Archive for Honolulu, Oahu

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.

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.

Behold the Malasada!

If you’re ever on Oahu, near Waikiki, and are having a bad case of snack munchies, you’ll enjoy one of Hawaii’s perfect foods – the Malasada.

The Malasada is a pastry item that is somewhat similar to a doughnut. However, the Malasada is fist-sized pastry, and does not have a hole. The basic Malasada is rolled in sweet white sugar, and has an outer brown crust with a slight hint of crunchiness, and a very soft bread-like interior. The effect on your taste buds is devastating. Also, for perfect results, the Malasada must be eaten hot!

Now there may be a few bakeries and restaurants that offer Malasadas in Hawaii, but the finest tasting examples with the perfect texture comes from only one place: Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu. Leonard’s is located on 933 Kapahulu Avenue (phone number: 808-737-5591), just about 5 minutes outside of Waikiki. There is also a smaller Leonard’s Jr. bakery in the Pearl City area at the Waimalu Shopping Plaza. In addition a couple of mobile trailers offer hot Malasadas in various rotating locations around Oahu.

Leonard’s offers Malasadas with fillings as well (chocolate, coconut, guava, etc), but to us, the basic classic version, rolled in white sugar is the best thing around.

The best part? They only cost about 50 cents each! (Of course, you’ll want more than one). How’s that for cheap eats?

Goodbye, Mr. Checkers……

Sad news for those who grew up or lived in Hawaii.

Jim Demarest, who played Mr. Checkers on the long-beloved children’s show “Checkers and Pogo” died on Tuesday in Chicago after a long illness – he was 80 years old.

Demarest was the third actor to play Mr. Checkers, filling the role from 1968 to 1979. Mr. Checkers was the father-like figure to the childlike Pogo Poge, played by Morgan White. Mr. Checkers was known for his checkered clothing and black top hat with checkered band – even while out of character, Demarest was known to wear at least one checkered article of clothing.

If you were a child growing up in Hawaii during that time, it was impossible to miss the highly popular children’s afternoon show.

Demarest’s ashes will be returned to Hawaii, where they will be scattered into the ocean.

Goodbye, Mr. Checkers…….and thank you for all the wonderful memories.

The Halona Blowhole on Oahu

If you’re ever driving around the island of Oahu along its Eastern Shore, make sure you stop for a few minutes at the Halona Blow Hole for a spectacular natural sea show.

A Blow Hole is generally made up of a lava tube or fissure in the lava rock at the ocean’s edge. As the surf rushes toward the rock, the water is compressed as it moves upward, erupting into a spray of water, not unlike a small geyser. During windy, high tide periods, the Blow Hole can spray water up to 30 feet into the air, making for a fantastic natural show. Here’s some video footage of the Halona Blowhole in action:

That’s not all you can see, though. From the viewing point, you can also observe Humpback Whales cavorting in the ocean during the migration season, or view the Honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles) swimming about. If you can, bring a good pair of binoculars with you when you visit.

Please keep your common sense about you, and don’t approach the blow hole beyond the barriers. This area is dangerous, and has resulted in deaths when unsuspecting onlookers were actually sucked into the hole and drowned.

The Blow Hole is located near Oahu’s Sandy Beach and Hanauma Bay, off of Kalanianaole Highway. You’ll see a lookout area on a rock outcropping and a parking lot on the ocean side of the highway, making it hard to miss. The best part? Access is FREE, making it a grand bargain for the largest of groups!

Note that the Honolulu City and County will embark upon a substantial upgrade to the lookout area beginning in 2008, to repair some of the wall areas and repace railing sections. In addition, wheelchair access will also be made available.

The Moana Surfrider in Waikiki on Oahu

If you want to stay in Waikiki during your vacation, consider one of the grand landmarks of Waikiki Beach – the Moana Surfrider Hotel. The hotel is a true gem in Waikiki, one of the original Hotels in the area, and sitting on a prime area of Waikiki Beach.

The Moana Hotel was originally opened in 1901, by wealthy Honolulu landowner Walter Chamberlain Peacock. Constructed mainy of wood, with noteworthy Ionic columns in front, the Moana Hotel had 75 rooms, and was considered the most luxurious and fashionable hotel of its time. It even featured Hawaii’s first electric powered elevator!

From 1935 through 1975, the popular worldwide radio show “Hawaii Calls” was broadcast from the grounds of the Moana. Numerous celebrities also stayed at the Moana, including Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Bing Crosby, Groucho Marx, Joe Dimaggio, Amelia Earhart and more.

In 1952 Matson built a hotel adjacent to the Moana Hotel’s east side, called the Surfrider Hotel. In 1959, the hotel was sold to Sheraton, and in 1969, a new hotel was built on the Moana Hotel’s west side, called the Sheraton Surfrider Hotel. The old Surfrider on the east side then became a wing of the Moana Hotel.

The hotel underwent a significant $50 million renovation in 1989, restoring the original 1901 appearance of the Moana Hotel. Much of the wood structure, trim, and architectural elements were carefully restored. As a result, the two wings of the hotel were joined with the Moana into one structure, with the main lobby in the central building – the new hotel was called the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel.

The hotel was purchased by Japanese brothers Kenji Osano and Masakuni Osano, under their Kyo-Ya Company in 1974. Today, the hotel continues to be owned by the Osano family. However, in June of 2007, the hotel’s management and branding changed to Westin – now called the Westin Moana Surfrider Hotel.

The Westin Moana Surfrider includes 793 rooms, which include 46 suites, 2 restaurants, and a freshwater pool.

When booking rooms you can request rooms in the older area of the hotel, which tend to be smaller in size (by today’s standards), but are restored to their original 1900’s splendor. If you desire larger rooms, you can stay in one of the more recent wing areas. The main lobby area is remarkable, with expansive wooden floors and wooden structural elements (stairs, railings, trim).

Given its luxury roots and newly restored splendor, the Hotel is on the pricier side, both in room rates and in restaurant costs. However, being in the heart of Waikiki provides literally hundreds of dining alternatives for the visitor.

Even if you are not staying at the hotel, it is well worth walking through the lobby of the Moana, where you can once again experience the splendor of old Hawaii.

Humpback Whales in Hawaii

Humpback Whales are beautiful creatures and can be seen in the waters of Hawaii between the months of November and May. They travel thousands of miles south and west to the warmer waters of Hawaii, where they breed, give birth, and nurse their newborns. Newborns, or calves are about 10-15 feet in length and can weigh up to 3000 pounds.

The Humpbacks got their names due to their arching backs as they go partially airborne, just before taking on a deep dive into the ocean. Here’s a photo of a whale breaching the water just before diving:

Humpback Whale In Waters Off Maui

If you are in Hawaii during their migratory period, chances are you will encounter more than one. The Humpback whale is currently an endangered species – from a population high of between 750,000 to 2 million, only 30- to 40,000 are now believed to exist.

Humpback whales produce a song that can last between fifteen to thrity minutes in length. No one really knows exactly why they sing this song, but that it is a sign of their social community and might be part of their navigation mechanism.

Whale watching boat tours are available on the islands of Kauai, Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island of Hawaii. The whales are visible from shore, but if you want a sigificantly closer experience, choose a boating tour. In either case, see them if you can while you are visiting Hawaii. You’ll be amazed with their sheer magnificence and grace!

Honolulu Academy of Arts

If you’re in an artsy mood while in Hawaii, the Honolulu Academy of Arts is the place to visit. The Academy is over 80 years old, and has over 40,000 works of art from around the world. The Academy has been accredited by the American Association of Museums.

One of the really cool things about the Academy is the Antennae Audio Guide. For only $5, you can listen to the electronic guide discuss 40 different pieces of art from the Academy. If you want to take a guided tour, that isn’t a problem. There are four different tour times, Tuesday through Saturday. If you’re Japanese, do not worry. You can get a Japanese tour Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday at 1:00.

The building is also beautiful. In fact, it was once voted as Hawaii’s best building by the American Institute of Architecture. It is also very close to the Waikiki resort area if your hotel is located in the area. In addition, you can grab a quick meal in the Pavilion Cafe as well.

The Honolulu Academy of Arts is such a great attraction for tourists, you could spend an entire day there! Make sure to visit this wondrous place on your next visit to Hawaii.

Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline

For those who are looking to see some serious surfing or waves in Hawaii, Oahu’s North Shore is the place to visit. More specifically, you can see a great surf spot at the Banzai Pipeline.

The Banzai Pipeline name comes from a combination of the surf break – Pipeline – and the beach – Banzai Beach.

Only well experienced surfers should surf there. There are many jagged reef elements and lava spires that can cut you up if you fall.

Surfers have options when surfing the Banzai Pipeline, because there are four waves. The most common is the First Reef, also known as Pipeline. This is the wave that is most surfed, and is most photographed.

It is a sobering place for Surfers – many people have died there while trying to master the treacherous waves. The number of deaths at the Pipeline have earned it the nickname the world’s deadliest wave, since more people have died there than any other surf spot.

If you enjoy watching surfing competitions, you can watch the Pipe Masters, which is the final spot of the WCT (World Championship Tour Surfing). The Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic is also held there every winter. Don’t miss out on experiencing the Banzai Pipeline if you are a true surfing fan.

LOST on the North Shore of Oahu

There they were, a podcast film crew shooting some surfing scenes on the North Shore of Oahu near Sunset Beach.

Then guess who comes walking by???

Yep, that would be Terry ‘O Quinn, who plays John Locke on the hit ABC Show, “LOST”. Some news reports had indicated that ‘O Quinn often walked the beaches of the North Shore, and that he often walked to the show’s “set” on the beach, in order to stay fit, and to achieve the scruffy castaway look.

That gesture he’s flashing is called a “Shaka” sign in Hawaii. The Shaka sign can mean many things in Hawaii, but most often means “Hello/Aloha”, or “Thank you”.

So, the next time you’re watching the waves at Sunset Beach or Banzai Pipeline, keep your eyes peeled! You never know who may be walking by!