Posts Tagged ‘honolulu’

A Weekend In Lana`i

December 1, 2009

Close your eyes with me for a second.

Now imagine a stunning paradise, filled with breathtaking magnificence and splendor. Can you see it? Can you feel it? It’s right there isn’t it?

Now open your eyes.

Chances are, the place you just dreamt about looked strikingly similar to the picturesque island we’re about to visit…

As the 1 year wedding anniversary for wifey and I approached, I thought it’d be a fun little surprise to whisk her away to somewhere unique and different for the weekend. A place that neither her or I have ever been before. After putting up with me for 365 days after all, she pretty much earned it right? 😛

So for a short weekend, we decided to close our eyes and get swept away to the island now known as the “Private Isle”, formerly the “Pineapple Isle” (“Pineapple Isle” because it used to be a place where a quarter of the world’s pineapples were produced and “Private Isle” because 98% of it is privately owned by David Murdock via Castle & Cooke). Here are some tips on how to best enjoy your “Lanaian” adventure. Hope it helps!

You’ve pretty much got two choices in terms of booking a flight to Lana`i: Island Air (who also provides flights to Hawaiian Air) and go! Airlines. Mokulele Airlines (who has recently partnered with go!) also has flights via their charter service, but booking a flight directly via their web site, at the time of this writing, was not working.

According to their route map, for flights to Lana`i, go! flies out of both Honolulu and Kahului via their go! Express service, while Island Air (and Hawaiian Air) only has flights out of Honolulu. On this occasion, booking through Island Air directly gave me the cheapest fares.

Boarding our Lana`i bound plane at sunset via Island Air
Boarding our Lana`i bound plane at sunset via Island Air

Ed’s Tip: If you’re weary of planes, it may be a rough take-off for you. Since it is a smaller, propeller powered flight, you will hear and feel everything during lift off. Once airborne though, everything is smoove.

Upon landing in Lana`i City, you will deplane, walk into the terminal and turn right towards the shuttle service check-in counter.

Shuttle service check-in counter
Shuttle service check-in counter

As long as you’ve made your reservation through one of the resorts (or Hotel Lana`i), the shuttles will be ready for your arrival. At about $20 per person for unlimited rides, it is totally worth the investment. Trust!

Ed’s Tip: Unless you are planning on going gallivanting around the entire island (which is mostly via off-road jeeping), there really is no need to rent a car. The shuttle stops at the three major destinations of the island: the Lodge at Koele at the top of every hour, in Lana`i City (Hotel Lana`i) at the :15 minute mark (Manele bound) and :45 minute mark (Koele bound) of every hour, and at Manele Bay at the :30 minute mark of every hour.

Lana`i shuttle arriving at the Lodge at Koele
Lana`i shuttle arriving at the Lodge at Koele

Arriving at the hotel, you are immediately pampered and made to feel like royalty. You are greeted with a kukui nut lei, and, instead of standing and waiting in a long line to check in, you are asked to take a seat, while offered a hot towel to freshen up. Did I mention that they bring you a sweet pineapple beverage to quench your thirst too? Geez, a fella can get used to this!

We chose to stay at the Four Seasons Resort, Lana`i, The Lodge at Koele, a great alternative to the other two Lana`i options: Four Seasons Resort Lana`i at Manele Bay, and Hotel Lana`i.

I can’t really speak on Hotel Lana`i because I’ve never stayed there, but I would highly recommend staying at the Lodge at Koele. And though absolutely beautiful, the Manele Bay resort is the most expensive of the three and is almost like any other beach resort you’ve been to, especially if you’re from Hawaii. Hotel Lana`i is the cheapest and most central (right in the heart of Lana`i City), but you will not get the luxury of the Four Seasons.

The Lodge at Koele was a dream. You are in Hawaii, but it is almost like you are not in Hawaii. Like you’ve been swept away to a high-class countryside villa in the middle of the forest, complete with tall pines, its own pond, and elegant art strewn all about. And because of all of the greenery (and because of the higher elevation), it is much cooler – cold even – than its Manele counterpart (which sits right on the ocean front).

Four Seasons Resort Lana`i, The Lodge At Koele
One Keomoku Hwy
Lana`i City, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-4000
Twitter: @FSLanai

Ed’s Tips: As expected at such a luxurious resort, rates are not cheap. Be sure to ask for the kama`aina rate (if you’re local) and/or special golf packages (if you’re a golfer). If you’re on Twitter, be sure to drop them a line. They are very active on there and seem to appreciate anything and everything Lana`i. Tell ’em @worldwideed sent ya and… ya never know! 🙂 They’re doing Twitter right fo sho.

One of the recommendations given to us was to try the food at Lana`i City Grille at Hotel Lana`i, so shortly after checking in and freshening up, we caught the shuttle (at the top of the hour) over to Hotel Lana`i for dinner.

Lana`i City Grille sign at Hotel Lana`i
Lana`i City Grille sign at Hotel Lana`i

Wifey and I shared the Crab Cakes and Soup of the Day (a spicy lobster bisque) to start.

Crab Cakes - Tomato Corn Salsa and Tobiko Remoulade - $14
Crab Cakes – Tomato Corn Salsa and Tobiko Remoulade – $14

Soup of the Day - Spicy lobster bisque - $9
Soup of the Day – Spicy lobster bisque – $9

Then, she moved on to the Pecan Crusted Catch of the Day (Mahi) while I took on the Grilled Filet of Angus Beef.

Pecan Crusted Mahi - Chipotle Honey Butter, Chorizo Potato Puree and Seasonal Vegetables - $34
Pecan Crusted Mahi – Chipotle Honey Butter, Chorizo Potato Puree and Seasonal Vegetables – $34

Grilled Filet of Angus Beef - Aged Cheddar Potato Cake, Roasted Root Vegetables and a Classic Bearnaise - $39
Grilled Filet of Angus Beef – Aged Cheddar Potato Cake, Roasted Root Vegetables and a Classic Bearnaise – $39

Ed’s Tips: Make a reservation as it fills up fast here. Especially on Friday nights when local band Alapa Drive jams for the locals and tourists alike. Also, portions are pretty big here. Bring your appetite!

Lana`i City Grille
828 Lanai Avenue
Lana`i City, Lana`i, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-7211
Wed-Sun: 5pm-9pm

One thing we noticed early on about Lana`i is the people. They’re extremely friendly and filled with Aloha. And I’m not talking about those in the industry, catering to us tourists. They’re almost required to be nice to us. I’m talking about the local locals. Walking around, we were regularly greeted with smiles, several “Howzits!” and an occasional “Aloha!” I was really impressed and happy to see that the Aloha Spirit is alive and well here!

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of crime here either. Enjoying our meal, we missed the shuttle headed to Koele. No problem, we’ll just walk it back. Other than a crazy cat that leaped out of the woodworks, we felt completely safe in the darkness (street lights are few and far between). Safety? The result of a laid back lifestyle I guess.

Ed’s Tip: The walk between Lana`i City and the Lodge at Koele follows a single road (Lana`i Ave) for about a mile and takes approximately 20-25 minutes. Not too bad. If you don’t want to wait for the shuttle to come back around. It’s also a good way to walk off your meal if you find yourself overeating. 8)

The next morning, we hit up the town square that surrounds Dole Park, also referred to as “the city”. It’s a cute, quaint little town that is actually listed on the National Trust’s list of most “endangered historic places”.

One place that we were regularly told we HAD to check out was a place called Blue Ginger Cafe, right in the heart of Lana`i City.

Blue Ginger Cafe, Lana`i
Blue Ginger Cafe, Lana`i

Not only did they seem to have the longest hours of any merchant in the square (6AM-8PM on most days), they also had a full fledged bakery selection and a flat screen HDTV to boot. Let’s just hope that they have Oceanic Time Warner Cable service for this free plug. 😉

Their menu ranged from breakfast items (including Omelettes, Pancakes, French Toast, etc.), plate lunch kine stuffs (Hamburger Steak, Loco Moco, Chicken Katsu, etc.), burgers, sandwiches, saimin, fried rice, “healthy choices”, their bakery options, and more!

Since it was breakfast time, I had to go with my all-time favorite breakfast meal: Corned Beef Hash and Eggs! Awwww yeaaaahhh!

Regular Breakfast - 2 Eggs, Choice of Meat (Portuguese Sausage, Patty Sausage, Corned Beef Hash, Spam, Bacon, Ham), served with Rice, Fried Rice, Hash Brown or Toast - $7.50
Regular Breakfast – 2 Eggs, Choice of Meat (Portuguese Sausage, Patty Sausage, Corned Beef Hash, Spam, Bacon, Ham), served with Rice, Fried Rice, Hash Brown or Toast – $7.50

Wifey enjoyed their blueberry turnover with a coffee. Perhaps she enjoyed it a little too much because she ordered 2 more to go! 😛 Nah, they were actually super onos!

Blueberry Turnover - $2
Blueberry Turnover – $2

Blue Ginger Cafe provided a great escape from the touristy resort life, and brought us back to grass root, mom and pop-type living/eating. Highly recommended!

Blue Ginger Cafe
409 7th Street
Lana`i City, Lana`i, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-6363
Mon, Thu, Fri: 6am-8pm
Tue, Wed: 6am-2pm
Sat, Sun: 6:30am-8pm

Following breakfast, we made a quick stop back at our room to freshen up before heading to Lana`i’s other Four Seasons property: Lana`i at Manele Bay.

Looking out into Hulopo`e Bay from the Manele Bay resort lobby area
Looking out into Hulopo`e Bay from the Manele Bay resort lobby area

Looking into the Manele Bay resort lobby area
Looking into the Manele Bay resort lobby area

The pool area at the Manele Bay resort
The pool area at the Manele Bay resort

As you can see in the photos, The Lana`i at Manele Bay resort is a very ritzy, beach-type resort. The kind you see in magazines and those “Win a Trip to Hawaii” contest fliers. 🙂 If this is more your style, then I would say go getum and book away!

Four Seasons Resort Lana`i at Manele Bay
One Manele Bay Road
Lana`i City, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-2000
Twitter: @FSLanai

As for us, we were just passing on through, on the way to the beach that sits behind the resort: Hulopo`e Bay.

Overlooking Hulopo`e Bay
Overlooking Hulopo`e Bay

At the bottom of the trail, you’ll meet up with one of the friendly employees who will hook you up with towels, an umbrella and beach chairs (and covers) to help you lounge and relax on the amazing oceanfront. And, oh yes, more refreshments!

The life
The life

Ed’s Tip: Both resorts’ systems are connected, so I am told that as long as you are staying at one, you can charge things at the other no problem. That means that you don’t have to worry about carrying around your wallet/money. Just charge um to the room!

The beach is absolutely gahgeous. Everything you’d wish for in a dream beach: white sand, clear, blue water, and barren! Aside from the dozen or so other beach-goers at the time, we pretty much had the whole beach to ourselves.

Hulopo`e Bay, Lana`i
Hulopo`e Bay, Lana`i

Ed’s Tips: Keep to the left side of the bay (if you’re facing the ocean), as there are rocks and reef on the right side. Pack your goggles. The water is so clear that you’ll be able to see all the way to the bottom of the ocean. You might even catch tiny fish swimming around your legs like us.

Once you’ve had your fill of Hulopo`e Bay Beach, head southeast along the beach (left if you’re facing the ocean) until you get to a little trail that leads to one of two of the trail’s highlights: The Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools.

Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools
Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools

Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools
Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools

Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools
Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools

While on the beach, I shoved my T-shirt in wifey’s bag in a feeble attempt to get a tan. During the hike, I decided to put my shirt back on so I reached in wifey’s bag to pull it out. To our surprise, a friendly little scorpion decided that he wanted to come along on the hike with us. Yeah a scorpion! WTH!? OK, so it probably wasn’t very friendly, but it was little. In my haste, I shook off my shirt and sent the scorpion flying into one of the tide pools. Sorry little guy!

My buddy, the little scorpion, floating around in one of the Hulopo`e Bay's Tide Pools
My buddy, the little scorpion, floating around in one of the Hulopo`e Bay’s Tide Pools

Ed’s Tip: Not sure how common these are in the area, but beware of the possibility of mini scorpions. Shake off your bags and clothing just in case.

Continuing along the trail, we got to the other highlight. The crown jewel of the area. None other than Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock).

Pu`u Pehe Rock
Pu`u Pehe Rock

My first thought when experiencing this remarkable work of Mother Nature was “Wow!” with the first word seeping outta my mouth being “Ho!” And it’s even more amazing as you get closer.

Pu`u Pehe from the cliff's edge
Pu`u Pehe from the cliff’s edge

The rock even has an amazing story to go along with it: It is believed that Pu`u Pehe was named after a beautiful young princess from Maui by the same name. She moved to Lana`i after falling in love with a young warrior from the island. Afraid to let others see her beautiful princess, the warrior hid her in a sea cave near the rock. One day, while away gathering supplies, terrible weather hit the area. Before he could return in time, the strong, storm waves had already drowned his princess in the cave. Distraught, he asked for help from the gods, who helped him climb up to the top of the steep rock where he eventually buried his beloved princess before jumping to his death.

Talk about romantic yeah?

Either way, it’s truly a majestic sight and is a definite must-see while on Lana`i.

Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)
Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)

Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)
Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)

Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)
Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)

Oops, the bottom of the hour is coming up. We better hurry back to the shuttle stop before it takes off without us!

A quick shuttle ride back to our hotel and a power nap later, and *poof* it was time for din-din. We weren’t all that hungry so we opted to stay in and try the resort’s Terrace Restaurant on for size. Located right across the lobby, next to the Great Hall (that included live lounge music by a local pianist), it was a relaxing meal after a long day.

Wifey enjoyed the House Made Lobster Ravioli, while I opted for the “Design Your Entree” option with my Tiger Prawns and Hamakua Mushrooms combo.

House Made Lobster Ravioli - Cabernet Butter Sauce Over Wilted Swiss Chard - $30.
House Made Lobster Ravioli – Cabernet Butter Sauce Over Wilted Swiss Chard – $30.

"Design Your Entrée": Grilled Tiger Prawns with Mango Relish and Sauteed Hamakua Mushrooms (Garlic Butter) - $33
“Design Your Entrée”: Grilled Tiger Prawns with Mango Relish and Sauteed Hamakua Mushrooms (Garlic Butter) – $33

And then it was on to dessert with the waitress-recommended Baked Chocolate Tart.

Baked Chocolate Tart - Kona Coffee Ice Cream - $9
Baked Chocolate Tart – Kona Coffee Ice Cream – $9

Terrace Restaurant
Four Seasons Resort, Lanai, The Lodge at Koele
One Keomoku Hwy
Lana`i City, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-4000

With our bellies satisfied, it was time to head back to our room to hit the hay in preparation for our last full day on this beautiful island. Aww, too soon! 😦

Ed’s Tip: If you’re a movie buff, your room comes equipped with a DVD player. You can rent from a limited selection of DVDs from the front desk for free.

The next morning marked the actual anniversary date for wifey and I and was cause for celebration. We decided to step out onto our patio area with the blueberry turnovers from Blue Ginger Cafe, hot coffee and tea from downstairs, and a little bubbly in the form of a Piper-Hiedsieck bottle of Brut Champagne, compliments of the wonderful staff at the Four Seasons Resort’s Lodge at Koele. Much love guys!

Piper-Hiedsieck Brut Champagne, compliments of the Four Seasons Resort's Lodge at Koele.
Piper-Hiedsieck Brut Champagne, compliments of the Four Seasons Resort’s Lodge at Koele.

Ed’s Tip: Coffee and Tea are served in the lobby area from 5:30AM-8AM every morning. We were also told that pastries would be there too, but perhaps you need to go early for those?

After sharing our memories of the last year together, it was time to make the best of our last day on the island. We started by exploring the vast grounds of our own resort, the Lodge at Koele.

Sign for the Four Seasons Resort Lana`i, The Lodge at Koele
Sign for the Four Seasons Resort Lana`i, The Lodge at Koele

Looking out towards Keomoku Highway
Looking out towards Keomoku Highway

Looking towards the Lodge at Koele's main building
Looking towards the Lodge at Koele’s main building

Enter the main building and you’ll be amazed by the Great Hall. Here’s a panoramic view.

Panoramic of the Great Hall
Panoramic of the Great Hall

Exit through the back of the main building and you’ll run into a curious statue, one of the many art pieces around the property.

Statue at the Lodge at Koele
Statue at the Lodge at Koele

Walking forward for a bit, we hit the Pineapple Fountain, a popular spot for weddings.

Pineapple Fountain
Pineapple Fountain

To the left is the property’s pool and hot tub area and to the right is the Reflecting Pond. Filled with Koi, this is one of the property’s main focal points.

The Reflecting Pond
The Reflecting Pond

Probably a good a time as any to play tourist. We obliged.

Using the Reflecting Pond as our backdrop
Using the Reflecting Pond as our backdrop

Close by, there is a greenhouse called the Orchid House and Gardens. Here’s a description from the web: The greenhouse at Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele is filled with the sweet scents and vibrant colours of orchids, hanging ferns, potted palms and tropical flowers. On the walk up to the greenhouse you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the mountains and the lake. Admission is free.

Orchid House and Gardens
Orchid House and Gardens

To the right, is a cool, temple-like structure with an Asian influence. Check it!

Asian influenced, temple-like structure
Asian influenced, temple-like structure

Depending on the season (I’m guessing), you may notice turkeys scurrying around the resort grounds. They’re not very friendly, but cute nonetheless. 😛

Turkeys on the Lodge at Koele grounds
Turkeys on the Lodge at Koele grounds

Continuing right, you’ll find one of the coolest, golf-related things I’ve ever seen: a full, 18-hole miniature golf putting course, complete with water hazards, sand traps and all! Just ask the front desk to rent a putter and ball. It’s free.

18 hole miniature golf putting course
18 hole miniature golf putting course

Ed’s Tip: Unless you’ve got mad, Tiger Woods type skillz like me 😛 , you may want to either putt and run, or have your friend/mate/partner go up ahead and “protect” your ball. Some greens are really fast, with impossible turns, that your ball will inevitably be drawn to go for a swim in the shimmering water. 😉

Our last day in Lanai was coming to a close, but we were starving. One last stop at Lanai City to grab lunch should do the trick. We hit up Blue Ginger Cafe’s neighbor Canoes Lana`i (formerly Tanigawa Restaurant, est. 1953).

Canoe's Lanai Restaurant
Canoe’s Lanai Restaurant

The sign out front said, “Home of the Famous Tanigawa Burger” so you betchyo bottom that’s what I hadta have. (And yes… for you eagle eyes out there who noticed the “Closed” sign above: this photo was taken the day before. Sheez, let a brutha slide once in a while won’tcha? 😛 )

Tanigawa Burger - Mrs. Tanigawa's original recipe. A Lana`i tradition since 1953 - $2.30 each with an order of curly fries - $2.09
Tanigawa Burger – Mrs. Tanigawa’s original recipe. A Lana`i tradition since 1953 – $2.30 each with an order of curly fries – $2.09

Ed’s Tip: The Tanigawa Burger runs on the small side, so I would advise you to order two if you’re hungry. At least that’s what the waitress told me all the local boys do.

Wifey was craving fried rice at Blue Ginger the other morning, but they were all out. The urge must’ve still been ever-present cause she fried riced it up here for lunch.

Fried Rice and Egg - $5.69
Fried Rice and Egg – $5.69

Canoes Lana`i Restaurant
419 7th Street
Lanai City, Lanai, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-6537
Open daily: 6:30am-1PM

Before we knew it, it was time to wake up from this dream and head to the airport for our flight back home to reality.

View from Lana`i Airport at dusk
View from Lana`i Airport at dusk

But then again, our eyes were open the whole time…

Fave Five Friday – Hawaii’s Worst Roads

September 4, 2009

Following up on last week’s fairly active topic of Hawaii’s Worst Parking Lots, let’s go with the next logical topic: Hawaii’s roads. I bet we’ve all got our strong opinions on this one eh?

So goh’on! Post your choices in the comment area below. Hurr’s mine!

  1. Anywhere on H1 during rush hour or when there’s an accident – Gaaaaaaah! I have no words.
  2. Piikoi Street – trying to catch this to get to Lunalilo Street to get on the H1 Westbound is B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
  3. Lunalilo Street– missing lights because of baboons blocking the intersection from Piikoi. D’oh!
  4. Kalanianaole Highway – not so much for the traffic, but because of the traffic lights. I remember when I used to make this drive to town and I counted the number of lights. It was insane (in the membrane). Like 20 or 30 something!
  5. Hana Highway– sending some love to the neighbor islands. 😛 This one only because it’s so windy (not the air kine windy) and crazy l’dat and when you get stuck behind one slow drivah… PAU!

While we’re on the topic of roads, who in the heck thought that that onramp off University Ave (eastbound) was a good idea!?!? First of all, in order to merge onto the H1, you have to go like 0-60 in 2.8 seconds. Plus there is an exit (University) right after your onramp. Bad planning I tell ya! I digress.

I know I’m missing a lot. Chime in below willya!?

Happy VHO7V Friday and have an awesome lonnnnnng weekend k? Shoots!

P.S. I know it’s a little late (I just download the pics), but mad props to local boy Brian Viloria (@BrianViloria) for successfully defending his IBF light-flyweight title by defeating Jesus Iribe by unanimous decision in a 12 round war. Check out the pic and action packed 12th round video below.

Brian Viloria
Brian Viloria


Brian Viloria vs. Jesus Iribe

The King of Online Travel

June 10, 2008

It’s official. I am the King of Online Travel.

OK, so it’s a meaningless title cause it’s self proclaimed and nobody really cares, but I just got the sickest deal for a weekend trip to San Jose – that I booked for a good friend’s wedding (Congrats Tom!) – and I just want to gloat a bit. *grin*

Usually, I’m not too concerned about saving a few dollahz here and there if it means getting a trip that perfectly fits the ol’ schedule, but, unfortunately, due to my limited amount of resources and vacation days for 08 (on account of the big dance and honeymoon of my own), I’m in a bit of a squeeze… So saving money and preserving vacation days is the number one priority at this point.

For the last week or so, I’ve been scouring dem online travel sites for the cheapest, fastest, dirtiest flights I could find. OK, not dirty, but you know what I mean yo. Making things a little more complicated/challenging was the coordination around the other friends’ varying schedules (most of them are going up in advance and making a vacation out of it… LUCKY!), in addition to around the wedding schedule. My friend Glenn and I have been in constant contact with one another on the almost stock-market-like volatility of the ever-changing airfare prices.

$1,000s… Merrcy!
$900s… Blah!
$600s… Interesting.
$500s… Woah, should I book?

No ways! I wanna hold out for another day!

Finally, today, $444.93 son! I am da man!

Instead of ending this blog here and making you feel like you’ve wasted 5 minutes of your life that you can never get back, I’ll turn this into a helpful and productive post that you will look back upon and not hate, but appreciate. 🙂

Ed’s helpful tips to becoming your own King or Queen of Travel:

  • So, I always start off at the multiple listing service/consolidator sites to get a feel at what’s out there. You know the Expedias and the Travelocitys of the world.
  • Then, I look at the cheapest carrier and go directly to their web site to see if they have similar, cheaper or special rates. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, depending on the deal they cut with the sites above.
  • Most times, booking online is cheaper than calling their customer service lines, so plan on that (buying online).
  • If you haven’t already, sign up for their frequent flier or preferred member clubs. Most times it’s free and you’ll earn miles and sometimes you’ll even get a break on airfare.
  • SHOP AROUND! The same exact flight you see on one site will be a totally different price on another site.
  • Timing! Sometimes prices change daily or even multiple times a day, even on the same web site. If you’re into gambling, wait a bit and see if you can time it to get a cheaper price. If you like to really gamble (which I don’t recommend), wait ’til the very last minute as airlines and vendors will offer “Last Minute Deals” for the inventory that hasn’t been sold. You can often get big discounts.
  • If you’re planning a vacation way in advance, you might want to consider signing up for the individual airlines or travel partners’ web site newsletters. I hate junk mail, so I don’t, but they will send you e-specials as they come out. You can even set some to notify you based on your travel preferences.

I think that’s about it. There are tons of sites out there, but here’s a short list of the ones I use.

Partner/Consolidator Sites:

Airlines (direct):

Other:

Hope this helped! Post some of your tricks to booking cheap travel below!

Rockin’ It At Doraku

June 9, 2008

So your boy turned another year older in the 30s block this weekend. Hold the applause (or laughter). To celebrate, the peeps took me out to the new, funky sushi joint in Waikiki called Doraku Sushi. Since this is a blog, I won’t get too into reviewing the place in detail (with all the sake, I don’t remember much anyway :P). Instead, I’ll show you some pics of the eats, which is what y’all wanna see anyway right? So here we go!

Seared Tuna with Asian Salsa - Tuna tataki with Doraku signature sauce, mango, Ka ware, tomato, red onion, Ponzu ($12.95)
Seared Tuna with Asian Salsa – Tuna tataki with Doraku signature sauce, mango, Ka ware, tomato, red onion, Ponzu ($12.95)

Salmon Carpaccio - Served with creamy ginger sauce ($9.25)
Salmon Carpaccio – Served with creamy ginger sauce ($9.25)

Doraku Roll - Lobster, kanikama, cream cheese, tempura fried served with red and black caviar, scallion and spicy cream sauce ($12.95)
Doraku Roll – Lobster, kanikama, cream cheese, tempura fried served with red and black caviar, scallion and spicy cream sauce ($12.95)

Kanpai!
Kanpai!

Talk to me!
* Have you been to Doraku?
* What did you think?
* Do the photos look yums!
* Do we look drunk yet? 😛

Jason Mraz at the Road Runner Music Hall

May 4, 2008

Jason Mraz at the Road Runner Music HallOn Friday, we headed over to the Road Runner Music Hall to check out one of my favorite artists: Jason Mraz. Now I know it’s very unbecoming for one dude to be a fan of another dude, but I’m comfortable enough with my dudehood to admit that I am indeed a superfan of this uber talented brutha. Not only is he a virtual wordsmith, can get down on the guitar, and can sang like nobody’s business, he has a personality to boot. After meeting him, he also seems as genuine and sincere as they come.

Before taking the stage, he actually took the time to go around the room and greet everyone in person. He made small talk, signed autographs, took photos and most importantly, was real and made you feel important. On stage, he went all out and probably sang longer than he should have (in a good way). He was also very appreciative of everything and everyone (fans, radio stations, etc.) It was such a breath of fresh air to see an artist of his caliber not tainted at all.

If it’s possible, I think I’ve become an even bigger fan of Mr. A-Z. You could even say I’m Mrazmerized.

Now, before you think I have a major man-crush on him, lemme get back to my power tools, grunting and shaving my back hairs. *grin*

P.S. Mraz’s new album “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.” drops on May 13.

Who’s your favorite artist?

Diamond Head Is Forever

January 1, 2008

Bye bye 2007, Hellooooo 2008! If you were anything like the rest of us, you probably made a New Year’s resolution of getting back in shape. Well, lucky for you, World-Wide-Ed’s got ‘cho back! We’re going to start off the year right by taking a break from all the eating and instead, going on a little hike up one of Oahu’s landmark treasures: Diamond Head.

Diamond Head State Monument Sign
Diamond Head State Monument Sign

Diamond Head, also known as Le`ahi, is believed to have been created about 300,000 years ago during a single brief eruption of the southeastern end of the Ko`olau Range. Since the winds were blowing the volcanic ash towards the west during the eruption, the southwestern rim is the highest point, forming its now famous shape.

Diamond Head got its name in the late 1700 when the Western explorers visited it and mistook the calcite crystals in the rocks on the slope of the crater for diamonds. Previous to that, it is said that Hi`iaka, sister of the fire goddess Pele, named it Le`ahi because the summit resembled the forehead (lae) of the `ahi fish.

The rich history behind this gorgeous range led it to be recognized as a National Natural Landmark in 1968. Today millions of tourists and locals alike, enjoy both the legendary view from afar, as well as the breathtaking view from atop the summit, culminating its 0.8 mile historic trail hike.

We start our journey by driving into the State Monument off of Diamond Head Road (optionally, you can find street parking nearby and walk in). Not long into the drive off Diamond Head Road, you’ll approach the Kahala Tunnel,

Kahala Tunnel on the way to Diamond Head State Monument
Kahala Tunnel on the way to Diamond Head State Monument

which you’ll drive through to get to a clearing…

Sign to Diamond Head Park
Sign to Diamond Head Park

that directs you to the parking lot area.

(Note! – The admission fee is $1 per person on foot or $5 per non-commercial vehicle. If you’re looking to save some paper, consider walking it from Diamond Head Road as suggested earlier. If you’re looking to save your energy for the hike itself, drive on in. You may have to wait in line for a stall, but the wait usually isn’t too long).

At the admission’s gate or Information Center, be sure to pick up the green brochure before you hike the trail. There is a handy map, some history of the park and tips on having a safe hike. It will be an even better idea if you download it ahead of time here from the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Hawaii State Parks web site.

Speaking of the map, let’s show it to you here. We’ll try to follow the 12 Points of Interest (endearingly renamed by me to POI) listed in the brochure with the images I took. Should be fun times, let’s see what happens…

Diamond Head Trail Map courtesy of the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks
Diamond Head Trail Map courtesy of the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks

Just past the comfort station, POI1 (Point of Interest #1) is the Trailhead Kiosk and described as follows: the trailhead at the parking lot is on the crater floor. Elevation of 200 feet (61 m).

Trailhead Kiosk
Trailhead Kiosk

The brisk 0.8 mile one way climb to the summit is said to take about an hour to an hour and a half. This is usually in the scorching heat, and not always on a paved path, so be sure to bring water, good footwear, and lather yourself up with sun tan lotion. Some other trail notes to adhere by:

Trail Notes sign
Trail Notes sign

This leads us to POI2: the Concrete Walkway – the concrete portion of the trail was recently installed to reduce trail erosion. The former pistol ranges are marked by earthen berms visible along the lower section of the trail.

Concrete Walkway
Concrete Walkway

Once the concrete walkway turns to dirt,

Concrete walkway turning to dirt

you’re well on your way. POI3 consists of a multiple switchback trail that zigzags its way up the interior slope. Historically, it was designed for mules that hauled materials up the trail for the construction of Fire Control Station Diamond Head located at the summit. Following are some neat shots I took from POI3: The dirt trail conforms to the 1908 trail alignment and consists of numerous switchbacks up the steep interior slope.

Scenes from the switchback trail
Scenes from the switchback trail

Scenes from the switchback trail - Stay on Trial sign
Scenes from the switchback trail – Stay on Trial sign

Scenes from the switchback trail - Looking up towards the lookout
Scenes from the switchback trail – Looking up towards the lookout

Scenes from the switchback trail - You know I had to do it!
Scenes from the switchback trail – You know I had to do it!

Scenes from the switchback trail
Scenes from the switchback trail

Scenes from the switchback trail - Looking back from the lookout.
Scenes from the switchback trail – Looking back from the lookout.

Upon completion of the zigzagging portion of the trail, you’ll hit POI4: the Concrete Landing/Lookout. This foundation held a winch and cable to lift materials from the crater floor to a point on the trail.

Enjoying the view from the lookout
Enjoying the view from the lookout

Don’t get too relaxed! The toughest gluteus maximus workout is yet to come with two daunting stair sets, the first of which is 74 steps and POI5: Steep stairway of 74 concrete steps leading into the first tunnel.

74 Step Staircase - View from below
74 Step Staircase – View from below

74 Step Staircase - View from above
74 Step Staircase – View from above

Scary isn’t it? You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Once you burn your legs for those 74 steps and pass through the POI6 tunnel – Passage through a lighted 225-foot long, narrow tunnel,

225 foot long tunnel separating the two staircases.
225 foot long tunnel separating the two staircases.

you’re faced with 99 additional big ones at POI7: Second stairway consisting of 99 steep steps. The cross-beams above the stairway supported camouflaging.

99 Step Staircase
99 Step Staircase

99 Step Staircase
99 Step Staircase

99 Step Staircase - Elevation 703.556 feet
99 Step Staircase – Elevation 703.556 feet

99 Step Staircase - Looking down
99 Step Staircase – Looking down

(Note!: After the tunnel separating the two staircases, turn left to take in another lookout point not mentioned in the brochure. This will also give you a good place to take a break before taking on the 99 step behemoth.)

My second cousin Teppei enjoying the view as well as the break between steps.
My second cousin Teppei enjoying the view as well as the break between steps.

You’ve done it! One hundred and seventy three steps of glory! We’ve GOT to be close to the summit eh? Well, not quite. At the top of the 99 stepper, we hit the POI8 tunnel – At the top of the stairs is the entry to the lowest level of Fire Control Station Diamond Head which housed the observation equipment for Fort DeRussy at Waikiki.

Teppei happy to be done with the stairs... for now!
Teppei happy to be done with the stairs… for now!

Just when you thought you were safe from stairs for the rest of your life, you’ll hit a spiral staircase originally used by the Fire Control Station, which is also POI9: This lighted spiral staircase accessed the 4 levels of the Fire Control Station. Go up to the third level where the mounts for the observation equipment are still present.

Spiral Staircase
Spiral Staircase

When you get to the third floor, you’ll approach POI10 to exit the crater: Exit to the exterior of the crater through slits once covered with metal shutters.

Exiting the crater
Exiting the crater

Note the rock and concrete that camouflage the structure on the seaward side.

Note the rock and concrete that camouflage the structure on the seaward side.

As you work your way along the crater path, POI11 comes a-callin’. Something you haven’t seen in quite some time… MORE STAIRS! Don’t fret, this is the last you’ll see until you hit the summit: The 54 metal stairs replaced the ladder to the summit in the 1970s for hiker safety.

54 metal stairs to the summit
54 metal stairs to the summit.

Alas, you’ve made it to the summit of Oahu’s answer to Nepal’s Mt. Everest: Mount Diamond Head. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back. But before you get too excited, you may want to brace yourself for the cockroach-like crowd up top. Agoraphobics/Claustrophobics/Demophobics/Enochlophobics/Ochlophobics, consider yourselves warned.

The crowd at Diamond Head's Summit
The crowd at Diamond Head’s Summit

Once you make your way through the crowd, you’ll get to our final Point of Interest, POI12: The Observation Station – The summit of the crater and the uppermost level of the Fire Control Station are at an elevation of 761 feet (232 m). Bunkers along the crater rim were built in 1915.

With its panoramic view from Koko Head to Waianae, the summit of Diamond Head was once the ideal site for the coastal defense of Oahu and, as such, was purchased by the Federal Government in 1904 and designated for military use.

East view
East view

Today, we can enjoy this beautiful panoramic view, as citizens, thanks to the Division of State Parks from the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

South view
South view

West View
West View

North of Crazy View
North of Crazy View
(Teppei and I showing how happy we were to have made it)

Mahalo to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, DLNR’s Public Information Officer Deborah Ward and the Division of State Parks’ Diamond Head Park Coordinator Yara Lamadrid-Rose. They would like to let everyone know that the park will be open for regular park hours (6AM-6PM) on New Year’s Day, so why not fulfill your New Year’s resolution from day 1 and start the new year right?

Diamond Head Summit Trail
4200 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816 (map)
(808) 587-0285
Open daily 6AM-6PM
$1 Per Person, $5 Per Vehicle

For further information, contact:
Department of Land & Natural Resources Division of State Parks
1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 310
(P.O. Box 621)
Honolulu, HI. 96809
Phone: (808) 587-0300

We made it! (and you can too...)
We made it! (and you can too…)