Tati Suarez and Kamea Hadar

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  • May 18, 2017

    Get Out There: Win a Trip To Yosemite!



    Enter our Get Out There National Parks Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to Yosemite National Park and San Francisco via JetBlue, plus all the goods you’ll need for your travels. We’re giving away 2 JetBlue tickets, a National Park Pass, OluKai gear, and a bag full of all the essential gear for your trip, from a bunch of amazing brands—

    Don't wait!

    Enter for your chance to win HERE!

  • May 5, 2017

    Ahuna Hana


    Words by: Cliff Kapono

    Photos by: Cliff Kapono (@cliff_kapono) and Jake Marote (jake_of_all_trades)

    Very distant from the hustle and bustle of O‘ahu’s North Shore lies the quaint working town of Hilo, Hawai‘i. A place where even time seems to take its time. The lush countryside and fertile soil has kept this tropical safehaven a valued resource to so many in Hawa‘i for so long. On the Easternmost shores of the Hawaiian islands also resides an eclectic community of creatives that have managed to carve their native upbringings into their everyday lives. Take case in point, Brandan Ahuna. Full time lifeguard, full time dad, full time surfer and most recently full time shaper. For over a decade now, we’ve been on countless adventures, scored amazing waves and experienced some of the most incredible places Polynesia has to offer. On a recent trip home and after riding one of his alai‘a surfboards, I had a chance to sit down and ask Brandan a few questions about his next chapter in life as a wood craftsman. It was just enough time to check out his shop, watch him finish a few boards and convince him to come with me on another mission.


    CK: Bruddah Brans, you always seem to be on the go. Do you even sleep?

    BA: Sleep what is that? Nah, average at least eight hours of sleep a day, but it all depends on the day. Most times, I feel I live life through a pattern. I wake up, get the kids ready for school, rush to work on projects or head into work. I finish, pick up the keiki [children] from school and take them to sports or to the beach. I end the day by making dinner and making sure homework is done. Overall, my day to day lately has been very busy.


    CK: How do you fit time in for everything each day?

    BA: You know I really don't know... I think it comes down to prioritizing what's most important I guess. Kuleana [responsibility]. Being raised most of my life by my grandparents, I was brought up old school. So yeah I would say being Hawaiian helps me balance everything I do in life. I was taught that ‘Ohana [family] is the most important, that comes first. Next hana [work], which for me is like the security to provide for my ‘Ohana. Everything else comes after. That is what makes me happy and I find that if you're happy with your life, it definitely makes things much easier.Alaia_1Alaia_3

    CK: Tell me more about alai‘a. When did you first ride one and what was that feeling like?

    BA: Me and a few friends back in high school decided to make ourselves alai‘a. We went to Home Depot and bought some shelving, went back home and without much knowledge started to cut out a template. Next we shaped the nose and rails. We didn't have much to tools. I think we had a jigsaw, orbital sander and a file. Anyways after it was all said and done we tested them out at Honoli‘i and ended up catching some waves on them. To be honest though, I wasn't really impressed with what we made.

    CK: So how did you get back into it?

    BA: It wasn't till my friend Doug Powdrell, really good craftsman, came up to me one day while I was at work and asked me if I've ever ridden an alai‘a. I told him I tried it once, and before I could tell him that it sucked, he asked me if I would like to sample one that he built. So I said sure why not. A few days later he brought down his alai‘a. My first look at it without a doubt was WOW! It looks so beautiful to the point that I didn't even want to ride it. I look nothing like the one I shaped years ago. He had concave, beveled rails and it definitely felt a lot lighter. He said he's built them before, but only as wall hangers for friends and has never ridden one. So he was curious to see if they really worked. Later that day I headed to Honoli‘i anxious to try it. As I pulled it out of the truck and made my way to the water people couldn't help but to gaze and complement it. when I finally jumped into the water, I was amazed how buoyant it was for a piece of wood. It felt good. It felt natural. It was tricky to paddle, but low and behold the first wave I stood up, the thing went so fast I could barely control it. This was on a knee high wave must you know. I rode that wave so far in that when I kicked out, an instant jolt of happiness hit me! All I did was go straight, but for some reason I felt so stoked like I was reborn or something. I was instantly hooked.

    Over the next week, I rode that alai‘a. I was addicted. I rode it so much that it was starting to break. Splitting at the tail. I didn’t know that a friend of mine was taking pictures of me and took the board back with some of the pictures from my sessions.

    Alaia_5 Alaia_4

    Doug couldn't believe the pictures. He said he was blown away that I was actually surfing his alai‘a. I felt bad that the board was breaking because it was so beautiful, but he said "No, no, that's good, we can fix this. That's why I wanted you to ride it, so we can work out the bugs." He said don't worry and that he would take it home and bring it back when it's finished fixing it. I mentioned to him "eh Doug, maybe you should put a tail block on it to prevent it from splitting" he looked at me and said that's a great idea and he would do that. To make a long story short, he ended up giving me that board as a gift and a few more after too. I was very gracious, but something inside of me was trying to tell me something. I needed to make one for myself. I wanted to feel what it would be like to make one with my own hands and then to surf it. And so that's where it all started.

    CK: Woah. I didn’t know Doug had such an influential role is resparking your fire to shape again. What is the process like of making these unique surfboards?

    BA: Since I don't own a mill, I buy my blanks from businesses who sell them paulownia in particular. Then I choose one of my many designs that I have depending on what style and shape I want. Once the template is drawn out, I cut it with a jigsaw. Then I step back and take a look at it, reading the wood and determining what will be the top and what will be the bottom. Next I measure out the rails and the bevel in the nose, then carefully start carving away. I use block planes for shaping. When carving the contours on the bottom, I usually stick to a single concave out the back. Once that process is finished I start to sand. I'll start with 80 grit and work my way all the way to 260 grit. Then I rub on a coat of linseed oil, and it's pretty much finished. I also do custom work, which includes installing tail blocks and/or inlays depending on what the person wants. Typically I use gorilla glue for that stuff. My alai‘a can be 100% organic if I ship it out of one piece of wood and not apply anything to it.

    Shaping_4 Shaping_1 Shaping_2

    CK: Wow. That seems like a lot of work.

    BA: It is, but I really enjoy creating things for me and for other people. I love the whole process of moving from a vision to an idea, the process and all the way to the end result. It really makes me appreciate the craft. You gotta wanna do it with love and for all the right reasons. As craftsman we put a lot of positivity and aloha into what we build. We create a story behind everything we make. I highly encouraging people to build their own alai‘a and am always offering to help, or to share my experiences.

    Ahuan1Ahuna3Cliff Kapono_3Cliff Kapono_2kohola2

    CK: That’s epic. Not many people can say when they are given something, they want to do the same thing for others.

    BA: There's always a lesson to be learned. As Hawaiians we understand that if you take you have to give back. It's a healthy way of living. That's how I was taught and that's the way I will teach. Anybody can buy a craft, but to make one yourself... only then will you really appreciate it.


    *Follow more of Brandan Ahuna on instagram @ahuna_hana

  • May 5, 2017

    The 12 Best Hikes in Hawaii

    Napali Sunset

    Sunset on the Kalalau Trail along the Napali coast. Jeff P

    OluKai is partnering with Hawaiian Airlines to offer one grand prize winner (and a companion!) their very own 4-day, 3-night Ultimate Island Adventure in Hawaii.

    To enter to win, visit 

    (but hurry—entry is open from April 15, 2017 to May 15, 2017, and the winner will be selected by May 20, 2017).

    With volcanic craters, jungle ridges, bamboo forests, waterfalls, and rugged coastline to explore, the Hawaiian Islands are home to some of the best hiking in the United States. With so many options, it can be hard to chose, so we put together a list of 12 amazing treks across the four major islands: Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island. They range from easy coastal walks to adventurous waterfall hikes and everything in between, so take a look and you’ll find that there’s something for every type of hiker in Hawaii.

    The ‘Eleu Trainer is a lightweight and durable shoe that’s also water resistant if you find yourself exploring a waterfall.  Photo courtesy of OluKai

    Before you get started on one of these island adventures, make sure you’ve got a decent pair of shoes to protect your feet. Something like the ‘Eleu Trainer (for men or women) is a good choice because it’s lightweight, durable, and the sticky rubber sole will keep you sure-footed, no matter what the surface. If you want a little more support, try the Kohala boot, designed for rugged hiking (like the route up Mauna Kea, for example). The best part about the Kohala boot is that it doesn’t look like a typical hiking boot, meaning it can take you from the summit of Mauna Kea to the bar back in Hilo for your celebratory drink.


    1. Pipiwai Trail, Haleakala National Park

    Difficulty: Moderate** Distance: about 4 miles round trip**

    Waimoku Falls

    Waimoku Falls seen from the Pipiwai Trail.  Mark Doliner

    One of Hawaii’s best hikes, the Pipiwai Trail winds through quiet bamboo forests to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls. The variety of scenery along this trail is what makes it truly unforgettable. You’ll start near the park’s visitor center before trekking up along the ravine, with views of forests stretching across to the other side. Look for the 200-foot Makahiki Falls come into view on your right. You’ll pass by an incredible banyan tree and several smaller waterfalls along Pipiwai Creek before walking into bamboo forest that takes you to Waimoku Falls at the end.

    1. Na’ili’ili Haele Waterfalls, northeast shore of Maui on the Road to Hana

    Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous** Distance: 3.5 miles round trip (if you go all the way to the end)**

    As the name suggests, the five waterfalls are the highlight of this adventurous hike along the Road to Hana. Most hikers stop after the first couple waterfalls, while those looking for more of challenge can venture all the way to the fourth or fifth falls (each waterfall gets progressively taller as you go). To get to the first waterfall, head down the slippery trail through the bamboo forest before crossing a ditch and then the stream. The second waterfall features a lovely swimming pool and lies not much further upstream, while the third waterfall comes behind a short, but steep, uphill scramble. The real adventure starts in pursuit of the fourth waterfall, which requires scaling a slippery rock wall via a rickety rope ladder. The fifth waterfall proves even more challenging, with another rope ladder, several stream crossings, and then eventually on a 100-yard upstream swim.

    Note: Flash floods can occur here, so make sure the forecast is clear of rain before heading out.

    1. Waihe’e Ridge Trail, West Maui Forest Reserve

    Difficulty: Moderate** Distance: 4 miles round trip**

    Maui View

    View of the dormant Haleakala volcano from Waihe’e Ridge Trail.  Cassi Gurell

    For one of the most scenic hikes on the island, add the moderately difficult Waihe’e Ridge Trail to your list. With plenty of switchbacks, a welcome mix of steep inclines and flat stretches, and views of Makamakaole Falls along the way, this ridge hike offers plenty of variety. If you start your hike early, there’s a good chance you’ll experience sweeping vistas of Waihe’e Valley once you reach the end at Lani-ili hill. Otherwise, you may be standing amongst the clouds.

    1. Nakalele Blowhole Trail, near Lahaina

    Difficulty: Moderate** Distance: 1.6 miles round trip**

    The famous blowhole at Nakalele Point near Lahaina offers an exciting glimpse at the power of the ocean. This hole in the rock is connect to a partially submerged cave, and when waves crash onto the shore the water sprays straight up through the blowhole. This short walk takes you along the volcanic rock coastline to get you up close to the blowhole, so get your camera ready. There are two parking areas to access the trail: those traveling with children may prefer to start their walk from the one that gets you closest to the blowhole.


    1. Kalalau Trail, Napali Coast State Wilderness Park

    Difficulty: Strenuous** Distance: 22 miles round trip!**

    Kalalau Trail

    Hiking the Kalalau Trail is difficult, but the views are amazing.  Dan Dwyer

    The Kalalau Trail winds along the rugged Napali Coast, providing the only land access to this dramatic coastline of cliffs and ridges. This challenging trail weaves up and down five valleys from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach, with views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and lush tropical jungle on the other. It’s not recommended to complete the full out-and-back in a single day, so most hikers choose to camp at either Kalalau or Hanakoa with a valid overnight permit ($20 per day).

    1. Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail, Napali Coast State Wilderness Park

    Difficulty: Moderate** Distance: 8 miles round trip**

    Hanakapi’ai Falls offers another option for exploring the striking beauty of Napali Coast State Wilderness Park. Starting at Ke’e Beach, the first two miles hug the coastline (on the same trail as the Kalalau trail). Then, head two miles inland to the real gem of this hike: the 300-foot tall Hanakapi’ai Falls. Take a dip in the pristine pool below the falls before hiking back out the way you came.

    1. Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail, south shore of Kauai

    Difficulty: Easy** Distance: 3.5-4 miles round trip**

    This easier hike—with less than 500 feet of elevation gain—offers incredible ocean views from the ancient, undeveloped coastline near Poipu. The highlights of this trail are the opportunity for native plant and wildlife viewing as well as the cultural heritage sites to see along the way.


    1. Manoa Falls Trail, Round Top Forest Reserve

    Difficulty: Easy** Distance: 1.5 miles round trip**

    Accessible for all skill levels, this short hike passes through lush jungle (you may recognize the scenery from movies like Lost and Jurassic Park) to the base of the 100-foot Manoa Falls. As most jungle hikes go, the trail is often muddy and slick, so hiking boots are recommended. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to swim in the pool beneath the falls. There is a $5 entrance fee to the park.

    1. Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, eastern shore of Oahu near Honolulu

    Difficulty: Easy** Distance: 3.3 miles round trip**

    Makapuu Lighthouse

    Take a hike down to the Makapu'u Lighthouse for a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.  Alicia0928

    Another relatively easy trail for visitors to Oahu, the paved Makapu’u Point Trail meanders up along this coastal bluff eventually leading to the lighthouse. You’ll get fantastic views of the tiny offshore islands out in the Pacific Ocean, Oahu’s dramatic coastline, and the inside of Koko Crater to the north. From November until about February, it’s not uncommon to spot whales swimming in the water below this popular trail.

    1. Olomana Trail, Maunawili Playground near Kailua

    Difficulty: Strenuous** Distance: 4.5 miles round trip**

    This challenging hike features three peaks and is well-worth the nearly 2,200 feet of elevation gain for incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and the mountains. This is also a great spot for seeing wildflowers on the island. The first peak has steep drop-offs on either side and will take about 1.5 miles to summit. The second peak is the easiest of the hike, while the third and final peak is recommended only for experienced hikers who are comfortable with exposure and some scrambling.


    1. Kilauea Iki Trail, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    Difficulty: Moderate** Distance: 4 mile loop**

    Offering some of the best scenery for a short hike within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, this trail follows along the northern rim of the Kilauea Iki Crater before coming back to the trailhead through the crater’s center. The first section of the trail along the rim takes you through rainforest where you’ll have views of the crater below, which should get you excited for what’s to come. After circling back, you’ll descend 150 feet to the crater floor, where you’ll walk straight across the crater’s solidified lava to the trailhead. Make sure you bring water along on this one—the crater has no shade!

    1. Mauna Kea Summit via the Humu’ula Trail, high country of the Big Island

    Difficulty: Strenuous** Distance: 11.5 miles round trip**

    Mauna Kea Summit

    The summit of Mauna Kea is home to several observatories.  Susan Smith

    If you’re going to put any Big Island summit on your bucket list, make it this one. Starting at the Visitor Information Station, this challenging trail climbs 9,200 feet to the 13,800-foot summit of Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in the Pacific Rim. If you measured from the ocean floor to the summit, it would actually be the highest mountain on earth. Experienced hikers should set aside a full eight hours to make it to the summit and back, and come prepared with layers to account for changing weather, sun exposure, and dry dust. This isolated trail will have you feeling like you’re hiking on another planet, and will be well worth the effort once you summit Hawaii’s tallest peak.

  • May 5, 2017

    Insider's Guide to the Islands of Hawaii

    Black Sand Beaches

    OluKai is partnering with Hawaiian Airlines to offer one grand prize winner (and a companion!) their very own 4-day, 3-night Ultimate Island Adventure in Hawaii.

    To enter to win, visit 

    (but hurry—entry is open from April 15, 2017 to May 15, 2017, and the winner will be selected by May 20, 2017).

    The Hawaiian Islands are known as a world-class travel destination thanks to their pristine beaches, lush jungles full of waterfalls, awe-inspiring volcanoes, and epic surf swells. This collection of eight major islands and more than 100 uninhabited islands has earned Hawaii the title of the world’s most isolated archipelago. Situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from their closest neighbor, a visit to the Hawaiian Islands is the farthest you can get from any other landmass in the world. And this is where adventure begins.

    Volcanic activity from the ocean floor formed the major islands—Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, Niihau, and the Big Island of Hawaii—as well as the archipelago’s smaller islets, coral reefs, and sand shoals. Visitors to Hawaii can see evidence of the islands’ volcanic history (and present) through the lava rock formations, black sand beaches, dormant volcano craters, and several active volcanoes.

    The Ho‘opio sandal has 19 different strap colors to choose from.

    Knowing the general lay of the land as well as the must-do adventures in each of Hawaii’s main destination islands—Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island—is a surefire way to make the most of this paradise in the Pacific. Don’t forget to stick a pair of flip-flops in your pack and trainers on your feet if you plan to be hanging out at the beach or hiking around (which we can practically guarantee you’ll be doing).


    Maui Waterfalls

    There are nearly 20 waterfalls along the Road to Hana.  Jessie Hodge

    Home to impressive mountain ranges, countless opportunities for viewing wildlife, the legendary big-wave surf spot known as ‘Jaws’, and one of the state’s national parks, it’s no surprise that Maui is a mecca for outdoorsy travelers.

    Anyone visiting Maui should experience the thrilling and scenic Road to Hana, a winding drive along the coastal cliffs and tropical jungle on the eastern side of the island. While the drive in and of itself is undeniably an adventure—sending you through hundreds of hairpin turns and 54 one-lane bridges as you track the rugged coast—the opportunities for roadside experiences make this trip unforgettable. Venture out for quick hikes to misty waterfalls and stunning vistas, or enjoy the picturesque beaches and enticing small towns full of charm and tropical eats. Some of the best stops include the Ho’okipa Lookout (great for watching surfers and sunsets), the easily accessible Twin Falls, and Wai’anapanapa State Park.

    Save time at the end of the drive for a visit to Haleakala National Park, about 10 miles past Hana. Hike the four-mile Pipiwai Trail through bamboo forests up to Waimoku Falls, swim in the Seven Sacred Pools (get there early or it can be crowded), or stay overnight and catch sunrise the next morning on the summit of Haleakala, the world’s largest dormant volcano.



    Waimea Canyon is often called the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific.’

    Kauai, the fourth largest island, is truly the ideal place for an adventurous Hawaii experience. The island is known for its tropical forests, towering seaside cliffs, 3,600-foot-deep canyon, and impeccable beaches the cover half the coastline. Unlike the other three main islands, Kauai is primarily rural. No building taller than a palm tree is allowed, meaning that instead of high-rise hotels and luxury condos, you’ll find small towns where life moves at a slower pace—even by Hawaiian standards.

    A trip to Kauai would not be complete without experiencing Waimea Canyon, affectionately called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. About ten miles long, one-mile wide, and roughly 3,600 feet deep, Waimea Canyon’s vibrant red walls burst with lush vegetation and cascading waterfalls. View the canyon on a scenic drive down Highway 550, or choose from one of the many hiking trails in Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Parks. The trails include easy-going lookouts that require less than a mile of walking, a variety of hikes in the two to eight-mile range, and the 11.5-mile (one-way) Waimea Canyon Trail starting at the bottom of the canyon and leading to Waimea Town (crossing the Waimea River several times along the way).


    Surf Oahu

    The famous North Shore draws surfers from around the world. Daniel Ramirez

    In contrast to rural Kauai, Oahu is the most populated and most frequently visited island of Hawaii. Home to the largest city on the Hawaiian Islands (Honolulu), historic Pearl Harbor, and well-known beaches, there’s something for everyone on Oahu. Many visitors find themselves at the famous beach and bustling resort area of Waikiki in Honolulu, but the island boasts several other beaches that are definitely worth exploring.

    Head to the North Shore of Oahu to experience legendary surf waves and pristine white sand beaches. Stop by Ehukai Beach Park to see the iconic Banzai Pipeline, serving up those perfectly barreling waves that surfers dream of. A few minutes south on Highway 83 is Waimea Bay, where the pioneers of big wave surfing first ventured out into the impressive winter swells that roll in from November through February. Round out the North Shore surfing (or sunbathing) experience with visits to Haleiwa and Sunset Beach, both of which host world-class surfing competitions during peak season.


    Sunrise Big Island

    Watch sunrise over the fiery Halema‘uma‘u Crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    The Big Island of Hawaii is a place of incredibly distinct environments, with both tropical forests and desert landscapes, the world’s tallest sea mountain (which even gets snow in the winter), and some of the most active volcanoes on earth. The Big Island was originally formed by five major volcanoes that overlapped to create one large island, and as the Kilauea volcano continues to erupt, the island continues to grow. Besides stunning natural diversity, the Big Island also boasts the best preserved Hawaiian temples and historical sites in the entire state (like Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Park near Kona).

    The active Kilauea Volcano, the glow from the lava lake in Halema'uma'u crater, and the Pu’u Loa petroglyph field are all must-see experiences on the Big Island. Luckily, all of these sights are located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, one of two national parks in the Hawaiian Islands. (Check the current park updates if you hope to see lava flowing from Kilauea.) For the best views of the plume erupting from Halema’uma’u crater, head to the Jaggar Museum, and stay after sunset to see the lava lake deep inside the crater glowing against a starry backdrop.

    No matter which island you choose to spend your time, you can’t go wrong. With an abundance of both natural and cultural sites on all of the islands, you could spend a lifetime exploring all that they have to offer.

  • May 5, 2017

    12 Must-Visit Beaches and Waterfalls in Hawaii

    And what to do at each!

    Kailua Beach

    OluKai is partnering with Hawaiian Airlines to offer one grand prize winner (and a companion!) their very own 4-day, 3-night Ultimate Island Adventure in Hawaii.

    To enter to win, visit 

    (but hurry—entry is open from April 15, 2017 to May 15, 2017, and the winner will be selected by May 20, 2017).

    The Hawaiian word for wealth is waiwai, which literally means water-water—an appropriate name given how integral water is to the Hawaiian way of life. A visit to paradise would not be complete without experiencing the wealth of water-embracing activities available here, so check out our list of must-see beaches and waterfalls on four of Hawaii’s most visited islands and get inspired for your own Ultimate Island Adventure.

    But first, no trip to the beach is complete without a pair of slippers (aka flip-flops if you’re from the mainland). With review comments like "believe the hype" and “most comfortable flip-flops I’ve ever worn” you can’t go wrong with the Hokua for men and Ho‘opio for women. Both sandals are water resistant and quick-drying, with an anatomical design that hugs your foot.

    The comfortable Hokua sandal is quick drying and vegan-friendly.

    The Ho’opio features an outboard strap, which means the strap is built into the outside wall of the sandal instead of in the footbed for even more comfort and arch support. If you plan on hiking around, the Nohea Moku for men and the Pehuea for women is your best bet. These babies have a drop-in heel, making them super easy to convert from a supportive (but really comfortable) shoe to a hang-out-on-the-beach sandal.


    Big Island

    The Big Island is home to several unique beaches. Explore the Anywhere Aloha story.

    Also called the Big Island, the island of Hawaii is best known for its varying landscape encompassing several climate zones—from lush rainforest and black sand beaches, to the snow-capped peaks of Mauna Kea and the mighty (and still active!) Kilauea Volcano. Hawaii is a favorite among nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

    1. Hapuna Beach

    Beloved by locals and tourists alike, beautiful Hapuna Beach is perfect for families in search of calm waters or anyone who loves a classic toes-in-the-sand beach experience. Considered to be one of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches, Hapuna has public access along its entire half-mile stretch, as well as free and ample parking. There’s a picnic area to enjoy a packed lunch, and lifeguards are on duty almost year round.

    1. Punalu’u Beach

    If you’re after a unique beach experience and photos to set your Instagram feed apart, look no further than Punalu’u Beach on the east side of the island’s southern tip. Nourished by the pulverized lava rock of the nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, this beach has distinctive, jet-black sands and a rocky coastline. The snorkeling is excellent, and behind the beach is a lovely freshwater pool that’s fun to explore. Punalu'u is also the one spot on the island where endangered green sea turtles lay their eggs. They are beautiful to observe, but should not be disturbed in any way.

    1. Akaka Falls

    The 442-foot tall Akaka Falls is part of the Akaka Falls State Park, just north of Hilo. To reach this stunning cascade, you’ll need to take a short (but pleasant) 0.4-mile hike through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves, and ferns. This is a great hike for the whole family, and the trailhead is easy to find just off the parking lot. As of April 2017, the admission fee is $5 per car or $1 per person for pedestrians.


    Kailua Beach

    You’ll be dreaming of the golden sand and clear water at Kailua Beach long after you visit.  Aussie Assault

    Home to Hawaii’s state capital of Honolulu, Oahu has it all—luxurious beaches, exciting watersports, breathtaking scenery, rich cultural history, and world-class shopping and dining. While it may be the most populated Hawaiian island, it’s easier than you’d think to escape the hustle and bustle for a more relaxed and authentic Hawaiian experience.

    1. Waikiki Beach

    When a place is so well-known, it’s usually for good reason, and the iconic Waikiki Beach is no different. Enjoy classic, white sand beaches in a bustling, urban setting with Diamond Head Crater as a scenic backdrop. Waikiki Beach has something for everyone, whether you want to try surfing for the first time, go stand up paddle boarding, or simply spend the afternoon sunbathing. For something a little extra special, book an outrigger excursion or sunset sail.

    1. Kailua Beach

    It’s only a 30-minute drive from Honolulu to Kailua Beach, but you’ll feel worlds away. Nestled between the towering Koolau Mountains and the ocean, Kailua and the nearby Lanikai Beach have yet to be overcome by tourists. Rent a kayak and paddle out to the Mokulua Islands, a mile or so offshore. The small, friendly town of Kailua is about a 20-minute walk to the beach and is worth exploring for its cute shops and restaurants.

    1. Maunawili Falls

    Maunawili Falls is only 20 feet tall, but has a deep and beautiful swimming hole that you can leap into from surrounding boulders. The falls can be reached from a relatively easy three-mile loop trail hugging the Ko’olau Mountain range in Kailua. You’ll meander through tropical fruit groves with kukui nut, coffee, and monkeypod trees along the way, and like most waterfall trails, the path can be muddy.


    Explore Kauai with the Island Hoppers.

    Visit Kauai and you’ll see why its nickname (the Garden Island) is so fitting—it’s almost entirely covered in lush tropical rainforest. From these verdant jungles to the dramatic cliffs and pinnacles of the Napali coast and the awesome Waimea Canyon, it’s no wonder this small island has served as a backdrop for so many major Hollywood movies and is a go-to spot for nature lovers and hikers.

    1. Mahaulepu Beach

    Just down the road from popular Poipu Beach on Kauai’s south shore, Mahaulepu offers relative seclusion because it takes a bit more effort to get there. This hidden gem, which is better for exploring than swimming, consists of three separate beaches along two miles of golden-red sand. Near the first beach, Gillin’s Beach, is an interesting cave with ongoing archaeological excavation. Kawailoa Bay is the next beach and is popular with windsurfers. The least-visited beach, Haula Beach, is a 10-15 minute walk along a sandy trail near the edge of the cliff. On most days, you're likely to be the only one there except maybe local fishermen and the occasional horseback rider.

    1. Hanalei Bay

    If you’re looking for a postcard-perfect beach, look no further than Hanalei Bay on the island’s north shore. Hanalei is a long half moon of four golden-sand beaches near the picturesque village of Hanalei, with quaint boutique stores, restaurants, art galleries, and surf shops. Like most of Kauai’s north shore beaches, swimming and other water sports like paddle boarding, kayaking, and windsurfing, are best in the late spring and summer months when the ocean is calmer. Two of Hanalei Bay’s beaches have lifeguards, and camping is allowed at Black Pot Beach (you’ll need to get a permit first, though).

    1. Hanakapi’ai Falls

    If Hanakapi’ai Falls is not on your bucket list, then you need to add it right now. This awe-inspiring waterfall is the only one on Kauai’s fabled Napali coast that can be accessed without a permit and is a nature lover’s triple threat. First, the hike is through a tropical rainforest with sweet-smelling mango and guava trees, then there’s a beach with stunning views and sea caves to explore, and finally you get to the 300-foot waterfall cascading into a large pool edged with mosses, ferns, tropical flowers, and boulders. The hike is eight miles round trip and strenuous at times, but the scenery along the way makes this an unforgettable Hawaiian experience.



    The 400-foot Waimoku Falls is easily accessible from the Road to Hana.  Andrew K. Smith

    The second largest Hawaiian island, Maui offers an appealing mix of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and cosmopolitan flair that keeps visitors coming back for more. In addition to gorgeous beaches and outdoor adventure, there’s sophisticated dining, nightlife, and shopping. It’s also home to the famous 64-mile Road to Hana that snakes along the island’s northeastern shore.

    1. Makena Beach

    About a mile long and 100 feet wide, Makena Beach is also called "Big Beach" and is a favorite of both locals and tourists. This pristine sprawl of sand on the island’s southern shore makes it easy to stake out prime real estate without feeling too close to the next beach towel over. And because the sand runs into the ocean, it’s ideal for swimming and boogie boarding. Makena Beach has lifeguard stands and food trucks in the parking lot serve fresh mahi-mahi and shrimp tacos.

    1. Honokalani Black Sand Beach

    Along the road to Hana is Honokalani Beach, with jet-black shores and jungle foliage. Located within Wai’anapanapa State Park, it’s an ideal spot for exploring and embracing Maui’s natural beauty. In addition to swimming, snorkeling, diving, and hiking, you’ll find seaside lava tubes, a sea arch, and sea caves. Picnic facilities, restrooms, and showers make Honokalani a convenient, must-see spot along the Road to Hana.

    1. Waimoku Falls

    Several miles beyond the Road to Hana is Maui’s phenomenal Pipiwai Trail, leading visitors past several swimming holes and waterfalls through an enchanting bamboo forest. The highlight of this 3.5-mile hike, though, is Waimoku Falls. This 400 foot, sheer-cliff beauty is in Haleakala National Park and flows all year round. While swimming is not allowed, you can cool off in the swimming holes further downstream. This spectacular hike and waterfall can get crowded, so get an early start.

  • May 4, 2017

    16 Must-See Cultural Hot Spots on the Hawaiian Islands


    Halemaumau Crater eruption at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Alan Cressler

    OluKai is partnering with Hawaiian Airlines to offer one grand prize winner (and a companion!) their very own 4-day, 3-night Ultimate Island Adventure in Hawaii.

    To enter to win, visit 

    (but hurry—entry is open from April 15, 2017 to May 15, 2017, and the winner will be selected by May 20, 2017).

    After you enter the contest, read on and get inspired for your own adventure in the Hawaiian islands.

    The human history of Hawaii goes back to when the Polynesians first landed on the islands between AD 300-600. Though the people and the culture have been influenced through the centuries, you can still find the true Hawaiian spirit on the islands today (if you know where to look). From ancient Hawaiian temples to mountaintops shrouded in legend, we’ve lined up the top four cultural hot spots on each major island that will leave you with a deeper understanding of the history and culture of Hawaii.

    The Nohea Moku is a vegan-friendly, casual shoe that’s comfortable enough for a long day of exploring.  Photo courtesy of OluKai

    Some of the spots listed include ornate palaces and museums, while others will have you walking across hardened lava or beaches, so you’ll want to make sure your feet are protected. You can’t go wrong with the lightweight ‘Eleu Trainer (for men or women) or the more casual Nohea Moku for men or Pehuea for women. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and some extra water, and you’ll be all set for your own Ultimate Island Adventure.


    Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau

    Exploring the Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau.  Ken Lund

    1. Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau

    Heiaus, or ancient Hawaiian temples, can be found on all of the state’s major islands. The Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau—located in the state historic site of the same name—is the largest in Oahu and covers more than two acres. Situated atop a coastal bluff overlooking Waimea Bay, Pu’u o Mahuka was built in the 1600s as a luakini heiau, meaning that it was designed for religious and social rituals involving human or animal sacrifice.

    1. Kāko‘o ‘Ōiwi

    You’ll find this community-based, nonprofit organization nestled in the wetlands of He’eia on Oahu’s eastern shore. Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi promotes the social, economic, and ecological health of the local community by restoring the agricultural productivity of its 405 acres. Check out their educational programs to learn about the land’s significance to Native Hawaiians, or get involved in the restoration process during monthly volunteer days.

    1. Iolani Palace

    Once the official residence of the Hawaiian monarchy, the Iolani Palace has since been restored as a National Historic Landmark in the heart of downtown Honolulu. Constructed under King Kalākaua in 1882, you can now to take guided tours through the first two floors of the palace and around the grounds. Inside, you’ll see the majestic Grand Hall, the crimson and gold Throne Room, and the king and queen’s private bedrooms. Outside, don’t miss the Sacred Mound, a royal tomb where chiefs may still be buried.

    1. Honolulu Museum of Art

    The Honolulu Museum of Art offers self-guided or docent-led tours through the rotating exhibits from across Asia, Europe, and America. The museum also showcases the best of Hawaiian art, ranging from centuries-old artifacts to modern paintings of the islands and their people. This means that you’ll find indigenous treasures like pottery and quilts exhibited alongside 20th century classics like Georgia O’Keeffe’s portraits of Maui.


    HI volcanoes national park

    A lava flow at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Alan Cressler

    1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    Not surprisingly, volcanoes are a major part of the Hawaiian Islands’ natural history. While Hawaii Volcanoes National Park puts the island’s geological history center stage, you can also find many archaeological sites here. Remains of ancient Hawaiian houses, caves, and agricultural structures tell the story of the indigenous groups that lived on the land hundreds of years ago. Head to the Pu’u Loa region of the park for the largest concentration of ancient petroglyphs (over 23,000 total), all easily accessible via a 0.7-mile lava bedrock trail. On the Ka’u Desert Trail, explore the fossilized footprints of Native Hawaiians left in the hardened ash of a volcanic eruption. The entire route is 18.2 miles, but you could also just hike out as far as you want and then head back.

    1. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

    Extending 420 acres across the Kona Coast, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau encompasses historical, religious, and cultural sites dating back more than 700 years. Explore the Royal Grounds, where ancient Hawaiian royalty established homes and ceremonial sites, or venture to the pu’uhonua, *a place of refuge enclosed by a 965-foot-long wall where defeated warriors and violators of the sacred law could escape persecution. Hiking the ancient two-mile 1871 Trail is a good way to see the sites around the park, including a *heiau, hōlua sled courses, and the Keanae'e cliffs. Be sure to tread lightly and avoid walking on the archaeological sites to protect them from deterioration.

    1. Pololu Valley

    You’ll find the lush Pololu Valley at the beginning of the Kohala Coast—the oldest stretch of land on the Big Island. To fully experience the beauty of the valley, park at the Pololu Lookout off Highway 270 and hike down to the serene Pololu Beach (less than one mile round trip). Go a little farther for an almost three-mile round-trip hike to floor of the Honokane Nui Valley, which offers even more spectacular views.

    1. Pu‘ukoholā Heiau

    The town of Kawaihae on the island’s northwestern shore is home to the** *Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, one of Hawaii’s most historic *heiaus. Around 1790, Hawaiian King Kamehameha I ordered the construction of this heiau in honor of the war god Ku, attempting to end the civil war raging around the islands at the time. Besides it’s history, the site is popular for the regular shark, whale, and dolphin sightings just offshore. Sharks can be seen year round (usually in the mornings), while whales make their appearance during the winter months.



    Haleakalā National Park is a popular spot to catch an island sunrise.  Sean Munson

    1. Haleakalā National Park

    One of two national parks on the Hawaiian Islands, Haleakalā is most known for its namesake volcano and the opportunity to hike or bike to the summit (especially for sunrise). What many visitors to the park may not realize is that Haleakala’s summit is a wahi pana, or legendary place, shrouded in stories about the demi-god Maui. According to legend, Maui stood atop the Haleakalā summit and snared the sun to hold it in the sky a bit longer, allowing his mother to dry her kapa (bark cloth) in its warmth.

    1. Pu‘u Ka‘uiki in Hana

    While visiting the remote town of Hana on Maui’s eastern edge, it’s worth noting the cultural significance of Pu‘u Ka‘uiki, the hill on the southeast side of Hana Bay. Hawaiian legend tells that in this spot, Maui raised up the sky above the hill in order to get a drink of water from a woman. Various other legends involving Maui and ancient Hawaiian demi-gods surround this hill, which you can easily explore from the Hana Beach Park.

    1. Wailuku Town

    The historical legacy of Wailuku Town on Maui’s north shore makes it worth a stop (and the views of the surrounding hills are an added bonus). Birthplace to Maui’s booming sugarcane industry, the town expanded rapidly for nearly a century to accommodate the influx of workers moving to the island. The old town vibes can be felt around Wailuku in the plantation-style homes and art deco buildings that line the main street.

    1. Maui Arts & Cultural Center

    In the heart of Kahului, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center offers a premiere venue for concerts, opera, film screenings, dance performances, and everything in between. They also host a small selection of rotating art exhibits (for free) that you could easily check out during show intermissions.



    The view along the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail in Poipu.  Robert Linsdell

    1. Hanalei

    Nestled between lush green mountains on one side and a two-mile stretch of sandy beach on the other, the town of Hanalei is both a scenic and historic stop in Kauai. Ancient Hawaiians primarily grew taro, a starchy root vegetable, in the marshes of Hanalei Bay until the 1860s. Today, the Ho‘opulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill offers visitors a glimpse into this working taro farm and Hawaii’s last remaining rice mill. Additionally, the royal yacht of Hawaiian King Kamehameha II, Pride of Hawaii, sank off the shore of Hanalei Bay in 1824, and though large sections of the ship washed up on shore a few decades later, the majority of the shipwreck still remains underwater.

    1. Kauai Museum

    Located in the historic Albert Spencer Wilcox Memorial Building in downtown Lihue, walk through the history of the island with photographs, writing, movies, and artifacts of all kinds in the Kauai Museum. The museum’s mission is to work in collaboration with the indigenous and immigrant people of Kauai and Ni’ihau to create exhibits that maintain their cultural heritage.

    1. Nu'alolo Kai

    Along the rugged Napali coast on the north shore of Kauai, there’s a remote, 800-year-old fishing village called Nu'alolo Kai. The cultural and archaeological sites at Nu'alolo Kai are some of the most extensive and well-preserved in all of Hawaii, with more still being uncovered to this day. This secluded strip of coastline is accessible only by boat, with a small selection of commercial outfitters holding legal permits to bring visitors. Along with the archaeological sites in the village, the coastline offers impressive snorkeling opportunities and sightings of Hawaiian monk seals.

    1. Koloa Heritage Trail

    Situated in the south shore of Kauai, the Koloa Heritage Trail is a 10-mile self-guided walking tour with 14 stops of cultural, historical, and geological significance. The trail takes you through the towns of Koloa and Poipu, with glimpses into the island’s sugar growing past, the famous Spouting Horn geyser, and the history of the area’s beaches, bays, and gardens.

    Originally written by RootsRated for OluKai.

  • April 10, 2017

    Saving Banksy Premiere: Thursday at POW!WOW! Hawaii


  • April 10, 2017

    Make Your Way To Maui

    Maui Map

    Maui's diverse landscape, from sunny beaches to towering bamboo forests, makes it easy to find unique pockets to explore. When we're not training for the Maliko Downwinder at our annual Ho'olaule'a Ocean Festival, these are a few of our favorite places to visit:

    1. Shop Local in Pa'ia:

    Whether browsing the exceptionally curated textiles and gifts at Pearl, or grabbing a wood-fired pizza at Flatbread Company, the finely crafted Pehuea Leather is the perfect compliment to the rich character of the town. And don't forget to head to Charleys late night for a possible sighting of legend Willie Nelson.

    2. Eat Dinner at Mama's Fish House:

    There's nothing quite like a Hawaiian sunset, and no better spot to watch it from than Mama's Fish House, which boasts delicious fresh fish catches daily, and is just around the bend from Pa'ia. If you want the full experience, book a stay at their beach front cottage, and feel right at home in the 'Upena.

    3. Go Whale Watching off Wailea:

    Just off Maui lie some of the best waters for whale watching, and from November to May the area is teeming with Kohola (Humpback whales). Feel the sea breeze in the Nohea Mesh as you watch for the whales to surface, spout, and breach just off the coast.

    4. Head over to Lahaina: 

    Stroll down Front Street in the Kupuna Slide for a relaxing afternoon. Slip into these refined yet comfortable sandals and relax beneath the historic Lahaina banyan tree. Cap it off with a late lunch at Longhi's, and then stop into Ululanai's for a shave ice.

  • April 10, 2017

    Plan Your Next Escape to Oahu

    Oahu Map

    O'ahu offers the perfect blend of culture, outdoor sport and natural beauty, from big winter waves to globally welcoming Waikiki Beach. Check in to the SurfJack Hotel & Swim Club and then head out to some of our favorite local spots:

    1. Head To the North Shore:Halu'a

    Known as the Seven Mile Miracle, this stretch of beach is home to some of the most legendary waves in the world, and is as awe inspiring as it is dangerous. From the pounding surf of Pipe to big wave mecca Waimea Bay, stay comfortable in the water-friendly Halu'a.

    Ohana Slide2. Jump On the Mo'o in Hale'iwa Harbor:

    Head out with our friend Kaiwi Berry and Islandview Hawai'i to swim with sharks in crystal clear tropical waters. Jump back in the boat, and slip on your water loving 'Ohana Slides. With a quick drying upper, this sandal will take you from the boat to Hale'iwa Bowls for a post dive Acai snack with no worries.

    3. Cruise Around Waikiki:Eleu Trainer

    Slide into ARVO for avocado toast and a coffee, then head out to explore the South Shore of Oahu. From Kaka'ako to Diamond Head, don't miss a step in the 'Eleu Trainer. Lightweight, breathable, and designed to make a seamless transition from Mauka to Makai, this Trainer will keep up no matter where you head.


    4. Hike Tantalus Lookout:

    Leave the crowds behind and head up these lush mountains for an amazing view of Diamond Head and all of Waikiki. Get there in comfort with the Hamakua, designed with these bold landscapes and your big adventures in mind.

  • March 23, 2017

    Onboard the Hōkūle‘a with Na'alehu Anthony - The Navigators

    February 26, 2017

    We’ve been sailing for nearly three years on the international portion of the worldwide voyage. It’s hard to believe that there are only a handful of legs left before our canoe returns home. The Malama Houna movement has become something that has touched some of the farthest shores that some of us could not have even imagined when we set out of Hilo on the Big Island in May of 2014. Even in the face all of the metrics that we collect about the “movement” that this voyage has helped to bring to life I would argue that some of the biggest growth and impact has actually occurred right here, on the deck of a sailing canoe, as she has traversed all these miles across the face of the planet. This navigation team for this leg is an example of that growth and growing up that we have seen. All of them were on the fist leg to Tahiti in 2014 as apprentice navigators, and now, together, they are sailing this canoe without their teacher looking for the most isolated Island on the planet. I don't think that this was the way it was planned at which they were to step into the lead navigation role but it rarely every goes the way as planned when leadership development is in full swing.

    If you listen to the early interviews we did with these individuals back in 2013 and early 2014 you wouldn't even recognize them as the same people who have grown up to be on this voyage. The people we have on board today are poised, confident, and unabashed by the complexity and difficulty of the task they have chosen to take up. And in the opinion of someone who has been watching this process intently for a few years now, they are finally ready to learn. Yes, they have all had to learn tremendous amount “stuff” to get to the deck of the canoe. But now that they are here they have all the pieces of this “stuff” to put it into practice and internalize the process of way finding unto themselves.

    All that was left was to turn the deck of the canoe in to a classroom with the next set of lessons being the unending horizon that surrounds us. And over the course of the last 17 days and almost 2000 miles they were tested. The simple act of staying awake becomes a monumental test when having to stay awake and track direction and speed and distance. The patience part about this test was probably the one of the hardest. With nerves of steel they searched the horizon for three days, looking for the reef and then Rapa Nui, waiting for something to reveal itself.

    And so the all elusive and isolated Rapa Nui revealed itself yesterday at about 4 pm. When we checked the range we say that we were 43 miles out when they finally sighted the island. Some hugged, some just sat in a state of almost disbelief, while one other capped off 42 years of sailing this canoe, finally closing the triangle. All elusive indeed. And that became the last lesson of this experience. I would argue that without the Birds and swell and clouds as clues we would have never found this place. Trusting your naʻau as it turns out is every bit as important as the math and observation and science behind all of this.

    This will be my last “regular” update for this voyage. There are a couple more blogs that I want to get out while in Rapa Nui but this is the last one from the deck of this canoe for a while. Before I go I would like everyone who reads this to congratulate the crew who just stared impossible in the face and conquered it. But also a special acknowledgement for those who took up the task of the navigation; Lehua Kamalu, Haunani Kane, Jason Patterson and Noe Kamalu- I can’t wait to see what they do next.

    From the deck of the Mama canoe, Hōkūleʻa,

    Me ka haʻahaʻa

    Naʻalehu for the leg 28 crew

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