Archive for the 'Hawaii' Category

Tsunami Damage- What’s Closed, What’s Open on Hawai’i The Big Island


Hawai’i Island ( Hawai’i Island, especially the Kona District, sustained some damage from the tsunami generated by an earthquake near Japan, but impact on visitors will be minimal, tourism officials said.

TSUNAMI UPDATE. (April 1, 2011)It’s business as “almost-usual” for Hawai’i Island, following the tsunami that struck March 11 due to an earthquake near Honshu, Japan. There were no deaths or injuries in Hawai’i, and the majority of Big Island businesses are back to normal (those impacted most are in the Kona District.) See below for Big Island updates. For detailed statewide updates, visit the Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau’s special alert website. BIVB supports the statewide relief effort for Japan, “Aloha for Japan.”

Thanks to the help of dedicated community volunteers, Hulihe’e Palace has reopened for self-guided museum tours 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Repair of damages suffered by the March 11 tsunami continue to the palace basement, grounds and exterior buildings; the gift shop remains closed. Hulihe’e Palace continues free monthly outdoor concerts honoring late Hawaiian royalty. Time is 4 p.m. Apr. 17, May 15, June 12, July 17, Aug. 14, Sept. 18, Oct. 16, Nov. 20 and Dec. 18. Call (808) 329-1877 or visit

Four Seasons Resort Hualālai at Historic Ka’upulehu will reopen Apr. 30, 2011.  While there is no significant structural damage, management is well aware of what their guests desire and their need to provide an uncompromising experience.  For updates, visit

Kona Village Resort remains closed “for an extended period of time,” according to a statement issued by its management. Damage to the 45-year-old iconic resort was severe enough to cause the layoff of all employees and no re-opening date has been established at press time. For information, visit

King Kamehamemeha’s Kona Beach Hotel is open and there was no damage to guest rooms. The award-winning Island Breeze Lu’au has resumed its normal schedule. Carpets are being replaced in the lobby and meeting areas, and the Billfish Bar is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Anaehoomalu Beach is again open on both sides. The public parking, restrooms and access on the south side had been previously closed due to debris.

All Big Island National Parks Are Open. Assessment continues at Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park on impacts to its cultural sites, but the park is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Its royal grounds, puuhonua and coastal trail are closed. All other areas of the park are open. Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park is open daily and the only area closed is the coastal trail between the north end of ‘Aimakapā and the south end of Kaloko fishponds.  The visitor center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Overall, Hawai’i Island escaped with minimal damage,” said George Applegate. “The best way to help us is to come visit and enjoy all be have to offer, which is an inspiring experience and vacation. We send our aloha and heartfelt sympathy to the people of Japan, and to everyone who sustained losses due to the earthquake and tsunami,” he said.

Thank you to

The Big Island Visitors Bureau (BIVB)

For more information on Hawai‘i Island, please visit

Hawai’i Island-Kīlauea volcano’s new eruption, spews lava


Hawai’i Island, Hawai’i (Mar. 8, 2011) Kīlauea volcano’s new eruption site, which suddenly cracked open on Sat., Mar., 5, continues to spew lava through fissures on its east rift zone, following the dramatic collapse of Pu’u ō’ō crater’s floor.

Fiery curtains of orange lava some as high as 80 feet have been captured on video and in photographs the last few days, shooting up from fissures that extend more than a mile between Nāpau and Pu’u ō’ō craters. The eruption is in a remote area of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and is not accessible to the public.

While the park and most of its popular overlooks remain open, HVNP has closed Chain of Craters Road, all east rift and coastal trails, and Kulanaokuaiki Campground for public safety. Park rangers are sharing the latest real-time videos, photos and information at Kīlauea Visitors Center and Jaggar Museum, much to the delight of visitors to Hawai’i’s largest national park.


The Federal Aviation Administration reduced the temporary flight restriction (TFR) above the newly active fissure area on Mon., Mar. 7, making it easier for flight-seeing passengers to get a bird’s eye view of the molten lava from 1,500 feet above.


Residents in neighboring towns like Mountain View reported seeing a reflective red glow from the lava in the clouds on Sunday night.

“It’s definitely an exciting time to visit Hawai’i Island and our World Heritage Site. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park has always been a must-see experience for visitors,” said George Applegate, Executive Director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau. “It’s a perfectly safe experience to enjoy our changing volcanic action if visitors heed Park and Civil Defense officials,” he said.

Pu’u ō’ō is not the only crater on Kīlauea to “bottom out” recently. At Halema’uma’u crater, the previously rising lava lake within the vent suddenly dropped over the weekend. A brilliant red glow is sometimes visible after dark, and rocks continue to cascade down crater walls, creating occasional-to-frequent loud rumblings audible from the overlook at Jaggar Museum.

“Park visitors are very happy,” said HVNP Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “There’s a steady stream of cars coming in, and they absolutely love the real-time action our rangers are sharing with them.”

Orlando said that park visitation is up, but that it’s difficult to attribute the increase to one specific source, such as the recent volcanic events, an improving economy, or the start of a vigorous Spring Break season.

Outside of HVNP boundaries and down near sea level at the County of Hawai’i’s Kalapana Lava Viewing Area, the flow has temporarily halted its march across the surface towards the ocean. On the evening of Sat., Mar. 5, molten lava was very visible on the pali (cliffs) and coastal plain, tantalizing onlookers as it disappeared and reappeared through an underground network of lava tubes. County officials reported there was very little if any molten lava visible from Kalapana on Sunday and Monday. However, a significant red glow from the new fissure activity was illuminating the clouds after dark.

Conditions near the viewing area can change at any time depending on the direction and volume of the lava flows. That’s part of the thrill – this isn’t Disneyland. The area will be closed if visitors’ safety is ever in doubt. When conditions are right, the popular Kalapana viewing area boasts not only stunning vistas of the planet birthing, but also convenient parking and port-a-potties. And admission is free.

Currently, viewing and parking hours at the Kalapana overlook are 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Visitors must be parked by 8 p.m.

For the latest conditions at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, visit or call (808) 985-6000. The latest information for the County of Hawai’i Kalapana viewing area is available on the Lava Hotline: (808) 961-8093.

Breaking news thanks to the Big Island Visitors BureauFor more information on Hawai’i Island, please visit

The Insanity of Learning to Surf at my Age – On the North Shore of Oahu

Learning to Surf on the North Shore of Oahu

I can remember exactly the first time I felt I had to surf….against all expectations, as I am uncomfortable in the ocean when my feet don’t touch a sandy bottom. Surf movies were projected onto the walls of the hip restaurant where we celebrated my daughter’s birthday.  Watching surf movies is like seeing poetry come to life.

The scene of a young woman on her board, freely gliding atop a wave 10 times her size seduced me, even though I knew that as with skiing, surfing is best learned when you’re young and flexible in body and mind.

The image of me on the surf board became another “must do” on my bucket list of adventures. I wondered if it was crazy to try to surf in my 50’s.

Recently, when planning a family vacation to Hawaii, I saw a promotional photo of a girl on a surf board outside the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu. That’s it, I thought. I’ll book the surf lessons for myself and my two college-age daughters. My husband was less enthusiastic, but I had to give it a shot, and with my daughters urging me on, maybe I’d have the courage to try. We grabbed our suitcases and good books and took off for Turtle Bay, a non-stop flight from San Francisco and then only an hour drive from the Honolulu Airport.

The north shore boasts big waves, large enough to drown you or throw you up on the rocks and crush you. It’s a Mecca for the world’s top surfers and competitions. All my life I’ve sat on the shore watching the surfers and finally said to myself, “I have to get out there and confront my fear of the ocean. I’ll never have better company than my athletic daughters and I may not have the opportunity to take lessons at a surf school as renowned as Hans Hedemann’s at the Turtle Bay Resort. “Go for it,” I remember my mom telling me so many times.

Surf lessons with my daughters

We were given thin wet suits and long boards and instructions on the sand, and then into the breakers we paddled. Our buff teacher Tom floated at the crest of the waves near us and called me to paddle over and get ready. Bobbing up and down, he watched and waited for the perfect wave for me, then with a push, a spin and a yelp, I paddled out of the wave. On my belly, counting to three, following his instructions, I tried to stand up, wobbled and crashed.  “The wipe-outs are part of the fun,” I remember Tom saying.  Tumbling downward into the pit of the wave, I felt the whole power of the ocean above me. There was no time to be scared. Suddenly a force pulled me by my ankle up to the surface. There was no time to wonder if it was a supernatural power helping me out. With a snap, tug and a pull from the surfboard strap I was propelled upward.

Sputtering and dazed, I surfaced and looked out to the wave line where I saw my daughters smiling with thumbs up. “OK, time to try again,” I thought.

Then they took their turns and gracefully stood up, balanced and rode their waves. We were all hooping and yelling encouragement to each other.

I paddled back out to the instructor, feeling my strength and pumping up my courage. What did I do wrong? Tom said, “Let go of it. Don’t count or think, just feel the wave.” He pushed me off for the second try and started paddling into the rushing wave. I had the sensation I was dancing and that I’d been on that wave all my life. I stood up and rode it in. It was pure euphoria.  For the rest of the day I managed to ride every wave, something I never thought I would be allowed to do. The ocean touched me on the nose and said, “That was for you.”  For a few seconds I was one with the wave.

Learning to surf is one of the harder things I’ve done in my life, but it’s also immensely gratifying. It requires both great focus and tremendous effort to paddle out and get on the wave. You need to be highly observant to understand what’s happening around you, while simultaneously letting everything go and allowing your instincts to guide you. If you’re not 100-percent present, you might get unlucky and get hurt.

Out there bobbing in the waves of the North Shore of Oahu, I had to deal with the ocean, the fear, the survival and the challenge – all alone. You truly are on your own.

After the surf lessons I was sore for days and I stayed close to the pool, the Jacuzzi, and the sand beach at Turtle Bay Resort. But I knew something had changed in me—the way I feel about myself. I did it — I surfed –even at my age.

Hawaii Adventures – Night Snorkel with the Manta Rays

Snorkeling with the Manta Rays

Night Snorkel with the Manta Rays

Travel Channel says it’s one of the Top 10 things to do in your lifetime

Snorkeling at night to look for Manta Rays is advertised as one of Kona’s most unique adventures, so we signed up. Just before sunset we were outfitted with “shortie” wetsuits and snorkel gear and as the sun dropped over the western horizon we were whisked away from the pier at Keauhou Bay by the Fair Wind Big Island Ocean Guides. A few minutes later the deluxe cabin cruiser arrived at “Manta Village”, an area 25’-deep off the coast, to observe the graceful Rays. After instructions we slipped into the cold, dark water surrounded by more darkness. It is indeed, a unique experience. Mantas are attracted to the area to feed on plankton because floodlights from the back of the boat and small lights from a floating raft light up plankton below. The lights don’t bother the Manta Rays, but allow snorkelers floating on the surface a privileged view of the 4-14’wing span of the graceful Mantas.

Fair Wind Big Island Ocean Guides 808-322-2788

Photo Credit James L. Wing

Hawaii Lomi Lomi Chocolate Wrap

Blissed-Out with a Chocolate Body Wrap

Lomi Lomi is Hawaiian massage. Practioners of this ancient Polynesian healing technique use not only palms, but also the forearm, fingers, knuckles and elbows. The Hawaiian phrase, Lomi Lomi, means, literally, to rub, knead, massage.

The Sheraton Ho’ola Spa offers open-air massage on private patios where your mind and body will melt into the soundtrack of waves and birdsong. Zen-out with a Chocolate Body Wrap; warm Hershey’s chocolate is brushed all over your body, and a soft Vichy shower completes the decadence.  It sounds other worldly because it is.

Their custom aroma-chroma facial is the latest and greatest treatment out of Switzerland. It too is a “must try.”

Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Ho’ola Spa 808-930-4900

Massage as magnificent as the Hawaiian flowers

Hawaii Five Adventures – Fins and Paddles on the Kona Coast

Look carefully for the kayakers between the palm trees

Leaving the rainforest and volcanoes behind, we traded our backpacks for fins, goggles and paddles on the Kona Coast. There is a world of difference between the east and the west coasts of the Big Island. One side is wet and verdant; the other side is dry and volcanic.

We moved our base to the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort on the Kona Coast, a two-hour drive from Volcanoes National Park. The Sheraton is situated on an ancient lava flow at the entrance to Keahou Bay, and is perched dramatically on black lava cliffs amid 22 green acres of oceanfront gardens.

Paddle Power Makes a Splash with the Dolphins

At the Napo’opo’o Pier we met our guides from Hawai’i Pack and Paddle who outfitted us with everything we needed to kayak and snorkel in the bay where Captain Cook is said to have landed in 1779. We paddled past steep cliffs dotted with ancient burial caves of the Hawaiian royalty and then glided onto the hard lava rock shore to explore the Captain Cook Monument. The Cook monument, which sits on land owned by the British Government, is a small square encompassing about 400 square feet and accessible on land by a long, rugged trail, or by boat. The bay is touted as one of the best snorkel spots on the coast. We spent hours, face planted in the clear water of the lagoon, snorkeling in the kaleidoscopic world of the marine sanctuary.

On the return trip across the bay we caught a momentary glimpse of dolphin fins between our kayaks and the shore. Moments later the dolphins surfaced close to us and then as furtively as they arrived, they disappeared into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

Hawai’I Pack and Paddle 808-328-8911

Hawaii five Adventures – Bike the Rim of the Volcano

Bike the Rim of the Volcano

“Bike Volcano” excursion.

Views into the crater

The forty-five minute drive from Hilo to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park leads you to one of the twenty World Heritage sites in North America and the only one in Hawaii.

The Visitors Center was a good place to get our bearings and hear the ranger’s talk before we joined an easy, three-hour, nine-mile “Bike Volcano” excursion. We pedaled along Crater Rim Drive, stopping to see various craters and steam vents and left our eco-friendly two-wheel vehicles to hike through Thurston Lava Tube. A few miles further we rested our bikes along the guard rail and watched volcanic emissions of ash and gas spewing from the Halema’umal’u Crater. We cruised through thick forests, along roads closed to traffic (sections had sunk into the crater) and amid volcanic rock fields. After a cool downhill ride the van met us with snacks, guva and passionfruit drinks and then zipped us back uphill to our cars.

An easy ten-minute drive from the park, Volcano Village offers a variety of lunch spots. We stopped to browse the art and gardens at Volcano Garden Art Center. After placing our order at the Café Ono for a locally-grown green salad, homemade tomato-vegetable soup and a crust-less cheese and spinach quiche, we wandered through the galleries and garden. Over 70 local contemporary artists display and sell their unique pieces of jewelry, pottery, photography, floral designs and fabric art.

Bike Company

Bike 808-934-9199

Volcano Garden Arts & Café Ono 808-985-8979

Hawaii Five Adventures – Hilo’s Open-Air Market

Hawaii's heart shaped tropical flowers for sale in the Hilo Market

Among the Best Open-Air Markets in the West

Open-Air Markets Hilo

Hilo blossomed from a village centered around the mission church to a boom town when sugar production flourished. Businesses came and went – whaling, coffee farms, sugar plantations, the occasional cruise ship and a budding tourist industry. Modern Hilo has a current population of forty-thousand-plus but the economy has been on a downward slide since the demise of sugar plantations. It’s a town that has made and remade itself after booms, busts, earthquakes and tsunamis. Many locals believe that their quality of life isn’t so much what you do to make a living as what you do for fun. Surfing and family time are celebrated recreations.

The attitude of “living life to its fullest today” may come from living next to an active volcano. The pace on this side of the island is slower than in the more populated tourist destinations.

Among the Best Open-Air Markets in the West

Plan your trip to Hilo to coincide with the Wednesday or Friday Farmer’s Market. Consistently touted as one of the best open-air markets in the country and possibly the world’s best for spectacular exotic flowers and ultra-fresh produce, the 22-year-old market features more than 200 island farmers, chefs, honey-makers, local goat and feta cheese producers, floral artists, and crafters who display their good in a space covering two blocks. It’s open “from dawn ‘til it’s gone.”

Vivid scarlet, pink and white anthuriums erupt from green plastic buckets. Vendors of hand-made beeswax candles chat with the growers of fiddle-head ferns. I can’t resist the tropical flowers so I buy a $6 dazzling floral arrangement in a coffee can wrapped with folded Ti leaves. Pink ginger, burgundy and crimson anthuriums and heliconia are tucked into moist, green foam in the bottom of the can.

Handmade jewelry for sale at the farmers' market

Gourmet products from the Hilo Farmers' Market

Hawaii Five Adventures – Waterfalls on the Big Island

After we’ve wandered around the gardens at the Palm Cliff House outside Hilo, we lace up our walking shoes and head ¼ mile up the road, past an unhurried farmer on his tractor and pull into the parking lot at Akaka Falls State Park.

We slow our pace on a paved circular trail to scrutinize   the dense and luscious rainforest. Ferns, wild orchids, thick bamboo and leaves the size of giants demand our full attention and admiration. At the end of the trail, in a light mist of warm rain, we see Hawaii’s tallest waterfall and realize that Mother Nature triumphs. As we focus on her grandeur  thoughts of email or text messages evaporate.

Returning to the inn we settle in; first adjust the overhead slat fan to slow, then read on the porch, and eventually soak in the Jacuzzi. Life slows down and “Hawaiian time” takes hold.

HIke thorugh the dense and luscious rainforest to the falls.

Hawaii Five O. Plantation-style inn.

Palm Cliff House, Luxury Inn set in a stunning tropical garden

Finding the Old Hawaiian experience

Exotic birds soar from palm to palm as we wind our way down the drive to the Palm Cliff House, a luxury inn located 14 miles from Hilo. Perched on the cliff’s edge 100’ above crashing surf, the plantation-style house is nestled within verdant acres of its own tranquil estate. Every room has views of the ocean below, where humpback whales and spinner dolphins frolic in the waters of Pokakumanu Bay. Waves crash on the cliffs and birdsong fills our spacious suite as I eye the two-person sunken Jacuzzi with views to the ocean, the four-poster bed and the comfy chairs on our private porch. This is the perfect way to start a vacation.

The gorgeous gardens at the Palm Cliff House

Warm Hawaiian Hospitality from the owners. Cocktails, fresh salsa and fabulous breakfast on the verdanda.

About Marybeth Bond

Marybeth Bond is the nation’s preeminent expert on women travel. She is the award-winning
author-editor of 11 books.

Marybeth has hiked, cycled, climbed, dived and kayaked her way through more than seventy countries around the world.

She was a featured guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Marybeth has appeared on CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, National Public Radio and National Geographic Weekend.