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

Coco_Palms_UpdateReader Linda McMahon e-mailed us with a question about one of Hawaii's most iconic resorts:

Are there any plans to reopen the Coco Palms as a hotel or any other facility available to the public? Is it possible to walk in the coconut palm grove behind the former resort?

You ask, we answer.

The future of Kauai’s Coco Palms Resort remains uncertain, 18 years after it was devastated by Hurricane Iniki.

Founded in 1953, the resort became an icon of Hawaii tourism, with its lagoon and 16-acre coconut grove, its evening torch lighting ceremony and its wedding chapel, which was donated by MGM after it was used in Miss Sadie Thompson with Rita Hayworth.

The resort played host to the cast of the movie musical South Pacific, then filming on Kauai's north shore. Elvis made parts of Blue Hawaii at Coco Palms, most notably, a wedding ceremony filmed in the hotel’s lagoon. It served as a location for the 1970s ABC series Fantasy Island. When many people worldwide thought of Hawaii, and especially Kauai, they thought of the Coco Palms.

However, the resort has been virtually untouched since the September 1992 hurricane. It is now in sad shape, as you can see from these photos—on the pages ahead—that we snapped during a recent visit. 

The only way you can visit the site these days is with Hawaii Movie Tours, which has a permit to enter. Even so, you can no longer stroll in the 2,000-tree coconut grove. It has not been maintained, and there’s the danger of falling coconuts.

In 2006, Coco Palms Ventures, a group headed by Maryland-based developer Phillip Ross, bought the resort for $12 million. The property includes 16.4 acres on Kuhio Highway, and the 17-acre coconut grove, which is leased from the state.

Coco Palms Ventures intended to invest $220 million to build 200 condos, 104 hotel rooms and 48 bungalows. It seemed then like the resort would be reborn. 

No such luck. The venture halted all plans and put the property up for sale in 2007. It blamed the Kauai Planning Commission, which denied its plans to build a full-size spa, but also conceded that the weakening housing market was a factor.

Where does the fate of the Coco Palms Resort stand today? The property is still listed for sale. Coco Palm Ventures recently had its permits extended to 2013, but has still not started construction. However, a new player emerged on the scene recently. 

Story continues (with photos) on next page


Oahu_Ala_Moana_Hotel_40_anniversaryA room at the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu for $40 a night?

If you can put together plans within the next couple of weeks for a three- to five-night Hawaii vacation on Oahu between April 22 and May 31, you could get a $40 per night room rate at the hotel for your entire stay.

The Ala Moana Hotel, located just outside of Waikiki and right next door to Hawaii’s largest shopping mall Ala Moana Center, is celebrating its 40th anniversary by offering 40 rooms each day at $40 per night between the above dates. The Outrigger Hotels & Resorts-operated property is calling the deal its “40/40/40” promotion.

Interested? You’ll have to be ready to fly to Oahu anywhere from a week to one month after booking.

Ala Moana Hotel will begin booking reservations at the $40 rate on April 15, only at its website: www.alamoanahotel.com. Bookings at the rate will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis so you’ll have to act quickly on that day.

For more information on Ala Moana Hotel’s “40/40/40” promotion, click here.

Photo: Ala Moana Hotel

HAWAII Magazine’s March/April 2010 cover feature unveils our “20 Things To Love About Hawaii Right Now.”

We've devoted several pages of write-ups and photography to Hawaii things our staff is currently fascinated with. Catamaran rides from Maui to Lanai to snorkel in Hulopoe Bay’s clear blue waters. A trio of classic Hawaii hotels, newly remade. Surf lessons from female professional surfers and, uh, Honolulu firemen. The fact that nature is always happening—both explosively and quietly—at the Big Island of Hawaii’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

You’ll find our editorial staff’s “20 things” selections in HAWAII Magazine’s current print edition, in bookstores and on newsstands nationwide … right now. You can also subscribe to HAWAII Magazine’s print edition by clicking here, or digital edition by clicking here.

Here's a sneak peek at another one of our “20 Things To Love About Hawaii Right Now”:


We have the perfect place to see the stars:
Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station

You can see all of the stars that have made the Big Island of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea the world’s premier astronomical site without having to brave the subzero temperatures on the summit of Hawaii’s tallest mountain.

Nestled on the 9,300-foot level of 13,803-foot Mauna Kea, the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station has been called the best place on Earth to check out the stars with the unaided eye or an amateur telescope. Clear skies are the norm here 90 percent of the year.

things_we_love_about_Hawaii_perfect_place_starsThe station is open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. It even sets up telescopes at night for public use, and offers a free stargazing program every night from 6 to 10 p.m. On the first Saturday night of each month, an astronomer from one of the summit’s various observatories stops by for “The Universe Tonight,” a program discussing recent observations and discoveries made at their respective scopes.

The visitor station’s First Light Bookstore—its interiors bathed in moody red light by night so as not to disturb summit stargazing—carries a solid selection of books about astronomy and Hawaiian culture and some food items. You can also warm up from the cold air outside with the bookstore’s interactive and educational displays and video programs. The bookstore is open from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Can’t make it to the visitor station after dark? Daytime visitors can check out what’s happening on the sun with the station’s solar telescope, and roam the grounds for amazing views of the immensity of Mauna Loa to the south

things_we_love_about_Hawaii_perfect_place_starsIf you have a rental car, getting to the center is easy enough. Unlike the twisting road to the summit—which begins at the station and is open only to four-wheel drive vehicles—the paved road to the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station is open to all vehicles.

How to get there: From Hilo or Kona, take Highway 200 (a.k.a. Saddle Road) to the Mauna Kea Access Road turnoff. Take Mauna Kea Access Road to the visitor station.

Website: www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/access.html

Photos: Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station

things_we_love_about_Hawaii_perfect_place_stars(Want to learn even more about Mauna Kea? Grab a copy of "Mauna Kea: A Guide to Hawaii's Sacred Mountain,"  from HAWAII Magazine sister company Watermark Publishing, in bookstores or by clicking here.)

Hawaii_mailing_a_coconutReader Greg Wasserman e-mailed us with a surprisingly not-so-unusual question about sending a drupe postcard from the Islands to his friends back home:

In the March/April 2010 issue of HAWAII Magazine, there was a small article on mailing coconuts. Correct me if I am wrong, but the article said one could mail coconuts from any post office in Hawaii. I will be visiting in May and would like to surprise some friends with a rather "unique" postcard. If possible, I will be mailing from Honolulu. Where would I find coconuts to mail?

Greg's referring to our short article on mailing coconut postcards from the post office in Hoolehua, Molokai.

That post office is unique in that Postmaster Gary Lam (that's him pictured, right) will not only provide you with a coconut to mail, but lend you marking pens to decorate it.

In theory, any U.S. Post Office should mail a coconut for you, though the ones in Hawaii are more used to doing so. However, only the Molokai post office will provide the coconut. Otherwise, you're on your own.

Where in Honolulu to get a coconut to mail, then? That can be a problem. There are gift shops that sell already decorated coconuts, if you can find one with room for a mailing label.

Hawaii_mailing_a_coconutHowever, don't buy a fresh coconut in a supermarket. Those are good for eating, not mailing.

You want a coconut that's already dried out, because dried out coconuts weigh a lot less and are considerably cheaper to mail.

Our suggestion: Ask the landscaping crew at wherever you're staying if they can find you one. Or you may get lucky on your Hawaii travels and find a dried coconut under a tree.

A caution, though: Do not stand under a tree and shake it. Falling coconuts can kill you.

Photo: David Croxford

Hawaii is the only U.S. state where coffee is grown.

You’ll find coffee farms on five Hawaiian Islands—Maui, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii. But the Big Island lays claim to the Hawaii-grown bean that is one of the most in-demand and most expensive in the world.

Kona coffee is that prized bean. Grown on just 2,300 total acres on a 20-mile belt of land on the steep slopes of Big Island volcanoes Hualalai and Mauna Loa, Kona coffee claims a price-per-pound, consumer awareness and marketing advantage no other coffee in the world can match.

In HAWAII Magazine’s January/February 2010 issue feature “Kona In A Cup,” we explored the popularity, history, business and mystique of Kona coffee. How did Kona coffee earn its worldwide acclaim? Why can a one-pound bag of 100% Kona coffee claim a price double or triple that of other beans? How much Kona-grown coffee does a cup of “Kona blend” actually have? What are some tips every Kona coffee fan searching for exceptional beans should know?

We visited Kailua-Kona’s coffee country to get answers to the questions above and sample some great coffee.

Here and on the following pages we present the HAWAII Magazine feature “Kona In A Cup,” in its entirety:


“Kona In A Cup”

By Derek Paiva
(from the January/February 2010 issue of HAWAII Magazine)

Barely 20 minutes from Kailua-Kona airport, and I’m already in Kona coffee country.
I’m headed south on Mamalahoa Highway, two lanes of historic blacktop winding through cool, green highlands more than 1,000 feet above the bone-dry Kailua-Kona coastline.

Welcome to the Kona Coffee Belt, a 20-mile stretch along the steep slopes of the two Big Island volcanoes, Hualalai and Mauna Loa. It’s barely a mile across at its widest, but this corridor of rich farmland hosts about 800 small, mostly family-owned farms—farms that produce one of the most expensive and in-demand coffees in the world.

I’m cruising the belt hoping to find out firsthand how Kona coffee earned worldwide acclaim and a retail price as high as $60 per one-pound bag—and if it truly deserves both. I’m also here hoping to find some great coffee.


Hawaii_celebrates_Prince_Kuhio_DayHawaii’s annual tradition of celebrating Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole begins Saturday, a week before his March 26 birthday and the state holiday that bears his name.

If you’re on Kauai from March 20 to 28, be sure to visit the Prince Kuhio Celebration of the Arts, a weeklong festival held in the south shore’s Koloa district—Kuhio’s birthplace.

The Prince Kuhio Celebration of the Arts Festival was selected as one of our “Favorite Hawaii Festivals” in HAWAII Magazine’s 2009 “Best of Hawaii” cover feature. (Check out the rest of our “Best of Hawaii” picks in HAWAII Magazine’s September/ October 2009 issue.)

Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole created much of the Hawaii the world sees today. A prince of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Kuhio was next in line to become king when Queen Liliuokalani was overthrown in 1894 bringing an end to the Hawaiian monarchy. Despite the overthrow, Kuhio’s determination and dedication to the people of the Hawaiian Islands never wavered. He served as Hawaii’s second congressional delegate from 1903 until his death in 1922, instituting government policies still in effect today. Because of Kuhio’s influence, we observe King Kamehameha Day each June 11—the only state holiday dedicated to Hawaiian royalty other than Kuhio Day.

Prince Kuhio Day, honoring the prince's many accomplishments for Hawaii, is annually celebrated on March 26. Schools are closed, Honolulu’s public transportation system operates on a holiday schedule and many people statewide have the day off.

For a more in depth look at Prince Kuhio’s life and his impact on the Hawaiian Islands, check out the article “Who Is Prince Kuhio?” in the March/April 2007 issue of HAWAII Magazine.

A full week’s worth of Hawaii cultural events honoring Kuhio begins Saturday on Kauai, and on March 26 and 27 on Oahu.

Here’s a list of Prince Kuhio Celebration of the Arts events and links for more info. Most events are free and open to the public.


• Sat., March 20
Prince Kuhio Long Distance Canoe Race (Kalapaki Beach)

Wisdom of the Kapuna from the Olelo Noeau (National Tropical Botanical Garden’s South Shore Visitors Center meadow)

• Sun., March 21
Lilia in Concert (National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Southshore Visitors Center meadow)

Ukulele Lessons (Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa)

• Mon., March 22
Paakai—The Art and Culture of Hawaiian Salt Making (Salt Pond Park)

• Tues., March 23
A Royal Dinner (Plantation Gardens Restaurant)



See that crowd in the above photo?

That’s where we’ll be this evening—at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Chinatown Block Party, just a couple of blocks from HAWAII Magazine’s downtown Honolulu offices. A St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Chinatown? And the state’s largest St. Patrick’s Day party at that?

Better believe it.

Each March 17, thousands of visitors and residents seeking serious St. Paddy’s day revelry invade the Honolulu Chinatown Arts District’s so-called “Irish Corner”—the intersection of Merchant Street and Nuuanu Avenue. The thoroughfares just outside Murphy’s Bar & Grill and O’Toole’s Irish Pub are closed to traffic just before sunset. Food and libation booths and live music stages are set up. And much corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, fresh-shucked oysters and Guinness ale later, it’s March 18.

Murphy's owner Don Murphy kicked off the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration 23 years ago as a simple, if boisterous party within the walls of his humble Irish pub and restaurant. Within a decade the party spilled out onto Merchant Street, then Nuuanu Avenue, then a neighboring parking lot, eventually expanding into the massive block party you see above.

In addition to all of the delicacies mentioned above, Murphy's will be serving up fish and chips, blarney burgers (a burger with imported white cheddar and Guinness cheeses), sautéed shrimp, steamed clams and Irish whiskey cake and bread pudding. If you eat—and you should—make sure you sample some of the corned beef. Murphy’s is donating $2 for every pound of corned beef it sells to the Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation.

Providing live Irish music to nosh and imbibe by are Doolin Rakes and Elephant.

And now you know all of the reasons why we’ll be there. If you're in town, you should be there, too … sporting some green.

The St. Patricks' Day Chinatown Block Party starts at 6 p.m., but Murphy's begins serving up the St. Patrick's Day food at noon. The block party officially ends at 10 p.m. However, if you're still not ready to go home, downtown Honolulu's many lounges and bars will happily welcome your desire for revelry into the wee hours.

Click here for more info and directions.

What other interesting “green” events will be happening today? Here’s a list of St. Patrick’s Day events we thought might pique your interest.

Erin go bragh!

• 43rd annual Waikiki St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Bands, marchers and floats head down Kalakaua Avenue and past Kuhio Beach to Kapiolani Park for an afternoon of Irish food, music and entertainment. The parade is sponsored by the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick of Hawaii.

• St. Patrick’s Day on the Harbor
Aloha Tower Marketplace
5 p.m.

The Marketplace's celebration is a bit more subdued than its neighboring Chinatown Block Party across the road. But if more roomy environs are what you seek, the marketplace will present live Irish entertainment at its center atrium and retailer specials for folks sporting green. Elsewhere in the marketplace, Gordon Biersch Brewery celebrates with Irish music, food and drink specials.
Photo: Murphy's Bar & Grill

Alaska_Airlines_Hawaii_vacations_Apolo_Anton_OhnoThe Winter Olympics are over. The last person in the world that you’re probably thinking about is multiple medal-winning short track speed skater Apolo Ohno.

But he’s thinking of you—and your wish for a free trip to Maui. Or at least his Olympic sponsor Alaska Airlines is.

Alaska Airlines is giving away five vacations on Maui as part of its just announced “Follow Apolo to Hawaii” sweepstakes. Should you win, it’s a pretty sweet prize.

Five grand prizewinners will receive a trip for two to Maui on Alaska Airlines and a five-day, four-night stay at the Grand Wailea resort.

Where does Apolo Ohno figure in all of this?

Winners will also receive the pleasure of Ohno’s company at a private luau.

That’s right. You. A guest. Four other winners and their guests. Apolo. And a whole lot of kalua pig, lomi salmon and poi.

Good times!

Visit www.followapolo.com to enter. The sweepstakes closes to entries on April 15. Alaska Airlines will notify winners in late April.

Seattle native Ohno, 27, is the most decorated American Winter Olympian ever; having won eight total medals in short track speed skating, three of these in competition at the 2010 Vancouver games in February. One of the Winter Games’ most recognized athletes, Ohno also won fame off the ice with a spot (and eventual champion mirrorball trophy) on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars competition in 2007.

Since launching service here in October 2007, Alaska Airlines has become one of the Hawaii travel market’s major players. The Seattle-based carrier now offers 73 weekly flights to Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Photo: Alaska Airlines

things_we_love_about_Hawaii_classic_hotels_remadeThe cover feature of HAWAII Magazine’s March/April 2010 issue is all about the “20 Things To Love About Hawaii Right Now.”

Among the list of things we currently love here in the Islands, you’ll find our favorite place to see the Hawaiian night sky without a multimillion-dollar telescope. A Big Island of Hawaii ocean industrial park providing some of the best deep sea-raised delicacies to celebrated restaurants statewide. A Hawaii big-wave surfer and water-sport stuntwoman who designed a line of Island-style swimwear that’s both fashionable and ready for any type of water activity.

You’ll find all “20 things” in HAWAII Magazine’s current issue, in bookstores and on newsstands nationwide … right now. You can also subscribe to HAWAII Magazine’s print edition by clicking here, or digital edition by clicking here.

Here on HawaiiMagazine.com, we’re hoping to whet your appetite for HAWAII Magazine's full print edition feature with a sneak peek at one of our “20 Things To Love About Hawaii Right Now”: A trio of classic Hawaii hotels, newly remade.

Click on the following pages for a look at each of the three hotels—each long ranked among the Islands’ most famous, each newly emerged from multimillion-dollar renovations. We’re happy each property pursued a redesign remaining true to its unique classic style while packing in modern amenities sure to entice travelers for years to come.

We begin our visit to each right here on Oahu ...

Arizona_Aloha_Festival_2010_HawaiiAloha is coming to Arizona!

Look for a small slice of our Islands in the middle of Arizona this weekend at Tempe Town Lake Beach Park. The annual two-day Arizona Aloha Festival brings a taste of the Islands to you—literally—on March 13 and 14.

On the fest’s food menu: Hawaii-style plate lunches, featuring kalua pig or teriyaki chicken with rice and macaroni salad, Island-style beef stew and rice, Portuguese sausage, coconut shrimp, kalbi (Korean-style marinated short ribs) and chicken katsu (Japanese-style breaded fried chicken).

Arizona_Aloha_Festival_2010_HawaiiStill hungry? How about some favorite Hawaii snack food?

You can munch on Spam musubi, haupia (coconut pudding) and manapua (steamed pork-filled buns). And for dessert … shave ice!

Besides the Hawaii grinds, the Arizona Aloha Festival will feature a marketplace filled with vendors selling crafts, jewelry and other gifts from Hawaii and Polynesia. Stock up on Hawaiian music, coffee, surfer shorts and colorful fabrics.

Arizona_Aloha_Festival_2010_HawaiiWhile sampling everything, don’t miss a visit to the fest’s three stages of free entertainment. Slack key guitarists, hula dancers, storytellers, Tahitian drummers and dance, and more are all scheduled to take the stages on both days. Maui singer/songwriter Anuhea Jenkins will also be there as part of her “Right Love Tour.” (Jenkins made HAWAII Magazine’s “20 Things to Love About Hawaii Right Now” list. Check out the list in HAWAII Magazine’s March/April 2010 issue.)

If all of this entices you enough to want to visit Hawaii, try your luck in the Arizona Aloha Festival’s annual raffle. You could win a trip for two to Maui for a five-night stay at the Aston Paki Maui. Raffle tickets will be $5—a pretty good deal for a chance to win a Maui vacation.

Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. Admission is free.

For more information, click here or call (602) 697-1824.

Photo credits: Loren Tapahe/Courtesy of Arizona Aloha Festival (top),
Commons/Wikipedia (middle), Angelina Hills/AlohaPortraits.com (above)
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