• August 24, 2016

    Kaho' olawe - Preserved For The People

    ©istockphoto/ejs9 ©istockphoto/ejs9

    The peaceful isle of Kaho’olawe, the smallest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands, is desolate and drab when compared to the visually stunning beauty of her seven big sisters. Remote and uninhabited, brown and dry, the 44.6-square mile island, now known as the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve, bears the scars of a troubled history. [...]

  • August 22, 2016

    Hawaii Hau'oli

    Dramatic Hawaiian sunset over the tropical paradise of Kauai. ©istockphoto/YinYang

    In the Hawaiian language, Hau'oli means “happy” or the “fortunate one.” Would it surprise you to learn that in a nationwide survey of quality of emotional and physical health, residents of Hawaii were most likely to rank their lives as “Hau'oli” or “thriving”?

    Over the past five years, Hawaii consistently ranked as the least stressed state, reporting one of the highest levels of enjoyment of life in the United States.

    Blessed with the life-affirming attributes of sparkling waters, waves, fresh air, sunshine, a mild tropical climate, spectacular scenic beauty, and a diverse array of active and inactive volcanoes, Mother Nature provides lots of reasons for people to get outdoors, be active, and stay physically fit. [...]

  • August 19, 2016

    Opihi – The Deadliest Delicacy Money Can Buy

    Photo of seashells and seaweed was taken on a Kauai beach, all seashells were found there and are native to that place. ©istockphoto/kristinaki100

    “Try it – you'll like it!” If you have an opportunity to taste Opihi, do not turn it down. Opihi, known as the “Deadliest Delicacy” in Hawaii is a “superfood”, chock full of iodine, fat-free and delicious. An edible shellfish, Opihi (Cellana exarata) of the limpet species of marine gastropod mollusks found growing attached to rocks where the ocean meets the shore, is a rare treat either eaten raw with salt or seaweed, or cooked over a driftwood fire on the grill and garnished with butter and lemon. Others prefer Opihi slurped fresh from the shell with a dash of Tabasco. Opihi is also scrumptious pickled.

    Kauhana (elders) fondly remember when Eva Beach on Oahu was carpeted with oiphi. As a child, they would make it a family outing followed by a lula, to go to the beach and gather baskets of opihi, cart the succulent morsels home and as a whole family, clean and pickle them to enjoy in celebration of special events. [...]

  • August 15, 2016

    A View From The Volcano

    ©istockphoto/Yana_N ©istockphoto/Yana_N

    A solid anchor on the southeastern end of the archipelago that comprises the Hawaiian Island Chain, Hawaii, also known as the “Big Island” or “Big Isle” (to avoid confusion with the name of the state) represents Pele, the “Goddess of Fire” “latest and greatest’” creation.

    Built on an overlapping foundation of lava flows from five different volcanoes, the Big Island is twice the size of all of the other Hawaiian Islands put together. The Big Island is home to Volcano National Park, which includes both the active and inactive volcanoes on the Big Island. Volcano National Park, which encompasses some of the roughest and wildest terrain on the face of the earth, was established in 1916 and just celebrated its 100th anniversary.

    Mauna Kea, known as the “White Mountain” at the height of 13,795, dominates all other mountains in the South Pacific. Mauna Kea, when measured from top to its base deep beneath the sea, is the tallest mountain in the world. A bit “shorter and fatter”, Mauna Loa, known as the “Long Mountain”, blankets more than half the Island with her considerable girth. Mauna Loa is considered the world's heaviest volcano, weighing more than the entire Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. [...]

  • August 12, 2016

    The Hawaiian Lei – Symbol Of The Aloha Spirit

    ©istockphoto/Sarah Holmstrom ©istockphoto/Sarah Holmstrom

    The intriguing history of Hawaiian lei making dates back to the arrival of the original Polynesian explorers in roughly 750 AD. For centuries, the Polynesians of the South Pacific paid homage to the gods of land and sea by adorning their bodies with intricately woven strands of leafy greenery, flowers, fruits, feathers, and vines. When the Polynesian settlers made landfall in the magnificent islands, known today as Hawaii, they brought with them the staples of survival including plants useful for building, medicine, and food. Also, they carried fragrant ginger (`awapuhi) for its culinary value and to provide flowers for decorative adornment.

    During the time of settlement, which lasted through the 1300s, style and design of the lei remained fairly consistent throughout all of Polynesia and Asia. Perishable, fragrant lei of ferns and flowers such as ginger and green maile (Ti plant) vine were favored as were non-perishable lei crafted from shells (puku), seeds, nuts, stones, feathers (Hulu manu), shark tooth, and walrus or whalebone (niho palaoa). [...]

  • August 10, 2016

    Exploring The Majestic Caves Of Hawaii

    Inside a Sea Cave ©istockphoto/kellington1

    Visitors to the Hawaiian Islands are often intrigued by the state’s turbulent geological history. Exploring the caves of Hawaii is a magical way to view fauna, flora, and wildlife that differ dramatically from that found in the rest of the natural landscape. Holding the world record for the deepest and longest lava tubes, Hawaii also holds the United States record for the greatest diversity of cave dwelling species.

    Many of Hawaii’s caves can be reached on foot. Others require snorkeling or diving equipment. Across the islands, visitors will find cave exploration opportunities that are perfect hikes for the family, safe with secure access. However, many cave eco-adventures are best left to experienced climbers and cavers. [...]

  • August 8, 2016

    Ka Lae — Southernmost point in the US

    Ka Lae is the southernmost point of the Big Island of Hawaii ©istockphoto/Srongkrod

    Tucked away at the end of South Point Road, near Nā'ālehu in the Kau region of the Big Island of Hawaii, Ka Lae (Hawaiian for "the point") is the southernmost point in the United States. When you are standing on “The Point” as the cliff is known locally, and gazing out to sea, there is nothing between you and Antarctica.

    It is at this spot that the first Polynesians are believed to have debarked sometime between 400 A.D. and 800 A.D. based on the discovery of a treasure trove of ancient religious artifacts and sacred heiau (temples) sites, the entire southern tip of the Big Island has been listed as a National Historic Monument. At several points along the cliff face are rock loops carved through lava that the innovative Polynesian settlers used to tend fishing craft tied off below.

    The point provides stellar views of the seacoast and fabulous fishing, but swimmers beware. Pay close attention to posted warnings and stay out of the water. The deep-blue waters at Ka Lae are some of the most dangerous of anywhere in the islands. [...]

  • August 5, 2016

    A Playground In Paradise – The Big Island

    OK2 Hawaii, the magical “Big Island” as the Hawaiians call it, is the perfect playground for people of all ages. Arguably the most majestic, diverse and exciting island in the Hawaiian Island chain, the Big Island showcases the aspects, amenities and “Aloha Spirit” of all of the islands in one “perfect” place.

    Extreme Outdoor Adventure

    The dramatic size scope of the largest Hawaiian Island creates an impressive microcosm of environments and activities. Across the Big Island’s vast tableau, you’ll discover everything from extravagant resorts and incredible golf courses to charming bed and breakfasts, local town shops, art galleries, museums, churches, local music venues, and welcoming sidewalk cafes. [...]

  • August 2, 2016

    Singing Snails – Jewels Of The Jungle

    ©istockphoto/Tomas_Handfield ©istockphoto/Tomas_Handfield

    At one time in Hawaiian history, it is said that if you shook any tree in the forest, a rainbow of brightly colored tree snails would rain down upon you. Exhibiting beautiful shells, Pupu Kani Oe, "the shell that sounds long." or kahuli, as Hawaii’s tree snails are known, have long been described as the “jewels of the jungle” so mentioned in countess traditional chants, songs, and poems.

    Early naturalists in their exploration of the islands were so enchanted by the beauty of Hawaiian terrestrial snails and their mysterious radiation, that it strongly influenced their impressions and beliefs about evolution and island biogeography. Enamored by the beauty of the shells, collectors from around the world contributed to the decimation of the snail population by collecting thousands and thousands of the tiny mollusks. Kāhuli tree snails are endemic, unique to Hawai‘i, and now found only on the island of O‘ahu. [...]

  • July 30, 2016

    Is The World’s Largest Active Volcano About To Blow?

    OKv Pele is restless, with Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, displaying signs of unease. Over the past several months, seismologists have recorded as many as 40 earthquakes a week. The tremors are noted as more than four times the norm.

    In late May 2016, concerned scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory elevated the mountain’s Volcano Alert Level from “normal” to “advisory”. The USGS monitors the potentially devastating threat, noting that since the alert upgrade, activity continues from three to seven miles below the earth’s crust. Using GPS beacons, researchers have recorded activity of consistent frequency beneath the summit and along the Upper Southwest Rift Zone.

    Currently, the USGS advises Mauna Loa is not erupting. However, earthquake activity beneath the west flank, in the south caldera, and the Upper Southwest Rift Zone continues. GPS readings indicate deformation related to inflation on the magma reservoir with the activity occurring beneath the summit and the rift zone.

    Erupting 33 times since the 1843 eruption, Mauna Loa’s recent earthquake activity mimics that of the 1984 and another eruption in 1975. Scientists project that the next eruption will begin at the summit, rather than one of the radial vents on the flanks of the majestic mountain. No one knows when that eruption will occur, but researchers and observers speculate that “it isn’t a matter of if, but rather a matter of when” Pele will hurl firebrands into the night sky from the heights of Mauna Loa. Locals, living in the shadow of the world’s largest active volcano ask, Is Mauna Loa about to blow?

    For the latest information and updates about Mauna Loa, visit the official Hawaiian Volcano Observatory site operated by the USGS.

    A Massive Mountain

    The largest active volcano on the planet, Mauna Loa gradually rises to 13,681 feet (4,170 meters) above sea level. A massive mountain covering half of the Island of Hawaii, Mauna Loa’s long submarine flanks descend into the deep an additional 3-miles (5 km) to the ocean floor. Beneath Mauna Loa, the seafloor is depressed 5-miles by the volcano’s mass, positioning Mauna Loa’s summit 56,000 feet (17 km) above its mighty base.

    Big Island Volcanic History

    The Big Island of Hawaii, so named because it is bigger than all the other islands

    In the Hawaiian chain combined, is comprised of five different volcanoes; Kohala and Mauna Kea are dormant while Hualalai, Kilauea, and Mauna Loa are active. Kohala last sent explosions of lava to the sea more than 60,000 years ago. Mauna Kea last erupted 4,500 years ago. Hualalai was last active in 1801. Kilauea is presently spilling molten lava across the land. The first documented eruption of Mauna Loa occurred in 1843; the most recent in 1984.

    Volcanoes National Park

    Volcanoes National Park, located 30 miles southwest of Hilo offers visitors an opportunity to view the “primal process of creation and destruction” unfold. The Park is one of the most popular destinations in all of the Hawaiian Island Chain and a sacred site for Native Hawaiians. August 1, 2016, marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Park. A diverse array of USFG park staff, government officials, local musicians, artists, crafters, food vendors, and visitors celebrated the milestone event.

    Encompassing 333,000 acres from the top of Mauna Loa to the sea, the Park features more than 150 miles of groomed hiking trails that wander through scalded deserts, volcanic craters, lush rainforest retreats, a walk-in lava tube, historical petroglyphs, and the two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Recognized in 1980 by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve and again in 1987 as a World Heritage site, the extraordinary beauty and diversity of the Park attract visitors from around the world.

    Kilauea, the Big Island’s most active volcano, has been erupting continuously since 1983. In 2015 Pele threatened to eradicate the sleepy rural community of Pahoa. However, the lava slowed and stopped just outside of town, and the village was spared. Today, Kilauea continues to pump out between 250,000 to 650,000 cubic yards of molten lava per day, enough to pave a 20-mile strip of two-lane highway daily. Currently, three separate rivers of lava are flowing into the sea. Since 1994, Kilauea has added 491 new acres of land to the Big Island. Scientists note that the current eruption may continue for another 100 years; Pele is a bit unpredictable.

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