Entries in ‘Hawaii’ Journal

Molokai, Hawaii: Things to Do

Friday October 24, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

Are you visiting Molokai, Hawaii for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do on the Friendly Isle.

"Halawa Valley", "Molokai", Hawaii

Halawa Valley, Molokai, Hawaii. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

When I have a visitor from out of town, the most authentic Molokai experiences I suggest are the mule ride to Kalaupapa National Historical Park – a former prison where leprosy patients, also known as Hansen’s Disease, were banished and a visit to Halawa Valley. You must have a tour guide to access Halawa Valley as this is private property.

"Papohaku Beach", Molokai, Hawaii

Papohaku Beach. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Lookout Point or Papohaku beach for kissing with a view.


Good Eats on Molokai

If you are looking for typical island cuisine Molokai Drive Inn or Kaulapuu Cookhouse offer plate lunch type specials.

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Coffees of Hawaii – try the Muleskinner dark roast, 100% from Molokai. Stop by Kumu Farms for certified organic papayas and the best apple bananas on island. They also have beautiful flowers and are only five minutes from the airport.

pink torch ginger blossom "Kumu Farms", "Molokai" Hawaii

Pink Torch ginger blossom from Kumu Farms. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Looking for cheap food on the island, try Molokai Burger. Be warned, there’s no late night dining on island unless you go on a late night “bread run” to Kanemitsu’s Bakery – a must do!

Looking for fine dining on Molokai? You’ll need to head over to Lanai.

"Kanemitsu's Bakery", Molokai, Hawaii

Kanemitsu’s Bakery. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Things to do in Molokai
Seeing more locals than tourists on island? Molokai is known for having the most native Hawaiians and offers the slow pace of old Hawaii.

When you come to Molokai, get your picture taken at Lookout Point.

"Gregory Kawaimaka Solatorio" poi, Molokai, Hawaii

Gregory Kawaimaka Solatorio makes poi. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Once on island, outdoor lovers will want to hike Halawa Valley. This is also the place to learn about authentic island culture and how to make poi from the taro plant.

Looking for a little exercise? Kayak or SUP (stand up paddle) along the largest fringing reef in the United States. I recommend Molokai Outdoors Activities, as they keep groups small and personal.

If you are a museum lover, stop by the Sugar Museum.

Looking for exciting night life, take the ferry to Maui. There is live music every Friday at Hotel Molokai  4-6 pm – it’s the elder’s jam (na kapuna). Older residents come poolside and play ukulele and sing/dance. It’s not a nightclub offering loud rock music – it’s more like a family reunion without a cover charge. Paddler’s Inn has live music often. There are many talented local musicians on island.

The Molokai Dispatch is the local newspaper and will keep you posted on what’s happening on island.

kayak, Molokai, Hawaii

Kayak along the largest fringing reef in the United States. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


In May, Ka Hula Piko celebrates the birthplace of Hula.

In July check out the Molokai2Oahu Paddleboard Race.

The Pailolo Challenge, Maui to Molokai –an outrigger canoe race – takes place in September.

Na Wahine O Ke Kai (women’s 41 mile outrigger canoe paddling competition departs Molokai and ends on Oahu – usually in September and Molokai Hoe the men’s outrigger canoe paddling competition usually happens in October.

For the horse lovers, the Molokai Stampede takes place at Kapualei Ranch in November.

Insider Tip:

After hiking Halawa Valley, have breakfast or lunch on the way down at Mana’e Goods and Grindz.

What are your favorite things to do on Molokai? For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter and Destination Molokai on Twitter @seeMolokai.

Photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Molokai Visitors Bureau.

Oahu, Hawaii Like a Local

Wednesday May 28, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

If you’ve never had the opportunity to experience the Hawaiian Islands, like myself, you will certainly feel like you are in no way, shape or form in the United States.

Upon landing in Honolulu, Hawaii, my entire family and I were graced with fresh leis that smelled just as good as the sweet Hawaiian island air.

Our family does not lean toward the all-expenses included resort kind of vacation. We prefer renting a house or villa where we can essentially “move-in” for a few weeks and experience Oahu, Hawaii like a local.


"Lanakai Beach"

Oahu like a local at Lanakai Beach in Hawaii

Hawaii’s Lanakai Beach
We rented a home that was about a half hour away from downtown Honolulu. Our home was just a short walk away from a secluded bay on Lanakai beach. Because the beach was mostly used by the Oahu locals, there were plenty of friendly dogs and islanders that seemed to “catch up” on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Having a family full of older adults, college students and even an energy-filled two-year old there were plenty of requests for different activities. One place we could all attend was the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Oahu.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Hearing “cultural center” led me to believe that we were going to walk through a museum filled with artifacts and ancient stories, I wasn’t sure how my little nephew would feel about this. I was completely wrong. The Polynesian Cultural Center was like the Hawaiian version of Disneyland, without all of the mascots running around. Our family opted to experience the Cultural Center like a VIP; our package included daily admission, personal private guided tour, prime rib buffet, HA: Breath of Life Show (front row seats), private backstage tour and Kukui Nut Lei greeting upon arrival.

"Polynesian Cultural Center"

Hawaii’s Polynesian Cultural Center

We were taken on a trip into each of the Polynesian Islands (Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, Marquesas). Every island we visited, we learned about the ancient culture and customs accompanied by traditional song and dance. At the end of the day we attended a traditional luau and were privy to front row seats at a Hawaiian cultural show, complete with grass skirts and fire breathers.
Hawaiian Cuisine

"Honolulu Burger Company"

Honolulu Burger Company

Most of the time spent on the beautiful island of Oahu was hanging out with family and indulging in the classic Hawaiian cuisine. Make sure to check out the hidden treasure of a restaurant, Honolulu Burger. Tucked away in downtown Honolulu, the grass-fed burger joint is a local secret. With burgers such as the Kona Burger, which is rubbed with a coffee spices atop a bed of sautéed onions, beets and chipotle sauce, this place is culinary lovers dream. If the burgers weren’t so filling it’s worth ordering more than one of these unique creations. Besides the local Hawaiian grills and fresh Farmers’ Markets, the fruit on Oahu is something you do not want to miss. We cut up a fresh pineapple almost every day and it was gone by the end of the day. To embrace this cultural fruit, we even visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation, specifically for the Pineapple Whippie Ice Cream.

The Dole Plantation is located on the North end of the Island, where all the real surfers hang out. We ventured up to Kee Beach, secretly called “Turtle Beach” because of the sea turtles that tend to swim right up onto shore in front of you. You might even catch them laying their eggs. But what the North Shore is known for is the 20-80ft waves that happen almost every day. We caught a few surfers toward the end of the day that told us the Nalus (Hawaiian for waves), were supposed to be the best at the end of the week.

Whale watching

Whale watching in Oahu

Whale Watching in Oahu

We ended our trip in a possible cliché way by Whale Watching off the West Coast of Oahu. The winds on shore were about 15mph, so out at sea they kicked up to 30mph. This gave us an incredibly bumpy boat ride that felt more like an amusement park ride than a smooth catamaran boat. But the trip was well worth it when we finally saw a female Orca Whale with her calf only a few hundred feet from our boat.

Ocean Joy Cruises was an excellent company that took us safely out in the middle of the ocean. The staff was incredibly accommodating, and cute I might add. Lunch was provided along with some margaritas. While anchored for lunch we also had the opportunity to snorkel atop a large coastal reef. Let’s just say, I have never seen a tropical fish that looked as big as if he could swallow me in one bite.

The small town of Lanakai was a calm and unique part of Hawaii but Honolulu was incredibly busy and even the drive to the north shore was breathtaking.  Filled with local residents and young surfers, the island of Oahu is like taking a break from the hectic world and indulging into the sweet ways of island life.
Insider Tip: No matter where you are headed on the island of Oahu and no matter what the forecast says, make sure to always pack a rain jacket. Many of the storm clouds get stuck just above the mountains, which is the pass between Honolulu and the rest of the island.

This is a guest post by Natalie Crandall

Lanai, Hawaii: Things to See and Do

Friday October 25, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 3 Comments

Manele Bay Harbor, Lānaʻi

Manele Bay Harbor, Lānaʻi, Hawaii

Are you visiting Lānaʻi for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do on this enticing Hawaiian island.

Whether you traveled by Expeditions Ferry from Maui or by Island Air, you are probably visiting Lānaʻi to kick back and relax. I recommend snorkeling or snuba (a combination of snorkeling and scuba) at Hulopo’e Beach. You’ll also want to walk around tiny Lānaʻi City for a local, authentic experience.



Kaiolohia Beach, Lānaʻi

Kaiolohia Beach, also known as Shipwreck Beach

When I want to escape the tourists, my favorite place to visit is Kaiolohia, also known as Shipwreck Beach. You’ll need a four wheel drive to get there, (I hired Rabaca’s Limousine Service for a private tour of the island) but once you walk to the beach, it’s almost certain that you’ll see  green sea turtles or honu, as they are called in Hawaii.

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Pu’u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock), for kissing with a view, either in the day, or under the full moon. If you enjoy being out on the water, take a sunset catamaran cruise with Trilogy Excursions – the same company that offers snuba on Hulopo’e Beach.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit the Lānaʻi Pine and Sporting Clays, and try your hand at 3D Archery where you can hunt and shoot dinosaurs.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Hawaiian island food

If you are looking for typical Lānaʻi cuisine, I would recommend the Lānaʻi Ohana Poke Market, for your daily dose of freshly made Hawaiian Poke. You’ll need to get there early, as they run out.

The best place to go for coffee is Coffee Works -try the Caramel Blended Rush.  For a fresh baked apple turnover, or pig in a blanket stop by Blue Ginger Café.

Looking for cheap food in Lānaʻi? All of the local restaurants are scattered around Dole Square, as is the Farmers Market. I shared an Asian salad and BLT wrap with avocado from Pele’s Other Garden for lunch and ordered the local plate of  Korean chicken katsu, with white rice and macaroni salad from Cafe 565 – good, filling and affordable.

For late night dining, try Lānaʻi City Grille, located in the Hotel Lānaʻi, or Pele’s Other Garden in Dole Square.  Both restaurants offer a bar, as well as live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, dine at any of the restaurants in the Four Seasons Resorts Lānaʻi Lodge at Koele or Manele Bay. While Nobu is the hot spot for foodies, I enjoyed dinner at One Forty restaurant even more than Nobu.

Seeing a lot of axis deer around the island? Lānaʻi  is home to axis deer and mouflan sheep, which are the big game for hunters.

Insider tip: Lānaʻi venison is one of the top tasting venison cuisine.

Koloiki Ridge, Lānaʻi

From Koloiki Ridge you may see the islands of Maui and Molokai

When you come to Lānaʻi, get your picture taken at Garden of the Gods, Kaiolohia, Polihua Beach, and Sweetheart Rock.

The best vantage points are taken by walking to Koloiki Ridge, where you will experience the view of sister islands Maui and Molokai.

Polihua Beach and Kamaulapau Harbor are the best places to be to view the sunsets on the western shores of the island.

In Lanai, outdoor enthusiasts can explore and go on a hike or mountain bike with Hike Lānaʻi www.hikelanai.com.  If you want to experience the paniolo style, ride through the island’s ironwood forests on a horseback ride, or for the rugged adventurer, buckle up on a UTV ride that will take you through majestic mountain views to the ocean with Lānaʻi Grand Adventures.

Looking for a little exercise? Take a walk along Fisherman’s Trail, located beach front of the Four Seasons Resorts Lānaʻi at Manele Bay, which leads you on an interpretive walk through Kapiha’a Village, once a thriving village.

Pālāwai pineapple fields, Lanai

Plowing the Pālāwai pineapple fields 1926

If you are a museum lover, visit the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center to walk through the timeline of the islands history.

Lānaʻi Today will keep you posted on what’s happening in Lānaʻi, this local newspaper is published once a month on the island.

If you are on island in the springtime, you should visit for the Annual Lānaʻi Film Festival!

In the summer, checkout the Annual Lānaʻi Pineapple Festival, held every year around Fourth of July weekend.

Mamo Fernandez, Festivals of Aloha

Mamo Fernandez shares her lei making skills

Festivals of Aloha

Did you know that Hawaii is known to celebrate the history and culture through the Festivals of Aloha?  This celebration is held during the fall months of September through October. I was very fortunate to be there and celebrate  in the island’s traditions.

Come to Lānaʻi for the annual TriLanai Triathlon in the winter.

Insider Tip:

I’ll bet you didn’t know that prior to the pineapple plantation era, Lānaʻi once had a thriving Maunalei Sugar Mill on the north east coast, which remnants of the old Keomoku Village are still visible today.

Across from Lānaʻi, visit the Island of Maui.

What are your favorite things to do on Lānaʻi?

Photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Lanai Visitors Bureau.