as special guests with the New York Pops to the World Expo in Brisbane Australia.

Makaha Sons

Makaha Sons perform

Makaha Sons performing

Similarly, the legendary Makaha Sons continue to delight audiences with their special brand of traditional Hawaiian sounds. They have performed for former U.S. President Bill Clinton and appeared on NBC’s “Today Show.”


Hawaii’s “A-List” of musical talent goes on and on, from Henry Kapono and Kapena to Amy Hanaialii Gilliom to Willie K. In Hawaii’s entertainment galaxy, there is no shortage of stars.

Kamehameha V

Kamehameha Royal family crest

The Royal Family Crest

Born on December 11, 1830, Lot Kamehameha was the last direct descendant of Kamehameha the Great to rule the Hawaiian kingdom.

Lot’s mother was Kinau, a half-sister of Kamehameha II (Liholiho) and Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli). When Kauikeaouli’s two children died in infancy, he adopted Kinau’s children as his heirs.


Lot was educated at court and at the Chief’s Childrens’ School, which was established for royal children by American missionaries. In 1848, a missionary took Lot and his brother, Alexander Liholiho (the future Kamehameha IV), on a tour of Europe and the United States. During this time, Lot became educated on matters of politics and diplomacy.

Becoming King

In 1863, following the death of Kamehameha IV, Lot was named king by order of the cabinet, privy council and kuhina nui (prime minister), Princess Victoria Kamamalu. He had previously served as minister of the Interior and headed his brother’s finance department.

Kamehameha v cottage

Moanalua Gardens

When he took the throne, he refused to take an oath to uphold the 1852 constitution, which he regarded as too restrictive of the king’s powers. Instead, he attempted to create a new constitution. In May of 1864, he called for a constitutional convention of representatives elected by the people for the purpose of revising the existing constitution. When the delegates met, however, most opposed the king’s plan. Still, Lot managed to draft a new constitution that gave him more power. The constitution lasted for 23 years.

Prince Lot Festival

Despite heavy criticism, Lot strived to promote a renaissance of Hawaiian traditions and culture; he often hosted hula performances at his residence in Moanalua on Oahu. Today, the Prince Lot Festival is held at Moanalua Gardens each July to pay homage to Lot. The daylong festival spotlights hula troupes from around the state sharing their love for the Hawaiian dance.

Keiki (Kids) performing at the 33rd annual Prince Lot Festival


Lot never married. Some speculate that he had been in love with Bernice Pauahi Bishop (who married Charles Reed Bishop) and the widowed Queen Emma, wife of his deceased brother. In 1872, his declining health forced Lot to offer the throne to Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who refused. Lot died on December 11, 1872 without naming an heir.


Kamehameha IV

Alexander Liholiho, who ruled the kingdom of Hawaii as Kamehameha IV, lived a short but eventful life marked by great accomplishments and, sadly, an even greater tragedy.

Celebrating hawaii's leaders at Iolani palace

Ceremony at Iolani Palace. Kamehameha IV portrait is on the right.

From the Beginning

Liholiho was born on February 9, 1834, in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. He was the grandson of Kamehameha the Great and the adopted son and heir of his uncle, King Kamehameha III. The young prince was educated at the Royal School by American missionaries until he was 14, when he and his older brother, Lot (the future Kamehameha V), were taken out of school so they could expand their education through world travel.

Liholiho was nearly 21 on January 11, 1855, the when he succeeded his uncle on the throne. Charles de Varigny, the secretary of the French consulate in Honolulu, described the young king as “tall, but obesity did not disfigure his slender, athletic frame. His features were regular, his forehead high, his smile delightful. Lively, intelligent eyes lent brightness and animation to his very sympathetic facial expression.”

A year later, in 1856, Kamehameha IV married Emma Rooke, a chiefess and great-grandniece of Kamehameha I. Queen Emma became a significant influence on her husband. The couple had one son, Albert.


In front of the Queen's medical center on oahu

Nearly 150 years later, Queens Medical Center continues to care for Hawaii’s residents

The king abhorred the increasing amount of influence that the Americans were enjoying in his kingdom. He correctly feared that, in time, the United States might take over his nation. As a result, Liholiho sought to cultivate a stronger relationship with Britain as a way to balance the power of the Americans. He also strived to find other ways to lessen Hawaii’s dependence on the U.S.

Kamehameha IV also laid out a plan for public hospitals to care for Hawaii’s sick and elderly. When met with resistance by the legislature, the king and his wife took matters into their own hands and solicited funds for a new hospital in Honolulu. Today, nearly 150 years later, Queen’s Medical Center remains one of the prominent hospitals in the state.


One of the saddest chapters of the Hawaiian monarchy was the death of young Prince Albert. On August 17, 1862, the boy threw a temper tantrum, and his annoyed father decided to cool him off by placing him under a cold water faucet. Shortly after the dousing, the child became sick with a high fever. Ten days, later, the prince was dead.

Kamehameha tomb at Mauna Ala

Alexander Liholiho died at the age of 29

Overcome with grief and guilt, Kamehameha IV became a recluse and withdrew from public life. A year later, on November 30, 1863, after years of suffering from nerve disorders and asthma, the king died unexpectedly. He was only 29.

King Lunalilo

The year was 1872. On his deathbed, Lot Kamehameha turned to his cousin, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, and offered her the Hawaiian throne. The princess declined, and Lot—last of Kamehameha the Great’s direct descendants to wear the crown—died without naming his successor.

Adult day care named after king lunalilo

Today the Lunalilo Home cares for Hawaii’s elderly


There were two claimants to the throne: David Kalakaua and William Charles Lunalilo. Although Kalakaua was descended from highborn chiefs, it was clear that Lunalilo had the more impressive bloodlines. His grandfather was Prince Kaleimamahu, half-brother of Kamehameha I. His grandmother was Princess Miriam Kalakua Kaheiheimaile, sister of Kamehameha’s favorite wife, Queen Kaahumanu. Lunalilo, in fact, was considered to be the highest-born alii of his generation.

King Lunalilo

Lunalilo was considered the highest-born alii of his generation

Lot, however, considered Lunalilo to be incapable of leading the kingdom. Lunalilo was pampered, self indulgent and undisciplined. In 1871, on his father’s advice, he even resorted to have his own wealth monitored by guardians. Still, when the special election was held on January 1, 1873, Lunalilo was nearly a unanimous choice over Kalakaua. The next day, he walked to Kawaiahao Church in Honolulu to take the oath of office.


Two related issues occupied much of Lunalilo’s reign as king. Hawaii’s growing sugar industry required a natural market to absorb its increasing production, and Lunalilo worked to give Hawaiian sugar unhindered and untaxed access to the American market. At the same time, American use of Pearl Harbor on Oahu was openly considered in exchange for the reciprocity treaty. In April 1873, the American businessmen proposed the idea of ceding the harbor to the U.S.

USS arizona memorial at pearl harbor at night

Lunalilo considered ceding the harbor the the U.S.

Lunalilo, acting on the advice of his advisers, seemed ready to cede the land for the economical benefits of reciprocity. A rising swell of opposition by Hawaiians, however, forced him to reconsider. The king’s reputation was tarnished in the eyes of his people.


More alarmingly, Lunalilo’s health was in rapid decline. The first signs of illness appeared in August 1873, just eight months after he assumed the throne. His personal physician noted that the king “cannot live very much longer unless he totally abstains from the use of intoxicating drinks.”

King Lunalilo's burial site at Kawaiahao church

King Lunalilo chose to be buried at the Kawaiahao Church

In November, Lunalilo traveled to the Big Island, hoping that the change of scenery would revitalize his health. By January 1874, however, the frail king returned to Oahu. On his deathbed, he requested a burial at Kawaiahao Church. He wanted, he said, to be “entombed among (my) people, rather than the kings and chiefs” at the Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu Valley.

Lunalilo died on February 3, 1874. He was 39.

Queen Emma

Queen Emma was the wife of Kamehameha IV and one of the most influential figures in Hawaiian history. Once a candidate for the royal throne, Emma became known and loved for her humanitarian efforts throughout the Islands.

Queen Emma and her husband Kamehameha IV

From the Beginning

Emma was born on January 2, 1836. She was the great-granddaughter of Keliimaikai, a half-brother of Kamehameha the Great, and her parents were themselves high-ranking alii (members of royalty). In accordance with Hawaiian custom, Emma was adopted at birth by her childless aunt, chiefess Grace Kamaukui Young, and her husband, Doctor Thomas C.C. Rooke.

Emma was educated in Honolulu at the Royal School, which was established by American missionaries. In 1856, she married Alexander Liholiho, who a year earlier had assumed the throne as Kamehameha IV. Two years later, in 1858, Emma gave birth to a son, Albert Edward Kauikeaouli Leiopapa a Kamehameha.

Queen’s Hospital

The queen kept herself busy tending to royal palace affairs, including the expansion of the scholarly library. Inspired by watching her father’s work, Emma encouraged her husband to help establish a public hospital. As a result, Queen’s Hospital opened in 1860. The queen formed an organization to promote the hospital’s services to native Hawaiians.

Queens Medical Center

The leading medical referral center in the Pacific

Tragically, Prince Albert died in August 1862 of “brain fever.” He was only four years old. A year later, a grief-stricken Kamehameha IV, who blamed himself for the boy’s death, also died.

St. Andrew’s Priory School

In 1865, Emma sailed to England to solicit funds for an Anglican cathedral and a school for girls in Hawaii. During her trip, she managed to raised $16,000 for both projects. England’s Queen Victoria remarked of Emma, “Nothing could be nicer or more dignified than her manner.”

st. Andrews Priory School

Queen Emma founded this school for girls in Hawaii

When King Lunalilo died in 1874, Emma was a candidate to replace him. In fact, it’s said that Lunalilo wanted her to succeed him, but he failed to make the necessary legal pronouncement before he died. Instead, an election was held, and Emma was soundly defeated by David Kalakaua.

Queen Emma died on April 25, 1885 at the age of 49. She was given a royal funeral and was laid to rest in Mauna Ala, next to her husband and son.


Duke Kanahamoku – Hawaii’s Greatest Athlete



“Duke” was merely his name. Still, mention “Duke Kahanamoku” and images of royalty come to mind. And why not? Even today, more than 35 years after his death, the legendary surfer and swimmer is considered to be the greatest athlete in the history of the Hawaiian islands.

Kahanamoku was born on August 24, 1890 in Honolulu. He was named after his father, Halapu Kahanamoku, who was christened “Duke” by Princess Bernice Pauahi in 1869. Growing up on the outskirts of Waikiki (near the present site of the Hilton Hawaiian Village), Kahanamoku spent his youth as a bronzed beach boy. It was at Waikiki Beach where he developed his surfing and swimming skills.

Duke Kahanamoku

Duke Kahanamoku and Amelia Earhart investigates the inside of a pineapple

The Athlete

One day in July 1911, a lawyer named William T. Rawlins went to Waikiki Beach and met Kahanamoku. The two men went to Honolulu Harbor, where Rawlins measured out 100 meters. With his new friend timing him, Kahanamoku jumped in the water and swam the length. He ended up breaking the world’s freestyle swim record—by 4.6 seconds!

The word quickly got out to Amateur Athletic Union officials in New York: “The world’s fastest swimmer is here in Waikiki. His name is Duke Kahanamoku, and here is his time.” The AAU sent back this message: “Unacceptable. No one swims this fast. Hawaiian judges alerted to use stopwatches, not alarm clocks!”

In time, Kahanamoku turned the skeptics into believers. The very next year, at the Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, the Duke captured gold medals in the 100- and 400-meter freestyle events, cementing his reputation as the world’s fastest swimmer. He went on to win two more gold medals in the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. He also made the U.S. swimming team in 1924 and the 1932 U.S. water polo team in 1932.

Kahanamoku’s popularity soared. He traveled from country to country, captivating world leaders with his athletic skills and natural charisma. He also delighted crowds with exhibitions of his swimming and surfing prowess.

Duke Kahanamoku Statue

A statue of Duke Kahanamoku can be seen near Waikiki Beach

Later in Life

In 1934, Kahanamoku returned to Honolulu and entered the race for county sheriff. (Not only did he win, he went on to serve 13 consecutive terms.) In 1940, he married the love of his life, Nadine Alexander.

The Duke also became a fixture in Hollywood, playing a variety of character roles. In the 1948 film Wake of the Red Witch, Kahanamoku shared the screen with another notable “Duke,” the legendary John Wayne.

Kahanamoku died on January 22, 1968 at the age of 77. For his burial at sea, a long motorcade of mourners, accompanied by a 30-man police escort, moved solemnly across town to Waikiki Beach. Reverend Abraham Akaka, the pastor of Kawaiahao Church performed the service. A group of beach boys began singing Hawaiian songs, including “Aloha Oe.” The Duke’s ashes were then scattered into the ocean he loved so dearly.

Remarked Reverend Akaka, “Duke Paoa Kahanamoku was a man of aloha. God gave him to us as a gift from the sea, and now we give him back from whence he came.”

The Lodge at Koele, Lanai



Over the years, the island of Lanai has reinvented itself from the world’s leading pineapple exporter to one of America’s great resort hideaways. Still, this tiny Hawaiian island—Rhode Island is more than 10 times its size—has been able to maintain its character, its unique sense of place.

If The Lodge at Koele provides the “good life” on the island, then its 1,250-square-foot Fireplace Garden Suite takes the Lanai experience to its highest level. The two-room suite is located in the main lodge and overlooks the back gardens, swimming pool, reflecting pond, orchid house and The Experience at Koele golf course. The living room includes a full wet bar, queen-size Murphy bed and a cozy fireplace. The bedroom features a four-poster king-size bed. Both rooms have a common porch.

The Fireplace Garden Suite is priced at $2,200 per night.

Opened in April 1990, The Lodge at Koele is secluded among towering Cook Island pines and tucked away within Lanai’s central highlands. The 102-room resort is reminiscent of a stately country manor in a Hawaiian setting. A large collection of Pacific artworks, a Japanese hillside garden and Hawaiian fruit gardens are among Lodge’s highlights. The resort’s Great Hall includes architectural touches such as high-beamed 35-foot ceilings and natural stone fireplaces. Outside, shady banyan trees surround an ancient reservoir, while attractive pathways meander through gardens and scenic picnic spots.

The Lodge at Koele

Attractive pathways meander through gardens and scenic picnic spots


The Lodge also offers a formal dining room, tea room, library, sundry shop, music room, trophy room and more. On occasion, the resort’s acclaimed Visiting Artists Program brings in some of the world’s most noted authors, poets, chefs, musicians and producers to meet and mingle with guests. Past participants have included humorist Dave Barry, actress Jane Seymour, novelist Paul Theroux, magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown, chef Thomas Keller and sports columnist Jim Murray.

Outdoor adventures abound on Lanai. There are two 18-hole championship courses on the island—The Experience at Koele and The Challenge at Manele—as well as sporting clays, horseback riding, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, bicyling, hiking and more.




Kava is a traditional herbal drink made from the root of the tropical shrub, Piper methysticum

In many places, Kava plays a key role in social ceremonies.

Pope John Paul sampled it during a visit to the Pacific islands. So did former First Lady Johnson. And although it was consumed for centuries by Polynesians, it was only during Captain Cook‘s voyage to the Pacific in the 18th century that the outside world discovered it.

“It” is kava, a traditional herbal drink made from the root of the tropical shrub, Piper methysticum. This soothing beverage has proven medicinal effects, including alleviating stress and anxiety and combating fatigue. Kava (pronounced “kah-vah”) is also used to treat migraine headaches and cramps. Best of all, the drink keeps the mind alert even as the body relaxes.


It’s believed that Pacific islanders have been using kava for centuries. In many Pacific islands such as Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, the drink still holds an esteemed position in society and remains a source of medicine and as a relaxant.

According to Cook’s eyewitness account, Hawaiian natives chewed or pounded the root of the plant, then mixed it with water to produce a brownish, bitter brew for consumption.

Traditionally, kava is used in recreational and social gatherings. In many Pacific cultures, people were pardoned for their crimes after a kava ceremony. Sharing a bowl of kava was often used to ceremoniously cement new friendships or relationships.

In Hawaii, kava (called “awa” by Hawaiians) was commonly used until the end of the 19th century. The rising popularity of alcohol and increasing missionary influence both contributed to the curtailment of kava consumption.


See how Kava is prepared

In 1999, the kava industry took a hit. German authorities alleged that dietary supplements made from kava extracts were linked to 37 cases of liver problems. As a result, in 2002, Germany banned the use of kava. Other nations followed. The controversy nearly crippled the kava industry worldwide.

A team of University of Hawaii researchers has since noted that South Pacific islanders have been drinking kava for 3,000 years with no evidence of acute liver problems. However, UH scientist C.S. Tang added that a natural toxin called pipermethystine is found in the plant’s stem peelings and leaves. He warned that these parts of the plant should not be consumed. Drinking kava the traditional way, he said, is safe.

At the height of kava’s popularity, in 2001, Hawaii boasted 65 farms and earned about $585,000 in crop revenues. Today, there are still a handful of companies specializing in kava, including Kauai Kava, which has been offering kava and other ethnobotanical offerings since 1996. No stems or leaves are used in their products.

Made in Kauai


The island of Kauai has many famous attributes, including natural attractions such as Waimea Canyon, the Napali Coast, the Fern Grotto and the island’s scenic North Shore. The Garden Isle is also known as the setting for some of Hollywood‘s most successful films, from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Jurassic Park.

But more and more, Kauai is becoming known for its growing menu of locally made products. From fine arts to tasty treats, Kauai offers a wide range of specialty goods.

Made In Kauai

One of the most famous Kauai products are Kauai Kookies

Kauai Kookies

Perhaps one of the most famous of these products are Kauai Kookies. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2005, the Kauai Kookie Kompany has been making these delicious treats from its bakery in the small town of Hanapepe. The company offers eight cookie flavors: Kona Coffee Macadamia, Guava Macadamia, Macadamia Nut Short Bread, Almond, Coconut Crunch Macadamia, Coco Krispies, Peanut Butter and Cornflake Krunch.

The Kauai Kookie Kompany also produces a distinctive line of salad dressings. Hawaiian Hula Dressings was started 20 years ago with the introduction of a zesty papaya seed dressing. The product took off, and today the line includes Hawaiian French, Oriental, Passion Fruit Dressing with Herbs, and Maui Onion Dressing.

Guava Kai Plantation

Another product thriving on Kauai is guava. Visit the Guava Kai Plantation in Kilauea and see how the juicy fruit is grown, processed and made into a variety of savory treats. Free samples are given! There’s also a gift shop that offers a complete line of guava goodies.

Kauai Coffee

The Big Island of Hawaii isn’t the only island that produces world-famous Hawaiian coffee. On Kauai, for example, the Kauai Coffee Company cultivates more than 3,400 acres of Hawaiian coffee on an estate near Koloa, located on the southwest part of the island. All of Kauai Coffee’s products are 100 percent estate grown and processed.


View the Kauai Coffee Plantation

Kilauea Bakery

Finally, man may not live by bread alone, but he could if the bread is as good as the freshly baked creations at Kilauea Bakery. Located on Kauai’s North Shore, some of the island’s best bread is sold from the early morning until the afternoon. Try the Napali Bread or Cajun breadsticks. After 11 a.m., the bakery also serves pizza, including its famous mahimahi pizzas.

Halona Blowhole

Molten Lava Tube Sprays Water 30 Feet in the Air

Hawaii offers a plethora of natural wonders and spectacular visitor attractions, but a must-see when visiting the islands is the Halona Blowhole on Oahu. The blowhole is a natural occurrence formed by molten lava tubes from volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago. The lava tubes run to the ocean and, when the surf is right, the blowhole shoots water up to 30 feet in the air. The larger the waves, the larger the spray.

Situated to the right of the Halona Blowhole is the Halona Beach Cove, also known at the “Peering Place.” This small sandy beach at the cove is great for swimming when the surf is calm. The site is known for the famous love scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the movie, From Here to Eternity (1953). If you’re lucky, you can see the resident honu (endangered Hawaiian green sea turtle).

Halona Blowhole

The blowhole is a natural occurrence formed by molten lava tubes from volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago

Below Halona is the Ka Iwi channel, one of the most dangerous, unpredictable ocean channels in the world. There are no lifeguards at the Halona sites, so be extremely careful, and do not swim when the surf is rough. Wear sturdy shoes and use extreme caution, as the walk down to the beach is steep and rocky. Be cautious of your surroundings when in the water. The waves crash against the sides of the narrow bay, producing very powerful waves. Do not go near the blowhole. The lookout is the safest spot where you can view the site.

Halona Blowhole is just a 10-15 minute drive from Waikiki and is a spectacular scenic stroll. Located off the Kalanianole Highway and north of Hanauma Bay, the lookout at Halona Blowhole is worth the stop. The lookout offers an excellent view of the coastline and outer islands, such as Molokai and Lanai, on clear days. During the winter months, the lookout is a great spot to watch whales at play.


Mauna Loa

The Largest Volcano in the World

Hawaiian legends say that volcano goddess Pele was driven from her home by her angry older sister, Na-maka-o-kaha’i because Pele had seduced her husband. Every time Pele would thrust her digging stick into the earth to dig a pit for a new home, Na-maka-o-kaha’i, goddess of water and the sea, would flood the pits. Pele eventually landed on the Big Island, where she made Mauna Loa her new home. Literally meaning “Long Mountain” in the Hawaiian language, Mauna Loa was so tall that even Pele’s sister could not send the ocean’s waves high enough on Mauna Loa to drown Pele’s fires. So Pele established her home on its slopes.

Rising to more than 4 km above sea level, Mauna Loa is the largest volcano in the world. The enormous volcano covers half of the island, and is among the Earth’s most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times since its first well-documented historical eruption in 1843. Mauna Loa’s recent eruption was in 1984, and is certain to erupt again.

Mauna Loa’s name is suitable, for the sub-aerial part of mountain extends for about 120 km from the southern tip of the island to the summit crater, and then northeast to the coastline near Hilo. The summit crater is named Moku’aweoweo. “Moku” refers to a coastal land section, and “aweoweo” is a type of red Hawaiian fish. Literal translation is “fish section.” Many believe that the “red of the fish” is symbolic of the red lava. Kilauea, an active volcano sitting on the mountain’s southeast flank, has an extensive history of eruptions, including the eruption in 1983 which blanketed 30,000 acres of land with lava, and created 180 acres of new land offshore. $62 million dollars in property damage was assessed from the eruption, and the lava from the eruption continues to flow today.

Mauna Loa’s elevation and location made it an important spot for atmospheric and other scientific observations. The Mauna Loa Solar Observatory has long been prominent in observations of the Sun. The NOAA Mauna Loa Observatory, located close by, monitors the global atmosphere.

Mauna Loa and Kilauea are both accessible through the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The park houses extensive information about volcanoes in Hawaii, and many other Hawaiiana.

Mauna Loa

Rising to more than 4 km above sea level, Mauna Loa is the largest volcano in the world

There have been many stories about Pele and her home on Mauna Loa. One story says that Pele had a white dog that she’d send to alert the people when an eruption was underway. There have been several sightings of a white dog wandering the slopes of Mauna Loa. The observatory staff members first noticed a white dog in 1959. Attempts to befriend or capture the mysterious dog failed no matter how persistent they were. In December later that year, Kilauea, one of the two active craters, erupted and the dog disappeared. The dog would reappear and disappear occasionally after the eruption until 1966 when it stopped. Since then, no one has seen the mysterious white dog.


Four Seasons Resort Maui

woman relaxing at the four seasons on maui

The Maile Suite

According to Hawaiian tradition, the maile leaf lei was the lei for people of all classes and all occasions. Similarly, the Maile Suite at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea offers an experience that anyone would enjoy—after all, everyone deserves a taste of the good life every now and then.

inside the maile suite

Inside the Maile Suite

Located on the seventh floor of the resort, the 5,000-square-foot Maile Suite offers three bedrooms with six interconnecting lanais that front the Pacific Ocean. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide magnificent ocean views, and during whale season (December through May) humpbacks are commonly spotted from this vantagepoint.

The living area includes a formal living room with a separate TV area and office (which comes with a computer complete with high-speed Internet access). Among the entertainment amenities are a 50-inch flat-screen television with DVD player; a stereo system with CD player; and an extensive music and movie library.

Maile Suite bathroom

Sit back and relax

The decor features deep and elegant hues, with exotic woods, locally crafted furnishings and artwork that reflects an indigenous flavor. The dining room seats up to 10 guests and features an adjoining butler’s kitchen. Each bedroom is large enough to accommodate a comfortable seating area as well as a 42-inch flat-screen TV with DVD player. The marble master bedroom includes a deep soaking tub with whirlpool and a separate eucalyptus rain shower. In addition, a guest powder room is located off the foyer.

The nightly rate for the Maile Suite is $8,700.

Award-winning Resort

The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea is an award-winning resort located on Maui’s sunny south coast. The property houses 377 guestrooms (including 75 suites) and offers three fine dining restaurants, championship golf (five courses are located within 10 minutes of the property); the Wailea Tennis Centre and an exclusive spa that features 13 treatment rooms and three oceanside Hawaiian kiosks. The resort also has shops, a children’s program and more than 35,000 square feet of indoor meeting and function space.

Modern Family talk about what they love at the Four Seasons Maui



Chinese Influence on Hawaii’s Food


Manapua with Charsiu Pork

Manapua, a reflection of the Chinese influence—one of many—on the Hawaiian culture, is an echo of the Chinese char siu bao, the barbecued pork-filled steamed dumplings you may have seen on a dim sum cart.

The 19th century marked a historical period in Hawaii as thousands of immigrants from different countries came to the islands seeking work. Over 50,000 Chinese immigrants brought their customs, cultural activities and especially their ethnic foods.

Food vending in the street was a common trade in the marketplace towns of China. In Hawaii, food peddlers sold a variety of delectable items especially their famous char siu bao. The peddlers would stack their foodstuffs in large cans and sling the cans by cords at each end of a pole. Hoisting the poles on their shoulders, they roamed the neighborhoods with their savory-filled buns. Char siu bao immediately became a favorite among the locals, and was given the name manapua, or mea ono pua’a (“mea ono” for cake or pastry, and “pua’a for pork).

The food peddlers today, also known as the manapua man, don’t roam the streets on foot anymore. He can be found in a big truck parked at beaches, small neighborhoods, near the business districts and other places around the island. For many, eating a manapua can be nostalgic, bringing childhood memories of making a trip to the manapua man’s truck.

Over the years, the manapua’s size and filling changed. The late Bat Moi Kam Mau, former owner of Char Hung Sut in Chinatown, was well known for her local-style manapua. She created the “big Hawaiian-size” manapuas that the island people love to eat. The once small manapua, was now super-sized by the locals. Not craving sweet pork? No problem. Today you can find manapua with different savory fillings such as vegetables, curry, sweet bean, chicken, lup cheong (chinese sweet sausage), sweet potato, lau lau and many more. Baked, steamed, sweet bread, wheat—there is a wide variety of manapua that you can choose from.

Where To Find It

Manapua can be found not just at Chinese restaurants, but local eateries as well. Even the local 7-eleven stores carry the steamed dumplings. Libby’s Manapua Shop, located in the Kalihi business district, specializes in a very simple selection of steamed manapua. To many, their signature pink-colored takeout box indicates some good manapua eats! Chun Wah Kam and Island Manapua Factory are other popular places to indulge your manapua cravings.


Learn how Manapua is made


Kailua-Kona is also known simply as Kona

Kailua-Kona has a history that looms much larger than its size would indicate. Hawaiian reggae group Hoaikane’s humorous lyrics about Kailua-Kona is evidence that the local residents are prideful and proud of their hometown.

Tourists have discovered the uniqueness of Kona and made it a popular destination

Nestled at the bottom of the Hualalai Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, this area was considered the premier place to live in ancient times due to the excellent weather and water. British explorer Captain James Cook first spotted Hawaii off the coast of Kailua-Kona. Kona is also where King Kamehameha the Great died and where the ancient kapu (taboo) system was discarded.

Kona coffee farm, Kona-Kailua front street and Kona bay skyview

Kailua-Kona its coffee plantaions, its crystal clear bay and its animated front street

Things to Do

Most people consider Kona to be the center of the visitor industry on the Big Island. The town has an intoxicating aroma, thanks in part to the Kona Coast’s world-famous Kona coffee. The main street, Alii Drive, runs along the oceanfront through the heart of the city from Kailua Pier to the Kuamoo Battlefield, where many lives were lost in fighting over the value of the kapu system. The charming town mixes numerous historical sites with modern tourist attractions, restaurants, shops and hotels.

The Ahuena Heiau, located in Komakahonu bay

The ahuena heiau temple resting in kamakahonu bay

The Ahuena Heiau, located in Komakahonu bay, was rebuilt by King Kamehameha the Great and dedicated to Lono, the Hawaiian God of peace, agriculture and prosperity.

Hulihee Palace

Hulihee Palace

Across the bay is Hulihee Palace, built in 1838 by Governor John Kuakini. The palace became the summer retreat of King Kalakaua during his reign. Today it is a museum housing artifacts from the 1800s.

Mokuaikaua Church

Mokuaikaua Church

Directly across the street from the palace is Mokuaikaua Church, the first Christian church in the islands. The lava rock and coral building was first dedicated in 1823 and finally finished 14 years later.

Ironman Triathlon

Today, Kona is one of the world’s great sports fishing centers and home to the annual Ironman Triathlon. The King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel has been the headquarters of the Ironman Triathlon since 1988. The 460-room hotel fronts the only white sandy beach in Kona. The full service hotel features three restaurants, swimming pool with a whirlpool spa and sauna, comprehensive meeting and banquet facilities, a Hawaiian activity center, beauty salon and the only air-conditioned shopping mall in Kona.


Maui Shopping Adventures

lady shopping for aloha shirts

Aloha shirts make great gifts for family and friends back home.

Maui is known for many things: glorious Haleakala sunsets; sun-kissed beaches; the thrills and spills of windsurfing; superb golf courses; lively Lahaina nights; the long, scenic road to Hana; award-winning resorts and restaurants…and shopping.

Yes, the Valley Isle offers a wide variety of shopping adventures, from large malls to quaint mom-and-pop shops. Here’s an overview of Maui’s shopping scene:

Queen Kaahumanu Center

outside the queen kaahumanu mall

Maui’s largest mall

The largest mall on the island is the Queen Kaahumanu Center in Kahului (just minutes from the Kahului Airport). Here is where you’ll find the island’s only major department stores—Sears and Macy’s—as well as more than 100 other shops and restaurants. Many of the familiar names are here—Footlocker, Gap, Sharper Image, Waldenbooks, etc.—but there are also stores that are unique to the Islands. Free Hawaiian entertainment is presented every Friday.

Paia Town

Paia offers a variety of shopping opportunities along Hana highway. This is my wife’s and mother’s favorite place to shop on Maui as their tends to be a bit more local flair in the stores located here.

Maui Mall

Also in Kahului is the Maui Mall, which offers more than 40 shops and eateries. Included here is a wide selection of locally owned shops, a 12-screen Megaplex Theater and a popular arcade. Free entertainment is provided.

Shops at Wailea

South Maui has the 150,000-square-foot Shops at Wailea, a beautifully designed shopping complex located at the Wailea Resort. Included here are more than 50 shops and dining establishments nestled within a traditional/contemporary Hawaiian setting. Fountains, pools, a courtyard and tropical landscaping make this a thoroughly pleasant shopping experience.

Lahaina Cannery Mall

outside the lahaina cannery mall

Enjoy Maui’s only fully enclosed air-conditioned shopping center on those hot Lahaina days

In West Maui, the Lahaina Cannery Mall is the island’s only fully enclosed air-conditioned shopping center. Built in 1987, the mall has an intriguing mix of boutiques, shops and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for books, gift items, coffee, music or even ocean gear, Lahaina Cannery Mall is a popular stop for both residents and visitors.

Front Street

The town of Lahaina is full of shopping pleasures. 505 Front Street includes a shopping maze of stores offering designer apparel, jewelry, local and imported gift items, artworks, books, beach wear and more.

Whalers Village

The master-planned resort community of Kaanapali also has a number of shopping opportunities, including the popular Whalers Village. This shopping complex also houses the Whalers Village Museum, which brings to life Lahaina’s historic whaling era (1825-1860) with artifacts, photos and other informative displays.

whalers village shopping center at night

Lahaina is full of shopping pleasures including those at Whalers village

Kapalua Resort

Kapalua Resort has a collection of shops that range from gifts and souvenirs to jewelry, quilts, designer wear, logo apparel, artworks, coffee and home accessories.


Historic Aloha Tower, Oahu

In its heyday, 10-story Aloha Tower was the tallest structure in all of Hawaii. And even though it’s now dwarfed by downtown Honolulu‘s small jungle of office buildings, the tower still stands tall as one of the state’s most recognizable symbols of Hawaiian hospitality.

Aloha Tower with rainbow

Aloha Tower with double rainbow (look closely) in the background

The tower was built in 1926 as a fitting welcome for the boatloads of tourists arriving at Honolulu Harbor. In the 1920s and ’30s, passenger arrivals, dubbed “Boat Days,” were lively celebrations that often involved the entire community. Many locals even left work early to take part in the festivities.

Tip: The Aloha Tower’s observation deck remains open to the public daily from 9:30 a.m. to sunset. Admission is free.

Aloha Tower is part of our self guided Honolulu walking tour→

Virtual Tour

Virtual tour from the street facing Aloha Tower

Boat Days

“Boat Days” included hula dancers, thousands of colorful streamers and performances by the Royal Hawaiian Band. The entire harbor permeated with the smell of fresh flower leis.

Boat docked near Aloha Tower

Boat docked near Aloha Tower

Recalled Honolulu Star-Bulletin columnist Dave Donnelly, “‘Boat Day’ was indeed a big deal. I remember strolling to the tower where the ocean liners of the day docked. They were met by tutu stringing and selling lei, Island musicians playing and singing, and young men who dived for coins tossed overboard by tourists. Looking back, it wasn’t unlike feeding pigeons at the zoo, but the boys who did the diving didn’t mind, since a case of beer went for about $4 in 1956.”

The slender, square-shaped tower was topped by a domed cupola with balcony openings on all four sides, providing sweeping views of Honolulu. The large clocks (one facing the harbor, the other facing inland) serves as a distinguishing element, along with the letters “A-L-O-H-A.” The tower is topped by a 40-foot flagstaff.

The tower also served a practical function, as the observation deck doubled as a maritime communications and harbor control center.

“Boat Days” came to a quiet end as passenger airlines grew as the primary transportation option for incoming visitors. And as neighboring skyscrapers began sprouting up in the downtown district, Aloha Tower seemed destined to fall into a retired state of neglect and irrelevance.

Aloha Tower Marketplace

Aloha Tower and downtown Honolulu in the background from a boat in the harbor at sunset

Aloha Tower Marketplace (downtown Honolulu in the background) from the harbor at sunset

Thankfully, that changed in 1994 with the opening of the Aloha Tower Marketplace, a popular shopping and dining complex fronting Honolulu Harbor. The tower stands proudly as the centerpiece of the complex.


The Aloha Tower’s observation deck remains open to the public daily from 9:30 a.m. to sunset. Admission is free.

Big Island Shopping


Some of the best shopping is found where you would never expect

The Big Island of Hawaii may not have the giant malls and shopping centers that you’d find on Oahu or even Maui, but there are still plenty of shopping adventures to be found on the island. From trend-setting resort shops along the Kohala Coast to the Wal-Mart in Hilo (a favorite night-time hangout spot for locals), the Big Island has enough venues to satisfy any shopaholic.

Keauhou Shopping Center

Located just seven miles from Kailua-Kona on Alii Drive is the open-air Keauhou Shopping Center, which offers more than 40 shops and restaurants as well as a state-of-the-art multiplex movie theater. Among the items you’ll find here are the latest fashion apparel, swimwear, specialty shops, convenience stores and more. Free entertainment and cultural demonstrations (including ukulele lessons and lei making classes) are held at the shopping center every Friday.

Kohala Coast

fireworks over the Kings Shops at Waikoloa

Enjoy fireworks along with shopping at the Kings’ Shops at Waikoloa

The Big Island’s scenic Kohala Coast also has a wealth of shopping opportunities. The major retail center here is the Kings’ Shops at Waikoloa, a 75,000-squre-foot shopping, dining and entertainment complex with more than 35 stores and eateries. Live hula performances, musical entertainment, weekly guided tours of nearby petroglyph fields, native Hawaiian plants, and arts and crafts displays are among the featured attractions at the Kings’ Shops.


inside the prince kuhio plaza

The Big Island largest enclosed shopping center has many of the familiar names

In Hilo, locals and visitors alike flock to the Prince Kuhio Plaza, which bills itself as the Big Islands largest enclosed shopping center. The plaza has many of the familiar names—there’s Blockbuster Video, Champs Sports, Footlocker, K-B Toys, Radio Shack, Macy’s, Sears, Spencer Gifts and Waldenbooks, among others—along with a nice selection of Hawaiian-themed shops. It’s a great place to pick up some souvenirs or treats to bring home. And if you’re in the mood to catch a flick, the plaza has a nine-screen multiplex theater.

Other Shopping

Other shopping venues on the Big Island include the Hilo Shopping Center and Puainako Town Center in Hilo, and the Kona Coast Shopping Center and Lanihau Center in Kailua-Kona.

Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa

Grand Wailea hotel front at night

Wailea is one of the most luxurious resorts in the state.

Fronting Wailea Beach on the island of Maui’s southwest shore, the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa includes nine restaurants; the largest spa in Hawaii; a 20,000-square-foot “Camp Grande” for children; a shopping arcade; and an activity pool with nine separate pools, seven waterslides and the world’s first “water elevator.” Clearly, the resort lives up to its “Grand” name. So imagine what its “Grand Suite” must be like!

The Rooms

There are two Grand Suites, each offering 5,500 square feet of space. Located at the resort’s exclusive Napua Tower (a 100-room small hotel within the resort), the suites offer the best ocean views at the resort, luxurious interiors with wood-paneled walls and museum-quality artwork, and master and guest bedrooms, marble bathrooms and much more. An optional adjoining room is available to create a three-bedroom suite. There’s even a grand piano.

Suite at the Grand Wailea

Live like a Rock-Star in one of the magnificient suites of the resort

Opened in 1991, the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa sits on 40 acres in Wailea. The resort has 780 guestrooms, including 52 suites.

Floating Restaurant

Dining options include the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, a “floating” seafood restaurant named after Hawaii’s state fish. Here, guests may select their own lobster from the lagoon or enjoy sumptuous Island cuisine with Polynesian and Hawaiian influences.

Grand Wailea floating restaurant

The floating seafood restaurant is a one of of kind experience overlooking the Pacific


Don’t worry about the calories. You can always burn them off at the 50,000-square-foot Spa Grande, which combines Hawaiian and ancient Eastern healing and relaxation techniques with European rejuvenation therapies. The Spa Grande has 40 large treatment rooms, a large cedar sauna, marble steam room, Roman bath-style Jacuzzi, weight training rooms, aerobics and aqua-aerobics, racquetball/squash court, beauty salon, ocean-view lounge, personal trainers and much more.

Indoor pool at the Spa Grande, Grand Wailea resort

Relax your body and mind in the luxury Spa

Golf and Tennis

Wailea resort also offers the Wailea Golf Club (with three 18-hole championship courses) and the Wailea Tennis Club, which has 11 courts (including three it for night play).

Grand Wailea golf course at sunset

Wailea golf course offers you breathtaking views of the Pacific

Business Travelers

For business travelers, the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa has 22 banquet rooms, meeting spaces and board rooms totaling more than 80,000 square feet of function space.

Video – Tour of the Resort


Hawaii State Art Museum

The Hawaii State Art Museum in downtown Honolulu is a celebration of Hawaii’s diverse artistic and cultural legacy. It’s also a venue to showcase the best works of Hawaii’s thriving art community.

The Art of Hawaii

outside the Hawaii State Art Museum building

The museum’s inaugural exhibition, “Enriched by Diversity: The Art of Hawaii,” includes 360 works by 284 artists. The exhibition features a wide variety of artistic styles, movements and media—all illustrating the unique cultural influences that fuel the creativity of Hawaii’s artists. Here, Western art forms blend with the traditional folk art forms of Hawaii’s multi-cultural population, including Hawaiian kapa, umeke (wooden calabashes) and quilts; Japanese shizu embroidery and raku pottery; and much more.


The museum houses an extensive collection of paintings, prints, photos, sculptures and mixed-media works, all purchased and collected by the state within the past 35 years. Until the museum opened in November 2002, the only places these works could be displayed were in various state buildings. In fact, the museum’s display of art represents only a fraction of its entire collection. Expect more works to be exhibited in the future.

art found at the Hawaii State Art Museum

The museum houses an extensive collection of art

The museum’s grand opening was held on November 3, 2002. Opening festivities included hands-on art activities, music and dance performances, and food booths. Proclaimed then-Governor Benjamin Cayetano, “The people of our State will now have a unique place in the Capitol District where their own art is displayed, taught, practiced and passed on to the children of Hawaii.”

A cafe, gift shop and information kiosk are scheduled to open at the museum in the first quarter of 2005.


The museum is located at 250 South Hotel Street at the 1 Capitol District Building. The site was the home of the original Royal Hawaiian Hotel and went on to serve as a YMCA, a business headquarters and, most recently, a state building used by government workers.

First Friday entertainment

Catch the show on the first Friday

Admission to the Hawaii State Art Museum is free. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (As part of Honolulu’s First Friday art program, the museum extends its hours till 9 p.m. on the first Friday of every month.) Food, drinks and pets are not allowed in the museum galleries. In addition, flash photography is prohibited (hand-held still photography and video photography using existing light are permitted in certain areas).


Live from the lawn

The Hawaii SuperFerry

The Hawaii Superferry was supposed to change the way residents and visitors traveled between the Hawaiian Islands, but it all seems to have become a waste of time and money. Legal issues over environmental impact statements and protests from residents of Maui and Kauai halted the ferry in its tracks. The Superferry project is closed with no sign of re-opening any time soon.

The Superferry, 340 feet long and 80 feet wide—imagine a three-deck football field—will be capable of transporting 900 people, 200 cars and 15 trucks from Oahu to Maui, Kauai or the Big Island. Sailing at a rate of 48 mph, an Oahu-to-Maui or Oahu-to-Kauai trip will take approximately three hours. Excursions to the Big Island will take four hours.

Ian Birnie, state harbormaster for the Big Island, told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that the ferry service should be “a wonderful service” for people with family on other islands. Said Birnie, “I’d love to be able to load up my car with Christmas presents, drive it onto the ferry to Honolulu, and then drive off to see my grandkids.”

Passenger fares, according to Hawaii Superferry, will be about half the cost of flying. Automobiles, vans, motorcycles and pickup trucks may also be transported (costs will be based on vehicle length and weight).

Three hours may seem like a long duration, but passengers will have plenty of options to help pass the time. Included on each ship will be a restaurant, coffee and juice bar, fast food offerings, live satellite TV, a children’s play area, a business center, gift shop and more. A pre-arrival video highlighting the destination island will also be presented.

In January 2004, Hawaii Superferry officials announced that Austal USA has agreed to build two catamaran vessels. Each vessel will cost about $75 million. Eventually, Hawaii Superferry expects to have at least three ships running. Each vessel will feature semi-SWATH-type hulls that are designed specifically for Hawaiian waters, ensuring a smooth ride from port to port.

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle and U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye have voiced their support to the project. The state completed a $4.3-million interisland ferry terminal at Pier 19 in Honolulu Harbor in 2002.

“This is going to be a nice new travel option in the islands,” predicts Hawaii Superferry chairman Timothy Dick. “It’ll be like sailing on a mini-cruise ship.”

Hawaii’s Monarchy

Kamehameha’s Reign

King Kamehameha statue

King Kamehameha will always be remembered

Kamehameha the Great (born c. 1758, died 1819) set out from the Big Island in the last decade of the 18th century to conquer his neighbors. Kauai was the sole holdout and as some on the Garden Isle will proudly tell you, Kamehameha never succeeded in defeating the Kauai chiefs. Nevertheless, Kauai ceded power to Hawaii’s powerful first king in 1810 and the Hawaiian Islands were joined.

Kamehameha’s son, Liholiho (1797-1819) succeeded him to become Kamehameha II. His late father’s favorite wife, Queen Kaahumanu, however, wielded the real power. A feminist of sorts, the Queen systematically broke the age-old kapu (taboos) that restricted women’s power in Hawaiian society.

Around the same time, Kaahumanu was encouraging the end of the kapu system, the first wave of congregational missionaries arrived in Hawaii. The convergence of these forces set off another round of change with great effect.

old picture of King Kalakaua

“Merrie Monarch”

The next three monarchs were also crowned in the Kamehameha line: III (Kauikeaouli), IV (Alexander Liholiho) and V (Lot Kamehameha). Upon Lot’s death, William Lunalilo took the throne for one year. In 1874, David Kalakaua was elected king under Hawaii’s constitution. A champion of Hawaiian culture, Kalakaua was known as the “Merrie Monarch” because of his penchant for enjoying the good life. Among his accomplishments, Kalakaua built the grand Iolani Palace in Honolulu and revived the art of hula.

Hawaii’s Last Monarch

While Kalakaua was Hawaii’s last king, his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, has the distinction of being Hawaii’s last monarch. In a futile attempt to revert to an earlier Constitution and restore power to the monarchy, Liliuokalani was forced to step down during a coup by American businessmen. Thus, the Republic of Hawaii was born on July 4, 1894. Four years later, Hawaii became a territory of the United States.

Display at bishop museum

This display can be found at the Bishop museum


Today, Kamehameha is the name of a highway on Oahu, and Kalakaua is the name of the main thoroughfare in Waikiki. Kaahumanu is the name of a shopping center in Maui. Still, Hawaii’s culture and heritage are revered by many in the Islands. The diverse populations that have made Hawaii their home in the last 100 years have adopted and embraced the Hawaiian spirit of aloha. You’ll always be welcome in Hawaii.

Horseback Riding


Saddle up

In 1793 British Captain George Vancouver gave King Kamehameha five head of black longhorn cattle that Kamehameha set free to roam the plains of the Big Island. These cattle flourished and soon became a nuisance because of their rapidly growing numbers. Mexican cowboys or Vaquiro as they are called where brought to the island in 1830 to teach the Hawaiians roping and riding skills necessary to herd the wild cattle. The Vaquiro called the men they trained Paniolos.


Today the Big Island is known as paniolo country. It is home to nearly 200 cattle ranches, Parker ranch being the largest and one of the biggest in the country.

Several area ranches offer the opportunity to ride the range in a guided tour of the pastures with spectacular views of the coastline and peaks. You can ride along with paniolos on working cattle ranches who will tell you stories that have been passed down in there families for generations. The stables cater to riders of all experience levels with horses that the first time rider will feel safe on to the ones that will only respond to the most experience.

Horseback Riding on a ranch

Paniolo country

If you looking to walk, trot, or canter along the stables will have what you are looking for in the open plains of Waimea. If you would prefer to go on more of sightseeing trip then an open range ride.

You can also saddle up and explore the trails above Waipi’o Valley for amazing sightseeing and backcountry waterfalls. These rides will take you into a lush tropical jungle on windy trails to a beautiful waterfall. If you looking to go for hard riding or an afternoon walk the Big Island of Hawaii has what every horse lover wants.

Saddle up and see you on the range.



Iiwi the hawaiian honey creeper


Have you ever heard the squeeky sound of balloons rubbing together? That’s what the call of the iiwi reminds me of. The bird is very distinct in both sound and appearance. Its bright red feathers, pink curved bill, and black wings and tail distinguish it from the rest of Hawaii’s forest birds.

The iiwi is one of more than 50 species of honeycreepers that are believed to have evolved from a single ancestral species which colonized the Islands millions of years ago.

Its bright red feathers were highly prized by the Hawaiians who used them to make feathered capes, helmets, and other ornaments for the alii, or chiefs. The birds were caught by professional bird catchers who smeared tree sap onto a branch next to a flower blossom. When the bird lighted on the branch to sip the flower nectar, it was caught.


Watch the Hawaiian Honeycreeper in action

When I’m up in the mountains where native plants and animals live, one of the things that alerts me to the iiwi’s presence is the buzzing sounds their wings make as they flutter from tree to tree. Their movements are also unique as they spend much of their time hanging upside down poking their long, curved bills into flowers. The lehua blossom is one of their favorite foods.

Like many native species, the iiwi are becoming scarce. Disease, habitat loss and predation by introduced animals have taken its toll on the birds.

A couple of places to look for these birds are Kokee State Park on Kauai and Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Hawaii Island Hopping

Leaving Oahu on a airplane

Take an inter island flight on an island hopping adventure.

Ever thought, “If you’ve seen one Hawaiian island, you’ve seen them all?” Better think again.

Each of Hawaii’s six main islands offers a unique experience that no other island can match. In fact, recent statistics show that one out of three visitors to the Aloha State visit two or more islands during their trip. For a growing number of vacationers, “island hopping” has become an exciting Hawaiian adventure in itself.


For most people, Oahu is a “must” visit; about 75 percent of all visitors to Hawaii include a stop on this island. Appropriately nicknamed “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is where most of the action is. It’s where you’ll find Waikiki, Hawaii’s most famous resort playground, and where visitors can enjoy all the amenities of “big city” life. In addition, Oahu is home to some of the state’s most popular and revered visitor attractions, including the USS Arizona Memorial, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and Polynesian Cultural Center.


kauai's north shore

Unspoiled natural Beauty

Kauai, on the other hand, is renowned as Hawaii’s most romantic island. It’s a place that is so rich in raw, unspoiled natural beauty that it’s a favorite backdrop for Hollywood‘s leading film producers. Kauai is famous for having some of Hawaii’s most breathtaking natural wonders, including Waimea Canyon (hailed as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”), Napali Coast and the island’s lovely North Shore.

Big Island

vog from Kilauea volcano

The world’ most active volcano is found on the Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii is exactly as its name implies. Encompassing 4,028 square miles, the Big Island is twice the size of all other Hawaiian islands combined! This island offers plenty of room to roam, and many opportunities to do so, from horseback riding and hiking to biking and fishing. What other island is large enough to hold five volcanoes, including the world’s most active volcano—Kilauea, which has been spewing molten lava since January 1983?


Turtle swimming off the coast of Maui

The best of all worlds

For many visitors, Maui offers the ideal blend of sophistication and Mother Nature. It’s not as crowded as Oahu, yet more refined than its other sister islands. The Valley Isle has distinguished itself, perhaps, for being able to offer the best of all worlds. There is something for everyone here: family attractions (Maui Ocean Center), world-class performing arts (Maui Arts & Cultural Center), scenic wonders (Haleakala National Park) and hidden natural gems (the road to Hana).


coconut trees on molokai

Get away from it all and relax on Molokai

Molokai is the island of choice when you when to get away from it all. Here, there are no traffic lights or neon signs. No building is taller than a palm tree. Molokai is where time has stood still, eschewing modern trappings in favor of a slower, laid-back lifestyle. There is still a fair amount of activities to enjoy here—there’s golf, camping, hiking and the world-famous mule ride down to historic Kalaupapa—but the island that bills itself as “Hawaiian by Nature” is largely appreciated for what it doesn’t have.


Lanai coastline

Lanai has transformed itself into a gorgeous resort area

Last but not least is Lanai, which has transformed itself from an agriculture-based island to a gorgeous resort with two world-class championship golf courses, two distinctive hotels, pristine beaches and a whole lot more. SCUBA diving, snorkeling, clay shooting, biking and hiking are among the other outdoor adventures available on Lanai.


Groom wearing Maile lei and blowing a conch shell

Lei reserved for memorable occasions

In Hawaii, the placing of a lei over the head and around the shoulders of a person exemplifies the bestowing of honor and respect, and also the spirit of aloha. According to Hawaiian tradition, the maile was the lei for people of all classes and all occasions. The maile is a long lasting lei and probably the oldest and most popular material used in leis by the early Hawaiians. It is an open-ended horseshoe fashion lei made of the spicy scented green maile stems and leaves.

The native Hawaiian vine, with shiny fragrant leaves, is a member of the periwinkle family, and is also associated with Laka, the goddess of Hula. Maile along with other plants of the native forest were considered sacred to Laka, and were offered at her altar at hula dance practices and shows. In ancient Hawaii, the maile was also considered a peace offering in the field of battle.

When It’s Used

The maile is most often reserved for memorable occasions. It is known to many as the “lei of royalty,” given to signify respect and honor. The maile is very popular at weddings, graduations and especially proms. On the US mainland, young men usually receive a boutonniere from their prom dates. In Hawaii, they are presented with a maile lei. Wedding leis are a Hawaiian wedding tradition. The maile is the most traditional wedding lei, as it was used by the Kahuna (Hawaiian priest) in old Hawaii to bind the hands of the bride and groom, symbolizing their commitment to each other.

Maile plants are rare and do not look like much until they are woven together to make a lei

The maile lei can also be used for other purposes. Some people dry the lei and use it to scent their drawers, closets, tapa (bark cloth), etc. Lei stands entwine the maile lei with a variety of flowers such as pikake, ilima or mokihana berries.

The maile lei is noted for its rarity and considered by many to be the finest of all leis. Prices range from $30 and up. So place your orders early!

Prince Kuhio

Prince Kuhio

The People’s Prince

Born on March 26, 1871 Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole was prince of the reigning House of Kalakaua when the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in 1893.

Prince Kuhio was raised in Koloa on the island of Kauai, and attended the Royal School on Oahu, originally called the Chief’s Children School. He studied for four years at St. Matthew’s College in California, the royal Agricultural College in England, and then eventually graduated from a business school also in England.

Upon the assumption of the Kalakaua dynasty to the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1884, a proclamation ending the Kamehameha Dynasty also declared Kuhio a royal prince. King David Kalakaua, also Kuhio’s uncle, then appointed him to a seat in the royal Cabinet administering the Department of the Interior. However, American businessmen overthrew the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893. A year later, Kuhio and brother Kawananakoa joined other native Hawaiians in an attempt to restore the monarchy. The attempt was unsuccessful, and Prince Kuhio was sentenced to a year in prison while others were executed for treason against the republic. After getting out of prison, Kuhio left Hawaii and traveled in South Africa for a few years, vowing never to return to a Hawaii that appeared inhospitable to Hawaiians. During his time away from home, he joined the British Army to fight in the Boer War.

the birthplace of Prince kuhio

Prince Kuhio’s birthplace (Prince Kuhio park)

After returning home, Hawaii had already been annexed as territory of the United States. Had the Hawaiian monarchy continued, Prince Kuhio probably would have become King of Hawaii upon the death of Queen Liliuokalani. Instead, he was elected as Hawaii’s congressional delegate for 10 consecutive terms.

Kuhio was often called Ke Ali’i Makaainana (Prince of People), and is well known for his efforts to preserve and strengthen the Hawaiian people. While a delegate of Congress, he spearheaded the effort in the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act that provides lands for native Hawaiians to homestead. Prince Kuhio was also known for restoring the Royal Order of Kamehameha I and establishing the Hawaiian Civic Club.

Prince Kuhio's gravestone

Prince Kuhio helped preserve and strengthen the Hawaiian people

Prince Kuhio served in congress from 1903 till his death in 1922. His body was laid to rest with the rest of his royal family at the Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu on Oahu.

Celebrating Prince Kuhio

A new statue honoring Prince Kuhio was dedicated in 2002. The statue is slightly larger than life-size, and is located in Waikiki. Artist Sean K.L. Browne said that building the statue was a great significance for him because he was raised on Hawaiian Homes land.

The territorial Legislature passed a resolution in 1949, establishing March 26 as a territorial holiday in honor of Prince Kuhio.

Mauna Kea

snow on top of Mauna Kea

Yes it snows in Hawaii

Hawaiian Legends

According to Hawaiian legends, Poliahu was known to be the beautiful goddess of snow, who lived on the Big Island volcano Mauna Kea. Poliahu was at odds with her sister Pele, goddess of volcanoes, who often caused Mauna Kea to erupt in fountains of fire in spite of her. Pele’s wrath would melt Poliahu’s snow and drive her from the summit. There was a time when Poliahu counterattacked with a great blizzard, covering the mountain with deep snow, driving Pele back to her home on Mauna Loa. Pele’s fires on Mauna Kea were quenched for all time.

Standing at 13,796 feet, Mauna Kea is the highest volcano in Hawaii. It is one of five volcanic peaks that together form the Big Island, but is currently dormant. Literally meaning “white mountain” in the Hawaiian language, Mauna Kea’s name refers to the fact that it is regularly snow- or frost-capped. The top of the mountain peaks out at 13,796 feet on Pu’u We-Kiu, one of the numerous cinder cones on the summit, and also the highest point in the Hawaiian Islands. Mauna Kea is also considered the tallest mountain in the world when measured from the base under the ocean to the top.

Astronomical Observations

Star trails over Mauna Kea observatory

Follow the stars

Mauna Kea’s elevation and location made it an important location for atmospheric and astronomical observations. Astronomers made Mauna Kea home to the world’s largest telescopes because its atmospheric clarity is excellent. Geology and Earth science students, environmentalists and anthropologists enjoy studying the mountain because it has a lot to offer. The summit houses observatories built by many nations. The Hawaiians, on the other hand, revere Mauna Kea as a religious site, home to their mightiest gods and the burial place of their ancestors.

Mauna Kea Summit Adventures offers a 7-8 hour tour featuring spectacular scenery, watching the sunset at the summit, stargazing and more. The tour provides hooded parkas, a light dinner, hot drinks and convenient pick-up points for your convenience.

When you’re on the Big Island, visiting Mauna Kea is worth the stop if you want to experience some real Hawaiian snow.


Observing from Mauna Kea

Getting Married on Oahu

couple on the beach

Photos on this page courtesy of Aloha Island Weddings

Planning a Wedding

Love is always in the air on Oahu. From sunset strolls along Waikiki Beach to a starlit dinner cruise off the island’s famed Gold Coast, Oahu is made for romance. Even better, it is the perfect place to say “I do.”


Every day, visitors come to Oahu to exchange wedding vows and enjoy a Hawaiian honeymoon. They may opt for a traditional ceremony in a church or wedding chapel (several hotels and resorts on the island offer their own chapels), or they may decide to say “I do” on a secluded white sand beach, near a cascading waterfall or on a scenic mountain hillside. If you’re on the adventurous side, Oahu also offers a number of unique wedding experiences, including those on land (horseback riding), in the air (skydiving) and under the sea (SCUBA).

There are many professional wedding planners on the island who can help arrange the wedding of your dreams. A wedding planner can coordinate every aspect of your wedding, from securing a location and arranging for a minister to hiring a photographer and even finding that perfect wedding gown. Basically, a planner can take the worry out of your wedding.

Marriage License

For a person to marry in the state of Hawaii, a marriage license must be obtained from an authorized agent. Once the license has been issued, there is no waiting period before the marriage can take place. Marriage performers must be licensed by and in the state of Hawaii to perform the marriage ceremony.

Beach wedding

Let the experts take the worry out of your wedding

You do not have to be a state resident or U.S. citizen to be granted a marriage license in Hawaii. Blood tests are not required. The legal age to marry is 18 years for both males and females. Males or females who are 16 or 17 years of age and wish to be married must present written consent of both parents, legal guardians or family court. (Consent forms may be obtained by a marriage agent.) Proof of age is required.

The prospective bride and groom must appear together in person before a marriage license agent to apply for a marriage license. Proxies are not allowed. The marriage license costs $60 (payable in cash). The license is good for 30 days.

On Oahu, you can apply for a marriage license at the Health Department Building (1250 Punchbowl Street) in Honolulu. For more information about obtaining a marriage license, call (808) 586-4545.

Hawaii Bridal Expo

For newlyweds-to-be, the Hawaii Bridal Expo is a major consumer show held at the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall in Honolulu. Held in January, the two-day event includes wedding planners, photographers, videographers and many other wedding-related services and products.

Koa Wood

Even though its numbers are in rapid decline, koa trees remain the king of Hawaiian forests. It is the tallest and most revered of Hawaii’s native trees. It also ranks among the oldest tree species in the state and unquestionably carries the highest value.

a loan Koa tree

“What a mine of wealth these magnificent koa trees would be to the people who should transport their timber to the shore and ship it to foreign countries! The koa is the Hawaiian mahogany. It takes a polish like gold or diamonds. In the hands of foreign workmen, it might be made as ornamental as precious marble.” —George Leonard Chaney, 1879

Biologists regard koa (Acacia koa) as one of the first botanical “settlers” of Hawaii because more than 40 species of endemic insects live on koa—more than on any other native tree. Several native bird species are associated with koa either primarily or exclusively. It’s estimated that the koa forest predates the arrival of man by millions of years.


Traditional Koa conoe and paddle

Koa has many purposes such as this canoe and paddle

Koa was used in early Hawaii to build war canoes, surfboards and calabashes. Today, it is used as a material for a variety of furniture pieces and accessories, including tables, desks, cabinets, benches, clocks, picture frames, desk items and more.

In terms of strength and weight, koa is similar to black walnut. It is a moderately heavy wood. It’s stable, works well and has a rich, deeply reflective glow when finished with oils and modern varnish or lacquer. Its colors range from light brown to deep red and brown hues.


Koa is the fastest growing of Hawaii’s valuable hardwoods, growing as much as an inch in diameter per year. A koa tree can reach a hundred feet in height, with a trunk diameter of five meet or larger.

Bringing back Koa

The depletion of koa has led to a dramatic rise in prices. Some woodworkers, in an effort to lessen costs, have introduced products that include both koa and other types of hardwood.

Beware of koa imitations that have been hitting the market in recent years. Faux koa products are substantially cheaper than the real thing. Koa flooring, for example, is priced at about $30 a square foot. An Australian wood with a similar look may retail for half that amount.

Lahaina Nightlife

Lahaina as the sun sets and the stars come out

Lahaina town comes alive when the sun goes down

If you’re looking for nightlife, this is the best place to find it on Maui.

Admittedly, Maui isn’t known for its nightlife. The seaside town of Lahaina, however, may be the island’s notable exception. From rowdy sailors during the whaling era to modern-day stage productions, Lahaina has always been a bustling center of activity.

Front Street

In Lahaina, the fun heats up when the sun goes down. Front Street, the town’s main thoroughfare, is a great place to catch the sunset, grab a bite to eat, enjoy an ice-cold brew or simply “kick back” and watch the colorful parade of people passing by.

Art Night

Front Street is also a window shopper’s paradise, with more than a hundred shops and galleries to explore. What’s more, every Friday is “Art Night” in Lahaina, where visitors can take in special gallery shows, artist demonstrations, refreshments and entertainment. Lahaina has been dubbed “The Art Capital of the Pacific” because it has more art galleries per capita than any other town in America. A free map of participating galleries is available at the Lahaina Visitor Center. Best of all, everything’s free!

Lahaina art night

“The Art Capital of the Pacific”


One of the hottest shows in all of Maui is Ulalena, a 75-minute musical extravaganza performed five nights a week at the 684-seat Maui Theatre. Since its debut in the summer of 1999, Ulalena has garnered numerous awards, including “Best Show of the Year” at the statewide Hawaii Music Awards. National Geographic Traveler describes the show as “a Cirque du Soleil-like” presentation of Hawaiian mythology and magic that weaves lighting, dance, costume and music into an entertaining theatrical experience.”

Ulalena is the “Best Show of the Year”

Special Events

Be sure to check out Lahaina’s special events calendar to preview the latest happenings. Some of the town’s more lively annual events include the Chinese New Year Celebration (January or February), Old-Fashioned Fourth of July fireworks show, A Taste of Lahaina (September), Aloha Festivals Hoolaulea (October) and Holiday Lighting of the Banyan Tree (December).

Halloween sign on front street in Lahaina

Lahaina is the place to be on October 31st

And of course, Lahaina doesn’t get any wilder than on October 31st, when more than 30,000 revelers descend on Front Street to take part in “Halloween in Lahaina.” This Mardi Gras-style event features a children’s costume parade, food booths, games, crafts, live music and dancing. It’s the biggest (and wildest) party on Maui.

Hawaii Gifts & Souvenirs

made in Hawaii products

Bring everyone back home some of Hawaii’s local treats.

Want to bring home some aloha?

Before returning home, most visitors to the Islands make it a point to pack their bags with all kinds of mementos from their Hawaiian vacation. From local treats and jewelry to craft items and aloha wear, there is a wide selection of “made in Hawaii” products throughout the state.

Made in Hawaii Festival

Perhaps the largest gathering of Island vendors is held each August at the Made in Hawaii Festival. This three-day event features some 400 exhibitors from the islands of Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, Kauai and Molokai. Items for sale include Hawaii-made apparel, jewelry, artworks, plants, fragrances, foods, crafts, wines, gift items and much more—everything from seat covers and rubber stamps to fried ice cream!

The Made in Hawaii Festival is produced by the Hawaii Food Industry Association and held at the Neal Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. Other highlights include live musical entertainment and cooking demonstrations by some of Hawaii’s premier chefs.

Take a tour around the Made in Hawaii Festival

Pacific Handcrafters Guild’s craft fairs

Hawaii’s artisans are spotlighted at the Pacific Handcrafters Guild’s craft fairs at Thomas Square Park in Honolulu (on King Street, directly across the street from the Neal Blaisdell Center). Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2004, the non-profit organization holds four two-day fairs annually: spring, summer, fall and the highly popular Christmas Fair. All events are free and open to the public.

Giving homage to the ancient Hawaiians who used every resource they had to the fullest, PHG artisans craft turn natural materials such as woods, stones, shells, plants and feathers to create an amazing array of fine crafts, including baskets, jewelry, fine art, hula accessories, musical instruments, apparel and more.

Localy made crafts

Locally crafted goods at the PHG

The PHG is an organization that promotes local artisans by providing opportunities to exhibit and sell their work. All members must pass a rigorous screening process and are subject to on-going quality reviews.

Of course, you don’t need to wait for a craft fair or other special event to find some tangible memories of your Hawaiian stay. Each island offers a number of shopping opportunities, from major malls to endearing mom-and-pop shops. The term “shop till you drop” was made for places like Hawaii, the Aloha State!


Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay, Lanai

The pampering begins the moment you arrive at the resort, when you are greeted with a beautiful flower lei. Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay’s 236 rooms and suites each boasts a private balcony, original artwork and marble baths.

Ocean front kingroom at the Manele Four Seasons

Relax on the private balcony of the oceanfront King room

Its two-story buildings reflect a blend of traditional Hawaiian and Mediterranean architectures, with arcaded loggias and sloping roofs. The resort’s formal gardens and multi-level, landscaped courtyards provide a striking contrast to the sea and shore.

Poolside at the Manele resort

Take a dip in the luxury pool overlooking the Pacific


V.I.P. Tip: Manele Bay already sits high above the white sand beach of Hulopoe Bay. Book the hotel’s Alii Suite, however, and you’ll truly feel “on top of the world.” The 2,700 square-foot, 1 bedroom suite includes multiple flat screens, and . The suite also features one-and-a-half baths. The view of Lanai’s coast from the 900 square-foot balcony are unmatched.

Like the Alii, all suites comes with a full complement of amenities: feather pillows, a hair dryer, ceiling fan, radio, morning newspaper, cable television, in-room safe, iron and ironing board, fully stocked mini bar, complimentary ice delivered daily, slippers and more. The resort also provides daily housekeeping, evening turndown service, dry cleaning, valet parking, complimentary shoeshine, health club facilities, tennis, a swimming pool with Jacuzzi and more.



Of course, all resort guests have an opportunity to tee off at two of Hawaii’s best golf courses. The Challenge at Manele, designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, offers a target-style game amid miles of unspoiled natural surroundings. Every hole at The Challenge provides sweeping ocean views. The Experience at Koele also offers thrilling and challenging golf play. Designed by golf great Greg Norman, the course a combination of upland terrain, landscape architecture and challenging play.

Manele Resort golf

Breathtaking views from the golf course enhance the experience

Things To Do

Other outdoor adventures to be enjoyed on Lanai include tennis, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, horseback riding, bicycling, hiking, sporting clays, 4WD tours and more.

Scuba diving Lanai

Swim with the Racoon Butterflies in the crystal clear waters of Lanai



aerial view of Niihau

A Private Island Dedicated To Preserving Hawaiian Culture

Located just 17 miles off the west coast of Kauai, Niihau (72 square miles) is the smallest of Hawaii’s inhabited islands.

While open to visitors on a limited basis (via helicopter tours), Niihau is a private island that has largely remained unburdened by the influences of the outside world. There are no roads, hotels or restaurants; the 250 residents (mostly of Hawaiian descent) live without electricity.

Helicopter Tour to Niihau

Open to visitors on a limited basis (via helicopter tours)


King Kamehameha IV put Niihau up for sale in 1863, and Kauai resident Elizabeth Sinclair bought the island for $10,000 (she reportedly chose to purchase Niihau over a few other pieces of real estate, including Waikiki and Pearl Harbor). Today, Sinclair’s descendants, the Robinson family, continue her commitment to maintain Niihau’s Hawaiian culture. The Hawaiian language is spoken almost exclusively on the island.

As you can imagine, life on the island is simple, tranquil and blissfully uneventful. That wasn’t the case on December 7, 1941, however. After the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor, a lone Japanese pilot crashed his plane on Niihau and took the entire village of Puuwai hostage. Thankfully, two men, Hawila Kaleohano and Beni Kanahele, were able to disarm and kill the intruder. Kanahele, who was shot three times in the incident, reportedly grabbed the pilot and flung him against a wall, cracking his skull. He later received a Purple Heart for his heroics.

Hawaiian monk seal enjoying a quiet Niihau beach

Relaxing on a quiet Niihau beach

A more welcome visitor to Niihau is the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. The population of the species has grown over the years, up to about 35 seals. Ten to 12 seal pups are born on the island every year.

Because most of Niihau is low and dry, the island is too arid to be used for cultivation. Much of the land, in fact, is used for raising cattle, and most residents work on the Robinsons’ ranch. Each family on the island tends to their own garden to supplement the beef and mutton that are raised on the ranch.

Niihau Shells

Niihau’s beaches are famous for their rare shells. A Niihau shell lei can be valued at hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Display of Niihau shell leis

Niihau’s rare shell jewelery

Hawaii Nature Center

Hawaii's youth being educated

Hands-on environmental education

For over 20 years it has taught children about this special place we call home.

Established in 1981, the Hawaii Nature Center is a non-profit organization that has the sole purpose of spreading the environmental gospel to residents and visitors of the Hawaiian Islands. Almost entirely volunteer-operated, the center facilitates hands-on environmental education for school children, families and the general public. Emphasis is heavily placed on the importance of educating children. The idea is that what children learn today will help protect and preserve Hawaii tomorrow.

The center has two sites:

Makiki Valley, Oahu

Rainbow over Makiki Valley


The original field site is located on Oahu in Makiki Valley, just minutes from urban Honolulu, while the other is on Maui in Iao Valley. Utilizing the Makiki Valley field site, and additional remote field sites such as Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park and the Honouliuli National Wildlife Refuge, the Oahu location has grown from providing programs for 2,000 school children in 1981 to nearly 25,000 today.

More than 800,000 children and adults have participated in environmental education programs at the center since the day it opened. In addition to the school programs offered, the center also provides nature education programs for families and adults on weekends. Programs include guided interpretive hikes, nature adventures, earth care projects and more.

Iao Valley, Maui

Preserving Hawaii's Nature in Iao Valley

Preserving Hawaii’s natural beauty. Iao Valley, Maui

The Maui operation, located in the tropical rainforest of Iao Valley, opened in 1992 and now serves more than sixty percent of the island’s elementary school students every year. The Iao Valley facility now boasts an Interactive Nature Museum with more than 30 hands-on exhibits emphasizing the natural history of the Hawaiian Islands, and allowing you to unlock the secrets of a Hawaiian Rainforest. The center also offers guided nature hikes in Iao Valley for $25 per adult and $23 per child, including admission to the center. Ancient footsteps of the Alii (Hawaiian Royalty) take visitors through the Iao Valley. After crossing the stream, visitors pass by a Taro patch and an old village site. Guided tours describe life as it may have been lived by native Hawaiians and help to identify plants and wildlife. All proceeds support environmental education. The entertaining and educational combination of activities is perfect for people who want to know why Maui and the whole island chain are unique and precious.

With a change in the attitudes of children toward nature, the future of the environment stands a chance. Whether it be delicate ohia flowers, ferns sparkling with raindrops, taro sprouting from a pond, or children thrilled after discovering something, the Hawaii Nature Center thrives on every small detail to help educate our future adults.



Shipwreck beach Poipu at sunset

Shipwreck Beach at sunset

Drenched in sunshine just about all year round, Poipu in south Kauai is a nearly perfect resort area.

Places To Stay

It offers accommodations ranging from ultra-luxury hotels and spacious condominiums to cozy bed-and-breakfasts.

Hyatt resort ans spa Poipu

An exquisite experience awaits you at the luxury Hyatt Resort

Things To Do

There are gourmet restaurants, exclusive shops and championship golf.


Poipu Beach is a smile of sand where the sunsets are a sacrament, holding the world in a chalice of color while the sea and sky melt into golds, pinks and sometimes a flash of emerald. Dr. Beach, a noted authority on beaches, recently ranked Poipu Beach number one in the U.S.

In truth, Poipu is actually many beaches. The sheltered coves of Poipu, with their gentle surf, are the perfect spots to learn to surf or snorkel. The swimming here is idyllic. Adjacent Nukumoi Point has a reef well-populated with angel fish, striped damsels, Moorish idols, black tangs and schools of canary-colored butterfly fish. Families who gather for picnics on weekends enjoy Poipu Beach Park.

Poipu Beach is a white sand beach great for families

It is a sharp contrast to Shipwreck Beach, separated from the rest of Poipu by a rocky coastline etched with nature trails. A dawn walk along the cliffs is exhilarating. The beach itself is glorious, although swimming here is recommended only for the most experienced. Many people like to bicycle beyond Shipwreck to isolated Mahaulepu Beach, one of the loveliest unspoiled strands of sand in the state. The beaches of Poipu draw sun-lovers of all species, including endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals who scoot up the resort sands and stretch out to rest after a strenuous night of hunting.

Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, Hawaii’s first delegate to the United States Congress, was born along the Poipu coast at Kukuiula in 1871. The foundation of the royal home and its fishpond are incorporated into Prince Kuhio Park.


Further up the coast, a lava tube forces spumes of salty surf as high as 50 feet in the air. Called Spouting Horn, this natural wonder is a photographer’s dream, especially at sunset when it becomes incandescent with the colors of the rainbow. Everyone stops here at least once.

The Spouting Horn

Poipu’s horseback riding facility, CJM Country Stables, stages authentic rodeo celebrations. Paniolo (cowboys) with show off their skills that win trophy buckles even on Mainland rodeo circuits.


Sugar Cane Train, Maui

There are faster ways to travel from historic Lahaina town to Kaanapali on Maui‘s west side. But when you’re visiting this special slice of paradise, why rush?

Hop aboard the Sugar Cane Train: Book Now →

Sugar cane train ride

Enjoy the amazing scenery of this one of a kind 6 miles ride

Hawaii’s railroads have almost entirely disappeared, but the Sugar Cane Train—it’s official name is The Lahaina, Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad—is still chugging along, treating visitors to a nostalgic journey to the Maui of yesteryear. The locomotive moves along a six-mile stretch of track at a leisurely pace, surrendering speed in favor of panoramic views of the West Maui mountains and neighboring islands of Lanai and Molokai.

Video of the sugar cane train adventure

The ride includes Hawaiian-style entertainment by a singing conductor, who also provides narration and points out significant sites of interest along the way. During whale watching season (December through April), it’s common to spot humpback whales frolicking in the distant waters.

Hawaii’s railroad history dates back more than a hundred years, as trains hauled sugar cane to the mills and transported plantation workers between their homes and the cane fields. At one time, steam locomotives became a familiar fixture on Maui’s landscape, blasting their whistles as they rounded a mountain curve or chugging along a narrow-gauge track between cane fields and plantation villages.

The first locomotive used in West Maui for sugarcane production debuted in 1890 and continued until around 1950. The train retired when motorized trucks and mechanical claws became more efficient and cost effective.

Old picture of the sugar train

Sugar cane harvest in the 30′s

In 1969, A.W. “Mac” McKelvy and the Makai Corporation joined forces to create the Lahaina, Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad, a.k.a. “The Sugar Cane Train.” Since 1970, this train has provided passenger service from Lahaina to Puukolii (just north of Kaanapali), hosting some five million visitors.

According to the company’s general manager, a sugar cane museum is in the works. Future plans for the Sugar Cane Train include hosting weddings and special theme parties and receptions.

Click here to book your sugar cane train adventure!


Waikiki Aquarium

Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson

a couple enjoying the waikiki aquarium

Get up-close to Hawaii’s marine life

The Waikiki Aquarium is and isn’t a tourist attraction. Certainly, it offers the requisite marine life exhibits that appeal to ocean lovers of all ages; roughly 350,000 people visit here each year. But over the years, the Aquarium has also carved a niche as a vital marine research and education center.

For our money, the educational aspects make the Aquarium one of Oahu‘s best attractions. After all, even when you’re on vacation, learning never takes a holiday.


Debuting in March 1904, the Waikiki Aquarium is the third oldest public aquarium in the United States. It was originally operated as a commercial attraction by the Honolulu Rapid Transit Authority, which saw the facility as a way to entice passengers to ride to the end of the new trolley line in Waikiki. Writer Jack London was among the Aquarium’s early patrons.

The Aquarium became Hawaii’s first marine field station in 1912 and a part of the University of Hawaii in 1919. Its exhibits, programs and research focus on the aquatic life of Hawaii and the tropical Pacific.

Hawaiian monk seals at the Waikiki Aquarium

Hawaiian monk seals relaxing

The Aquarium houses more than 2,500 animals representing more than 420 species. Here, you can get up-close looks at reef sharks, Hawaiian monk seals, reef fish, rays, jellyfish and many other ocean inhabitants. One of the more unique exhibits is the Mahi Hatchery, which displays young mahimahi. While this curious-looking fish is a fisherman’s delight, it’s also a favorite item served on Island menus. With further research, Aquarium experts say, it’s possible that we’ll someday see facilities that spawn mahimahi for food purposes.

Take a tour through the Waikiki Aquarium

After taking in the exhibits, visitors can do some browsing at the Aquarium’s gift shop, which carries an extensive line of marine-related gifts, T-shirts and books. In addition, the shop is selling limited-edition commemorative coins in .999 fine silver, in celebration of the Aquarium’s centennial anniversary.

Educational Programs

The Aquarium also has a number of educational programs that are open to the public. Its “Aquarium After Dark” program, offered about once a month, allows guests to tour the different exhibits at night (using flashlights). “Exploring the Reef by Day,” meanwhile, spotlights Hawaii’s shoreline, reef flat and tidepool habitats. Naturalists from the Aquarium’s Education Department lead informative sessions at select Oahu sites.


The Aquarium is located at 2777 Kalakaua Avenue on the Diamond Head end of Waikiki Beach. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

Sounds of Hula

Men's feet dancing Hawaiian hula

Hula songs are as important as the dance itself.

Interwoven in this traditional mele inoa (name chant) are Hawaiian poetic expressions honoring King David Kalakaua. In praise of Kalakaua, we present selected verses from this chant, entitled “Kawika“.

Hula Song

‘Ae, Eia no Kawika.
Eia no Kawika ei hei
Ka heke a’o na pua ei hei,
Ha’ina ‘ia mai ka puana ei hei
Ka lani Kawika he inoa la
Ea la, ea la, ea, a-i-e-a.
He inoa no ka lani Kawika Kalakaua.


Yes, here is David.
Here is David
The greatest of flowers,
Tell the refrain
In the name of David the royal one,
In the name of David Kalakaua the royal one.


Hawaii instruments for the hula

Hawaii instruments for the hula

Rattling with the motions of the hula, the ‘uli’uli (gourd rattle) creates a sound much like a baby’s rattle. This instrument is fabricated by attaching a handle to a coconut shell or gourd that is partially filled with small seeds or pebbles. Usually on top of the handle is fastened a circular disk of tapa with decorative feathers that flutter in the wind when shaken with the hand.

Tapping the ipu heke (gourd drum) with the palm and fingers of the hand, the hula dancer creates a rhythmic beat that accompanies the dance. This instrument is an assemblage of two gourds attached one on top of the other, forming a single hollow chamber.

Pounding a melodic beat for the hula, the ho’opa’a (chanter and drummer) uses both the pahu hula (hula drum) and puniu (coconut knee drum) to produce alternating tones for the chant. The pahu hula is constructed from a partially hollowed-out tree trunk with a shark skin stretched over the top while the puniu was made from a sectioned coconut shell covered with a fish skin.

E. Kalani Flores has a background as a teacher and lecturer, researcher and consultant, artist and business owner, and has an in-depth knowledge of Hawaiian culture and historical affairs.

Tropical Drinks

Tropical Drinks on a hot day

Enjoy a tropical drink in Hawaii

Tropical cocktails at sunset anyone?

Ever since Harry Yee created the “Blue Hawaii” nearly 45 years ago, tropical cocktails have been as much a part of the Hawaiian experience as white sand beaches, rainbows and waterfalls. Think about it. Is sunset in the Islands really complete without a refreshing Mai Tai or Tropical Itch?

Tropical cocktails are as diverse and colorful as the Hawaiian islands themselves. Their names are creative and often whimsical: Paddler’s Passion, Lava Flow, Hula Girl, Big Kahuna, Tropical Delight, Torch Lighter‚ and even the Missionary’s Downfall. Traditional and new tropical drinks use a wide range of ingredients, and many of today’s recipes are nonalcoholic (so even the children can enjoy these fruity concoctions).

Blue Hawaii

Blue Hawaii tropical drink

The drink that started it all

Yee came up with the Blue Hawaii in 1957, while working as a bartender at the now Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa in Waikiki. A sales representative for Bols asked Yee to create a new drink using blue curacao, one of the company’s new liqueurs. After experimenting with several ingredients, Yee hit the jackpot with the Blue Hawaii. His recipe is a zesty blend of blue curacao, rum and vodka.

Blue Hawaii Recipe

3/4 oz. Rum
3/4 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. Blue Caracao
3 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 oz. Sweet & Sour
Ice (optional)

Tropical Itch

Tropical Itch drink with a back scratcher

Even comes with a backscratcher for later

That same year, Yee created another favorite Island drink, the Tropical Itch, which is made with rum, passion orange juice and orange curacao. The first Blue Hawaii drinks were stylishly served in a ten-ounce glass with a garnish of fresh pineapple, while the Tropical Itch came in a hurricane glass with a bamboo backscratcher.

Mai Tai

Ironically, the king of tropical drinks in Hawaii—the celebrated Mai Tai—wasn’t created in Hawaii. An enterprising chef by the name of Donn Beach created the Mai Tai in California in the 1930s or ’40s. Beach, in fact, concocted more than 90 drinks during this time period.

In her book, 101 Great Tropical Drinks, author Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi provided this Mai Tai recipe from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel:

Royal Hawaiian Hotel Mai Tai Recipe

1/2 oz. Orange Curacao
2 oz. Orange Juice
1/2 oz. Lime Juice
Dash of Orgeat
Dash of Simple Syrup
1 oz. Light Rum
1 oz. Myer’s Dark Rum

(The rums should be layered: first the light rum, then the dark rum.)

Chow’s Mai Tai Recipe

Helpful Hints

While there are no rules for selecting a tropical cocktail, it may be helpful to follow the advice of writer Rick Carroll. No tropical cocktail should taste too strong, too weak or too syrupy. It should be clean, fresh, smooth and flavorful with no jolt of alcohol or a lingering aftertaste. The perfect tropical drink shouldn’t burn your throat or turn you to stone.

Whether you favor a Kakaako Swamp Water or Greg Brady’s Wipeout, enjoying a tropical drink in Hawaii is as refreshing as a swim at Hanauma Bay. Suck ‘em up!

Kaanapali Activities

In 2003, Kaanapali Beach earned recognition as‚ America’s Best Beach‚ by the noted coastal research expert known as‚ Dr. Beach. The judging criteria included water quality, sand quality, water temperature and cleanliness.


Regular visitors to Kaanapali are already familiar with its beauty.

Dr. Beach wrote, ” Over three miles long, (Kaanapali Beach) is located on the dry, sunny side of Maui. White coral sand bathed by clear, emerald green water is just one of the factors that contributed to Kaanapali Beach’s number one ranking. In addition, Kaanapali maintains a critical balance between nature and the built environment.”

Of course, there’s more to Kaanapali than the beach. Once the playground of Hawaiian royalty, in the 1960s Kaanapali (rolling cliffs) became the site of Hawaii’s first-ever master planned resort area.

Things to Do in Kaanapali Resort

Beach Activities

The beach activities here are virtually limitless: Enjoy a professional massage in a beachside tent, play beach volleyball, bask under the Hawaiian sun or simply laze the day away in a hammock. A convenient walkway hugs the beach, allowing early risers a place to jog or walk. It is also a great vantage point forwhale watching, a popular pastime in Kaanapali.


Some of Maui’s best snorkeling is found in the waters surrounding Kekaa (also known as Black Rock) at the northern end of the beach. According to legend, when a person died, his spirit went to this old volcano Kekaa, and from there his soul departed.

For a bit more adventure, take an offshore Kaanapali snorkeling tour aboard a sailing catamaran. We recommend Trilogy Excursions who leaves right from Kaanapali Beach.

Lady snorkeling with sea turtle, Kaanapali Maui

Go on a snorkeling adventure and swim with turtles

Other Resort Activities

Today, Kaanapali offers an appealing variety of accommodations, activities, shopping and dining. The resort features six major award-winning hotels, four popular condominium resorts, two 18-hole championship courses, an open-air shopping complex, more than 40 restaurants, 30 tennis courts, free shuttle service within the resort, and the famous‚ Sugar Cane Train, Hawaii’s only steam-operated railroad system that connects Kaanapali to Lahaina.



Life in ancient Hawaii focused on propitiating the gods, and the various islands housed many types of temples invoking peace, war, health, or profitable fishing and farming. Chiefs and specific occupational groups, such as fishermen, practiced formalized worship in the heiau (place of worship). The heiau structure ranged from single houses surrounded by a wooden fence to stonewalled enclosures containing more than one house to the massive open-air temples with terraces, large stone platforms, and numerous carved idols in which ruling chiefs paid homage to the major Hawaiian gods.

a place to show your respect to the gods of Hawaii

Heiau (place of worship)

The mapele heiau was the agricultural or economy-related temple that was dedicated to the god Lono. Offerings of pigs, vegetables and tapa (bark cloth) were made in hopes of guaranteed rain and agricultural fertility and plenty. The luakini heiau was the large sacrificial government war temple that was dedicated to the god Kuka’ilimoku (Ku). Human lives were taken at the altar when assurance of success in combat was requested from Ku. The same goes for emergencies such as pestilence or famine.

Higher-ranking position holders and priests had the authority to construct agricultural temples, whose ceremonies were open to all. War temples dedicated to Ku could only be built by the ali’i-ai-moku (lower ranking chief and land owner). The king, high-ranking chiefs and members of the Ku priesthood were the only ones authorized to enter. Dedication of the war temple by anyone else was considered treason. Only the high chief could undertake the rituals involving human sacrifice, which was considered the highest form of offering.

Pu’ukohola Heiau

Pu'ukohala Heiau still standing today

Pu’ukohala Heiau in honor of Ku

The Pu’ukohola Heiau on the Big Island is of the few heiau still standing today. The heiau was constructed in honor of Ku. Kamehameha I gathered a work force of chiefs, commoners, men, women and children to build the massive temple. According to ancient Hawaiian belief, when a chief rival was sacrificed Ku was pleased. Therefore, human sacrifice was often made at Pu’ukohola Heiau.

Ahu’ena Heiau

Ahu'ena Heiau on the big island

Kamehameha I personal Heiau

Ahu’ena Heiau, also on the Big Island, was dedicated to Lono, and was once the personal heiau of Kamehameha I. It is currently located on the grounds of the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel, and is open to the public during the day. Carved idols adorn the area, with a golden plover perched on the highest one. Hawaiians believe that this bird led the ancient Polynesians to Hawaii.

The end of the kapu (taboo) system kicked off a mission to burn down every heiau in Hawaii, led by Queen Kaahumanu and Kamehameha II. A few still remain today. Some of which have been restored while others are slowing breaking down. Hawaiians do ask that visitors show respect upon approaching a heiau. Keep in mind that these structures have endured hundreds of years.

Hilo Hattie

Hilo Hattie store

Hawaii’s Store

The Islands’ Largest Shopping Attraction

Offering hundreds of exclusive prints and styles, Hilo Hattie is Hawaii’s largest Hawaiian retailer and manufacturer of Hawaiian, resort and casual fashions. More than two million people shop at Hilo Hattie every year, making the 41-year-old store Hawaii’s largest shopping attraction.

To link-up with Hilo Hattie’s online merchandise catalog, scroll to the bottom of this article and click on the banner.

Each Hilo Hattie store provides a one-stop shopping adventure for Hawaiiana enthusiasts. In addition to the company’s wide range of aloha shirts, muumuu, beachwear, resort apparel and accessories, Hilo Hattie also has Hawaiian candies, music CDs, books, and gift items.

Different prints of aloha shirts

Hundreds of exclusive prints

Hilo Hattie first opened its doors in 1963 with a shop located between Lihue and Kapaa on the island of Kauai. The store is named for Clarissa Haili, the popular entertainer who used the stage name Hilo Hattie throughout the 1950s and ’60s. Haili endeared herself to millions of adoring fans with her comic hula style and such tunes as Princess Pupule Has Plenty Papayasand When Hilo Hattie Does the Hula Bop.Haili passed away in 1979.

Store Locations

Over the years, Hilo Hattie has grown and expanded its reach to appreciative consumers. Today, there are Hilo Hattie retail locations on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. The company has even brought its special brand of aloha to the U.S. mainland, with stores in Orange, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Orlando, Florida. Click on the banner at the end of this article to check out the merchandise and maybe do a little shopping at Hilo Hattie’s online store.

The company’s flagship store is in Honolulu (700 North Nimitz Highway). Opened in 1983, the facility includes a $7-million, 80,000-square-foot showroom, manufacturing center and warehouse. Free trolley service from Waikiki to the store is available daily, with pickups every 20 minutes. The trolley ride includes optional connections or drop-offs to other retail destinations such as Dole Cannery, Aloha Tower Marketplace and Ala Moana Center.

Worlds largest aloha shirt 400xl

Size 400 XL!

The Nimitz store is also the home to the world’s largest aloha shirt, measuring 168 inches (14 feet) around the chest, 161 inches at the waist and more than 60 inches around the neck! . Koa wood beverage coasters were used as the buttons. It took 26 yards of fabric to create the shirt (size 400XL), which was recognized as the world’s largest by the Guinness Book of Records in 1999. According to the company, 13 sumo wrestlers can be fitted for the amount of fabric required to make the shirt.

University of Hawaii

areal view of UH Hilo

Who Wouldn’t Want to Go to School in Paradise?

Many people have their doubts about attending college in Hawaii. After all, what kind of education do the tiny islands have to offer? Just a degree in surfing and the Hawaiian language, right? Wrong.

Established in 1907, the University of Hawaii confers associate, bachelor, master, doctoral and post-doctoral degrees through three university campuses, seven community college campuses, an employment training center, three university centers, four education centers and other research facilities divided across six islands. The University of Hawaii system educates over 50,000 students of which about 44,000 are undergraduates. Over 600 programs are offered throughout the University of Hawaii system with 123 devoted for bachelor’s degrees, 92 for master’s degrees, 53 for doctoral degrees, 3 for first professional degrees, 4 for post baccalaureate degrees, 115 for associate’s degrees and other certifications.

Community Colleges

The University of Hawaii Community College system is made up of four campuses on Oahu and one each on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. Kapiolani Community College on Oahu gained national attention in 1976 when its radiology department developed a new hip x-ray technique. In 1986, the community college’s respiratory care program won a national award as an outstanding vocational education program.

View of Honolulu from UH Manoa

View of Honolulu from the UH Manoa campus

Main Campus

The main campus in Manoa on Oahu has been recognized numerous times for its excellent teaching programs. The John A. Burns School of Medicine is one of the leading medical education institutions in the United States. In 1992, Harvard University identified the school as one of ten “leaders in the reform and improvement of medical education.” All eyes were on the school in 1998 when Dr. Ryuzo Yanagimachi and his team of scientists developed the Honolulu Technique for cloning mice. The institution is the only medical school in the state, and is named after a former Hawaii governor. The William S. Richardson School of Law also at the Manoa campus is one of the leading law schools in the nation. The school is named after former Hawaii State Supreme Court Chief Justice, and is the only law school in Hawaii. There are over 200 students with an average of 80 students in each class, taught by 18 faculty members. Law School 100 ranked the school in the top tier as one of America’s Top Law Schools in 2004. The U.S. News and World Report ranked the school as one of America’s Best Graduate Schools for 2005.

The University of Hawaii has many facilities that have become assets to the students.

East-West Center

Established in 1960 by former President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress, the East-West Center has grown to become a major diplomatic institution of the world, and had opened an auxiliary in Washington, DC in 2001. Professionals and students from all over the world study and work together at the Center to better understand current issues in society, and explore ways of addressing them.

Mauna Kea Observatory

Observatory on top of Mauna Kea

13,796 feet above sea level in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

The Mauna Kea Observatory, located on top of dormant volcano Mauna Kea on the Big Island, is one of the world’s premier astronomical research facilities. Founded in 1967, the observatory is at an altitude of 13,796 feet above sea level, and consists of various multi-national astronomical instruments. The altitude and isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean allows unobstructed views of space without any interference.

Waikiki Aquarium

The Waikiki Aquarium benefits those studying marine science

The Waikiki Aquarium has been an institution of the University of Hawaii System since 1919. Situated beside a living coral reef on the Waikiki shoreline, the aquarium is home to more than 2,500 organisms of 420 species of marine plants and animals. The aquarium attracts over 350,000 visitors a year, and has become one of the premier marine science institutions in the state.

The University of Hawaii still remains to be the school of choice for many Hawaii residents. No surprise considering the diversity, affordability, intellectual rigor, advanced technology, respect and most importantly the aloha.

Kauai Sea Tours

Welcome aboard for Hawaiian hospitality and an ocean experience of a lifetime while witnessing the splendor of the Na Pali Coast.

The end of the road and the beginning of the Napali Coast

Where the road ends


Kauai Sea Tours provides something for everyone with a variety of tours on either a deluxe 60-foot catamaran or exciting adventure rafts. Our friendly, fun loving crews are attentive to passengers and share history and legends of Na Pali on a variety of daily snorkel, sightsee and sunset. Only Kauai Sea Tours Lucky Lady catamaran offers you a combo tour that will take you to a secluded beach via our adventure raft (seasonal conditions permitting).

Catamaran Tours

Discover the deluxe ‚Lucky Lady…a 60-foot twin powered sailing catamaran, built for the waters of Na Pali and the safety, comfort and fun for all of those aboard. Fun seekers enjoy bow riding to view the playful dolphins skimming the waves below. The upper observation deck is great for photography and the water slide is fun for all ages! In addition to snorkeling, scuba diving is available seasonally, no experience needed.

Playful dolphins showing off

Ocean Raft Tours

Veterans of Na Pali Coast raft expeditions have the privilege of a special use permit from State Parks to beach land off Na Pali. Kauai Sea Tours’ experienced captains & crews make these Na Pali raft excursions an eco-adventure surrounded by Mother Nature’s best. Join us to witness the amazing beauty of this coastline with 3,000-foot sea cliffs, lush valleys, pristine beaches, ancient sites, sea caves and cascading. Encounter playful dolphins, sea turtles and Humpback Whales. Beach land Nu`alolo Kai (seasonal conditions permitting) where the crew will escort you on a cultural tour of an ancient Hawaiian village. Snorkel gear and instruction provided to explore one of the best reefs on Kauai. Enjoy a hearty picnic lunch and a pristine beach to bask in the sun! Respected members of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau since 1986 and voted Best of Kauai- Best Boat Tours 2004. Kauai Sea Tours has a reputation for safety, quality, experience and Aloha!

Raft up close in a Napali Coast sea cave

Get up close

Body Glove Cruises

Underwater view of snorkeler and fish

Hawaii’s underwater paradise


Snorkel over coral reef gardens at Pawai Bay, a marine sanctuary of uncommon beauty. Body Glove offers two excursions daily that include breakfast, lunch, snacks, snorkel gear, instruction, prescription masks, flotation toys, 15′ water slide, high dive platform, fresh water showers, a no host premium bar and SCUBA diving for the more intrepid.

From December through April, Pacific Humpback whales are plentiful in Hawaiian waters where they gather to give birth. Witness these magnificent creatures with our certified naturalists while listening to sounds of the singing males with underwater hydro-phones. Be sure to have your camera ready. Click on our banner for more information.

Whale tale out of water

Witness these magnificent creatures from December through April

Holo Holo Charters

areal view of the Napali coast on Kauai

Kauai’s Na Pali Coast is simply amazing


Touring Kauai’s Na Pali Coast was like stepping into a surreal postcard. Its cathedral-like cliffs and meandering valleys transported us back to how the island first appeared to its early inhabitants. The only way to get an up close look at this magnificent scenery is by boat, and fortunately, Holo Holo Charters offers TWO incredible ways to explore the majestic coastal features and the seascape that surrounds it.


Our first outing was on the 65′, 950 hp Holo Holo Power Catamaran. What an experience this boat is considered the fastest and one of the most comfortable tour boats on Kauai. It’s the only charter boat that offers daily tours to both the Na Pali Coast and Forbidden Island of Niihau. Since travel time was reduced due to the boat’s speed, we spent much more time snorkeling and exploring Niihau’s vast network of reefs. Holo Holo provided all our snorkel gear and instruction. The only things we brought were our swimsuits, towels, sunscreen and camera. Holo Holo provided the rest including catered food and refreshments.

view of sunset over Niihau from Kauai

Sunset over the forbidden Island of Niihau seen from Kauai

We had so much fun on our first tour that we decided to go again with Holo Holo Charters. This time, we opted for a more leisurely journey and booked a romantic sunset cruise on the Leila, Holo Holo Charter’s custom-built 50′ sailing catamaran. This vessel was created for the utmost in a true trade wind sailing adventure. Sipping mai tais, eating a gourmet dinner and cruising the Na Pali Coast at 18 knots was a vacation experience unparalleled.

The owners of Holo Holo Charters built Holo Holo and Leila specifically for Hawaiian waters, and the comfort provided on each boat is amazing quality food, beverages, fresh water showers, bathrooms, even water slides for the kids. We couldn’t imagine a better way to explore all that Kauai’s spectacular waters have to offer.

Discover more by visiting: Holo Holo Charters.


Take a quick tour of the Na Pali Coast

Don Ho

Suck-em-up: By Don Ho

Don Ho’s Final Chapter

The legendary Don Ho died on April 14, 2007 at the age of 76 after more than four decades in show business, Don Ho will be long remembered for his humor and his dulcet interpretations of the Hawaiian songs that made him Waikiki‘s top entertainer for a generation. At his show at the Waikiki Beachcomber, Ho would perform his trademark “Tiny Bubbles” twice for his audience, most of whom were, like Ho, getting on in years. “I sing it at the beginning,” he told them, “in case some of you don’t make it to the end of the show.”

Everyone laughed, as Ho paused for effect. “And then I sing it at the end,” he teased, “because the rest of you might forget I already sang it.”

That was Don Ho, the consummate entertainer. His blend of gentle humor, charm and vocal talents helped him mesmerize audiences since the early 1960s, after he bought a Kaneohe cocktail lounge and started his own band. “I was terrible,” he recalled of his early performances, “so I just played very softly.”

From the beginning

Don Ho performing at a younger age

Don Ho kicking off his carrier

Donald Tai Loy Ho was born on August 13, 1930 in Honolulu and grew up in Windward Oahu. He spent a year at Springfield College in Massachusetts before returning home and earning a bachelor’s of science degree at the University of Hawaii. In 1954, Ho entered the U.S. Air Force and flew fighter jets in both Texas and Hawaii. He left the Air Force in 1960 to tend to his ailing mother.

After starting his band, Ho began to improve and hone his musical image. He began playing shows in Waikiki, and his popularity soared. Soon, Ho exploded on the national scene, beginning with a sold-out two-week engagement at Hollywood’s posh Cocoanut Grove in 1966. His opening-night performance broke all previous attendance records.

Then came the hit records. In 1967, Ho’s “Tiny Bubbles” reached No. 8 on the Billboard charts. Other popular tunes recorded by Ho are “I’ll Remember You,” “Pearly Shells,” “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” “Hanalei Moon” and “Kanaka Wai Wai.”

In the mid-1970s, Ho hosted his own variety show on the ABC network. His TV r?©sum?© also includes appearances on “The Brady Bunch,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Batman” and “I Dream of Jeannie.” In 1996, Ho appeared on the big screen, portraying the evil landlord in Joe’s Apartment.

Don Ho performing with his daughter

A beautiful performance by Don Ho and his daughter Hoku

Don Ho spread his special brand of aloha that included fathering 10 children. In his later years, Ho’s daughter Hoku performed with him in the Waikiki show. Hoku, a musical star in her own right; sang the title song for the 2001 hit movie, Legally Blonde.

The Ukulele

Easy to learn but difficult to master, the ukulele is perhaps Hawaii’s most popular musical instrument. From King Kalakaua and Waikiki beach boys to one of Hawaii’s hottest young recording artists, millions of music lovers over the past 125 years have learned to appreciate this four-stringed instrument.

Closeup of Man's fingers playing ukulele

Jammin’ on the Uke


The ukulele was introduced to Hawaii in the summer of 1879, when the Ravenscrag arrived in Honolulu carrying more than 400 Portuguese immigrants. These people came to the Islands from the island of Madeira to work in the sugarcane fields. The story goes that a man named Joao Fernandes was so happy to finally reach Honolulu—it had been an exhausting, four-month journey of some 15,000 miles—that he grabbed a friend’s braguinha, jumped off the boat and began playing folk songs from his homeland right on the wharf. The crowd of Hawaiians who witnessed Fernandes’ impromptu playing was impressed, and they marveled at how his fingers jumped like fleas all over the fingerboard. Thus, they called the instrument “ukulele,” which translates to “jumping flea.”

Custom ukuleles on display

Ukulele is Hawaiian for jumping flea

Fernandes wasn’t done. He spent much of his time in Hawaii playing the ukulele and giving lessons to eager Hawaiians who favored the instrument for its portability and unique sound. Even Hawaii’s reigning king, David Kalakaua, learned how to play the ukulele; in fact, the king later designed his own ukulele. By the late 1800s, nearly every Hawaiian music lover was playing a ukulele.

By the early decades of the 20th century, Hawaiian music had become wildly popular on the U.S. mainland, and the ukulele’s popularity soared to even greater heights. Wrote one observer in Paradise of the Pacific magazine: “The ukulele, that little taro-patch guitar, has for some time…been a fad from one end of the United States to the other. It is a symbol of innocent merriment. We should take off our hats to the little Hawaiian ukulele.


Today, the ukulele remains as popular as ever in Hawaii. Many ukulele manufacturers have a long backlog of orders (a top-of-the-line, customized ukulele can go for thousands of dollars). Each summer, students from Roy Sakuma’s Ukulele School join celebrity performers at the Ukulele Festival. Held at Kapiolani Park in Waikiki, the event includes an ukulele orchestra composed of hundreds of children.

Ukulele Superstar

Jake playing While My Guitar Gently Weeps by George Harrison

Although he’s still in his 20s, Jake Shimabukuro is recognized as Hawaii’s ukulele virtuoso, with lightning-fast fingers and an innovative style. Shimabukuro has performed in Japan, New York and Las Vegas. He’s recorded two CDs for Epic Records and recently came out with his first DVD.

Hawaii Regional Cuisine

When you think about dining in Hawaii, the first images that usually come to mind are the standard luau staples: poi, laulau, kalua pig and lomi salmon. Think again. In 1991, a dozen of Hawaii’s most talented chefs got together and pioneered a new regional cuisine—Hawaii Regional Cuisine—that put the Aloha State on the national and international fine dining map.

What Is Hawaii Regional Cuisine?

Hawaii Regional Cuisine utilizes Hawaii’s freshest ingredients of all varieties and incorporates them into wonderfully creative and beautifully presented dishes. Not only has Hawaii Regional Cuisine taken Island dining to the highest possible level, it’s also established Hawai‘i-grown products as among the finest in the world.

Chef Alan Wong explains Hawaii regional cuisine

Previously, Hawaii’s food scene entailed sliced pineapple on a pizza. In her cookbook, The New Cuisine of Hawaii, noted food writer Janice Wald Henderson wrote, “Visitors had their choice of dining in pricey restaurants on frozen, shipped-in, picked-before-it’s-ripe food, or in tourist establishments that distorted traditional Hawaiian cooking for Western tastes. Small wonder that Hawaii had long been regarded as a paradise for beaches but a wasteland for food.”

That all changed in the late 1980s, when several gifted young chefs began to challenge the “old school” establishment that represented fine dining in the islands. In August 1991, twelve of these chefs got together on Maui and, after bouncing around a number of ideas, came up with a new concept.

The twelve chefs were Sam Choy, Roger Dikon, Mark Ellman, Amy Ferguson Ota, Beverly Gannon, Jean-Marie Josselin, George Mavrothalassitis, Peter Merriman, Philippe Padovani, Gary Strehl, Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi.

Examples of Hawaii Regional Cuisine

Hawaii Regional Cuisine may include items such as:

Today, as Hawaii Regional Cuisine continues to be refined and developed, a new generation of Island chefs is reaching for their own star within Hawaii’s culinary galaxy. On every island there are creative new dishes being presented, crossing cultures, stretching boundaries and inspiring appreciative “oohs” and “aahs.”

Hungry yet?

Samoan Fire Dance

Samoan Firedance

Playing with fire


The Samoan fire knife dance is more than a popular spectacle that adds sizzle to a Hawaiian luau. It’s a tradition that has been passed from generation to generation, with each adding a new layer of style, boldness and skill.

Letuli Olo Misilagi was the first man to add fire to the traditional Samoan ailao, or knife dance. The ailao, a fierce traditional dance that involves the twirling of the nifo oti (war knife), was a pre-war ritual in Samoa used to psyche up warriors.

In his recently published book, Flaming Sword of Samoa: The Story of the Samoan Fire Knife Dance (2004, Watermark Publishing), Letuli revealed how he got the idea to add fire to his knife dance routine. “(In 1946), I was asked to perform my knife dance at a Shriners Convention in San Francisco,” he wrote. “A number of entertainers were practicing their routines at Golden State Park. Among them was a Hindu man named Abe Sing, who rehearsed his fire eating routine. There was also a young girl practicing her baton twirling, and the baton had light bulbs attached to each end.

Four different pictures of Samoan fire knife dancers

Letuli invented and mastered these moves

“I stared at the fire-eater, then the baton twirler. The baton twirler, then the fire-eater. And just like that, I had an idea to add ‘sizzle’ to my fire knife dance.”

Letuli died in July 2003 in Honolulu during the writing of the book. The “father” of the Samoan Fire Knife Dance was 84. Flaming Sword of Samoa is available at Hawaii bookstores as well as through the publisher.


Today, of course, the Samoan fire knife dance is a show-stopping staple in Polynesian revues or luaus. There are fire knife dance competitions held throughout the Pacific, including the annual World Fire Knife Dance Competition at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) on Oahu.

Each May, competitors from around the world gather on the island’s North Shore to display their fire knife skills. There’s even a Junior World Fire Knife Competition, which spotlights youngsters ranging in ages from 12 to 17.

Says event founder Pulefano Galeai, “This unique event combines great athletic skill, unflinching bravery and ever-present danger to bring out the best in these competitors. It’s exciting to see the culture of Samoa take center stage with participation from people around the world.”


Don’t get burned! Check out this spectacular Samoan fire dance

Christmas with Aloha

Christmas With Aloha

Santa catching some waves.

When traditional Christmas settings are mentioned, Hawaii might be the last place to come to mind. In the Aloha State, you won’t find thick blankets of snow (that is, unless you head to lofty summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island) and you won’t experience Popsicle-like temperatures.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? In Hawaii, there aren’t many homes with fireplaces.

Can Christmas really be Christmas in Hawaii?

Yes, it can. Hawaii residents begin putting up their holiday lights and Christmas trees as soon as the last piece of Thanksgiving turkey is gobbled. There are joyous Christmas concerts, community parades and dazzling displays throughout the state.

snow on top of Mauna Kea

Hawaii has it all even snow!


Christmas wasn’t formally introduced to Hawaii until after 1820, the year Protestant missionaries came to Hawaii from New England. In ancient times, however, the holiday coincided with a traditional Hawaiian festival called Makahiki. This celebration lasted for four months and included great feasts and games. During this time, wars and conflicts were strictly forbidden. As far as the early Hawaiians were concerned, the Makahiki was their time for “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.”

The first Christmas celebration in Hawaii is believed to have occurred in 1786, when Captain George Dixon, docked aboard the Queen Charlotte in Waimea Bay on Kauai, commanded his crew to prepare a Christmas dinner that included roasted pig, pie and grog mixed with coconut milk. The English navigator then led his men in toasts to their families and friends back home.

In 1856, Alexander Liholiho (King Kamehameha IV) declared December 25 to be his kingdom’s national day of Thanksgiving. Two years later, Santa Claus made his first appearance in Hawaii, arriving at Washington Place (now the governor’s residence) to deliver gifts for the children.

Honolulu City Lights

Honolulu getting into the Christmas spirit

Today, there’s no bigger Christmas celebration than “Honolulu City Lights,” a favorite holiday spectacle put on by the City & County of Honolulu. Held at Honolulu Hale (City Hall), “Honolulu City Lights” features a 50-foot Norfolk pine Christmas tree, elaborate Christmas tree and wreath exhibits, giant Yuletide displays and live entertainment. Whether you’re young or young at heart, there’s no better place to catch the Christmas spirit in the islands.

Mele Kalikimaka! Merry Christmas!


Poke platter

Yum, but that’s only enough poke to get me started. Where’s the rest?

The Joy of the Hawaiian Appetizer

World-renowned Island chef Sam Choy calls it “Hawaii’s soul food.” Local residents insist a party wouldn’t be a party without it. And seafood lovers around the world are adopting it as their own, experimenting with native ingredients to create new and delightfully unique versions. There’s even a world-class festival each September to celebrate it.

“It” is poke, and its popularity is as wild as its many flavors.

Poke (pronounced “po-keh”) means “to slice or cut.” As a food dish served as an appetizer or snack, it usually consists of bite-sized pieces of raw, fresh fish mixed with seaweed and kukui nut relish. Today’s poke aficionados, however, incorporate a wide range of ingredients, including all types of seafood (everything from swordfish and snapper to octopus and lobster), herbs, spices, nuts, marinades, fruits, vegetables, seasonings and even tofu.

The popularity of poke in Hawaii can be traced to Sam Choy himself. The enterprising master chef started the Sam Choy Poke Festival in 1992 on the island of Hawaii. In the beginning, the event simply consisted of a poke recipe contest, but the festival has since grown to include cooking classes, tastings and even a golf tournament.

The poke recipe contest, however, is still the main event. Staged at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, the contest offers more than $15,000 in cash and prizes. There are separate divisions for professional chefs and amateur cooks, and each contestant is required to prepare six pounds of their recipe for tasting.

In 1999, Choy authored a hardcover cookbook, Sam Choy’s Poke, that features past winning recipes as well as his own savory creations.

Here’s a poke recipe that you may want to try. Choy presented it on ABC’s “Good Morning America” with Chef Emeril Lagasse. All you need to do its combine the ingredients, mix well and then chill.

Poke Recipes

Chef Alan Wong’s Poke Recipe

Alan shows us how to make one of his favorite poke recipes, chunky tartar ahi

Sam Choy ABC’s “Good Morning America” Recipe

1-1/4 pounds fresh ahi, cubed into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup yellow onion, minced
1/4 cup green onion, minced
3 Tbsp. limu kohou (a reddish-brown seawood)
1 Tbsp. inamona (ground innards from roasted kukui nuts)
2 tsp. Sesame oil

Combine in mixing bowl; add dry ingredients and chill.

Sam Choy’s Award Winning Poke Recipe

And this is another of Sam Choy’s award winning poke recipes

2 lbs. Ahi Tuna, cubed into 1/2 to 3/4 inch squares
3 oz. Chopped Green onion
3 oz. Diced Onion
2 oz. Chopped Ogo (fresh seaweed)
1 tsp. Red Chili Flakes
2 tbs. Soy Sauce
2 tbs. Sesame oil
Hawaiian salt to taste

Secret Ingredient: Kukui nut

Combine in mixing bowl; add dry ingredients and chill.

Hawaiian Christmas Trees

large christmas tree in hawaii

Christmas with aloha

Christmas with a Twist

Even the traditional symbols of Christmas come with a twist in Hawai’i. Consider the Christmas tree. An October 25, 1995 headline in a Honolulu newspaper declares, “Christmas tree ship to arrive on Thanksgiving Day.” The article reads: “It’s still a week to Halloween and a month to Thanksgiving, but Matson Navigation Co. has announced the arrival date for its annual Christmas Tree Ship…most trees for O‘ahu residents will go on sale the day after Thanksgiving.”

Kid picking out his Christmas Tree in Hawaii

Residents wait for their chance to pick the best of the islands’ limited supply of Christmas trees

Every year, hordes of residents line up at the appointed hour to watch Christmas trees being unloaded from refrigerated containers. They wait for their chance to pick the best of the islands’ limited supply of grand firs, nobles and other popular varieties.

Until the 1960s, when refrigerated containers started crossing the Pacific in great numbers, such mainland conifers were unavailable. Instead, holiday revelers used Norfolk Island pines, a tree species established in Hawai’i long ago from a South Pacific island “neighbor.”

Although it is no longer as universally popular than in the past, the Norfolk pine is still the Christmas tree of choice for many Island residents. Some visit local nurseries and pick their choice from long, straight rows of a youthful crop. Others buy potted specimens to decorate and illuminate. A few even bootleg them from local forest reserves.

Experts advise against later planting Norfolk pines in small yards after the season ends. The tree will become enormous, and even a menace to nearby buildings and walls.

Hawaiian Style

Hawaiian Christmas

Anything can be a Christmas tree in Hawaii

When it comes to Christmas trees, Hawai’i residents prove themselves to be extremely versatile: Palm trees are frequently decorated for Christmas, especially in outdoor displays and neighborhood yards. They nicely complement displays of Santa riding an outrigger canoe rather than a sleigh, dolphins in place of reindeer, and elves laboring in aloha shirts.

Christmas celebrations are always a little different in Hawai’i. But hey, where else but the Big Island can a person snowboard down the icy slopes of Mauna Kea in the morning, then paddle out in the warm waters of Hapuna that afternoon?

Mele Kalikimaka! (Merry Christmas!)

Hawaiian Beer

Hawaiian Beer

There’s nothing like a cold beer on a hot Hawaiian day

A taste for fermented beverages seems to be part of the human condition, and it’s no different in Hawai’i. Ever since early Polynesian settlers brought ‘awa (called kawa in other South Pacific regions) root with them to Hawai’i from Tahiti, imbibing intoxicating beverages has been a part of Hawaiian medicinal, religious and recreational heritage.

Where The Locals Go

Meanwhile, beer drinking among Hawaii’s general population has been elevated from a macho activity to a connoisseur art form. The establishment of microbreweries and the introduction of imported micro brews have brought a fantastic selection of labels to the Islands. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant at Aloha Tower Marketplace, for example, is an upscale waterfront brew pub with a popular outdoor bar featuring live bands. Gordon Biersch offers an ever-changing menu of seasonal beers and its own three beers brewed on the spot.

Ali‘i Brewing Company is a micro brewery sans pub in Kalihi, O‘ahu, that produces 12 beers, three of which are sold in retail outlets in 22-ounce bottles. Alii’s labels can be found in most major supermarkets and liquor stores.

Other local micro breweries include Kona Brewing Company, Hawaiian Brewing Company, Maui Beer Company and Da Maui Brewer.

Brewing beer in Hawaii with Kona Brewing Company

Ryan’s at The Ward Centre in Honolulu is known for having one of the largest beer selections in Honolulu. They offer dozens of beers from all over the world. Among its 12 draughts on tap are three from the Pacific Northwest: Pyramid, Thos. Kemper and Rogue.

Home Brewing Community

Not satisfied with the array of brews available commercially, people in Hawai’i enthusiastically took up the home brewing fad. The Hawaiian Homebrewers Association, founded in 1993 to promote the appreciation of beer and brewing, boasts 800-plus members. It is involved in lobbying the State Legislature to enable small breweries to sell beer from restaurants and brew pubs and to bring the state’s microbrew scene up to par with brewing-friendly states such as California and Oregon.

Ingredients to make your own beer

Ingredients to make your own beer

As people have discovered over the centuries, appreciation of fine brews is a universal communication tool, binding and bonding diverse cultures in the time-honored camaraderie of getting high and feeling good.

Hawaii Food Festivals

Serving local cuisine at Hawaii food festival

The people of Hawaii love to eat, and what better time then at a party?

Food festivals in Hawaii range from Hawaiian Regional Cuisine and wine tasting to a Kona Coffee Cultural Festival that takes place on the Big Island. Top chefs around the state aim to please which makes food festivals popular with locals and tourists alike.


The largest festival used to happen each June on the island of Oahu. Unfortunately, after 15 years, the  Taste of Honolulu has closed. This was a three-day event that showcased food samplings from more than 25 of the island’s top restaurants. In addition to the great food, there was live musical entertainment, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, a beer garden and family exhibits. There was a nominal admission charge, and food was sold by scrip. We hope the Taste of Honolulu comes back.


A similar benefit takes place on Maui each September. A Taste of Lahaina, a two-day event at Lahaina Recreation Park, offers savory samplings from more than 25 Maui restaurants—from mahimahi over jasmine rice to spaghetti and meatballs. The event benefits several youth groups on the island, including schools and athletic organizations.

The resort area of Wailea has its own food event. Part of the Maui Film Festival, the Taste of Wailea features Wailea’s top chefs preparing mouthwatering portions of their signature dishes (which are, naturally, accompanied by some of the world’s finest wines).

Each summer, food and wine aficionados from all over the country head to Kapalua on Maui for the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Regarded as Hawaii’s most prestigious and longest running food and wine extravaganza, this four-day event features exclusive wine tasting seminars, cooking demonstrations by internationally acclaimed chefs and a fantastic selection of the world’s premier wines.

Big Island

On the Big Island, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival takes place each November. The 10-day festival includes more than 30 community events, including coffee tastings, art exhibits, recipe contests and more.

These are just a few of the festivals that highlight Hawaii’s special events calendar. Be sure to check ahead and see what’s coming up during your Hawaiian stay!

Kamehameha Statue

Tribute to a King

Kamehameha Statue

Kamehameha was Hawaii’s greatest King

King Kamehameha the Great (1756-1819) is perhaps Hawaii’s greatest historical figure. Born in the Kohala district of the Big Island, Kamehameha unified the Hawaiian islands under one rule and set the stage for the kingdom’s proud-but-turbulent monarchy period.

The King Kamehameha Statue pays tribute to Hawaii’s warrior king. In fact, there are four statues: one in downtown Honolulu, fronting the old Judiciary Building; another in Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. and the original statue at the king’s birthplace in Kapaau on the Big Island, and a 14-foot, five-ton statue in Hilo.

The King Kamehameha Statue is part of our self guided Honolulu walking tour

American sculptor Thomas R. Gould was commissioned by the kingdom of Hawaii to create the statue. Gould modeled the figure in his studio in Rome in 1879. A year later, it was cast in bronze in Paris and shipped from Germany. During its voyage to the Islands, however, the ship caught afire and sank off the Falkland Islands. A second statue was cast from the original mold and sent to Honolulu, where King Kalakaua dedicated it in 1883.

Standing eight and a half feet tall, the statue depicts Kamehameha in his royal garb, including a helmet of rare feathers and a gilded cloak. The spear in his left hand serves to symbolize the kingdom’s willingness and ability to defend itself from hostile nations. His right hand, however, is extended in a welcoming gesture of aloha.

The original statue was eventually recovered and brought to the Big Island. The statue in Washington D.C. was made from a mold taken of the Honolulu statue. It was dedicated as a gift to the National Statuary Hall collection in 1969. More recently, a fourth Kamehameha statue was erected in Hilo.

King Kamehameha statue draped in fresh leis

Kamehameha Day is a Hawaii state holiday

Every June 11 is Kamehameha Day, a state holiday. Among the festivities is a late-afternoon lei-draping ceremony, where the Kamehameha statue is splendidly adorned with fresh flower leis of all types. Fragrant strands of yellow and pink plumeria are placed on the statue’s outstretched right arm. Garlands of royal ilima are hung around its neck. Signifying power and strength, a special lei made from braided ti leaves adorns the king’s spear.

Each of the statues serves as a fitting tribute to Hawaii’s greatest king, the “Napoleon of the Pacific” who unified the Hawaiian kingdom and ruled it for nearly a decade.


Aloha Festivals

Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson

Aloha from Hawaii

A cultural celebration reminiscent of the Makahiki season of ancient Hawaii.

The first Aloha Festivals took place in 1946, when a group of Jaycees staged a grassroots cultural celebration reminiscent of the Makahiki season of ancient Hawaii. The group wanted to honor Hawaii’s special heritage and celebrate the aloha spirit that the Islands are widely known for.

Plus, it was a great excuse to throw Hawaii’s biggest party.

The initial festival—it was called “Aloha Week” at the time—included a parade, pageants, hula shows and services at Kawaiahao Church in Honolulu. Expanded to the Aloha Festivals in 1991, the event now encompasses some 300 events on six islands spanning a two-month period. Nearly 30,000 volunteers work together to stage the various events, which are attended by nearly a million people each year.

Hula dancers with conch shell kicking off the Aloha Festivals

Conch shells used to announce the start of each event

Events & Times

The Aloha Festivals kicks off in September and runs into mid-October. Each island has its own celebration, starting with Oahu’s events including the famous Aloha Festivals Parade. Each island chooses a king, queen, prince, princess and attendants, all of whom are of Hawaiian descent. The investiture of each island’s Alii is a wonderfully colorful affair, accompanied by conch shell blowers, kahili (feather standard) bearers, ladies-in-waiting and others.

The opening ceremonies on Oahu take place at the Royal Hawaiian Center in downtown Honolulu. The ceremonies are followed by hula performances and the Downtown Hoolaulea, a block party that includes live musical performances on a number of stages, food booths, arts and crafts, and more. An even bigger block party—the Waikiki Hoolaulea—takes place a week later on Kalakaua Avenue.

Other Aloha Festivals events includes a Hawaiian falsetto contest, a Made in Hawaii trade show, a steel guitar festival, Poke Festival, musical concerts, hula performances and much more.

Aloha Festivals Parade

Some of the entertainment found at the Aloha Festivals Parade

The stated mission of the Aloha Festivals is to “preserve and perpetuate Hawaiian culture and to celebrate the diverse customs and Aloha Spirit of Hawaii.”

The Aloha Festivals is funded by appropriated public funds, private sponsorships, donations and the sale of Aloha Festivals ribbons and other official merchandise (including T-shirts, caps, visors, CDs and posters). The ribbon entitles wearers to free or discounted admission to a number of festival events.


© 1997-2011 Aloha from Hawaii