Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Natalani's New Years Resolutions

Yep its that time of year - again! I tend not to keep my resolutions as I never write them down, but now I have my blog to keep me on track. So here are my resolutions for 2009; I hope to reflect on this list in 12 months and be satisfied that I have done what I said I would. Happy New Year!

Natalani's New Years Resolutions
1. Blog more - at least 5 posts per week
2. Eat less - exercise more - 4 times per week
3. Take up one new hobby
4. Sleep less
5. Less shopping - more money saving

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Movies Filmed in Hawaii

Hawaii has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, perfect for Television shows and movies. Hawaii has been a prime location for shooting independent and major motion pictures, surf videos, travel and lifestyle shows. The film industry in the islands continues to thrive as the Islands grow more diverse and beautiful every day. From volcanoes to snow-covered mountain caps to sea-level reef shots, the Hawaii offers a range of views that no other location can. Upon doing some research, I was amazed to find out just how many movies have used Hawaii for part or all of their filming. Here is a list from the last 10 years, and I have a feeling there are more that I may have missed!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Tropic Thunder
Pirates of the Caribbean


You, Me & Dupree
The Shaggy Dog
Snakes on a Plane

The Hulk
Embracing Mana
Along Came Polly
50 First Dates
Tears of the Sun

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
The Big Bounce
The Rundown
Tears of the Sun
Blue Crush
Final Exam
Die Another Day
The Day After Tomorrow

Lilo and Stitch
The Time Machine
Planet of the Apes
Final Fantasy
Punch Drunk Love
The Ride

The Night Marchers
The Testaments Waikiki: In the Wake of Dreams
Jurassic Park III
To End All Wars
Pearl Harbor

The Big Show
Off the Lip

Molokai: The True Story of Father Damien

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hawaiian Top 10 - 2008

Every magazine I have read this week has a top 10 list of some sort, whether its top 10 books, top 10 blunders, top 10 restaurants and so forth. So to keep in the spirit of all things top 10, I have compiled my top 10 favorite things about Hawaii (in no particular order!) - enjoy.

1. Shopping
2. Waikiki Beach
3. Duke's Waikiki
4. Weather
5. Hawaii Warriors
6. Dog The Bounty Hunter
7. Barefoot Bar
8. Magic Island (where I got married)
9. Alan Wong's
10. The Aloha Spirit

Happy holidays to everyone and be sure to keep reading Natalani in 2009!

John & I at Duke's Waikiki, where we first met!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back in Seattle - Back on Natalani

Merry Christmas everyone! After a very stressful week I am finally back in Seattle and ready to write again on Natalani. The weather in the Pacific Northwest has been nothing short of terrible, and its weeks like this that I try not to look out the window, and just dream of Hawaii instead. Don't get me wring, a white Christmas is certainly a change of scenery from Sydney and Hawaii, but being trapped in the house is no fun.

I have a few more days of vacation and then its back to the grind. I am looking forward to 2009 as I have set a lot of blog related goals, so be sure to check back often about all things Hawaii!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stuck at Disneyland For The Holidays

Just a quick post today as I am currently on the hotel computer in Anaheim that charges by the minute to use the computer! I went to Disneyland for the weekend during the worst storm that Seattle has seen in years - hence to say my flight was cancelled, and I am now trapped in California. We have booked a flight for December 24 with another airline, but no promises that the flight will take off. So, until I can get home there will be limited blog postings. Boo. Please keep your fingers crossed that I will make it home for Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Target to Open in Hawaii in March

Yesterday at the Hawaii Convention Center, people were lined up as early as 4.30am to be interviewed for jobs at the two new Target stores, opening on Oahu in March 2009. Read the full report from the Honolulu Advertiser - here. The declining American economy has impacted the state of Hawaii significantly - in fact, even my previous employer, Communications Pacific has had to lay off people and cut the hours of some, which really surprised me. Due to rising joblessness on O'ahu alone, the ranks of the unemployed have grown from from 11,250 last December to 17,350 as of October, which made for a highly competitive atmosphere at yesterday's job fair. That's a huge amount of unemployed people, given the population of the O'ahu is just over one million people.

Target was able to process over 1,000 applicants who turned up for interviews yesterday, and the good news is that there are still positions available. The job market in Hawaii now is more competitive than ever before, and people with good skills and experience alone will need to show that they have that extra something if they want to be considered for a position. My suggestion: if you are unemployed and have some spare time, start learning a new skill, or undertake some training so you will be ready when the right role presents itself. You can never learn too much!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Honolulu City Lights

Every year downtown Honolulu gets a visit from Santa and his Hawaiian friends at the annual Honolulu City Lights Celebration. 2008 marks the 24th year of this tradition, where you will see the many wonderful characteristics and uniqueness of the people of Hawaii and their island home. The theme of the lights this year is "Ku'u Home - Our Home" - where Honolulu is highlighted and displayed as a special place where diverse cultures intertwine, where history blends, and where the Spirit of Aloha is embraced and shared with families, friends and visitors.

The City Lights Celebration will continue now through the end of December, so if you are heading to the Islands for the holidays, be sure to head downtown (in the evening for the best look) to witness this special display. For more information visit the website.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pro Bowl 2009 - We Have Our Tickets

John was able to get tickets for the 2009 Pro Bowl this week. He is taking his good friend Jimmy to the game instead of having a bachelor party before the wedding. I was just reading in the news today that Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Brett Favre will be there, among others. Although the game will be much more laid back than the regular season, it should be great for celebrity spotting! The sad news is that Tony Romo won't be going, but 5 Cowboys will be in attendance.I am thinking that I will be sure to see a few of these guys walking the streets in Waikiki - time for a photo and autograph!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lanikai Beach

My good friend Jimmy is getting married in February, and has decided on Lanikai Beach for the location. Located on the eastern side of Oahu, Lanikai beach is a short distance from the famous Kailua Beach, minus the big crowds of people. Lanikai itself is made up of a few streets and lavish homes, all but cut off from the rest of Kailua by Ka᾽iwa Ridge. Kailua Beach County Park is simply stunning, and often features on prestigious lists like “World’s Best Beaches" on the Travel Channel. It makes for an ideal swimming spot all year round, with water is so clear it’s amazing. There are no hotels in Kailua, but if you have a day to spare I would strongly suggest heading here for a wonderful beach experience. You can rent a car to get there, but it is also accessible by bus – check out The Bus timetable for the right bus route. I can’t wait to see the photos from the wedding – with one of the best backdrops in the world, its sure to be a wonderful day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hawaii on a Budget

With Christmas fast approaching and the economy in steady decline, I am watching my wallet very carefully. Everything seems to be more expensive (food, clothes, you name it). So as I start preparing for my next trip to Hawaii in February, it got me thinking about things that we could do that wouldn't break the bank. Hawaii has so many wonderful natural resources that you could plan a vacation on $50 per day or less (or maybe less depending on how savvy you are!). Here are a few things that I will be doing while I am there that won't break the bank:

1. Swim at Waikiki Beach
2. Watch the sunset
3. Get a bus pass and travel around Oahu for 4 days for $20
4. Go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay (only $5 entry fee)
5. Climb the Koko Head Crater
6. Walk to the top of Diamond Head
7. Head to Chinatown for great food that is inexpensive
8. Rent a kayak and head out in the surf
9. Visit the Dole Plantation
10. Visit Pearl Harbor

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cheeseburger Beachwalk Opens at Waikiki Beach Walk

Great News! Another restaurant has opened at the Waikiki Beach Walk - appropriately titled, "Cheeseburger Beach Walk". The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails, and is located on the center's second level at the top of the escalators on the mauka end of the building. The restaurant is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Operated by Cheeseburger Restaurants, the chain is known for its gourmet burgers and fries, as well as its selection of sandwiches, salads and seafood. There are also a number of vegetarian options for patrons looking for alternative menu choices.

You can out more information about the growing list of great restaurants at Waikiki Beach Walk here. I love that Lewers St. has had a face lift and now offers a great selection of great dining and shopping choices for all visitors to the Islands.

Hawaii State Quarter - What's That Phrase?

Someone was on my blog recently looking for the translation on the back of the new Hawaii State Quarter - and thankfully my friends at Hawaii Magazine recently did a blog post on this - read the complete story here - thanks to John and Derek!

Monday, December 8, 2008

2008 Hawaii Bowl

I stayed up way past my usual bedtime on Saturday night to watch the Hawaii Warriors play their final game of the season, against the Cincinnati Bearcats. To my disappointment, Hawaii lost it in the final quarter of the game, final score being 29-24. Bummer. They had a much better season last year with Colt Brennan as quarterback, but he has now moved on and is the 3rd starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins – too bad he hasn’t had a chance to play this season.....

The good news for the Warriors is that they get to go the Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium on December 24! Bad news – they are playing Notre Dame, who have had a less than impressive season this year, finishing at 6-6. The Irish have played in Hawaii three times before. The Irish played in the 1984 Aloha Bowl, losing 27-20 to SMU. The Irish also traveled to Hawaii to play the Warriors twice, beating them 48-42 in 1991 and 23-22 in 1997.

I went to the Hawaii Bowl a couple of years back – and it was awesome! Hawaii wasn’t playing unfortunately, but it was still a fun afternoon out. When Hawaii plays in the Hawaii bowl, the turnout is much higher and the die-hard Hawaii fans turn out in droves to support their team. The fact that the game is on Christmas Eve is a draw card for me, as in Hawaii you are definitely NOT sitting by the fire, drinking hot chocolate and singing Christmas carols! You are at the beach, shopping, or – at the Hawaii Bowl!

If you are going to be in Hawaii over the holiday season, why don’t you head out to Aloha Stadium and support the Warriors? You can purchase tickets at Aloha Stadium website. For those who will not be in Hawaii, the game will be broadcast on ESPN. Enjoy the game and GO WARRIORS!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hawaiian Coffee

Its late on Friday afternoon, and all I can think about is coffee. Did you know that Hawaii is the only state in the US that produces coffee? Though coffee is not native to the Hawaiian Islands, the climate and topography of the Islands offers some of the most ideal growing conditions in the world – thus producing some of the best coffee in the world.

Although coffee is not native to the Hawaiian Islands, the climate and topography of the Islands offers some of the most ideal growing conditions in the world – thus producing some of the best coffee in the world. Coffee was first introduced to the Islands by Chief Boki, the Governor of Oahu, in 1825. He acquired coffee plants in Brazil while aboard a British warship, the H.M.S. Blonde. These first coffee plants were planted in Manoa Valley, on Oahu, where they flourished. From this original planting, coffee trees were introduced to locations around the Islands, including the now famous Kona Coast. The Kona coast on the Big Island of Hawaii has been described as the Napa Valley of the coffee world. The Kona coffee growing region is only about fifty square miles in all, and is farmed largely by small landowners. A lot of the coffee you see in Hawaii is marked 100% Kona coffee, or 10% Kona blend etc. If you can get your hands on the 100% variety, I strongly recommend it - although it is more expensive, its worth the investment. Be sure to check the labels to make sure its the real deal - there are a lot of Hawaiian coffee brands out there, with many being less than 100% Hawaiian coffee.

Some of the brands I would recommend you try during your stay in Hawaii are:

Hawaiian Coffee Company - produces Lion Coffee and Royal Kona Coffee

Maui Coffee Roasters - also roast Kona coffee beans

Hula Daddy - this coffee company has recently received a historic 97-point score out of a possible 100 for its Sweet Kona Light Roast coffee in the December edition of Coffee Review .

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hawaiian Weather - Sunny and 80

One of the best parts about living in Hawaii is the consistently gorgeous weather. It is so nice to wake up, open the blinds and look out to the sunshine, almost every day of the year. There are really only two seasons in Hawaii: summer and winter. The average daytime summer temperature 85º F. (29.4 C) while the average daytime winter temperature is 78º (25.6º C). Temperatures at night are approximately 10º F. lower. If you are a fan of the heat, it doesn't get much better than this. The picture above is a typical 5 day forecast report.

The wettest months in Hawaii are from November to March, but all this means is that it helps to cool down the temperature - by no means should you worry about the rain disrupting your vacation plans. Because of Hawaii’s trade winds, there is almost always a cooling breeze. Several times during the year the trade winds will stop completely and the wind will switch around to come out of the south or west, bringing stormy or hot sticky weather. Islanders sometimes call this Kona weather, because kona means leeward or South, and this points to the direction from which these weather systems arrive. But most of the time, the weather is so pleasant that you might forget to go indoors. I used to spend as much time as possible outdoors, as there is nothing quite like fresh air and the smell of the ocean in your backyard!

What is funny though is how your body becomes adjusted to the weather, no matter where you live. During one winter in Hawaii, I remember the temperature got down to 65 degrees, and I headed to work with a scarf, gloves and jacket on - for Hawaii that was cold! Now in Seattle, its starting to get down into the 30s at night, and I am still going outside without a jacket - crazy!

If you are planning a vacation and are wondering when the best time is to travel to Hawaii, I would give the following suggestion:

  • If you like it REALLY hot - Late August/September
  • Pleasant - November
  • Mild - February

No matter when you go - you can be guaranteed to come home with a killer tan!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hawaiian Holiday Shopping Guide

Can you believe it's almost Christmas? Time has flown this year, and I don't know about you but I have been tardy with purchasing my gifts for the holidays. In recent years, I would start buyings gifts around September, and spread them out so I didn't have a nasty credit card bill at the end of the year. But this year, for a number of reasons, I have not done my shopping and expect this bill to arrive under the Christmas tree (along with a bunch of presents I hope!)

Have you thought about buying Hawaiian gifts for your friends and family this Christmas? If you read this blog, its probably because you like Hawaii, so why not share the Hawaii with those you love? My good friend Catherine was kind enough to send me this blog post from Two Japanese Bruddahs , which is a great compilation of Hawaiian gifts that you can buy during the holiday season - thanks Catherine! My picks on this list: SPAM Cookbook and Royal Kona Coffee. Thanks to the Bruddahs for this great story.

Friday, November 21, 2008
Two Japanese Bruddahs’ Holiday Shopping Guide

"Budget" may be the theme of this year's holiday shopping season for many of us. But that just means we may need to be more creative in our gift giving.

Unfortunately, "creative" isn't often mentioned in the responses I get when I give presents, so I turned to the wonderful Bay Area members of for advice on Hawai'i-related gift ideas.

My college buddy Kim Shinjo recommended Kimochi's Silver Bells Arts & Crafts Faire on Dec. 13 as one place where you might be able to find island style items. "Mostly cute stuff for women," said Kim. The fair is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Event Center at St. Mary's Cathedral, 1111 Gough Street, San Francisco.

Kim and Curtis Otaguro both mentioned, the website of Wholesale Unlimited, Inc., where you can order hundreds of items, ranging from kakimochi, arare and senbei to specialty cookies, dried seafood, jerky and candies.

My absolute favorite on is the "hurricane popcorn" - popcorn, furikake, arare and butter. If you haven't tried it, get some. It's almost better than spam.

One of Hawaii's best known local snacks purveyors, Wholesale Unlimited got started by Betty Honma in the 1960s by selling beef jerky wholesale to local bars and markets out of the trunk of her car.

And at about the same time that Betty was driving her goods around Honolulu, Bryan Li's family was starting their own local snacks shop focusing on crack seed, also known as li hing mui or see mui. Visit to see their gift baskets and other items.

Curtis also recommended Nikkei Traditions in San Jose ( as a stop on your gift hunting trail and the website for Bess Press (, publishers of books like Ann Kondo Corum's "Hawaii's 2nd SPAM Cookbook;" the classic "Pidgin to Da Max" by Douglas Simonson, Pat Sasaki and Ken Sakata; and the newly updated version of "Japanese in Hawaii: Okage Sama De" by Dorothy Ochiai Hazama and Jane Okamoto Kemeiji.Corum's SPAM cookbook has almost every imaginable recipe for SPAM, including Green Eggs and SPAM Musubi, Easy Cheesy SPAM Crisps, Local-Style SPAM Burritos and Japanese SPAM Loaf.

Satomi and Byron Goo's The Tea Chest ( was on Davina Lam's list. "They carry the plantation iced tea blend that Alan Wong's Pineapple Room serves," she said, referring to the restaurant in Macy's Ala Moana. On their website, the Goo's mention that they're the exclusive distributor of Shin Cha from Onoen Farm, which began tending the Japanese Emperor's private tea plants a century ago.

Davina also likes for their seasonal holiday coffee blends, for the beautiful koa pieces and for all the kids in the family.

Alyce Lee recommended Taj Clubhouse as well. She also likes buying holiday gifts from, especially their jams, honey, mochi and interesting Japanese snack items. She also likes Honolulu Cookie Company (

Honolulu Cookie Company is a good alternative to the perennial chocolate-dipped shortbread cookie maker, Big Island Candies (, which recently introduced a line of truffles that includes Mocha, Hibiscus, Dark Chocolate, Yuzu and Coconut flavors.

A big mahalo to Alika Hollister, Terry Akiyama, Myron Ho, Kendall Lee, Kevin Sakuda and Katherine Eslao for their gift ideas. I couldn't fit all the great ideas into this column, but appreciate their suggestions.

Keith Kamisugi and Kyle Tatsumoto are the Two Japanee Bruddahs. Read past stories at

Monday, December 1, 2008

Luau Party Supplies

I was surfing the internet this afternoon and came across this great website for all your luau party supplies - Hawaiian Luau Party Supplies. This is a most comprehensive collection of items that will make your luau a success. Among my favorite items are the grass skirts, tikis and ukuleles. The website has a nice sidebar with information about luaus, such as party decoration ideas, luau serving suggestions and also historical information about tikis, ukuleles, and hula.

Online shopping makes everything so accessible these days - it's awesome. You don't need to live in Hawaii to have a truly memorable luau - just a credit card and a bit of creativity!