Saturday, January 26, 2008 Home

Hawaii!

Ah, yes, memories of paradise recently visited.

Sigh.

At least the temperature here is no longer sub-zero. Still, I'd MUCH rather be back in Hawaii.

The posts:

Hawaii at Last (June 14, 2007)
Gate 60 (Sunday, January 06)

Waimea Canyon (Monday, January 7 - Kauai)
Hanapepe

Around Our Neighborhood in Po'ipu (Tuesday, January 8 - Kauai)
Plants, Plants, and More Plants
Kauai from the Air
Sunset Down the Street

Neighborhood Wildlife (Wednesday, January 9 - Kauai)
Spouting Horn
Wailua Falls
Route 580

Sunrise From Our Beach (Thursday, January 10 - Kauai)
Puff the Magic Dragon Lived by the Sea
Na Pali from Ground Level
The Gardens of Bali Ha'i
Beach Time?
Lighthouse Birds
Tropical Beauty Enough for Everyone (Friday, January 11- Hawaii)
Akaka Falls
Sunset from our Window

A Lazy Morning (Saturday, January 12 - Hawaii)
Lei Class
Lane Visits the Sea Turtles
South Point

Along the Kona Coast (Sunday, January 13 - Hawaii)

The Road to Hana (Monday, January 14 - Maui)
View From Our Yard - Evening in Hana

'Ohe'o Gulch - The "Seven Sacred Pools" (Tuesday, January 15 - Maui)
Lindberg's Grave
The Road Back from Hana
The Coast South of Makena
Haleakala (Wednesday, January 16 - Maui)
The Ioa Valley
Lahaina

Molikini (Thursday, January 17 - Maui)
A Minor Meltdown
A Room with a View

A Quiet Day at the Pipe (Friday, January 18 - Oahu)

Can't I Just Stay Here? (Saturday, January 19 - Oahu)
Coastal Splendor
Asian Oasis

Waikiki - 5 p.m. (Sunday, January 20 - Oahu)
Evening Along the Beach

Rainbows Over Waikiki (Monday, January 21 - Oahu)A Honolulu Holiday
Good-Bye, Hawaii

The Details
Kauai
Hawaii
Maui
Oahu

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Thursday, January 24, 2008 Home

Hawaii: Oahu Details

Route, lodging, dining, and shopping
January 18-21, 2008


This is going to be a little incomplete because we were pretty lazy on Oahu and sort of made Dawn take the lead. Most of the time we were with her, I had only a very vague idea where I was. . . and I loved it.

Lodging
We spent a couple of nights with friends and then ended our time in Hawaii with a night at the Pacific Beach Hotel on Waikiki. (When I made reservations the property was owned by Ohana, but by the time we left for Hawaii it had changed ownership.) At a little over $200 a night, it was actually pretty cheap for a waterfront hotel room here (frightening as that may sound), so I was a little concerned about what we would be getting. Imagine my surprise to find myself in a fifth floor room with glorious views of the beach and the bay beyond! It was perfect.

The tower we were in was a little dated, but the rooms were good-sized and well-maintained. The deck was small, but big enough to sit out on. I think the other towers are newer, but they are set farther back and I'm not sure they have the same head-on waterfront view. At any rate, I felt really fortunate - were they to upgrade the furnishings and deck, I suspect they could easily charge two or three times what we paid.

There was a charge for internet access and the restaurant with the aquarium was now buffet-only, but beach towels were available for free and you could walk to the beach barefoot if you wanted to. The valet guys (who also handle cabs and other transportation arrangements) are wonderful and will figure out the most cost-effective (and reasonable) way to accommodate any journey you may wish to take on the island. On the other hand, the concierge barely spoke English and was utterly useless.

Sightseeing
I really wanted to see the Banzai Pipeline and the coast, in part because everyone says there is nothing wild and lovely on Oahu, and really enjoyed that. Beaches and hiking are free and there are plenty of uncrowded spaces left - you just need to get out of Honolulu.

The Byodo-In temple is located in a large cemetery complex. There is a small fee to visit the temple. It is a lovely, quiet place.

The Bishop Museum is the repository for a huge amount of historical Hawaiian items and ethnographical artifacts from throughout the southern Pacific. It also supports new artists and has a large science program aimed at kids.

Mostly we relaxed and we didn't see many of the things we had expected to see, including:

Pearl Harbor: As a Political Science major, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that we were ambivalent about the whole Pearl Harbor thing, but I fully expected to get there. I had no idea that you couldn't just wander over at any time of the day. I should have made Dawn take us there.

Shangri-La: I actually did do a little advanced research into getting into Shangri-La (Doris Duke's over the top tribute to the middle-east), but the schedule changed between the time I first looked into and when we got to the islands.

The state capitol: I forgot Monday would be a holiday and that the capitol complex would be closed. The same is true of the Iolani Palace, which I also would like to see, but which was both closed for the Holiday and undergoing construction work.

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Hawaii: Maui Details

Route, lodging, dining, and shopping
January 14-18, 2008

Guides and General Information
We flew in and out of Kahului Airport.

At the airport rental car counter we took advantage of an upgrade that put us in a red Mustang convertible - the ubiquitous Maui tourist vehicle, but a fun ride. (Albeit a underpowered ride. What do they do to these rental cars to make them so wimpy?)

We relied on Wizard Publication's Maui Revealed for most of our tourist information.

Lodging
I had planned to spend most nights at bed and breakfasts, but Maui was in the process of either adopting new regulations or enforcing the existing regulations (the story varies considerably depending on who is telling it), so a lot of B & Bs would not guarantee they would still be in operation when I needed to stay there. Others required too many nights for a minimum stay. It was really frustrating.

We spent our first night at the Maui Beach Hotel in Kahului because it was a good jumping-off spot for the Hana Highway. The staff was friendly and the common areas pleasant, but our room was small, warn, dark, and sort of unpleasant. (It did have internet access though.) The web site indicates it is/has been remodeled, but they clearly hadn't gotten to our room yet. There isn't much in the neighborhood (it's a strip commercial area), but we did have a good restaurant within walking distance.

In Hana we stayed south of Hana town at the prosaically named Hana Accommodation. We had the Lani Makaalae Studio, which was located just off the highway, but with a nice view and a private patio and garden.

The room itself was pretty clean and spacious, but with a few quirks - like no bathroom sink (you had to use the kitchen sink). The shower was a little scary because it never really dries, so bring shower shoes. The decorations were eastern (Indonesian or Indian maybe), which we liked, but might not be to everyone's taste. For the price (under $100 a night), we thought it was a good deal and the location was excellent, but it is far from a lux accommodation. For the price, we would gladly stay here again though.

In Makena: Despite some issues, I would also recommend the Maui Prince - as long as you understand how the property is situated and what you are a getting for your money.

On the plus side:
  • The beach is magnificent and a short swim lets you observe sea turtles.
  • The service is excellent.
  • All of the restaurants seem to be wonderful. We ate in Hakone twice and in the bar once, both of which were excellent. The sushi bar at Hakone was exceptional (but expensive).
  • The central courtyard is drop-dead gorgeous, but there are few places to sit and enjoy it.

  • Parking is free, as are most of the other amenities that many other spots either charge for on an ala cart basis or in a separate (mandatory) "resort fee."
  • It is a large property and, even when fully-booked, you'll think you are the only ones here.
  • The surrounding area is relatively undeveloped, making for lovely views and pleasant walking - although there seems to be a lot of construction underway near the hotel, so that lovely isolation may soon be gone.
On the other hand:
  • An ocean view room means you can see the ocean from some far corner of your lanai. You may face the more unattractive edges of the property from a lower floor. This is explained on the website, but I never found it when I booked my room. (I looked!) Had I known what I was getting, I either would have paid extra to up-grade or looked elsewhere, as this was the most expensive hotel on my itinerary and I was expecting a place where I could see the ocean.
  • Apparently they have very few king rooms. The vast majority of rooms have two full-size beds, not even queen beds.
  • Internet access is $10 a day.
  • The hotel is NOT located right on the beach. From an environmental perspective, I appreciate this. However, this distance from the ocean means lower-level rooms and the restaurants do NOT have a view of the beach, although lower oceanfront rooms do have lovely views of the ocean through swaying palms. Nor is there a beach bar. Again, not a bad thing, just something to know - especially if you have a weakness for beachside cocktails at the end of the day :-)
Nothing is cheap at the Prince, but there aren't many extra charges either. The price is reasonable when compared to similar properties at this end of Maui - as long as you understand what you are getting.

I didn't realize what I was getting and was very disappointed with the lack of view (you could see the ocean from one tiny corner of our lanai) and the fact there was nowhere else on the property to relax with a drink and enjoy the scenery. However, when I finally got really frustrated and complained that the website needs to be clearer on what sort of view the rooms have, I was upgraded for our final night to an oceanfront room with a glorious view.

Dining
In Kahului we had dinner at the Latin-inspired Manana Garage. The restaurant has an auto garage theme, a friendly cat, and great food and beverages. The menu was creative and everything we tried (and we tried as many things as we could!) was beautifully prepared. Service was attentive and helpful. However, it was under new ownership the week we arrived, so things may have changed.

On the Road to Hana, the best trail mix and banana bread imaginable is available at the Keanae Landing Fruit Stand just off the main highway.

In Hana we stocked up on pupu at Hasegawa's Store, where the packages of poi stacked by the cash register bore a big sign that read "Please do not play with the poi." (Hasegawa's sells pretty much anything anyone could ever need and a few other items besides.)

For dinner in Hana I had made reservations (which proved unnecessary) at the Hotel Hana Maui's Ka'uiki. This is the fanciest restaurant in town, which features modern Pacific fare in a lovely modern space. It's quite expensive, but our meal was lovely and we really enjoyed it.

Other dining options along the route can be found at Maui Menus Online.

In Makena on the other side of Maui, we found Hakone at the Maui Prince so good (and convenient) that we ate there two nights. The second night we ate at the sushi bar, where we had an amazing, made-to-show-off sushi roll. Yum, yum! We also ate in the Molokini Lounge, which had a nice assortment of tasty appetizers.

In Wailuku (near the Iao Needle) we ate at the hard-to-find and highly touted Saigon Café. Maybe the dumpy, sort of sticky, small-town Italian restaurant atmosphere was too much for me to see beyond, but I can't figure out why this place is supposed to be so special. I had the shrimp pops, which were interesting, but not outstanding, along with another (dull) appetizer. Lane's meal was also pretty ordinary. The food was ok and fresh, but not anything special. Sit on the back porch for a bit of fresh air (the smell in the main dining area was pretty strong), but be prepared for indifferent service. We went to a lot of trouble to find this place and I was very disappointed.

Maui Sights
The Road to Hana is a great drive, but it's not Highway 1 in northern California either - it isn't as dramatic, although the numerous one-lane bridges add a sense of adventure. (How I wished we'd had my Miata instead of the stodgy Mustang!) It is best done in a convertible where you can see above, otherwise you would miss half the scenery.

Don't try to do it the road a day. Yes, it's a hassle to switch lodgings in Hawaii (where every place is geared to travelers staying in the same place for a week), but plan to spend at LEAST one night in Hana. Two would be better and three would be best. The extra time lets you stop wherever you want along the way, gives you time to go beyond Hana (which really is the most beautiful section of the entire drive), and spend a day or two exploring that area. We did not have enough time here.

There are many, many stops one can make on the road to Hana, most of which seem to be pictured at About.com and at Thomas on Islands.

Additional information and history on the road and its attractions are discussed in the Honolulu Star-Bullentin, the Hanalani Hideway website, and, of course, Maui Revealed. Information on Hana town can be found at Hasegawa's website.

Haleakala National Park actually extends all the way down to Kipahulu to the south of Hana, but the summit area is reached form the north. The park service seems to have a couple of web sites, whatever that is all about. Beside the Park Service information, professional photographs taken in the park. This is the only park that charged an entry fee, but we were able to use the same pass for three days, which allowed us to pay at the Seven Sacred Pools in the south and then reuse our pass to visit the summit. It seemed like a very good value.

The Ioa Valley would be a lovely spot for a picnic, as it really is a pretty place. Watch for a sunny day though, as the area was swathed in clouds and rain during much of our time on Maui.

Lahaina is a funky beach town with lots and lots of bars, restaurants, tacky tourist shops, and an inexplicably large number of high-end art galleries. There are also always lots of cars and people here too.

Molokini is one of the best (if not the best) snorkeling spot on the island. This means it will be crowded. Still, it is worth it for the amazing number of fish you will see. We booked through our hotel with Kai Kanani Charters, which turned out to be a good choice. While not a small ship, it is smaller than many, has a knowledgeable staff, and provides a good experience. There is an early morning "Express" tour that is much cheaper, but consider what time the sun rises and how much light you'll have.

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Hawaii: Big Island Details

Route, Lodging, Shopping, and Dining Information
January 11-13, 2008


We flew into Hilo and out of Kona in order to maximize our time on the island. This didn't seem to have much of an affect on the cost of our airfare, but it did have a disproportionate impact on the cost of our rental car. However, we got a free upgrade to a convertible, so I think we came out even in the end. It would have been worth it anyway just to see more of the island.

Note that the Kona airport is open to the air and, on a windy day, an utterly miserable place to be.

Big Island Sight-Seeing
The very lovely Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is an independent operation and not part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden system. Like most gardens in Hawaii, there is an entrance fee.

Akaka Falls State Park actually includes two significant waterfalls, the other being Kahuna Falls. However, when we were there all of the trails to Kahuna Falls were closed and looked as though they would remain closed for some time to come.

We didn't actually spend any time in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park even though it is the main feature of the island and the sort of thing I'd usually be interested in. While we were here there was no place where you could actually view lava (which would be the biggest draw for me). The park's website is updated regularly with information on lava flows, dangerous gasses, and park closures.

South Point can be reached via a narrow road.

St. Benedict's Catholic Church (the Painted Church) is a lovely stop along the way to Kona.

Lodging
We stayed at the south end of the island in a very quiet, rural area just inland from the ocean - and it was perfect. EVERYTHING about Kalaekilohana B & B was perfect. The house is comfortable and gorgeous (I almost could have lived right out on the large wrap-around porch), the bedrooms are lovely, huge, and airy (with the most wonderful bathrooms), the area is quiet and peaceful, the breakfasts are great, and the hosts are delightful. Staying with Kenny and Kilohana is like staying with good friends -I'd return just to visit them! Kilohana sometimes offers lei-making classes for guests, which is a wonderful way to get closer to island culture. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

Dinning
What's Shaking is located on the scenic loop just to the north of the botanical garden. We stopped there for a light lunch that consisted of wonderful smoothies (the real kind, with banana as the base and then nothing else but fruit), huge fresh sandwiches, and lovely made-to-order guacamole.

Dining at the south end of the island left a bit to be desired. Kenny and Kilohana will direct you to whatever is likely to be best, but the options in this rural area are pretty limited.

Shopping
We didn't have time to shop in Hilo, which was probably a good thing, judging by all the enticing looking options available. We did shop at the little Naalehu Saturday market, one of many weekend farmer's markets on the island, where we found a variety of great local foods.

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Hawaii: Kauai Details

Route, Lodging, Shopping, and Dining Information
January 7-10, 2008



Kauai Sight-Seeing
Waimea Canyon has a variety of hiking trails. Trail descriptions are available at the Visitor's Center at Kokee State Park, in the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook, and on the web at Hawaiian Style Travel.

The National Botanical Garden has a number of gardens under it's care, including the McBride and Allerton in the south of Kauai and Limahuli in the north. There is a fee to visit these gardens and several are open only as part of a guided tour. Information on all of the gardens can be found on the National Botanical Garden's website. Additional information on Limahui can be found in the Honolulu Advertiser.

Helicopter tours are common on Kauai. It makes sense because so much of the island is inaccessible to those of us not up to a very long trek on treacherous trails. There are a number of tour operators, none of which are cheap. We went with Jack Harter because they fly smaller four-passenger copters with the doors removed. The advantage to this is that it provides an unobstructed view, everyone has a "window" (in a six-passenger 'copter there may be four people in the back, leaving those in the middle with a more limited view), there is no glare from the glass when taking pictures out the sides (a problem in most helicopters), and it stays cool inside (which helps ward off the nausea I'm prone to). Ignore the section of the web site about the "thrills" of exploring Kauai in an open copter - they are so careful that there is absolutely no extra thrill involved unless you have a fear of heights, but it is a great way to see the island and worth the extra cost. None of the Harter flights use a canned soundtrack either, which I saw as a plus.

Ke'e Beach is the start of the Na Pali Coast and the trailhead for hiking into the mountains. It's a beautiful spot with potentially lethal currents.

Lodging
South Kauai: The Poipu Plantation Inn B & B is a block from the beach (we could hear the ocean from our room). Although the area is almost entirely rental properties, it has the feel of a neighborhood, which was nice. Besides a variety of beaches, there were lots of great places just to walk.

The B&B rooms (there are also condo units) are a little faded, but clean, large, and pleasant enough with plenty of storage space and lovely bouquets of fresh flowers (which I turn out to be allergic to, but it was a nice touch). Breakfast is served on the large front porch, which is also a great place just to hang out and relax. Internet access is available most of the time (for whatever reason, I couldn't always connect to it). Beach towels, chairs, and snorkel equipment is also provided for guests.

The full breakfasts are varied and so good I wished we could stay a full week just so I could try them all - although it is hard to believe that anything would be better than the macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup!

The knowledgeable staff is friendly and helpful and eager to help you make the most of your vacation.


East Kauai:
The big surprise at the Resort Quest Islander on the Beach (just outside Kappa) was that our garden view room would be called a partial ocean view anywhere else. Maybe we were upgraded. I don't know, but it was great to be able to see the ocean from our room - especially since I wasn't expecting it.

Our room was very large, but a little worn - with a little updating this would be a much more expensive property. We had a small, but usable lanai, however, our room was west-facing so the afternoon sun made it pretty much unusable then. (It was wonderful in the morning though.) We were on the second floor and there are no elevators. (Another factor that keeps it from being a luxury property.)

The hotel is located on a sandy beach, so beach access is excellent. There seemed to be chairs available for beach use, but we were out running around the island, so only used the beach to watch the sun rise or set.

The hotel is actually BEHIND the Coconut Shopping Center and is accessible only through the entrance to the shopping center, making it initially hard to find. I'm not much of a shopping center person, but we did find the mix of stores provided good window shopping in the evening and stayed open late enough that we could duck in to make a few small purchases.

Unfortunately most of the more interesting restaurants in the Kappa area are located in the semi-cute downtown strip. This requires either driving the short distance to dinner or walking along an unlit narrow road that lacks a complete sidewalk. It's not a very pedestrian-friendly area.


Dining
South Kaui:
Jo Jo's in Waimea has good shave ice and the service was prompt. I had the Halo Halo special, which had a bunch of ingredients (including adzuki beans) and was wonderful.

Casa Blanca at the Kiahuna Swim and Tennis Club in Poipu tries hard, but there are too many things are going on in each dish. Dishes were perfectly cooked, but the flavorings in these ambitious offerings just didn't quite work. All were close, but not quite there. . . maybe given a little more time to perfect the seasonings. The open-air atmosphere was nice though and service was pretty good (and very friendly) even on a busy night.

The Beach House outside Poipu provides fine dining with a gorgeous location and attentive, if rushed, service. The preparations are ambitious, but generally successful. (Not perfect though and even some of the signature dishes were less successful than they could be.) The ocean views are fabulous. It's very good, but not fabulous and, for the price, it should be fabulous.

East Kauai:
Kintaro was so good and reasonably priced that we ate here both nights. My favorites were the Hanalei roll, which is best served tempura-style (the outside and the rice are warm, the fish inside still cold) and the crab/scallop hand roll. Heavenly. The place was incredibly busy, but space always seemed to be available for couples. (They only take reservations for groups of 6 or more.)

The shave ice at Paradise seems to be the treat to stop for in Hanalei. I had the sunset mix. No adzuki beans, but macademia nuts and three flavors of syrup for a yummy treat.


Shopping
Hanapepe is an artsy little enclave with a variety of fun shops.

Waimea is the home of Aunty Lilikoi's Passion Fruit Products, with samples available in the retail shop.

Just outside Lihue, Kapaia Stitchery is more than just a quilt shop. It has a fabulous collection of fabrics, including many from Asia. There is also clothing, quilt patterns, and more.

In Kilauea, the Kong Lung Co. has an elegant selection of Asian and Asian-inspired merchandise. Good thing none of it is cheap or I would have just turned over my credit card and tried to bring it all home!

Both Kappa and Hanalei town have a wide variety of shops with fun and funky items, we just didn't have time to shop while we were there. There are lots of great shopping opportunities all along the North Shore.

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Hawaii: General Information

As some of you know, I found this trip kind of miserable to arrange. (But then, I seem to find a lot of trips kind of miserable to arrange, so maybe it's just me.) However, that effort generally paid off. I actually wish I had taken more time to pull together a few more potential one-day itineraries to choose from once we got here. As it was, some days we wasted too much time deciding what options were available to us.

Flights
After the flight to Thailand the other year, I vowed I would never fly coach for an extended period again. Fortunately, NWA offers a slick way to keep this vow (for now anyway), WITHOUT paying first-class prices. By paying slightly more than the lowest ticket price available and combining my flight with a couple nights of lodging through NWA, I was able to use frequent flier miles to upgrade even though I am not now an elite flier. It probably cost me an extra $300 for the two of us. This was money well-spent in my book as, even in first class, eight hours is a long flight. Unfortunately, NWA doesn't offer this option on flights to Asia or Europe. Too bad. If they did I'd always book through them.

We flew both Hawaiian and Aloha airlines on our inter-island hops. I recommend Hawaiian, as it is the only airline connecting the islands that assigns seats. Everyone else (there are a number of inter-island airlines) has open seating (usually assigned by "zones"), which makes for a hostile and aggressive crowd. Aloha also seemed disorganized and inefficient - and is in bankruptcy at the moment.) Ticket prices were comparable, as were the planes were on. The flight schedule does have some differences though.

Despite my best efforts, I didn't do a good job of timing my flights. I just didn't realize a half-hour flight would eat up a half day. (I was imagining inter-island flights in Fiji, not in post-911 America.) This hurt us the most in Maui, where we wasted far too much time on both our arrival and departure.

General
Nothing in Hawaii is cheap, but there are no fees charged at state or county parks and beaches, making them Hawaii's best value.

Even though the islands are small, driving anywhere took longer then I expected. Speed limits are low by mainland standards, roads are narrow, and congestion is common - as is road construction. Expect every trip to take longer than you think it will.

Apparently despised by many locals, Wizard Publications' Revealed guides are a must. These detailed guidebooks fill the same niche Lonely Planet holds throughout the third world: They are essential and ubiquitous. Besides the information provided in the book, additional information and updates are available on the web so you always have the latest information. (Why can't every guidebook do that?) It's the only guidebook you'll need.

Along with the Wizard Publication site, other good web resources include:
  • GoHawaii, the official Hawaii tourism site has a wealth of information;
  • Alternative Hawaii, is a favorite because of its "shop locally" ethic and emphasis on places and activities a little off the usual tourist beat; and
  • The Honolulu Advertiser, which has a wealth of information IF you can find it. (It's tricky to navigate, but worth the effort.)
If you are from a place like Minnesota, you're likely to see lots of unfamiliar plants. For help identifying them, check the Hawaiian native plant page maintained by the University of Hawaii or the flora of the Hawaiian islands page maintained by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

Hawaiian beaches can be moody, which can make them deadly. A beach that is calm as a bathtub in one season, may be deadly at another time during the year. Warning signs are posted and continually updated for everything - as strange as they may seem, heed them!

This is going to sound crabby, but like the beaches, the people of Hawaii can also be a bit moody.

Yeah, this is the Aloha state, but Hawaii is like every other beautiful place with too many tourists - most residents would prefer if you simply sent over your money and stayed home yourself. If you stay within the well-trod tourist corridors, everyone you meet will be happy to see you - their livelihood depends on you, after all. (Many are genuinely welcoming, as the tourism industry tends to attract people who actually like other people.) We didn't stray far from well-trod tourist paths and almost everyone we met was warm and welcoming. However, we saw plenty of signs of the less welcoming side of Hawaii. Particularly prevalent on Oahu and Kauai, the clearest messages took the form of homemade signs posted along roadways, trails, and beaches, all loudly proclaiming that visitors are not welcome and should go home.

Some of this antipathy is due to the crush of tourists. Some is tied to the huge amounts of really bad tourist-related development that has all but destroyed parts of the islands. Some is due to stress over the rights and place of native Hawaiians in modern Hawaii. However, a significant amount of the hostility toward tourists seems to emanate from people (at all levels of society) who came to this beautiful place to escape the world and, now that they are here, want to keep everyone else out. While that isn't unique to Hawaii, it's not very realistic on a small island. Furthermore, the conflicts it engenders makes life less pleasant for both those seeking isolation and the rest of the world.

Dining:
Our Hawaii dining secret: Most days "lunch" consisted of Macamania bars and Maui-style potato chips (the Frito lay chip, not the original Kitch'n Cook'd, which seem to be unavailable) with either Pepsi, an insipid fruit soda, or a thick smoothy bursting with fresh fruit. Sometimes I supplemented this with other things like dried smoked Tako (squid jerky) or home-packed trail mix, but Macamania bars and Maui chips did seem to provide the perfect combination of sugar and salt :-)

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Monday, January 21, 2008 Home

Good-bye, Hawaii!

Previous Post: A Honolulu Holiday
Our final evening here has arrived.

In search of a relaxing spot from which to watch the sun set, we end up with drinks and pupu at a open-air Tiki bar with a view of the beach.

I wish we weren't going home now.

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A Honolulu Holiday

Previous Post: Rainbows Over Waikiki

The rainbows fade and the marchers move along, but Waikiki Beach continues to shimmer enticingly.

Time to get in the water!

Soon we too are splashing and playing out there. It is wonderful.

We also watch the newbie surfers practice. Maybe I should have asked James for a surfing lesson after all . . .

When we tire of playing in the water, we still have most of the afternoon left. What to do next?

The Pearl Harbor museums are near the Bishop Museum, so we decide to start at the Bishop and then finish the afternoon at Pearl Harbor. . . until the hotel staff explains that we will never get into Pearl Harbor at this point in the day.

Ok. So, despite the outrageous cab fare, we are off to the Bishop to see their amazing collection of Hawaiian artifacts. . . . Except, when we arrive, we find that the Hawaiian Hall is closed for remodeling. Dang.

I am getting crabby, but Lane reminds me that we paid a lot to get here, so we might as well see whatever is still on display. So in we go.

The first exhibit we come across features contemporary crafts created at a cultural exchange that Kilohana had participated in told us about. The art is wonderful (and includes pieces by a number of artists with whom we are already familiar) AND they have a video of the event that shows the artists at work. Cool!

My mood restored, we continue on to the amazing collection of Pacific Island artifacts, the sort-of-creepy feather fan display (how many birds died for these?), a fascinating display of Hawaii artifacts related to the Princess for whom the museum is named, and the totally cool three-D video-scope images.

It's a great way to spend an afternoon.

Now, having had a dose of culture, we return to Waikiki for a little shopping. Well, mostly looking longingly at the luscious garments for sale at Tori Richard.

Next Post: Good-bye, Hawaii!

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Rainbows Over Waikiki

Previous Post: Evening Along the Beach

We get up early so we can be on the beach for sunrise, but it is cloudy, so we aren't sure it will be very interesting today.

Very slowly the sky brightens behind Diamond Head, illuminating the city sprawling along the shore.

Our plan is to walk to Diamond head, but I'm not sure how to get there. Besides, I can see that the same rain we got each morning at Dawn's will also visit us here. Time to head back.

I grab a chai tea and we wait out the brief shower.

It only rains for a few moments and soon we are back on the beach. No one else seems to notice, but the rain has left behind a glorious rainbow!

We follow the shore until our way is blocked by a large residential tower. Still thinking we will find our way to Diamond Head, we skirt around the edge of a couple of these big condo developments and, quite unexpectedly, find ourselves in a tiny storybook neighborhood.

I have no idea how to reach Diamond Head from here and I can see there is more rain on the way - time to start back.

Today is the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday and a parade is scheduled for sometime this morning. Since the islands don't have a substantial African American population, we're not expecting a big turn-out, but the parks are now filling up with booths, stages, a children's area, and games for older kids. A band is warming up somewhere out of sight. Around us a light crowd is moving toward the street where the parade is about to begin.

The parade starts off as a motley collection of individual units and marchers, but soon picks up steam, with bands and dance groups joining in. The parade is mostly an amalgamation of "lefty" groups (civil rights activists, but also environmentalists, labor unions, and Iraq protesters), but Ron Paul has a contingent participating, as do a few others representing the other side of the spectrum, so it isn't all one-sided. (Not that an all lefty parade would have bothered me, mind you.)

Soon the parade becomes more organized, with larger groups and more bands and dancers. Looking up the street I can see that it stretches as far as I can see.

We dodge between units and run up to our room.

Ah yes, the view is much better from our lani!

A light rain begins to fall as the parade continues on. Music, cheers, and chants rise up toward us. At the same time, perhaps unbeknownst to those parading below, a gorgeous double rainbow touches Waikiki.

It feels like a blessing has been bestowed upon us.

Next Post: A Honolulu Holiday

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Sunday, January 20, 2008 Home

Evening Along the Beach

Previous Post: Waikiki: 5 p.m.

We sit and watch as afternoon turns to evening and the sun sinks out of sight below the horizon.


Out along the beach and on the streets, the city has a different feel at night - still warm and tropical, but energetic in a way it was not during the day.


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Waikiki: 5 p.m.

Previous Post: Asian Oasis

After a relaxed morning that included dim sum and the Honolulu Academy of the Arts, Dawn drops us off at our hotel along Waikiki Beach.

We check in and head up to our room, which turns out to have great views of Waikiki. Yay!

It is another stunningly beautiful day and, on the street below our lanai, the local college football team is celebrating a successful season with a parade. There are marching bands (including one playing from a trolley - how come Mr. Rader never let us do that?!) and lots of football players and cheerleaders. There are even a few floats, including ones for the port authority and the new Superferry, which I find amusing.

We relax on our lani, watching the scene unfold below.

This is a good place to be

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Saturday, January 19, 2008 Home

Asian Oasis

Previous Post: Coastal Splendor

Before leaving for Hawaii, my manager at work gave me a short list of things I must see. One of them was the Byodo-In, a serene replica of an ancient Buddhist temple in Japan.


Next Post: Waikiki - 5 p.m.

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