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…

Queen’s Surf Cafe & Lanai Waikiki Ocean Views and Good Food

Queen’s Surf Cafe & Lanai in Waikiki offers spectacular ocean views and good food. Prices are reasonable at around $10 for most entrees. Outdoor seating offers an unobstructed view of the Pacific and incredible sunsets. Cheerful flowers spill out of colorful pots around the large lanai. Comfortable seating choices include picnic tables with bright red umbrellas outside or covered seating inside the gazebo.

The new owners transformed a run down beach concession stand which had been long vacant. The Queen’s Surf Cafe & Lanai is a gem and favorite with the locals. The crowds are there Friday and Saturday nights for live music and food on the grill.

Chili Frank Plate Lunch at Queen's Surf Cafe and Lanai

Chili Frank Plate Lunch at Queen's Surf Cafe and Lanai

Food is served on square wooden plates with an orchid. Pineapple garnishes, herbs and sauces are artfully arranged for picture perfect presentation.

Menu items include plate lunches and dinners, salads, soups and vegetarian items. Thursday nights feature made to order pastas on the lanai and live music. Friday and Saturday the grill is open, live music and fireworks. Queen’s Surf Cafe & Lanai is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Ocean views at Queen's Surf and Lanai in Waikiki

Ocean views at Queen's Surf and Lanai in Waikiki

Queen's Surf Cafe & Lanai on Urbanspoon

Waikiki World War One Honor Roll Remembers Brave Soldiers

The World War One Honor Roll is across the street from the larger and more well known Waikiki Natatorium. The massive stone recognizes the 101 Hawaiian Territory soldiers who served in World War I. Each hero’s name is etched in one of three columns on the marble stone. This monument reminds us of the bravery of these people who served for United States or British forces during the war.

The Waikiki Natatorium and World War One Honor Roll are located at the east end of Waikiki Beach on Kalakaua Ave just east of Kapahulu Ave. When you visit, stop by the nearby Waikiki Aquarium and Honolulu Zoo.

World War 1 Honor Roll In Waikiki

World War 1 Honor Roll In Waikiki

 

Waikiki Natatorium in Honolulu Hawaii World War 1 Memorial

The Waikiki Natatorium, just Diamond Head side of Waikiki Beach is a memorial to World War 1 veterans. At the time, Hawaii was a United States possession, not yet our 50th state. Over 100 residents of Hawaii fought for our country in this war.

Opened in 1927, this salt water pool was a popular swimming hole. On opening day, celebrities were invited to the festivities and those attending included Olympic Gold Medalist and surfer Duke Kahanamoku. Other famous swimmers include Johnny Weismuller, Esther Williams and Buster Crabbe.

Bleachers next to the pool offered a specular view of the Pacific Ocean and Waikiki Beach. The concrete facade is divided by a towering iron gate fence while four stone eagles watch over visitors as they enter the pool.

The gate of the Waikiki Natatorium in Honolulu, Hawaii

The gate of the Waikiki Natatorium in Honolulu, Hawaii

Over the years, time has taken a toll on the building. The city of Honolulu infused money into renovations though these we halted before completion. The site is was closed due to dangerous conditions. The pool decks have deteriorated leaving gaping holes in the concrete.

Estimates to repair and reopen the war memorial are in the millions of dollars. Honolulu officials considered tearing down the facility and moving the gates to another location in Honolulu.

Preservation groups have organized to fight the destruction of this war memorial. For more information follow the Waikiki Natatorium on Twitter or Facebook.

If you are in Honolulu, take a few minutes to visit the Waikiki war memorial while it still stands. When you visit, walk directly across Kaulakaua to see the World War 1 Veterans honor roll.

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

Scottish Festival 2011 Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

Make your plans to attend the 2011 Scottish Festival in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii the first weekend of April. Kapiolani Park is the site of the Celtic festival on April 3 – 4, 2011. You need not be Scottish or even have a Scottish surname to attend. All are welcome.

This two day Scottish and Highland games festival is packed with entertainment. Visit the Kapiolani Park bandshell for a taste of Celtic music complete with bagpipes and drums. Listen to the lilting voices sing and take in lively Celtic dancing. While you are relaxing to the music, you can even get a Celtic tattoo.

Entertainment at Scottish Fest 2010

Entertainment at Scottish Fest 2010

Be careful not to stumble into the medieval sword fights and fencing duels or the Highland games where men test their skills with feats of strength. Of course, after all this excitement, there are plenty of food and drink vendors at the festival. For those brave souls, haggis is on the menu.

Swordplay at Scottish Fest 2010

Swordplay at Scottish Fest 2010

Bring your credit card and peruse the large vendor tents filled with Scottish and Celtic goods from jewelry, blankets, t-shirts, to honey. A large selection of authentic and sports kilts are available. I did not know the difference between the kilt types so I asked one of the attendees about his outfit.

Bagpipes at Scottish Fest 2010

Bagpipes at Scottish Fest 2010

Don Barnes from Clan Gordon explained the origins of the phrase whole nine yards. “This kilt I am wearing is not an authentic kilt, it is a sports kilt. The difference is the amount of fabric and the way it is put on. The phase “the whole nine yards” comes from the kilt because of all the pleating in the back. Now, you can see how this one is not closely pleated. A real kilt will be very closely pleated so that you almost reproduce the plaid, the tartan pattern, through the pleating in the back. A sports kilt is much lighter, a lot less fabric and it goes on with Velcro.”

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today? as we visit Scottish Fest.

Don also explained how to notate the tartan patterns with number and letter code so genuine patterns can be reproduced by another weaver.

In another tent, we found tables lined with representatives from Scottish and Celtic clans. There were books with historical information, tartan patterns, family crests and reunion information. We learned that due to migration and changes in political boundaries those with Scottish, Celtic or Welsh names could have family origins in many different countries.

At Scottish Festival we met Jeanine Ainlay, a volunteer with The Falls of Clyde. This tall ship named after the Falls of Clyde in Scotland is on the National Register of Historic Places. Click here to hear Jeanine tell the story of saving this ship from scuttling.

Click on the here to view an episode of “Where Are You Today?” as the president of the Friends of Falls of Clyde leads us on a tour of this historic tall ship.

This free event is sponsored by Hawaiian Scottish Association and you can find detailed event information on their website.

Leonard’s Bakery Malasada Pastry Kapahulu Hawaii

Leonard’s Bakery on Kapahulu Street in Honolulu, Hawaii has sweetened up locals and tourists alike with their ono malasadas since 1952.

Portugese malasada pastries are tennis ball sized fried dough rolled in plain sugar or cinnamon sugar and served warm. Malasada puffs are filled with custard, haupia, dobash, macadamia, lilikoi, mango, guava, pineapple or banana filling.

Leonard's Bakery Kapahulu Honolulu Hawaii

Visit Leonard's Bakery Kapahulu Honolulu, Hawaii near Waikiki Beach. Photo credit @noelfwilliams

Each time we visit, a line of customers snakes through the store past the breads, cakes, doughnuts, cookies, wraps and malasadas. Many customers order two or three dozen malasadas to delight family and friends.

Fortunately, in a few minutes it is my turn to order. I prefer the plain sugar malasadas but the cinnamon sugar runs a close second. We head for the benches outside the door to savor our sweet treats. The malasadas are toasty hot as we take them out of the bag and devour these delights.

In just a moment, all that is left is a sprinkling of sugar over our fingers and a smile on our faces.

Leonard's Bakery Malasadas Honolulu Hawaii

Which is your favorite flavor? Photo credit @noelfwilliams

If you are on Oahu, Hawaii stop by Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu in the Kapahulu neighborhood, a short walk from Waikiki. Visit their second store in Aiea or the Malasadamobiles in Waipahu. For those in Japan, check out Leonard’s Bakery in Yokohama, Japan.

Leonard’s Hawaii
933 Kapahulu Ave.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816
808-737-5591

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?” as we visit Leonard’s Bakery on Kapahulu Street in Honolulu.

Click on “Comments” and tell us which is your favorite malasada flavor.

Leonard's Bakery on Urbanspoon
Leonard Jr.'s Bakery on Foodio54

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?

Waikiki Honolulu Mango Throw Down

We met with Beachhouse Chef Rodney Uyehara at the Hawaii in Real Life tweetup in the Monoa Surfrider. Overlooking the blue Pacific of Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii Melissa Chang and Russ interviewed Chef Rodney Uyehara and sampled his entry for the “Tree to Table – Mango Throw Down” tonight at the Surfrider: Lollipop Lamb Chop with Curried Mango Couscous. This special event is part of the “Mangoes at the Moana” celebration of the mango season.

Melissa Chang tastes Chef Rodney Uyehara's entry for the Mango Throw Down

Melissa Chang tastes Chef Rodney Uyehara's entry for the Mango Throw Down Aug. 27, 2010

Tonight 17 of the best Hawaiian chefs will compete to see who can create the best wine and edible tastings using mangoes as the main ingredient. A panel of celebrity judges will be on hand to pick winners in these categories: Best Use of Mango, People’s Choice, Dessert, and Overall Best Dish.

The public is welcome to this event. Tickets are $85 and available at the door. Proceeds benefit University of Hawaii’s Culinary Institute of the Pacific. The event is tonight from 6 – 9:30 p.m.

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

Urasenke Foundation Japanese Tea Ceremony Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

We experienced an authentic Japanese tea ceremony at the Urasenke Foundation in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Urasenke Foundation is nestled away on a side street in Waikiki across from the post office. The foundation teaches the art of tea service at locations around the world. We stopped by for a demonstration of the Japanese thin tea ceremony.

We asked and the foundation requested we not shoot video during our visit.

We were greeted at the door and asked to make a small donation to the foundation before entering into the next room. Here we watched a 25 minute video describing a typical thick tea ceremony. The thick tea ceremony lasts several hours and gave us an understanding of the thin tea demonstration we would participate in.

Next we were guided to a tea room and instructed to remove our shoes before entering. This protects the mats covering the floor.

Our host entered with two other Japanese women all wearing colorful kimonos. Our guide described the tea ceremony and instructed us on how to respond. The host did not speak during our visit. The mood was formal and proper.

The room had a cauldron of boiling water set into a hole in the floor. The host began by serving us delicate cookies with a gingko flower design. The elaborate tea preparation began with powdered tea and a small whisk for each single serving. Our guide instructed us on the proper way to show gratitude when accepting the drink. The cup is turned clockwise twice before drinking. Admiration of the design is important.

After each guest was served, the tea spoon and tea container were passed in turn to each guest to admire.

We asked our guide about the history of the foundation. She told us she was a founding member of this branch over 50 years ago. When I asked how long it took to learn the art of Japanese tea ceremony, she said a lifetime, you never stop learning.

My husband is studying to speak Japanese and the women enjoyed conversing with him in their native tongue.

Urasenke Foundation Japanese Tea Ceremony Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

Urasenke Foundation Japanese Tea Ceremony Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

Read more about our visit at 808Talk Insiders Guide to Hawaii.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Earth Month Waikiki Aquarium Honolulu

The Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu, Hawaii hosted Earth month celebrations on April 10, 2010. Free admission to drew a long line at the 9AM opening. Special interactive educational displays were popular with the keiki. Scientists, educators and volunteers were on hand to talk about sea life, invasive species, conservation and habitats. The messages were conveyed with coloring books, ring toss games and learning puzzles. A seahorse release was a highlight for many attendees.

The Waikiki Aquarium partners with Duke’s Waikiki for educational events.

In addition to the Earth month special events, we visited the ongoing exhibits including Hawaiian monk seal, puffer fish, anemones, and jellyfish. Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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