• July 25, 2016

    Hawaii Hiking Safety Tips

    OKhi Many of Hawaii’s hiking trails are challenging to even the most seasoned trekker: the trails are slippery, narrow, difficult to navigate, with many at elevations to which your body may not be acclimated. Many trails are high on mountains ridges with sheer drop offs on either side of the path. The spectacular seaside cliffs, the deep valleys, waterfalls, and magnificent mountain streams are indeed beautiful beyond belief, but they can be dangerous and deadly.

    Know The Difficultly Level Of The Trail

    The hiking trails of Hawaii wander along the shore, through deep valleys, and across high mountain ridges. Know the difficulty level of any trail you attempt to hike before you trek out on an adventure. Do the research. Find out the distance and difficulties, rest areas, parking areas, and location. Do not overestimate your abilities or experience. Stay alert and focused. When hiking near steep inclines or earthen embankments, watch for falling rock. Be especially aware when near waterfalls or after a heavy rainfall.

    Be Aware Of The Weather

    Fierce winds and torrential rain can pop up suddenly with no warning. Avoid hiking on narrow muddy trails after rain; they are often slick and dangerous. Trails can become hazardous in a heartbeat with the chance of mudslides, flash floods, and falling rocks. Flash floods can turn a benign, gentle stream into a raging torrent.

    Note The Time Of Day

    Darkness falls quickly in Hawaii due to its location near the equator. Once the sun starts to sink beyond the horizon, it disappears before you know it. You do not want to get caught on the trail when darkness falls. Always practice safety first and, flashlight or not, never attempt to hike in the dark, and if need be shelter in place until daylight.

    When planning any hike, keep the time of day in mind and made sure to allow plenty of time from departure to make it to your destination by nightfall.

    Do Not Depend On Your Mobile Device

    Once you leave the trailhead on any hike, you may or may not have a wireless signal. No matter if you are walking/hiking with your family or a group always let someone reliable, who is not going on the hike, know your route and when you expect to return. It is prudent to carry your cell phone; you may be able to reach out to family, friends or, in the case of an emergency, to first responders; but don’t count on it.

    Stay Hydrated

    Be sure to drink lots and lots of water in the days before your hike to ensure your start out well hydrated. Carry the water you require with you on the trail. Stay hydrated and remember to drink as often as possible. Never drink from waterfalls or mountain streams. The water may appear crystal clear, but do not drink unless you boil it first. Frequent rainfall flowing over rotting organic materials carries Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease, into ponds, lakes, and streams. The nasty bacteria manifest symptoms like the flu, and you may not feel the effects of the illness for as long as two weeks. When it hits you, you will regret not carrying enough bottled water.

    It Gets Hot Out There

    Hawaii is blessed with lots of sunshine. You will feel its effects even on a cloudy day. Carry plenty of sunscreen and use it generously. It gets hot out there. You are active and sweating. To prevent heat exhaustion avoid hiking during the hottest hours of the day. Wear a hat and sunglasses and loose clothing. If you feel faint or fatigued, seek shade, hydrate, and loosen binding clothing.


    Many island trails explore mountainous regions, where the temperature is considerably cooler than it is at the shore. On the Big Island, in a single day hike, you can trek through 11 different climate zones. As the elevation increases, the mercury drops. Make sure you have rain gear and the appropriate amount of layered clothing for comfort. It can get mighty cold, especially on the slopes of Mauna Kea.

    Play It Safe

    Never attempt to hike a potentially treacherous trail in beach shoes, sandals, or running shoes. The trails in Hawaii demand the best in extreme outdoor adventure footwear. Choose a sturdy hiking boot with a superior tread for traction.

    When hiking, wear bright colors, preferably safety orange. There are hunters that use these trails as well.

    Prepare To Be Amazed

    To enjoy your trip to its fullest potential, be sure to bring a camera, maybe a pair of binoculars, plenty of water, snacks, insect repellent, and a first aid kit. Hawaii’s hiking trails will take you well off the beaten path to experience the “real” Hawaii away from modern conveniences and city traffic.

  • July 22, 2016

    Why Buy Sandals With Arch Support?


    Arch Support without Orthotics

    According to some orthopedists, the arch is the single most important structural component of our feet, and therefore our whole body, and can withstand up to 300,000 pounds of stress per mile as we walk and move throughout our active days.

    Like our fingerprint, everyone’s arch is different, varying in height; but unlike a fingerprint, our arches change as we age and over time as we use and abuse our body.

    See a Doctor

    If you haven’t already been advised by a doctor or shoe fitting specialist about whether or not you have flat, medium or high arches, simply stand in front of a mirror and observe how much of the sole of your feet rests on the floor. Or, walk with wet feet on surface where you can leave an impression. Even take a barefoot walk on the beach and see what your footprint looks like in the sand. Low arches (flat feet) will make a larger print with less curve from the heel to the big toe; while high arches will leave a small strip of a print. A physical therapist or podiatrist can help provide a professional recommendation for your particular needs.

    No matter what you were born with, arch support is important, along with strengthening your foot muscles and practicing proper body mechanics.

    What is Pronation

    Arch shape also leads to what is commonly referred to as pronation. High arches lead to underpronation, where the foot rolls outward. Flat footed individuals with lower arches tend to overpronate, where the foot falls inward.

    Pronation generally causes misalignment of the knees and hips and because the body is a system, ultimately affects the back, shoulder and neck as well. Common injuries from excessive foot rotation include bunions, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, all types of knee pain, lower back pain, and more.

    Staying Active on Your Feet

    Arch support is especially important for sports and those with an active lifestyle, promoting proper knee alignment and power transfer through the arches and muscles of the feet. A cushioned footbed, in addition to moderate arch support, can go a long way to preventing pronation.

    Maintaining a healthy body weight, strengthening the bare feet, stretching, and staying properly hydrated and exercising regularly can all contribute to healthy arches, and a healthy back, as well.

    So Why Sandals? 

    People often associate arch support with active footwear like running or hiking shoes. That same level of support, however, is just as important in everyday wear. We spend a lot of time on our feet, and deserve support through every step. We take our sandals off when we get to the beach because we love the way the sand cradles our feet. Let that feeling follow you onto the concrete, to work, to the trailhead — wherever your favorite pair of OluKai sandals take you.


  • July 20, 2016

    Kauai Beach Adventures

    ©istockphoto/Mark Skerbinek ©istockphoto/Mark Skerbinek

    A Hawaiian beach adventure is a delightful outing for all types of visitors. Be sure to take the necessary precautions: check the local weather and surf advisories before venturing out into the ocean, be wary of riptides and rocky shore lines, especially at high tide. Many of Kauai’s beaches are prone to giant shore breaks and strong undertow. Remember to slather on the sunscreen. The sun may be a lot stronger than you realize and it’s easy to get sunburned, even on a cloudy day.

    While some of the island’s beaches are more dangerous than others, it is wise to remember that they are all dangerous and deadly. Hawaii watermen advise that visitors only swim in locations with a lifeguard, and only to go in the water after you have reviewed current advisories and have asked the lifeguard which portion of the beach you should be using, as conditions vary daily.

    Kee Beach State Park A favorite of visitors and locals alike, Kee Beach, where the road ends on the North Shore, is a delightful beach blessed with reddish-gold sugar sand, almost too beautiful and pristine to be real. Kee Beach is located at a reef-protected cove at the base of massive fluted volcanic cliffs. While it is safe to snorkel and swim inside the protected reef, outside the protection of the reef, North Shore currents can be deadly. Kee Beach has a channel to the open ocean, and if you go beyond the reef, it is easy to misjudge the strength and size of the waves, and rip currents can pull someone hundreds of yards down the coast without notice. If this happens, there are no beaches nearby. Even if a person could make the swim to shore, they would only find sheer cliff faces.

    Net Beach Located in Kilauea on Kauai’s North Shore, Net Beach is the island’s unofficial nude beach. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

    Polihale Beach Listed by Travel and Leisure Magazine as the world’s finest secluded beach, Polihale Beach has seven spectacular miles of shoreline, sand dunes up to 100 feet tall and a broad, sugar sand beach. Although it is not easy to get to, necessitating a 30-minute drive on a washed out sugarcane road to reach the shores, the remote beach is well worth the trip. Polihale Beach has no lifeguards, public services or cell phone service.

    Kehena Beach Kehena Beach is another beach where clothing is optional. However, it may not be for everyone. The path to the beach is steep, and the ocean presents strong currents. The beach is popular as it secluded with dense foliage. While it may be a great place to sunbathe, the currents make it a dangerous place to swim or snorkel. There are no lifeguards or public services.

    Lumahai Beach Although the waters of Lumahai Beach appear serene, this beach does not have a protective reef, which leaves the coastline exposed to the open ocean. Strong shore breaks, riptides, and high surf make it one of most dangerous beaches on Kauai. While the scenery is spectacular, visitors are advised to stay at least a 100 feet from the shoreline.

  • July 19, 2016

    Live Aloha!

    photo-1465152251391-e94453ee3f5aFor persons pursuing the path of Pono (good and godliness), or those fortunate enough to live in the Hawaiian Islands, “Aloha” is a word commonly voiced. We use it as a welcoming hello, a heartfelt farewell, or to express affection and love. However, when visitors come to Hawaii, Aloha is a word often bantered about, misunderstood, and misused. Many visitors to the islands feel compelled to say “Aloha” whenever they meet someone, and every time they say goodbye, which trivializes the word. The word Aloha should not be taken literally. Aloha is so much more than the sum of its multiple meanings.

    What Is Aloha?

    To the ancient Hawaiians, Aloha meant ‘God Within Us.” The authentic meaning of Aloha in Hawaii is one of compassion, sympathy, pity, mercy, kindness, peace, and love: a guideline for life. Living a life of Aloha means a heart full of gratitude and love for life, overflowing with joy, sharing the “Aloha Spirit” with others.

    “Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain, it is my pain. When there is joy, it is also mine. I respect all that is as part of the Creator and part of me. I will not willfully harm anyone or anything. When food is needed, I will take only my need and explain why it is being taken. The earth, the sky, the sea are mine to care for, to cherish and to protect. This is Hawaiian, this is Aloha!”

    – Translated Ancient Hawaiian Proverb

    History Of Aloha

    Long before whalers, traders, and missionaries “discovered” the island chain, the first people to inhabit the tropical paradise known today as Hawaii embraced a strong spiritual belief system with defined values and sacred practices in place. The ancient Hawaiians shared an intense awareness of “Self” connected to everything, with teachings and practices focused on oneness, self-awareness, self-development, and self-greatness.

    The Hawaiians of long ago lived their lives guided by an internal moral compass that reminded them that they were one with all men, the sea, the sky, the land, and all creatures. Goodwill and kindness to one is goodwill and kindness to all. To harm anyone or anything is to harm and wound everything.

    The deep and abiding connection to "Oneness" also embraces those persons departed from the physical dimension, family and friends who have crossed the rainbow bridge from human to spirit-wholeness. Souls who made the transition from the physical to the spiritual world continued their journey, often serving as spiritual guides.

    The ancient belief system is based on respect for others, goodness (pono) always for one’s self and others, and living a life in alignment with universal laws and one’s true identity. Through stories, songs, and chants, Hawaiian children learn early the lessons of Aloha so that the Keiki (children) might be a living example to others in how to live a life of Aloha. Kupuna (elders) use the practice of Mo’olelo or storytelling to teach Aloha’s life lessons.

    • A - ala: watchful, aware, alertness
    • L - lokahi: working with unity and understanding
    • O - oia'i'o: truthful, honest, forthcoming
    • H - ha'aha'a: humility, grace
    • A - ahonui: patience, perseverance

    Aloha profoundly impacts the Hawaiian culture. For enlightened Hawaiians living a life of aloha, the “Aloha Spirit” personifies a unique way of living: the ultimate lifestyle, the secret to a rich and satisfying life.

    Today, with the help of surfing and it’s laid back approach to life, the well-known expression travels the world, adopted by multiple languages and earning Hawaii the nickname of the “Aloha State.” “To have or not have Aloha is the meaning of life.” Live Aloha!

  • July 14, 2016

    OluKai Sandals With Arch Support

    OK3 So many people in all types of climates love wearing sandals every day. The comfort, convenience, and casual style of sandals can’t be beat.

    And it’s a common misconception that a sandal won’t have arch support. A very unfortunate misconception indeed. Let’s begin to dispel this myth. Enter OluKai.

    These aren’t your run of the mill, rubber thongs or flips you buy from a corner store on vacation. OluKai sandals with arch support are legitimate performance footwear, and these sandals are especially important for those folks who have been told by a doctor, or have discovered themselves through trial and error, that their feet and body need arch support to function at an optimal level.

    In the beginning, OluKai wanted to create footwear that combines durability, the ocean lifestyle, and to create a brand rooted in style, comfort and craftsmanship.

    And this includes making open toed shoes and sandals that aren’t just inexpensive flip flops – but are a serious performance play and fashion-forward for every activity, that still provide a real level of arch support underfoot.

    Many OluKai sandals feature anatomical, compression-molded EVA midsoles.  Others are endowed with innovative lightweight, injected TPU performance chassis, and a soft molded anatomical ICEVA footbed with wet traction surface design.

    The brand’s vegan friendly footwear, of which many of OluKai’s sandals with arch support fall into, offers durability, traction and support, while using 100 percent high­-quality synthetic materials with no animal products.

    OluKai sandals with arch support also feature non-marking rubber or gum rubber outsoles with molded siping (tiny razor-like cuts) for traction.

    OluKai’s water resistant sandals feature lightweight, quick drying, breathable and durable materials for use in and around water. Synthetic sandals feature water-resistant, man-made materials designed to look and function like leather, such as in the Hokua. The women’s I’A (ee-ah) also features arch support in a three-point sandal with a Hawaiian Boxfish strap pattern, delicate laser-etched footbed detail, and a soft nylon toe post.

    Once you know where you can find high quality sandals with arch support, you’ll never go back to your old plastic flip-flops again.

    Follow this link to even more OluKai sandals with arch support…

  • July 12, 2016

    Legends Of Hawaii’s Night Marchers 

    OKniteThere is hardly a native Hawaiian or long-term transplant to the islands that has not, at some point when spending time on these shores, had an eerie experience that made them believers in the Hawaiian spirits that rule the night. If you are a newcomer to the islands scoffing and dismissive of the night spirits as colorful folktales, do so at your peril.

    The Night Warriors, known as Huaka’I po in the Hawaiian language, are frequently seen, especially on nights when the moon is full. During the recent event of the blood or red moon, even though the islands were shrouded in dense clouds, multiple sightings of the Night Marchers were reported to local authorities in different locations throughout the island chain.

    Mysterious Moon 

    Appearing on the last four Hawaiian moon phases, just before the moon goes completely dark, the Night Warriors have frequently been sighted traveling along a historic route that reportedly cuts directly through the Davies Pacific Center in downtown Honolulu. Recent sightings target sacred Hawaiian sites such as sacrificial temples and other locations in O’ahu including King Kamehameha III’s summer palace, Yokomama Bay, Kalalma Valley, Makaha Valley Plantation, Ka’ena Point, and Diamond Head Crater.

    On the nights of Kane, Lono, Akua, and Ku, ancient warriors proceed in a single file, venturing forth from their burial mounds at sunset to march in proud unison to revisit sacred sites or the locations of past battles, returning to their graves the following sunrise.

    Huaka’i In History

    The first documented record of the Night Marchers dates back to the time of Captain Cook’s arrival in the islands. In 1883, recovered archives registered the first reference to a Huaka’i describing a mighty phantom army, the O’lo (spirit ranks) proudly led by the spirit of King Kamehameha, pacing angrily about on the Big Island of Hawaii.

    Several residents tell ghostly tales of rhythmic chanting, horn blowing, and the beating of distant drums carried on the evening tradewinds. Both locals and visitors report bright torches sighted in the darkness in areas of dense jungle with no trails. On nights of the full moon, numerous credible sightings of bands of tall and muscular warriors, bronzed and beautiful to behold, are reported. The warriors are described as marching with a god as their leader accompanied by a band of torchbearers leading the way.

    Hawaiian storyteller Lopaka Kapanui remarks, “The night marchers’ job wasn’t to terrorize people. It was simply to protect the most sacred, high-ranking chiefs (depending on kapu status, the Chiefs marched in front or behind the procession). The night marchers showed mercy by traveling at night to spare people from harm.”

    Escorts Across The Rainbow Bridge

    Kahuna elders advise that the Night Marchers only appear during daylight hours when they are coming to accompany a member of their Ohana (family) on their death journey across the rainbow bridge to the joy of the spirit world beyond.

    Some people who report encounters with the Night Marchers say that they seem to float just above the ground while other reported sightings of giant footprints in the soil or sand after they have passed. Others encountering the Night Marchers warn that no solid object in their ancient pathway can stop their march, reporting that they trek right through your house, leaving an abiding legacy of fear that requires a cleansing and a blessing before the home is once again inhabitable.

    Beware Oahu’s Pali Highway After Dark

    Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, Kalihi Valley, and Ka'a'awa Valley on Oahu are known Night Marcher trails. After dark visitors are encouraged to be wary. Oahu's Pali Highway, adjacent to the Kamehameha battle site, is an established pathway of the Night Marchers. Nighttime visits, especially if you travel alone, are not recommended.

    On Oahu's windward coast in Kualoa Ranch, in an area said to hold the remains of hundreds of Hawaiian Chiefs, Night Marcher sightings are common, reportedly the cause of numerous nighttime vehicle accidents.

    Showing Respect

    Historic taboos and the frightening experiences of others tell one that above all, the Night Marchers demand respect. To disbelieve or ignore their mandates is to risk death. Unless one of your relatives is marching in spirit with the warriors and recognizes and acknowledges you, you will die if your look upon their faces.

    The Night Marchers are bound to protect their relatives for life and throughout eternity. When you feel the earth beneath your feet begin to tremble, the chanting cadence call of warrior voices, and pounding feet striking the earth, hide. A foul scent of decay precedes the marcher’s arrival; they carry the stench of battle and death.

    The Hawaiian people cultivate Ti plants around their homes to provide protection from the Night Marchers and ward off other worrisome evil spirits. When the Night Marchers encounter a home surrounded by Ti plants, they detour and go around until they regain their dedicated path.

    Hawaiian natives warn: there is nowhere to hide. When you sense the presence of the Night Marchers, fall flat on the earth with your face buried in the soil. Remain perfectly still, projecting a mind message of respect and submission. You will not die; the warriors will pass.

  • July 7, 2016

    Exploring Kaumana Caves – Big Island, Hawaii


    Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kaumana Caves are part of a 25-mile long network of lava tubes formed from a lava flow that began with an eruption of Mauna Loa November 5, 1880. By late June 1881, the molten river was on a slow but steady progression was advancing on what is today Hilo town. When the glowing red mass neared 5 miles of the tiny village, the flow picked up its pace.

    Pleading Pele’s Mercy

    Today, when Kupuna (elders, grandparents, older persons) “talk story”, tales praise Princess Ruth, whose beauty, grace, and ceaseless prayers stopped the lava flow abruptly on it’s path to the sea. Dispatched from Oahu to see the situation first hand and to determine if anything could be done to save the homes of the people in Pele’s path, Princess Ruth requested several young men from the village to act as porters to clear trail and carry her through dense jungle to the front of the lava flow. Taking up a position in the face of the flow, Princess Ruth danced hula, chanted, prayed, and pleaded Pele’s mercy. Offerings were made. On August 1, 1881, just 1.5-miles from Hilo Bay, at sunrise just as first light broke over the ocean waves, the flow suddenly stopped; prayers were answered, the village saved.

    Directions To Kumana Caves

    Kuamana caves are perched in a position of pride hilltop above Hilo, between Rainbow Falls and the city. The cave's entrance is located in a state park close to the 4-mile marker on Kaumana Drive (known as Saddle Road by locals). It is open to any curious adventurers who wish to explore. Admission is free. Visitors proceed at their own risk.


    The cave entrance is a skylight created when a section of the tunnel collapsed. A concrete staircase provides access. The section open for public exploration runs approximately two miles. After that, the tunnel snakes up the mountain, crossing under private property and access is denied. Visitors can expect to view a diverse array of lava formations, including rock that retained its fire-red coloration, having cooled rapidly at the termination point of the lava flow.

    Safety First

    The immediate area around the entrance is well lit by natural light, so if you want to just take a quick peak about one can do so. However, if you desire to explore the 2-mile passageway, precautions are in order. Sturdy hiking shoes with good traction, a water bottle, two powerful flashlights, and a warm windbreaker are advised as minimum gear. Seasoned hikers suggest a stout walking stick, hardhat, and a headband lamp as well. As you proceed deeper into the cave, it becomes quite dark. Adventurous visitors seeking to explore the caves beyond the first 200-to-300 feet are advised to wear long pants, carry rain gear and bring extra batteries.

    Proceed With Caution

    Shine your light on the pathway ahead as the lava surface can be very slippery with holes and crevices. Be aware of outcroppings, ledges or low ceilings. If you are an experienced spelunker, there are numerous off-shooting side tubes. Do not venture into deep tubes during the rainy season; flash flooding is possible, and some sections have been known during to overflow during dramatic weather events.

    Expect To Be Amazed

    For visitors that are physically fit and able to make the trek, the tour of the tunnels is not to be missed. You will see massive hanging roots from surface vegetation, unique geologic formations, and gain an understanding of the power of Pele.

    Guided Tour

    If you are not an experienced caver, a guided tour is an ideal way to enjoy the wonder and splendor of the underground maze. Hawaii Forest and Trail Guides offers custom tour packages led by knowledgeable guides. All recommended equipment other than shoes and jacket are provided.

  • July 5, 2016

    Hawaii - The Endangered Species Capital Of The World

    The Hawaiian Islands, blessed with outstanding biodiversity and an eco-system composed of hundreds of endangered species, is the most isolated landmass in the world. Many evolved species are unique to the island chain.

    Scientists and environmental activists often refer to Hawaii as the “Endangered Species Capital of the World”. The primary reason this statement is true is that Hawaii is the most isolated landmass on the planet and evolved a diverse array of species unique to the Hawaiian Islands.


    Koa played an integral role in ancient Hawaiian culture and today is valued for its magnificent grain, strength and beauty. The giant straight trees were the source for logs to carve voyaging canoes. An assemblage of these Koa crafted canoes became the Polynesian Fleet that navigated the Pacific more than a thousand years before Columbus set sail to discover the new world.

    Koa wood is prized as a construction material for weapons, building, paddles, canoes, bowls and musical instruments. Due to the rarity of the wood, Koa is very expensive and in high demand. Presenting stellar color ranges from pale blonde to deep brown, Koa’s swirling lines make it a choice wood for exquisite art works. "People love the Koa," says John Kirkpatrick, owner of Genesis Gallery. "They like the idea that it only grows here in Hawaii."

    Known as the “King of the Forest,” the magnificent Koa tree produces one of the world’s finest tropical hardwoods. However, western methods of harvesting have devastated more than 90 percent of the spectacular stands of Koa trees that once blanketed the island chain. This valuable resource was eradicated from lower elevations, destroying the genetic diversity that once existed.

    Throughout the Hawaiian island chain, Koa forests have been decimated to near extinction; harvested for the valuable wood and to make way for cattle ranches and sugar plantations. Today, less than ten percent of Hawaii’s old-growth forests remain.


    On the Big Island of Hawaii, several reforestation projects are underway. One of the most innovative efforts is the work of Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods.

    Manifesting a “Spirit Of Aloha” through commitment to reforestation of Hawaii’s old growth forests, HLH LLC, a Hawaiian sustainable reforestation company, in tandem with its non-profit arm, the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative (HLRI), has, over a five-year period, planted more than 250,000 endemic Sandalwood, Koa, and other endangered and rare species of Hawaiian trees on 750 acres of hillside on the slopes of Mauna Kea; a site that once was the personal property of King Kamehameha I.

    Ecotourism Aids Reforestation Efforts

    Hawaiian Legacy Tours (HLT), named “2014 Ecotour Operator of the Year” by the Hawaii Eco-tourism Association (HEA), is a “first-of-it’s kind” Big Island eco-tour company that provides guests a hands-on opportunity to assist in the creation of the only Legacy Forest in the world.

    Participants tour the forest, learning about Hawaii’s rich historical heritage, culture, and the importance of environmental stewardship. Visitors can plant their own Koa Legacy Tree and track its growth online for years to come using applications such as Google Earth, where they can see their tree from space. Every tree comes equipped with a geo-tagging system that provides ongoing growth, genealogy, maintenance, and carbon sequestration data.

    Planting a memorial tree in honor of a loved one, in celebration of the birth of a child, or any other milestone life event allows each Legacy Tree sponsor to track their tree through time via Goggle Earth, and each tree stores information about the event or person, creating a living monument. The Hawaiian Legacy Forest is the most intricately mapped forest in the world.

  • July 4, 2016

    GET smART—Wirtz Elementary Gets Painted

    27394035681_70b4880230_o On June 7, Wirtz Elementary in Paramount, California got an exterior makeover on walls and basketball hoops courtesy of smART: students making art - sponsored by OluKai.

    The artists in temporary residence included Ben Brough, Gomez Bueno,  Hanai Yusuke, Hi-Dutch, Rich Jacobs, Tim Kerr and Nathaniel Russell. And they went off, with wall-sized pieces by Russell, Yusuke, Brough, Kerr and Bueno. Rich Jacobs painted the basketball backboards using a step-ladder - and they came out just terrific.

    Caruso started the program seven years ago because he was "bummed that Wirtz kids didn't have an art program," Austin-based artist Tim Kerr wrote on his blog.

    Kids participate in art sessions after class with the support of Caruso and a "growing network of artists that donate their time."

    "Paramount...doesn't have a lot of resources, but this program has richness, soul and repercussions that can't be bought," Kerr wrote. 

    Caruso is the smART project creator / coordinator and believes that world with no art is not a world worth living in. He believes California and American schools do not promote art enough. So he made art in schools his quest.

    "As a society we celebrate the arts and the people who continue to do them into adulthood, but we don't do enough to foster that artistic passion throughout the core developmental years of children," he said.  

    "What upsets me about that is the idea that we may be losing some of the greatest creative treasures the world will ever know, and I'm not going to sit back and watch that happen. The intelligence and self-worth of children should not be determined just by how well they can perform arithmetic and their level of reading comprehension... I have watched a child hang their head low for almost an entire year, and you know they feel like a social outcast, and suddenly they discover through art that being themselves is actually cooler than trying to be something they are not. That moment is priceless and life changing. That is the power of art for children."

    The project happened June 4-5, with seven murals completed by Tim Kerr, Gomez Bueno, Ben Brough, Hi-Dutch, Yusuke Hanai, Nathaniel Russell, and Rich Jacobs.  

    On June 6, the artists met with roughly 750 students for over 2.5 hours. This allowed the children, ranging in age from preschool to 5th grade, the opportunity to engage in some meaningful dialogue with the artists about each of the seven mural projects. This component of the project is so important to the kids because they establish a bond with the artists and therefore tend to appreciate the murals even more.

    Tim Kerr has been a participant in the program since 2010, so some of the kids have spent all of their elementary school years frequently seeing him and participating in art projects he has done. Priceless memories are being created for both the artists and the kids.

    Kerr painted the big, yellow “We Are All Making History” mural - the third he has done at the school.

    It took two days and I mixed colors and used exterior house paint,” Kerr said in an email. “This one I did on my own.”

    The faces on the mural are folk singer Pete Seeger, pilot Amelia Earhart, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, deaf/blind activist Helen Keller, Native American athlete Jim Thorpe, Hawaiian surfer Rell Sunn and civil rights leader John Lewis.

    The idea (and the idea of all the people that I paint), is that they did what they did not to be famous,” Kerr said. But because they felt like they needed to do something. It shows that we all are making history in our own way big or small. The kids below them have something that ties them to each other. A guitar, a toy plane, a football, a skateboard etc…”

    Originally from Cantabria, Spain, Gomez Bueno was educated in the Canary Islands and moved to Los Angeles in 1988. 

    “The elementary school I attended didn't have any murals," he said. "I still can close my eyes and see the sad, empty walls of my school and imagine how much better it would had been if some artists would had decorated them. so when Erik asked me to do one for his school, how could I say no?  For the Wirtz Elementary School I wanted to paint something would put a smile on the faces of the kids, send a positive message, and fuel their imaginations."

    Bueno’s mural is a  cartoon design full of surfing animals of every possible color and size.  The surfers range from a tiny duck to a huge elephant, while including crocodiles, toucans, zebras, rabbits, giraffes and camels.  

    “I hope that every kid finds some character they identify with,” Bueno said. “ All the animals are mixed up sharing a wave and some are even sharing the same surfboard. You know surfing is an exclusive sport because of limited access and people often don't want to share the waves.  This piece accentuates the message that sharing is fun, having an open mind, and being inclusive is the key to happiness.”

    OluKai provided material and moral support, according to Caruso:

    "OluKai’s willingness to be a sponsor allowed for smART to work with artists that we truly cherish," Caruso said. "smART now had the means to pay for artists' travel costs and materials costs."

    Caruso identified three primary outcomes of the project and OluKai's support:

    "One: Kids now feel validated, in that their school looks unique and beautiful, and for the creatives in the bunch they are inspired to keep making art and to also realize they are free to express themselves in a medium that can create joy for so many others around them.  

    Two: Kids see the power of art and the instant impact it can have on the viewers. Even though kids may have different thoughts of what the murals mean, the important part is that their minds are being challenged to contemplate messages that are both concrete and abstract.  

    Three: Finally,  the students see the power of volunteering. The fact that the artists gave up so much of their time to give to others creates a spark in kids to go out and follow a path of being an agent of change for  the world. OluKai has now been an agent of change for kids who normally might not have ever been exposed to such opportunities."

    Paramount, California is in south central Los Angeles, in the middle of a concrete jungle and bordered on all sides by Compton. Lynwood. South Gate, Downey, Bellflower and Long Beach to the south. Paramount is neither the safest nor the most colorful city in southern California, but now the kids of Wirtz Elementary can feel a little safer and have some color and imagination in their lives, thanks to the smART project.

  • June 18, 2016

    The Pan-Pacific Ho‘olaule‘a – Matsuri Goes Mainstream

    OKpan During the 1970’s, the number of travelers from Japan to the Hawaiian Islands increased dramatically. In 1980, a small group of local Oahu residents, wishing to ensure that the increased interaction between the two cultures would be educational and enjoyable, hosted the first Matsuri.

    In Hawaii, Matsuri (a Japanese word meaning festival) was viewed as a way to enrich the lives of both the audience and participating artists, with a rewarding participatory experience in traditional Japanese culture. Matsuri in Hawaii provided visiting participants from Japan an opportunity to share their art, music, crafts, foods, and traditions with others in the stellar setting of world-famous Waikiki.

    Through Matsuri, Hawaii residents and visitors gained a deeper appreciation of Japanese history, heritage, and cultural sensibilities.

    By showcasing the ancient arts, dance, crafts, and traditional folk music, and bringing world respected Japanese performers to Hawaii, Matsuri acted as a bridge between cultures as visitors and residents participated in block parties, a parade, and the popular bon dance. In 1998, the Oahu celebration of Matsuri expanded to include all of the multiple cultures that make up Hawaii’s rich melting pot and was renamed the Pan-Pacific Ho’olaule’a.

    Pan-Pacific Ho‘olaule‘a

    Today, the Pan-Pacific Ho‘olaule‘a (A festival or gathering to preserve and promote harmonious relationships) a joyous “super-sized” celebration of friendship and goodwill, invites the people of Hawaii and its many visitors from around the globe, to gather in a gala celebration of multi-cultural diversity. Still known locally as Matsuri, the Pan-Pacific Ho’olaule’a, has grown from a small neighborhood event into an international festival highlighting a broad array of people, cultures, and talents from throughout the Pacific Rim.

    At the Pan-Pacific Ho’olaule’a, music and laughter fill the air. Multiple entertainment stages feature cultural performances such as Korean Dance, Japanese Taiko drums, Hula, Hawaiian string guitar artists, and more. Each year the festival showcases a popular headlining entertainer from Hawaii!

    Held annually in mid-June on the beach in Waikiki, the festival is the largest multi-cultural event of its kind in Hawaii and one of the premier cultural celebrations worldwide. Kalakauna Avenue is temporarily closed down to vehicle traffic from Lewers Street to Uluniu Avenue to accommodate the impressive block party.

    Fabulous Food

    Dozens of food vendors offer scrumptious presentations of taste treats from Hawaii, Thailand, Japan, and China. Favorites are Hawaiian roast pork, poi, and shaved ice.

    Arts And Crafts

    Island artists, crafters, and vendors sell unique items reflecting the diversity of the islands.

    Pan-Pacific Hula Festival

    Happening simultaneously at the Hula Mound located on Kuhio Beach near the Diamond Head end of the Ho’olaule’a, the Pan-Pacific Hula Festival draws visitors from around the world. Held under a spectacular banyan tree, just steps from Waikiki Beach, the Pan-Pacific Hula Festivals is a much-anticipated event or both spectators and dancers alike.

    The ancient Hawaiian fine art of hula has gained immense popularity in many countries, especially Japan where there are more than 200,000 dedicated practitioners of the traditional Hawaiian dance. Hawaii, the birthplace of hula, beckons groups who practice all year long or a chance to compete and dance hula in Hawaii.








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