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

Hawaii_Honolulu_happiest_state_Gallup_surveyFor the fourth straight year, the annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index has ranked Hawaii highest in well-being in the nation.

OK, we know the top ranking is no surprise. There’s a lot to be happy about in the Islands. One element about the survey that strikes us, though, is it underscores that seemingly small things, such as maintaining an easygoing manner, can make a big difference on the happiness meter. 

Hawaii scored 71.1 out of a possible well-being score of 100. Close behind: Colorado, 69.7; Minnesota, 68.9; Utah, 68.8; Vermont, 68.6; Nebraska, 68.5; Montana, 68.5; New Hampshire, 68.4; and Massachusetts, 68.1.

West Virginia scored the lowest, with 61.3. The rest of the bottom 10 includes: Kentucky, 62.7; Mississippi, 63.6; Tennessee, 64.0; Arkansas, 64.1; Alabama, 64.2; Ohio, 64.6; Louisiana, 64.7; Indiana, 65.1; South Carolina, Oklahoma and Nevada — all three, 65.2.

During 2012, Gallup conducted interviews with a total of more than 350,000 American adults. Survey interviewers asked participants about six areas of well-being: life evaluation (present life situation and expectations for the future); emotional health (sense of happiness, sense of being treated with respect, levels of worry, stress, etc.); work environment and job satisfaction; physical health (chronic health problems and intermittent ailments, such as colds); health-related behaviors (diet, exercise, smoking, etc.); and access to basic necessities, such as health care, healthful food and water, safe home and exercise areas.Hawaii_Honolulu_happiest_state_Gallup_survey

Hawaii turned in the highest scores for emotional health (83.6), work environment (54.1), and thriving life evaluation (57.2). The other top sub-index scores: physical health, Colorado (79.5); healthy behaviors, Vermont (70.0); and basic access, Massachusetts (86.9). 

According to the report, which was released yesterday, “Residents living in Hawaii were most likely to experience daily enjoyment and least likely to have daily worry or stress, which contributed to their high emotional health.”

Regarding the work environment sub-index category, the report noted: “The Work Environment Index measures workplace issues such as whether a worker has a trusting and open work environment and whether an employee is able to use his or her strengths to do what he or she does best every day.”

The survey also ranked cities on its well-being index. Among mid-size metro communities, Honolulu took the fifth spot.  Lincoln, Neb. took the top-ranking, followed by Boulder, Colo.; Provo-Orem, Utah; and Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.

For more information about the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has been released annually since 2008 (Utah took the top state ranking that year, click here. To see how Hawaii fared in last year, click here.

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Photos: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) — (top) Sri Maiava Rusden, (bottom) Tor Johnson

Hawaii_Lanai_Ellison_Island_airlineEight months after Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of business software giant Oracle Corporation, wrapped up the purchase of all but a small slice of Lanai, he has bought a small interisland airline, too.

Honolulu-based Island Air, which offers flights between Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island (Hawaii), Molokai, and Lanai, announced in a news release issued today that it has closed the sale of the airline to a newly formed holding company owned by Ellison.

In the release, Island Air’s president, Les Murashige, said: “We are excited Mr. Ellison has acquired Island Air. He has the vision and resources to literally take Island Air to new heights.” Murashige continued: “The entire Island Air team pulled together over the past year to restructure and position the company for success and this sale represents the culmination of that process.”

Island Air recently added one new ATR 72 aircraft to its fleet. The plane, which is larger than other Island Air aircraft, offers customers more seats and legroom. The carrier will reportedly continue its operations as usual while developing plans for additional planes, routes and services.

Ellison purchased 98 percent of the 141-square-mile island in June. The deal, which reportedly cost the billionaire about $500 million, includes the island’s two resorts, a golf club, and the island’s water and electric utilities.  (Maui County, in tandem with the State of Hawaii, owns the remaining 2 percent-slice of the island.)

In October, Ellison spoke publicly about the sale for the first time. During an interview earlier this week on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” with Maria Bartiromo, He briefly describe his hopes for establishing the island as a model for green-minded living, but did not offer specifics about timeframe or the scope of his vision.Hawaii_Lanai_Ellison_Island_airline

Last month, Kurt Matsumoto, the chief operating officer of Ellison's Lanai Resorts LLC, presented a “vision statement” for the island at a Lanai Community Plan Advisory Committee meeting. The statement reportedly detailed opening a third luxury bungalow-style hotel on the island, construction of a desalination plant, and a new airport runway. In addition, news reports have noted that Ellison also wants to eventually power the entire Pineapple Isle with solar energy. A timeline for the proposals has yet to be released.

Lanai — the state of Hawaii’s smallest publicly accessible island — is believed to be the largest privately held island in the United States. Most of the 430 miles of roads are unpaved and there are no stoplights. At its widest point, Lanai's terrain stretches for 18 miles between shorelines.

For more information about Island Air, click here.

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Photos: (top) Island Air; (middle) Puu Pehe "Sweetheart Rock," Lanai /Price M. Myers, (bottom) Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach), Lanai/Ron Garnett; — (HTA) Hawaii Tourism Authority — both photos 

Hawaii_Kohala_ukulele_festivalThe Big Island’s Waikoloa Beach Resort on the Kohala Coast will hold the 13th annual Great Waikoloa Ukulele Festival this Saturday (March 2) at Queens’ MarketPlace. 

The celebration will get under way with a free ukulele workshop (10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.) given by Roy Sakuma as well as a lineup of nonstop musical entertainment, from noon to 7 p.m.

Sakuma and wife Kathy organize a series of annual ukulele events in the Islands that now includes an estimated 20,000 participants. The couple created their first fest in 1971, and established the nonprofit Ukulele Festival Hawaii in 2004.

Among the featured musicians: world-famous Herb Ohta, Sr. (pictured, right). Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum states that no one has done more to explore and expand ukulele music during the second half of the 20th century than Ohta, also known as Ohta-San. In addition to his hall-of-fame induction in 2006, Ohta has won four Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (Hawaii music industry’s equivalent to the Grammys).

Ohta is slated to perform at 4 p.m. and at 6 p.m. with jazz guitarist Nando Suan.  Another Na Hoku winner, Sean Naauao, will perform at 5 p.m. And Sakuma will hit the stage with his “Super Keiki” performers, Nelly Toyama-Baduria (Suan’s protégée) and Daniel Baduria. To see the full schedule of events, click here.

The event will also feature demonstrations of ukulele-making, crafting of tradition Hawaiian gourd bowls, and lei-making. For more information about the Great Waikoloa Ukulele Festival, click here or call (808) 886-8822.

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Photo: Ohta San/Shan Tegarden Photography


The Honolulu Festival, a lively celebration of Asia-Pacific culture, will get under way on Fri., March 1 with a Friendship Gala at the Hawaii Convention Center and wrap up on Sun., March 3 with the annual Grand Parade along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki followed by a dazzling Nagaoka Fireworks Show over Oahu’s south shore beaches.

Now in its 19th year, the festival will feature its signature mix of arts and cultural displays, food events, and live performances from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, the Philippines, various places in North America and, of course, Hawaii. In all, the fest is expected to bring a total of 4,500 performers and visitors to Oahu.

In addition, the event will feature a panel discussion and reports about efforts to rebuild areas destroyed two years ago by the Tohoku Tsunami as well as details about the effects of tsunami debris on the Pacific Ocean. 

Admission is free for festival performances and exhibit displays slated for Saturday and Sunday at the Hawaii Convention Center and Waikiki Beach Walk. At DFS Galleria, admission will be waived on Sunday only.

Honolulu Festival’s goal is to help perpetuate the strong cultural and ethnic ties between the people of Asia Pacific and Hawaii. Under the banner of “Pacific Harmony,” this year’s theme is “Transforming the world; Connect! Discover! Let each experience fascinate you!”

In a news release issued by the Honolulu Festival Foundation, the nonprofit’s president, Keiichi Tsujino, said: “The Honolulu Festival celebrates the heritage of our cultural diversity through entertainment, exhibits and arts, and offers many events and activities for the whole family to enjoy.”


Hawaii_whale_Oahu_Maui_Kauai_Big_IslandHawaii residents and visitors alike are invited to take part in a pair of whale-watching surveys slated for this weekend along shorelines edging Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island.

Tomorrow morning (Sat., Feb. 23), Pacific Whale Foundation’s research team will lead an annual count of humpback whales that can be seen from Maui’s shores.

The nonprofit will provide volunteers with training and survey-taking materials. Dubbed The Great Whale Count, the survey is part of the annual Maui Whale Festival, which got under way earlier this month and will continue through April. There is no charge to participate in the county, set for 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. For additional information, click here.

Also, if you happen to be on Maui, check out the Whale Fest’s “Tribute to the Whales” photography exhibit compiled by Pacific Whale Foundation, which features shots taken by noted photographers as well as images snapped by the foundation’s naturalists and researchers. The exhibit is open to the public daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until March 1 at the Maalaea Harbor Shops, located  between Lahaina, Kahului and Kihei. For additional information, click here or call the foundation, (808) 249-8811, ext. 1.Hawaii_whale_Oahu_Maui_Kauai_Big_Island

The other whale survey, known as Ocean Count, will be in the works from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. tomorrow (Sat., Feb. 23) at scores of sites on Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island. This annual count relies on volunteer help to estimate whale population and distribution figures in the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The census, organized by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), supplements ongoing marine science research.

Scientists estimate that there are 20,000 humpbacks in the North Pacific. An estimated 12,000 swim to Hawaii’s waters to mate and nurse their young, typically between September and March. (The 2012-13 season started very early, with the first sighting of a humpback whale reported in late August.)

Another Ocean Count session will be held on Sat., March 30. For volunteer registration details, click here.

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Photos: Wayne Shinbara (both images shot during a recent whale-watching cruise near Maui shores) 

Cacao is thriving in Hawaii’s tropical soil. Reason enough to celebrate with, say, samples of chocolate-covered pineapple, apple banana, coffee beans and macadamia nuts? We think so. Nodding agreement?  

If so, and you happen to be on Oahu this weekend, check out the Hawaii Chocolate Festival, noon to 5 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 23 at Dole Cannery Shops in Honolulu. Now in its third year, the fest will showcase nearly 30 chocolate vendors creating products made exclusively from beans grown in Hawaii (the only state in the nation growing cacao).

Tickets are $20 in advance online and $25 at the door. For more ticket information, click here. In addition to browsing booths and learning about the state’s cacao crop, an admission ticket will fetch 10 chocolate samplings of your choice from some of the top chocolatiers in the Islands.

Among the Oahu vendors: Padovani's Chocolates by Philippe Padovani, Waialua Estate and Malie Kai from the North Shore, Madre Chocolates and Manoa Chocolate Hawaii from Kailua. Neighbor islands: Sweet Paradise Chocolates (Maui) and the Big Island’s Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory.

The event’s tasty offerings will include Hawaiian Cheesecakes’ mini cheesecake cupcakes with double-chocolate cheesecake (New York-style cheesecake on a layer of Waialua Estates dark chocolate on a macadamia nut shortbread crust, with a dark chocolate ganache).

Dessert chefs will also be serving up chocolate bacon, chocolate-covered tropical fruit and nuts. Beverages will range from Naughty Cow Chocolate Liqueur to Kona Brewing Companies Black Sand Porter with Big Island Grown Cocoa Nibs.

Among the event’s guest speakers are Ed Sequine with Mars Global Chocolate, and Art Pollard, founder and head chocolate-maker for Amano Chocolates.

In conjunction with the fest, Special Events Hawaii has organized the Hawaii Chocolate Festival Roadshow, a month-long series of events to be held at various locations in celebration of the state’s Hawaii-Grown Cacao Month (February). Click here for roadshow calendar listings. For additional festival information, click here or call (808) 234-0404.

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Photos: Hawaii Chocolate Festival 

Hawaii_Maui_Lahaina_HiloOver the last three months, one of Hawaii’s own top chefs, Sheldon Simeon (executive chef at Star Noodle in Lahaina, Maui) has competed with other culinary contenders for the title of  “top chef” in the 10th season of the popular Top Chef television show broadcast on the Bravo channel.

Since the first episode of Top Chef: Seattle aired in November, all but the three of the initial field of 21 chefs have been cut from the competition.

Tonight, Simeon’s culinary skills and cool-under-pressure temperament will be tested again as he competes against the other two remaining chefs in the first part of a two-part finale. The show will air at 8 p.m. Hawaii time. Click here to check out a short video in which Simeon, while at home in Hawaii, talks briefly about vying for the “top chef” title, which comes with a grand prize of $125,000.

Simeon (pictured, above), who grew up in Hilo on the Big Island, is known is for combining traditional comfort foods tied to multiple cultures in Hawaii, ranging from Portuguese to Filipino communities, and adding creative and delicious twists.

During the weekly shows, Simeon’s Islands-inspired cooking has won plenty of rave reviews as well as at least a few less-than-enthusiastic responses from foodie judges including Wolfgang Puck, Tom Coliccio and Emeril Lagasse.  

The 30-year-old chef is two-time James Beard semifinalist — for “Rising Star” and “Best New Restaurant,” both in 2011. Also, in 2011, Maui Nokaoi Magazine named him “Chef of the Year.” Earlier this year, Food & Wine Magazine named Sheldon “Best New Chef People’s Choice” (2012) nominee.

We featured Simeon in HAWAII Magazine’s “Guide to Local Eats” (November/December 2011), in which chefs shared their favorite local comfort foods. That story, Simeon discussed one of his go-to dishes: fried rice. Also, in HAWAII Magazine’s  “Best of Hawaii 2012” (November/December 2012) staff picks singled out Simeon’s two restaurants: Star Noodle and Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop (Lahaina area). Both won the category titled “Best Excuse to Eat Your Greens.” HAWAII Magazine staffers raved about melt-in-your-mouth fried Brussel sprouts and crunchy Hana-grown pohole accented with Maui onion, dried shrimp and seaweed. Leoda’s, an everything-from-scratch diner, also won the staff pick for “Best New Restaurant: Maui.”

For more information about the Top Chef show, click here.

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Photo: Top Chef/Bravo, Hawaii's Sheldon Simeon reacting to win after a "restaurant wars" competition on Top Chef: Seattle

Hawaii_Oahu_Honolulu_Lanai_Molokai_Hawaiian_airlinesHawaiian Airlines’ parent company is calling the carrier’s newest interisland operation Ohana by Hawaiian. Beginning this summer, Ohana by Hawaiian will provide daily service from Honolulu to Molokai and Lanai using 48-seat ATR42 turboprop aircraft.

In a news release issued last week, Mark Dunkerley, president and ceo of Honolulu-based Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiary Hawaiian Airlines, said: “The name Ohana perfectly captures the idea behind this service and the role it will play in our community. This new service has always been about making it easier for friends and families throughout the islands and from overseas to share time together.”

The turboprop aircraft’s livery, designed by Hilo-based artists/designers Sig Zane and his son Kuha‘o, features a kapa pattern symbolizing Hawaiian ancestry, family and transportation.Hawaii_Oahu_Honolulu_Lanai_Molokai_Hawaiian_airlines

The father-son team reportedly used Hawaiian Airlines’ interisland route map as a basis for the design, and incorporated three kapa patterns: piko, representing ancestor and progeny; manu, representing both a bird in flight and the prow of a canoe, the traditional form of migration; and kalo, representing family.

In the release, Sig Zane said, “Today we invite our ancestors and kupuna to join us as we holoholo (excursion/travel) between the islands. We celebrate their art and recognize all who have traveled before us.” He added, “This symbol of our heritage is now a cherished piece for everyone to see.”

Ohana by Hawaiian flights will be operated out of gates 49 and 50 at Honolulu International Airport by contractor Empire Airlines. The new service will create up to 100 new Hawaii-based jobs in various areas of air transportation. Reservations and sales for the new operation will be handled by Hawaiian Airlines.

Currently, interisland carriers Island Air, go! , and Mokulele airlines provide air service to Lanai and Molokai.For additional information about Ohana by Hawaiian, click here.

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Photos: (renderings) Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaii Cocktail Week & The Pacific Sessions 2013 — a celebration of the cocktail as its evolution in the Pacific — is slated to get under way on tomorrow in Honolulu and elsewhere on Oahu.

More than 30 officials events, ranging from tasting sessions and pairing dinners to workshops, seminars and elaborately themed “Signature Events,” will be held at various restaurant and nightclub venues.

Among the featured Hawaii-based bartenders: Dave Newman (Pint + Jigger), Kyle Reutner (Hawaii Bitters Company), Dave Power (Feral Pig, on Kauai), and Justin Park (Manifest). In August, Park bragging rights to “World’s Best Mai Tai,” at the fourth annual Don the Beachcomber Mai Tail Festival at the Royal Kona Resort in Kailua-Kona. 

Among the participating renowned bar mix-masters from the Mainland and elsewhere (Japan and Australia) is Julie Reiner (pictured, right), who was raised in Hawaii. Over the last decade, as co-owner and beverage director of the Flatiron Lounge in New York City, Reiner has drawn inspiration from the Islands by utilizing the freshest fruits and premier quality spices and spirits available in her original cocktails.  The beverage program at her latest venture, Brooklyn’s Clover Club, focuses on classics and green market ingredients.

To check out the lineup of Hawaii Cocktail Week events and ticket rates, click here. Note: Most of the week’s events have a limited capacity. Event types include: Late Night Bites ($15), Tasting Rooms ($20), Bar Showcases ($25), Workshops and Seminars ($35), Pairing Tables ($45 to $75), and Signature Events ($30 to $100). All events are strictly for the age-21-and-older crowd.

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Photo: Hawaii Cocktail Week & The Pacific Sessions

Hawaii_Maui_Lahaina_Kapalua_plein_air_paintingThe annual Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational is a weeklong event that features 25 professional plein air (outdoor) painters from throughout Hawaii and the Mainland. During the event, competing painters capture the images of Maui, such as its people, beaches and ocean scenes, verdant mountains and valleys, and historical buildings.

The eighth annual Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational is slated to get under way on Sat., Feb. 16, with canvas competitions in Kapalua and Lahaina. All of the event’s activities are open to the public and free.

In a news release issued by organizers, event coordinator Rhonda Pang said, "Each artist has deservedly earned a coveted spot in the world of plein air painting." Pang continued: "Attendees are in for a treat as they watch these artists translate every life using their senses, from sight to sound, from temperature to atmosphere, and then channel these impressions into their vision in paint on canvas. Each piece is one-of-kind and truly amazing!"Hawaii_Maui_Lahaina_Kapalua_plein_air_painting

Hawaii artists participating in this year's event are: George Allan of Kula, Maui; Pierre Bouret of Hanalei, Kauai; Mark Brown of Honolulu, Oahu; Saim Caglayan of Kilauea, Kauai; Carleton of Lahaina, Maui; Mike Carroll of Lanai City, Lanai; Michael Clements of Kula, Maui; Betty Hay Freeland of Pukalani, Maui; Ronaldo Macedo of Lahaina, Maui; Macario Pascual of Lahaina, Maui; and Jenifer Prince of Princeville, Kauai.
Artists hailing from the Mainland: Ken Auster of Laguna Beach, Calif.; Jacobus Baas of Laguna Beach, Calif.; Colleen Howe Bleinberger of Smithfield, Utah; Gavin Brooks of Owings Mills, Md.; Hiu Lai Chong of Rockville, Md.; Lindy Duncan of Atherton, Calif.; Debra Huse of Newport Beach, Calif.; Thomas Jefferson Kitts of Portland, Ore.; Robert Lemler of Phoenix, Ariz.; Billyo O'Donnell of Eureka, Mo.; Colin Page of Camden, Maine; Mary Pettis of Taylors Falls, Minn.; Scott Prior of Oceanside, Calif.; and Randall Sexton of Vallejo, Calif.

The invitational will begin with a Kick Off Paint Out at D.T. Fleming Beach at Kapalua, noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Freshly painted works of art will be displayed for sale at 4 p.m. at Village Galleries in The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua and throughout the week.

Among the other invitational highlights: the Pioneer Inn Lahaina Harbor Quick Draw, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Fri., Feb. 22. During this annual competition, which attracts hundreds of onlookers, each artist will have just two hours to complete a painting. That evening, three of the best paintings from each artist plus their Quick Draw painting will be unveiled at reception at Village Gallery in Lahaina.

In addition to painting competitions, the invitational event will include art talks, receptions and workshops open to students of all abilities. To check out the event’s full schedule, click here.

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Photos: Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational
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