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Hawaii shave ice: Our guide to favorite toppings

Hawaii_shave_ice_extrasBrian Tate of London, Ontario, Canada, wrote us with a question about our HAWAII Magazine Facebook ohana’s favorite Hawaii snack:

I’m planning my second trip to Hawaii, for this coming summer. It’s freezing where I am right now, but I can’t get my mind off the wonderful shave ice treats I inhaled almost every day the last time I visited. I always tried different syrup flavors and combinations, but the most adventurous I got with Hawaii’s shave ice “extras” was a scoop of ice cream. I’d like to try some of the other toppings next time I’m there. Can you give me some info about all of them?

You ask. We answer.

Hawaii residents take their shave ice seriously. Well, as seriously as one can take a paper cone or bowl of powdery ice flakes packed into a dome then drenched with one or a multitude of flavored syrups.

Choosing from among several dozen flavored syrups—pineapple, lilikoi, coconut, mango, li hing, banana, guava, strawberry, etc.—at some shave ice stands is a tough enough challenge for the uninitiated. Add a menu of unfamiliar extra toppings—azuki beans, mochi balls, sweetened condensed milk and more—and questions like, "How does THAT taste on shave ice?" arise.

To answer your question, Brian, we decided to limit our list to the basic favorite toppings found at almost all Hawaii shave ice stands. That meant none of the sweet custards, green mung beans, tapioca pearls, jellies, puddings and taro pieces that fill the extras menu at Hawaii’s rising number of Asian-style shave ice shops.

Here goes ...

Hawaii_shave_ice_extrasVanilla ice cream

A scoop of vanilla ice cream buried in the center of the cone as ice is added, brings a whole other dimension of flavor and texture to the shave ice experience. As you dig into the shave ice cone from the top, melting ice and flavored syrup combine with softening ice cream within the cone to created a sweet, semi-thick concoction best slurped lustily with a straw. The key to perfection here: allowing the ice cream to slowly melt into the shave ice. Why only vanilla and not other ice cream flavors? Vanilla ice cream will always play nicely with any flavored syrup choice.

Hawaii_shave_ice_extrasAzuki beans

Actually a sweet paste made from the East Asian-grown red azuki bean—first boiled then mashed into a paste and sweetened. Hawaii shave ice stands use a version of the paste that keeps a good portion of the softened beans intact rather than completely mashed. Homemade recipes are used at the best Hawaii shave ice stands. As with ice cream, the paste is scooped into the center of the shave ice cone as ice is being added for an extra kick of sweetness midway through the treat. In a shave ice bowl, azuki bean paste is more often ladled over the top of a finished ice dome after the syrup has been poured. Most folks who don’t like azuki beans, grouse about the added sweetness and odd texture they bring to the shave ice experience. For many others, however, azuki beans are a must-have shave ice topping.


Flumin_Da_Ditch_tour_Big_Island_Hawaii_updateFor many Big Island of Hawaii visitors, the 14.5-mile-long Kohala Ditch on the island’s northwestern tip conjures memories of the popular floating tour, Flumin’ Da Ditch. HAWAII Magazine readers who fondly remember drifting leisurely by kayak down a four-mile section of the fresh water irrigation system still write us asking about the return of the now-discontinued tour.

To the small towns dotting the North Kohala coastline, however, the ditch was more than kayaks and tours. It was an economic lifeline and historical landmark for an area dependent on the success of its collection of small agribusinesses.

On a sunny Sunday morning in October 2006, everything changed. A pair of earthquakes rocked the Big Island’s South Kohala coast, their shockwaves damaging key sections of the ditch system located in the mountainous regions of North Kohala. In mere seconds, a major source of water to the towns and farms on the coast below was gone.

In HAWAII Magazine's November/December 2009 print edition feature story "Savin' the Ditch," we documented the Big Island community of Hawi’s fight to bring the Kohala Ditch back. Community leaders offered HAWAII Magazine exclusive access to the ditch system, which is largely closed to the public. We explored the intricate network of tunnels and reconstructed flumes. We asked about the future of the Flumin’ Da Ditch tour. And we spoke with the farmers and businesspeople whose lives and livelihood depend on the fresh water the ditch carries. It was an incredible experience.

Here is the story of a community's remarkable efforts to restore the Kohala Ditch:


“Savin’ the Ditch”

A Big Island community fights to keep the Kohala Ditch flowing.

By Chris Bailey
(from the November/December 2009 issue of HAWAII Magazine)

On the morning of Oct. 16, 2006, Bill Shontell, from the Big Island land developer Surety Kohala Co., boarded a helicopter to tour the rugged west branch of Honokane Nut Valley—worried about what he might find.

The helicopter dropped deep into Honokane Nui, hovering 50 feet above the valley floor in a space no wider than six or seven helicopters across. Vibrations from the copter triggered small landslides of now loose rock. The peaceful valley had become a perilous deathtrap.

Surety wanted to see if a pair of earthquakes the day before had damaged the Kohala Ditch system—the primary source of water for the island’s agriculture-rich northwestern peninsula. The quakes, measuring 6.7 and 6.0 on the Richter scale, tore through the entire island, but were based mere miles west of the North Kohala region.

From a safer vantage point of a few hundred feet in the air, Surety’s worst fears were confirmed: Flume No. 1, the manmade channel that connected the main dam intake and headwaters to miles of open ditch, was gone—reduced to splinters from a post-quake landslide. “Just looking at it we could tell the damage was bad,” says Shontell.

Very bad, actually. The Kohala Ditch was severed from its source. Water shut off like a faucet.

Farms and businesses that relied on the steady flow of water were instantly hit. A few businesses, such as Flumin’ Da Ditch—an ecotour company that offered a floating tour of a 4-mile stretch of the ditch to thousands of visitors each year—shut down immediately.


Aloha Festivals sets dates for 2010 events

Hawaii_Aloha_Festivals_when_2010HAWAII Magazine reader Derek Abraham e-mailed us with a question about this year's 64th annual Aloha Festivals:

I am interested in going to Oahu during Aloha Week in September 2010. Could you please send me the exact dates covering Aloha Week? Please give me any information on activities going on during this time.

In 1991, Aloha Week was officially renamed the Aloha Festivals to capture its statewide scope. However, in recent years many events have been cut back due to funding, especially on the Neighbor Islands.

The good news for folks planning to schedule Hawaii vacations around the Aloha Festivals this year? The 2010 dates for two major Aloha Festivals events on Oahu events have just been announced.

They are:

• Sat., September 18, 2010: The Aloha Festivals Waikiki Hoolaulea

The Waikiki Hoolaulea (the Hawaiian word means "celebration") takes spans more than 12 blocks of Waikiki's main drag, Kalakaua Avenue, with live entertainment stages. It’s Hawaii’s block party.

• Sat., September 25, 2010: The Aloha Festivals Floral Parade

Though this popular parade almost died due to lack of funding in 2008, the colorful assemblage of floats, hula dancers and mounted pau riders has found sponsors and still brings the flowers, music and pageantry of Hawaii to those who line the Waikiki parade route.

For a video slideshow of last year’s Aloha Festivals Floral Parade, click here.

Photo: Aloha Festivals

Facebook_ohana_poll_results_favorite_Hawaii_filmed_movieLights! Camera! Hawaii!

Your votes have finally been tallied in our latest HAWAII Magazine Facebook Ohana Poll question!

Last month, we asked our HAWAII Magazine Facebook fans to sound off on the question: “What’s your favorite Hawaii-filmed movie?”

Apparently, our readers were seriously ready to give us their choices.

The list of flicks in our Facebook comment boxes began growing full tilt the moment we posted the poll question. By the time we shut down voting a couple of weeks later, the list of your favorite Hawaii-filmed movies encompassed just about every film genre out there—from comedies and dramas to action-adventures, animated features and even a Gidget flick.

The breadth of your selections reached deep into Hollywood’s film vaults—from 1953’s From Here To Eternity to recent favorites such as 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall (both filmed on Oahu). In all, enough films to fill a Netflix movie queue that would keep us couching at home watching Hawaii-filmed flicks for, oh, a couple of months.

You’ll find the Top 5 countdown of our Facebook ohana’s favorite Hawaii-filmed movies here and on the pages ahead.

If you’d like to join and vote along with our growing Facebook fan page ohana, click here. You’ll get our “Hawaii favorite” poll questions as soon as we post them, and also get instant updates on your Facebook wall when we post all of our daily HawaiiMagazine.com stories and features.

Check out our HAWAII Magazine Facebook fan page later today for our brand new poll question.

But right now, let’s go to the movies … Hawaii style! HAWAII Magazine Facebook fans, here is your Top 5:


“Blue Crush”

Kate Bosworth making it into the Pipeline Masters, one of the gnarliest winter big wave competitions on Oahu’s North Shore? Only in this 2002 surf drama about a trio of friends who deem their lives incomplete until they compete on Hawaii’s most famous waves. Locations for Blue Crush filming included a number of Oahu surf spots—from beaches all over the North Shore to Makaha and Waikiki. Paddling through the surf in cameos: Real-life Hawaii pro-surfers Keala Kennelly, Rochelle Ballard, Megan Abubo, Kalani Robb and Bruce Irons, among others.


Hawaii_Big_Island_hotel_Kona_hotel_giveawayThink you could find some time for a free three-night stay in Kona on your next Hawaii vacation?

King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel on Hawaii’s Big Island is giving away a three-night stay each month in 2010. The prize doesn’t include airfare so you’ll have to wing on over to the Big Island on your own dime. But if that’s not a problem … voila! An instant extension to your Hawaii vacation!

The hotel is drawing a winner from all of its entries at the end of each month, so you can still enter now to win the January 2010 giveaway. Once your entry is in, it's good for the whole year of giveaways. Winners also get a $100 food credit at the property.

Hawaii_Big_Island_hotel_Kona_hotel_giveawayFor contest rules and to enter, click here.

Located in the heart of Kailua-Kona overlooking the town’s picturesque bay front, the 454-room Kona Beach Hotel completed first phase major renovations on the 230 guestrooms of its west tower last year. (That's a newly redesigned and furnished ocean view room in the photo, above.) Second phase renovations on the hotel’s east tower guestrooms, lobby and public areas are continuing in 2010.

Check out King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel Web site at www.konabeachhotel.com for more detailed info on the property and its renovations.

Photos: King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel

Hawaii_music_na_hoku_o_music_festivalIf you love Hawaiian music (or even just kind of dig it), start making plans to be on Oahu in May.

The music of Hawaii and the artists, past and present, who create it will be celebrated with a new four-day festival in May, anchored by the 2010 Na Hoku Hanohano Music Awards. 

The first annual Na Hoku O Hawaii Music Festival will include the 33rd annual edition of the premier Hawaii music industry awards ceremony, Na Hoku’s annual Lifetime Achievement Award luncheon and a handful of new music-related events including live performance stages throughout Waikiki.

Festival events will take place at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu and at various Waikiki venues from May 27-30.

The good news if you’re staying in Waikiki during the fest? The majority of the Na Hoku O Hawaii’s events will be happening near you, and open to the public.

Hawaii_music_na_hoku_o_music_festivalSatellite festival music stages will be set up at venues throughout Waikiki on the evenings of May 28 and 29. The line-up of Hawaii musicians already set to perform at these includes a profusion of past Na Hoku Hanohano Award winners and nominees. Among the musicians: Amy Hanaialii, Jake Shimabukuro, the Makaha Sons, Hoku Zuttermeister, Henry Kapono, Cyril Pahinui, Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole, Mailani and more.

Hawaii_music_na_hoku_o_music_festivalThe Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts’ annual Lifetime Achievement Award luncheon welcomes five new honorees to the fold on the fest’s third day, May 29. Workshops, demonstrations and exhibitions spotlighting Hawaiian music, arts and crafts will also be a part of the fest’s event mix, leading up to the gala Na Hoku Hanohano Music Awards ceremony, at the Hawaii Convention Center, on May 30.

If you can't attend the ceremony, the 2010 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards red carpet arrivals and ceremony will at least still look terrific at home or in your hotel room—produced and broadcast live in High Definition on Hawaii TV station KGMB. Can’t be here in Hawaii? The awards ceremony will also be streamed live on the Web.

HawaiiMagazine.com will let you know where to go on the Web to watch the 2010 Hoku Awards as soon as we do.

For a list of Na Hoku O Hawaii Music Festival events, schedules and more information, visit www.nahokufestival.com
Photos: Jake Shimabukuro (top), Amy Hanaialii (middle), Mailani (bottom), courtesy of Na Hoku O Hawaii Music Festival/Ruben Carrillo

Disney_resort_Hawaii_gives_name_AulaniDisney has given its first Hawaii resort its official name: "Aulani: A Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawaii."

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced the new name for its still-under-construction Hawaii destination property this week, and launched the resort’s official Web site: www.disneyaulani.com. The company also shared plans to open Aulani’s first phase in the fall of 2011.

The 360 hotel room/481 multi-bedroom vacation villa resort, designed for family travel, has been under construction since last summer on 21 acres of beachfront at West Oahu’s Ko Olina Resort & Marina.

In a statement announcing the resort’s new Hawaiian name, Joe Rohde, a senior vice president with Disney’s theme park and resort design and development arm Walt Disney Imagineering, said the word aulani "expresses a connection to tradition and deep story-telling." Rohde also noted that aulani, translated from Hawaiian to English means, “the place that speaks for the great ones” or “the place that speaks with deep messages.”

Writers Mary Kawena Pukui’s and Samuel H. Elbert’s Hawaiian Dictionary listed the word ‘aulani (note the ‘okina, or Hawaiian language glottal stop) as a noun meaning “messenger of a chief.”

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts first announced the Hawaii resort project in October 2007, shortly after purchasing the Ko Olina acreage. Ground was broken on the project—then called Disney Vacation Club Resort Hawaii—in November 2008.

Disney_resort_Hawaii_gives_name_AulaniDisney’s design plans for the Aulani Resort & Spa include 48,685-square-feet of outdoor features, including a centerpiece “wonderland of water” featuring snorkeling lagoons, river pools, sunset-facing hot tubs, waterfalls, water slides, fishponds, pathways and tide pools stocked with native sea life. The resort will also include an 18,000-foot family-friendly spa, two restaurants, kids clubs, wedding lawn and a 14,545-square-foot convention and banquet facility. The resort also claims one of the man-made crescent lagoons along the Ko Olina shoreline.

Disney has said that it plans to market the Hawaii resort toward luxury family travel. The company has not yet revealed the project’s estimated cost or room pricing structure. 


Hawaii_udon_saimin_broth_recipe_noodles_mail_orderHAWAII Magazine reader Roy Manubag, of Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, wrote us with a question about a longtime favorite Hawaii comfort food:

Where can I order udon from Hawaii and would you have a recipe for noodle broth using ebi (shrimp)?

You ask. We answer. 

Udon is a thick wheat-flour noodle that is typically served in a hot, flavorful broth (pictured, above). Like ramen—which generally uses thinner noodles—the dish was born in China centuries ago, eventually finding its way to Japan and other Asian countries. The modern-day popularity of ramen and udon dishes in the Islands can be traced to the Hawaii noodle soup saimin.

First cooked up by field workers during Hawaii’s plantation era, saimin—wheat egg noodles in a hot broth, garnished with anything from green onions and egg omelet slices to Spam and Chinese roast pork slices—remains a popular comfort food dish in the Islands.

In Hawaii, the largest supplier of udon, ramen or any type of Japanese noodle is Sun Noodle. The company’s Honolulu factory (they also have a factory in Los Angeles, Calif.) produces more than 11,000 pounds of fresh noodles a day. Fortunately for noodle lovers on the Mainland, Sun’s Honolulu factory ships their many varieties of Hawaii-made noodles across the country. 

Hawaii_udon_saimin_broth_recipe_noodles_mail_orderShipping costs from Hawaii vary with type of noodle and location. A Sun Noodle representative in Honolulu informed us that the company has shipped as far east as Chicago, Ill. Sun will ship further, but they caution against it, as the noodles’ freshness may be lost in transit.

For more information or to place an order, call Sun Noodle in Honolulu at  (800) 786-8366.

Now about that ebi broth recipe.

Broth is the make-or-break component of any bowl of noodles. It’s also the signature mark of a noodle house, which is why many shops keep their broth recipes a closely guarded secret.



Hide the okolehao! Captain Jack Sparrow is coming to Hawaii.

Walt Disney Pictures’ fourth film in its hugely successful Pirates of the Caribbean adventure-comedy franchise will film on Kauai and Oahu this summer, it was announced this morning.

The upcoming flick, titled Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, will again star Johnny Depp in his Academy Award-nominated role of Captain Jack Sparrow. Also returning for their fourth runs on a Pirates production are Geoffrey Rush as Sparrow nemesis Captain Hector Barbossa, mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio.

Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine) will take over directing duties from Gore Verbinski, who helmed the film series' first three installments. On Stranger Tides is slated for a May 20, 2011, release.

Walt Disney Company president and CEO Bob Iger met with Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle last Friday to share news of Walt Disney Pictures’ intention of filming a presumably large portion of On Stranger Tides in the Islands. The production is expected to generate an estimated $85 million in total spending while in Hawaii. Disney had previously shot brief scenes for the series' third film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End on Maui and Molokai in 2006.

Said Bruckheimer, in a statement, “We’ve always sought out the most extraordinary and exotic locations for the Pirates of the Caribbean films. … Hawaii provides an amazing range of both land and seascapes, and we’re delighted to return for On Stranger Tides.”

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' Kauai and Oahu filming locations were not immediately announced.

Hawaii has proven a favorite location of Disney film and television productions in recent years. Disney’s last major Hawaii film production was its Touchstone Pictures unit’s Pearl Harbor in 2001, which spent a substantial portion of its estimated $140 million budget filming at Oahu's Pearl Harbor U.S. Naval Base.

Walt Disney Pictures’ animation division based the setting of its 2002 feature Lilo and Stitch on Kauai, incorporating characters and plot devices taken straight out of everyday Hawaii life after much pre-production research on the island. The Walt Disney Company’s ABC-TV network has based production of every season of its popular adventure-drama series Lost on Oahu since 2005—including the series' currently-in-production sixth and final season.

Other Hawaii-based Disney productions over the last two decades include 1998’s Six Days Seven Nights, 2000’s Dinosaurs, 1998’s Mighty Joe Young and 1997’s George of the Jungle.

Meanwhile, construction continues on Walt Disney Parks & Resorts’ Disney Vacation Club Resort Hawaii on 21 acres of beachfront at West Oahu's Ko Olina Resort & Marina. The resort is slated for a 2011 grand opening.

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

A guide to Hawaii's best beaches for bodysurfing

Hawaii_best_beaches_for_bodysurfingHAWAII Magazine reader John Stock wrote us with a question about the best Hawaii beaches for a favorite ocean activity:

Is there anywhere I can find relatively safe body surfing beaches on Oahu and possibly the Big Island?

Great question, John. But we thought it a good idea to expand our answer to include favorite body surfing beaches on Kauai, Maui and Lanai, too.

Bodysurfing, for the uninitiated, is the sport of riding waves without the use of a surfboard, bodyboard or any other floatation device. (That's President Obama, in the photo showing how it's done at popular Oahu bodysurfing spot Sandy Beach on an August 2008 vacation.) Swim fins are often used in bodysurfing as a means of propulsion when riding a wave in and kick swimming back out for more. But otherwise, bodysurfers typically hit the waves with little else.

Bodysurfing can be done at basically any beach with waves that is also safe for swimming. The best bodysurfing beaches, however, provide a relatively steady supply of waves between 2 ft. and 3.5 feet in height.

An important tip to remember before heading out to the beach: Always check ocean conditions first, as surf heights at many beaches change depending on the season and weather conditions.

Click through to the pages ahead for a by-island guide to Hawaii's favorite bodysurfing beaches, complete with helpful tips to know before you reach the beach:
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