Hawaii : Waikiki Beach

Located on the south shore of Honolulu, the world-famous neighborhood of Waikiki was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. Known in Hawaiian as "spouting waters", Waikiki was introduced to the world when its first hotel, the Moana Surfrider, was built on its shores in 1901.

Those of you who followed through our adventure in Hawaii, will remember Duke Kahanamoku, aka the father of surf. He grew up surfing the waves of Waikiki and actually taught visitors how to surf at the turn of the century . Today, the Waikiki Beach Boys perpetuate Duke’s legacy by teaching visitors how to surf and canoe and the Duke Kahanamoku Statue has become an iconic symbol of Waikiki.

You can surf, swim, snorkel, stand-up paddle & find amazing things - like green sea turtles!

Obviously, there is sun too. In Xmas time, what could be beat a Santa Serenata?

Meanwhile, peep at Diamond Head and wonder about his concrete heart. What's hiding inside?

Nope, it isn't cushions!

Yeah. It happens to be one of those places you don't wanna leave.
View Post


Oahu : Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor, west of Honolulu. Much of it's a US Navy deep-water naval base, which serves as headquarters of the US Pacific Fleet too. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan at 7:20AM on Sunday, December 7, 1941 brought the United States into World War II.

The most amazing (and destructive) details of the attack remain unseen, even after watching the movie. While Americans looked down on Japan, essentially laughing at anyone speaking of them as potential enemy, they proved themselves smarter, excellent, organized and patient:
- They optimized their torpedos, so they would work even in shallow harbor waters.
- Their wooden fins made torpedos to smoothly flow in the sea after being dropped by a plane.
- They came up with a completely refurbished boat design, to carry planes to Hawaiian waters
- They created radio confusion, silence and noise, till it was too late.

They hit once, where it hurt the most. So I recommend you, after reading this, to go ahead and watch Pearl Harbor again. Focus on the details, on the dialogues, on the risk assessments and their ignorance by high management. There's war out there today, in the shape of the economical downturn.

War teaches us all, how to be more aware, identify risks, opportunities & act accordingly.

There are two memorials, for the boats that sunk during the bombing & became floating tomb for thousands of marines who simply didn't have time to exit the boat before it was too late.

It's not occasional. Hawaii has the rainbow plate for a good reason!

A rainbow is only visible when the sun is low in the sky, the viewer has his back to the sun, and there are water droplets in the air in front. Often, the most ideal conditions are a brief rain shower followed by sunlight. In most of the World, it is during the spring season that rainbows might be seen right after short lasting rain showers. But in Hawaii, the geography is filled with windward mountains that produce daily, brief rain showers. Together with the Tropical Sun, the equation brings an obvious result : Rainbow!!

After smiling at the cute sky that made the submarine fire rainbows… I went into heavy duties!

It was soon time to leave back to Waikiki - in the Oahu Public Bus - and find some dinner at Ala Moana, one of the biggest shopping malls in the world. It's like a huge village of luxury, where Japanese go CRAZY over luxury branded goods.

That's actually the worst about Waikiki. It's ALL ABOUT shopping! They have a trolley bus going around the shopping malls - it's called the PINK LINE.

If you ask me, this is the most ridiculous thing ever. Seriously, do you get into a plane (that costs over 1000€) just to shop luxury in a Pacific Island? The dollar is oh-not-so-cheap-anymore anyway, but if you like shopping… This is the place to be. Waikiki is all about having 1 big beach where you can bath, surf & even see some sea turtle (we got to Stand-Up Paddle with one) if you ever get tired of shopping in those hundred-thousand shopping malls.

Luckily, shopping mall means also restaurants all over the place & even… Salad buffé with my favourite-from-now-on dried blueberries on the greens.

Some beer for my baby.

Some grilled fish for me.

Loco-moco [recipe] the local staple, crazy explosion of calories consisting of:
- Rice
- Fried Egg
- Brown Gravy
- Hamburger

There are many people who claim to have invented Loco Moco, but it is generally agreed that around 1949, either the Cafe 100 or the Lincoln Grill (both in Hilo, Hawaii) originated the first dish of Loco Moco.

The dish was created for teenagers who wanted something different from typical American sandwiches and less time-consuming than Asian food to eat for breakfast. The nickname of the first boy to eat this concoction was Loco (crazy in Portuguese and Hawaiian pidgin). Moco rhymed with loco and sounded great, so Loco Moco became the name of the dish.
View Post


Hawaii : Wailoa River State Park, Hilo

The heart of Hilo was devastated twice by tsunamis, so the areas nearby the shore are mainly inhabited and replaced by this beautiful park (built in the former Japanese neighborhood, sadly devastated by the tsunami in 1960).

View Post


Hawaii : Vanilla Company

Hawaiian Vanilla Company is the fancy name of a family-owned farm growing some of the best beans in the world. Besides from being the most amazing perfume ever, vanilla is a great spice, not only because of its flavor but also due to its ability to blend other essences into a balanced concoction.

The Hawaiian Vanilla Co. holds the distinction of being the only commercial vanilla farm in the United States.

View Post


Hawaii : Filthy Farmgirl of Puna

En España, los domingos se va al rastro.
En Puna, los domingos se va al Maku'u Craft & Farmer's Market.

Puna's Maku'u Crafts & Farmers Market is a major Sunday attraction, where an open space turns into a hippy town of organic fruit, physic channeling, orchids, jewelry, sarongs & home-grown cosmetic treats.

View Post


Hawaii : Volcano's Secrets

Aloha Crater Lodge is a hidden spot in the middle of the jungle. Think of old style kistch and 50's classics playing non-stop on the TV, big bathtub, just P·E·R·F·E·C·T after a long day hiking.

I'm sure my friend Yoko would love this decoration, colorful & cozy. Natural but thought-thru is really welcoming when you get there, the nights get chilly in the Mountain so the portable heater comes in handy (not to mention the bananas, the home-made granola & fresh milk waiting at the fridge). One bottle of wine was missing and I would have just moved there.

So after a great breakfast, amid the rainy jungle, we got the owner to take us a secret lava tube.

Here, with the helmets. NOTE : Mine is actually leopard print.

Hiking, to the entrance of the cave.

Climbing down, along scary stairs.

This had not been planned in advance. Hence my completely inappropriate attire.

The Hawaii’s Kazamura Cave is the world’s longest lava tube with 65.5 km of passages mapped.

It was created round 700 years ago by an especially large and long-lasting eruption of Kilauea volcano. The cave is a showcase of lava formations and flow features. This cave pierces the underground from one side to another. We just walked along a 2km and believe me, it turned out to be pretty TOUGH. Complete darkness, rugged rocks. I got something under my skin and a jagged ankle - as usual - but it was well worth the effort.

Cool colors & moss that doesn't even need light to grow.

For once, a picture with both of us! Yes. I was a bit traumatized - but as most of you know I am kind of a claustrophobic person.

View Post


Hawaii : Dining & staying in Hilo

Hilo is the second largest city in the Big Island of Hawaii. It is located on the East side of the Island (which is the biggest of the chain, as shown in the Heineken neon below). It's rainy, it's exposed to tragedy (was devastated by tsunamis in 1946 and 1960) but also keeps the charm of a hippy paradise. 

In Hilo, we stayed at Hilltop Legacy Inn and we LOVED it. It's essentially the most beautiful lodge, with a magic garden, cute cats & fresh papaya served in fine porcelain for breakfast. Free WiFi, free parking, calm nights and the nicest host ever (Jay). 

Lucky us, we found an offer for the Legacy Suite. Check Jay's gallery (it's worth it).

Locals outnumber you, diners are less fuss & more of a great deal. See below, one of the best burgers & beer that Enrique tried in the islands.

View Post


Hawaii : Pu'uhonua o Honaunau

On the black lava flats of the southern Kona Coast, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau keeps a taste of the ancient life in Hawaii. The site is split in two parts, the royal grounds - where the ali'i established their residence - and the pu'uhonua - where the defeated warriors, noncombatants in time of war and those who violated kapu could find a refugee.

In the early days of Hawaii (up until 1819), Hawaiian life was ruled by kapu a system of sacred laws that instructed every single step in daily life in a layered society that reminds a lot of the Indian caste system:
· Aliʻi: Chiefs of the realms, who governed with divine power called mana.
· Kahuna: Priests as well as professionals (carpenters, boatbuilders, chanters, dancers and healers)
· Makaʻainana: Commoners that farmed, fished, and exercised the simpler crafts. Of course, they labored for themselves and for the chiefs and kahuna.
· Kauwa: Believed to have been war captives, or their descendants. They worked for the chiefs and were often used as human sacrifices at the luakini heiau.

Marriage between higher castes and the kauwa was strictly forbidden. Changing caste was therefore impossible, for everyone. Kauwa were not the only sacrifices. Law-breakers of all castes or defeated opponents were also fine.

Here's when the Pu'uhonua kicks in. Imagine that you are a maka'ainana who happen to step on the kahuna's shadow. Mistake. Now, you are bound to death unless… After being thrown into the rough sea of sharks (like Hawaii's) you manage to swim through it and reach the Place of Refugee - pu'uhonua - in the bay of Honaunau.

View Post


Hawaii : Volcanoes National Park III - Lava chasing in Kalapana

View Post


Hawaii : Green Sea Turtle

A las tortugas verdes, les gustan las aguas calentitas. De ahí que habiten los mares tropicales. Pueden crecer hasta 1,66 m de longitud y normalmente pesan unos 200kg. Necesitan salir a la superficie a respirar, por lo que es normal verlas salir a respirar frecuentemente mientras que nadan en aguas costeras poco profundas ricas en coral & alga, de las que se alimentan. Sin embargo, pueden entrar en modo ahorro y pegarse horas inmóviles en el fondo del mar - sin consumir aire ni necesitar respirar.

A la playa, vienen a descansar y a dejar sus huevos.

Es curioso porque, a pesar de migrar grandes distancias entre sus lugares de residencia y nacimiento (en torno a 3000km) siempre vuelven a la misma playa donde nacieron, para aparearse. Ellas, cada cuatro años. Ellos, cada año. Sin embargo, son ellas las que controlan la relación - pues el macho no puede forzarlas a aparearse.

Las hembras salen del agua, dejando sus huevos en lugares selectos. Tras 2 meses, las tortuguitas salen del cascarón en la noche y se dirigen hacia el agua. Ésta es la etapa más peligrosa en la vida de una tortuga, ya que las gaviotas y cangrejos están al acecho - muchas no llegarán al agua.

Es una pena, pero están en grave peligro de extinción consecuencia de las construcciones en línea de costa, la pesca y la contaminación.

Afortunadamente, Punalu'u Beach Park es un sitio seguro, donde retornan cada año a desovar. La playa de arena negra, situada al sur de la Gran Isla de Hawaii (en Ka'u) honra a Kailua una diosa que se convertía de humano a tortuga y viceversa, para proteger a los niños mientras jugaban en el mar.

View Post


Hawai : Volcanoes National Park II - Pu'u Huluhulu

In Hawaiian, Pu'u Huluhulu means shaggy hill. This trail is quite a cool & short hike, both for the view of other grand volcanoes (such as Mauna Loa & Mauna Kea) and the crack in which the Earth broke in 1969, just before starting to puke lava.

View Post


Hawaii : Café Ohi'a

Between hikes, it's always good to refill energy with a great sandwich. Café Ohi'a was much better than I could expect (from any sandwich place in the world) as they offered master veggie blends, so you could pick'n'mix your ingredients without any impact on the price.

Kind service, cheap coffee refill.

Portion sizing deserves a separate comment, as they were MAJOR! I mean, what it looks - for the average European eye - as double is actually one sandwich (whereas mine… Was half!!). After this, we understood why their price was relatively hight (about 7$ each) but well worth it.

Café Ohi'a [MAP]
19 Haunani Road Volcano, HI 96785

View Post


Hawaii : Volcanoes National Park I - Kilauea

With three active volcanoes and a geological history dating (at least) 70 million years, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an ideal destination for hiking & camping apart from being the only Unesco World Heritage Site of Hawaii.

These Volcanoes are all active. Amazing on one hand, but may turn dangerous provided you don't get the right information before starting to walk. Always start your visit at the Kilauea Visitor Center where they will kindly update you on which trails are open and recommend a route, based on your availability in terms of time, attire & physical condition.

As we are into walking (I even bought those fugly shoes to protect my toes from scratches), we picked Kīlauea to start with. This shield volcano is the most active of the five volcanoes in the island of Hawaiʻi.

What is a shield volcano? Why do we care at all? Well, it turns out that these type of volcanoes lack the explosive gases of the dramatic (read : deadly) strato volcanoes that throw ash & flaming rocks into the air. This makes it possible to hike around the caldera (even while its eruption is still ongoing) and to chase their lava flows (something we will experience later on).

Next, some imagery on the Kilauea Iki Trail. 6km loop around the crater, perfect morning trail.

View Post


Hawaii : Luau

Shaka man! Welcome to the Luau!

Se conoce como luau a una gran comilona de cerdo asado en horno Polinesio - básicamente enterrado con piedras a 300C durante 8h - hula y danzas de fuego. Todos los hoteles organizan este tipo de evento, al que la mayoría de los turistas asisten - como mínimo una vez - durante su estancia en Hawaii. 

La mayoría se va sin entender que el luau representa la ruptura de los Hawaiianos con sus sistema tradicional y que fue creado hace relativamente poco, cuando en 1819, el rey Kamehameha II (hijo de aquel que unificó las islas en un reino) decidió abolir las reglas que prohibían que las mujeres disfrutaran en estos eventos (no podían asistir, ni cocinar, ni probar el plátano, el cerdo o según que pescado).

Bienvenidos... Al despiporre Hawaiian Style!

Before contact with the western world, Hawaiians called their important feasts an 'aha'aina (‘aha – gathering and ‘aina – meal). These feasts marked special occasions — such as reaching a significant life milestone, victory at war, the launching of a new canoe or a great endeavor.

They believed in celebrating these occasions with their friends and families.

Historically, the food and practices observed at an 'aha 'aina were rich with symbolism and the entire event was designed to unite the participants, similar to the way the old Hawaiians braided strands of coconut husk fiber, or sennit, into thicker 'aha cords and rope. Certain foods represented strength while the names or attributes of other foods related to virtues or goals the participants hoped to achieve.

There were also certain foods that were off limits to commoners and women. Such delicacies included moi (exquisite tasting near-shore reef fish), pork, and bananas were forbidden to all but the Alii (chiefs of ancient Hawai'i) including the great King Kamehameha. Men and women also ate separately during meals.

In 1819 King Kamehameha II ended traditional religious practices. To celebrate this event he feasted with women to signify major societal changes. Shortly after, the term luau gradually replaced 'aha 'aina. Luau, in Hawaiian is actually the name of the taro leaf, which when young and small is cooked like spinach. The traditional luau was eaten on the floor over lauhala (leaves of the hala tree were weaved together) mats. Luau attendees enjoyed poi (staple of Polynesian food made from the corm of the taro plant), dried fish, and pork cooked in the traditional Hawaiian imu (underground oven), sweet potatoes, bananas and everything was eaten with one’s fingers.

While the sun sets, the party warms up on free-bar MaiTais

The luau pig is about to be taken out of the imu (underground oven), first event of the afternoon.

Tourist Style.

Digging deep.

Unwrapping the pig, smoked on its own fat & hot volcanic stones.

Some tropical leaves, for flavour.

Here it is! Say 1,2,3 and we carry back!

All you can eat AND drink - Welcome to America!

With full plates and full glasses, we are all set for the show to start.

High speed hula, drums and hips shaking all at a time.

Hula as if it was the Merrie Monarch Festival. This festivity was created in 1963 in Hilo. It actually honors King David Kalakaua (1863-91) who fought hard to revive Hawaiian culture and arts, including hula, which had been forbidden by missionaries for almost 70 years.

Hula is now very popular all over the world and particularly, in Japan, where your average gym (i.e. like mine) offers Hula classes as it's done for belly dance.

Some Polynesian songs...

… and poi.

Finally, the fire dance!!

Yeah! The guy was on fire - in all senses.

The food was actually quite nice, but we felt really bad during the day after. Probably we ate too much or they put some artificial smoke in the pig's meat, because that thirst was… Unbelievable!

Either way, it was cheaper than the cheapest in Oahu and conveniently held at our hotel :)
View Post
© dontplayahate. All rights reserved.