Archive for the ‘Around The Island’ Category
Sunday, January 5th, 2014
Top 5 Hikes on Kauai
Nearly nine-tenths of the Garden Isle is inaccessible by road, which means getting out and hiking is practically a must for Kauai visitors. The island is filled with natural wonders just waiting to be explored, from the rainforest of Kokee to the hanging valleys of the Na Pali Coast. There are trails to suit just about every age and ability.
The Kalalau Trail is one of the most challenging hikes on Kauai, but also one of the most spectacular. It can be hiked in several different ways. It’s best accomplished early in the day to avoid bumping elbows with others as well as the intense mid-afternoon heat. The trail follows the footsteps of ancient Hawaiians along an 11-mile stretch of coast, originally used by Hawaiians who lived in Kalalau Valley and the surrounding valleys on the Na Pali coast.
The first two miles of the trail of the Kalalau end at Hanakapi’ai Beach. This four mile round trip hike is considered moderate. Do not go in the water at this beach as it is not safe and there have been many drownings. Also, after a period of heavy rain, crossing the stream just prior to the beach should not be attempted. Hikers have been swept out to sea under these conditions. When the stream is calm, hikers can cross and go off the Kalalau an additional two miles to Hanakapi’ai falls. The falls top 100 feet and are breath taking.
If you plan to hike this additional two miles, take a picnic lunch and take a swim in the pool below the falls. These additional two miles are much more difficult than the first two miles of the trail, making the eight mile hike to the falls challenging.
The entire eleven miles of the Kalalau can be done in a day but be prepared. The Sierra Club gives this hike its most difficult rating. You will also need to camp overnight, as there are not many that will be able to do the 22 miles round trip in one day. Camping requires a permit and the campsite is checked by rangers, so be sure and apply for a permit before coming to Kauai.
It is also possible to arrange for a rubber raft to drop you off at the beach at the end of this eleven mile hike. Then you can either have the raft pick you up in a couple of days, or when the raft comes back, gie them your gear and then hike out the eleven miles back to the trail head.
The trail provides the only land access to this breathtaking part of the wild coast. It traverses five valleys, ultimately ending at Kalalau Beach; the trail is almost never level, crossing towering sea cliffs and through lush valleys, dropping to sea level at the beaches of Kalalau and Hanakapi’ai.
Nounou East Sleeping Giant Trail
The Nounou East Trail is often referred to as the Sleeping Giant trail as the shape of the mountain has a profile that appears to be a giant lying down. This 3 ½ mile round trip hike is fairly easy, although it does have a rapid elevation gain of 1,000 feet. The trail ascends through forested mountains and gorgeous views, including of Kapa’a and Waipouli. This is a great hike on a warm, sunny day as the trail is shaded throughout much of the trek.
This trail located in Kokee State Park, is a moderate 8-mile round trip hike that is also known as the Alakai Swamp trail, crossing over bogs on a wooden boardwalk along the swamp. Shortly after the trail begins, hikers are rewarded with incredible inland views that stretch to Mount Waialeale from atop a land bridge that straddles 4,000 feet above the Kalauau Valley and the Alakai Swamp.
The swamp is the highest in the world, with its location susceptible to quick moving weather. On a rare, clear day Wainiha Valley, Hanalei Bay and even the Kilauea Lighthouse can be seen.
Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls
Kauai is blessed with activities that reap great rewards with just a small effort, and this is one of those. The Waipoo Falls Trail, also in Kokee State Park, is an easy 3.6 mile roundtrip hike that culminates at this magnificent 800-foot waterfall, featuring panoramic views of the canyon and the fragrant scent of an Awapuhi Ginger-lined stream.
The trek also includes views of the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” The awe-inspiring canyon features an ever-changing array of colors that are illuminated at sunset. Along the trail you’ll enjoy breathtaking views into the 3,000-foot deep chasm. Be aware that the cliffs along the way have extreme drop-offs, if you’re afraid of heights you may want to rethink this one. Be sure to wear good hiking shoes with lots of traction as the trail can get quite muddy and slippery.
This meandering two mile trail (four miles round trip) gets its name from the many berry bushes along the way. Although there is an easy uphill climb at the beginning, the majority of the trail is level. You’ll also pass through a grove of Sugi Pine trees, which were brought to Kauai forty years ago and planted here.
The Kokee Museum is the place to go for a trail map, that will include Berry Flats. A private non-profit funs the museum, so be sure and make a small donation when you go in. They’re supported entirely by donations and volunteer efforts.
Sunday, December 8th, 2013
Planning a Wedding on Kauai
The Garden Isle provides a spectacular setting for a wedding; it’s famed for its natural beauty as well as uncrowded, pristine beaches and breathtaking views. Many consider it to be Hawaii’s most romantic island, and with a ceremony here, you’ll be just steps away from an idyllic honeymoon too.
Getting married in the state of Hawaii is fairly simple. The easiest way to get started is to visit https://emrs.ehawaii.gov/ and complete the online application and make the $60 payment by credit card. The application is available for the issuance of a marriage or civil union license by an agent in the State of Hawaii for up to one year from the application date.
Once you’re on Kauai, you’ll visit one of the licensing agents on the island to obtain the license. Sandra and Alan Matsumoto are located in the Koloa District on the South Shore of Kauai, closest to Poipu Beach and can be reached at 808-332-7133. There are a number of agents throughout the island; a listing can be found on the government site.
When you’ve obtained your license, it’s good for 30 days. The only requirements for obtaining a marriage license is that both parties are 18 and older and are not more closely related than first cousins. Couples who are 15 to 17 years old can be married but must have proof of age as well as written consent of both sets of parents and written approval from the judge of the family court. Although Civil Unions are legal in Hawaii, currently couples of the same sex cannot yet marry in the state of Hawaii.
Planning the Ceremony
The great news is that Hideaway Cove offers accommodations that may be a great fit for the entire wedding party. Options include everything from studios to two-bedrooms and even a 5-bedroom, 4-bath, the “Big Kahuna.” If the entire property is booked with 24 guests, a tented reception can be provided onsite for up to 50 guests. A wedding planner is necessary, but there are many excellent choices available and staff at Hideaway Cove is happy to provide recommendations.
For those that prefer a simple ceremony on the sand, Hideaway Cove owners Herb and Gale Lee were married right on the beach on Kauai and are able to provide referrals for everyone and everything needed from the officiant to flowers, the photographer, and more. Some wedding parties have booked the entire property and decide to go to a luau instead of attending a rehearsal dinner; we’ve helped charter a bus for them. Others have had a ceremony right on the property, at nearby Plantation Gardens, or Beach House Restaurant followed by a reception at the prospective establishment.
Once the ceremony is over, you can relax and enjoy your honeymoon along with Kauai’s glorious sunsets, towering waterfalls that cascade down emerald-colored mountains, gorgeous beaches that sit at the edge of warm, turquoise waters, and much more.
Hideaway Cove also offers the ultimate honeymoon stay by ensuring that couples have an unforgettable and unsurpassed experience with rooms that include elegant furnishings as well as Jacuzzi tubs and rainfall showers, perfect for two.
What more could you ask for in a wedding ceremony and honeymoon on Kauai with a little help from Hideaway Cove?
Sunday, December 1st, 2013
Spas of Kauai
If you’re seeking a relaxing getaway you probably already know that Kauai offers the chance for the ultimate in relaxation, but treating yourself to a day, or more, at the spa can help heighten your tranquil experience while visiting the Garden Isle. Here you can enjoy treatments that are uniquely Hawaiian – something that you probably can’t do back home, and all among a spectacular tropical setting.
What better way to recharge and reenergize?
Three South Shore Favorites
The Anara Spa is widely known as the very best on the island. This award-winning day spa is located at the Grand Hyatt Resort, just a few minutes’ drive from Hideaway Cove. It’s the largest on Kauai, recently almost doubling its square footage to massive 45,000 square foot area, offering a wide range of Hawaiian healing therapies. There are nearly 70 different treatments available, from Lomi Lomi massage to an all-day package that include massage, a facial, wrap, lunch, and more.
The atmosphere is uniquely Hawaiian, combining island traditions with the soothing powers of nature resulting in the ultimate of relaxation. A fitness center, swimming pool, steam sauna, whirlpools, open-air lava showers and full-service salon are all available for guests to take advantage of.
The Spa at The Ko’a Kea Hotel and Resort
Located at Poipu Beach, this luxurious spa offers five treatment rooms, including a romantic couples’ suite. It offers a peaceful atmosphere and a variety of relaxing massages, facials and wraps. Services can be provide at ocean side, in-suite or inside the spa.
There is a focus on using natural and indigenous ingredients like pineapple, seaweed, awapuhi root, coconut and Red Kauai clay.
Hawaiian Rainforest Spa
Also in Poipu Beach you’ll find the Hawaiian Rainforest Spa located inside Koloa Landing, A Wyndham Grand Resort. The Spa reflects the island’s geographic wonders and embraces a strong respect for the Aina, or land. A number of its signature treatments incorporate the Garden Isle’s indigenous botanical products. Treatments use purifying body glows combined with herbs as well as Hawaiian sea salts. A variety of massages are available, including the popular Lomi Lomi massage, aromatic foot baths, Swiss facials, and more.
On The East Side
This spa is located about 24 miles north of Poipu Beach in Kapaa. Here you’ll find a number of natural healing therapies, including the spa’s specialty, raindrop therapy, designed to positively transform mind, body and spirit. Pohaku Lomi and Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage is available and can be combined with Ka Mapuana Aromatherapy to experience the healing aromatic properties of essential oils. Facials, body wrap and beachside massages are all available as well.
On The North Shore
This Kauai spa can be found at the St. Regis Princeville Resort on the north end of the island, offering over 10,000 square feet with 12 treatment rooms including a couples’ room and a VIP room. There are a variety of treatment options available; the Taro Butter Pohaku massage incorporates hot stones with taro butter for deep muscle relaxation and is a favorite of many visitors.
Many of the Halele’a Spa treatments incorporate the Hawaiian healing properties of the indigenous plants and flowers as well as the essence of the tropical environment.
Hideaway Cove In Room Massage
If you’re the type of person that prefers not to go anywhere, let us know and we’ll arrange for a trained professional to come to you at Hideaway Cove. In room couples massages are very popular and should be arranged days in advance due to high demand.
No matter where you decide you have your treatment, you can be certain it will be a relaxing day spent on our garden island.
Sunday, November 24th, 2013
Rejuvenating the Mind with a Kauai Vacation
If you’re dreaming of a vacation in Kauai, there is one more reason on an already long list not to put it off. You probably know that island holidays symbolize the ultimate in relaxation, with the calming of the waves, the salty air and the feel of the sun on your skin, but did you know that studies have shown that spending time near the water offers benefits to your mental health?
Researchers have found that there is a huge link between the water and improving how we feel. Life’s problems can quickly seem rather insignificant and stress often magically melts away. Watching a glorious sunset or just spending time outdoors in a beautiful location among nature has been found to reduce blood pressure, boost the immune system and even improve the mood.
Simply knowing that you’ll be vacationing on Kauai and looking forward to it causes the brain to release endorphins known as “feel good” or “happy hormones.” Once you’ve arrived, the warm weather and plentiful sun provides comfort, especially for those coming from a cooler climate.
Spending a holiday on Kauai, known as Hawaii’s most relaxing island, can help you escape your busy everyday routine and experience its natural beauty and serenity, among a spectacular landscape of rain forest, mountains and beaches. It can allow you to completely rejuvenate and even rediscover yourself in such a pristine, peaceful environment.
A Canadian study found some of the benefits of an island vacation include rest and recuperation from work, the opportunity for new experiences that can expand the mind and promote cultural exchange, personal and social development and increased overall well-being.
If you want to enhance the many benefits to your mind that a vacation on Kauai can bring, there are many other opportunities as well. Hiking to one of the many magnificent waterfalls found throughout the island, and just taking time to watch the water cascade over a cliff can be a meditative and highly relaxing experience. Just taking a stroll through one of the four botanical gardens found on our Garden Island is sure to help reduce stress and calm the mind.
If you enjoy yoga, consider joining a class out on the beach. “Kauai Yoga on the Beach” offers yoga classes right on the sand. Sunrise and sunset classes are offered which can provide one of the most gorgeous backdrops you’ll find for your practice. Allow the sights and sounds of the ocean to wake and revitalize your mind, body and spirit by connecting with the energy of the sun. This can truly be a transforming experience. Here, the land is alive with energy that can be traced back to the ancient Hawaiians.
Healing workshops by the day, weekend, or even longer retreats can also be found on the island for those who are interested.
Give your mind and your body a much needed rest and restore by visiting the island of Kauai.
Sunday, November 17th, 2013
5 Must-Visit Beaches on Kauai
The Garden Isle is famous for its over 50 miles of magnificent sandy shores, more than any other Hawaiian Island. Not surprisingly, you’ll find all sorts of picturesque beaches, some practically untouched by human development.
Visitors really shouldn’t miss experiencing at least one of these five beaches while on Kauai.
Tunnels Beach, also known as Makua, is found on the north shore. It stretches for two miles from Hanalei Colony Resort to Ha’ena Beach Park, offering unsurpassed scenic beauty as well as some of the best snorkeling on the island during the summer months. A half-moon shaped reef can be found just an eighth of a mile offshore, teeming with all sorts of marine life.
In the winter time, surfers line up on the outside break. Some say the beach gets its name from the divers who have found the deep water caverns, tunnels and arches, while others believe it came from the surfers who were, and remain, impressed by waves that form a perfectly shaped tunnel.
Even if all you do is come to this beach to relax and watch the spectacular sunsets, you’ll leave happy.
Hanalei Bay Beach
Hanalei Bay Beach may be Kauai’s most well-known. It’s even been named the No. 1 beach in America due to its breathtaking beauty. Waterfall laced mountains provide the backdrop for this wide stretch of sand with picture-postcard views from every angle. Locals and tourists come here to surf, swim, walk, or just relax and take in the scene.
Poipu Beach made the list of No. 1 beaches in the U.S.A. for three consecutive years, drawing locals and tourists with its excellent swimming, opportunity to explore tide pools as well as outstanding reefs for snorkeling and diving. A lava-rock jetty protects a sandy-bottom pool, providing an ideal spot for children to swim. This is also a great spot to watch for endangered Hawaiian monk seals.
Inside Polihale State Park lies a remote 3-mile long stretch of sand that is part of Hawaii’s largest beach, the 17-mile long Barking Sands Beach. The bumpy drive down to the westernmost point of Kauai is well worth the reward, including gorgeous views and a tranquil setting that feels completely untouched by humans.
This isn’t a great spot to swim, however, as the beach is unprotected from the ocean with a severe shore break and rip currents that make swimming dangerous. Polihale is one of the best places to enjoy a walk along the sand – you can stroll for miles and miles before you have to turn around.
Kalapaki Beach is considered the best beach on Kauai’s east coast. This is the beachfront at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, with its beautiful half-moon of golden opening out to Nawiliwili Bay and the Hoary Head Mountains.
The quarter-mile long bay is partially protected by a jetty, making it safe for swimmers. The waves are good for surfing during a winter swell; windsurfing, bodysurfing and boogie boarding are popular here while surfing lessons, catamaran cruises, kayak tours and sailboat rentals are all available nearby.
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
Visiting Kilauea Lighthouse is one of the most popular activities for travelers to Kauai. It was recently renamed the Daniel Inouye Lighthouse in honor of the late senator, so you may hear it referred to by either name. Visitors have been coming to Kilauea Point, where the lighthouse has been situated since 1913, in order to enjoy its stunning surrounding beauty and explore the light that served as an important navigational aid for ships that sailed the Orient run.
The lighthouse is part of the 203-acre Kilauea Point National Refuge which includes expansive views of the breathtaking, rugged coastline, a seabird sanctuary and a National Marine Life Sanctuary.
This is where you’ll find the biggest colony of seabirds across all of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. Just some of the brilliant and unique birds you might see include:
- Red-footed boobies
- Great frigate birds
- Laysan albatrosses
- Wedge-tailed shearwaters
By visiting Kilauea Lighthouse you’ll have access to an incredible vantage point to view the incredible marine mammals in the area including humpback whales from December to April. The dazzling surrounding waters are also home to Hawaiian monk seals and green turtles year round, while spinner dolphins can sometimes be glimpsed as well.
Explore the visitor center
The Visitor Center sits high atop the bluff above the surging swells of the Pacific at the site of the refuge. Here, travelers can learn about native ecosystems, wildlife and the history of the refuge as well as Hawaii through a number of exhibits.
At the Contact Station, you’ll find more exhibits on the history of Kilauea and Light Station and find the opportunity to view daily videos about the area.
Pick up a “Watchable Wildlife” brochure at the entrance and embark on a self-guided tour along a short ¼ mile walkway enhanced by interpretive panels on the birds as well as marine mammals, native plants and geology.
Borrow a pair of binoculars at the Visitor Center to get a better view all that the area has to offer. Visiting Kilauea Lighthouse is sure to be one of the highlights of your time on Kauai.
What you should know
- There is an entry fee of $5 per person for those 16 years of age and older.
- Pets, food and beverages other than water are prohibited.
- The Visitor Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except on major federal holidays.
- To get there, turn off of the Kuhio Highway at the entrance to the town of Kilauea and follow the signs to the lighthouse.
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
Hula dancing is a traditional art of movement with smooth body gestures as well as vocals. The movements are extremely fluid and are said to tell a story with its chants preserving epic tales, myths, history and philosophy. Movements often represent nature, such as fish swimming through the ocean or trees blowing in the wind.
Before westerners arrived, hula was danced to tell stories as well as for social enjoyment. The dancers’ rigorous training was taken quite seriously and was paid for and supported by the ruling class. It has been a part of Hawaiian culture since ancient times, with some believing it began even before there were people living in the islands who are now called Hawaiian – the multiplicity of traditions of its origins may confirm this.
The Hawaiian Goddess Lake is prominently associated with hula and symbolized in hula school, or halau, as a block of lama wood placed on an altar and swathed in yellow kappa. She separated her dancers into two groups, including the Olapa, or Agile ones, representing the younger generation of dancers with more energy, and Ho’o-paa, or Steadfast ones, representing the elders who sang and played musical instruments.
The beginnings of hula
There are many tales that tell the mythic beginnings of hula, with one of the most common featuring Pele and her sister, Hi`iaka. In this story, the dance is born when Pele begs her sisters to dance and sing for her with only Hi`iaka stepping up to perform, dancing using movements that she had practiced with her friend Hopoe. Of course, this is just one of many tales representing the ancient people’s attempts to answer where hula came from with efforts to decide which is correct considered a waste of effort – to some degree all may be the right answer.
Hula dances originate from a series of just six traditional moves with a wide range of interpretations and different ways of using those basic movements to create unique and beautiful performances.
After Captain Cook’s arrival in 1778, several of his crew wrote about the hula performances they had seen. The expedition artist drew a male dancer wearing possibly a kupe’e made from dogs’ teeth that used a single uli uli. The english translation of kupe’e and uli uli needs to be added in parenthesis after each word.) The accounts are said to be the first and only records of hula that were made by outsiders during their first contact with Hawaiians.
In Captain Cook’s journal he wrote, “Their dances are prefaced with a slow, solemn song, in which all the party join, moving their legs, and gently striking their breasts in a manner and with attitudes that are perfectly easy and graceful.”
Missionaries attempt to eradicate hula
Unfortunately, not all foreigners appreciated the dance like Cook. When Protestant missionaries and English settlers arrived in 1820, they believed it dangerously promoted old heathen beliefs and celebrated physical enjoyment.
Hiram Bingham, the leader of the first group of missionaries to introduce Christianity to the islands wrote, “The whole arrangement and process of their old hulas were designed to promote lasciviousness, and of course the practice of them could not flourish in modest communities. They had been interwoven too with their superstitions, and made subservient to the honor of their gods, and their rulers, either living or departed or deified.
The missionaries did the best they could to eradicate hula and were even supported by some of the most powerful rulers who had converted to their religion. Traditionally, men and women wore knee level skirts made of palm leaves as well as flower leis around their arms, lower legs and heads. Prior to 1820, women wore skirts that were much shorter and men simply wore loin cloth. . With the arrival of the missionaries, they were forced to wear a less revealing wardrobe.
Ka`ahumanu, who was the wife of Kamehameha I and regent after he died, was accepted to the church; in 1830, she forbade public hula performances. After her death in 1832, some chiefs ignored the ban but the hula continued to be hidden for many years to come. Public hula performances became regulated in 1851 with a licensing system that required a steep fee for each performance.
Evolution of hula
Through the 19th and 20th centuries under Western influence, hula evolved quite dramatically. In the early 20th century it began to be featured as a tourist spectacle such as in the Kodak Hula Show as well as being seen in Hollywood films. A more traditional hula was still maintained in small circles.
A revived interest in the dance took place in the 1970s, with two main types of Hula performed today, the hula kahiko, or ancient hula, and the hula auana, or modern hula. It still remains an incredibly beautiful dance to watch and perform, with its ancient roots seen in the movements symbolizing nature and all of its contrasts.
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
Ziplining is an exhilarating experience that provides the rider with a bird’s eye-view of the Garden Isle and the sensation of flying at speeds of up to 35 miles an hour across the canopy of lush rainforest, streams and valleys. This is a must-do activity for adventure seekers on Kauai with the opportunity to speed down some of the world’s most magnificent courses while taking in the breathtaking scenery.
The island offers a wide range of ziplining opportunities with each outfitter offering a unique aerial perspective of the diverse terrain.
Outfitters Kauai is located in Koloa and offers several different zipline tours including the Nui Nui Loa – “Nui Loa” means big, long, and a lot, while “Nui ” (second Nui deleted) means to enlarge; this latest zipline adventure is aptly named.
The tour allows guests to soaring through jungle valleys, waterfalls and rivers found at famous Kipu Ranch featured in the film, “The Descendants.” Take the “WaterZip” and sail across a mountain stream-fed natural pool where you can let go and jump into the clear, deep waters.
The Safari tour starts with a two-mile kayak journey across the Hule’ia River while listening to tales about ancient Hawaii as well as numerous tropical birds. A hike from the riverbank to swimming holes and waterfalls culminates with a swing into a freshwater pool. Then enjoy a 90+ second zipline tour soaring a quarter of a mile above the wild forest canopy plus two additional zips.
Just Live! is just a few minutes from the airport in Lihue. Now in their tenth year, this company offers a variety of zipline tours like the Wikiwiki tour launching from atop sugar cane fields and zipping past eucalyptus and bamboo, landing in a beautiful Norfolk pine forest.
The Treetop tour was the very first tour of its kind on Kauai, allowing rides to zip from aerial platform to aerial platform like “Tarzan and Jane” and cross canopy bridges in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” style. The ultimate tour is an especially adrenaline-packed adventure combining three ziplines, two sky bridges, a 60-foot rock climbing wall, 60-foot monster swing and 100-foot rappelling tower.
Princeville Ranch in Hanalei offers the popular Zip N’ Dip tour in which you’ll fly across the interior valleys nine times, crossing a suspension bridge that spans a waterfall with the final line, “King Kong” considered one of the island’s most exciting dual lines. It concludes with the opportunity to take a dip in a deep hidden swimming hole that’s fed by a small waterfall as well as the chance to float across the water on inner tubes.
Zipline tours here can also be combined with horseback riding as well as kayaking and hiking through the serene rainforest valley.
Kauai Backcountry Adventures
Kauai Backcountry Adventures in Hanama’ulu has exclusive access to more than 17,000 acres of former plantation lands and features seven ziplines descending a mountainside allowing the rider to glide over the lush tropical forests and deep valleys.
To get there, a guide brings guests via a four-wheel drive adventure vehicle, sharing information on the island’s history and culture as well as flora and fauna. Following the zipline tour, you’ll have the opportunity to take a refreshing dip in a natural swimming pool.
Monday, September 23rd, 2013
If you’ll be traveling to the spectacular Hawaiian Islands, you probably already know that attending a luau is a must. Not only will you have the chance to try a variety of fabulous traditional dishes, but you’ll enjoy it all while taking in a show filled with Hawaiian music and dance. To appreciate the experience that much more, you may want to know a little about the history of this ancient tradition.
Ancient luau practices
The Hawaiian luau dates back to ancient times, but the first recorded Hawaiian luau was held in 1819 by King Kamehameha II and his stepmother, Queen Ka’ahumanu. This event was said to have been the catalyst for the luau that is known in Hawaii today.
In ancient Hawaii, men and women ate their meals apart due to their powerful religious beliefs that only royalty could eat certain delicacies. Women of all ranks and commoners were not allowed to indulge, so men and women ate their meals separately.
There was a fear that women could steal the men’s spirit, known as mana, while they were in the relaxed state induced by the generous feast. Women ate at what was known as the hale aina, or women’s house, while men ate at the hale mua, or men’s house.
The beginning of the modern luau
In 1819, the King enjoyed the feast with women as a symbolic act to end these religious taboos, and the modern luau was born. It is not known why he made this decision, but some feel it may have been due to his recently acquired Christian beliefs. Prior to this date, a Kauai luau, or any throughout the Hawaiian Islands, as it is held today would have been punishable by death under the ancient Hawaiian law that was governed by the kapu system.
The word for this celebration, “luau,” comes from the favorite traditional dish at these feasts. Taro leaves that are blended with chicken and baked in coconut milk are known as luau – today, this dish is called “luau chicken.”
The traditional feast was eaten on the floor where Lauhala mats were rolled out with a magnificent centerpiece made from Ti leaves, native flowers and ferns that was about 3-feet wide laid across the mat. Some of the foods included the traditional pig roasted in an underground oven, or imu, bowls filled with poi (pounded taro root ground to a consistency almost like pudding), dried fish, salted meats, sweet potatoes and a variety of fresh fruit – all put onto the Ti leaves.
Hawaiians ate all of these wonderful foods with their fingers, which is how poi got its name. Poi of various consistencies was known for the number of fingers required to eat it such as three finger, two finger, or the thickest – one finger poi.
Luaus weren’t held as part of a regular meal but as a large feast with great numbers of people invited. Royal luaus were held on a massive scale. In 1847, King Kamehameha III threw a luau that was said to have included nearly 500 large bowls of poi, thousands of taro plants, more than 2,200 coconuts, over 3,000 salt fish and almost 2,000 fresh fish as well as 271 pigs and a host of local fruits and other fine foods.
King Kalakau was known as the Merry Monarch due to his love of the celebration with over 1,500 people invited to his 50th birthday party – fed in three different shifts of 500 guests served in each.
Luaus today are not as big as they were back then, and utensils are allowed, but they are just as fun and a fantastic way to learn more about Hawaiian culture.
Monday, September 9th, 2013
The warm tropical waters and ideal breaking waves that surround the Hawaiian Islands make Hawaii a true surfing paradise. This ancient sport is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture with surfers arriving from all corners of the globe to test themselves on the large and challenging waves found throughout Hawaii.
While no one knows for sure exactly when, where and who first tried surfing, it was likely attempted first in the Society Islands but later really took hold in the Hawaiian Islands. When Captain Cook landed on Hawaii in 1778, he documented some of the earliest written records that describe surfing, although ancient Polynesians had been surfing for hundreds of years prior to his observance. Hieroglyphics on lava rocks that depict people on surfboards have been found in Hawaii dating back over 500 years – although Hawaiians were likely surfing many centuries before that.
Surfing in Hawaiian culture
Surfers today typically consider surfing to be just a sport, but to ancient Hawaiians, surfing was considered to be part sport and part religion as a significant part of Hawaiian culture.
Surfing was even part of the Kapu system of government on the islands which helped to maintain a sense of order as well as societal classes. Surfboards used were divided into classes by the type of wood utilized as well as the length of the board with the largest and heaviest dedicated only for Hawaiian royalty.
The ruling class, or ali’I, used boards that were 14 to 16 feet long and carved out of the buoyant wood of the wiliwili tree, weighing as much as 175 pounds; this massive surfboard was called an olo and used only by the most exceptional surfers.
Surfing competitions were held to settle disputes including social standing, land ownership and even “who got the girl.” In order to maintain a high standing within the community, the island chief had to be the very best surfer, constantly testing his strength and skill in the waves in order to avoid being ousted by someone better.
In the early part of the 19th century, English settlers arrived on the islands and attempted to take control over the people, prohibiting many traditional practices nearly driving surfing practically to extinction. Hawaiian people endured years of oppression until social reform began at the start of the 20th century and a group of native Hawaiians revived surfing. Its resurgence continued and visitors who arrived enjoyed watching the sport with it eventually finding its way back to the mainland.
Surfing on the mainland
One documented story, according to Santa Cruz, California historian Geoff Dunn, is that three Hawaiian princes, Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole, David Kawananakoa and Edward Keliiahonui visited family friends in Santa Cruz during their summer break from St. Matthew’s Hall, a military school for boys that they attended in San Mateo, in 1885. They were said to have ordered 15-foot, 100 pound surfboards carved from local redwood and paddled out at the river mouth where a large wave was said to have historically broke.
The royal family of Hawaii boosted this claim just a few years ago when they honored the princes who first introduced surfing on the mainland by giving the city a bronze plaque commemorating the event.
Today, surfing is one of the most popular sports along the California coast, although Hawaii is considered to be the ultimate surfer’s paradise, drawing enthusiasts from all over the world to enjoy some of the best surfing the sea has to offer.