Eddie Aikau Big Wave Surf Contest On Alert at Waimea Bay!

With possible giant waves headed toward the North Shore of Oahu at Waimea Bay, organizers of the “Quicksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau” big wave surfing contest have put out the alert that the contest may be on in the next few days, pending surf conditions.

The Eddie Aikau big wave contest is only held at Waimea Bay when waves reach a minimum 20 feet threshold (wave faces of 40 feet).  Note that the National Weather Service is forecasting wave faces of 40-50 feet.

Eddie Aikau was known as a premier big-wave surfer in the 1960’s and 1970’s – lesser known were the countless lives he saved as a Lifeguard on the North Shore.  In March 1978, Eddie served as a crewmember on the maiden voyage of the traditional Hawaiian double-hulled canoe Hokuleia.  Tragedy struck, as not long into the journey, one of the hulls developed a leak and capsized in stormy seas.  Aikau made the decision to set off paddling on his surfboard for Lanai, about 19 miles away to seek help.  While the crew was later discovered and rescued, tragically, Eddie Aikau was never found.  He was 31 years old.

Because of its strict requirements, the Eddie Aikau has only been held seven times during the last 25 years, with the last contest held in December 2004.  Because of the enormity of the waves and the serious danger involved, only 28 big-wave surfers from around the world are invited.

The wave swells are being monitored every day by contest officials, and as such, the contest could go forward or be cancelled depending on conditions.  That being said, the target dates for the big wave contest are December 7, December 8, or December 9.

For more details, visit the official Eddie Aikau Big Wave Contest website.


Because of the event’s exclusivity, rarity, and spirituality (in memory of Eddie Aikau), the event draws international attention when it is held.

If you’re in Hawaii when the contest goes on, and you want to attend, expect an extreme traffic jam in the North Shore.  Also expect to park far away from Waimea Bay and do some walking to get to the site.

And while you’re at it, if you’re so inclined, say a silent prayer for Eddie too.

Chef Mavro Earns AAA Five Diamond Award

Congratulations to Oahu restaurant, Chef Mavro, for earning the AAA Five Diamond Award – the first independent, non-hotel restaurant to do so in Hawaii.

The restaurant is the namesake of George Mavrothalassitis, a James Beard Foundation award winner, and one of the founding members of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, widely recognized as the renaissance of modern fine dining in the state of Hawaii.

Mavrothalassitis was born in Marseilles, France, where he honed his culinary skills and owned and operated two restaurants. He emigrated to Hawaii in 1988, entranced by the state’s beauty, the multi-cultural atmosphere, and the local foods of Hawaii.

He was previously executive Chef at the La Mer restaurant in the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, another Five Diamond Award winner.

This award is a big deal – other past winners include the French Laundry in Napa Valley, Gary Danko in San Francisco, Alinea in Chicago, Alain Ducasse, to name a few.

So, if you find yourself on Oahu, don’t forget Chef Mavro, for a fine dining experience. We imagine that the restaurant’s already popular profile will go even higher, so get those reservations in early!

Congratulations Chef Mavro!

Chef Mavro
1969 South King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96826
Phone: 808-944-4714
Reservations required!

Big Waves on the North Shore

Talk about a nice coincidence.

Just in time for the annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the big waves are coming into the famed North Shore of Oahu.

The first “Crown” begins with the Reef Hawaiian Pro, held in Haleiwa at Alii Beach Park, and runs from November 12-23, waves permitting.

Reports indicate waves at 12-15 feet, while forecasts are indicating waves running as high as 15-20 feet.

Conditions are good, and the crowds are large.

The nice thing about this annual spectacle – the admission is FREE.

During these conditions, it is highly advised that swimmers, waders, and amateur surfers stay out of the waves, as conditions can be very dangerous. Respect the waves from a comfortable vantage point on the warm sand.

The Best Saimin in Hawaii?

If you find yourself on the Island of Kauai, and you want to go to a genuine local secret, then you have to visit the Hamura Saimin Stand in Lihue.

What is saimin, you ask? Saimin is a Japanese soup filled with long thin noodles, and filled with all manner of extras. The broth is typically a fish stock, or a combo stock (fish, pork, etc.). The extras typically include char siu (a sweet Chinese pork, generally red in color),ham, green onions, kamaboko (a firm fish cake), soy sauce, mustard, and other assorted vegetables and meats. It is a staple comfort food for local Hawaii Residents. If you remember the “Cup-a-Noodle” soups you ate in college, you get the general idea – however, think of a much larger bowl with freshly prepared ingredients – quite the difference.

Keep in mind that the Hamura Saimin Stand is not fancy at all……..one could call it a totally unpretentious hole-in-the-wall. Of course, we all know that some of the best food comes from these kinds of establishments.

It’s a simple place, where you’ll sit on stools at a counter. A waitress will come to take your order, and everything generally moves pretty fast, so be prepared. During regular mealtimes, expect to stand in line to wait for available table space.

At Hamura’s, the noodles are freshly made and cooked on order (not frozen like you’ll find at other restaurants or at the supermarket). You won’t find many other dishes here – the Saimin is the real star. Local residents consider Hamura’s saimin to arguably be the best in the state.

The Saimin runs about $4-$6 per bowl, and is a filling, complete meal in itself. One of the best bargains around! With the low prices, they don’t take credit cards – only cash.

Oh, and if you don’t think such a place has any gastronomical “street cred”, note that it recently won a prestigious James Beard Award for “American Classics”!!!

Tip: For dessert, try the Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) Chiffon pie to go.

2956 Kress St.
Lihu’e, Kauai
Phone: (808) 245-3271
Hours: 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday.
No reservations.

Traditional Kalua Pig Cooking in Hawaii

One of the traditional Hawaiian dishes that you may come across in Hawaii is Kalua pork (or Kalua pig). The word “kalua” is a Hawaiian word that refers to cooking in an underground oven or Hawaiian “imu”.

Typically, a large pit is dug in the ground, and lava rocks are heated over an open flame until they are extremely hot. The rocks are placed in the pit, which is lined with greenery such as banana leaves or ti leaves (they insulate, aid the steaming process, and add flavor). A cleaned whole pig (seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt) is placed inside the hot pit and then covered with more greenery for insulation and flavor – it is then covered with a protective covering, more soil, and left to cook through the day (about 8 hours).

Kalua pork (cooked in the traditional method) is typically served at Hawaiian Luaus, or family gatherings or parties. One can also find kalua pig in restaurants (typically smoked in a traditional smoker or oven). It is typically served with steamed white rice and/or poi (a taro root paste).

The pork meat falls off the bone, and is typically very tender and moist, with a slightly salty, smoky flavor that is just delicious.

If you have an opportunity, give kalua pork a try in Hawaii!

Here’s a really nice video showcasing the finished pig coming out of the underground imu/oven:

Are you hungry yet???

Ride the Hawaii Superferry

On Sunday, the “Alakai”, Hawaii’s first ever Superferry arrived in Honolulu Harbor, completing a long 7,600 mile voyage from Mobile, Alabama. The Superferry is a catamaran style watercraft, 349 feet long, and designed to carry passengers and cars between Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. It has 4 jet engines and can travel at 35 knots.

It can carry 866 people and 282 cars per trip. In 2009, another Superferry will be added to the fleet, and will travel between Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Service is scheduled to begin on September 5, 2007, although service may begin sooner than that. Service originates from Honolulu Harbor at Pier 19.

One way fares range between $44 and $62 for passengers and between $59 and $104 for cars through large vans. Travel from Oahu to Kauai, or Oahu to Maui takes about 3 hours. Travel from Oahu to the Big Island of Hawaii (beginning 2009) will take about 4 1/4 hours.

The Ferry includes dining areas, reclining seats, a “premium” forward deck area with leather seating ($20 upgrade), TV and movie viewing areas, a small gift shop, and a children’s play area. Cell Phone and Wi-Fi service is also available (subject to possible interruption during certain portions of the trip).

Reservations can be made at www.HawaiiSuperferry.com, or by calling toll free at 877-443-3779.

Discover Polynesia at the Polynesian Cultural Center

If you’re traveling with your family, consider the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii, on the northern portion of Oahu.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is a large cultural theme park, dedicated to sharing the culture of Polynesia to visitors. The Center includes Villages covering Hawaii, Samoa, Aotearoa (Maori New Zealand), Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, and the Marquesas.

Each of the villages includes traditional dwellings that you can explore, and each has scheduled activities during the day. For example, you’ll learn about Hula, and also how Poi (a Hawaiian staple food) is made from cooked taro root, see how flower lei are made, and perhaps have a chance to play Ulu Maika (a Hawaiian game similar to bowling). In Samoa, you’ll learn how to make fire with two sticks, how to crack open a coconut, and see the men of Samoa scale 40-foot tall Coconut trees. At Aotearoa (Maori New Zealand), you’ll see the haka dance, play tititorea (a stick game), and receive temporary tattoos. And there’s much more at the other villages too!

Other attractions at the Center include a Rapa Nui area (Easter Island), Hawaii Mission Settlement, and a tour of Laie. Every afternoon, the Rainbows of Paradise water borne show, on the Center’s Lagoon area, showcases the various dances of the different Polynesian cultures on floating double-hulled canoes.

There is also an evening show “Horizons: Where the Sea Meets the Sky” at the 2,800 seat Pacific Theature, featuring music and dance from Polynesia……….one big highlight is the Samoan Fire Dance, which is highly entertaining.

The Polynesian Cultural center also has Hawaii’s only IMAX theatre, where you and your family can enjoy the “Coral Reef Adventure”, exploring the underwater reefs in Polynesia and the sea animals living in and around them.

For more information, visit the Polynesian Cultural Center website, or call 800-367-7060 (808-293-3333) to get information about various ticket options.

Tip: The website tends to promote mainly the all-inclusive packages, which include dinners and the show. The Center does sell day passes for villages, and meal tickets for lunch as well, to suit your needs – for those, you need to call in.

Tip 2: The Polynesian Cultural Center is a large park. Its best to budget the better part of a day for travel time (one hour from Waikiki – a very scenic drive), and to view the numerous villages. Some hotels offer shuttles to the Center – check with your hotel.

Lava Flow to Pacific Ocean Stops on Big Island of Hawaii

We reported yesterday about the surge of Earthquakes at Volcanoes National Park.

The earthquake activity seems to have subsided, and parts of the Chain of Craters Road near Kilauea Crater have been reopened.

However it appears that the lava flow to the Pacific Ocean has stopped, and the former steam plume is now reduced to a few wisps.

Even if you wanted to catch the tail end of the lava flow into the ocean, you’d be out of luck, as Park Rangers have closed the road leading to the area, for safety reasons. Here’s a photo of the area taken by the National Park Service in earlier times:

Lava Flows into the Pacific Ocean at Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii

Stay tuned, as this change in volcanic activity could be a sign of magma breaking to the surface in another location!

Earthquakes Signal Possible Change In Volcanic Activity at Kilauea

There have been swarms of small earthquakes hitting the upper East Rift of the Big Island’s Kilauea Volcano yesterday and today. On Sunday alone, the U.S. Geological Survey reported over 260 small quakes in the vicinity.

Many of the roads in Volcanoes National Park have been closed as a precaution, including the Chain or Craters Road. Potential dangers to sightseers, campers, and hikers can include road damage, molten lava cutting off escape access, poisonous gas venting, or brush fires caused by the lava.

Early indications are that there might be a shift in the flow of molten magma. The earthquakes could signal a change in the eruption, from lava flowing into new underground cavities in the volcano, or a new surface breakout of lava.

You can get more information on road closures from the National Park Service Website at: www.nps.gov/havo or call 808-985-6000.

If you’re ever visiting Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, it is always a good idea to check for updates, road warnings, or any other significant activity at the Park Service’s website.

Roy’s Restaurant on Oahu

Chances are you may have heard of Roy’s Restaurant. You might even have one in near you if you live in the Continental U.S. or in Japan.

However, the original Roy’s, the granddaddy of them all, is located on the island of Oahu, in Hawaii Kai in East Honolulu.

Roy Yamaguchi founded the original Roy’s back in 1988. Born in Tokyo, Roy often visited his Grandparents in Maui, and had fond memories of the varied seafood available at the seaside piers. Yamaguchi graduated from the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in New York at age 19. After several years in Los Angeles (including running his own restaurant 385 North), Yamaguchi moved to Hawaii to open Roy’s.

Soon afterward, Roy’s cuisine was being hailed by numerous notable Food magazines, and he was also Hawaii’s first James Beard award winner. He is also credited as being one of the 12 founders of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement in Hawaii, which vaulted Hawaii Cuisine into international attention.

Roy’s now has 35 locations, including 7 in Hawaii, 2 in Japan, 1 in Guam, and 25 in the Mainland U.S.

The Hawaii Kai location is Yamaguchi’s “home base”, and is widely recognized as amongst the best of the Roy’s locations. If you’re ever in Honolulu, be sure to get out to the Roy’s Hawaii Kai location at 6600 Kalanianaole Highway.

If available, be sure to sample the Steamed Moi, a delicate white fish that is exclusively ocean grown and sourced from Hawaii, the Misoyaki Butterfish, or the charbroiled Short Ribs.

If you’re a foodie, search this restaurant out during your travels. The Hawaii Kai location also offers spectacular views of the sunset off the ocean, and is away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki.