Waikiki Hula on the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound

Watching graceful hula dancers is one of my favorite activities during visits to Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Many nights during the week you can watch a hula show for free at Kuhio Beach Hula Mound on Waikiki Beach. Located just east of the famous Duke Kahanamoku statue, you won’t miss the crowds filling in just before show time. The Hawaiian hula is a living record of the island’s history and legends of the Hawaiian people. The dancers’ movements, music and chanting combine to tell the stories of their forefathers.

The show starts after the tiki torch lighting which adds to the festive atmosphere. The outdoor shows feature local hula dancers ranging from novice keiki (children) to aunties (adults). I like to go to the show multiple nights to watch different halau (dance groups) perform. Each group has its own repertoire of songs, costumes and instruments.

Hula Kuhio Mound Waikiki

If you are anywhere along the beach, you will know the show is about to begin when you hear the traditional blowing of the conch shell. Sometimes a torch lighter joins them as they make their way along the beach. This alerts vacationers to get their spot so as not to miss the start of the show. Bring a beach chair or pick up an inexpensive beach mat from any of the local quick marts and grab a spot near the mound.

Usually a narrator will introduce the history of Hawaiian culture and language to the group. Before the dancers begin, you will learn about each song’s message and the story it tells.

These dancers may wear traditional hula attire or more modern dress. To make the time-honored hula skirts, the dancers harvest and treat the long flat leaves of the green ti plant. Colorful tropical flowers are fashioned into beautiful, fragrant leis. A variety of nuts grown in the islands are strung together as necklaces.

Dancers share the mound with vocalists who chant and sing the traditional stories. Musicians join in with their mix of modern and traditional instruments to make each tale come alive. The large drums made of gourds or tree trunks have a full sound which carries along the beach.

Weather-permitting, you can catch these hula shows Tues., Thurs. and Sat. at 6:30-7:30 p.m. (6:00-7:00 Nov.-Jan). These hula shows are one of my favorite stops on trips to Waikiki. Check out these shows often to learn more about the people and culture of the Hawaiian island. Aloha…

Honolulu Waikiki Toys for Tots motorcycle parade SBU 2011

Street Biker United Oahu hosted the 37th annual Toys for Tots motorcycle parade December 4, 2011. The ride starts in Honolulu at Magic Island continues through Waikiki ending at Kapiolani Community College. Marines collect the toys which are distributed to Hawaii girls and boys.

This event is organized by President Rick Davis and Public Relations Officer Ray Pagan of the Street Bikers United Oahu chapter. About 4,000 riders from all over Hawaii, mainland and Japan participate.

Tourist in Waikiki stop to watch the bikes as the roll by many with large toys on the front or back. Riders often dress in holiday garb.

Click on the image below to see video of the 2011 Toys for Tots ride in Honolulu.

70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Attack

In the early morning hours of December 7, 1941, Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor Hawaii. Before the day was over, the Unites States lost airplanes, battleship and many lives in this surprise attack.

This week, we remember the 70th anniversary of this World War II milestone with events at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The brand new visitor center was opened on Pearl Harbor day of 2010 as part of the final reunion of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Members of this group are in their 90’s and many find it hard to travel long distances to these gatherings.

We are fortunate to have met several of these heroes and are touched by  their stories.

A visit Ford Island and Pearl Harbor is moving. Sites include the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Oklahoma Memorial, USS Bowfin, USS Missouri and Pacific Aviation Museum. Nearby Punchbowl National Cemetery is nestled in a volcanic crater and narrates the war time timeline through mosaics.

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, we share stories of service men who were at Pearl Harbor during the bombings and we were fortunate to meet these Pearl Harbor survivors. The personal stories they tell are much more powerful than reading history in books. These gentlemen in their 80s and 90s have plenty of spunk and courage. Read their stories, see picture and watch video of our heroes. Click on the links below to hear their testimonials.

Arizona Memorail in Pearl Harbor Honolulu Hawaii

Aloha from Beautiful Hawaiian Island of Maui!

Aloha from beautiful island of Maui! As a resident of Hawaii and a travel agent I make it a point to experience the islands as my clients would during their stay. This includes checking out hotels, resorts, and condos in Hawaii as well as tours and excursions.

Today’s blog is about my recent trip to the island of Hawaii aka “The Big Island.”  There is much to see and do on “The Big Island” for example, visit an active volcano, check out a black sands beach, ride horseback in a remote valley, and more!

During my 3 day stay I stayed on the Kona side of the island for 1 night and 2 nights on the Waikoloa side. Both locations would be the resort side of the islands. Kona town is very laid back. It reminds me of Front Street in Lahaina, Maui 20 years ago.

There are many great places to eat, shop and drink. One of my favorites and a “must do” when in Hawaii  is the Kona Brewing Company.

 

Waves at Laupahoehoe Point

Waves at Laupahoehoe Point. Photo credit Hawaii Visitor Bureau

The other 2 nights I stayed in the more deluxe or luxury location on the island. This would be on the Kohala Coast in Waikoloa. Here you are surrounded by lava fields and 2 of the prettiest sandy beaches in Hawaii. The Big island of Hawaii does not have a lot of sandy beaches, so this location is great if you are a beach person.

Purple Orchids

Purple Orchids Photo credit Hawaii Visitor Bureau

The Kohala Coast is world renown for their golf courses with spectacular mountain and ocean views. There are 20 golf course on Hawaii’s Big Island, many that are carved out of ancient lava flows and meander past historical Hawaiian landmarks.

Hot magma flowing from Hawaiian Volcanoes

Hot magma flowing into the sea from Hawaiian Volcanoes Photo credit Hawaii Visitor Bureau

Another fun thing to do is to go on a 2 hour dinner cruise. This is a great way to get out and enjoy the water and the great views that Hawaii has to offer.  This is a great activity for honeymooners!

Hawaii Revealed Books Review

People often ask me how we find off the beaten path places the “Where Are You Today?” crew visits. Many of our travel ideas come from reading books, magazines, newspapers and blogs.

The books we use the most are the “Revealed” series of books by Andrew Doughty and Harriet Friedman. The candid reviews tell it like it is. If you are planning a trip to the Hawaiian islands, I highly recommend these books for your trip.

These books were our constant companions on our first trips and enhanced our experience. The activities and hotel information we not sugar coated. The margins of our books are filled with notes and additional facts we add each trip back. The publisher posts updates on a website so the content stays up to date.

Mars? No. Haleakala National Park Maui, Hawaii

Mars? No. Haleakala National Park Maui, Hawaii. Photo credit: Noel F. Williams

Oahu

Oahu was the first Hawaiian island we visited. We purchased for the in depth activity and sightseeing information. Detailed reviews and aerial photos of hotels combined with zoned maps gave us the tools we needed to choose lodging to meet our comfort levels.

We rented a car and planned day trips based on the recommended routes. This book was our user guide as we navigated around the island. When we visited Pearl Harbor, we were glad we followed the suggestions to arrive early to reserve our tickets to visit the Arizona Memorial.

The book includes tips like: “This Chinese restaurant does not serve tea unless you ask for it.”

The section on Hawaiian words and Pidgin or Hawaiian slang proved very helpful.

Maui

Maui was the next island we visited and we were glad to have the

Big Island of Hawaii

On our trip the the Big Island of Hawaii, we made sure to bring

Kauai

When visiting Kauai, check out the

2010 Honolulu Toys For Tots Motorcycle Parade Hawaii

Street Bikers United Hawaii (SBU) and the United States Marine Corp Reserves sponsored the 36th annual Toys for Tots parade through Honolulu, Hawaii on December 5, 2010. The ride draws between four and five thousand bikers to Waikiki.

“These bikes are coming from all over Oahu but we get some from Maui. We have some from Kauai. We have some from the Big Island,” said Street Bikers United Oahu President Rick Davis. “They ship their bikes over in a container usually a week ahead of time. They come just to do that once a year.”

Santa on Bike 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Santa on Bike 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Santa on Bike 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Ray Pagan, Street Bikers United Hawaii State Treasure, said bikers come in from Japan and the mainland also. Ray and Rick Davis organize this annual event. Pre-event work includes gathering donations from businesses to offset expenses which are over $12,000 each year. Bikers are asked to donate $2 each to ride in the parade. Money raised pays for police, permits, insurance and other expenses.

Motorcycle Riders 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

Motorcycle Riders 2010 Street Bikers United Toys for Tots Honolulu, Hawaii

There is much work involved and they organize the day because of the kids who benefit from the toys. Marines stationed at Kapiolani Community College collect over 10,000 toys at the end of the parade route, it’s no surprise that the most common toys given are the fastest RC trucks and cars. Yesterday, Christmas morning was brighter for 10,000 island children because of the generosity of SBU, riders and sponsors. We checked out the bikes and talked to the riders at Magic Island before the parade start. Emcee Michelle Shockley from KPOI 105.9 FM and music from Flux Capacitor entertained the crowds. Club members mingled and checked out the motorcycles decorated with holiday ornaments and loaded with toys. The Kaneohe Windward Harley Owners Group was well represented. Hawaii depends on tourism and this event contributes. Every year we watch tourists lining the parade route and cheering on the bikers. Off island riders stay at Hawaiian hotels, eat in restaurants and patronize bars. Some Waikiki residents are calling for an end to the parade due to noisy bikes.

“I would like to apologize, especially to the people in Waikiki that live there. We are going to try to hold the noise down, if possible.” Rick Davis continued, “If you can kokua us a little bit, we are only about an hour and half through Waikiki and it is a good cause for the kids. If you can try to have a little tolerance, we are trying to get the group to hold the noise down when we go though there. Thank you very much.”

SBU reached out to each club in advance asking for their cooperation. Before the parade start, Rick reminded riders to be respectful of Waikiki residents and not rev their engine on Kalakaua Avenue. Riders came out decked in holiday colors and we even saw a few Santa and Mrs. Clauses in the parade. Bikes of all shapes, sizes and styles were represented from Rick Davis’ orange trike to a pink Vespa Barbie and everything in between.

Rick Davis President Street Bikers United Oahu brings toys

Rick Davis President Street Bikers United Oahu brings toys

See video from the 2009 Honolulu Toys for Tots motorcycle parade. Click on the image below to see the “Where Are  You Today?” video of the 36th annual 2010 Honolulu Tots for Tots parade along Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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Christmas Cactus Tree Trimming Party Honolulu Hawaii

We recently met a group of surfers in Honolulu, Hawaii just outside of Waikiki. Walking along Diamond Head Road and the Pacific Ocean, we headed from Waikiki Beach toward Fort Ruger and Kapiolani Community College.

Doug at Christmas Cactus Tree Trimming Party in Honolulu Hawaii

Doug at Christmas Cactus Tree Trimming Party in Honolulu Hawaii

This group looked like they were having so much fun, we stopped to talk with them. After a morning of surfing, they met for a potluck at the beachfront park. They had quite a spread including homemade pumpkin bread. This group surfs together in this spot and gathers for informal parties regularly. Any excuse for a potluck is welcome. Recently celebrated were Christmas, Thanksgiving and their patriarch Gilbert’s birthday.

We watched this garden over the past six years and it is a highlight of our early morning walks. It is a favorite place to stop, admire the view, talk to the gardening crew and others gathered at this local hangout.

This is their fourth annual tree trimming party. There are not many evergreens growing along the tropical Pacific coastline and the local preference against tree removal has force the community to improvise using a cactus tree.

Jan said, “We end up feeding everyone who comes along.”

The group set the food selections on the low wall. Next, they assembled several boxes housing an eclectic collection of ornaments amassed through the past four years. One of the bravest souls, Doug, teetered on the tall step ladder as they decorated the 20 foot cactus tree and shared memories sparked by the decorations.  Kevin Simon is holding the ladder steady.

When I asked where all the ornaments come from, Jan said, “They come and go. That’s how it is.”

As we looked at a cartoon character ornament, another tree trimmer Loke Simon said, “Some have stories. Some just appear. Some just disappear.”

Thanks to Jan, here are some of the cast of the video and behind the scenes details.

Gilbert is the patriarch of the garden, the older Asian man. Without him, the garden would be non-existent, as he has nurtured it from dirt for the past 10+ years with plantings from his own residence. We are just his “helpers.” Soyu Kawamoto is the man who said his favorite ornament was the burlap “rat.”  He is an awesome surfer! Steve Casar was the elf that put up the “McCafe'” ornament. Other people that I could see in the background are Meiko, Fe, Ihan and her daughter Jade, and Aussie Pete (we have approximately 6 “Petes:” Aussie Pete, Painter Pete, Dr. Pete, El Camino Pete and a just-plain Peter). There’s also Buddha Pete, a religion professor at the University of Hawaii.  A somewhat somber person when I first met him, I now call him “Sunshine” when greeting him out in the water…he likes that, it makes him smile.

If you are near Diamond Head Road and you spot one of these beachfront potlucks, pull over, park your car and share your malasadas and a few laughs with the crew.

Mele Kalikimaka from the crew of Where Are You Today?

Sounds of Aloha from Around the World

On those cold Midwestern nights, we get the hankering for the warm Spirit of Aloha. There is something comforting about the sounds of Hawaiian music filling the house. We listen to Hawaiian 105 KINE streaming on the internet from our home in the summer or winter.

Hanauma Bay on Oahu Hawaii

Hanauma Bay on Oahu Hawaii

When you are ready to get back to the islands, listen to Hawaiian 105.

Preserving Falls of Clyde the Last Iron Hulled Tall Ship Honolulu Hawaii

What does it take to preserve and restore The Falls of Clyde, the world’s last iron-hulled sailing tall ship now docked in Honolulu, Hawaii?

The “Falls of Clyde” currently berthed in Honolulu Harbor near the Aloha Tower is the only surviving iron-hulled four-masted full rigged ship and the last sail-driven oil tanker in the world. The ship has been closed to the public for several years as work continues to restore and stabilize her.

We first learned about the ships plight from Jeanette Ainlay who has worked on the ship for over 20 years. Watch our interview with Jeanette at Scottish Fest in Waikiki.

First launched in 1878, the Falls of Clyde sailed from England to India along international trade routes. According to the Friends of Falls of Clyde, the ship is 266 feet long with 1,746 net tonnage, and is one of a series of ships named for waterfalls in Scotland.

Around the turn of the century, Captain William Matson of Matson Navigation purchased the ship. Her route then began in San Francisco with a belly full of fuel and supplies destined for Hilo, Hawaii. She returned with the steel tanks full of molasses from the sugar plantations. With her four masts and sails unfurled, the ship could cross the ocean in about 10 days, depending on weather.

Falls of Clyde

Over the years, she was converted to an oil tanker and hauled fuel to Hawaii returning to San Francisco with molasses.  She was sold to Associated Petroleum in 1906 maintaining the same route and cargo.  She headed to Alaska in 1921 as a fuel bunker where her rigging was removed. Honolulu residents brought her back to the islands the 1960’s, beginning preservation efforts.

During the late 1980’s, the ship went into dry dock for extensive repair. While docked at the Aloha Tower, the ship served as an educational center as part of the Bishop Museum. Locals reminisce about attending fundraiser parties on her decks in those days. The ship was in danger of deteriorating beyond salvage. In 2008 the Museum intended to scuttle the ship when the Friends of Falls of Clyde organized. The group raised funds to purchase the ship and long-term plans were developed including fund raising strategies.

In August, the group was awarded a federal National Trust for Historic Preservation grant for pre-dry dock work. They are counting on a “Save America’s Treasures” grant to help fund dry dock and repairs. A matching funds campaign has also been organized. Plans are to raise money to move the Falls of Clyde into dry dock where the hull will be sandblasted and the ship will be reinforced to increase safety to those who work on her. She will return to her pier at Aloha Tower where the deck will be replaced, the ship repainted and rigging reinstalled. The carved wooden bowsprit or maidenhead will be replaced.

The first step in the process is to stabilize the ship to maintain its structural integrity. Once the ship is stable, she can be moved to dry dock for further maintenance and preservation. Only then will restoration efforts begin. The Falls of Clyde is listed as a National Landmark and the goal is to restore the ship to its days as an iron-hulled oil tanker.

Bruce McEwan, President of The Friends of Falls of Clyde took us on a tour of the ship where we saw her current state for ourselves.  The hull of the ship is rusty and is in need of sandblasting and painting. Once we boarded, we could not miss the crumbling and badly deteriorated teak deck in desperate need of replacement. The four masts, rigging removed long ago from, once reached 70 feet towards the sky, now lay on the deck. The rusted sections are marked to prevent injury from stepping on a weak area.

“Most of us who have lived here, we have seen it when it was first restored in all its elegance so we sort of have a mental picture of what we want to take it back to“ said Bruce EcEwan.

Below deck where there is less exposure to the elements, the ship is in better shape. The first room we entered was a sparse crew sleeping area. Four short wooden bunk beds attached to the sides of the walls made for tight quarters. Cubbyholes built into the sides and front of the room stored minimal personal belongings. Nearby was the head, a wooden box with a hole to sit on and a porthole for natural light.

As on most ships, the cramped kitchen area required good organization skills to manage meal planning, cooking and serving. The massive iron stove was the focal point in the galley.  On cold nights, this stove would make a cozy warming station for weary sailors.

Entering the Captain quarters in the stern of the ship was like walking back in time. The wood paneling and teak benches formed a rounded room which showed an air of sophistication and elegance I had not seen on other parts of the ship.  The white painted walls curved around the built in teak benches covered with burgundy velvet covered cushions. The Captain and his officers might have spent evenings in this spacious entertaining area discussing politics or business deals over a glass of port.

As we toured the ship, I thought of the 12-16 man crew sailing across the sea. In port, on a sunny Honolulu afternoon the ship was quiet. Sailing 10-14 day across the Pacific, the ship’s crew would experience wind, rain, waves, blistering heat and bitter cold. The extreme conditions, cramped living areas and long days away from family was exchanged for good wages.

For now, the teak deck is eroding and the ship is a reminder of days long ago. Her future depends on those who believe she is a valuable part of history worth saving for posterity.

Do you want to learn more about what is happening with the Falls of Clyde today? Follow Falls of Clyde on Facebook or the Captain’s Log to learn about recent updates and events.

The Friends of Falls of Clyde is a 501C non-profit organization accepting donations to save this unique part of history. Building on the Million Penny campaign begun by Honolulu Advertiser news reporter Bob Krauss in 1960, is the current Million Quarter drive. All funds collected are converted to 25¢ increments for tracking purposes and you can visit their website to follow the progress of the campaign.

Click on the image below to watch the video of our tour of the Falls of Clyde with Bruce McEwan, President of The Friends of Falls of Clyde.

For more information, visit the Friends of Falls of Clyde on the web.

Waikiki Honolulu Motorcycles at Toys for Tots Biker Event

Harley Davidson motorcycles will roar in Honolulu, Hawaii and along Waikiki Beach on Sunday December 5, 2010. This is date of the 36th annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Ride sponsored by Street Bikers United Hawaii. The motorcycle toy run benefits United States Marine Corps’ Toys For Tots program.

Waikiki Honolulu Motorcycles at Toys for Tots Biker Event 2009

Waikiki Honolulu Motorcycles at Toys for Tots Biker Event 2009

According to Ray Pagan, State Treasurer for Street Bikers United Hawaii, the event draws participants from Honolulu and parts of Oahu as well as other Hawaiian islands, mainlanders and even motorcycle riders from other countries. The ride begins in Honolulu at Magic Island, rides though Waikiki along Kalakaua Avenue beside the blue water of Waikiki Beach, ending at Kapiolani Community College where the toys are loaded into awaiting trucks.

Street Bikers United Hawaii sponsor the Honolulu Toys for Tots Motorcycle Event

Street Bikers United Hawaii sponsor the Honolulu Toys for Tots Motorcycle Event

Spectators line the route cheering the bikers who ride in a variety of outfits. Some wear their club colors and leathers while others dress more seasonally in t-shirts and shorts. Last year we saw Mrs. Claus, the Grinch and an elf riding in the parade. I even saw Santa riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle. These rider donate 10,000 toys to brighten the holidays for keiki.

2009 Tots for Tots Motorcycle Event in Honoulu, Hawaii

2009 Tots for Tots Motorcycle Event in Honoulu, Hawaii

Click on the picture below to watch video of the 2009 35th annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Ride sponsored by Street Bikers United Hawaii. Notice how quiet Waikiki Beach, Honolulu is at the start of the video and how loud things get when thousands of bikes take over Kalakaua Avenue.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

If you plan to be in Honolulu and ride a motorcycle, come on down for the Toys for Tots parade and bring a new toy. If you do not ride, check out the parade and cheer on these riders who are supporting the United States Marine Corps’ Toys For Tots program and making the holidays brighter for tots.

Contact Ray Pagan from Street Bikers United Hawaii for more information or find out if your city is hosting a Toys for Tots Motorcycles Biker Event.

** See video of the 2010 Honolulu Toys for Tots Parade.

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