Tati Suarez and Kamea Hadar

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  • February 19, 2017

    Wooden Wave at POW!WOW! Hawaii

    Matt and Roxy at Work

    We spent Wednesday with our good friends of Wooden Wave. They're a dynamic husband and wife artist duo that creates whimsical illustrations, designs, and paintings. And they are especially known for creating imaginative tree houses designed with underlying themes of sustainability, environmental awareness, and, of course, fun!

    This project brings all those elements together to create a treehouse for, and in the shape of, Darth Vader. The story goes that Darth Vader retires from running the empire to his custom tree house in the stars. Aside from featuring the essentials of any Wooden Wave sustainable treehouse - solar panels, garden beds, and skate ramps - Vader had this home custom made for his post-empire needs.

    Upon closer inspection, you'll notice the clothes line has his boots and cape hanging out to dry. The lower floor features a dance floor and Death Star disco ball, because we all know that Darth loves to disco!

    This mural also features the hand-lettering of Lana Lane artist Gavin Murai (under the name Reckon Shop), a lettering and graphic designer with a clean style and, like Wooden Wave, a fun-loving attitude. He created the typography portion featuring the Darth quote, 'Together we can rule the galaxy.' Although originally spoken in hopes of convincing Luke to rule the galaxy with him for the dark side, he has softened with age, and it now serves as a call to action - to live sustainably through an environmentally conscious lens.


  • October 18, 2016

    The Kanilehua Mural

    You may recognize Brandy Serikaku from our Anywhere Aloha story, The Creatives, where she met with Jhesika Menes and traveled from the Big Easy to the Big Island to share in and experience the distinct but surprisingly unique cultures in the two communities.

    Brandy in her studio

    We now join Brandy again on the Big Island, to share in her latest project: A mural in downtown Hilo, in collaboration with Temple Children.

    Temple Children's mission is to strengthen and bridge communities by embracing individuality and activating conversation and collaboration. They connect and support like-minded people seeking positive social and environmental change with each project they create, and this one is no different. Brandy's mural is one of six that will be completed this week, with artists from California, New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii coming together to share their talents and embrace the creative energy of each other and the community they are visiting.

    Although this is Brandy's first mural project, the inspiration behind it comes from a lifetime of learning about, exploring, loving, and embracing Hawaiian culture:

    Raised in Hilo, Brandy has been dancing hula for 27 years for Halau O Ka Ua Kanilehua - a commitment that has inspired a love of the Hawaiian culture and language. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Hawaiian Studies from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Currently the Art Director of Sig Zane Kaiao, Brandy has been designing for over 8 years and her pen illustrations and ink paintings have come to life through her recent designs for Salt Liko. Brandy always finds time to enjoy life, through surfing, traveling, adventuring with her daughters, working in the ʻāina, and drawing.

    Brandy on the Big Island

    It is no wonder that the inspiration for her mural comes from the natural world, and specifically, the landscape of the Big Island:

    "I want to focus on the lehua and bring awareness to rapid ohiʻa death and caring for our native forests. I thought of Kanilehua, which is the famous rain of Hilo and also the name of the hālau hula I dance for. The lehua trees attract the clouds that bring in the rain. When you look at the meaning of Kanilehua, kani means sound and lehua is the tree. When the rain hits the leaves, the pitter and patter can be heard. We can imagine Hilo having so many lehua trees that when it rained, they heard the lehua! It will reflect the rain and the lehua, and may become an abstract print.”

    Follow along here and on social media (InstagramFacebookTwitter) as Brandy's mural moves from inspiration to manifestation in Hilo, HI.

    Taro on the Big Island

    Mahalo to our partners, Temple Children, for bringing us together in this project. Also to photographers Mark Kushimi and Cory Martin for sharing their amazing work.

  • September 30, 2016

    Hau’oli Makahiki Hou – Food, Fireworks, and Fun

    OK37 With 2016 in the home stretch, we're about to enter the Holiday Season. At the end of the upcoming season and year is what is one of Hawaii's biggest celebrations all year. When the hands of the clock tick down the final moments of 2016, Hawaii, known as the “rainbow state” will bid a fond aloha to the year past and boldly welcome the New Year with a magnificent “rainbow” of explosions across the warm night sky. As one of the last time zones to ring in the New Year, Hawaii does so in grand style, and we don’t do it quietly.

    Home to an ethnically and culturally diverse population, the people of the islands share a unique blend of New Year’s traditions in which the widespread use of fireworks plays a mighty big role. New Year’s Eve in Hawaii consists of glorious weather, breathtaking scenery, and lively galas with music, fabulous food and hula.

    Ancient Hawaiian New Year Festivities

    The Hawaiian New Year festival, known as the Makahiki season, honors the god Lono. The Makahiki holiday covers four consecutive lunar months, approximately from late October or early November through February or March. Makahiki celebrates the bounty the gifts of nature and the bounty of the land.

    During ancient times, many religious ceremonies and blessing occurred during this period. Warfare was forbidden, and the people brought gifts and offerings to the chief or ali’I. Feasting on “pork, poi” and pineapple”, the people danced, played music, engaged in sports, and talked story in a ritual inscribed to renew communal bonds and to assure that there were no unresolved conflicts to adversely affect the new crops.


    Ahi tuna, found on the dinner plates of many Hawaiians on New Year’s Eve, is a pricy local delicacy with the prized translucent red fish commanding higher prices than ever before. Once plentiful, ahi tuna is now in short supply as fishermen fail to come back with the #1-grade ahi. The tradition of eating sashimi December 31 originates within the local Japanese culture, with the fish representing health and prosperity for the coming year.

    Fried, baked, broiled, blackened, or raw, ahi tuna is a New Year’s favorite. reports, “Smaller fish are usually caught around fish aggregation buoys and over seamounts. The large fish (over 100 pounds) are usually caught in deep open ocean waters. They are preferred for their typically higher fat content and greater yields. All Hawaii ahi tuna is sold fresh.”

    Residents describe the traditions of the islands, commenting, “One of Hawaii’s most entrenched traditions is the consumption of massive amounts of tuna (preferably ahi) sashimi for New Year's Day. Every year around this time, prices for top-grade ahi doubles or triples - rising in some years to as high as $50 a pound for highly marbled ahi toro. Everyone in Hawai`i, it seems, certainty not just Japanese-Americans, believes that a big pile of ahi sashimi along with their fireworks is "no ka oi." One of the most interesting parts of this ritual is the annual "ahi price monitor", where the local papers start to report with minuscule accuracy the cost of various cuts.”

    Another tradition dating back to 15th century Japan is the ritual of sipping a bowl of ozoni soup enriched with kamaboko or fish cake and served with mochi or rice cakes. The round shape and glutinous texture of the kamaboko and mocha represent cohesiveness and harmony.


    The practice of setting off fireworks at midnight brought to the Pacific Ocean Islands by Chinese immigrants is meant to ward off evil spirits and usher in good luck for the New Year. In the evening hours before midnight, celebrants light up thousands of explosives, creating an incredible amount of noise and billowing clouds of smoke. In Honolulu, dawn finds the streets ankle deep in firework’s curled paper wrappings.

    In 2000, the Hawaii State legislature, in an attempt to curb enthusiasm for the noisemakers, enacted a law requiring a $25 permit to purchase 5,000 firecrackers. However, the lawmakers failed to limit the number of permits any one person can purchase, so many folks just buy several.

    Fun - Aloha, 2016!

    Best Places To Watch Hawaii New Year's Eve Fireworks Shows

    No matter if you are on Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, Kauai, or Lanai, there is no more magical place to welcome in the New Year than in the Hawaiian Islands.

    Imagine spending the day surfing, snorkeling with the sea turtles, strolling barefoot on the sugary sands, chilling at a beach bar with an icy cold beer, or just watching the waves break against the shore. Then, because its New Year's Eve in Hawaii, spend the remainder of the day and evening celebrating with the locals, enjoying mouth-watering foods, watching the fireworks, dancing and partying until the golden sun lights up the eastern sky: life just doesn’t get any sweeter than this.


    Look for the firing of a stellar fireworks display and light show on December 29th. Fired from a barge anchored offshore of the Trump Tower Waikiki, the festivities commence at 8:30 PM

    On New Year’s Eve the exuberant celebrations kick-off at 10:00 PM with an impressive firing from a barge fronting 4559 Kahala Avenue. The show can be viewed from several public beach locations where locals gather for a night of family BBQs, music, and dancing

    Waikiki New Year’s Fireworks - An Extraordinary Event

    Voted the #1 New Years Eve party in Hawaii, the Waikiki New Year’s Fireworks, held at Kakaako Waterfront Park and visible from the entire Waikiki beachfront, kicks off at 6 PM. In a spirit of Lokahi or unity, more than 120,000 visitors and kamaaina all come together in joyous celebration to welcome the new year.

    Enjoy an exciting line-up of the islands top bands and local musicians, thrilling carnival rides, a beer garden, fire dancers, more than 50 food vendors, and a breath-taking fireworks display at the midnight hour. Get ready to be amazed: more than 1,800 shells will be fired during the show.

    Additional local displays include midnight firings at Ko Olina Resort, at 1101-1367 Sand Island Parkway and the Kahala Hotel and Resort. On the eastern side of Diamond Head, the annual midnight display presented by at Kahala Hotel and Resort is magnificent. If you are not staying at the oceanfront resort, you can still enjoy the 2016 sendoff from nearby Wailupe or Waialae Beach Parks.

    Celebrations at the Aloha Tower Market Place begin at 7 PM and continue until 2 AM. Multiple stages with feature local bands, dancing and more culminating in a spectacular firework show at midnight.

    To avoid the crowd and have a quiet celebration, take a sail or book a dinner cruise to watch the Waikiki skies erupt in brilliant splendor. For many residents, a dinner cruise to watch the show is an annual event. The Star of Honolulu cruise line offers a mouth-watering fresh seafood buffet, music, and dancing under the stars. At the midnight hour, guests are offered a perfect view of the pyrotechnics at Aloha Tower.

    Wet ‘N’ Wild New Year’s Eve Fireworks and Family Celebration features 25 waterpark rides. On New Year’s Eve, you can sun, swim or dance to live music while enjoying local food favorites. The evening comes to a memorable conclusion with a dazzling fireworks display. The waterpark is an ideal family destination.


    If you plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve on the Valley Isle, you will find dozens of delightful ways to bring in the New Year on Maui and also across the channel on Lanai. The majority of celebrations are local in nature with firework displays fired off up and down the beach. One of the best places to view the dramatic light shows is from the deck on a catamaran or sailboat dinner cruise offshore.

    Some of the best spots for the Grand Wailea Resort's annual fireworks are along Wailea Beach Park, or from hotels along the beach. If you're staying in Wailea, wander the Wailea Coastal Walk to Wailea Beach. The official show starts at midnight, but impressive displays light the night skies from dark to dawn.


    The fireworks display presented at Poipu Beach by the Poipu Beach Resort Association is the highlight of the Garden Isle’s New Year. Visitors and residents alike fill Poipu Beach with lawn chairs and blankets as they enjoy the live entertainments, food, and a jaw-dropping display of fireworks.

    Hawaii – The Big Island

    Hawaii’s Big Island offers fantastic celebrations to greet the New Year with resorts and restaurants offering unique dining and New Year’s Eve events. For locals and visitors alike, the best show in town is often the light show put on by Madame Pele when Kīlauea bellows and blows.

  • September 26, 2016

    Kohola – Hawaii’s Humpback Whales

    Have you ever heard a whale’s song? Eerie and haunting, the song of kohola (the humpback whale) is a stellar sound. In Hawaii, the whale return is not looked upon as a visit, but rather a homecoming. The humpbacks are considered “Kama'aina” or native born.

    If you have long had a desire to witness firsthand the passage of whales on their annual migration to warmer waters to give birth to their young, the Hawaiian Islands are an ideal place to do so. Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. where kohola mate, calve, and nurse their young. With temperatures averaging from 75-to-80 degrees Fahrenheit, the whales are drawn to the islands' balmy waters.

    “Gentle giants of the sea,” humpbacks devote the winter months to “bulking up,” building up fat reserves by filter-feeding on tiny crustaceans and schools of small fish such as krill and herring. One of the largest species of baleen whales, kohola are impressive in size: adult males reach up to 50 feet or more and weigh up to 45 tons, and the females can reach over 60 feet in length and up to 60 tons in weight. Native Hawaiians believe kohola are 'aumakua (family guardians) or gentle giants to be treated with Aloha and great respect.

    Surprisingly agile for their size, humpback whales are graceful acrobats, delighting spectators with their frolicking and playful antics. It is an unforgettable sight to see a humpback whale “breach,” catapulting to project more than 50 percent of its body out of the water to land on its side with a massive splash.

    If you would like to visit the islands to view this spectacular odyssey, the best time to plan your trip is from December to May when weather conditions are sunny and clear. During the fall, Northern Pacific Humpback whales depart the frigid waters of the Gulf of Alaska, swimming non-stop for up to eight weeks on their journey to their winter home in the waters surrounding Hawaii. Here they mate, have their young, and care for their calves. One of the many miracles of nature, the 6,000-mile yearly migration of the Northern Pacific Humpback whale is one of the longest migration journeys of any mammal.

    Hawaii’s Whaling Era

    As evidenced by petroglyphs, artifacts, myths, and legends, the kohola has long played an important role in the island’s rich historical heritage. The history of whaling in Hawaii began in 1819 when two ships from New England dropped anchor in Hawaiian waters. With the discovery of rich whaling grounds between Hawaii and Japan, hundreds of whaling ships from around the world sailed into the Hawaiian waters.

    At that point in time, whale products were in high demand; whale oil was used for heating, lamps and maintaining industrial machinery; whalebone was used in corsets, skirt hoops, umbrellas and buggy whips.

    Due to its Central Pacific location, equidistant from Japan and the United States, Hawaii was important in resupplying the ships with supplies from the fertile lands.

    Not excited by the typical Hawaiian diet of fish and poi, the sailors wanted fresh fruit, vegetables, beef, sugar and white potatoes. To satisfy the whaling trade demand, Hawaiians began to cultivate new crops, changing the agricultural use of the land. For Hawaii, whaling was the mainstay of the economy for more than 40 years. By 1846, there were 763 whaling ships that docked in Hawaii ports.

    When oil was discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859, petroleum products soon came to replace whale oil for heating, lighting, and other uses, spelling the end of the whaling industry. Unfortunately, due to over-fishing, by that time the whale population was decimated, with an estimated population of fewer than 6,000 humpback whales worldwide.

    The Endangered Species Act, passed in 1973, listed the humpback as endangered, providing the needed protection and ecological habitat for long-term recovery. Protection efforts have proved successful. As of September 2016, the North Pacific Humpback Whale is removed from the endangered species list, once again frolicking in Hawaii water’s to the delight of residents and visitors alike. Today, more than 11,500 kohola make the annual migration to Hawaii.

  • September 23, 2016

    Five Things To Do in Waikiki from Kahala to Kewalo Basin


    Waikiki is Honolulu's famous resort neighborhood. Arguably Hawaii's most well known neighborhood, there are still plenty of hidden gems to go along with the neighborhood's more famous locations. Here are the top 5 things to do in Waikiki:

    A Golden Hour Drink At The Mai Tai Bar At The Royal Hawaiian Hotel

    The Pink Palace is a beautiful building, constructed on the sand in 1927, when a voyage to Hawaii on The Lurline and a week or two holiday in the sun was one of the most exotic, romantic vacations available on earth.

    Step off Kalakaua Avenue, leave the 21st Century behind, walk under the banyan tree and through the hotel to the Mai Tai Bar, which has a prime angle on Waikiki and Diamond Head. Order a Mai Tai as the sun sets and Golden Hour lights up the waves and the people and you will understand why Waikiki is still one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It’s just a little bit magic.

    Go Surfing 

    Waikiki is like a box of chocolates: A lot of variety, and it’s all pretty sweet.

    Whether you are a first-time beginning surfer or an experienced pro, Waikiki has something to satisfy you. The spots directly in front of Waikiki are Canoes and Queens, which are great beginner spots, but also fun for longboarders and shortboarders. Rent a board from any of the beach services vendors and get away from the shady turf and into the sunny surf. Standup paddlers like Pops and Paradise and Threes, shortboarders pull into tight little barrels at Kaisers, and Ala Moana Bowls is a heavy, challenging wave when the swell is pumping.

    Surf Waikiki and you are surrounded by beauty, and history.

    Climb Diamond Head

    The Diamond Head trail is a bit of a hike, but it’s worth it.

    You can take the bus to Diamond Head State Park. The bus is $2.50 each way and $1 to walk in, while it costs $5 to drive in.

    The trail was built in 1908 as part of Oahu’s coastal defense system. It takes .8 of a mile to ascend 560 feet. The first part is a concrete walkway which ascends the first two-tenths of a mile, and then you’re on a natural “tuff” surface along switchbacks, then steep stairs and a pass through a lighted, 225-foot tunnel which spits out you into the Fire Control Station - which was built in 1911. At the summit there are military bunkers, a navigational lighthouse and a spectacular, 360-degree view of all of Waikiki off to the west side, and then around the east side to Koko Head and beyond. Planes, ships and in the winter, humpback whales.


    Just to the west of Waikiki, Ala Moana Beach Park is a short walk over the Ala Wai Canal and to the left you will find a groomed, 3000-foot strip of sand. Ala Moana Beach Park has it all: Swim, snorkel, standup-paddle, do SUP yoga, fish and surf in the ocean.

    Or run, ride bikes, walk your dog, fall asleep under a tree or hang out and talk story with all the locals who frequent this park, and fill it up every weekend with tents and music and barbecues.

    Every Friday night, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has a free fireworks show at around 7:45. Watch it from Magic Island.


    In 1936 did Doris Duke a stately pleasure dome decree. Duke inherited a fortune from her father at 13 years old, in 1925. In 1935 she went on a prolonged honeymoon and visited the Middle East, India and Pakistan, then wound up in Hawaii - and found she loved the Hawaiian Islands, and the ocean and surfing, and became friends with the Kahanamoku brothers.

    Doris Duke liked Hawaii so much, she bought land in Kahala beach for $100,000 and built a house for $1.4 million - that would be times 17 in modern money.

    She began construction of her pleasure palace in 1936, and filled it with a priceless collection of Islamic art and architecture from Morocco, India, Pakistan, Iran and other places she visited on her travels.

    It’s fun to think of Duke Kahanamoku and his brothers and friends surfing Waikiki all day, then hanging out at Shangri La - playing ukulele and having a good old time. Shangri La is something else. Sign up at the Honolulu Museum of Art, take the bus ride there, and be astounded by a masterpiece.

  • September 21, 2016

    Surf’s Up – Sage Water Safety Advice

    The Hawaiian Islands have more than 750-miles of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world with waters and beach conditions as unique as the islands themselves. However, due to powerful surf, strong currents, and rocky shores, they are also among the most dangerous.

    Hawaii’s multi-colored beaches and stellar blue ocean waters attract visitors from all over the world. While some beaches are perfectly safe for persons of all ages and water skill levels, a large number of beaches pose considerable risk to inexperienced swimmers.

    Choose A Beach That Matches Your Ability

    Visit to explore all the beaches of the Hawaiian Islands. Select a beach destination that matches your skill and experience level. Ask any paramedic or emergency first responder in Hawaii about respect for the power of the ocean: an over-confident attitude can get your hurt, or worse.

    Never Turn Your Back On The Ocean

    The beguiling azure waters beckon with warm water temperatures of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The tranquil looking beautiful blue sea can mask dangerous and powerful riptides. Although the ocean may appear flat and calm when you wade into the waters, you could likely face a crushing set of waves. Water safety can never be over-emphasized: never turn your back on the ocean. Stay watchful for what’s coming your way, and never swim alone. Even when all you see are small waves, a big one may be rolling in.

    Should you encounter a massive breaking wave, do not try to out-swim the wave or ride it to shore. The best option is to duck or dive under the wave. But be aware, another one is likely to be behind it. If you are weak swimmer or unexperienced in ocean waters, do not play and frolic in high, rolling waves.

    Pay Attention To Posted Beach Hazard Advisories

    Always check the weather and current surf conditions before heading for the beach. Check in with the lifeguard on duty to find out about any updates and pay attention to all caution and hazard warnings posted.

    Watch Where You Walk

    Avoid going barefoot on coral reefs or in tide pools where jellyfish, sea urchins or eels are prevalent. Coral cuts are quite painful and can easily become infected. Wearing beach shoes is a great way to protect your feet from these hazards.

    Shark Attacks

    Although sharks do frequent the balmy waters of Hawaii, they prefer fish to people. Shark attacks happen, but they are infrequent. If you do see a shark, move away calmly, without thrashing or making frantic movements. Get out of the water and report the sighting to a lifeguard.

    Please Practice Beach Etiquette

    Do not view the sea from wet rocks. It is safest to view the impressive crashing waves and surfers well back from the action if you are not well versed in surfer etiquette or the variables of the unpredictable ocean.  Not knowing what you are doing, it is easy to be the cause of an accident in the water.

    Practice Aloha When Snorkeling

    When snorkeling, it can be a big temptation to remove some of the ocean’s spectacular gifts and for some folks it is hard to resist. The ocean is not Mother Nature’s Gift Shop. Anything you remove is hard to replace. Be respectful of the wonder of the underwater world, do not remove anything, but rather leave it there for others to enjoy.


  • September 21, 2016

    Anywhere Aloha Pop Up Shops: Southern Series

    Aloha Alabama!

    We’re heading to Birmingham for the fourth and final stop of our #AnywhereAloha Pop-Up Shops: Southern Series! Alabama Outdoors Pop-Up Shop 

    We will be set up this Friday through Sunday, October 28-30 at Alabama Outdoors! Come shop exclusive styles that will be available ONLY this weekend. All OluKai purchases over the weekend will receive a premium OluKai gift with purchase. 

    Stop by Friday night for complimentary Pint Night with Good People Brewing Company and receive an exclusive OluKai pint cup!

    Get your weekend rolling on Saturday morning with complimentary locally roasted coffee from Seeds Coffee Co., and then stick around for our leather workshop. From 3-5pm you'll be able to create a custom leather piece and talk story on the craftsmanship that goes into each pair of OluKai sandals, shoes, and boots.

    Sunday will be sweet, as our friends from Seeds Coffee Co. will be serving up the best in fresh coffee all morning! 

    Alabama Pop-Up

    Can't make it down? Follow us on Instagram @OluKai to catch all the action!

    OluKai Leather Shop Designing a custom leather piece

    OluKai Leather Shop Working on the custom leather pieces

    Pop_Up Shop Inside the OluKai Pop-Up Shop
  • September 19, 2016

    Hilo – City Of Rainbows

    ©istockphoto/pikappa ©istockphoto/pikappa

    Known as the “City of Rainbows”, Hilo Town lies on the lush windward coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Approximately 47,500 people live in the quiet community surrounding north-facing Hilo Bay. Hilo’s more than 130 inches annual rainfall nourish the gorgeous tropical greenery of the rainforest. Although the former plantation town receives most of its moisture at night, expect passing showers throughout the day.

    Visitors are encouraged not to let to let the occasional shower discourage them from enjoying Hilo’s many offerings. The morning mists and gentle afternoon showers keep things cool and provide the idea climate for cultivating the diverse array of flowers for which the city is famous. Hilo boasts a 20 million dollar anthurium/orchid floral industry.

    The indomitable city by the bay has survived two devastating tsunami events, multiple earthquakes, and half a dozen close calls from advancing lava flows. Local residents laugh and dance in the Hilo rain, not letting a little moisture detract from their day. Neither should you.

    When visiting Hilo, be sure to follow the drive circling the Waiakea Events Peninsula, located near Hilo International Airport. Back in 1933, the Park’s Commissioner decided it would be a splendid idea to have visiting international celebrities each plant a banyan tree sapling along the drive in recognition of their visit. In 1934, in preparation for a visit from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the original drive crafted of crushed lava rock was constructed. The majority of the banyan trees survived the tidal waves that ravaged the bay. Today, towering banyan trees, planted along the lava road, form a thick green canopy that offers a lovely place to take a relaxing stroll.

    Look for trees planted by Amelia Earhart, President Richard Nixon, Pat Nixon, Babe Ruth, Cecil B. De Mille, and a host of other Hollywood stars. The massive trees, which still bear the names of the planters, honor sports heroes, movie stars, religious leaders, rock stars, political leaders, famous authors, music legends, adventurers, and local Hawaiians.

    Banyan Tree Walk is located in the 30-acre Liliʻuokalani Gardens near the footbridge leading to the healing Isle of Moku Ola, also known as Coconut Island. Native Hawaiians refer to this place as the “healing island” attributing healing properties to the waters of underground springs that flow up from under the little island. Legend says that if the ill and infirmed can manage to swim out around the island and back to the shore, they will be healed from their illness and find relief from their pain.

    Named after Hawaii’s deposed queen, Liliuokalani Gardens features a lovely exhibit of Japanese motifs in its miniature pavilions, stone pagodas, and a footbridge over a reflecting pond, and a charming teahouse. Built in the early 1900s, the manicured Japanese garden provides a peaceful retreat for rest and relaxation.

    When exploring Hilo, be sure to visit Waiakea Pond, home of an ancient Hawaiian fishpond. In 1946 and again in 1960 giant tidal waves from Hilo Bay attacked the area with deadly force, destroying the homes overlooking the pond. The area has been restored, replanted and made into a tsunami buffer zone. Nearby Waiola Center showcases a photographic display of the devastation and rebirth of the city.

    Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots are two of Hilo’s main scenic attractions. At Rainbow Falls State Park the Wailuku River plummets more than 200-feet to fern-banked pool below. After a heavy rain, the water cascades down the mountain face with such velocity it crashes on the rocks below, sending up enveloping clouds of silver mist that when caught in the sunlight, creates the beautiful rainbows that mark it’s name.

    Located just another mile and a half down the road, Pe’epe Falls State Park is home to a small stream that makes its way over a series of lava pools known as Boiling Pots. According to ancient myth, the body of the mo’o dragon Kuna still slithers along the bottom of the stream, stirring up the waters. Despite cautionary warnings of the danger, locals and visitors following a windy and slippery descent to swim in the agitated, swirling pools during low-water periods.

    If you venture forth to explore the ponds, be very aware of upstream flooding. Wailuku falls means “waters of destruction” and dangerous flooding conditions can occur without warning.

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