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

Hawaii_Maui_taro_poi_Polynesian_HawaiianThe 19th annual East Maui Taro Festival, which features poi-pounding demonstrations, a taro pancake breakfast and cultural tours, happens this weekend in the community of Hana, Maui.

Each year, Hana residents transform their baseball park into a festival celebrating the traditional Hawaiian dietary staple kalo — the Hawaiian word for taro. The root vegetable—prized for its starchy corm and large green leaves—is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the Islands. It’s believed that Polynesians brought the taro to Hawaii as long ago as 450 A.D.

The two-day East Maui Taro Festival will get under way tomorrow — Sat., April 30, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — with Hawaiian music, 40 arts-and-crafts booths, 22 food booths, and demonstration tents spotlighting poi pounding, hala  weaving, Hawaiian weapons and fishhooks, and Hawaiian games.

Hawaii_Maui_taro_poi_Polynesian_HawaiianOn Sunday morning, May 1, festivities begin with a taro pancake breakfast, from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Loco moco bowls and other breakfast foods will also be served. Breakfast ticket prices will vary.

At 11 a.m. on Sunday, festivalgoers may also take a tour of the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Kahanu Garden and Piilanihale Heiau. At 2 p.m., there will be a tour of Kapahu Living Farm at Oheo Gulch in nearby Kipahulu.

Admission to the festival is free. For more information about the annual event, call 808-264-1553 or click here.

Photos: East Maui Taro Festival and Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Hawaii_Oahu_Waikiki_Spam Jam, SpamHawaii’s love of Spam is undeniable.

You see the evidence in our eateries, where Spam loco moco and Spam and eggs with rice are menu staples. Every day, Spam musubi, a popular portable snack, quickly disappears from storefront counters. Even our supermarkets occasionally spotlight the canned meat-product in carefully stacked, fancy pyramid-shaped displays.

Yep, we eat up nearly 7 million cans of Spam a year in Hawaii — more than any other state across the nation, according to Minnesota-based Hormel Foods, producers of the canned luncheon meat since 1937.  Reason enough to celebrate? We think so.

Tomorrow, Sat., April 30, we’ll pay tribute to our penchant for the pink foodstuff at the 9th Annual Waikiki Spam Jam.

Hawaii_Oahu_Waikiki_Spam Jam, SpamAs in years past, Kalakaua Avenue, the main thoroughfare through Waikiki, will be closed to automobile traffic from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. for the festival, which last year attracted an estimated 24,000 people.

The festival area will be lined with food booths — each serving Spam-inspired cuisine. There’ll be a couple of entertainment stages. Merchandise booths will sell Spam T-shirts, shorts and other paraphernalia linked to salty pork goodness. A portion of T-shirt sale proceeds will go to the Hawaii Foodbank. In addition, volunteers will be on hand at two booths to collect donations of Spam products for the Hawaii Foodbank, the largest nonprofit in Hawaii that feeds the needy.

A dozen or so Honolulu restaurants are sure to attract hungry crowds as chefs give our beloved comfort food glamorous makeovers. Among the expected offerings: Spam Fusion Fajitas, Spam Mahi Carbonara, and Island Spicy Spam Wraps. And for dessert or for icy refreshment? A Spamcicle by the creative paleta makers at OnoPops, anyone?

Hawaii_Oahu_Waikiki_Spam Jam_Spam_Also, during the evening, Spam Jam officials will announce the winner of a Hawaii-designed label contest, which drew 117 entries. Though only Hawaii residents could submit designs, anyone could vote. During a five-day voting period in February, 14,000 ballots were cast. Hormel picked the winning design from the top five vote-getters.

The winning entry will appear on cans of reduced sodium Spam — the top-selling of the eight types of Spam found on grocery store shelves in Hawaii. The winner will also take home $1,000, a Spam products gift bag and, of course, a case of Spam.

For more information about Spam Jam festivities and food, click here.
Photos: Spam Jam festival

Lei Day_May Day_Hawaii_Oahu_Big Island_Maui_Kauai

Sunday is May 1 — May Day. Around the world the celebrations range from end-of-winter Maypole dancing to rallies commemorating workers’ union efforts. Here in Hawaii, May Day is Lei Day — a day dedicated to celebrating Hawaiian culture.

You’ll find a few more music and hula shows on May Day, popular with residents and visitors. And, on this day in particular, you’ll see our symbol of aloha — fresh, fragrant and colorful lei — draped over shoulders everywhere in the Islands. 

One of the largest celebrations is Honolulu’s official city Lei Day festivities at Waikiki’s Kapiolani Park Bandstand, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It’s free and open to the public.

If you go, make sure your camera is ready for the investiture of the 2011 Lei Queen and her court, set for 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Selection of Lei Day royalty is based on lei-making skills, hula, poise and other attributes, according to the pageant’s organizers. You’ll also want to snap photos of stunning entries in the Lei Contest, which will be displayed from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

If you would like to try your hand at lei making in advance of the big day, free workshops are now under way in Kailua and Kaneohe. Participants are asked to bring their own fresh flowers and greenery. For more details, click here.

Lei Day_May Day_Hawaii_Oahu_Big Island_Maui_Kauai

The origins of Hawaii’s celebration of May Day as Lei Day date back to 1927, when Honolulu Star-Bulletin writer Don Blanding advocated for the creation of a day dedicated to honoring lei-making and the custom of wearing lei. Blanding’s co-worker at the newspaper, columnist Grace Tower Warren, suggested holding the celebration on May 1 and coined the phrase “May Day is Lei Day.”

Soon after, musician Leonard “Red” Hawk, and his wife Ruth Hawk, penned the tune May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii. The ditty was reportedly first presented as a foxtrot but was rearranged in the late 1920s as a Hawaiian mele for hula.

Lei Day_May Day_Hawaii_Oahu_Big Island_Maui_Kauai

Here and on the next page, you’ll find a list of Lei Day events and activities statewide.


Lei Day, He Moolelo O Na Lei

This free event, in its sixth year, focuses on the history and culture tied to the  “story of the lei.” There will be lei-making demonstrations as well as Hawaiian music and hula performances from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sun., May 1, in Kalakaua Park in Hilo. For additional information, call (808) 961-5711, or click here.

Lei Day Festival

Volcano Art Center, in Volcano, will host this family-oriented event, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sun., May 1. Festivities include a lei-making contest and display, hula and ukulele performances, talk-story sessions, and guided tours of the native forest area. For more information, call (808) 967-8222, or click here.

NEXT PAGE: Kauai, Maui and Oahu celebrations tied to Lei Day

Hawaii_Maui_humpback whale_marine_ecosystems_marine lifeExpand your understanding of Hawaii’s vast and varied marine life through Ke Kani O Ke Kai (Voices of the Sea), a new monthly lecture series offered on Maui at Kapalua Resort’s Village CafĂ© and Sweet Shoppe.

The first free lecture, set for 4:30 p.m. Mon. May 2, will spotlight the majestic humpback whale, a popular annual visitor to Hawaii.

Amy Reiri, a marine biologist, who has conducted research on humpback whales and other marine mammals in Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, will lead the Ke Kani O Ke Kai lecture series, which is open to both guests at The Kapalua Villas and the general public. Reiri will offer the lectures, focusing Hawaii’s marine ecosystem, on the first Monday of each month. For more information about the series or the resort, click here.

Scientists estimate that there are 20,000 humpback whales in the North Pacific. About half this population is believed to swim to Hawaii each winter to mate, give birth and nurse their calves in warm Hawaiian waters, where they are protected. Whale-watching season in Hawaii typically spans the months between November and May.

Hawaii_Maui_humpback whale_marine_ecosystems_marine lifeEarlier this year, University of Hawaii researchers reported that they had found humpback whales spending winter months in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in addition to the main Hawaiian Islands. According to The Associated Press, scientists from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded humpback whale songs, which are an indicator of winter breeding activity, in both areas.

The best way to see them up close is aboard a whale-watching tour. But in recent years — due an increase in the number of whales gliding along in the channels between the Hawaiian Islands — it has been fairly easy to spot them from the shoreline.

So, which scenic outlooks should you rush to for the, ahem, tail end of this year’s season? Check out HAWAII Magazine’s Landlubber’s Guide to Whale Watching in the Islands — and don’t forget your binoculars.
Photos: (top) Wikipedia Commons, (bottom) Maui Whale Festival

Maui_Marriott_Hawaii_hotel_Kahului_airportConstruction of Maui’s first airport hotel, tailored for both leisure and business travelers, is slated to begin next week in Kahului.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held yesterday for Maui’s first Courtyard by Marriott, a four-story, 138-room hotel located near Kahului Airport and close to Maui’s business, commercial and governmental center.

“With Kahului being Maui’s commercial hub and Wailuku the seat of county government, we believe this new hotel will fill an important niche in serving inter-island and out-of-state business travelers,” Chris Tatum, vice president of Marriott Resorts Hawaii, said in a statement issued yesterday. Tatum added, “We also expect to serve travelers transiting the airport and attract visitors wanting to stay on this side of the island to explore upcountry Maui, Paia and other nearby attractions.”
Construction on the $16.5-million project is expected to be completed in early 2012. Upon opening, the hotel property, which covers a 3.35-acre parcel of land, will be managed by Marriott International, while developer, R.D. Olson Development, will retain ownership.
Maui_Marriott_Hawaii_hotel_Kahului_airportThe hotel’s lobby will feature interactive  58-inch LCD touch screens, each loaded with local information, maps, weather and news, business and sports headlines. A nearby business center will allow guests to check e-mail and print documents, while semi-enclosed “Media Pods” — decked with flat-panel TVs — will serve as a place to work, meet or relax. The hotel will also offer 1,663 square feet of meeting space, including a boardroom.

Marriott now has 14 hotel and timeshare properties on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. Its first hotel in the Islands — the Maui Marriott at Kaanapali — opened in 1981.

Plans to build a hotel near the airport first took shape about a decade ago but were put on hold by economic concerns. Alexander & Baldwin Inc. secured county approvals, including a zoning change in 2002, and later shelved building plans because of high construction costs.

A&B Properties Vice President Grant Y.M. Chun said in a statement: “We do believe the timing is right, the economy is coming back.”

Chun added, “We are confident this hotel  — long anticipated, for sure — will be a welcome and convenient option for short-term visitors from the neighbor islands, government officials desiring proximity to Wailuku offices and, quite possibly sports event or family reunion attendees, visiting Maui for a few days.”

Photos: (top to bottom) Alexander & Baldwin Inc., R.D. Olson Construction/Marriott 

Hawaii_Big_Island_Kona_Four Seasons Resort_tsunami_Hualalai

The Big Island’s luxe Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, which sustained tsunami-fueled damages and closed last month will reopen for guests this Sat., April 30.

Flooding damaged 12 of the oceanfront resort’s 243 rooms, pushed sand from its beach father inland, jumbled landscaping and killed stretches of the South Kohala-area resort’s grass, said Four Seasons spokesman Brad Packer.

Guests were evacuated when the Pacific-wide tsunami — launched by the 9.0 earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11 — made its way to Hawaii waters. Damages to the Hualalai’s rooms ranged from seawater-drenched carpeting to landscaping ruined by sand sweeping into entryways.

For the most part, Packer said, the room repairs were limited to dealing with cosmetic damages. Other repairs included planting fresh grass, landscaping and reconfiguring some stretches of beach and green areas.

Even so, not all was bleak at the upscale resort in the aftermath of tsunami waves.

Hawaii_Big_Island_Kona_Four Seasons Resort_tsunami_Hualalai

“There are a couple of things that came out of this that were not altogether bad,” Packer noted. “One was there’s now more of a beach. The other is that King’s Pond, which is our swimming aquarium, actually has more fish in it now than prior to the water coming in.”

Initially, resort staffers wondered whether the pummeling had killed some of the 75 species inside King’s Pond, a 1.8 million-gallon “aquarium” pool — carved out of natural lava rock. Fortunately, Packer said, the pool’s 3,000 fish were fine and, perhaps, a few more species are now swimming in King’s Pond, where guests go snorkeling. The resort’s natural resources team is now making sure that all of the species are compatible, Packer said.

The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai was one of only two Hawaii resort properties shut down for repairs after the tsunami struck. The Kona Village Resort, which neighbors the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, sustained major damages and will remains closed indefinitely.

For additional information about the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and its current special offers, click here.

Photos: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

Hawaii_Big Island_Hilo_hula_competition_dance

Hawaii’s hula halau (dancing groups) and competitive dancers from elsewhere are now making their way to Hilo to take part in the 48th annual Merrie Monarch Festival’s three-night competition, which will begin Thurs., April 28 with the Miss Aloha Hula Competition.

But before the world’s premier hula contest gets under way, the weeklong Merrie Monarch Festival will kick off on Sun. April 24 with a non-competitive yet lively hoolaulea (celebration) of hula and Polynesian dance, featuring dancers who may be vying for top honors later in the week.

Halau performances will start at 9 a.m. on Sunday at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo. The last dancers in the lineup will take the stage at 3 p.m. Seating is open, and there will be no charge for admission.

Hawaii_Big Island_Hilo_hula_competition_dance

Tickets are needed to attend the competitive performances. And they’ll likely be hard to come by in the days before the contest. Last year, the overall event sold out before the dancing started. But hula fans need not despair. You’ll be able to catch every graceful gesture and synchronized shake online or on high-definition television here in the Islands.

Hawaii TV network KFVE will live stream the entire contest from Hilo’s Edith Kanakaole Stadium. For a complete live-streaming schedule, click here. If you’re here in the Islands, tune into KFVE’s high-definition broadcast on all three nights on Channel 5.

Each night’s competition will start at 6 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (HST). That’s midnight on the East Coast, 9 p.m. on the West Coast. 

The Miss Aloha Hula Competition — slated for Thurs., April 28 — will spotlight soloists performing both hula kahiko (ancient hula) and hula auana (modern hula). Hula halau will perform kahiko on Fri., April 29 and auana on Sat., April 30.

Hawaii_Big Island_Hilo_hula_competition_dance

The festival is dedicated to the memory of King David Kalakaua, who was called the “Merrie Monarch” for his love of the arts, especially music and dance. During his reign, from 1874 to his death in 1891, he supported the revival of hula, which had been discouraged by missionaries. Early Hawaiians used chant and hula as vehicles to express matters such as mythology, history and religion.

The Merrie Monarch Festival’s events schedule also includes: daily hula demonstrations, a Polynesian dance exhibition; daily events at Imiloa Astronomy Center; a Hawaii arts-and-crafts fair at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium through Sat., April 30; and the celebratory Merrie Monarch Royal Parade through downtown Hilo, which will start at 10:30 a.m. on Sat., April 30.

All festival events, except for the competitive hula contest, are free and open to the public. For more festival information, click here.

UPDATE, 5/2/2011: And the winners are:

Miss Aloha Hula 2011: Tori Hulali Canha of Halau Kealaokamaile (Wailuku, Maui)

Wahine hula auana (women's modern hula): Hula Halau o Kamuela — Kumu Hula Kauionalani Kamana o and Kunewa Mook (Kalihi and Waimanalo, Oahu)

Kane hula auana (men's modern hula): Ka Leo o Laka i ka Hikina o ka La — Kaleo Trinidad (Honolulu, Oahu)

Wahine hula kahiko (women's traditional hula): Halau Kealokamaile — Kumu Hula Kealii Reichel (Wailuku, Maui)

Kane hula kahiko (men's traditional hula): Ke Kai o Kahiki — Kumu Hula O'Brian Eselu (Waianae, Oahu)

Wahine overall winner: Halau Kealokamaile — Kumu Hula Kealii Reichel (Wailuku, Maui)

Kane overall winner: Ke Kai o Kahiki — Kumu Hula O'Brian Eselu (Waianae, Oahu)

Merrie Monarch Festival 2011 overall winner: Halau Kealaokamaile  — Kumu Hula Kealii Reichel (Wailuku, Maui)

Photos: Merrie Monarch Festival

Hawaii_Oau_Manoa_historic_homes_architecture_You may have seen photographs of Oahu’s Manoa Valley snapped during the early 20th century — black-and-white images of verdant hillsides lightly dotted with homes, horse-drawn wagons and crops, from sugar to coffee. 

Ever wonder what it would have been like to wander in the valley during that rural era? For a peek at Manoa’s past, check out the 2011 Malama o Manoa Historic Walking Tour, set for Sun., May 1. Tours will be under way from 8:30 a.m. until noon, with the last tour leaving at 10:30 a.m.

The tour includes a 1 1/2 mile stroll through the Manoa Valley neighborhoods of McKinley Street, Kakela Drive, Haena Street and Rocky Hill Place. Seven historic homes will be open during the tour, and another 20 homes and historic sites will be featured along the route.

Malama o Manoa, a nonprofit dedicated to “preserving, protect and enhancing the special qualities of historic Manoa Valley,” typically organizes a walking tour once every two years. Advance registration costs $25 and the registration form must be postmarked by Mon. April 25. To download a form, click here. After April 25, registration for the tour will cost $30.

Throughout the walking tour, volunteer docents will be on-hand to relay yesteryear facts and trivia about Manoa Valley sites such the a former dairy, a quarry, a neighborhood garden, loi (irrigated terrace for growing taro), homes of missionary descendants and a home designed by noted Honolulu architect ChHawaii_Oau_Manoa_historic_homes_architecture_arles William “C.W.” Dickey. At the turn of the 20th century, Dickey advocated for a “Hawaiian” home architectural style — complete with broad lanais and interior courtyards — suited to Hawaii’s culture and environment. He also designed some of Hawaii’s most famous buildings, including the Halekulani Hotel and Kamehameha Schools campus buildings.

During preceding centuries, chiefs such as Kaahumanu and Kamehameha III built retreat residences on Manoa Valley’s western slopes, reaching into the Koolau Mountains. According to Malama o Manoa: “The Hawaiian chiefs of old often chose for their residences sites which were bountiful, cool, dramatically beautiful, and thus ‘royally’ pleasant. Manoa Valley was therefore one of their most-favored retreats.”

The valley developed as a place of agriculture during the 19th century. Its agricultural profile slowly faded during the first half of the 20th century as the valley’s acreage morphed into a tree-lined residential community. Today, with more than 40,000 residents, Manoa Valley agriculture is mostly a pursuit of the past. Still, remnants of that era and others linger on.Hawaii_Oau_Manoa_historic_homes_architecture_

On the morning of the Malama o Manoa Walking Tour, parking will be available on the Punahou School campus, at Punahou and Wilder streets, starting at 7:30. The campus is about a 15-minute drive from Wakiki and Honolulu's downtown area.

Signs will point the way to the tour’s registration tent at 1812 McKinley St., where you may pick up a self-guided route map and information packet. Houses will close promptly at noon.

And in Manoa tradition, Malama o Manoa promises the walking tour will take place “rainbows” or shine. Situated at the edge of a rainforest, the valley maintains its emerald glow with frequent rainfall. So, grab an umbrella before heading out to the tour, just in case.
Photos: Malama o Manoa

Hawaii_Oahu_Maui_Kauai_Big Island_Earth Day_volunteer_voluntourism_green_environment_

This week, as we celebrate Earth Day, green-minded voluntourism opportunities in Hawaii, ranging from beach cleanups to native plant restoration efforts, are in the works.

By volunteering for even a few hours with endeavors aimed at preserving paradise, you can gain a deeper appreciation of Hawaii’s awe-inspiring yet fragile environment.

Environmental voluntourism offers vacationing visitors an opportunity to authentically connect with our landscapes, seascapes and people.

Yes, you will get dirt under your fingernails. And you may walk away from your volunteering stint with mud-caked shoes and salt water in your hair, but you’ll  likely end the day with a smile on your face. Why? It just feels good to know that you can help protect Hawaii’s beauty by dedicating a few hours of your time in the Islands for a morning or afternoon of getting involved.

Hawaii_Oahu_Maui_Kauai_Big Island_Earth Day_volunteer_voluntourism_green_environment_

Here and on the next page, you’ll find a list of Earth Day opportunities on Kauai, Maui, Oahu and the Big Island. Additional details about each of these and other workdays and events are available at the Preserve Hawaii website, operated by Kirsten Whatley, author of Preserving Paradise: Opportunities in Volunteering for Hawaii’s Environment.


Surfrider Kauai, Sierra Club & Malama Mahaulepu

Beach cleanup at Mahaulepu Beach, starting at 9 a.m., Saturday, April 23. Bring sunscreen, hat, and water. Trash bags and gloves provided. For more info, call (808) 635-2593 or click here.

Friends of Kamalani & Lydgate Park

Cleanup at the beach, elaborate playground area and elsewhere in the Lydgate Park, 7:30 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 23. Bring sun protection, work gloves, sturdy and flexible rakes. Check in at tents near Kamalani Playground. Refreshments and lunch provided. For more information, contact ThomasNoyes@hawaiiantel.net, call (808) 639-1018 or click here.



There will soon be a lot of tree-hugging under way in Lahaina's downtown area.

On Saturday April 23 — the day after Earth Day, actually — and Sunday April 24, West Maui’s Lahaina Town Action Committee will host a birthday celebration in Banyan Tree Park. Festivities will be situated under the guest of honor — a Lahaina resident since April 24, 1873,

The birthday banyan stands more than 50 feet tall and serves as canopy over two-thirds of an acre in the heart of the historic town, a former whaling community known for art galleries, restaurants and shopping areas.

Party host, the Lahaina Town Action Committee, a nonprofit that aims to preserve historical, cultural and commercial vitality in Lahaina, maintains that the banyan tree is the largest in Hawaii — and among the largest in the United States.

Sheriff William Owen Smith planted the tree 138 years ago to honor the 50th anniversary of the first Protestant mission in Lahaina, which started at the request of Queen Keopulani, according to a commemorative marker.

Lahaina_birthday_Hawaii_banyan_treeThe Indian fig specimen, which was about 8 feet high when tucked into Lahaina soil, has since added a dozen trunks. Older banyan trees fan out laterally by way of aerial prop roots that grow into subsidiary trunks, which can eventually become more or less indistinguishable from the original trunk.

How do such trees surviving for well over a century? Heedful horticultural care helps. So does the backing of state law. In 1975, Hawaii’s Legislature passed the Exceptional Tree Act, which protects trees of “exceptional stature.” While many of the designees grow in Hawaii’s botanical gardens others are scattered about on both public and private properties. Lahaina’s famous landmark is maintained by volunteers.

The Lahaina banyan’s birthday party, set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sat., April 23, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sun. April 24, will feature plenty of live music, a magic show, silent auction, hands-on activities for children and, of course, a banyan-sized birthday cake. Will there be 138 candles on the cake? You'll have to stop by the party for cake-cutting at about 1 p.m. Saturday to find out.

More information about the free banyan tree birthday bash and other Lahaina events is available at the Lahaina Town Action Comiittee website.

Photos:  Wikipedia Commons (top), Hawaii Tourism Japan (HTJ) (bottom)

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