When East Hawaii is lovely, Hilo is sublime

11 06 2012

Hawai’i Nui means Great Hawai’i. Mehana means the warmth of the sun in Hawaii.  The Hawaiian Islands are a great place to visit, from the Garden Island of Kaua’i to the Big Island of Hawai’i. This is the tenth post in a series of opinion pieces on the question, “What makes Hilo worth a special trip?”  Click on the “Hilo” category to read all ten posts.

Reason #10. On a sunny day in and around Hilo you can experience the most beautifully luscious greenery and most sparkling skies in the company of a waterfall.

Today is a BEAUTIFUL day in Hilo, and I am rereading Isabella Bird’s book, The Hawaiian Archipelago: Six months among the palm groves, coral reefs, and volcanoes of The Sandwich Islands.  I think she might have said it best.

What Honolulu attempts to be, Hilo is without effort. Its crescent-shaped bay, said to be the most beautiful in the Pacific, is a semi-circle of about two miles, with its farther extremity formed by Cocoanut Island, a black lava islet on which this palm obtains great perfection, and beyond it again a fringe of cocoanuts marks the deep indentation of the shore. From this island to the north part of the bay, there is a band of golden sand on which the roar of the surf sounded thunderous and drowsy as it mingled with the music of living waters, the Waiakea and the Wailuku, which after lashing the sides of the mountains which give them birth, glide deep and fern-fringed into the ocean. Native houses, half hidden by greenery, line the bay, and stud the heights above the Wailuku, and near the landing some white frame houses and three church spires above the wood denote the foreign element. Hilo is unique.

I am lucky enough to be with friends staying at the Inn at Kulaniapia Falls mauka of Hilo. This ‘aina is spectacular!   If you are looking for a place to stay in Hilo while visiting the brewery, it would be hard to go wrong here.

A beautiful day!

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The rock at the base of the waterfall brings to mind a mo’o, or native Hawaiian lizard

..

East Hawaii is so clean and fresh, even the sky sparkles!

Hilo waterfalls to check out include: Rainbow Falls, where the demigod Maui was born; Akaka Falls, the highest in the state, and the waterfall at the Hawaiian Tropic Botanical Garden.





What’s Hawaii’s most scenic drive? Mauna Kea Saddle Road on Big Island of Hawai’i

30 01 2010

Hawai’i Nui means Great Hawai’i. The Hawaiian Islands are a great place to visit, from the Garden Island of Kaua’i to the Big Island of Hawai’i. This is the eighth post in a series of opinion pieces on the question, “What makes Hilo worth a special trip?”

Reason #8. Experience the most spectacular drive in Hawai’i, the journey from Hilo to Kailua-Kona over the Saddle Road.

It’s so important to enjoy life’s journey. In Hawai’i, we celebrate holo holo time, or journeys of exploration. Here is some inside scoop on what we consider one of the most adventurous journeys you can take.

While on the Big Island of Hawai’i, don’t miss the opportunity to take one of the most scenic drives in the world, the round trip from Kona to Hilo. In the morning, take the makai route, next to the ocean. In the evening, take the mauka route, over the Saddle Road, to see the sun set.

Time was, the Saddle Road was one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in the country. It has been improved significantly over the last few years. It’s not going to shake your car to pieces, like in the old days.

Getting a traffic ticket is probably the biggest danger in driving today’s Saddle Road.  Hawaii police use unmarked cars.  And the policemen are hunters.  They have a level of stealth that mainland people will find surprising.  If you are a lead foot, you will end up supporting the State of Hawaii to the tune of $140 or so before you know it.  So take my advice and JUST DON’T SPEED.

Even for local residents, the Saddle Road is still a thrill.

The mountain looks a little different every time because of the weather or the time of day. And every time I make that drive, there’s always a moment when the sheer beauty of the landscape gives me the chicken skin.

Beginning the descent down Mauna Kea, you can sometimes see the sun setting through a fog.

As you descend the mountain, the view of the sunset changes with your viewing angle and the atmospheric conditions.

Closer to sea level, you might see a spectacular double sunset effect like this one

Enjoy your visit to the Big Island of Hawai’i. We hope you will make time to visit the fairest little city in the Pacific.

Spectacular cloud formation seen from the Saddle Road on the Big Island of Hawai’i





Enjoy the journey to Hilo, Hawai’i

15 01 2010

Hawai’i Nui means Great Hawai’i. The Hawaiian Islands are a great place to visit, from the Garden Island of Kaua’i to the Big Island of Hawai’i. This is the seventh post in a series of opinion pieces on the question, “What makes Hilo worth a special trip?”

Reason #7. Life has no finer journey than that to Hilo, Hawai’i

It’s so important to enjoy life’s journey.

In Hawai’i, we celebrate holo holo time, or journeys of exploration. Here is some inside scoop on what we consider to be one of the most enjoyable, interesting and varied journeys you can take.

While on the Big Island of Hawai’i, don’t miss the opportunity to drive from from Kona to Hilo and back. If you choose to do the whole trip in one day, you’ll be amazed by the variety of climate zones you’ll encounter. But of course the journey is even better with a stopover in Hilo, say to take advantage of an Aloha Sunday at the East Hawaii Cultural Center, a trip to Imiloa or the Lyman museum, and a visit to other Hilo attractions.

QueenKaahumanuHighway

This post discusses the journey from Kailua-Kona to Hilo. The next post covers the return.

If you’re starting from Kailua-Kona in the morning, we suggest you take the makai route to Hilo, as opposed to the mauka route. (Makai means toward the sea. Mauka means toward the mountain.) We recommend the makai route in the morning so you can reserve the mauka route, the Saddle Road over Mauna Kea, to view the Hawaiian sunset.

In the morning, drive north up the Kohala Coast on Queen Kaahumanu Highway, or Highway 19 . (Locals call this the “Lower Road” to Waimea, as opposed to the Mamalahoa Highway, or the “Upper Road.”) You will be traveling through black lava fields — a distinctively Big Island look.

Go North on Queen K./Highway 19 to Kawaihae. Kawaihae is well worth a stop. Here is a link to the Pacific Roots Project web site that provides a wonderful overview of Kawaihae — the setting, the sea, the land, the native history, and more.

Kids playing at Kawaihae Harbor, image courtesy of Richard Cohen

Kids playing at Kawaihae Harbor, image courtesy of Richard Cohen

Capturing an image of a cinder cone, just mauka of Kawaihae on the Big Island of Hawai'i

Capturing an image of a cinder cone, just mauka of Kawaihae on the Big Island of Hawai’i

At Kawaihae, you have a decision point. If you will be taking an overnight in Hilo, you will have time to explore North Kohala.

On a clear day, you can see Maui from North Kohala

On a clear day, you can see Maui from North Kohala

Looking inland from Upolu Point on North Kohala, you can see the observatories on Mauna Kea

Looking inland from Upolu Point on North Kohala, you can see the observatories on Mauna Kea

If you want to holo holo to Hilo and back to Kona in one day, bear right at Kawaihae. Follow Highway 19 to the right toward Waimea. Continue through Waimea and you will eventually begin to see the Hamakua coast on your left.

P1110769When you reach Honoka’a, you will have an opportunity to descend to the Old Mamalahoa Highway, a road reminiscent of the Road to Hana on Maui.

The windward coast of North Hawai’i is magnficent country. The cliffs that fall steeply into the ocean were formed out of eroded flanks of the now extinct volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Kohala. Between the cliffs you’ll see lush, stream-carved valleys, some with waterfalls.

There are many picturesque stopping places along this route from Kailua-Kona to Hilo. We hope this sampling of photos inspires you to make the trip.

Enjoy your visit to the Big Island of Hawai’i.  Hope you make it to visit the fairest little city in the Pacific, Hilo, Hawaii.





Why visit Hilo? To shop, of course

13 12 2009

Hawai’i Nui means Great Hawai’i. The Hawaiian Islands are a great place to visit, from the Garden Island of Kaua’i to the Big Island of Hawai’i. This is the sixth post in a series of opinion pieces on the question, “What makes Hilo worth a special trip?”

Reason #6. Hilo is home to Hawaii’s most authentic shopping experiences.

Shopping is top of mind for almost everyone in December.   Hilo is where Big Island residents go when they want to make their money go the furthest, and where visitors go when they want to shop the authentic Hawai’i.

Shopping in Hilo is worth the trip any time of the year.  We have a wide range of shopping venues, from national chains to mom-and-pop stores.  If you can’t get it in Hilo, you probably don’t need it.

For a truly unique shopping experience, park along King Kamehameha Avenue near the Farmers’ Market.  Some of my favorite stores for holiday gift-giving include:

  • Basically Books — this family-owned independent bookstore boasts a terrific selection for gift giving, souvenirs, and reference for residents
  • Abundant Life Natural Foods & Cafe — wonderful groceries and and assortment of “chewy-crunchy” books and gifts
  • Dragon Mama — The natural fiber shop features beautiful futons, tatamis, Japanese textiles and bedding
  • Sig Zane — Couture, Big Island Style.  Fabric designs are inspired by native plants, and styles are authentically local.  This is the place for real Alohawear, the kind that you can wear with pride anywhere in the world.

Enjoy your visit to the Big Island of Hawai’i.  Hope you make it to visit the fairest little city in the Pacific.

 

With my hanai nephew at a formal ocasion on the Very Big Island of England, proving that Alohawear from Sig Zane in Hilo goes anywhere in the world!





Es Gibt Kein Bier auf Hawaii? Update on the Oktoberfest song project

29 10 2009

Mehana_product_of_hawaiiThe month of October is just about over and done, and with it, the German Oktoberfest drinking song, Es Gibt Kein Bier auf Hawaii, “There is no beer in Hawaii.”

We don’t expect to be hearing this musical travesty again until February’s Karneval, the German-speaking world’s Mardi Gras celebration, when once again German speakers will prove they are more than a century out of date when it comes to Hawai’i beer. ( The original Primo was brewed in 1898.)

Earlier this month, we put out a call for participation for an effort to re-write the song.

Keola Donaghy has graciously taken up the challenge to write to defend Hawaii’s honor with a chant. We are honored by the participation of a distinguished scholar. You can follow him on Twitter @KeolaDonaghy.

Donaghy is an Assistant Professor of Hawaiian Studies at Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikolani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

He is very active in the Hawaiian music community. Professor Donaghy is a voting member and a member of the Board of Governors for the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts (“Na Hoku Hanohano Awards”. He is also a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (“Grammy Awards”). He is webmaster of Nahenahe.net, a Hawaiian music news site.

Professor Donaghy has about 50 mele (Hawaiian language compositions) to his credit. About 20 of them have been recorded by artists such as Keali‘i Reichel, Kenneth Makuakāne, Kainani Kahaunaele, and the De Lima ‘Ohana.

Here are the lyrics he has drafted on his blog, CultureHacks:

Verse:
He Guiness ko ka ‘Ailiki [The Irish have Guiness]
No Holani ka Heineken [And Heineken is from Holland]
He pua Tahiti ka Hinano [Hinano is a Tahitian flower]
He aha ko Hawai’i nei? [What does Hawai’i have to offer?]

Chorus
He mau pia no ko Hawai‘i [Hawai‘i indeed has beers]
He mau pia hu’ihu’i a ‘ono! [There are cold and delicious beers!]
He aha ko Kelemania? [What does Germany have?]
Ko’eko’e ka ‘aina, ko’eko’e ka pia [The land is cold and the beer is tasteless]

Verse 2
E ko Hawai‘i nui akea [To all across great Hawai‘i]
Malo‘o i ka mehana la [Parched in the heat of the day]
E kena i ka wai hu’ihu’i
[Quench your thirst in the cool]
‘amepela no Hawai‘i nei. [amber waters, from Hawai‘i]

In response to a question about the rather pointed lyrics, Professor Donaghy explained the direction he’s taking from a cultural standpoint:

“In many Polynesian cultures, if not all, there is a tradition of using song to express love for and pride in your land. In some, there is a good-natured (usually) teasing of other places as well. If your home is disrespected in someone else’s song, you reply in kind, you don’t say “come and visit and we’ll show you how beautiful our home is”. It’s a war of words, sometimes done tongue in cheek but still with pride. I’ve tried to capture some of that. It’s still a work in progress, so nobody try to record it yet.”

We think this is very cool!

The music that Professor Donaghy has in mind is very similar to the melody and chord changes of Es Gibt Kein Bier Auf Hawaii. It’s in 3/4 time as well. “It’s almost a Hawaiian parody of Es Gibt Kein Bier Auf Hawaii,” he says.

A similar tune and time signature will make it easier for German speakers to get the message.

Before we start looking for artists to record the song, I’d like to propose two steps:

  • Public comments on the lyrics for Professor Donaghy’s consideration…say by the end of November?
  • Translation of the final lyrics into German (so we end up with verses in Hawaiian, English and German)

Aloha, Nina Lytton

01-08 187_2

Mahalo, Keola Donaghy





Why do Germans sing West Virginia’s praises and dis Hawai’i every year at Oktoberfest?

1 10 2009

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair and one of the best festivals in Germany. Every year, over 6 million visitors from all over the world come to Munich to drink beer, eat sausage and join together in song.

During the sixteen-day festival, Bavarian Oompah bands fill the air with folk music, traditional German drinking songs and a mismatched collection of popular songs from all over the world.

Sure, there are a lot of traditional favorites, like Ein Prosit and Lili Marleen.

But the Oktoberfest crowds are no longer content to sing O München, Mein München. They’ve branched out!

Here is a rousing chorus of Country Road, Take Me Home.

Yowza!

The German Oktoberfest crowds don’t stop with praising West Virginia.

They go on to sing about the 50th State, in a way that is not so flattering. This song is called Es Gibt Kein Bier auf Hawaii, which means “there is no beer in Hawaii.”

Yes, they’re talkin’ smack about Hawai’i beer.

It wasn’t true when it got started in the 1950s. The original Primo beer began brewing in 1898, remember?

Yet they’re still at it! Still singing Es Gibt Kein Bier auf Hawaii…

Here are the words to the chorus:

Es gibt kein Bier auf Hawaii, es gibt kein Bier;
drum fahr’ ich nicht nach Hawaii, drum bleib’ ich hier.
Es ist so heiß auf Hawaii, kein kühler Fleck,
und nur vom Hula Hula geht der Durst nicht weg.

What exactly are the German Oktoberfest revelers singing with such forceful conviction (and such poor spelling)?

Roughly translated, it’s a big lie!

There’s no beer in Hawai’i, you’ll find no beer,
so I won’t go to Hawai’i, I’ll rather stay here.
It is so hot in Hawaii, no cool place to stay,
and just doing the hula won’t make the thirst go away
.

Anyone who’s traveled to the German speaking world — Germany, Austria and Switzerland — during any of the beer festivals or winter carnivals has heard this song sung in the beer tents. What’s more, folks over there are totally convinced it’s true.

Just because Hawai’i is a small state doesn’t mean we have to take things lying down. PBS Hawai’i, for example, is standing up for the Hawaiian language. “Our management team at PBS Hawaii made an easy call today,” blogged president and CEO Leslie Wilcox. “We decided to tell the producers of a national series that we won’t air a particular episode unless they re-do their narration, to pronounce key Hawaiian words correctly.”

We ask the friends of Hawai’i brewing to help us stand up for local Hawai’i beer.

Hawai’i Nui Brewing is sponsoring a video project for Oktoberfest 2010. Let’s rewrite that song! Let’s remake that video!

Here is a link to the call for participation. Follow @HawaiiNuiBrew on Twitter for updates.

This is an example of what’s popular in 2009. Let’s make something mo betta!

Aloha!





If you’re visiting Pele, you’re right in our back yard

15 09 2009

Mehana_VolcanoRedAleHawai’i Nui means Great Hawai’i. The Hawaiian Islands are a great place to visit, from the Garden Island of Kaua’i to the Big Island of Hawai’i. This is the fifth post in a series of opinion pieces on the question, “What makes Hilo worth a special trip?”

Reason #5. The Big Island is the youngest Hawaiian Island. Kilauea is an active volcano that is adding land to the Big Island every day. You don’t want to miss a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home of the Hawaiian Volcano Goddess, Pele. If you go to see the Volcano, you’re practically here in Hilo.

Starting out from Kailua-Kona, the journey to visit Pele is a reward in itself.

Ideally, you would beat the traffic by leaving Kailua-Kona around 7am. Don’t forget to take a lei and/or bottle of beer (and opener) if you want to make an offering to Pele.

On the coast road, you will pass below the Kona coffee belt. Kona Coffee is grown only on the Big Island of Hawai’i, in a narrow band of land one mile wide and thirty miles long on the south western edge of the island’s volcanoes Hualalai and Mauna Loa. Mauna Loa is the world’s largest mountain measured in mass above its roots on the ocean floor.

The Coffee Shack on the makai (ocean) side of Highway 11 just south of the town of Captain Cook opens at 7:30 and is a great place to eat breakfast. In any event, don’t miss the chance to taste some coffee along the way, and maybe stop for a snack at the South Kona Fruit Stand in Captain Cook between mile markers 103 and 104. If you’re planning a gift for someone back home, I recommend the Long Montain 100% Kona Coffee, which is available for purchase online. The Vienna Roast is unbelievably delicious.

On a clear day, my friend Kim can see the City of Refuge from her coffee farm, Long Mountain Coffee

In the mornings, my friend Kim can see the City of Refuge and the Captain Cook Monument from Left Coast Farm, where she grows the beans for Long Mountain Kona Coffee. The coffee trees love the afternoon cloud cover typical of the area.

You will pass Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park, the 550-year old Hawaiian City of Refuge. I would not stop here on this trip. It is well worth a visit on its own, and in my opinion is best combined with a swim at Two-Step, right next door to the park.

If you want to enjoy the volcano, mo betta to keep going till you get to Na’alehu, the Southernmost Town in USA. I like to stop and stretch my legs at the Punalu’u Bake Shop, the Southernmost Bakery. In addition to the famous sweet bread, sometimes they have a half guava with cottage cheese — yum!

Once you get to the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, I recommend you spring for the $25 all-Hawaii National Park pass. This gets you into the two parks on the Big Island plus Haleakala National Park on Maui. The side benefit of the pass is that it gets you good parking anytime you want to swim at Two Step.

Yes, it smells like brimstone

Yes, it smells like brimstone in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Ideally, you will stay overnight so you can see the lava flowing into the ocean at night and visit the Volcano Art Center. Stay at the Volcano House or the Kilauea Lodge.

But even if you’re making it a day trip, don’t make that left turn back to Kailua-Kona after visiting the volcano. Visibility will be limited by the combination of the vog and the afternoon cloud cover. You might spend 60-90 minutes in the rush hour traffic between Captain Cook and Kailua-Kona.

Mo betta to take the right turn for Hilo. It’s less than 30 miles.

Exiting Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, don't take that left!  You'll end up in rush hour traffic...  Make the right turn and continue the adventure.

Exiting Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, don’t take that left! You’ll end up in rush hour traffic… Make the right turn and continue the adventure.

The Big Island Pizza  is a great great place to grab a quick bite before heading back to Kailua-Kona. If you take the Saddle Road, not only is it a reverse commute, but you can also enjoy a truly spectacular sunset en route. More on this in a future post.

Enjoy your visit to the Big Island of Hawai’i.  Hope you will make time to visit the fair micropolis of Hilo.