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Hawaii_Volcano_House_lodgingHawaii Volcanoes National Park’s iconic Volcano House, which overlooks Kilauea caldera and erupting Halemaumau crater is now offering special kamaaina rates for Crater View rooms and Namakanipaio camper cabins in celebration of its anticipated full reopening in June.

Shuttered on New Year’s Day 2010, Volcano House, which has hosted notable guests, including Mark Twain, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Isabella Bird (a 19th century English explorer and natural historian), began its gradual reopening in mid-August. Since then, it has been open to visitors, 7:45 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily, for purchase a limited selection of food, drink and retail items.

The “soft opening" includes a lodging rates special for Hawaii residents offered by MONOGRAM HOTEL COLLECTIONSM (a division of Aqua Hospitality). The Crater View rate is $200 per night and Naamakanipaio cabins, $55. Both will be effective through May 31. For more information about reservations, call (808) 441-7750 or 1-866-536-7972.Hawaii_Volcano_House_lodging

In a statement released with the announcement, Elizabeth Churchill, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Aqua Hospitality, said: “Over three years have passed since this world-famous hotel closed so we’re delighted to report that the first of the newly renovated rooms are opening.”

Since 1824, a structure has been perched on the edge of Kilauea caldera to shelter visitors to the lava-strewn landscape. Volcano House started out as a grass house. Then, after for more than three decades of operation, the first wooden structure was built.

Volcano House, a 33-room hotel, which belongs to the National Park Service, was closed on New Year's Day 2010. Since the hotel's operator left at the end of 2009, the National Park Service has invested more than $4 million in upgrades to the hotel for fire and safety improvements, including seismic upgrades.Hawaii_Volcano_House_lodging

In March 2012, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park announced that Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Company had been selected for a contract to operate overnight accommodations, food and beverage, retail, and related services in the national park. The concessioner was tapped to operate Volcano House, Namakanipaio Campground, and other smaller locations in the park.

Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Company is owned by Ortega Family Enterprises and Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Inc. Ortega has more than 45 years of hospitality experience and operates concessions within National Park Service sites including Bandelier, White Sands, Muir Woods, Carlsbad Caverns, and Death Valley. The locally based Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Inc. manages several hotels and resorts in Hawaii. Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Company is now completing the renovation project, which is expected to cost between $2.5 million and $3 million.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, click here.

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Photos: (top) Volcano House prior to its close in 2010 (undated photo); (middle) Halemaumau crater/Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) Tor Johnson; (bottom) a view of Kilauea caldera from Volcano House during 1924; top and bottom images are National Park Service photos

Hawaii_Oahu_television_shows_CBSHawaii Five-O is now booked for a fourth season.

The Hawaii-filmed re-imagined police procedural drama is one of several primetime television series renewed by CBS this week for the 2013-14 season that gets under way in September.

CBS will also bring back are NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles, both dramas. Also, the network has reportedly ordered new seasons of: Elementary, CSI Crime Scene Investigation, Blue Bloods, The Mentalist, Criminal Minds, Person of Interest, and The Good Wife. According to news reports, the returning reality shows are The Amazing Race, Undercover Boss and Survivor. Renewed comedies: The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls, and Mike & Molly. The news shows are 60 Minutes and 48 Hours.

Hawaii Five-O is now wrapping up filming for its current season. CBS will air the last of the season’s episodes in mid-May. The show’s annual filming hiatus will start next month. After that, we’ll be seeing more filming around Oahu featuring the rule-bending Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and the rest of the Five-0 team — Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan), Kona “Kono” Kalakaua (Grace Park) and Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim).
Hawaii Five-O airs Mondays at 9 p.m. (Hawaii time). For more information about the show, click here.

At this time last year, an ABC show filmed on Oahu, The River, a paranormal/action/horror series that debuted during the 2011-12 season, was struggling with viewer ratings. It was officially canceled in May 2012. Another ABC show filmed on Oahu, Last Resort, an American military drama, premiered in September 2012 and aired through January. It was not picked up for a full season. However, it did air 13 episodes.

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Photos: CBS

Hawaii_Oahu_North_Shore_poloFounded in 1963, the Hawaii Polo Club is celebrating 50 years of polo on Oahu’s scenic North Shore. Its season, which is filled with Sunday afternoon games featuring several international teams, is slated to get under way on April 7 and continue through mid-July.

All matches start at 2 p.m., with gates opening at 11 a.m. for picnics in the scenic beachfront property, near Mokuleia Beach Park in the Waialua area. Admission is $10 for the open field seating (military, $8) and $25 for the clubhouse area. Children age 12 and younger are admitted for free.

The spring schedule’s lineup features Hawaii polo players taking on teams from China, Argentina, New Zealand, and India. Hawaii’s team will also face off against a Texas team. In addition, there’s an Army vs. Navy game and a Maui vs. Oahu game. To check out the full schedule, click here. The polo club’s fall schedule is set for Sept. 1 to Oct. 27.

Polo's history in in the Islands dates back to the last decades of the 19th century and is intertwined with the culture of the paniolo, the Hawaiian cowboy. According to Hawaii Polo Club, “Polo was introduced in Hawaii not via America, but from Asia, through an Australian cowboy visiting from India.”

For information about Hawaii Polo Club, click here or call (808) 226-0061.

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Photo: Hawaii Polo Club


The National Football League announced last week that it will stage its 2014 Pro Bowl in Hawaii.  The all-star game, in which the NFC (National Football Conference) squares off against the AFC (American Football Conference), is slated for Jan. 26 at Oahu’s Aloha Stadium — one week before East Rutherford, New Jersey hosts Super Bowl XLVIII.

According to news reports, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who considered canceling the 2013 game after complaints about lusterless play in the 2012 game, was encouraged by the level of performance in this year's game, which was played on Jan. 27. The NFC won the game, 62-35. Goodell also said that Hawaii will be included “on some sort of rotational basis” in any future Pro Bowl scheduling.

During the week preceding the game, Pro Bowl Week, fans will have opportunity to meet some of the players and cheerleaders and take part in annual festivities.


The bowl game was held at Aloha Stadium for nearly three decades, from 1980 to 2009. In 2010, it moved to Sun Lite Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. In 2011, the National Football League moved the Pro Bowl back to Aloha Stadium for the first game of a two-year contract keeping it in Hawaii.

In a news release issued by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, its president and chief executive officer, Mike McCartney said: “Following the 2013 Pro Bowl, the HTA maintained ongoing discussions with the NFL to remind them that Hawaii is the home of the Pro Bowl and that there is no better place to host the all-star game.”
McCartney added, “Leading up to next year’s Pro Bowl, the HTA will continue to work with the NFL to improve Pro Bowl Week experiences for residents and visitors, while expanding interest and exposure of the game to markets beyond North America, including Asia and Oceania.

For more information about the NFL Pro Bowl, click here.

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Photos: (top) 2011 Pro Bowl in Hawaii, (bottom) 2010 Pro Bowl in Miami/courtesy of the NFL 

Hawaii_Oahu_Honolulu_museumUp for a Memorial Day weekend in Honolulu filled with Hawaii art, culture and history? Check out Two Museums and a Royal Palace Weekend, a two-day event held at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art, and Iolani Palace.

Among the highlights: the Bishop Museum’s annual Native Hawaiian Arts Market; a sale of contemporary art and jewelry at the Honolulu Museum of Art; and an opportunity to take a look at textile restoration projects under way at Iolani Palace.

A news release issued today by organizers notes that while admission to all three venues normally costs up to $51.70, Hawaii residents will pay $10 and visitors, $19.95 for the a pass to the two-day museum-crawl event slated to get under way on Sat., May 25 and wrap up on Sun. May 26.Hawaii_Oahu_Honolulu_museum

Funded by a grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Two Museums and a Royal Palace was created by Bishop Museum president Blair Collis, Honolulu Museum of Art director Stephan Jost, and Iolani Palace executive director Kippen de Alba Chu to “broaden the local experience for visitors to the Islands and to perpetuate the indigenous host culture.” The event debuted in August with all three venues open for a special night. A second night event was held in January.

For additional information about the Honolulu Museum of Art, which features a collection that includes Hokusai, van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso and Warhol, as well as traditional Asian and Hawaiian art, click here. Click here for more information about the Bishop Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific artifacts and natural history specimens. And click here and here for more details about Iolani Palace, the only official residence of royalty in the United States. 

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Photo (top) Bishop Museum, Tor Johnson; (bottom) Iolani Palace, Joe Solem. Both photos – Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Hawaii_hula_Hilo_Merrie_MonarchNow in fiftieth year, the venerable Merrie Monarch Festival, which will get under way on Sun., March 31 and wrap up on Sat., April 6, features world-class hula competition, exhibitions, musical entertainment, arts-and-craft fairs, and the annual Royal Parade through downtown Hilo. The weeklong event honors the legacy of King David Kalakaua, who was called the “Merrie Monarch” for his love of the arts, especially music and dance.

The hula competition, which was introduced in 1971, spotlights kahiko (ancient) and ‘auana (modern) hula as well as oli (traditional chanting). Despite the festival's devotion to dance, hula competitions were not a part of the inaugural event. In 1963, highlights ranged from campy, with King Kalakaua beard look-alike contest, to commemorative, with a re-creation ceremony enacting the monarch’s coronation.

In the years that followed, organizers endeavored to step up the pageantry by replicating a bit of King Kalakaua’s 50th birthday celebration in 1886, also known as the “Silver Jubilee,” during which Hawai‘i’s top-notch ‘olapa (dancers) and ho‘opa‘a (chanters) performed. Since then, as the event has continued to attract dedicated and talented hula performers and instructors, it has developed a reputation in the hula community as a premier festival.    

For additional information about the Merrie Monarch Fest, click here. Click here for details about television broadcasts and live-streaming video of the competitions.

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Photo: Merrie Monarch Festival

Hawaii_Oahu_Kaui_whale_sanctuary_censusHawaii residents and visitors alike are invited to take part in the third and final round of the annual Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s Ocean Count, which will get under way on Sat., March 30 at more than 60 shore sites edging Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island.

The first two Ocean Count sessions were conducted on Jan. 26 and Feb. 23. This month's session will start at 8 and wrap up at about 12:15 p.m.

Volunteers will count the number of humpback whales spotted during the session. They’ll also record whale behavior. Sound like fun?  For registration details, click here.

The annual count, which started in 2002, relies on volunteer help to estimate whale population and distribution figures in the sanctuary. The census, organized by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), supplements ongoing marine science research.

If you join the ranks of volunteers, expect to be busy. On average, humpback surface to breathe every 10 to 15 minutes, but can remain submerged for as long as 45 minutes. Calves must rise to the surface every three to five minutes. For more information about whale behavior, click here.Hawaii_Oahu_Kaui_whale_sanctuary_census

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.)

Since 2006, the annual count has tracked a steady rise in the humpback whale population visiting the sanctuary. And thanks to the increase in the number of whales gliding along in the channels between the Islands, it is now fairly easy to spot them from shorelines.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary lies within the shallow (less than 600 feet), warm waters surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands, constitutes one of the world's most important humpback whale habitats.

Hawaii is the only state in the nation where humpback whales mate, calve, and nurse their young.  According to NOAA, humpbacks may find the Islands suitable because of warm waters, underwater visibility, variety of ocean depths, and the lack of natural predators. Mothers can be seen breaching alongside their calves and males can be seen competing with one another for females in fierce head-to-head battles.

For more information about the sanctuary and the Ocean Count, click here.

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Photos: Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) HIHWNMS: Fisheries Permit No. 782-171

Hawaii_Kauai_Koloa_heritage_trailDigging my toes into warm, sugary-fine sand at Poipu Beach Park, I exchange a few sidelong glances with a large honu (green sea turtle) parked just yards away at the water’s edge. In complete synch with the Garden Isle’s easygoing vibe, neither of us is in a hurry to leave the lapping waters and midmorning sunshine just yet.

Still, I’m hoping to explore another 13 stops along Kauai’s south shore before the sun goes down—many of them, I hope, as lovely as this one. After slowly gathering up my slippers and daypack, I bid a fond "see you later" to my reptilian neighbor (pictured, above) and leave him to his day of leisure. I’ve got some trail work to do.

My traveling companion and I are following the self-guided, 10-mile Koloa Heritage Trail—in Hawaiian, Ka Ala Hele Waiwai Ho‘oilina o Koloa—which meanders through the resort community of Poipu and nearby former sugar plantation town, Koloa. The path, which winds by cultural, historical and geological sites, each marked by a lava-rock pedestal marker with a descriptive bronze plaque, is open to walkers/runners, cyclists, motorists and anyone else up for catching glimpses of a vast past.

The Poipu Beach Association offers a convenient map, with each of the trail’s 14 stops numbered to keep a sort of linear, non-backtracking route from coastline Spouting Horn Park to Koloa Missionary Church, further inland. But, as Fleetwood Mac once suggested in song, I decide to go my own way.

The marker at the entrance to Poipu  Beach Park (Marker No. 6) focuses on the area’s abundant marine life, which has changed little since early Hawaiians fished these waters and harvested salt in evaporative pools dug out from land near the shore. In addition to swirling schools of tropical fish, eels, sea urchins and the occasional sunbathing honu, rare Hawaiian monk seals are often spotted here swimming or lounging in the sand.


Last fall, we asked our estimated 200,000 HAWAII Magazine print edition readers and website readers to share their “Hawaii best” selections in more than 60 categories. We tallied their picks  — more than 50,000, in all — and compiled them into HAWAII Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards lists that appear in the March/April 2013 issue of HAWAII Magazine.

The categories cover various sorts of hotels and resorts; favorite Hawaiian islands and towns; favorite ways to get to Hawaii; favorite ways to get around while here; shopping favorites, ranging from best shopping center to best aloha shirt company/brand; activities, such as favorite island golf courses to best luau; and, of course, food and drink favorites galore. 

In all, our inaugural HAWAII Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards consist of 372 winners listed in 59 categories. Want a sample?

Listed below are the Readers' Choice top 10 picks for the category of "Best Boutique Hotel."

1. Travaasa Hana (Hana, Maui)

2. The Modern Honolulu ( Waikiki, Oahu)

3. Koa Kea Hotel & Resort (Poipu, Kauai)

4. Hotel Wailea Maui (Wailea-Makena. Maui)

5. Aqua Lotus Honolulu (Waikiki, Oahu)

6. Hotel Renew (Waikiki, Oahu)

7. Hotel Lanai (Lanai City, Lanai)

8. Paia Inn ( Paia, Maui)

9. Wyndham Bali Hai Villas (Princeville, Kauai)

10. Aqua Waikiki Wave (Waikiki, Oahu)

Check out the other 362 picks in the new issue of HAWAII Magazine, which is available in print on shop newsstands nationwide and on the AppleiPad Newsstand.


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Photos: (top) The Modern Honolulu (Waikiki, Oahu); (bottom) Travaasa Hana (Hana, Maui) 

Hawaii_Volcanoes_Kilauea_HalemaumauTomorrow (Tues., March 19), Kilauea Volcano’s summit eruption within Halemaumau Crater will marks its fifth year of continuous activity.

To commemorate the anniversary, rangers at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are offering additional Life on the Edge talks at the Jaggar Museum observation deck, which overlooks the fuming summit vent. The 20-minute talks, which detail the dramatic geological and mythological history tied to Halemaumau Crater, are slated to get under way at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Kilauea’s summit vent opened at 2:58 a.m. (Hawaii time), on March 19, 2008, when an explosive eruption created a gaping hole about 115 feet wide on the south wall of Halemaumau Crater. Nighttime glow from the hole suggested the presence of molten lava. However, it wasn’t until six months later that a lake of roiling lava deep within the vent was definitively observed by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists.  

Since 2008, rock collapses within the vent have enlarged its opening on the floor of Halemaumau Crater.  In a news release issued by Hawaii Volcanoes Park Service and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Jim Kauahikaua, scientist-in-charge at the observatory, said the vent is now about 520 feet by 700 feet (the area of about 21 Olympic-sized pools) and is likely to continue growing through further collapses of overhung sections of the vent rim.Hawaii_Volcanoes_Kilauea_Halemaumau

Kauahikaua described the lava within the vent as a continuously circulating gas-rich “foam” that rises and falls depending on changes in Kilauea’s subsurface magma pressure.  The lava lake reached its highest level to date on Oct. 26, 2012, when the lava surface rose to within 72 feet of the vent rim.  

While the actual lava lake is not visible from safe viewing areas, its glow—the “diffusion of incandescent lava light within the gas plume rising from the vent”—is easily observed from park overlooks on clear nights.  When the lava lake level is especially high, park visitors can sometimes hear the sounds of rocks in the vent wall expanding and cracking due to the increased heat.  

In the news release, said Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said: “The amazing beauty of this eruption, and the ease of viewing opportunities within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, provides both visitors and residents with unforgettable experiences.” She added, “Where else in the world can you park your car, and walk just a few feet to behold the spectacle of one of the world’s most active volcanoes?”

Jaggar Museum and the overlook are wheelchair- and stroller-accessible. Other spots for viewing Halemaumau within the park include Kilauea Overlook, Kilauea Iki Overlook, and Keanakakoi Overlook. For additional information about viewing areas, click here.

Daily updates on Kilauea volcano activity are available at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website.

HawaiiMagazine.com has reported regularly on lava activity at Kilauea volcano and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Click here to catch up with all of our Volcano News posts. You can also follow our updates on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Photos: (top) Park Ranger Dean Gallagher engages visitors with a “Life on the Edge” talk at the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park/National Parks Service; (bottom) lava lake glow at Kilauea volcano’s Halemaumau crater/Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Michael Szoenyi/National Park Service
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