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Watch Tia Carrere win her Grammy

watch_Tia_Carrere_win_her_GrammyFor the fourth consecutive year, Grammy winners for Best Hawaiian Music Album won’t get to accept their golden gramophones on CBS’s primetime telecast.

But fans of Hawaiian music shouldn’t completely despair.

This year for the first time, the pre-telecast ceremonies—where the Hawaiian music Grammy is awarded—will air live and online at The Recording Academy’s official Web site Grammy.com. The Los Angeles Convention Center ceremony will air from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (PST) on Feb. 10.

Awards in nearly 100 not-ready-for-prime-time Grammy categories will also be given out during the pre-telecast.

I’m predicting Tia Carrere’s CD of Hawaiian music, Hawaiiana, will win the Grammy even though it doesn’t quite deserve it, thereby cheesing off a whole bunch of folks in the Hawaiian music industry.

In addition to Los Angeles-based Carrere, the other nominees for the Hawaiian Grammy are:

• Keola Beamer’s Ka Hikina O Ka Hau (The Coming Of The Snow)
• Raiatea Helm’s Hawaiian Blossom
• Cyril Pahinui’s He‘eia
Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar produced by George Kahumoku Jr., Daniel Ho, Paul Konwiser and Wayne Wong.

Who do you think deserves to win? Who do you think will win?

My Favorite Places: Waipio Valley

my_favorite_places_waipio_valleymy_favorite_places_waipio_valleyWaipio Valley has long been one of my favorite spots to return to when I’m on the Big Island of Hawaii.

When I was growing up in Hilo, we often made the 100-mile drive to Kailua-Kona on the other side of the island.  We still do.

As a kid,  I was always a bit saddened when mom blasted our Honda Civic past the turnoff to the plantation village of Honokaa on the drive up the Hamakua Coast. Honokaa, you see, has the only access road to Waipio Valley.

Six miles deep with a mile-long black sand and boulder-strewn beach connecting its north and south walls, Waipio Valley is the largest of several valleys marking the Kohala Mountains drop into the sea. It has been called the “Valley of the Kings” because of its former residents. Many are still buried there.

You can view Waipio from a scenic overlook almost 2,000 feet up from the valley floor, or guide a four-wheel drive vehicle along the steep single-lane road descending into it. If you’ve got the right vehicle—and have a full day to explore—try to do both.

Start with a picnic lunch on the beach, do some beachcombing, then drive into the valley. I like taking the dirt road hugging the Waipio River, the valley’s lush foliage and scattered taro farms to a view of towering Hiilawe — one of the tallest waterfalls in Hawaii.  (It’s also the inspiration for Gabby Pahinui’s most famous song, “Hiilawe.”)

Explore Waipio on a sunny day during the rainy winter and spring seasons and you’ll find dozens of other waterfalls cascading down the green valley walls.

Our friend Alex Salkever has an entertaining description of the somewhat gnarly unmarked hike to Hiilawe on his Hawaiirama site.

Photos of Waipio Valley courtesy of Commons/Wikipedia

USS Missouri flags fly at half-mast for Margaret Truman

USS_Missouri_flags_half_mast_Margaret_TrumanUSS_Missouri_flags_half_mast_Margaret_TrumanThe flags of the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor are flying at half-mast today to honor the life of Margaret Truman Daniel.

The only child of President Harry S. Truman died in Chicago, IL, on Tuesday. A singer, radio and television host and best-selling author, she was 83.

She is remembered by the Battleship Missouri’s staff and volunteers for christening the “Mighty Mo” exactly 64 years ago yesterday. Then just 19, Margaret Truman launched the ship into service by smashing a bottle of champagne on its hull at the Brooklyn Naval Yard. Her father—then a Missouri senator—gave a speech at the Jan. 29, 1944 ceremony.

The photos, on the right, show Margaret Truman christening the Mo; and enjoying lunch with a few of the battleship’s sailors in 1947.

She recently recalled her memory of the latter.

“It was fun. I was the only woman around.”

Photos courtesy of the U.S. Navy

Chinese restaurants in Honolulu

Chinese_restaurants_HonoluluHAWAII Magazine readers Floyd and Susie Crawford wrote in this afternoon with a question that made us think.

It made us hungry for Chinese food, too. But that’s another story.

The Crawfords query?

My husband and I are coming to Oahu for a week. … On our last visit there, we had a wonderful dinner at the (Hilton Hawaiian Village’s) Golden Dragon. We had Peking Duck with plum sauce, and were anticipating returning for our anniversary. In calling the Hilton, I found out that the Golden Dragon is closing (in) February. … Can you recommend some restaurants that have Peking Duck?

We love Peking Duck. We love good Chinese food. So, of course, we immediately took a staff poll.

As far as we are concerned, the best Chinese restaurant in Honolulu is Little Village, in the Downtown/Chinatown Arts District [1113 Smith St. (808) 545-3008]. Their Peking duck—which you can order in whole- or half-duck portions—is terrific.

Peking duck is not a rare dish, so it shouldn't be hard to find. With the closing of Golden Dragon and Shanghai Bistro, there's not really a good Chinese restaurant in Waikiki.  The best might be Legend in the Waikiki Trade Center [2255 Kuhio Ave., (808) 926-8999].

Two favorite Chinese restaurants near Waikiki are Hee Hing, a few blocks from the Zoo end of Waikiki [449 Kapahulu Ave., (808) 735-5544], and Royal Garden in the Ala Moana Hotel [410 Atkinson Dr., (808) 942-7788].
Floyd and Susie, enjoy.  The rest of you, what are your favorite Chinese restaurants in the Islands?

Hawaii's state parks: Worth a visit?

Hawaii_state_parks_worth_visitAre Hawaii’s most popular state parks worth your visit just because they’re, well, the most popular?

Depends on how much time and patience you have for exploration.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority’s just-released 2007 Hawaii State Parks Survey reports that our parks enjoyed 10.1 million visits from residents and visitors last year. That’s a 10 percent jump from figures collected from a previous survey in 2003.

Residents can visit most of ‘em anytime the mood strikes; interisland airfares are still low. But, if you’re visiting, which of them should you fit into your already busy Hawaii vacation schedule?

We broke down the pros and cons of Hawaii’s 10 most visited state parks for you.

1.    Nuuanu Pali State Wayside (Oahu)
Why you should go:
Pali means “cliff” in Hawaiian. This one has sweeping views of the windward side of the island from more than a thousand feet up.
Why you might skip it: It’s almost always crowded. It’s almost always windy and cold, too—so bring a jacket or sweater.  Skirts not advised; it’s that windy.

2.    Wailua River State Park (Kauai)
Why you should go:
For ground- and mountain-level vistas of Hawaii’s longest navigable river, or a riverboat trip to foliage-lined lava cave Fern Grotto.
Why you might skip it: The only way to get to Fern Grotto is the riverboat tour, which costs $20.

3.    Haena State Park (Kauai)
Why you should go:
There’s great snorkeling and scuba diving at Kee Beach, multiple sea caves to explore, and an impressive view of the Na Pali Coastline.
Why you might skip it: Parking can be a hassle.

4.    Diamond Head State Monument (Oahu)
Why you should go:
A half-hour climb ends with sweeping views of Oahu’s entire south shore, and the best views of Waikiki.
Why you might skip it: It can be a hot hike. It’s always crowded at the top.

5.    Makena State Park (Maui)
Why you should go:
To explore the south shore park’s more than 165 coastal acres of white sand beach—a favorite getaway for Maui residents
Why you might skip it: If you walk north to “Little Beach,” you should know it’s the island’s most popular spot for nude sunbathers.

6.    Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area (Big Island)
Why you should go:
It’s the island’s finest beach—a half-mile long stretch of white sand with crystalline waters and great bodysurfing and body boarding.
Why you might skip it: The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, which plopped itself on the beach’s once unsullied north end 15 years ago.  The surf can be dangerous here, so use caution.

7.    Iao Valley State Monument (Maui)
Why you should go:
It’s the most dramatic and lush stream-cut valley on an island that’s full of them. You can see the Iao Needle—a lava remnant—and the green cliffs of dormant Puu Kukui volcano.
Why you might skip it: Lush comes at a soggy price—it’s also the second wettest place in the state.

8.    Waimea Canyon State Park (Kauai)
Why you should go:
Mark Twain didn’t call Waimea Canyon the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” for nothing. At 10 miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep, it’s nirvana for hikers.
Why you might skip it: You’ll need more than a day-long visit to fully explore its acreage.

9.    Na Pali Coast State Park (Kauai)
Why you should go:
It’s popular, but not crowded. The park occupies more than 16 miles of pristine, valley-rich coastline on the island’s north shore—inaccessible to automobiles and unforgiving to casual hikers.
Why you might skip it: That “unforgiving to casual hikers” thing. Fully exploring Na Pali and its valleys via its Kalalau foot trail requires overnight camping plans.

10.   Kaena Point State Park (Oahu)
Why you should go:
It’s the most remote spot on the state’s most populated island—a narrow wave-pounded peninsula with unspoiled views of Oahu’s north and east shores, and the Waianae Mountains.
Why you might skip it: If you’re getting there by car, you’ll have to choose between its windward and leeward sides.

What's your favorite Hawaii state park?

Photo of the view from Nuuanu Pali State Wayside courtesy of Lina Jang/Lina Jang Photography


We've got Jack Johnson

World famous North Shore of Oahu singer/songwriter Jack Johnson’s fifth CD Sleep Through the Static goes on sale Feb. 5.

It’s the follow-up to Johnson’s chart-topping 2006 soundtrack for the animated feature Curious George and his two-million-plus-selling 2005 CD In Between Dreams.

But do the new tunes on Static match up with the signature low-key surf-folk charm Johnson displayed on In Between Dreams and his 2001 debut Brushfire Fairytales? Has Johnson switched from love songs and backyard jams to thrash metal?

Drop by Hawaiimagazine.com on Friday (Feb. 1) and you’ll find my advance mini-review of Jack’s much-anticipated new disc.

Until then, enjoy this video clip of Sleep Through the Static’s first single, “If I Had Eyes.”

And tell us if you're anxious to hear Jack's new CD.

Today's Hawaii weather: Brrr!

winter_weather_advisory_for_HawaiiThis morning, the National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for Hawaii.

Yes, you read that right: A winter weather advisory.

Rain poured in downtown Honolulu earlier today, but it’s nothing compared to Maui and on the Big Island.

As many as three inches of snow may fall on the summits of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and Haleakala. Freezing rain and scattered snow showers are forecasted for this evening, with temperatures in the low 30s.

So yes, Virginia, there is snow in Hawaii. It certainly does get chilly here in the Islands! Why right now, it’s a frosty 72 degrees in downtown Honolulu. Even though the sun is now shining brightly, I’m wearing a jacket to ward off the chill.

Photo taken on 1/29/08 at 12:27 p.m. from the CFHT Telescope, courtesy of the Mauna Kea Weather Center

Kauai beats Hollywood

Kauai_beats_HollywoodGot a sweet film you want to direct? Shoot it on Kauai!

Along with rustic Bozeman, MT, Kauai was singled out by MovieMaker Magazine as a “city on the rise” for filmmaking.

The honor was part of the magazine’s annual list of the best 10 places in the United States to “live, work and make movies.”

Kauai didn’t make MovieMaker’s Top 10. Or even its honorable mention list, for that matter. But it’s still in good company.

Factors affecting MovieMaker’s city choices included: financial incentives for filmmakers, a solid talent pool, production facilities, educational opportunities, film offices and film festivals. (I find it interesting that a good deal of the above stuff is actually on Oahu, but, oh well.)

Hollywood (more specifically, Los Angeles) didn’t make any of the magazine’s lists.

You’ll find MovieMaker’s list here. Meanwhile, I’m taking the first flight I can get to Bozeman to scope out the competition.

Notable flicks filmed on Kauai:

• “Six Days, Seven Nights” (1998)
• “Mighty Joe Young” (1998)
• “Jurassic Park” (1993), “The Lost World” (1997), “Jurassic Park III” (2001)
• “Hook” (1991)
• “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)
• “Hawaii” (1966)
• “Blue Hawaii” (1961)
• “South Pacific” (1958)
Image from "South Pacific" courtesy of 20th Century Fox


David Beckham to play in Honolulu

David_Beckham_play_HonoluluBecks is coming. Can Posh be far behind?

Multi-millionaire soccer icon and Spice-Girl-marrying Renaissance man David Beckham will be winging over to Honolulu in February to play his first-ever matches in Hawaii.

Beckham will bend it with his Los Angeles Galaxy teammates at the inaugural Pan-Pacific Championship, a professional soccer competition featuring four world-class teams. The two-day tournament kicks off with a doubleheader Feb. 20 at Aloha Stadium.

The opening game matches Beckham’s Los Angeles Galaxy with Japan’s Gamba Osaka. Current Major League Soccer Cup champs Houston Dynamo will take on a yet-to-be-determined opponent, with winners moving on to the finals, Feb. 23 at 8:30 p.m.; again at Aloha Stadium.

Also back in town to play his first major league match for a hometown crowd: Houston Dynamo striker and Oahu native Brian Ching.

Six days of Major League Soccer-sponsored festivities will kick off Feb. 18 at various locations. No word on whether Becks will be at any of these events. But you can check out the full Pan-Pacific Championship schedule and buy tickets here.

Prepare yourself with a repeat viewing of Bend It Like Beckham, or an hour with a Spice Girls CD. I recommend Spice.

Photo of David Beckham courtesy of Pan-Pacific Championship

Mauna Lani among Earth's most Earth-friendly resorts

Mauna_Lani_most_earth_friendly_resortsThe Big Island’s Mauna Lani Resort is one of the most earth-friendly getaways in the world, according to Conde Nast Traveler.

In its January issue, the magazine praised the South Kohala Coast resort and nine others worldwide for their eco-friendly accommodations and operations.

The Mauna Lani generates more of its own electricity than any resort in the world. Its three-acre photovoltaic solar array provides the majority of power sucked up by the resort’s water pumping system. More than 50 percent of the power used by the property’s golf facilities is solar.

Since 1989, the resort has nurtured baby honu (Hawaiian for turtle) in its saltwater ponds as part of an ecotourism attraction designed to raise awareness of the species. The Mauna Lani releases the healthy adults each July 4 as part of its annual Turtle Independence Day celebration. Over the years, it has raised 125 green sea turtles for release into the wild.

All good stuff worth recognizing.

But I’d really be impressed if the Mauna Lani significantly reduced the three million gallons of fresh water pumped onto its golf courses each day and encouraged other area resorts to do the same.

Then WE’D give the Mauna Lani some serious eco-friendly props, too.

UPDATE, 3/19/08: Here comes the "serious eco-friendly props" we promised. Mauna Lani communications manager Susan Bredo says that the resort pumps brackish, not fresh, water on its golf courses. The resort's two courses are planted with "seashore paspalum" grass, which, says Bredo, can handle brackish water and requires less fertilizer and herbicides.

Photo courtesy of Mauna Lani Resort

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