Hawaii Travel Guide
Street Food Friday / Food Travel / Hawaii Travel / Poke / Molokai Travel / Kauai Travel / Oahu Travel / Maui Travel / → All Tags
Although unassuming, Alicia's Market in Honolulu boasts one hell of a poke bar
When it comes to enjoying sushi and raw fish, there is a sense of elegance that comes along with how refreshing and clean it is in both appearance and taste. Funny, then, that the best poke I found during my swing through the Hawaiian Islands was typically from places where the idea of buying raw fish looks really bad on paper. Like, liquor stores and chain grocery conglomerates, to name a few.
Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised after discovering that the best bread on Molokai was from one of the shadiest bakeries I've ever seen. The lesson here is that while you might be enticed to seek out somewhere fancy for raw fish, the most impressive poke bars are often found in the most unimpressive of places as far as appearances go. Below, we list a few recommendations that we were led to during our travels to illustrate the point. When you go, be sure to ask around town for the best place, and hopefully this teaches you not to roll your eyes if they send you to a grocery store.
Photo Gallery / Adventure Travel / Hawaii Travel / Kauai Travel / Na Pali Coast / Hiking / Kalalau Trail / → All Tags
Our campsite on Kalalau Beach at the end of the Kalalau Trail on Kauai
Just about a year ago, we hiked the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail on Kauai's Na Pali Coast, calling it one of the prettiest coastal hikes we had ever walked while showing off the photos. After such an impressive experience, we decided to return to tackle the entire trail and spend two nights at Kalalau Beach before hiking back out.
Although the 11-mile hike begins and ends at sea level, the Kalalau Trail gains and then drops a total of 5,000 feet in elevation via a series of rolling valleys along the Na Pali coast. In addition to the rigorous ups and downs of the terrain, the trail is very narrow at times with unstable footing, especially when it rains, right along the cliffside. It doesn't require any technical experience, but it does require that you are able to maintain good balance with a full pack.
Street Food Friday / Food Travel / Hawaii Travel / Waikiki Travel / Honolulu Travel / Marukame Udon / Oahu Travel / → All Tags
Lineup at Marukame Udon in Waikiki
Between Waikiki and Honolulu, the south shore of Oahu is without question the epicenter of Hawaii's food scene. The problem is that, given the area's tourism draw and expensive real estate, food prices can be quite hefty, making it tough on the budget traveler to dive in. Last week, while investigating some of the Asian-influenced eateries in the area, we discovered a restaurant that we think might be the best-going value in Waikiki: Marukame Udon.
Marukame is a seat-yourself, cafeteria-style restaurant that specializes in udon noodle bowls. The lineup, which can get extremely long during peak hours, takes you through the different stations, starting with the udon. Behind the counter, you can see them making the noodles, and it is here that we found the best value: $5.25 for a noodle bowl. There are a handful of flavoring options, including curry, bukkake, kake, niku, and veggie, among others.
Mailbag / Hawaii Travel / Lanai Travel / Cook Island Pine Trees Lani / Lanai Pine Trees / → All Tags
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When you land on the island of Lanai and head towards Lanai City, you’ll notice immediately that something’s different. Instead of palm trees, the roads and hillsides are lined with tall pine trees. And not just one or two – they are literally the most dominate tree on an otherwise dry, bare island. What’s up with that?
The varietal you see now is called a Cook Island Pine. But the story begins with the Norfolk Pine, which appeared first on the island in the late 1800s. In 1911, a rancher named George Munro was laying in bed and, despite the lack of rain, heard water dripping down on his tin roof. Lanai is the driest of the Hawaiian Islands, and so any extra water coming from the sky was something people noticed.
Travel Tips / Rental Cars / Hawaii Travel / Oahu Travel / Maui Travel / Molokai Travel / Kauai Travel / Lanai Travel / → All Tags
Regardless of which Hawaiian Island you're traveling to, one thing you'll really want to have is a rental car. On Oahu, you'll want to be able to escape Waikiki and explore the North Shore. On Maui, there are too many awesome towns, such as Lahaina, Kihei, and Paia, to stay put in one place. And on Kauai, the island's two main attractions, Waimea Canyon and Hanalei Bay, are over an hour apart. And don't forget about all the coastal highways - each island has its fair share of beautiful drives.
That said, having a rental car might be even more valuable on Molokai and Lanai. Scratch that. You don't just want a car - you want a four-wheel drive vehicle. Exploration is easy on Oahu and Maui thanks to the abundance of paved-road infrastructure. This is not the case on Molokai and Lanai, the latter having only three paved roads on the island. The rest? They're dirt roads, ready to be explored by the adventurous.
Street Food Friday / Molokai Travel / Hawaii Travel / Food Travel / Kanemitsu's Bakery / Kaunakakai Travel / → All Tags
One of the world's shadiest bakeries is found on the island of Molokai, and we don't use that description because you'll find it in the shadow of a palm tree. Kanemitsu's Bakery is a normal bread, pastry, and coffee shop with a front entrance by day, but when the night falls, things get a little creepy, and widely delicious, in the quiet town of Kaunakakai. Follow along with us as we venture through dark alleys and back entrances to sample Molokai's infamous late-night treat, Kanemitsu's Hot Bread:
As we passed by, we noticed the neon sign blazing on an otherwise dark street. But as we approached the front door to the bakery, we found that everything was locked up and the lights were out. Still, the sign said - no, screamed - that it was open. Someone walked out of the small grocery store down the street, and we went over to ask for advice. She pointed us to the right of the building, to an alley. Go that way, she told us.
After arriving at the Lanai airport and driving the few minutes into Lanai City, we caught a glimpse of something as we made the turn into Dole Square. There, on the right, was a chain-link cage attached to the exterior of a small building. What the hell is that? It’s a glimpse into Lanai’s past - it's the jail cell from the plantation era.
What I’m about to tell you might be hard to believe: The photo you see above is of a prison. Not a view from a prison, but a prison in itself. I’m sure you’re confused. Let me explain.
In 1865, King Kamehameha V and the Hawaii Board of Health created the “Act to Prevent the Spread of Leprosy” in an attempt to do just that: Control the highly-contagious disease that seemed poised to become nothing short of a major epidemic on the islands. The plan was simple: Take everyone who was infected and quarantine them off from the rest of society. A remote location called the Kalaupapa Peninsula (KA-LOU-PAPA), shown in the photos of this post, was chosen as the location. Sporting the highest sea cliffs in the world and rough seas off shore, it was the obvious choice at the northern end of the lightly-populated island of Molokai.
Museum Travel / Hawaii Travel / Honolulu Travel / Waikiki Travel / Bishop Museum / Cultural Travel / Oahu Travel / → All Tags
As far as the numbers go, Waikiki is the most popular landing place for tourists visiting the Hawaiian Islands. People flock to the infamous beach for its relatively calm surf, happening hotels, high-end shops, food scene, and nightlife. However, despite these attractive amenities, it without question provides the least authentic look into actual Hawaiian culture as compared to other destinations throughout the state. All of it, including the grains of sand themselves, have been brought in to create what you see today.
But that doesn’t mean a trip to Waikiki has to be shallow, as one of the island’s premier collections of Hawaiian history and culture sits down the road at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Regardless of whether you crave to learn more about the locals or just want to feel like you left Hawaii with more than a gut full of Mai Tais, this is indeed the place to pencil in a half day of exploration and reflection.
Scenery near Hilo... on a nice day
We all hope and pray for good weather when we're on the road, but sometimes luck just isn't on your side. Such was the case for those who had made plans to travel to Hawaii earlier this month when Hurricane Iselle move across the island chain.
Natural disasters are nothing to make light of, but as we saw with the floods in Colorado last year, some adventure travelers take advantage of the extreme conditions. Anyone who was in Hilo after the storm hit had a similar opportunity, one filled with gushing waterfalls.
Aston is giving their guests an opportunity to give back on their next trip to Hawaii.
Aston Kona by the Sea, Aston Shores at Waikoloa, and Aston Waikoloa Colony Villas are all participating in the “Leave a Legacy with Aston” program.
Movie Travel / The Muppets / Disney / Aulani / → All Tags
Disney isn't afraid of a little shameless self-promotion, so it's no surprise it found a way to market The Muppets Most Wanted with everything from Lipton Tea to Subway. But Disney's biggest marketing stretch might be associating the new Muppets’ movie to its own Hawaii Resort, Aulani, which they say is the Muppets' "most wanted vacation destination."