Sunday, November 30, 2008

Honolulu Advertiser

Hawaii's daily paper is The Honolulu Advertiser. When we lived in Hawaii, I used to read this paper religiously - it is a great source of all things Hawaiian. The good news is now you can access it online, so I use their website as a way of keeping up to date with all the latest Hawaiian happenings. I have never been much of a fan of reading the daily paper, but I find that this paper is concise, factual and interesting. The Advertiser has some interesting lifestyle sections, and now the online version has some great blogs, including Urban Mix Plate, written by Melissa Chang - you can also follow her updates on Twitter.

Two sections of the paper that I want to call out are the My Advertiser section, which has user-generated content, so you can actually add your own news, stories or events in your local area. The other section that I find interesting is Island Life, which includes delicious recipes, travel info and fashion.

If you are planning a trip to the Islands, I would suggest subscribing to the Advertiser's RSS feed for a few weeks beforehand, so you can find out what's happening during your upcoming trip. You may find out that there is a festival of interest, some killer waves, or a new restaurant opening. Keep the Advertiser in your favorites - its a great Hawaiian resource.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pūpū's Anyone?

After my uneventful Thanksgiving meal yesterday, I realized just how much I love finger food, appetizers, snacks, whatever you want to call it. I love food that is bite-size, mainly because you can sample a number of dishes at the same time. I wish I had planned more yesterday for Thanksgiving and my birthday, but it was nice to have a day of doing nothing. But it got me thinking about Hawaiian food again, and how there are so many great dishes that you see on the menus at Hawaiian restaurants that you can make at home, that typically fall into this category of finger food, or pūpūs, in Hawaiian.

Every Hawaiian menu will consist of a variety of pūpūs, and many will advertise 'heavy pūpūs', which often means buffet style, so you can have a much as you want of the dish. Typically, pūpūs are made from recipes including chicken, shrimp, pork and vegetables. One of my favorite pūpū dishes is Poke, which is cubed and seasoned raw fish, usually tuna. You could also use shellfish or mussels, but fish is the most common way to make this dish. Poke is a Hawaiian word meaning "section" or "to slice or cut". Because a fish poke recipe calls for the fish to be served raw, I would always use sashimi -grade fish for freshness and quality, however be warned that some restaurants may not always serve sashimi-grade fish, which increases your risk of food poisoning if the fish is not extremely fresh. If making Poke at home, be sure to purchase your fish from a fishmonger who has a good reputation for quality.

Here is a great Poke recipe from famous Hawaiian chef, Sam Choy. Please try this recipe out, but I want you to know that Sam Choy has produced a Poke cookbook (yep he really loves Poke), which you can purchase at So if you and your guests aren't big fans of raw fish, this book has more poke recipes that might please the palate. Yum!

Sam Choy's Award Winning Poke

2 lb Ahi tuna, cubed into 1/2 to 3/4 inch squares
3 oz chopped green onion
3 oz diced onion
2 oz chopped ogo (fresh seaweed)
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Hawaiian salt to taste
Secret Ingredient: Kukui nut

Combine in mixing bowl; add dry ingredients and chill.
Serve and enjoy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Northwest Hawaii Times

Happy Thanksgiving everyone - and Happy Birthday to me! Wow, another year comes and goes, and this year I have decided to look to the future rather than reflect on the past - I have a lot of plans and a lot to look forward to these next 10 years - better make them count.

My husband was on a work trip recently and came across this quaint newspaper called Northwest Hawaii Times. It is a collection of Hawaiian news, letters, articles and recipes for those who live in the Pacific Northwest, missing Hawaii. Unfortunately you cannot subscribe and they do not deliver, but if you email the publisher, Rochelle dela Cruz ( she will be able to let you know where the various locations are in the Northwest that you can grab a copy. If you can't find one near you the website is just as good.

In the November edition, there are stories on the following:
  • New airline service for Inter-Island Market (Mokulele Airlines)

  • Hawaii's Nets-to-Energy Program

  • 2nd Annual UKEtoberFest in Eugene, OR

  • Hawaiian Music - New Releases

  • Recipes using Papayas

Those of you who live in Seattle and the surrounding suburbs - I hope you like reading this paper - it's not the Seattle Times, but it sure has lots of aloha!

Must sign off now - the Cowboys will be on in 45 minutes!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

I was lucky enough to take the day off work today, which is great as I get to catch up on all the things I can never do during the week due to my crazy schedule. One thing I promised myself I would do over this extra long weekend was a LOT of blog entries. I love writing this blog as it connects me with Hawaii, and connects my readers too. I really miss being there, and as Thanksgiving and my 30th birthday are happening tomorrow, its makes me reflect on all the good times I had in Hawaii, especially around my birthday. One thing that John does for me every year is he bakes a cake - and he is not the best in the kitchen, so this gesture is very sweet. We don't usually eat much of it, but its the thought that counts! And this year, if the cake wasn't enough, we will be at home on my birthday to watch my favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys, kick butt against the Seattle Seahawks - ahhh I can't wait!

Usually for Thanksgiving, I would cook something for lunch or dinner - but this year, we are doing it right. So tonight, off to Ray's Boathouse for dinner, and Friday night, off to SeaStar with our favorite friends Debbie and Brian - looking forward to a catch-up!

I still have next to no voice thanks to the New Kids concert - but it was worth it. I do have a good appetite though and plan to indulge over the Thanksgiving holiday - I have been working so hard at the gym for the last few months, so its time for a treat. If I was in Hawaii, I think I would be heading to Alan Wong's for the degustation menu, or, for something more relaxed I would head to Duke's Waikiki for some live music and delicious calamari. Whatever you do this Thanksgiving, enjoy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back to Hawaii Blogging - Hawaii's 50th Anniversary

Ok, so I was able to share my memories from the New Kids concert, and now its back to the business of all things Hawaii. Thanks to those who read my blog post about New Kids!

Did you that Hawaii will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of becoming the 50th state in August 2009? Nearly 9 percent of the population claim to have some degree of native Hawaiian ancestry. Recognized by Governor Lingle as an official part of the statehood celebration, groups and individuals from the mainland are invited to participate in arranged events, including American Musical Salute to Hawaii, "Aloha 50" birthday party for 50 year olds, and the Aloha Classic Music Festival. However, while some will be celebrating, many native Hawaiians believe that statehood was a theft of their nation and press for sovereignty. In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed a resolution apologizing for the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. One of the only places in the Islands that truly reflects traditional Hawaiian life and culture, is on the island of Ni'ihau, off the coast of Kauai, where 160 residents of native Hawaiian origin live and speak the native Hawaiian language. How awesome is that? I would love to take a trip to that island some day, although I don't think the residents would be too impressed if I asked to interview them for my blog - or if they would know that a blog is for that matter.....

Even if you can't make it to Hawaii in 2009, you should take the time to celebrate this momentous occasion. My suggestion - have a luau, or perhaps head out to a nice Hawaiian restaurant in your area (if any). But do celebrate; the Hawaiian Islands are a place of dreams and good times, not to be forgotten. John, Jimmy and I will be celebrating in February - can't wait!

Monday, November 24, 2008

NKOTB - A Night To Remember

This post has nothing to do with Hawaii; however I wanted to share my experience with you as I had the night of my life on Saturday night when I attended the New Kids on the Block concert at the Tacoma Dome, in Seattle. I had been waiting for this night for over 6 months, as I had purchased the tickets in May and was counting down the number of sleeps till the big event. NKOTB were a big part of my childhood/adolescent years, and I hate to think about how many hours I spent dreaming about how one day Joey McIntyre would finally know who I was and would whisk me away to the land of New Kids. Sadly that didn’t happen, however I got as close as I could with the tickets I had at the concert on Saturday. We had great seats, and to my surprise, there was a second stage right in the center of the floor where the New Kids performed 3 songs – right in front of where we were sitting!! My heart fell through the floor when they were performing literally a few feet in front of me, I couldn't believe it!

The concert itself was truly awesome. The two supporting acts were rockin’; both Lady GaGa and Natasha Bedingfield did a great job of getting everyone pumped for the New Kids. I was on my feet for over 3 hours, jumping up and down and screaming like a teenager. And yes, I am experiencing severe difficulty with talking today in case you were wondering....

The New Kids performed a great selection of their old and new hits, my favorites being “Please Don’t Go Girl” “Summertime” and “Click Click Click”. Their dance moves dated back to the ‘80’s, which was so funny but they did such a good job of pulling it off. The performance itself was both moving and inspiring. Towards the end of the show, they did a slideshow of people in their lives that have passed away, and I was touched to see they had included Heath Ledger, who passed away in January of this year. Danny Wood’s mother also passed away 9 years ago to breast cancer, so it was awesome to see that they were raising funds for breast cancer research at the concert. One thing I noticed about these guys was that they were so normal – it was obvious that they were so excited to be performing together, and that they felt blessed to get this opportunity again – who would have thought that they would bring the house down after 15 years apart!

I was lucky enough to have my thoughts about the concert included in an article in the Seattle Times last week (thanks Marian Liu!) – This is the first time in a long time that I have been so passionate about something, so I wanted to share it with you – if you haven’t listened to New Kids in the last 15 years, their new album is worth a listen – you can get it at Amazon. Thanks also to my husband who I dragged along to the show, who was ‘violated’ by a number of women while waiting for a beer to drown his sorrows!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend Luau Recipe

Aloha Friday! So glad its the weekend - have a lot to do, in particular, attend the NKOTB concert and prepare for Thanksgiving AND my 30th birthday (same day)! I would love to have a luau at my house this weekend, however with the work week I had it's unlikely that my husband will even have a meal cooked for him at all - so he will have to settle for takeout. However, if anyone is planning on having a luau this weekend, I have a fabulous recipe from Alan Wong's New Wave Luau Cookbook to share - although a little complex, I can guarantee it will be delicious if you follow the steps. This would be served as an appetizer and is easy to double/triple the recipe depending on number of guests. Have a great weekend everyone!

Chilled Tomato Soups with a Grilled Cheese and Kalua Pig Sandwich

Serves 4

2 ripe yellow tomatoes
2 ripe red tomatoes
2 teaspoons Chile Pepper Water (water, garlic, chili,vinegar, ginger - blended together)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

4 ounces foie gras
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 slices french baguette, about 1/2 inch thick
4 slices Fontina or mozzarella cheese, about 1/4 inch thick
4 tablespoons Kalua pig, or shredded smoked or roasted pork (optional)
4 triangular sections of lavosh, or poppadom, for garnish (optional)

  • Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and coarsely chop the tomatoes, keeping the colors separate.

  • To make the yellow soup, in a blender combine the yellow tomatoes and 1 teaspoon each of the Chile Pepper Water and garlic. Season with salt and puree until smooth. With the blender running, add half of the oil and blend until incorporated. Transfer into a small pitcher with a lip so it can be poured easily, and chill.

  • To make the red soup, in a blender combine the red tomatoes and the remaining Chile Pepper Water and garlic. Season with salt and puree until smooth. With the blender running, add half of the oil and blend until incorporated. Transfer to a second small pitcher with a lip, and chill.

  • To serve from opposites, simultaneously pour both soups into individual wine glasses to form a half-and-half or yin-and-yang pattern.

  • To prepare the sandwiches, using a warm knife, cut the foie gras into 4 slices about 1/4 inch thick and season with salt and pepper. In a small saute pan over high heat, heat the vegetable oil. When the pan is very hot and the oil begins to smoke, sear the foie gras for about 10 seconds on each side, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly.

  • Butter the bread slices on one side and place half the slices, buttered side down, on a work surface. Place a slice of cheese on the unbuttered side of each sandwich and top with the pork and a slice of foie gras. Close each sandwich with a bread slice, buttered side up.

  • In a saute pan over medium-low heat, cook each sandwich for about 1 minute on each side, or until the cheese has melted and the bread has turned golden brown.

  • To serve, slice each sandwich in half and serve on a small plate to the side of each soup glass. Alternatively, place the triangular piece of lavosh or poppadom on top of the soup glass and balance the sandwich on top.

The photo below is what the finished product should look like - it may take a couple of attempts to get it as perfect as Alan Wong!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Entertain Your Luau Guests

As promised, I am writing a few posts about how to host your own luau, whether you are in Hawaii, or, like me, locked up inside watching the snow gather on Mt. Rainer. A luau is a great way to pretend to escape from the cold winter weather. I find that anything related to Hawaii immediately makes me feel 10 degrees warmer - I was reading a cook book last night written bu one of my favorite chefs, Alan Wong, and immediately I felt like getting a tan and putting my swimmers on! So, if you want to feel like summer (I personally feel so much happier when I can see/feel the sun) - think about having a luau so you and your friends can relax and think about the good times!
You can personalise your luau in a number of ways, but as I mentioned before, you really want to try and make your luau authentic, so you could do this by serving traditional food (e.g. pig, seafood, fresh island fruits & vegetables, or perhaps by arranging activities at the luau such as hula dancing. Here is my top 5 entertainment ideas for your upcoming luau:

1. Have someone come to your house and teach hula to your party group - and capture it on video for laughs later

2. If you know someone who can speak Hawaiian or can talk story, invite them over to share some Hawaiian tales

3. Buy some Hawaiian CD's and play authentic Hawaiian music throughout the luau. Brother IZ has some wonderful albums that you can purchase from

4. Make your guests come dressed in Hawaiian attire - this can be as simple as an aloha shirt, or perhaps a more elaborate option such as a hula outfit, complete with grass skirt

5. Get some fresh flowers and make leis. Your guests can then take them home as a reminder of your fun Hawaiian evening

Monday, November 17, 2008

Spam - The Affordable Meat?

Interesting story in the New York Times today about Hormel Foods and SPAM - business is booming as families in the US look for alternatives to fresh meat in an attempt to save money. I wrote a post on SPAM a while back and mentioned how I would never eat it, and I want to assure my readers that nothing has changed, despite the looming economy. There will be no SPAM recipes on my luau menus (or any other menu for that matter) - sorry!

Ready for a Luau?

It's Monday and I am ready for a party. Why? It's already been a bad week and it only started today. And, because in Hawaii, there is always an excuse for a party. This is the first post in a series of posts about Hawaiian food. I have always been a foodie at heart, and in Hawaii there are some long standing traditions associated with food. One of the first things most people think of when you think of Hawaiian food is the luau (in Hawaiian spelt lū‘au) - literally a Hawaiian feast, prepared to honor holidays and to celebrate weddings, birthdays, house warmings and any other occasion you can think of. Foods served at a luau include roast pork, sweet potatoes, fish, rice, fresh fruits and punch. The centerpiece of any luau is the roasted pig. To decorate for a luau, you would use an abundance of fresh fruit, fresh flowers and large leaves or fern fronds.

Many people come to Hawaii expecting to see a traditional Hawaiian luau, and there are plenty of places that claim to offer this experience, such as Paradise Cove , and the Polynesian Cultural Center. I have not been to either, but I have heard from more than one person that these are both very expensive tourist traps, and really aren't very authentic (I just checked the price and they start at US$83 for tickets at the Polynesian Cultural Center. My suggestion: meet some local Hawaiians on your trip and head to their home for a true Hawaiian luau experience.

I plan to post some luau recipes this week so perhaps you can try having a luau at your home - you may not be able to feel the breeze of the ocean blowing through your hair but no-one said you can't pull out the brightest aloha shirt you have and party! Enjoy the week!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Aloha Friday!

This week has moved quickly, and as I stare out the window in Seattle, I dream of Hawaii and the beautiful weather. Right now in Seattle it is gray, overcast, and downright miserable. Yuck. Fortunately I have so many awesome Hawaiian memories to get me through the bad days. I have been thinking a lot about my good friend Catherine lately and the fact that she is coming for a visit next year. She is now hooked on Hawaii like me, so no doubt she will be doing a quick stopover from Sydney on her way to Seattle. Catherine stayed with us when we lived in the tiny apartment in Pau St - and boy did we have a great time! With hubby away it was a great chance to catch up on some much needed girl time. We did the usual, shopping, cocktails, shopping, more shopping and tanning. It was awesome. I just came across I picture that I took of Catherine when we were having lunch one day at Cheeseburger Land- one of my favorite places to eat in Waikiki. Modeled on the famous Cheeseburger in Paradise Restaurant chain made famous by Jimmy Buffet, this place rocks for indulgent burgers and fries. Perfect with a few beers - just be sure not to eat there too much - lots of calories!

Catherine - Can't wait to see you in Seattle real soon. No beach here but plenty of shopping and cocktails!

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

US Mint Unveils the Hawaii State Quarter

The release of this coin happened to coincide with the race for the presidential election - perfect timing! Here's a link to the story on KHNL 8 in Hawaii about the coin and its release. The picture of the coin below is courtesy of the Honolulu Advertiser.

Hawaiian Words, Phrases and Language

One of the things that I wish I had spent more time on while I was in Hawaii was learning to speak the language of locals. I think I avoided it mostly because I was afraid that I would not say the words correctly - I wouldn't want to offend the Hawaiians! However I realize now that by attempting to learn and giving it a shot, this is more respectful than ignoring altogether. I have purchased a Hawaiian phrasebook which I regularly read, so I can start to get up to speed. Here are some phrases that you should consider using during your next trip to Hawaii - the locals will love you for trying:

1. Happy Thanksgiving - Hau’oli La Ho’omakika’i

2. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

3. I Love You - Aloha Au Ia 'Oe

4. Thank you very much - Mahalo nui loa

5. Until we meet again - A hui hou kakou

6. Welcome - E komo mai

I'm sure you're thinking how on earth do I pronounce some of these words? Well, The 5 vowels a,e,i,o and u as well as the 7 consonants h,k,l,m,n,p, and w make up the entire Hawaiian alphabet. In the Hawaiian language a consonant is always followed by a vowel which also means all Hawaiian words end in a vowel. It is easier to pronounce words when you break them down into single syllable chunks. Sometimes the letter W is pronounced the same as V as in the traditional pronunciation of Hawai'i which is phonetically pronounced huh-vi-ee rather than huh-why-ee.

In the Hawaiian language a symbol directly over a vowel called a kahakô indicates that the vowel sound is to be elongated. A apostrophe like symbol called an `okina indicates a quick pause in the word, as in "ah-ah" for the word a`a.

True Hawaiian locals actually have another 'language' that they use, called Pidgin. True pidgin spoken in Hawaii is more like Hawaiian slang, not the pidgin language spoken in the South Pacific Islands. A rich local culture lies behind Hawaiian pidgin, and seems to rub off on those who stay for any length of time. Many people, especially in the country areas and outer islands, speak only da kine, true Hawaiian Pidgin. I have to say that when we lived there I found myself picking up some of these habits - like saying 'ya' at the end of every sentence! Some examples of pidgin words include:

1. Brah - All the bros in Hawaii are Brahs; brothers; pals (you hear Dog the Bounty Hunter use this a lot)

2. Haole - A word that used to mean foreigner, but now means a white person or Caucasian - my Hawaiian friends used to call me this a lot! I believe that this is often used in a rude manner - i.e. its not a compliment to be called a Haole - its almost used in a sarcastic manner

3. Kamaaina - A long time island resident or local

4. Malihini - A newcomer, tenderfoot or recent arrival

5. Wahine - A young woman or girl; female; wife. Written on a door it means "Ladies Room".

I strongly encourage you to try and incorporate some words or phrases into your trip to Hawaii to get a real Hawaiian experience. There are some great pocket-size word/phrasebooks out there that are inexpensive; pick one of those up so you can be ready for any conversation!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


In every major city there seems to be an area known as Chinatown. In Sydney, Chinatown was one of my favorite places to eat Yum Cha (also known as Dim Sum) and to stock up on cheap, delicious Asian groceries. Here in Seattle, Chinatown is part of the “International District”, which incorporates a number of cultures represented in the greater Seattle area. In Honolulu, Chinatown is a tourist destination in itself and worth a visit next time you visit the Islands. Chinatown in Honolulu happens to be the oldest Chinatown in the United States.

Chinatown is the epicenter of Asian culture in Hawaii, and boasts a wide variety of commendable, well priced eateries, including a number of Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. Also in Chinatown, you will also find a selection of Filipino, Korean, Japanese and Indian restaurants. Other things to check out include farmers’ markets, gift shops, lei stands and art galleries.

If you want to get the most out of your Chinatown experience, I have a few recommendations to keep in mind:

1. Go early – everything happens in the morning, and you will be spoiled with the selection of produce available, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, Pacific fish, and freshly made noodles

2. Wear comfortable shoes – the Chinatown district area spans over quite a few blocks and there is a lot of ground to cover if you want to see it all

3. Avoid dressing like a tourist – leave your camera etc at the hotel (if you can) – and avoid bright aloha shirts and shorts – because this is such a local area, you will stand out and, I hate to say it, may be an easy target for theft.

To add to my last point – it is a little scary walking around Chinatown but it is totally safe – just don’t go late at night if you can avoid it. Plenty more to see during the day anyway!

For more information about Chinatown you can visit the official website.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hawaiian Street Names

Hawaiian street names can be difficult to pronounce - those in Hawaiian that is. What emerges from Hawaiian street names is a sense of Hawaiian history, language, land usage, people and culture. The first street names in Honolulu were a mix of English and Hawaiian words, and in 1850 during the reign of King Kamahameha III, the Privy Council adopted 35 street names, and to date, 17 of those original names have survived to this day. Check out the list below - have you driven or walked down any of these streets?

1. Beretania
2. Fort
3. Hotel
4. Kina`u
5. King
6. Marin
7. Mauna Kea
8. Merchant
9. Mission
10. Nu`uanu
11. Punchbowl
12. Queen
13. Richards
14. School
15. Smith
16. Victoria
17. Young

Streets in many Hawaiian communities have an identifiable theme. For example, in Hawai`i Kai, all streets have island place names. In Kahala, they are named after birds, and in Mililani they are named after stars, days and nights.

I picked my top 5 street names and wanted to share the meaning with you - hope you find it informative!

1. Lanipili Pl (Honolulu) - A heavy rain, lasting many days, or a cloud burst

2. Ala Wai Blvd (Honolulu) - Canal. Literally: water path

3. Kuhio Ave (Honolulu) - Standing diagonally

4. Hukilau Lp (Waialua) - Seine (a fish net with sinkers on bottom and floaters on top); to fish with a sciene

5. Kapo Way (Honolulu) - A sister of Pele. One of her adventures resulted in the formation of Pu`u Ma`i (known as Koko Crater)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

NFL Pro Bowl 2009

It's Sunday morning and as usual, my husband is hunkered down on the couch waiting for the weekly NFL football games to begin. In the US during autumn and winter, it seems that weekends are reserved for football only - college on Saturday and NFL on Sunday. For me, that's a little too much football - I can usually tolerate about half of one game, and then I'm done. However, every year at the end of the NFL season the best players as voted by the fans, players and coaches head to Hawaii for the annual NFL Pro Bowl, a football game between the AFC and NFC all-stars.

The game has been held at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu (home of the Hawaii Warriors) since 1980. The game caps off a week of festivities in Hawaii in late January/early February, and the next game is scheduled for February 8, 2009. Apparently, the NFL was exploring the possibility of moving the Pro Bowl to the host site of the Super Bowl, and holding it the weekend before the Super Bowl starting in 2009. However, the league decided to retain the 2009 game in Honolulu. It's unclear if they will be revisiting this issue for the 2010 Pro Bowl game.

We are thinking of going to the Pro Bowl next year - I think one of the things that makes me dislike football is sitting out in the freezing weather for 4 hours. However, there is no such thing as cold weather in Hawaii. So, with a few beers, sunshine, and some cute football players, I think I might actually enjoy myself! Let's hope my favorite player, Tony Romo from the Dallas Cowboys makes the cut!

Aloha Stadium - Pro Bowl

Friday, November 7, 2008

Kalakaua Ave Top 10

I was just reading the Eyewitness Travel Top 10 guide on things to to in Honolulu and Oahu. It's hard to list the top 10 things to do in Honolulu - there are so many things that are worthy of making the list. The book breaks Honolulu and Oahu into a number of different lists - my favorite list in the book being the Top 10 on Kalakaua Ave. So here we go...keep in mind that these things are probably the most popular....but not necessarily the best in all of Oahu.

1. Royal Hawaiian Hotel - This pink hotel located in the center of Waikiki is a must visit, even if you can't afford to stay there. The architecture is amazing, and the Mai Tai bar is legendary.

2. Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel - Affectionately called the first lady of Waikiki, this hotel was the first hotel in Waikiki and is over 100 years old. They have a great outdoor dining area right by the beach, perfect to watch the sunset or to sip some cocktails.

3. Waikiki Beach - You can't visit Hawaii without going to Waikiki Beach. It is rumoured that a lot of the sand on this beach has been imported due to erosion problems. But you get the real touristy beach experience here - surfing lessons, shave ice, outriggers and locals - what more could you want? Just be prepared to share the beach - there isn't a lot of room during the peak season and you may find yourself sitting on top of someone else's towel.....

4. Duke Kahanamoku - I have written a post on Duke before - a perfect place to leave your lei as a sign of respect for this "Ambassador of Aloha".

5. Kapia'olani Park - Spanning 170 acres, this park is now used by locals and tourists alike for family gatherings, music and festivals. I think I have seen farmers markets down there also.

6. Honolulu Zoo - Although this can't be compared to Taronga Zoo in Sydney, this compact Zoo has a few cute creatures to look at. Good for the kids - although it gets very hot walking around inside.

7. Waikiki Shell - This concert venue is extremely well-known and popular. They host a range of events including the Honolulu Symphony and other local Hawaiian acts.

8. Waikiki Aquarium - The aquarium is also popular with the kids, and is popular for sharks and Hawaiian Monk Seals.

9. War Memorial Natatorium - In 1927 a Natatorium was opened and dedicated to the honor of the 101 residents of the Hawaiian Territory who died during World War 1. It is currently in a state of disrepair, because of local disagreements over health and commercial matters related to the restoration project.

10. Diamond Head - Located at the end of Kalakaua Ave, this amazing crater is not to be missed. Be sure to get there and take the hike up the crater, to discover amazing views of Oahu and beyond. Try to go early in the day as it gets extremely warm as you make your way up the crater.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hawaiian Wedding

Today is my 34 month wedding anniversary - yes the relationship is still so new that we celebrate month anniversaries (well I do anyway)! I wanted to share the story of how John and I got married, and give you the link to the reverend who married us.

We decided to get married spur of the moment - it's a long story, but we ran out of time to make a decision (I had to fly back to Sydney the next day so it literally was a time issue). So we decided yes, let's get married. Ok - so what do we do now? Hawaii is famous for weddings - so we did a google search and found a priest. It was a total business transaction:

1. Call the priest
2. Make an appointment - for 12 hours later - to get married
3. Pick a location to get married
4. Pay the fee
5. Run to Tiffanys and buy wedding rings, then head to Ala Moana Center for a wedding outfit
5. Turn up at Magic Island and get married!

That probably sounds so strange, but its literally how it happened. And despite of the strangeness of deciding and making a huge life decision in a 12 hour period - it was the best experience!

We decided to get married at Magic Island, which is right by Ala Moana Center. Great views of Waikiki and Diamond Head. We had one witness (John's best friend Jimmy) and the Reverend. We had the ceremony and then had photos taken on the beach. It was so personal and romantic. If you are planning a wedding and wish that you could elope - this is the way to do it. Apologies to my friends and family that were hurt by what we did, but this saved a lot of time, money and stress, and was what we wanted to do - and that's what is most important.

Every year when we go to back to Hawaii we get a photo at Magic Island - our upcoming vacation will be no exception.

Our wonderful Reverend's name was Jerry Le Lesch and you can reach him through his website. Enjoy the wedding pics!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fun Hawaii Facts

In keeping with my theme this week of interesting facts and stats about Hawaii, I wanted to share a few more things that I found out this week about the 50th state.

Did you know.......
  • Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. Hawaii is 2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines
  • Hawaii is the only state in the US that grows coffee
  • The Hawaiian Islands are the projecting tops of the biggest mountain range in the world
  • Hawaii has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time). The time runs two hours behind Pacific Standard Time and five hours behind Eastern Standard Time
  • Iolani Palace (Oahu) is the only royal palace in the United States
  • Two of the tallest mountains in the Pacific - Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa - dominate the center of Hawaii (Big Island)
  • Most of the world's macadamia nuts are grown on Hawaii (Big Island)
  • Haleakala Crater (Maui), is the world's largest dormant volcano
  • From east to west Hawaii is the widest state in the United States

Interesting huh? Hawaii has a lot to offer from a history perspective. I enjoy learning something new every day.

Hawaiian President

I wanted to write a note yesterday as it was election day, but unfortunately things in my life got a little out of control in a number of areas. So, its the day after the election and I am sure no-one is surprised that we have a new democratic party (and Hawaiian born) President - Barack Obama!!
There was a great story in USA Today about what Obama means to Hawaii - he is a source of great pride and opportunity for the Hawaiian people. How we will see this come to fruition is anyone's guess - but the fact that Obama is from Hawaii sure makes me hopeful for a better future for the Islands.

Congratulations to Obama and although I am not a US citizen I am thrilled that change is on the way for this country - it's the change we need. We have a big poster at home of the picture to the left and it sums up the feeling we all have when we think of the new President - hope. Good job Obama and we look forward to seeing you in the White House!

Monday, November 3, 2008

State Symbols and Emblems

I am really into getting the stats about Hawaii. I enjoy learning more about the state's history - it helps you to better understand the culture. Today's history lesson is in State Symbols and such - I hope you learn something too!

Bird: Nene (also known as the Hawaiian goose). This bird is on the endangered species list.

Dance: Hula This dance was around before Nintendo introduced Wii Fit!

Fish : Humuhumunukunukuapua`a (also known as the rectangular trigger fish or Hawaiian trigger fish) - try saying that after a few beers. This fish is so beautiful that I am reluctant to eat it.

Flower: Pua Aloalo or Ma`o-hau-hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei)

Gem: Black Coral

Mammal: Hawaiian Monk Seal (very cute)

Marine Mammal: Humpback Whale

Popular Name: The Aloha State

Song: "Hawai`i Pono`i", written by King David Kalakaua

Team Sport: Outrigger Canoe Paddling

Individual Sport: Surfing

Tree: Kukui Tree (Aleurites Moluccana)

Motto: "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono" (The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness)

Language: Hawaiian (although almost everyone there speaks English)

Island Colors:
Hawai`i - Red
Maui - Pink
O`ahu - Golden Yellow
Kaua`i - Purple
Moloka`i - Green
Lana`i - Orange
Ni`ihau - White

I hope you enjoyed your Hawaiian history lesson today. Its great to learn new things about other cultures and regions and Hawaii is no exception.