Hawaii Today edited by Derek Paiva Page: 1 2 Next>>

new_years_eve_fireworks_Hawaii_best_spots_to_watchWrapping up the ‘aughts, the 00’s, or whatever you’ve preferred calling the first decade of the millennium here in Hawaii?      

Big fans that we are of warm, tradewind-kissed New Year’s Eves, you can count us in, too.

As always, Hawaii will be one of the final locales in the world to say “Aloha!” to the year gone by and “Aloha!” to the new year ahead. But that doesn’t mean we prefer our New Year’s Eves quiet.

Here in Hawaii, many residents follow a  longtime New Year’s Eve tradition of welcoming the new year with fireworks in their driveways and neighborhood streets. It's loud. It's smoky. It requires a permit. It's also a surprising and visually stunning sight for visitors checking out our 'burbs.

But if you—like a certain leader of the free world with the last name Obama—are fortunate enough to be welcoming 2010 in the Islands this year, we’re thinking you might instead wish to opt for the sights and sounds of some public displays of pyro (i.e. New Year’s Eve aerial fireworks displays).

Lucky for you we love our grand New Year's Eve fireworks shows here, too.

Below you'll find our list of Hawaii spots to catch the sky ablaze with New Year’s Eve fireworks displays. We've got all the lowdown you need to know about public fireworks shows on Oahu, the Big Island of Hawaii, Maui, Kauai and even Lanai.

Hauoli Makahiki Hou!—that's Happy New Year!—and best wishes for 2010 from the HAWAII Magazine and HawaiiMagazine.com ohana!


• Midnight, Waikiki Beach fireworks display

Where: Waikiki beachfront
$$$? Free, open to public.
The details: Visible from the entire Waikiki beachfront, this annual fireworks show—sponsored by Waikiki hotels and businesses and the Waikiki Improvement Association—even has a fireworks countdown before the main event.

• Midnight, Aloha Tower Marketplace fireworks show

Where: Downtown Honolulu, (808) 566-2337
$$$? Free, open to public.
The details: Fireworks are shot from platforms docked in Honolulu Harbor so the best spots to watch are along the Marketplace's long pier. Dining specials and entertainment will be offered all Eve at many Marketplace restaurants.

• Midnight, JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa

Where: Ko Olina Resort, 92-1001 Olani St., (800) 679-0080
$$$? Free, open to public.
The details: Fireworks are shot from Ihilani Resort beachfront.

• 6 p.m., “Family New Year’s Eve Celebration” at Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii

Where: 400 Farrington Highway, Kapolei, (808) 674-9283.
$$$? Admission to the West Oahu water park required.
The details: The water park will open at 10:30 a.m. for full day of family activities. The fireworks show ends the day.


Taking a stroll on Maui's Wailea Coastal Walk

taking_stroll_Wailea_Coastal_Walk_MauiWhere in Hawaii can a sunrise stroll take you past five white sand beaches, eight world-class resorts and, weather and season permitting, shoreline views of breaching humpback whales, sea turtles and four islands in just a mile and a half?

The answer is the Wailea Coastal Walk along Maui’s famed, sun-kissed south shore resort area.

In HAWAII Magazine’s January/February 2010 issue, we take you to the Valley Isle for a morning walk on the Walk—a free, open-to-the-public path with some of the most beautiful beachfront scenery on the Island. We think it’s worth a trip to the Wailea area even if you’re staying elsewhere on Maui.

Can’t wake up for the sunrise? The Wailea Coastal Walk is also one of the best spots in the Islands to bury your toes in the sand and catch one of Hawaii’s world famous sunsets.

Here’s an excerpt from the feature:

“Wailea Coastal Walk”

Written by John Heckathorn
(excerpted from the January/February 2010 issue of HAWAII Magazine)

One morning, clear and splendid as only a Maui morning can be, I was strolling the Wailea Coastal Walk, when I spotted Sports Illustrated shooting models in bikinis on the beach for their annual Swimsuit Issue. The shoot required a crew of 14. It was, as photo shoots often are, slow, repetitive work, with the models changing swimsuits in a giant, gray pop-up tube.

I can’t promise you swimsuit models—but the real, enduring beauty here is the mile-and-a-half Wailea Coastal Walk itself. The paved path takes you past five crescent-shaped beaches. It offers stunning views of four islands: West Maui, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Molokini (the small, partially sunken volcanic crater between Maui and Kahoolawe). The waters along the walk teem with sea life. It’s easy to spot honu (sea turtles). In season, this is an ideal spot to see humpback whales.

Best of all, the coastal walk is free and easily accessible to the public.

Wailea Resort was developed in the ‘70s. Unlike Waikiki, which just sort of grew, Wailea had a master plan. That plan included a coastal path running from popular Keawakapu Beach in the north, past eight resorts and condos, to Polo Beach in the south.


Honolulu city Christmas tree at Honolulu Hale. Photo by Dawn Sakamoto.

President_Obama_family_returning_home_Hawaii_holidaysFollowing tradition, it’s going to be a warm holiday season for President Barack Obama and family.

The Obama’s first Christmas as the First Family won’t be spent in the White House, or in Washington, D.C. Instead, they’ll be celebrating Christmas and ringing in the New Year in the same place they have for many years: right here in President Obama’s home state of Hawaii.

The President, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia are scheduled to depart Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning, and arrive in Honolulu, Oahu, in time for Christmas Eve. The First Family’s long-rumored holiday season Hawaii vacation was delayed a day after the President opted to remain in the nation’s capitol until the U.S. Senate had voted on his administration’s health care plan.

While still president-elect last year, Obama and his family spent the holidays on Oahu’s windward side in a five-bedroom private home on a peninsula overlooking Kailua Beach. The Obamas are expected to stay at the same multi-million dollar home on this trip, as well.

Holiday season vacations on Oahu have been a tradition for the Obamas for a number of years. The President was raised in Honolulu by his grandparents before moving to the Mainland U.S. for his college studies. Obama would return regularly over the years, bringing his family for visits with his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham—who passed away just before Obama was elected in 2008—and his half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and family.

The Obamas missed their usual Hawaii holiday vacation in 2007 because of the intense Presidential election campaign, but visited twice as a family in 2008.

President_Obama_family_returning_home_Hawaii_holidays"Yes, we're doing the same things we usually do," the First Lady told patients  at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., about this year's Hawaii vacation, during a visit yesterday. "Every year, ever since the kids were born, and even before, we go to Hawaii, because that's where the President is from. So we go with a group of friends."

Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday that the President does not have any public events scheduled for his time in Hawaii. Gibbs only comment on Obama’s Hawaii schedule was that he would “probably take the girls out for shaved ice, they may go do various and sundry things in and around Hawaii.”

Obama rarely left his Kailua rental during the family’s 2008 Christmas and New Year’s vacation. Besides daily morning workouts at nearby Marine Corps Base Hawaii with the First Lady, the President took in a few rounds at Olomana Golf Links, accompanied his daughters on a shave ice outing and visit to Sea Life Park. He also attended a private memorial service for his grandmother, and scattered her ashes into the surf at Lanai Lookout on Oahu’s south shore.

The White House has not officially announced whether the Obama family will be staying on Oahu through New Year’s Day as they did last year. But several national media sources have reported that the First Family will be here for 10 days, departing on Jan. 2.

Photos: Hawaii ornament on White House Christmas tree (top), Michelle Obama at Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C. (bottom), courtesy The White House

How to take Hawaii plants back to the U.S. Mainland

Hawaii_plants_how_to_take_back_MainlandDuring a visit to Oahu, HAWAII magazine reader Anna Aarons fell in love with Waikiki’s rainbow shower trees and asked us:

How can I get a rainbow shower tree?

You ask. We answer with information on taking any Hawaii plants back with you to the U.S. Mainland.

Let’s start with rainbow shower trees—which are a hybrid between the golden shower tree and the pink and white shower tree. Originating from Hawaii, these trees commonly produce pink and yellow flowers.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has an inspection program that allows certified nurseries to ship plants directly to you. For more info click here. Each nursery is limited in the plants it can ship. As of right now, there are no Hawaii nurseries that ship rainbow shower trees .

However, if you’re in Hawaii, you can acquire a cutting of the tree from at least 3 feet above ground and bring it to the HDOA for inspection. Make sure to bring along a box. HDOA will inspect it, pack, and label it certified for export.

Keep in mind that your own state’s department of agriculture retains the right to open the package and inspect its contents.

For any Hawaii plants you wish to take to the Mainland, the best place to start is with your home state's department of agriculture, to see if it the specific Hawaii plant you want is allowed in. States such as Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Arizona, and California, have restrictions on importing plants from the Islands. Flowers such as the hibiscus and the plumeria are not allowed into Arizona.

Hawaii_plants_how_to_take_back_MainlandThe next step is exportation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has very strict rules regarding the export of cut flowers, foliage, and fruits from Hawaii. If you’ve ever traveled out of Hawaii, you’ve probably experienced predeparture passenger baggage inspection. Click here for the complete list of regulated items.

To make your agriculture inspection easier, many Hawaii retailers such as ABC Stores and Don Quijote sell pre-packaged plant shoots (bulbs) that have been pre-inspected for export to the U.S. Mainland and were procured from certified Hawaii nurseries.

If you aren’t buying these pre-packaged shoots, the best way to ensure a speedy export is to purchase from a certified Hawaii nursery that will help with legal shipping and packaging. Click here for a list of certified nurseries. The pre-packaged anthurium plant pictured here is from one of these nurseries: Hawaiian-Tropical-Flowers.com on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Falling in love with Hawaii’s environment is natural. A plumeria or shower tree in your backyard is a beautiful and fragrant reminder of your visit to the Islands.

The tips offered above should make bringing home a living piece of paradise a bit easier.

how_to_visit_KahoolaweHAWAII Magazine readers Don and Rosie Eller wrote us with a question about how to visit one of Hawaii's least visitable islands:

You mentioned in the story, “Not Quite Niihau,” from the November/December 2009 issue of HAWAII Magazine that you have visited the island of Kahoolawe. We wanted to know if it's possible for us to visit the island.

You ask. We answer.

Yes, you can visit Kahoolawe. But you’re going to have to work for it.

The smallest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands, Kahoolawe and its surrounding waters are by law off-limits to the public. Your only way ashore is through volunteer work opportunities offered throughout the year.

Considered uninhabitable due to its diminutive size—a mere 44.6 square miles—and lack of fresh water, Kahoolawe became a training ground and bombing range for the U.S. military after World War II. In 1990, following decades of protest, these live-fire exercises ended. The military formally transferred control of Kahoolawe to the State of Hawaii in 1994.

how_to_visit_KahoolaweIn 1993, the Hawaii State Legislature established the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC), ensuring the island and its surrounding waters would be preserved for future generations. The KIRC relies heavily on the efforts of volunteers to help with the restoration of the island. The group offers weekly work trips to Kahoolawe.

Volunteers meet on Maui on Monday morning, before being ferried over to Kahoolawe where they work from Monday through Thursday. There is a $100 fee that covers transportation from Maui to Kahoolawe, food and boarding costs.



How's this for a great Hawaii photo?

It’s the grand prize-winning entry of HAWAII Magazine’s 11th Annual Photo Contest.

Last March, we asked HAWAII readers to send us their best photos of the Islands in four categories: Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii. Dozens, sometimes hundreds of entries arrived in our offices daily—packing our mailboxes, blanketing our desks.

When it was time to judge, our staff scrutinized every photo, debated some, and marveled at our favorites. Three days and 2,500 entries later we selected two winners for each category, plus the  grand-prize winning photo you see above.

There was little argument over the top shot: Sacramento, Calif.-based architect Rudy Calpo’s stunning photo of sunset breaking through a patch of clouds over the taro fields of Hanalei, Kauai. In his story behind the photo, Calpo wrote:

“My wife and I had just stopped by a vista point overlooking some taro fields. We hurried back to the taro fields, hoping the sun would break through the heavy clouds. Sure enough, we got lucky. When we got down to the fields, the clouds began to part.”

Calpo’s reward for the winning photo? Airfare for two to Honolulu from Hawaiian Airlines and a six-night stay at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach hotel in Waikiki.

The grand prize wasn't the only category Calpo placed in. Two other photos he entered took second place for our Maui and Oahu categories. You can read more about Calpo and his work in the editor’s page of the January/February 2010 issue of HAWAII Magazine, on newsstands and in subscriber’s mailboxes in the weeks ahead.


win_free_VIP_Southern_California_Slack_Key_Festival_Hawaii_MagazineAre you a connoisseur of real Hawaii-style kiho‘alu (slack key) guitar? Want to catch some of Hawaii’s finest kiho‘alu artists playing live?

We’ve got a pair of best-seat-in-the-house tickets for one of the top annual gatherings of Hawaiian slack key guitarists outside of the Islands.

And they could be yours!

HAWAII Magazine is giving away a VIP ticket package to the third annual Southern California Slack Key Festival, happening on Jan. 24, 2010, at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center in Redondo Beach, Calif.

The fest’s 2010 edition is bringing together a terrific line-up of Grammy-nominated and Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning ki ho‘alu artists, including Cyril Pahinui and the Pahinui Hawaiian Band (pictured above), Ledward Kaapana, Jeff Peterson, Makana, Jim “Kimo” West and John Cruz. Performances by California hula halau (hula groups) will also be part of the fest's entertainment.

The winner of HAWAII Magazine’s Southern California Slack Key Festival giveaway will receive:

• 2 orchestra seats for the 2010 Southern California Slack Key Festival on Jan. 24, 2010, in Redondo Beach, Calif.

• 2 passes to the festival’s VIP reception on Jan. 23, 2010, at the new Trader Vic’s at L.A. Live, in Downtown Los Angeles.

Just click here to enter the giveaway. No purchase is necessary to win. Entry deadline is Jan. 10, 2010.

Not our VIP package winner come Jan. 11? If you’re a fan of Hawaiian slack key guitar and have never experienced the Grammy-winning music genre performed live, the fest is still a great deal—three solid hours of sets by some of the best Hawaii ki ho‘alu artists, for $35 and $45 a ticket.

For more information on the Southern California Slack Key Festival and VIP reception, bios of the performers, or to purchase tickets, click here for the fest’s official site.

(Southern California Slack Key Festival; Jan. 24, 2010; 2 to 5 p.m., Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach, Calif.)

Photo: Southern California Slack Key Festival

portraits_in_paradise_Kealii_ReichelWe’re pleased that the first subject in HAWAII Magazine’s new “Portraits in Paradise” feature is Maui singer-songwriter-chanter-kumu hula-cultural specialist Kealii Reichel. 

Reichel was unknown in 1994, when his first album, Kawaipunahele, burst on to the scene, dominating Hawaiian radio, the Billboard Magazine World Music Chart and that year’s Na Hoku Hanohano music awards. He's followed up with four more albums over the years, winning 17 Na Hoku awards, a Grammy nomination and a national recording contract.

He’s performed in Japan and across the Mainland, including a 1997 Carnegie Hall concert with his hula halau (group). He’s also earned a reputation as the best-paid Hawaiian act, but one who refuses to compromise, giving authentic Hawaiian culture a voice on the world stage.

He rarely gives interviews any more, but we were lucky to catch up him in a small Wailuku, Maui restaurant called Main Street Bistro, where the food was good and the conversation even better. 

You'll find our "Portraits in Paradise" feature on Reichel in the January/February 2010 issue of HAWAII Magazine, arriving in subscriber mailboxes and on sale nationwide in the weeks ahead. Look for more "Portraits in Paradise" features on Hawaii's rich tapestry of artists, musicians, cultural leaders and fascinating residents in future issues of HAWAII.

As we promised at the end of the magazine feature, here’s our complete interview with Reichel.

HAWAII: Is there going to be a new Kealii Reichel album?

REICHEL: I don’t know. I’m sure one day there will be one, one day, one last one. I have a few songs in the can, but recording is not my focus in my life right now.

HAWAII: You’re on your way to hula practice. Is hula now your focus?

REICHEL: Hula has always been the mainstay of what I do. A lot of people only know me as the recording artist or singer. A lot of people forget, or maybe just don’t know, I’ve been teaching hula for almost 30 years now. Hula and our halau have always been the foundation from which everything else springs.

HAWAII: I’ve heard that no matter where you are in the world, you always fly back for hula practice.

REICHEL: Pretty much. I have student leaders who can take the class, but I don’t like missing more than a week, especially just before a big concert. Now we’re involved with (the) Merrie Monarch (Hula Festival). That takes a huge chunk of time and discipline on my end as well as on the students.

People have no idea the amount of work that goes into a hula performance. I don’t teach hula for exercise. When dancers come to our halau, at some point they are going to be expected to perform. If they want exercise, go to a gym.


United_Airline_roundtrip_airfares_book_by_tomorrowUnited Airlines is offering discounted roundtrip airfares for early 2010 travel to Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island from a handful of Mainland U.S. cities the carrier serves.

The rates—part of a promo deal United is calling the “Hawaii Fun in the Sun Sale”—are good for travel from Jan. 12, 2010, to March 4, 2010—coinciding with Hawaii’s busy winter travel season.

The catch? Tickets must be purchased on or before Dec. 15th. That’s right, folks—by tomorrow!

A bit of advice. We’ve found cheaper winter season roundtrip fares to the Islands on Hawaiian Airlines for departures from Los Angeles and San Francisco, than United’s “Fun in the Sun” deal had listed. Still, United’s sale fares for direct flights from Denver and Chicago seemed good deals to us.

Here is United’s “Hawaii Fun in the Sun Sale” each-way fare breakdown; a roundtrip purchase is required to get the fare:


Honolulu - San Francisco, Calif.: $257
Honolulu - Los Angeles, Calif.: $261
Honolulu - Denver, Colo.: $281
Honolulu - Chicago, Ill.: $298

Big Island of Hawaii:

Kona - San Francisco, Calif.: $265
Kona - Los Angeles, Calif.: $269    
Kona - Denver, Colo.: $289
Kona - Chicago, Ill.: $306

Kahului - San Francisco, Calif.: $261
Kahului - Los Angeles, Calif.: $265
Kahului - Denver, Colo.: $285
Kahului - Chicago, Ill.: $302         


Lihue - San Francisco, Calif.: $265
Lihue - Los Angeles, Calif.: $269        

For more information on United’s “Hawaii Fun in the Sun Sale” or to book a flight as part of the deal, click here.

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