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  1. Unlocking Hawaiʻi's Hidden Past

    Hawaiian-language experts are working to preserve a centuryʻs worth of history locked in Hawaiʻi's Native-Language Newspaper Archive. We got exclusive access to the archives, thanks to our ʻohana and advisor on this project, Kamuela Yim. The archives contain thousands of newsprint pages, some dating to over 100 years back, that contain the history of the culture as documented by Hawaiian's. These archives could hold the key to a more sustainable future by looking back at a time where Hawaiʻi was fully reliant on home-grown resources.

     

     

  2. Cliff Notes: Big Choices in Little Nicaragua

    Interview by: Cliff Kapono (@cliff_kapono)

    Whether it is the annoyance of another sibling, the comforting touch of an elder, or the simple smile from a distant relative, family can easily be taken for granted. Raised the second oldest of 5 children, I quickly assumed my role as “bruddah” from an early age. Although there were times it may have seemed like a chore, staying true to the values of ‘ohana was mandatory. As I travel to distant shores and experience different cultures, it is apparent that these values aren’t unique to Hawai‘i. On a recent trip to Central America, I met up with good friend Eric Nicholson who has recently relocated to the quiet Nicaraguan coast. We talked about the surf, community dynamics and most importantly the significance of family life.

    Great to see you again Eric. It’s been a minute. Is it weird to be so far away from home? I mean, where is home exactly?

    Southern California born and raised. I was born in LA, but moved to Ventura County when I was six. It’s cool to now be living in southern Nicaragua.

    Seems you couldn’t stray too far from the Pacific Coast. When was the first time you came to Nicaragua?

    I first visited Nica in 2009 during spring break my senior year of college. My friend Dane and his girlfriend at the time had driven down to Nicaragua from San Diego in a VW wagon. They were living in the city of Granada, which is about an hour south of Managua. I stayed with them and surfed around the San Juan Del Sur and Popoyo area for a bit.

    Ah the good old days. Has it changed much?

    It’s changed a lot but then again it hasn’t. Obviously surf and fishing tourism has grown.

    Why do you think that is?

    There’s a few reasons. Nicaragua is a fairly peaceful country these days where your dollar goes further. The southern region generally has 300+ days of offshore winds and it’s SW facing coast picks up swell pretty consistently. The offshore winds also provide upwelling along this stretch of coast that creates a lot of life for the fisheries.

    Sounds like an ocean-lover’s paradise. Seems like there are a lot of US citizens here in Nicaragua. What is the dynamic between the newly relocated residence and the local people?

    I guess it varies. like anywhere in the world, some locals hate foreigners and resent them living in their home and taking their resources. Others embrace the jobs that surf and fishing tourism has created for the local people.

    That sounds pretty similar to a lot of coastal communities. Do tensions ever arise?

    Definitely. Just last week this local cut in front of me in line at the grocery store, and when I politely asked him if he was aware of the line, he told me to go back to my country where I came from. Obviously that doesn’t mean everybody is like that, but it happens. Still, I have lots of good relationships with locals.

    That’s a tough one. Especially since because that local probably didn’t know why you live in Nicaragua now. Can you talk about why you are living here and what it was like making that choice?

    After I graduated from UCSD in 2009, it was super hard for me to find a job with the recession and all so I came down here for an extended surf trip. Nica may not have the world class waves that say Indonesia and other major surf destinations have, but it’s got incredibly consistent surf day in day out. And it’s a beautiful country with a very interesting history and culture. I ended up staying down here longer than I had imagined and got involved with a local woman. The next thing I knew I was having a son.

    Wow. That’s a pretty big life change. Especially right out of college.

    Yea, but being a father is tremendously fulfilling. I think kids have a way changing your perspective on life and bringing out the best in you. My son Dylan has undoubtedly given me a true sense of purpose. Initially, I wasn’t at all prepared to be a dad. It didn’t help that my parents weren’t supportive of me when they found out. I was 21 years old, fresh out of college with no money, and about to have a kid in a foreign country. It was tough for me. I struggled with a lot of internal conflict and self-doubt. Once I decided to really go all in and be a proud father to Dylan, I really grew. I found a sense of confidence and purpose I never thought I would have in my life.

    It must have been difficult to leave the States.

    Leaving my life in the states was actually the easiest part. So, I was here in Nicaragua when Dylan was born back in 2010 and shortly thereafter I went back to work in the states. I was a field biologist working as an environmental inspector. I made a few trips down to visit on my vacation time, but when Dylan was 2 I had a major falling out with his mom. We lost contact and I just felt like the world was against me. I gave up on trying to be a father, but eventually the stress and emotions caught up with me. Last year I went down to visit after all of those years of no communication. Once I finally reconnected with my son and saw the pain he had been going through all those years not knowing what had happened to his father. Like I said, the decision to leave my life in the states was easy.

    That’s solid. How long do you plan to stay down in Nicaragua?

    Right now, my plan is to live here and put Dylan in an English grade school for the next year or two. It’s the easiest transition for both of us and I enjoy the lifestyle down here. I never thought I’d say this, but raising Dylan in a developing nation like Nicaragua is actually a lot more stress free than being back home in the states. It just gives you perspective on how much we get caught up in the rat race.

    I know you’ve travelled and experience a lot of the Hawaiian culture. Do you see any parallels between your lifestyle you are living now and your time spent in Hawai‘i?

    Definitely. Aloha is the essential element in every ‘ohana. Loving and caring for each other is the glue that holds families together. It’s easy to get sidetracked with all the noise in today’s world, but if we make a concerted effort to come back to these values of ‘ohana, life rewards us. I try to remind myself of that and the rest takes care of itself.

     

  3. Q&A with Lindsey Higa

    Introducing Lindsey Higa (left), a native Hawaiian with a unique twist on fashion. Lindsey is well known for blending street style with laid-back island vibes, which she uses to inspire followers of her blog Pineapple Ice. We were fortunate enough to collaborate with her on our recent Sneaker Campaign. Let's get to know her!
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    How does Hawaii influence your style?

    Living in Hawaii totally influences my style. Our warm weather and casual and relaxed lifestyle calls for breezy and cool clothing on the daily. More than half the time I feel like I live in my bathing suit (which I don't mind), but after living in San Francisco for 6 years it's definitely a challenge to constantly be creative in putting outfits together without being able to layer. I try to stick to the basics, while always staying cool and comfortable!

    Favorite hangout spots/stores? Especially old-school ones related to the shoot.

    Oahu has so many great hangout spots. We spend a lot of our weekends on Waimanalo beach because it's such a breathtaking view. I love picking up fresh poke and poi at the Co-Op and eating it down at the beach.

     

    Where do you draw inspiration? 

    I draw most of my inspiration through social media. I'm constantly on Pinterest and Tumblr trying to keep up with the latest editorials, street style, and trends. My personal style is definitely influenced from the fashions I see abroad.

    What is your favorite everyday OluKai product and dress-up OluKai product?

    Luana is my favorite everyday shoe. I have them in almost every color! They're perfect for when I'm on my feet all day because they're so incredibly comfortable! The 'Upena is my favorite dress up sandal. I have them in the Pewter color which is perfect for night time looks!

    _40A4431_RC_EDIT_01Tell us something we don’t know about you.

    I'm a pretty open book, but if you don't know me well you probably wouldn't know I'm really into yoga. I spend a lot of my time at the studio doing sometimes 2 classes a day. I've been practicing for about 6 years now, and it's definitely been life changing mentally and physically!

    What can you not leave without or what do you take with you every day.

    There's so many things I can't leave the house without! Recently I've started using this line of amazing all natural facial oils from Maui. Because I'm usually hitting the beach or going to yoga, I carry a small bottle in my bag wherever I go so my skin stays hydrated after workouts and the beach!

     

    Thank you, Lindsey!

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  4. Cliff's Notes: A Mexican Tale

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    Interview by: Cliff Kapono (@cliff_kapono)

    Photos by: Nash Howe (@nashowe) and Dan Lorch (@thesaltygiant_)

    Many years ago, I remember sitting at the water’s edge and my father telling that where the land meets the sea is where we feel most at home. “We are ocean people. This is how it was, how it is, and how it will be as long as we don’t forget where we come from,” he said. At the time, I didn’t know how impactful these words would be on my life and how knowing where I come from would help me stay rooted in all aspects of life. As I travel, often times very far from the sands of my birth, I am always humbled to meet those who share similar beliefs. Marc Chavez is one such individual, who believes that without having a strong understanding of one’s past, it is very difficult to improve towards a better future. Having met Marc many years ago at an indigenous youth camp in San Diego, I was more than overwhelmed when he invited me to the home of his ancestors. The water was warm, the drinks were cold, but it was the hospitality that will remain unforgettable. Between the native food, culture and surf, we were able to catch up about what brought this once “lost” LA boy south of the border. It was only then did I realize just how volatile things were in the region.

    Cliff Kapono: Bruddah Marc! Thank you for inviting me here. Where are we anyways?

    Marc Chavez: We are in the State of Michoacan’s Northern Coast, the Aquilo District. Michoacan has had a bad rap for a good minute, as Cartel activity is legendary in this area. Michoacan, particularly these areas, is still referred to by other Mexicans as the “wild west.” In a way its kind of remote part of the coast, where there are no major hotels or resorts. Here there are just very small towns and Indigenous villages. The capitol of Michoacan is 5-7 hours away by bus and inland.

    These are the Nahuatl beach communities. This is the area I was drawn to set up my place of study – proximity to the coastal Nahuatl communities of Northern Michoacan.

    To my knowledge, Purepecha and Nahuatl Indigenous People make up the majority of the population in most of this region.

    During the Aztec/Mexica Empire, Michoacan has and continues to have a long reputation of resistance to imperialism and taxing empires. Purepechas of Michoacan also known as Tarasco Indians, were of the few tribes who successfully resisted and held off imperial movement by the Mexica empire and later by the European colonial movements.

    It’s a fascinating history and I encourage everyone to research more on all the facts, battles and triumphs of these resilient people. I believe we all need to bring pieces of the story to light, and many are often buried and not found in books. That’s kind of why I am here, to unearth my roots.

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    That’s awesome. How is the community dynamic here?

    I have only been here for some months, so I can only share what I have been told by local people and seen with my own eyes. When I first arrived to this area, I was warned to stay out. My mom and others kept sharing stories of kidnapping, violence and drug cartels. These stories are true, but what I “discovered” during my short residence has been even more surprising!

    After years of Cartel control, extortion and violence, the Indigenous people of the area took back their region. It was basically thru force, inspired from being fed up and drawing on their historic resistance. It was lead by a man whose brother was shot by the cartel for not paying his taxes in the middle of the day. This last act of violence was the “straw the broke the burros back,” so to speak. The brother of the victim, instantly retaliated, killing the thugs on the spot and without fear, took up arms to lead the eradication of the Cartel and all its affiliates residing in pockets of this area. They literally took up arms, searched for and removed every known cartel member of the area. Again, these are mostly small towns and rural villages.

    This indigenous resistance also kicked out the National and state police that was known to also be in cooperation with the Cartel. National police and military usually are not from these areas, and do not have vested interest in the community. Similar to many of the police in the urban areas of the U.S.

    Abuse of the community, its women, business owners and assistance to the cartel, made police un-trustworthy and represented more harm than protection.  So the indigenous people held resistance and declared themselves as the protectors of their own community. They took up arms, vehicles and houses left from the extradited cartel. They re-commissioned these resources to a new Community Police Force.

    To make a long story short, they held resistance with the state and national government and demanded to be recognized and supported. Over the last 3 years, meetings led by mediators avoided head to head battles with the National and State police. The Indigenous Community Police Force would not back down, closing main highways if needed, and strengthening a far reaching network of community watch.  Organizing an old school form of community watch, with eyes on everything, swift reporting of strangers, and took their goal of protecting the community very seriously.

    It took time for much of the community to even get used to it as they were under terror and control by the cartel for so long. Most had even closed their businesses since they did not want to be bothered anymore with paying tax to the organized criminals. Folks wanted to appear as plain as possible, with no appearance of wealth. So the small towns slowly became without the little “mom and pop” business, which rural Mexico is known for.

    I was told that folks, for the first year or so after the cartel was kicked out were still in disbelief that it was real. Many could not believe the Cartel bullies were gone, so slowly there has been an increase in vitality and business re-opening. It’s a vigor that is slowly coming back.

    I see the Comunitarios [the Community Police] caring for the community. I am like damn, that’s the way it should be! In many parts of the world, the police are not your friend anymore. You don’t feel protected. In this case, you see them protecting the youth, accompanying educational fieldtrips in plain clothes, responding quickly, etc. Its like the light of a new day, dawn of a good era. It feels different.

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    That’s heavy. Why would you come all the way down here in such a turbulent time?

    Why am I here? That’s the best question. “It’s like why are we all here?” Or maybe why has it took me so long to get here to find my family, is a better question. Well, much of it is due to the reputation this area has had, the violence in Mexico, and stories of violence has kept me away. Also, I had a language barrier for most of my life, as I did not speak Spanish, and my family in Los Angeles was dis-connected to my family in Mexico.

    In Mexico, I focused on a geographical area that would be within 2 hours from my mom’s birthplace in Colima. After getting some leads on waves along the coastal areas, I set out to go check this area. Remember, I knew nothing of the Community Police and only of Cartel stories. My mom was on the phone with me as I was driving south towards Michoacan telling me all the stories of kidnapping which here friends recently shared with here. So lets say I proceeded with caution and yes a little fear.

    Long story short, I ended up setting up my residence along the coast. It was located between some great surf breaks that are exposed to all swells and one rarely, if ever, sees a gringo tourist. It was kind of surreal.

    Later I find out that “coincidently” I had set up residence 20 minutes south of the actual place both my Grandfather was born, raised, and 20 minutes north of where my Grandmother was born.  At the time, this was totally un be-known to me that I had did this. This realization came months later, after I began tracking down both my grandfather's side of the family. And just until last week, I just learned the village from where my grandmother was from was in the exact same district where I was living. Like whoa.

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    It seemed like fear was holding you back at first, but once you let that go things ended up just as they were suppose to.

    Exactly. I decided I wanted to be close to my roots. Get there and follow the vibe, get some waves, and continue my study of indigenous foods and ways. What I “discovered” was very validating to my intuition and identity.

    It was invigorating to re-connect with Mexican culture. It felt strange, yet so familiar at the same time. It was festive and I was buzzing.  A month after I arrived, I called my mother down and my son (who was living with his mom in California) down to visit. When they arrived, we began to search Colima City for her birthplace and seek out family. My mom does not have the best memory, but we took to the streets as three generations – my mom, my son and me. It was dope.

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    How has founding a Native Youth Program help you in this search for your past?

    I began Young Native Scholars in 2000 after being hired by the University in San Diego and later it morphed into InterTribal Youth and now morphing again into Native Like Water. It was based on how, I as a youth, was turned off from boring curriculum.

    So, for the past 17 years, with ITY, I have been leading these super immersion programs. Leading and inspiring youth to find their path, be ok with their identity and release the burden of guilt that they often feel in regards to their disconnect to school.

    In this whole journey of my program, I was perhaps just trying to make it right for myself. A reflection, a desire, a need to heal this dysfunctional trauma I experienced in my early education.

    Your journey is really inspiring and it is an honor to participate first hand. Reminds me a lot of how we think about things in Hawai‘i.

    You know, in doing the ITY program for 15 years, I always knew we needed to know more about the Pacific Maritime Story. ITY needed to reach out to those who know more than us about this great body of water. The program needed to learn more about our Hawaiian relatives, and in doing I knew we would learn about ourselves.

    Hawai‘i was a revelation on many ways. I was taken back and in tears with the songs, community values and affirmation of our natural state of being. The “new” educational systems like the Hawaii Cultural Immersion Schools, Polynesian Voyaging Society, Na Kama Kai, Mana Maoli Music Education, and so many others have shown me so much.

    In this crazy world of confusion and uncertainty we must find the guiding light, the stars that will take us home. Without a doubt, given the colonial history, resistance, and expression of culture, Hawai‘i is in the best position to teach and guide us in the right direction.

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    To learn more about Inter Tribal Youth and Native like Water youth program visit @intertribalyouth or visit www.nativelikewater.org

  5. Honolulu-Based Artist Kamea Hadar

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    Homecoming: Hōkūle‘a, Hadar and Hina.
    We talk about origins, inspiration and connecting with the Honolulu-based artist.
    Interview by Daniel Ikaika Ito

    There has always been a connection between Honolulu’s Kamea Hadar and Mālama Honua, the worldwide voyage of Hōkūle‘a. He painted the hatch covers of Hōkūle‘a, the cabin of Hikianali‘a and a mural of Papa Mau Piailug at Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i! 2014. In May, Kamea smashed the largest mural to date in his career: a 130-feet tall depiction of the Hawaiian goddess, Hina, on the 14-story Hālawa View Apartments. This piece is dedicated to the homecoming of Hōkūle‘a, which will end its four-year voyage of circumnavigating the Earth using traditional Polynesian navigation techniques in June. We caught up with Kamea while he was preparing for Pow! Wow! Israel and he was on a homecoming himself.

    Daniel Ikaika Ito: Where are you right now?

    Kamea Hadar: I’m a little town outside of Jerusalem where I was born and I grew up–technically I grew up mostly in Hawai‘i–but I grew up here till I was 4. I am currently preparing for Pow! Wow! Israel and I’m organizing all the logistics before the crew comes in.

    How monumental was your last commissioned piece in the grand scheme of your career?

    I completed my biggest mural to date: it’s a 14-story behemoth! It’s about a 130-feet tall, a depiction of the Hawaiian goddess, Hina. It’s inspired by Hōkūle‘a and the worldwide voyage, Mālama Honua and their return home from circumnavigating the globe.

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    What was the inspiration for this massive project?

    This project, like many of my projects, had many wow-this-is-meant-to-be-moments. For example, I was approached by Pacific Development Group to see if I could paint their building. They took me to the wall on the initial site visit and up to the roof. I was looking out from this really, really tall building over all of Pearl Harbor and I started thinking of the Arizona Memorial, all of the sailors, Mālama Honua and Hōkūle‘a. I could really feel the sense of place. So I asked them, “what if I paint the whole building?” And they said, “yeah!” Then I said that I painted a series of projects for Hōkūle‘a when they left and when they come back [to Hawai‘i] it will be this amazingly perfect timing so it just kind of worked out that way. Then when I was thinking about who would be a good person to model and use as reference I was scouring the Internet, asking around and making phone calls. All of these different routes kept taking me back to the same person, Mahina Garcia, who at least in my opinion, looks like a real-life Hawaiian goddess. Her skin. Her face. Her build. She just has that kind of presence when you meet her. And you, Ito, hooked me up and connected me with her like the many connections you’ve made. I mean you’re the one that connected me with Jasper [Wong] originally when we started this whole thing.

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    Yes! I got that recorded and I’ve been waiting years for this. Nah, I’m just joking.

    (Laughs) No, no, man. I specifically remember that I was in my truck, parked outside of [our friend’s] house on Young Street. And, I remember you specifically telling me while I was parking. And you’re like, “yeah, Jasper is doing this thing with artists and you’re an artist too and he wants to blackout all of the pieces and it’s super weird.” Then you’re like, “yeah the only thing is that he is having a problem finding a house [for the artists] to stay in and he’s thinking of a big beach house on the North Shore or something. Then I was like, “dude, my family just built this big house and that is what we wanted it for.” Then you were like, “I’ll connect you with Jasper.” Then Jasper literally called me five minutes later and was like, “you remember me from high school?”

    (Laughs) And the rest is street art history. I just want to connect cool people with cool people.

    I like to do that as well. I totally appreciate when other people are the same way because you can call them and they’ll be like, “this will be awesome.” You can tell when those kinds of connections are one plus one equals three. If you connect these two people they will be more than just two people: it’s like one plus one equals 100. Or, one plus one equals infinity, it just depends on who the two people are and what the connection is.

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    Totally! Who are some of the people you connected with to make this project happen?

    Whenever it comes time to credit everyone that has to do with a mural or any project the list can go on and on, but it always comes back to the amazing support that my family has had for me since I was a little kid. The list goes on forever, but I guess the short list for this mural is Pacific Development Group, who owns the building, supported me and initially reached out to me. Polynesian Voyaging Society, Hōkūle‘a, Bruce Blankenfeld, Nainoa Thompson, Sonya, Heidi and basically everyone involved with PVS. They are such positive people and they’re just trying to do what I’m doing: we just want to leave the world a more beautiful place than how we found it. It’s really nice to work with like-minded people. Austin Kino is a good friend of mine and he’s always very helpful. You, of course, and then, OluKai, who, since I first met them has always been incredibly supportive with all my projects, their ears and hearts have always been open. They just listen, soak it in and help and support. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in all that I do than OluKai. City Mill helped recently with supplies for Pow! Wow! and for this mural in particular. Mahina donated her beautiful face. Mason Rose helped me take the reference photos of her. Kūha‘o Zane helped advise on the technical side with the kind of lei po‘o that he would make if he was dancing hula that had to do with the goddess, Hina. Prime always advises me on all my projects and imagery. He took me into the lo‘i, we worked there, kind of thought about it and advised me on all the symbolism. Cory Taum was my assistant on the whole project and he was not any less scared than me going up. And, I went up because I had to because I put my name on it and I had to overcome my fears and he did it just to help me fulfill my dream. I’m just grateful that he did what he did.

    Why was important to paint the Hawaiian goddess Hina and how does it relate to the homecoming of Hōkūle‘a?

     In Hawaiian culture, a lot of the legends are based on an oral history so there are always many interpretations and versions of all the different gods and stories. In a nutshell, Hina was said to be the goddess of the moon and stars, obviously the moon and stars are incredibly important to the navigators on Hōkūle‘a. Hina was said to help guide sailors on their voyages around the ocean so I felt that she was a very fitting image, holding up the moon and guiding Hōkūle‘a home.

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    *Follow more of Kamea Hadar on instagram @kameahadar

  6. Cliff's Notes: Ahuna Hana

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    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.

    Questions:

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

    ahuna

    *Follow more of Brandan Ahuna on instagram @ahuna_hana

  7. 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 OluKaiAdventure.com 

    (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.

    MAUI

    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.

    KAUAI

    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.

    OAHU

    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.

    THE BIG ISLAND

    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.

     

  8. 15 Must-See Cultural Hot Spots on 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.

    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.

     

     

    OAHU

     

    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.

     

     

    HAWAII

     

    Photo by Ke Ola Magazine

     

    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.

     

    MAUI

     

    haleakala

    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.

     

    KAUAI

     

    Poipu

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    Hamakua

    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.

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