Category Archives: Hawaii

Hot-Foot It to Hawaii for New Lava Hike

Lava flow close-up on Big Island hike,

Kilauea, one of three active volcanoes on Hawaii Island, has been erupting for over three decades and presents ever-changing lava flows. New reports during the first week in July from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory noted an active lava flow across the southeast coastal plain of Kilauea.

Kileea-Lava

This newest lava outbreak provides upfront access for hardy hikers with Hawaii Forest & Trail. The company has revived its Kilauea Lava Hike to take advantage of the opportunity for fit hikers to experience this bucket list adventure. This new version of the challenging Kilauea Lava Hike traverses 6+ miles of rugged lavascape accompanied by professional and experienced Hawaii Forest & Trail guides.

The reward is  series of stunning views of Kilauea’s coastal plain on to the edge of the volcano’s molten lava flow, an experience that has been out of reach for several years. The hike begins at Hawaii Forest & Trails’ Kona headquarters, with an additional guest pickup available at Queen’s Marketplace in Waikoloa.

The company provides raingear, water and flashlights. Long pants and hiking boots are required. The 3.5-hour Kilauea Lava Hike returns to Hawaii Forest & Trail’s vehicle at about 6:30 p.m. when guests then head out for a local-style dinner in Hilo. Hawaii Forest & Trail’s Kilauea Lava Hike is priced at $192 plus tax per person. To reserve, call 800-464-1993,

Woe-kiki Beach As Raw Sewage Spills into Bay

Big rains overwhelm system and foul fabled beach.

YuckFaceSomething on the order of 500,000 gallons of raw sewage flowed from manholes in Honolulu’s fabled Waikiki neighborhood yesterday  and into storm drains and eventually to the ocean. Lifeguards warned ten minutes to stay out of the water. Despite round-the-clock warnings, however, some tourists and even locals are still going into the ocean.

“City officials said the problem stemmed from heavy rains from overnight and debris that got into the city’s sewer system. Plus they said some people illegally opened manholes in their neighborhoods to alleviate flooding, sending rainwater into the sewer system,” Hawaii News Now further reports. “The city also said the problem was exacerbated because a nearby pump station was closed for construction.” The sewer system has since been patched to avoid a repeat of this potential contamination, and the ocean will cleanse Waikiki Bay. 

But as the recent release of contaminated wastewater into the Animas River in southwestern Colorado demonstrates, the after-effects of environment abuse linger in people’s memories and may affect travel plans for a long time.

Hawaii’s Mokulele to Add Flights

New inter-island carrier serving additional Hawaii airfields.

MokulelAirlinesMokulele Airlines is increasing inter-island service with four new routes beginning on October 20: between Kalaeloa (Oahu) and Molokai, Kalaeloa and Kapalua (Maui), Kapalua and Molokai, and Kapalua and Hana (Maui). On July 1, Mokulele began service from Kalaeloa Airport, the former Barber’s Point Naval Air Base John Rogers Field, to improve inter-island travel for residents and visitors on west Oahu. Current fares are $39 to $59 one-way. Reservations are free if made on-line and $15 otherwise. At this time, bags are free between Lanai and Kahululi. Otherwise, the first checked bag is $15  Seats are assigned at the departure airport.

Polynesian Cultural Center at 50

LDS-owned complex a popular attraction on Oahu

PolynesianCulturalCenterFifty years ago yesterday, the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) opened on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. This Polynesian-themed attraction is part living museum, part theme park and part outreach by its owner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormons) that is located on land owned by nearby Brigham Young University–Hawaii. In fact, there is  a free shuttle tour of the university and the Laie Hawaii Temple and its associated visitors’ center. The of the LDS Church misses very few opportunities to get their message out.

The enables visitors to get a well-orchestrated glimpse of scattered Polynesian peoples. Simulated villages include Fiji, Hawaii, the Marquesa Islands, New Zealand (Aotearoa), Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga. Entertainment includes  luaus, music and dance are presented to visitors. It is said to be the only cultural tourist attraction of its kind in the world. The center is a job provider  on the opposite side of the island from Honolulu. Seventy percent of the center’s approximately 1,300 employees are BYU-Hawaii students with profits from the commercial venture funding various scholarship programs.

In half a century, the PCC has welcomed more than 37 million guests, some of whom dismiss it as a tourist trap and others who are impressed by the concentration of information on the variations on the theme of Polynesian culture presented there via presentations, exhibits and hands-on activities. Hawaiian Journey, a new film features Hawaii’s captivating scenery on one of the state’s largest movie screens; a canoe pageant performed on the lagoon, a s luau with Hawaiian entertainment and a night show called Ha: Breath of Life.

Shoppers rejoice. The PCC’s five-year, $100 million ifacility and experiential improvement projects are scheduled to conclude in fourth quarter 2014 with the grand opening of the newly expanded Pacific Marketplace, which will double in size to accommodate more shops and offer a wider selection of goods and products from throughout Polynesia. Notably, the marketplace will be positioned closer to Kamehameha Highway and be more readily accessible, as people will be able to shop without having to actually enter the PCC. For more information, call 800-367-7060.

Guest Post: 4 Real Places of Unreal Beauty

Blue Fire Public Relations submitted the following guest post, including the links. I’m pretty picky about guest posts, but I really liked the four images on this one and wanted everyone else with the travel bug to see them. I edited the guest post very slightly.

The globe has been trotted, mapped and conquered, yet natural beauty remains and continues to beckon adventure seekers. From sprawling Asia to hometown America, the world is covered in wonders. Though the pictures may make you believe they’re from a fantasy land, here are four amazing places that actually exist:

Wulingyuan Scenic Area (Hunan, China)

Wulingyan Scenic Area

With 243 peaks surrounded by more than 3,000 karst upthrusts, Wulingyuan scenic area is filled with waterfalls, limestone caves and rivers unlike any other, according to LonelyPlanet.com. Located just outside of Zhangjiajie city, the subtropical forest of the park is locally known as the inspiration for James Cameron’s the idea for the floating mountains in “Avatar.” In 2010, Gadling.com reported that city officials renamed a peak called “Southern Sky Column” in hopes to draw more crowds to the park. The new name of the peak? “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.”  (Photo from Flickr user Jetske / Jetske19)

Writer’s Tip: The Zhongtian International Youth Hostel, located in Zhangjiajie city, has a sister branch on the mountain. If you stay there, you can pay to have your bags transported between the two hostels; just keep your personal information, passport and picture ID on you. My comment: When I visited China soon after the opening of the Three Gorges cam, the itinerary included a designated scenic area near Yichang, downstream from the dam. Tucked into a valley not far from the is a scenic area in which reenactors are (or were) stationed to demonstrate traditional fishing, agricultural and domestic skills.

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

Old Faithful

Found in America’s first national park and known as America’s best-known geyser, Old Faithful is still as beautiful as ever. The geyser erupts about 20 times a day and can spout water anywhere between 130 and 190 feet in the air, according to Yellowstonepark.com. The place to experience steaming vents and shooting columns of water, Yellowstone is home to about half of the world’s geysers, making it the largest concentration of geysers on earth. Old Faithful (Photo by Flickr user Adrian Valenzuela)

Writer’s Tip: Before going on this trip, dig through your closet for your Teva sandals, waterproof hiking boots and an umbrella, as you’re going to need them. My comment: I’d don Gore-Tex or other rain gear rather than carry an umbrella. I want my hands free for photography.

Tunnel of Love (Kleven, Ukraine)

Tunnel of Love

A rarely used railway track in the small Ukrainian town of Kleven is slowly garnering attention as photographs surface of the phenomenon taking place. In an area of dense trees, a train has carved out a tunnel just big enough for it to chug through. Otherwise, the arching area is completely overgrown by greenery and leaves — creating what’s now known as the Tunnel of Love. According to the International Business Times, the area has become particularly popular with the young crowd, and lovers holding hands walk through the tunnel in spring. (Photo by Panoramia.com user Serhei under Creative Commons license)

Tip: Not yet tagged a tourist attraction, the Tunnel of Love is located 217 miles from western Kiev, the country’s capital city, noted by the International Business Times. When preparing for the trip, consider investing in a money belt to keep your passport safe and an identity theft protection company like Life Lock to monitor your personal information while you’re away. My comment: If China is not on your travel schedule, you can have a similar experience, sans railroad tracks, driving though the Tunnel of Trees, two rows of eucalyptus trees arching over the road to Poipu on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.

Gran Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni, Bolivia)

Gran Salar de Uyuni

According to Ruaverdebolivia.com, the Gran Salar de Uyuni was part of Lake Minchin, a giant prehistoric lake. Now it’s the world’s largest salt flat. Located in southwest Bolivia near the crest of the Andes, the area is roughly 25 times larger than the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. It’s estimated that Salar de Uyuni contains 10 billion tons of salt, though only 25,000 tons are extracted annually, revealed on the Ruta Verde website. (Photo by Flickr user Jürgen Schiller García / schillergarcia_

My comment: The startling white surface behind the cacti and other desert plants is the Gran Salar, the great salt flats of Uyuni.

Hawaii’s Volcano House Will Reopen

Iconic hotel in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park back on track

Volcano House, boarded up.
I have been to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park four times — most recently in June 2011. With Kilauea, one of the Big Island’s five volcanoes (and the only active one), disgorging steam, volcanic debris and flowing lava since 1983, the park’s topography has been different from one visit to another. An additional difference last year from my previous visits over nearly two decades was that the Volcano House with its ringside view of the eruption was boarded up, and that had nothing to do with volcanic activity but rather with concessionaire issues. The details are too tedious to detail, but re-opening is on the near horizon — and that is good news worth sharing.

Since 1824, a lodging structure has perched on the edge of the Kīlauea caldera to shelter park visitors. The first real Volcano House was built in 1866, and that year, Mark Twain wrote that “the surprise of finding a good hotel in such an outlandish spot startled me considerably more than the volcano did.” The great American writer presumably did not visit during an active cycle that would have eclipsed everything his wonderment at the hotel’s location, but in these says, seeing the red rambling landmark boarded up and neglected is simply sad. The current structure was built in 1941 and has been shuttered since 2009.

Thankfully, that’s going to change in the foreseeable future.  A 15-year concession contract has been awarded to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC to operate the Volcano House and other visitor services within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The  Hawaiʻi-based company, owned by Ortega National Parks, LLC, is a partnership between Honolulu-based Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Inc., and Ortega National Parks LLC, a company with 16 years of experience operating concessions within national parks in California and New Mexico, including Bandelier, White Sands, Muir Woods, Carlsbad Caverns, and Death Valley. The locally based Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Inc. manages 18 hotels and resorts on five islands in Hawaiʻi .

Continue reading Hawaii’s Volcano House Will Reopen

29th Anniversary of Kilauea’s Eruption

Lava has been erupting from Hawaiian volcano for nearly three decades & still flowing strong

My friend Jessica Ferracane, who was not working for the National Park Service when I saw her in June but is doing so now, just reminded her Facebook friends that today is the 29th anniversary of the beginning of Kīlauea volcano’s east rift eruption. It has been going on since then. Volcanoes present nature’s most spectacular light show, especially at night when red lava glows in the inky blackness. You certainly don’t get a cake and candles for a volcano!

When the Pu’u ‘O’o-Kupaianaha eruption began on January 3, 1983, it was Kīlauea’s 55th documented eruption going back some six centuries, including 34 “eruption cycles” in the last 200 or so years. Madame Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, is believed to dwell on (in?) Kīlauea, and native chants and oral traditions tell of the many eruptions instigated by an angry Pele. She must be very, very angry these days, yet in her anger, she has made the Big Island of Hawaii even bigger — adding something like 500 acres of lava fields. And January, it seems, is Volcano Awareness Month. Who knew?

Continue reading 29th Anniversary of Kilauea’s Eruption

New Zipline on Big Island’s Kohala Coast

Kohala Canopy Adventure debuts with super-zipline

As if volcano viewing, nature tours, whale watching, hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, sport fishing, bicycling, tennis, golf and plain old DIY sightseeing weren’t enough, Big Island of Hawaii adds another activity when the first zipline experience takes off this month. I’ve ziplined elsewhere, and I love the idea of a thrilling aerial trek in Hawaii — especially on the Big Island. Hawaii Forest & Trail, with two decades of nature tours activities, has a new sister company that takes to the air to provide a thrilling ride, yet stays true to its core values and keeps this nature-based experience.

The new Kohala Canopy Adventure was intended to embrace the captivating beauty and history of Kohala’s Halawa Gulch, where a canopy course provides a a tree-to-tree experience that features five elevated suspension bridges, 14 high tree platforms, nine thrilling ziplines (eight single rider lines and one dual rider line) and two rappels.  Adventure Playground, the canopy course builders who have done ziplines in Colorado and Costa Rica, installed platforms in towering century-old trees.  The platforms and elevated sky bridges use lumber milled from trees on site with minimal impact to the forest, with as little distrubance as possible. Zipline riders absorb the beauty of a meandering stream, ancient taro fields and the forest floor below.

For anyone concerned about safety, the Kohala zipline uses a twin-line cable system with two trolleys, one secured on the top line and one secured on the bottom line.  Each line is constructed of aircraft-grade galvanized steel andcoated with a proprietary polymer blend that reduces line noise by more than 50%. Kohala Zipline is Hawaii’s only course to use WhisperLinesSM, which allows riders to hear the distinctive sounds of the forest rather than line whine.

The cost is $159 per adult and $129 per child. Book online, Email info@kohalazipline or call 800-464-1993 or 808-331-3620.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Update

Kilauea remains very active, but the activity keeps changing

Two months ago, I visited Hawaii’s Big Island and wrote several blog posts about where I went and what I saw (and on Culinary Colorado, what I ate). One post was called “Hawaii’s Changing Landscape on View” and focused on Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I also wrote about the park for a website National Parks Traveler. “Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s Changing Landscape is the Only Constant.”  Same island. Same experiences. Different words.

Photo of Pu' O'o Cone taken in 1983 by the U.S. Geological Survey's George Ulrich. The cone became a crater but more recently as changed its volcanic tune again.

The words have to be different, because the volcanoes have shifted geologic gears again. When I was there in late June, no lava was flowing but a huge plume of gases, steam and particulate matter was steadily emitted into the sky from the Pu’u O’o crater. At night, the emission glowed. It still does.

During the years while this was going on, fiery lava lakes developed deep within the Pu’u O’o crater, and on Aug. 3, the bottom seemed to fall out of the lake, which dropped precipitously, and following rapid-fire volcanic activity, lava began flowing again. Earlier this month, the Park Service posted a map and status report and regularly updates reports on road, trail and facility openings and closures, depending on current activity.