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Best spots to catch Hawaii New Year's Eve fireworks

best_spots_Hawaii_New_Years_Eve_fireworksSo long, 2008! Time to say "Aloha!" to 2009.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Hawaii tonight, consider our picks for the prime places to watch the sky light up with New Year's Eve fireworks.


• 7 p.m., Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park, 91-400 Farrington Highway, Kapolei, (808) 945-3928.

• Midnight, JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina
, 92-1001 Olani St., Kapolei, (800) 626-4446.

• Midnight, Waikiki Beach near the Halekulani, 2199 Kalia Road in Waikiki. Note: the event is not sponsored by the Halekulani, rather the Waikiki Improvement Association. For more information, call (808) 923-1094.

• Midnight, Aloha Tower Marketplace, 1 Aloha Tower Dr #3000, Honolulu, (808) 528-5700.


• 10 p.m.,
Sheraton Kauai Resort, 2440 Hoonani Rd, Koloa, (808) 742-1661


• Midnight,
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, 1 Manele Bay Dr, Lanai City,  (808) 565-2000.


Midnight, The Grand Wailea Resort, 3850 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea, (808) 875-1234

A few words of advice. Some sites may let visitors watch on the grounds without having to pay, or direct people to a public viewing site. For more information, call the phone numbers listed.

Hauoli Makahiki Hou—that's Happy New Year—from all of us at HAWAII Magazine and HawaiiMagazine.com!

See you in 2009!

Photo: Aloha Tower Marketplace

Los Angeles-Honolulu roundtrip as low as $334

los_angeles_honolulu_roundtrip_lowThis just in: some great airfare deals. 

The Los Angeles Times reports several carriers including Delta, Northwest and American Airlines are offering round-trip airfares from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL), for as low as $334, including tax, for flights scheduled between January 5 and February 28, 2009.

The rates can be found through travel website Travelocity. Don’t believe us? Click here and see for yourself.

But don’t delay; all good things must come to an end. And good airfares to Hawaii seem to end faster than other destinations. 

Photo: Dawn Sakamoto

Learn about island living. Tour a real Hawaii home.

home_tourYou ask.  We answer.

HAWAII Magazine reader Marilyn Keithly emails: I am trying to locate an article I read in HAWAII Magazine, about an outing where you could spend the day with a local couple and experience the local food by eating in homes. I can't even remember what island but I am thinking it was maybe Maui.

Good memory, though wrong island.  You are thinking of Chef Ann Sutherland and Pat Peterson’s Home Tours Hawaii, on the Big Island.

As we wrote in our January/February 2008 issue, the tour takes small groups  into three different homes in the Kailua-Kona area, including a kamaaina estate, where they can learn about island living while sampling backyard fruits and Island-style food.

Home Tours Hawaii provides transportation in an air conditioned van and hotel pickup in the Kailua-Kona area. Tours are from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and the cost is $85 per person. More information can be found at at their web site or by calling (877) 325-5772.

NFL Pro Bowl leaving Hawaii after 2009

NFL_Pro_Bowl_leaving_HawaiiThe "aloha" greeting Pro Bowl players are welcomed with at 2009’s game will also mean goodbye.

The National Football League’s annual all-star game, will not be played in Oahu’s Aloha Stadium—its home for the last 28 years—in 2010. NFL officials announced yesterday that the game is headed eastward for the sun, sand and endless neon glow of Miami.

Along with the move to Miami’s Dolphin Stadium—site of the 2010 Super Bowl—the Pro Bowl is being rescheduled to a week before the championship game, rather than after, to help generate excitement. Having both games at the same stadium is a bit of an experiment, NFL officials admit, and is not a permanent move. They further expressed a desire to return to Hawaii in coming years, making an Island homecoming very much a reality.

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle was hopeful: "I am optimistic that the Pro Bowl will return to Hawaii in 2011.”

The NFL has discussed moving the game elsewhere for years. Even Hawaii’s current four-year Pro Bowl deal—which ends after the 2009 game—gave the NFL a one-year option of playing at another site during the duration of the contract.

So while the move wasn’t unexpected, it is still disappointing news for the thousands of Hawaii fans who attend the game annually—not to mention the players who get to indulge in a paid vacation to Hawaii.

The effects of losing the game in Hawaii are immediate: The 2007 Pro Bowl attracted roughly 25,000 visitors, who spent about $28 million, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Several Pro Bowl-themed events like Ohana Day generate money for Hawaii chapters of organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and the YMCA. NFL Charities has donated $100,000 annually to Hawaii youth programs.

For now, we’ve at least got the 2009 Pro Bowl to look forward to—with kick off set for Sunday, February 8, at 4:30 p.m, (Eastern time) 1:30 p.m. (Pacific time) and 11:30 a.m. (Hawaii time). The game will be aired on NBC. Haven’t acquired the highly prized and equally pricey tickets for Pro Bowl 2009 yet? Click here.

Photo of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning at the 2006 Pro Bowl courtesy of Wikipedia/Commons

VIDEO: Inside Obama's Hawaii beachfront house

video_Obama_Hawaii_beachfront_rentalYou ask. We answer.

HawaiiMagazine.com reader Paul Krueger of Baltimore, Md., wrote asking if we could find any Web video of the Kailua home where president-elect Barack Obama and his family are spending the holidays.

The Obamas have been vacationing in Hawaii with a small clutch of friends since Dec. 20. Their home away from home? A multimillion-dollar beachfront compound on a quiet peninsula in the east Oahu bedroom community of Kailua.

Since arriving, Obama has motored daily with wife Michelle to a gym at nearby Marine Corps Base Hawaii for hour-long morning workouts, played a few rounds of golf at Olomana Golf Links and enjoyed an outing with his daughters to Sea Life Park and a shave ice stop in residential suburb Hawaii Kai. He also attended a private memorial service for his late grandmother, later scattering her ashes into the surf at Lanai Lookout.

Other than that, though, the Oahu born-and-raised Obama has barely left his Kailua rental.

We can now see why.

Click here for a video report we found from reporter Ben Gutierrez of Honolulu television station KITV.

Photo: Associated Press
oahu_shopping_bookYou’re on Oahu post-Christmas with a little bit of gift cash. The economy being what it is … do you save it, or spend it?

“Recession, shmecession---all you need is a little retail therapy!” writes Honolulu-based writer Kathryn Drury Wagner in her new book, The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu.

Wagner’s prose is sassy and spunky. She points out standout items wherever she goes, shares the inside scoop on regular sales, primo parking spots and offers tips on returns policies. It’s the kind of information die hard shoppers might give their left arm for, if not a leg. (After all, you’ll need both feet should you take on all 11 pages of shoe stores.)

Wagner’s knowledge is first hand—having spent months “researching” stores for the book and a few years as executive editor and resident fashion expert at our sister publication, HONOLULU Magazine. The guide features 200 stores, ranging from Hawaii outlets of classic Mainland standbys to the kind of retail we found most interesting: Island boutiques featuring Island designers.

Among them:

Muumuu Heaven, a Kailua shop whose owners, Deb and Eric Mascia rescue vintage aloha wear, transforming the fabric into sleek, one-of-a-kind skirts, tops, dresses and even pillows.

alliway, Honolulu-based designer Alli Kim-Czerniak’s flagship stores offering her various lines of jewelry— none of it over $300— and fashions and handbags from other local designers.

Manuhealii,  home to “kitsch-free, contemporary Hawaiian” garments for men, women and children, and home d├ęcor items blending Hawaiian quilt pattern traditions and Polynesian aesthetics. Most prices are under $100.

In Honolulu on January 24? Stop by The Ultimate Shopping Experience at Honolulu Design Center’s Cupola theatre for just that. More than a dozen retailers featured in The Ultimate Guide will be there with their wares. Wagner will be there, too.

Bring a credit card.

"The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu"
is $12.95, from Watermark Publishing.
Ho'aloha Kalikimaka Trees display in downtown Honolulu. Photo by Dawn Sakamoto

Best Hawaii music albums of 2008

Need some Hawaii-made music for your iPod, iPhone or iWhatever?

In the January/February 2009 issue of HAWAII Magazine, we catch you up with the best music from Hawaii this year. Our five favorite Hawaii-made albums of 2008 came from three longtime favorites, a young innovator in peak form and a singer-songwriter whose last CD preceded the Bush-Cheney administration.

You’ll find the full text for each of my choices in the pages of HAWAII—on newsstands this month, or by print subscription or digital subscription. Here, I share HAWAII Magazine's Best 5 list of albums (in no particular order), links where you can order each and an audio sample from each.

The Brothers Cazimero
Mountain Apple Company

The Brothers Cazimero are still crafting some of the best music of their long careers. Destiny is no exception—a dozen impeccably produced tracks showcasing the Caz’s crystalline vocal blend, crisp musicianship and boundless creativity. Buy here. Audio sample: "Ka Imi Loa"

five_best_Hawaii_albumsHome Malanai
Leokane Pryor and Friends
Naupaka Productions

Leokane Pryor’s soaring falsetto on Home Malanai—his first album since his 2000 debut—was one of the highlights of Hawaii music in 2008. Relaxing, fun and occasionally somber, it’s the musical equivalent of a lengthy, luxurious afternoon reuniting with a long-lost friend. Buy here. Audio sample: "Kaimu"

Amy Hanaialii
Ua Records/Concord Records

Yet another excellent Amy Hanaialii mix of songs. Her stunning multi-range voice brings on the chicken skin—Hawaii slang for goosebumps—whether interpreting new or classic Hawaiian compositions, jazz standards or re-working old Creedence Clearwater Revival. Buy here. Audio sample: "I Remember You"

Nathan Aweau
Bass Plus Music Arts

Nathan Aweau possesses one of the most beautiful voices in current Hawaii music. Kaneohe shows off how remarkably versatile a voice it is as well—rich with emotion, combined with his always deft and inventive blend of instrumentation. Buy here. Audio sample: "Kaneohe"

Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole
Mountain Apple Company

Innovation is the hallmark of Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole’s approach to Hawaiian music. Here, he proves himself a force of nature, combining Hawaiian storytelling, chant and traditional instruments with modern composition styles, topical subject matter and subtle studio wizardry. Buy here. Audio sample: "Grandchild"

Got your own list of 2008's best Hawaii music albums, or just a favorite Hawaii album released this year? Tell us and other HawaiiMagazine.com readers about it with a comment below.    

Obama bids farewell to grandmother on Oahu coast

Obama_bids_farewell_to_grandmotherPresident-elect Barack Obama attended a memorial for his late grandmother Madelyn Dunham yesterday afternoon, later scattering her ashes into the Oahu surf.

Dunham, referred to as “Toot” by Obama, died of cancer in Honolulu at age 86, two days before her grandson was elected president. Obama was not able to attend Dunham’s funeral last November due to the whirlwind of events following the election.

A closed memorial was held at Honolulu’s First Unitarian Church yesterday. Afterward, Obama and about a dozen others—including wife, Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha and half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng—traveled to Lanai Lookout on the far southeast corner of Oahu. The group scaled a short wall to reach a remote section of rocky shoreline where Obama and Soetoro-Ng scattered Dunham's ashes into the Pacific Ocean.

It was the same place where Obama had scattered his mother's ashes following her death in 1995, and where he had tossed a lei into the surf in her memory on an August trip to Hawaii.

The president-elect has been on vacation in Hawaii with his family since Saturday, staying in Kailua. The family is scheduled to leave Hawaii for Chicago on New Year's Day.

Obama has been candid about his grandmother’s influence throughout his life. Dunham and Obama’s grandfather, Stanley, raised him in their Beretania Street apartment for most of Obama’s adolescence.

Barack Obama scatters flowers into surf off Lanai Lookout. Photo: Splash News
University_Hawaii_Notre_Dame_Hawaii_BowlUniversity_Hawaii_Notre_Dame_Hawaii_BowlIn Hawaii, Christmas Eve means family, food, maybe some early gift unwrapping … and college football.

The Sheraton Hawaii Bowl happens Wednesday afternoon at Aloha Stadium—most likely with a good portion of the state glued to ESPN watching the University of Hawaii Warriors take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

This is the Warriors’ fifth trip to the Hawaii Bowl in the game’s seven-year history. It’s Notre Dame’s first Hawaii Bowl and third match-up against UH. The teams last met in 1997—the Irish prevailing 23-22 with a late field goal. Still, about the only thing marquee about this year’s Hawaii Bowl may be the names and current histories of the football programs involved. 

Hawaii (7-6) expectedly declined this year, after an undefeated 2007 season—and subsequent post-season shellacking in the Bowl Championship Series Sugar Bowl. Notre Dame (6-6) has had far better years in its storied history. Still, the Hawaii Bowl should provide a great physical match-up of two teams with a lot to prove.

For the Warriors, playing postseason is a pleasant reward. Many naysayers predicted a downward spiral for UH football after the highly publicized departure of former coach June Jones and the graduation loss of quarterback Colt Brennan.

For Notre Dame, the Hawaii Bowl may be the ultimate redemption for embattled head coach Charlie Weis. The underachieving Fighting Irish have a nine-game losing streak in post-season bowl play dating back to 1995—a blemish Weis would surely love to end.

Online oddsmakers have Notre Dame 1.5 point favorites over Hawaii. Meanwhile, the more reputable analysts at ESPN forecast a 34-24 Irish win.

Us? We’re confident the Warriors will pull out a “W” in its far-warmer-than-South-Bend hometown. UH quarterback Greg Alexander has been playing consistent football over the final stretch of the season, especially at home. Now if he could just get some blocking …

If you’re in Honolulu for Christmas and want to check out the game in person, click here. Otherwise, ESPN has kickoff slated for, 8 p.m. (Eastern time), 5 p.m. (Pacific time) or 3 p.m. (Hawaii time).

We’ll be watching. Will you?

UPDATE 12/24, 10:40 p.m.: Final score … Notre Dame, 49; University of Hawaii, 21. We still win. We don't have to go back home and shovel snow from our driveways.
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