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Friday, February 29, 2008

Hawaii Resort Fees an issue for your vacation?

Welcome to your Hawaii VacationAloha and welcome back to travel tips from Best Hawaii Vacations,

Our recent posts about the Hilton Waikoloa Village may have enticed you to plan your next Big Island vacation at this wonderful hotel on the sunny Kohala Coast. When ready to book this Hawaii hotel or any other, make sure that your room rate, listed on the hotel website, will be really the cost for your accommodation at the end of your stay. Accommodation tax, of course, applies. Resort fees are the new 'exciting words' in the travel industry...for hotels to make an extra dollar, disclosed or not disclosed upfront, and for the tourist a reason to get upset about a vacation which was otherwise enjoyable and relaxing.

I have been looking into writing this post about 'mandatory' resort fees for quite some time. For that reason, I have been following online discussions in travel forums. Some of the reviews are not funny anymore. The issue about resort fees has become big in the tourism industry. That's why I was not surprised at all when the TV program '60 Minutes' picked it up. Here is how the TV team proceeded: The reporter would check in as a 'regular' person, mostly at a pricey hotel on the Mainland (don't ask me where they went), and then when presented with the bill after the stay a hidden camera would record the conversation between him and the concierge.

Believe me there were rare incidents of refunds when the reporter proved that he did not use any of the resort fee features. The magic word was mandatory resort fees. I think what is most upsetting for the guest are two things, either that the resort fee is not disclosed at the beginning of the stay, especially when making online hotel reservations, or that it is disclosed but stated as 'mandatory' right from the beginning and one cannot even opt out.

Why should a guest pay for a fitness and spa or daily snorkel in the ocean or use high speed Internet for the laptop, he or she did not even bring for their Hawaii vacation? I consider including the self-parking on the hotel parking lot into the resort fee, the 'sneakiest' move by a hotel. Where else can you leave your rental car? Especially when we are talking Hawaii and the hotels in the Kohala Coast like the Hilton. There is no way to park your car somewhere else!!!

OK, here we go. What do we learn from that? Before making your hotel reservation for your Hawaii vacation, make sure to know what is included in the resort fee and whether it's mandatory. And maybe you will even give booking a Hawaii vacation rental another thought? When we were running our vacation rentals on the Kohala Coast, the cottages included: free WiFi, free washer/dryer, cable TV, on property parking and even lei greeting upon arrival. So make sure, you will be happy at the hotel you book and the resort fee is for something you will really use. The guys from Hawaii Travel put a great Hawaii Resort Fee list together about which Hawaii hotels charge a resort fee, what do you pay and what will you get for your money. I also liked the article by Alex, founder of Hawaii travel blog Hawaiirama and published by Hotelchatter .

We would love to hear from our Hawaii travelers about their experience with resort fees. Which Hawaii hotel did you stay and did you have to pay a resort fee?

Mahalo for your comments. A hui hou, Pua Hawaii Vacations

Last but not least, Hilton Waikoloa Village has an $18 resort fee for coffee in room, seaside putting course, Kohala Spa access + $25 beachtoys credit (?). Avoid valet parking. It's a mandatory $11 fee.

Our today's Hawaii blog post girl is beautiful Amber from WahineStyle. Mahalo, Kawika!

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Big Island Hotel Vacation

Aloha everybody,
Our recent post about finding the dolphins on Hawaii vacation was really fun to read. Dolphins are the most friendly creatures. Anybody who had a chance to swim with wild dolphins, will confirm that this is really a magical encounter. So, if interested, try one of the island companies which offer that. For Swimming with wild dolphins on the Big Island, Nancy from DolphinJourneys in Kailua-Kona is a good choice. Always keep in mind, this is nature and even though the boats are guided by captains who are experts on dolphin behavior and where to find them, there is no 100% guaranty you will swim with the dolphins when you booked a tour.

Let's stay a bit with the dolphins in Hawaii. Here is our Hawaii photo of the week, which fits perfectly into the dolphin topic. We will tell you why in the next paragraph. Our Hawaii photographer friend Jennifer Crites chose a photo of one of the most popular hotels for a Big Island vacation. The photo shows the Hilton Waikoloa Village at Waikoloa Beach Resort. OK admitted, with the big size oceanfront location and three towers for room accommodation, the Big Island Hilton is a bit on the busy side. So, when looking for a peaceful, private honeymoon vacation, the Hilton Waikoloa Village, would not be the perfect option to find it there.

Main Swimming Pool at Hilton Waikoloa Village
However, for tourists who love to do things, the Hilton accommodates many Hawaiian activities right on site. One of guests' favorites is Dolphin Quest at a huge pond in the middle of the Hilton property, bordering the huge swimming pool and ocean (sorry no beach access there). Dolphin Quest is an educational program to learn more about the dolphins in Hawaii in a friendly environment. Dolphin Quest participants get close to dolphins and interact with them. This is a bit different than Sea World where dolphins are exclusively trained for performing for an audience.Dolphin Quest Swimming with dolphins at Hilton Waikoloa
Even if you are not staying at the Hilton Waikoloa Beach Hotel, go visit the hotel when exploring the Kohala Coast on your Big Island vacation. I love the gentle boat ride meandering on a canal in this beautiful tropical. You will even see tropical fish & barracudas right from the boat, as the water is very clear. Boat and tram rides are free and fun.

Many years ago, the Hilton would still sell pool passes, so families with children could spend a day at the Hilton with their many water slides. If you want to do that these days, you have to pay for a day room but if you share it with another family, it's worthwhile the expense. The kids love the dolphins, the water slides, the tram, the boat, the Nene geese and all the fancy artifacts from different cultures and times. Well, and adults can enjoy some relaxing and rejuvenating time at the Kohala Spa or visit all the fancy shops and galleries. Afterwards, sit and relax enjoying a delicious lunch at the Lagoon Grill overlooking the dolphin lagoon!

The only thing missing at the Hilton is a real beach. There is an artificial one with white sand and a big pond, where you can swim, snorkel (water is a little murky to see much but the turtles are there!) and even kayak. Otherwise, the real Kohala Coast beaches, like A-Bay, Hapuna and Mauna Kea beach, are not far away from the Hilton.

Well, if you have visited the Hilton, please, share your experience with our Best Hawaii Vacation Blog visitors. Mahalo and aloha, Pua Hawaii Vacations

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Where are the dolphins in Hawaii?

Where are the Dolphins in Hawaii - "MYSTICAL MOLOKAI"
Today it's island hopping from our recent Maui vacation to Molokai! When we name the Hawaiian islands, we mostly think of Maui, Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island. Lanai and Molokai seldom get mentioned. We are grateful to Molokai traveler Sabine from Germany, currently living in Maryland, for this Mystical Molokai story. Together with our Molokai Trip Report, it might just entice you to plan a Molokai vacation for your next Hawaii visit. It definitely sounds tempting:

"Last year, on New Year's Day on a long walk through winter wonderland, I decided to go to Hawaii. My friend, Petra Gabriele from Aloha Coaching, had in the meantime spent a lot of time there and she kept telling me: "Come to Hawaii, and you'll find the answers to your questions." I asked my daughter, Yana, 10 years old, if she'd like to come with me - so, we all went: Me, Yana and my husband, Michael.

We decided to fly to Maui, stay one night in Lahaina and then take the ferry to Molokai, which is called "The Friendly Isle", the heart of the Hawaiian Islands and the most original of all and where Petra Gabriele, spends most of her time with her OHANA/ means Hawaiian family, and of course with her clients/ guests.

Hiking on Molokai

It was a wonderful journey to Molokai. Slowly we approached our destination, welcomed by numerous whales, birds, the sun and the ocean. And I deeply felt this was a good way to go there because our souls had a chance to follow up. We spent two wonderful weeks on Molokai, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, walking the Halawa Valley trail and swimming in the pool at the base of one very special Waterfall, visiting some very old heiau, the beaches on the Western coast of Molokai, and meeting people like Waimaknui, a great musician & guide and PomaiAloha, an expert hunter and fisherman. Together with all of them, the three of us had a wonderful day on the ocean, one of our most memorable experiences.

Where are the dolphins in Hawaii?

My daughter Yana loved the ocean, in good or bad weather, rough or tender, with all the animals and shells. That's why after a while we called her "YANA MOANA/ ocean." And Yanas biggest wish was to see the dolphins and so we went out on the ocean with PomaiAloha to find them. Together with Petra Gabriele, she called the Dolphins: "Dear Dolphins in the sea, please come to me, I wished to see you for so long. Where are you?" She kept on singing, but no dolphins. She was very close to tears, and everyone could feel her sadness and disappointment. And so we joined her singing the song for the Dolphins.

Dolphin encounter on MolokaiYana was nearly giving up, when suddenly the first dolphin appeared, then another one, and another one, until an enormous number of them followed the boat, jumping and spinning around so countless that even PomaiAloha and Waimaknui were surprised and had to admit that they'd never seen something like this before. This was a very special moment, for Yana, who traveled around the world to see this, for us, the parents, seeing her so happy and for the crew, PomaiAloha, Waimakanui and Petra Gabriele, who still today feel deeply touched when thinking about this day.Sabine with Hawaiian friendsWe spent a wonderful time on Molokai, but this moment truly was the most memorable of all. One day, however, we had to leave Paradise, but we were pretty sure we would return. And what can I say: It's only 30 days now until we go back to Molokai, the "Friendly Isle", where we once were so in touch with our souls and, I'm sure, will be once again."

Mahalo again, Sabine, for this sharing this wonderful journey to Hawaii with our blog visitors. If you do follow up with a visit, please, let us know what your trip to Molokai was like and what you liked best on your vacation.

Mahalo and aloha, Pua Hawaii Vacations

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Maui Hotel Vacation

How time flies by when you are having fun, on your Best Hawaii vacation or just writing about it! It's Monday and our Hawaii photo of the week is here from Hawaii stock photographer Jennifer Crites. I had not seen this photo before. Though I have seen many of these fancy Hawaii resort photos in the past, this one belongs to the best Hawaii Resort photos. Anyhow, here its...a photo of the recently totally renovated Ritz Carlton Kapalua Maui:

Maui Resort Vacation at Ritz Carlton Kapalua As usually, I did my homework on an update on the resort and what recent visitors to the Ritz Carlton Kapalua have to say. The resort reopened on January 7, 2008 following a $160 million transformation. This AAA Five-Diamond 445-room hotel offers exquisite sunset ocean views and overlooks the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai. Rates start at 'luxury' $599/nt. to $2000/nt. for Club Suite and $8000/nt. for Royal Pacific Suite. Ouch! Seems those 'ritzy' Maui hotel rates are not for us but definitely cater to the rich and famous. Movie celebrities love to visit Hawaii on their vacation. Ritz Carlton Kapalua, one of Maui's 6 star hotels, fits their budget and expectations (now or later?).

At the current moment though, celebrities or regular people, are advised to read recent Tripadvisor reviews Ritz Carlton Kapalua Everybody agrees that the Maui Ritz is at one of the most beautiful locations, as our Hawaii photo of the day proves, but obviously the hotel had reopened prematurely. Guests reported lots of construction noises inside and out still going on at any hours during the day. Pool area was not fully open and too noisy from ongoing landscaping, plus main restaurant and spa will be due to open in May. The completed rooms got in most cases great reviews and so did the staff (with exceptions). There is no doubt that after a few months, the Ritz Carlton Maui will live up to its expectations!

Vacation Packages to Maui for February and March 2008:

Well, I can't leave this post about Maui Hotel Vacation, without including some Maui Vacation Package information for 2008. Compared to the Ritz Carlton Kapalua hotel rates, even the Kapalua Villas offer really a bargain from $299/nt. pp. Read more on Kapalua Villas Vacation Packages.

Here are a few more hot deals I found on Vacation Packages to Maui for February and March 2008:
Pleasant Holidays still offers Maui Vacation Packages from $559 for February through March 22: 2 for 1 Air Fares from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Maui.

HawaiianAir offers Round trips for Book now - 2/27/08 and travel to Hawaii Now till March 14. Even though not all of these round trips flights are direct flights to Maui, the Interisland Fares are affordable these days:
LA - Honolulu $293 RT
Phoenix - Honolulu $298 RT
Seattle - Honolulu $338 RT
San Diego - Maui $270 RT

Kaanapali Beach Hotel claims to offer the Best Rate Guaranty Claim for the hotel stay when booking online. It does not hurt to check out their 2008 packages and rates for your Maui vacation.

That will do for today. Maui travelers, who spent their best Maui vacation at one of the Maui hotels, let us know the name of the hotel, when you were vacationing there and what special amenities at the hotel you liked best!

Mahalo and aloha, Pua Hawaii Vacations
Whether your next vacation is to Maui or Oahu or Kauai or the Big Island, you want to read 'When is the best time to visit Hawaii?'
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Best Time to Visit Hawaii

Welcome to the Hawaiian Islands in Spring 2008 Hooray, I won another time 10 points at Yahoo for 'Best Answer' in the Hawaii section! Well, big deal but to tell you the truth it's really quite interesting how many people are planning trips to the islands and are totally overwhelmed by the complex nature what it implies to prepare their Hawaii vacation.

Most of them already get stuck with the question 'Which Hawaiian Island to visit on first vacation in Hawaii', next seemingly hard to answer 'Should they book a hotel or a vacation rental in Hawaii' and again the most reoccurring question, at least in Hawaii Yahoo Answers over the time I have been answering questions about Hawaii vacation is 'When is the best time to visit Hawaii?'.

I noticed when coming across this favorite question 'When is the best time to travel to Hawaii?', it actually entails two parts, namely 'When is the best weather for a Hawaii vacation?' and equally important to Hawaii visitors 'When is the cheapest time to visit Hawaii?'. There are quite a number of misconceptions out there among Hawaii lovers who plan their first visit to the islands. Let's be as clear as possible and provide some straight forward information for ensuring your best Hawaii Vacation, at least what you can do on your part.

'When is the best weather for a Hawaii vacation?'

There is no denying Hawaii weather, which ever island, is generally very nice and warm all year around - exceptions can happen. Believe it or not, it can even rain in Hawaii, bigger probability is during winter months, but definitely beats ice, snow and frost on the Mainland! Summer months July and August can be very hot but if your are traveling to Hawaii with kids who still attend school, you really don't have much of a choice. You have to travel to the islands during school vacation!

'When is the cheapest time to visit Hawaii?'

Cheapest air travel tickets to Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, Big Island or Oahu, and car rentals on the islands are during Hawaii's low season months:
April - mid June (except Easter if it falls into April)
Sept - Nov (except Thanksgiving)
Plan your Hawaii for after Labor Day and you will be having an wonderful vacation in Hawaii at a decent price.

And don't let yourself fool...the winter months Dec - March are our high season, when Hawaii beaches + restaurants are crowded, air fares to Hawaii and car rentals are extremely expensive, vacation rentals and hotels are booked way ahead at high rates.

If you are not independently wealthy, best to stay away from a Hawaii Christmas Vacation, when hotels and resorts are booked in advance at 100% occupancy. Air fares to Maui Lihue Airport or Kona International Airport can take a big chunk out of your vacation money. Not to mention outrageous car rental fees during Hawaii vacation at Christmas. When you visit Hawaii, you visit an island, and a limited number of cars for rents are available.

After having read our entire post about best time for Hawaii travel and learned by now that the cheapest time to visit Hawaii is between April and May, it's time to book your Hawaii vacation rental for Spring 2008 now!

Good luck for finding your best rental deal! Aloha, Pua Hawaii Vacations
Mahalo to WahineStyle for our Hawaiian post girl. It's beautiful Amber!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pearl Harbor in Honolulu

It's Monday and our new Hawaii photo is posted. As you may recognize immediately, Jennifer selected a very famous photo from her Hawaii stock photography, well known not only to Oahu visitors, but closely connected to the American history: It's a Pearl Harbor memorial photo of the USS Arizona memorial! A few weeks ago, Joanne from California wrote a guest post about their Oahu vacation, the things they did on Oahu and the sights she and her husband had visited.
She told us that they spent nearly an entire day at Pearl Habor Memorial. Like everybody else who visited the Pearl Harbor memorial on Oahu, she believes anyone traveling to Hawaii should not miss this historic memorial.

There is no denying that this will be a very emotional and moving visit. It brings back the history of World War II, when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. The USS Arizona Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day 1962 to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the men who died defending it.

Each year, the USS Arizona Memorial welcomes more than 1.4 million visitors from around the world. The Memorial Park has brochures written in 23 different languages, as well as an audio programs. The USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center is located adjacent to Kamehameha Highway, near the Aloha Stadium, between Ford Island Bridge and Pearl Harbor's Makalapa Gate. To reach the USS Arizona Memorial from Waikiki, take the H-1 Freeway to the Airport Viaduct.

The Visitor Center is the first stop for visitors planning to tour the Memorial. Located within the Center are: two theaters, a museum, a bookstore, restrooms, limited snack bar, public telephones, and exhibits outlining the Pearl Harbor attack. When guests enter the Visitor Center, they are asked to line up for a numbered ticket, which provides free admission to the Memorial tour. While waiting for the program to begin, visitors may tour the Visitor Center and its exhibits.

When your ticket number is called, visitors are asked to assemble at the theater entrance in preparation for the tour to begin. The guided tour of the USS Arizona Memorial includes a 23-minute documentary film of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a short boat trip and a self-guided exploration of the Memorial. The Visitor Center is open 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving, December 25 and New Years Day. Tours are every 15 minutes, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Admission is free! Read more on the history.

A few Tips for your visit to Pearl Harbor

Be there first thing in the morning, at least an hour before they open, to avoid the long lines.

Going with a tour bus might help you manage your schedule efficiently.

Be careful when booking a Pearl Harbor tour online, so you don't end up with much more expenses than necessary.

You can spend hours in the museum just reading and learning. Be prepared for a long day.

Pearl Harbor Links

Arizona Memorial Museum Association in Honolulu, Hawaii. Four historical sites in the Pacific Region
View a short video introduction about the Pearl Harbor Attack.
We'd love to hear from all our Hawaii vacation blog visitors whith their experience at Pearl Harbor Memorial tour in Honolulu. If you have an special tips, please, share.
Mahalo and aloha, Pua Hawaii Vacations
You can't find on our blog what you were looking for about your next Hawaii Vacation, please, read about Hawaii Blog Search.

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Hawaii Blog Search

Dear Best Hawaii blog visitors,
As visits to our Hawaii blog are steadily increasing with the number of posts we are writing about how to spend your best Hawaii Vacation, we noticed that it's getting harder to find easily the answers to your Hawaii questions, like Horseback Riding in Hawaii.

You may use our Hawaii blog categories in the bottom of our sidebar to help you find the Hawaii vacation topic of your choice. It all depends on what category we added the post and where you are looking for your answer. Categories have to be limited to a certain number and certain Hawaii topics in order to make blog navigation possible for our visitors. Naturally, that implies we have to sacrifice some potential new categories.

Here is the solution. Go all the way to the very bottom of our Hawaii blog (footer!) where you find a Google blog search bar. Type in your Hawaii search keywords, click our blog for search (it's already set by default on the blog), and with one click, you will see all the blog posts on our Hawaii blog related to your Hawaii search term and also Google search results, if you'd be interested in those.

Have fun searching our Hawaii blog with your searches for Hawaii vacation and travel to the Hawaiian Islands. If you did not find what you were looking for, why don't you leave us a comment with your Hawaii vacation question. We will deal with it in one of our next Best Hawaii Vacation blog posts.

Mahalo for visiting our Hawaii Blog and spreading the word to friends who are planning a visit to Hawaii. Aloha, Pua Hawaii Vacations

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Horseback Riding in Hawaii on the Big Island

Aloha Hawaii lovers,
Good news everybody! Some more Big Island adventure is coming your way, beyond Humpback Whale Encounters in Hawaii and Big Island Hula Festival. Joanne, one of our dedicated blog visitors, is back with another great story about her Hawaii vacation. Last time, she told you all about her Oahu Vacation and what she recommends visitors to see and to do on Oahu. Today it's quite an entertaining story about her horseback riding experience in Hawaii. OK here is what Joanne Sala from California has to say about Horseback Riding in Waipio Valley of the Big Island.

Horseback riding in Waipio Valley Big Island

"One of the things I love about going on vacation is experiencing new adventures that are outside my comfort zone. I don’t know about you, but I get caught up in my day-to-day life. My work days are long and my weekends tend to be filled with social obligations with family and friends. I rarely make time to go for a hike, or God forbid, do anything really wild like scuba diving or whitewater rafting. So when the opportunity arose to go horseback riding in the Waipi’o Valley while we were on the Big Island, I jumped at the chance.

The Waipi’o Valley is tucked into the northeast side of the island along the Kohala Mountain chain. A mile wide at the coastline and nearly six miles deep, the valley has soaring cliffs reaching almost 2,000 feet with dozens of waterfalls cascading over them. Seeing this magnificent place for yourself is one of those oooh-ahhhh moments.

Waipio Valley Big Island
My husband and I booked a tour with Naalapa Stables. They have an office about 10 miles outside of Honoka’a where you pay for the tour and ride in their van to reach the horses in the valley below. As we were driven past the magnificent Waipi’o Valley overlook, then down the hill’s steep, twenty-five percent grade, I couldn’t help but notice all the warning signs absolutely forbidding anyone to drive down the road unless you were in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

A twenty-five percent grade doesn’t sound like much on paper, but when you’re the passenger in the shotgun seat of an ancient, creaking workhorse of a truck, you’d get a little freaked out too. I tried to distract myself by looking out the window at the blue, blue water below as we pitched ourselves deep into the valley floor. A sign inside the van read, “tips appreciated,” and right then I knew our driver handsomely deserved one each time he down-shifted those groaning gears and navigated his way through the steep hairpin turns.

Once we arrived at the stables we were assigned horses according to our skill level. It was then that I realized, I don’t even like horses! I’m a neurotic city girl with allergies to everything. Now I was going to have to sit atop this massive beast and actually try to get it to obey me. As I swung my leg over the saddle and grabbed the reins, it dawned on me I was hoping for a gentle Disneyland-type ride where I didn’t have to do much, except sit back and enjoy the scenery. Thankfully, two experienced guides led our group. With just a bit of prompting, my horse somewhat obeyed my tentative commands, though she did stop to eat grass and drink water from the flowing streams we crossed whenever she felt like it.

Big Island Paniolo
As our knowledgeable paniolos led us around the valley and shared the area’s history and ancient Hawaiian lore with us, we crossed several streams and meandered down verdant trails for nearly two hours. The air was warm and loamy and reminded me of the fishing trips I used to take with my dad when I was a child. Despite my fear of having to “steer” the horse, there was plenty of time to sit back in the saddle and just appreciate the beauty of the taro fields and gaze at the breadfruit, orange and lime trees surrounding us.

As our tour was coming to an end, one of the guides, who was riding atop a young, energetic horse, decided to move quickly ahead and take a short cut through the trees and over a narrow stream. My horse, not caring what I wanted, quickly followed and ran us through the trees at a fast gallop. She was about to jump over the stream when I felt my seat rise out of the saddle. Suddenly my whole body was in forward motion. I was seconds away from being thrown head first off my horse. I stood up in the stirrups and quickly pulled back on the reins before she made the leap. Whoa! The horse stopped suddenly and I plopped back down in the saddle. Whew. Disaster averted. It scared the hell out of me, but that’s what I came for, wasn’t it? A little adventure."

Joanne, much mahalo for sharing your Big Island horseback riding adventure with our blog visitors! We loved your story and are sure our blog audience will love it too. Furthermore, we hope that this is an incentive for other Hawaii visitors to tell us about their vacation adventures. We can't wait to hear from you. Mahalo and aloha, Pua Hawaii Vacations

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hawaii Hula Festival

Our Monday post was definitely different but the spectacular humpback whale photo can still be considered as our 'Hawaii Photo of the Week'. Here is what we had prepared for yesterday but then we decided to come full circle with the whale topic. Hope those exciting whale stories made you book a whale watch for your Hawaii vacation, which is one of the best things to do in Hawaii. For those Hawaii visitors who love the hula and the hula dancers of Hawaii, our today's article might give them an incentive to plan a Big Island Spring vacation in order to visit one of the biggest Hawaii events, the Hula Festival in Hilo!

As the 45th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival (2008) hula competition in Hilo Hawaii is coming up - attracting thousands of visitors to Hilo each year - we decided to post another of Jennifer's beautiful photos of Hawaiian hula girls plus tell you a little bit more about the biggest hula festival in the world. This time it is scheduled for April 3-5, 2008, which is actually one week later than usual. Normally, the Hawaii hula festival takes place one week after Easter. This date shift for 2008 was done in order to accommodate another major event in Hilo.

Hawaii hula halauThe annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo, Big Island of Hawaii, is a week long festival of cultural events including Hawaii’s most prestigious hula competitions at Edith Kanaka’ole stadium with performances of ancient and modern hula by single dancers and groups (halaus).

The tickets for the Hilo Hula Festival are sold out out way ahead of the time. However, if you are on your Big Island vacation at this time, your might want to drive to Hilo - it's on your way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park anyway - reserve a Hilo hotel and attend Wednesday's free hula exhibition night at the stadium that begins at 6:30pm. The 3-day festival includes Hawaiian art exhibits, craft fairs, demonstrations, performances, a parade, which is fun for the entire family

A great way to see what to expect at the Hawaii Hula Festival is a video or DVD from IslandHeritage My favorite one is the one from the 2003 Hula Festival, which one can buy at $9.99 (great price!). Sorry I did not watch the 2007 video, whose price is a bit on the high end but might come down after the 2008 Merrie Monarch Hula Festival.

Here is a short video clip with the perfect music by my favorite award winning Kumu Hula Sonny Ching's halau to get you in the mood and excitement of live hula performances at the festival. Turn up the volume of your speakers for best reception of Hawaii chants!

Enjoy your Hawaii vacation and the Hawaii Hula Festival 2008. Aloha Pua Hawaii Vacations

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Monday, February 4, 2008

More Encounters with Humpback Whales In Hawaii

After we published Keoki's story about his encounter with a humpback whale mama and her baby in Hawaii, which had happened many years ago, we came across some more exciting humpback whale close encounters and incredible photos. Let's share with our blog visitors what we've found.

Evelyn from Homespun Honolulu blog chose the whale motif as her theme for her '6th Carnival of Aloha' of Hawaii Blogs. Please, drop by and pay these blogs of our Hawaii blog ohana (family) a visit. You will be amazed by the huge variety of Hawaii themes and stories blog owners talked about plus by the incredible humpback whale photo.

Prize winning Humpback Whale photo by Lori MazzucaWhen I saw that photo my immediate thought was "This should have won a prize by National Geographic!". Well, pursuing the links back Evelyn provided for her humpback whale photo, I just found out that this exciting and unusual photo was shot by Lori Mazzuca on Kauai and won first place 'Mammals - Professional, National Wildlife Awards' by Smithonian Institute! Truly, well deserved! Here is what Lori Mazzuca, the photographer, said about her prize winning photo:

"I was observing a strange interaction between a pair of bottlenose dolphins and a humpback whale, when it became apparent that the two species were collaborating in some way. The dolphin was lying on a humpback whale’s head while it was slowly swimming along. Looking through my camera lens the stunt appeared to be orchestrated by mutual “agreement.” The whale very slowly—and vertically—lifted the dolphin into the air. I expected the dolphin to wriggle atop the humpback’s head to get off, but it just laid still and arched, trying to stay on top of the whale’s snout. In this frame the dolphin was beginning its slippery return to the sea. Once back in the ocean, the dolphin swiftly swam away with the other dolphin, leaping joyfully as if they had just scored a coup!”

This is not all for today. Sometimes the stories we come across on the Internet on blogs and posts are so complex, it makes it hard to sift through to the 'real thing'. Here is one of the most exciting blog posts we ever read on Hawaii blogs. Bobbie from the RightBlue blog posted it. We are still delighted and thankful when she shared some time ago her Hawaii diving tips with our blog visitors. If you are a diver or just interested in the abundance of tropical fish living around the Hawaiian islands, Bobbie is the one who can tell you all about them in an educational and entertaining way. Plus you don't want to miss her ocean life photos! Here is a short excerpt from her recent blog story about her 'Tales of Whales' - close encounters with humpback whales:

"On the day of our first whale encounter, we had completed the deepest part of our dive at Snapper Point, and we were coming slowly up the slope, poking lazily along, looking for shells and little critters on the rocky bank. Just like always.

We were a few meters below the level of the plateau when a shadow passed over us. We both stopped and looked up at the same moment -- just in time to see a full-grown Humpback Whale do a jackknife dive from the surface and glide down toward us. We were stunned."
Keep reading
, it only gets better.

Let us hear what you think about the gentle giants of the ocean, the humpback whales. Mahalo and aloha, Pua Hawaii Vacations

Hawaii Whale Stories