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December, 2010:

Holoholo Links

Mauna Loa and the snow of Mauna Kea

Mauna Loa and the Snow of Mauna Kea by Kanu101 via Flickr (Creative Commons)

  • If you’ve driven through Kepa’a, you’ve seen the ramshackle shuttered hotel on the mauka (inland) side of the highway. That’s the Coco Palms and here’s what’s going on with that property: Past is present at decaying hotel on the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
  • Snow fell on Mauna Kea recently; on the National Parks of the Pacific Islands blog there are pictures of the unlikely combination of snow and lava.
  • Gooey. Hot. Three kilometers down. Researchers from Ohio have discovered that liquid planet is a lot closer to the surface than previously thought. On Ohio State University Research.
  • Well, that’s one way to celebrate it. “Christmas became an official Hawaiian holiday in 1862. Historical accounts said the occasion was marked by the firing of cannons and flaming tar poured down the sides of Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu to re-create the image of a volcano.” On the Miami Herald.
  • It takes five years, approximately, for the fish to move in. A intentionally sunken ship in Lahaina waters is now a thriving home for sea life. On the Star Advertiser.

When it Rains

Kauai, HI

Storm Clouds at Kauai's Na Pali Coast by jeffgunn via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Since she sits out there in the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles from the mainland, it’s not that surprising that Hawaii gets blasted by a tropical storms now and then. If you’ve got your heart set on nothing but sunshine for your visit, you might be disappointed when the clouds roll in and it starts to rain. Typically, those tropical rains are transitory, but every now and then you’ll get a run of bad weather. There’s no reason this has to ruin your trip. There’s plenty to do when weather forces you off the beach or out of the rain forest in search of drier pursuits.

Visit a museum: On Oahu, The Bishop Museum has the glorious Hawaiian Hall, plus, there’s a whole hands on selection of science exhibits. The Hawaii State Museum of Art has changing exhibitions of work by Hawaii’s artists — and bonus, the restaurant downstairs is excellent. ‘Iolani Palace, the former seat of the Hawaiian monarchy is a perfect place to learn about the history of Hawaii and to see where Hawaii’s last queen was held prisoner.

See the stars: On the Big Island, the ‘Imiloa astronomy and science center is a fun place to learn the importance of astronomy to the Polynesians that first arrived in the islands by sailing canoe. There’s a sparkly planetarium and plenty of science fun. And it’s not just for kids — we spent a rather diverting afternoon there learning about the sky, electricity, all kind of things.

Peek underwater: Of course, the best way to see Hawaii’s marine life is to strap on a mask and get in the water, but that’s not always practical. Maui Ocean Center is a lovely little aquarium with beautiful tanks full of the island’s marine residents. Waikiki has an aquarium too, it’s one of the oldest in the nation and is home to a few nautiluses, the oddest crustacean you’ll ever want to see.

Go the the mall: Sure, you can shop, but that’s not the point. Often, there’s free entertainment — hula dancers, musicians… all kinds of Hawaiian cultural events take place at the shopping malls throughout the islands. And hey, if you happen to pick up a plate lunch at the food court before trying on some new aloha wear, well, that’s okay too.

Take a lesson: Speaking of getting some culture, you can get involved first hand. Some of the Outrigger hotels offer Hawaiian cultural activities for their guests — games, ukulele lessons, crash courses in Hawaiian language, lei making… check the program where you’re staying or ask the concierge what’s on for the day and join your fellow guests in learning something new.

Do nothing. Ideally with a view. It’s not going to last. So get another cup of coffee — or a cocktail, it’s your holiday! — and watch the sky. Listen to the wind in the coconut palms, the rain on the roof. Take a nap with the windows open. Let your eyes wander out across the horizon of the Pacific. Hawaii wants you to sit still, chill out, take a back seat while Nature drives. Enjoy it.

Fern Grotto? Not so Ferny.

Wailua River

Wailua River by fadedpictures on Flickr (Creative Commons)

In the midst of fern grotto Mother Nature made her home…” — Beautiful Kauai

It takes a little less than an hour to arrive at Fern Grotto via Smith’s fern grotto river cruise. The destination is a place of legend and somewhat kitschy romance. This natural amphitheater was once a popular location for weddings, and the acoustics are still quite impressive, but sadly, the ferns are sorely lacking. While I wasn’t disappointed with the hospitality or charm of the staffers on the boat trip, the grotto itself is… well, it’s a little tired.

I thought of this the other day when I stumbled across a picture postcard sent from Hawaii in the early 70s. The grotto was lush and green, aloha shirted men lined the walkways accompanied by ladies dressed in matching muumuus. The walls were draped with greenery, water dripped from the reddish rock. It was exactly the kind of place Mother Nature might make her home, a cool refuge from the Hawaiian sunshine.

Sadly, the site was afflicted by drought and most of the reviews are accurate, if unhelpful, in their “you should have seen it 20 years ago” assessment of the site. It’s still fun to take the boat and be suckered into the somewhat uninteresting marketing point of this being “Hawaii’s only river” because really, who doesn’t like a leisurely ride on the water?

For the less lazy, one of the many kayak rental places will set you up and you can paddle your own way, taking as long as you like to travel the two mile stretch. But make it about the journey, not the destination.

As for the song Beautiful Kauai,  it was written in 1967 by Randy Farden — surely fern grotto was bursting with plant life in ’67.  Don Ho made the tune famous — his classic lounge version of it is here.

Ban the Bean?

Like your Kona, do you? Yeah, me too, the day doesn’t start around here until the espresso machine makes that noise, you know the one, telling me it’s done and my addiction is ready to go.

Someone else has taken a liking to the bean, it’s the coffee berry borer. This pest has decided that Kona cherries make a lovely nesting place and it’s wreaking all kinds of havoc on Kona’s coffee growers. There’s talk of a quarantine to prevent the spread of the bug, but not all of Kona’s coffee farmers are happy with the new rules.

Of particular concern to many Kona coffee farmers is that they were not sufficiently involved or consulted in regards to the development of the measures being taken to stop the spread of the Coffee Berry Borer in the Kona region and throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

To many small Kona coffee farmers, and in particular organic coffee farmers, the new Interim Quarantine Rules seem to be more concerned with the large coffee plantations on other islands (e.g., Kauai and Molokai) and less concerned about the spread of the Coffee Berry Borer throughout the Kona region. — Kona Coffee Roasting

The Kona Coffee Farmer’s Association has a PDF with pictures of the bean beetle, here. And there’s a KITV story with video here.