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The view from Hawaii


view_from_HawaiiWish you were here?

Can’t blame you.

Here’s almost the next best thing. We’ve collected links to a handful of Webcams around the state offering live views of our beaches and—well, pretty much just our beaches.

Want to see the sun set over Hanalei Bay on Kauai? Click the Sheraton Princeville’s beach-roving camera below.

Got friends staying in Waikiki? Tell 'em to stand in front of the Duke Kahanamoku statue fronting Kuhio Beach and then give you a call, while you click the “Waikiki Beach” cam.

It’s almost sunset here as I’m posting this. Click now and you won’t miss it.


Kuhio Beach, Oahu: A view of the folks wading in the surf off Waikiki.

Click here.


Waikiki Beach, Oahu: More a view of the Duke Kahanamoku statue than a beach view, but, oh well.

Click here.


Waikiki Beach from the sky, Oahu: Point a camera at the top of the 31-story Sheraton Waikiki towards Diamond Head or the surf below, mix a mai tai, enjoy.

Click here.


Sunset Beach and North Shore of Oahu surf spots: Check the wave action at some of the best surf spots.

Click here.


Hanalei Bay, Kauai: The sunsets are terrific from this Webcam at the Sheraton Princeville Resort.

Click here.


Kaanapali Beach, Maui: The weather and ocean action on one of West Maui’s best beaches, fronting the Sheraton Kaanapali Resort.

Click here.


Hilo Bay, Big Island: A so-so view of the bayfront. At least you’ll be able to tell if it’s a sunny or rainy day in Hilo town.

Click here.


The South Kohala Coast, Big Island: From the rooftop of the Mauna Lani  Resort.

Click here.
 

Have a favorite Hawaii Webcam we missed? Leave us a comment below.
 

Hula at Kilauea volcano


hula_Kilauea_volcanoThe Merrie Monarch Hula Festival—for many practitioners, the World Series of hula—opened on the Big Island this weekend.

Hula troupes from around the state and worldwide are still arriving daily in Hilo, to compete.

Yesterday, Hilo’s Civic Auditorium saw the festival’s traditional opening hoolaulea (celebration).

But yesterday afternoon, our friends at Kilauea, photographers Stephen and Donna O’Meara, shot this photo of Halau Hula Keolu Makani O Mauna Loa.

This halau—as hula troupes are called in Hawaii—made a pilgrimage to Kilauea caldera to pay respect, by dancing for volcano fire goddess Pele.

Traditionally, this halau would go all the way to 300-foot-deep Halemaumau crater to dance—often right on its edge. That’s not possible this year. Conditions are uncertain and hazardous. The crater’s erupting with steam and ash, ejecting toxic fumes and occasional rocks and lava particles.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park rangers escorted the dancers to this spot, called Steaming Bluff, within sight of Halemaumau. 

Other dancers are expected to congregate both at Steaming Bluff and also at the spot where the current Kilauea flow pours molten lava into the sea.

We’ll post winners once hula competition begins on Thursday night. All three nights of competition will be streamed live on TheHawaiiChannel.com.

A schedule of Merrie Monarch Festival events is here.

Photo by Donna and Stephen O'Meara, someara@interpac.net

 

Aloha Airlines Shuts Down


aloha_shutdownAloha Airlines announced this morning it was shutting down passenger service—both interisland and transpacific.

Its last day of passenger operations will be tomorrow, March 31, though many of its Hawaii-to-Mainland routes have their last flight today, Sunday.

If you are holding tickets on Aloha past that date, you can contact other airlines, including United Airlines, (800) UNITED1, and Hawaiian Airlines, (800) 367-5320.

If you have a ticket on Aloha for April 1st through 3rd, 2008 (and on Hawaii-Mainland flights March 31), you can stand by on Hawaiian Airlines flights, free of charge.  Hawaiian Air has added 6,000 interisland seats in an attempt to accommodate as many passengers as possible, but cannot guarantee everyone a seat that fits their travel plans.

United had a code-sharing agreement with Aloha Airlines.  That means it sold tickets to flights actually operated by Aloha, and vice versa.  United says it will do its best to rebook all passengers who bought their tickets through United.  It answers questions here.

If you don't wish to be accommodated by another airline, you should contact your travel agent or credit card company for a refund.  You can also do that if you are forced to purchase a ticket on another airline to complete your travel.  (Unfortunately, if you paid for a ticket by cash or check, you have to file with the bankruptcy court.)

Aloha will continue to operate its air cargo unit, which Saltchuck Resources, Inc. announced last Thursday it intended to buy.

"This is an incredibly dark day for Hawaii," said David A. Banmiller, Aloha's president and chief executive officer.  The shutdown ends a 61-year tradition of service.

The announcement can be found on Aloha’s Web site here, along with a FAQ page here with information on reservations and refunds.

Aloha Airlines filed for bankruptcy on March 20. It cited the inter-island airfare war set off by Go! Airlines and the soaring cost of jet fuel for losses of $81 million in 2007 as reason. The airline was put up for sale the following day, but expected to continue to fly.


 
 
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New Volcano Photo


kilauea_mar28

We have a new photo from Volcano photographer Stephen James O'Meara, along with this note from his wife Donna.  Donna O'Meara wrote the history of Kilauea's current eruption for the Jan/Feb issue of HAWAII Magazine.  And she has a new book Volcano: A Visual Guide.

The O'Mearas live in Volcano Village, a few miles from the crater.

From Donna:

It keeps going and going and going. Here is the latest. On Friday Morning, March 28, 2008 a dark, sooty ash plume could be seen roiling from the new summit vent at Kilauea.

By dark on the same day loud audible roars! could be heard thundering from the throat of the vent, rousing Volcano Golf Course residents from their homes to the Hawaii Volcano National Park Steam Vents Look-out.



 

Are you Ironman enough to pony $10,000?


Ironman_triathlonIronman_triathlonWould you spend a minimum $10,000 to run the Big Island’s famed annual Ironman Triathlon Championship in October?

Perhaps if the money went to a trio of worthy charities, including two based in Hawaii?

For a sixth year, Ironman is holding an eBay auction for six slots in the world’s premier triathlon. The minimum bid for each of the slots is $10,000. All of the money raised goes to the charities—St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Florida, Hospice of Kona Hawaii and Kalaoa Volunteer Fire Company.

Bidding starts on April 13, with one slot put up for auction per week. Slots in past years have gone for an average of $40,000—so make sure your mortgage is paid this month before pressing that shiny blue “place bid” button.

On a personal note: We less-than-athletic types would think twice about taking on the event’s 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile marathon— all under the hot Kailua-Kona sun. Never mind paying $10,000 to $40,000 for the privilege of doing so.

But that’s just us.

We do, however, commend anyone with enough athleticism, cash and 30+ SPF sunscreen willing to take Ironman up on this.

Look for an auction link at the Ironman’s official Web site here in the next few weeks.

Photos of 2007 Ironman champion Chris McCormack and women's champion Chrissie Wellington courtesy of Ironman World Championship
  
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Remembering Mauna Loa's last eruption


remembering_Mauna_Loa_eruptionThe current eruption of Kilauea is bringing back old memories for me.

I grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii. Mauna Loa awoke in the early morning hours 24 years ago this week, March 25, 1984.

The 1984 eruption on the 13,680-foot volcano’s southeast flank produced a river of lava that came within four miles of the upper slopes of Hilo before stopping.

I lived in Hilo at the time.

My friends and I joined other residents on Hilo’s bayfront or near the airport runway after dark, studying the suddenly strange-looking mountain looming over the city. The familiar placid evening silhouette was gone. Mauna Loa now had a glowing amber hot spot and a thin finger of orange lava moving downslope through its thick forests.

Twenty-four years ago we had a rare opportunity that even the current eruption does not afford: Two Hawaii volcanoes erupting simultaneously. Turn southeast at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and you’d see clouds lit up by the Kilauea eruption downslope. Turn west, and you could make out the curtain of 160-foot lava fountains upslope on Mauna Loa.

We were regulars at both locations over the three weeks that followed. Meanwhile, the intensely glowing orange finger of lava drew closer to the lights of Hilo each night. Fascination turned to fear. The town buzzed with talk of evacuation.

A friend’s house in upper Hilo was at least a dozen miles away from where the tip of the flow was mowing down vegetation. But sitting in his backyard gazing at the intense orange glow streaming through the forest beyond after dusk, you’d think it was just over the treeline, possibly arriving before morning.

In the end, the gentler slopes of Mauna Loa’s lower elevations slowed the flow’s progression. The eruption ended around the same time, three weeks to the day it began. Hilo returned to its sedate pace. Mauna Loa has been quiet ever since.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s most recent Mauna Loa report on March 15 showed no seismic activity or ground swelling—which means no lava is collecting in the mountain’s sizable below-surface reservoir.

One has to wonder, though, how long Mauna Loa will continue to let its younger sibling Kilauea continue to steal all the attention.

 The 1984 Mauna Loa lava flow above Hilo city lights. Photo by David Little, courtesy of USGS.
 

New news from Kilauea: "Never been seen before"


volcano_pressconfWe always knew Hawaii volcanoes were unprecedented.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists have been analyzing the steam and gas plume that’s been gushing from Halemaumau crater at the summit of Kilauea since March 11th. 

They've found something they didn’t expect: the H2O in their test tubes is not from ground water. It's been released from the molten subterranean magma itself.

They’re calling it “juvenile water,” and it’s never been seen before anywhere on the planet, says Jim Kauahikaua, chief scientist.

There was more good gas news, released today at a press briefing on the edge of the crater.
 
Levels of toxic sulfur dioxide at the summit are six to ten times greater than before the eruption—bad news for anyone downwind, especially anyone with respiratory problems.
 
The good news?  Sulfur dioxide reacts with sunlight and the atmosphere and soon breaks down. So all those folks living on the Kona Coast have little to be concerned about. Sure, they can see the haze—and that’s no fun. But they can breathe a sigh of relief that there’s little SO2 in the air.

In addition, there’s cultural fallout from the on-going summit eruption. The annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival—the world’s most prestigious hula competition—begins in four days and lasts for a week.
 
Traditionally, each hula halau (troupe) visits the rim of Halemaumau to honor fire goddess Pele. That won’t be possible this year.

So the staff at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is making other arrangements for the dancers. “We’re going to have other areas where they can come and be escorted by park rangers,” said park superintendent Cindy Orlando today.

Hawaii County mayor Harry Kim added that his staff is doing likewise down at the coast, where dancers will come to pay their respects next to the flowing lava still entering the sea.

Photo of Halemaumau vent on 3/24/08 courtesy of USGS

 

Of gods and plate lunches


gods_oregonIt raised our eyebrows. 

The Corvallis, Ore., Gazette-Times published a piece called “The Buzz: Holy Hawaii!”  Its reporter, Jake Tenpas, was just back from a trip to Maui and the Big Island. 

Tenpas took it upon himself to make up a few new Hawaiian gods. Lokikapi, who sneaks giant cockroaches into your bedding. Wakiluau, patron diety of macaroni salad. Mamamana, goddess of sea turtles. And Papalui, the god of traffic congestion and ridiculously low speed limits.

On the phone, we asked the reporter if he’d gotten any grief for the piece. “No,” he said.  “Did you call to give me any?”

We pointed out it’s at least bad manners, if not outright insensitivity, to play light and loose with Hawaiian culture. And mentioned how much trouble Celebrity Cruises found itself in, when it ran an ad of King Kamehameha’s statue holding a champagne glass. "I can see that," said Tenpas.

Others might, but we didn’t give him much grief at all. He said he meant well, and had gotten his introduction to “real Hawaiian culture” at his favorite restaurant in Corvallis, called Local Boyz—where he orders No. 23, the sweet and spicy chicken plate with rice and macaroni salad.

You can read Jake’s piece here.  But don't say we didn't warn you.

 

Barack Obama in Hawaii


obama_punahouIf you're interested in Barack Obama's Hawaii roots, take a look at this story by Honolulu-based AP writer Sudhin Thanawala.

The AP story focuses on Obama's years at Punahou—the private school founded in 1841 by missionaries.

The AP article makes a great deal about how the school (yearly tuition $16,000) is elitist.  To its credit, it's also the largest single-campus private school in the United States and one of the best regarded. 

The school has produced business leaders (Steve Case), actors (Kelly Preston), athletes (Michelle Wie), even Polynesian navigators (Nainoa Thompson).  But never before a major presidential candidate.

Hawaii's senior U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, a Hillary Clinton supporter, tried to make a point of Obama's Punahou ties right before the Hawaii caucuses.  The "elitist" ploy didn't work.  Obama outpolled Hillary three-to-one.

Even though he's now from Illinois, Obama is Hawaii's favorite son in the race.

Oh, and believe it or not, that's Obama's 1979 Punahou graduation picture, above.  A national magazine ran it, identifying it as Obama's graduation from Harvard Law School.  We doubt anyone ever graduated from Harvard wearing a maile lei and getting his diploma from former Punahou president Rod McPhee.

 

It’s Prince Kuhio Day in Hawaii


Prince_Kuhio_Day_in_HawaiiToday, we’re celebrating Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Piikoi’s birthday in the Islands.

Much of the Hawaii the world sees today can be traced to the work of Prince Kuhio. His determination and passion for the Islands and its people led him into a life of public service. He served as Hawaii’s second congressional delegate from 1903 until his death in 1922.

There’s a more complete story on Prince Kuhio’s life and the impact he had on Hawaii in the March/April 2007 issue of HAWAII Magazine

Across the state, schools are closed, city transportation operates on a holiday schedule and many people have the day off today to honor Hawaii’s beloved prince. Services were held early this morning at Oahu’s Royal Mausoleum, the Prince’s final resting place.

If you’re on Oahu this weekend, activities include the annual Prince Kuhio parade on Saturday in Waikiki, which starts at 4 p.m., followed by a moonlight concert at 6 p.m.

If you’re on Kauai, there are many Prince Kuhio celebrations scheduled throughout the weekend.

Another reason to honor Prince Kuhio? Without him, we wouldn’t have King Kamehameha Day—the only other state holiday dedicated to Hawaii’s royalty.

 
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