Posts Tagged ‘big island’

Despite growing up on Hawaii island (a.k.a. the Big Island), I’m continually amazed and inspired by its rawness and awesomeness. It is not only home to that famous national park with its erupting volcano, but also two national historical parks, a national historic site and a national historic trail, all featuring dazzling natural and cultural riches that share Hawaii’s story like nothing else.

This video feature above produced for Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian Skies inflight entertainment provides some “chicken skin” stories about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park, Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, and Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park. It does a great job highlighting what makes each place so special and worthy of a visit.

I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I do. I’m already planning to visit all five parks and trails again the next time I visit my parents on Hawaii island.

-NKG

Honestly, I’m not counting on anyone ever buying a print out of my Instacanv.as gallery, but hey, you never know who might desire pictures of Hawaii, delicious food, average gardening, and fat cats adorning their walls. I must say though that I love the idea of being able to turn Instagram photos into pieces of art with the click of a button. And there are some incredible galleries out there with killer images by Zak Noyle, Tino Valdez, and many others. BTW, if you happen to come across a great Metallica gallery, please do let me know. \m/

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Should you happen to find yourself in Hilo on Hawaii, the Big Island, do yourself a favor and stop at Nori’s Saimin and Snacks. Yes, for the delicious food that has become legendary there, but also for this incredibly ono Chocolate Mochi Cake.

Not too sweet, rich and decadent, soft, and always a joy to eat. For just $5, it makes a great gift for family and friends if you’re looking for something really fun and satisfying.

Enjoy!

Nori’s Saimin & Snacks
688 Kinoole Street, #124
Hilo, HI 96720
Phone: 808-935-9133
Monday – Thursday: 10:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

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Growing up on Hawaii, the Big Island, I’m a little shame to admit it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I found out about these Ugly Cookies from Petroglyphs in Paradise. Now I can’t stop eating them!

My brother-in-law Jon asked me to bring some back from Kona when he found out I was heading there on business. Mission accomplished thanks to some help from my mom and a trip to Long’s KTA.

While they are ugly looking, they taste incredible. Light and crisp, packed with chocolate, oatmeal, rice cereal, and Kona Chips. They remind me of Momofuku Milk Bar’s Compost Cookie, but better. Brilliant! And I bet you can’t eat just one.

So the next time you’re on Hawaii Island and looking for a tasty omiyage (gifts) to take home to family and friends, consider some Ugly Cookies. They aren’t cheap with a price tag around $17 for a 18 oz. container.

But as the label suggests, “It’s what’s inside that counts!” And what’s inside is pretty darn good.

I’ve had the great opportunity of volunteering my time to assist the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (JCCH) this year with its upcoming Celebration of Leadership Dinner (CLAD) on Oct. 3 at Manoa Grand Ballroom. How did the Chinese-Korean guy get tapped to do the pro-bono public relations for this Japanese organization? Your guess is as good as mine, but I believe I have my friend Ian Kitajima to thank for this one. And Kelly is half Japanese so I qualify to represent though marriage. ;-)

It’s been a rewarding experience meeting this year’s CLAD honorees, which everyone in Hawaii knows: DejaVu Surf Hawaii/M. Miura Store on Kauai; Diamond Bakery and Marions Catering/Dots Restaurant on Oahu; Tasaka Guri Guri on Maui; and KTA Super Stores on the Big Island. All of these companies are deserving of the accolades they will receive next month. They have stood the test of time, stared adversity straight in the face, and persevered to become business role models in each of their communities. Given today’s economic situation, I believe there’s a lot we can learn from their success stories!

But don’t take my word for it. These teasers from the honoree video that will be shown at the dinner should help prove my point. Kudos to Ryan Kawamoto for producing these inspirational and insightful stories.

JCCH President Lenny Yajima Andrew and her staff have been hard at work putting together this annual fundraising event, along with CLAD co-chair Lisa Shozuya and Mark Yamada. A big mahalo to Special Events Coordinator Waynele Yu and PR/Membership Director Marisa Takahashi for their support as well.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend this year’s event because of a prior work engagement, but hope those in Hawaii who appreciate outstanding business and community leadership will attend and join JCCH in honoring these worthy organizations.

GANBARE!

-NGK

BTW, if you’re a Facebook user, you can find JCCH and CLAD there too!

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A popular spot for visitors on Oahu is Kualoa Ranch where the hit ABC show "LOST" is filmed.

A popular spot for visitors traveling to Hawaii is Kualoa Ranch on Oahu where the hit ABC show “LOST” is filmed.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’re probably aware that traveling to your favorite vacation destination is now more affordable (and probably cheaper) than ever.  Airlines, hotels, activities, and attractions are bringing down rates and adding value in an effort to entice visitors to get off the sofa and travel in this  challenging economy. Those with the means (or attitude) to kick the “recession” in the behind and continue with their vacations to places like Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York know what I’m talking about. And Hawaii is no exception!

Despite being a dream destination for many, Hawaii’s perception as an expensive vacation spot has likely kept some from coming. While I think terms like “expensive” and “cheap” are all relative, one thing is certain. Those who are planning a Hawaii vacation today are realizing they can have their cake and eat it too. You don’t have to sacrifice quality of the experience for price. Hawaii is offering both.

A good example of this was highlighted in an Associated Press story headlined “Hawaii hotels offer great (and bizarre) deals” examining some of the creative ways the tourism industry in the Hawaiian Islands is staying competitive and the significant deals being offered. Just search Google or Bing and up comes tons of Hawaii travel specials. And if you’re on Twitter, the hashtag #hideals (short for Hawaii Deals) brings up further examples of the great island savings available out there on a regular basis.

So with all the great Hawaii vacation deals available, is it enough to tip the scale and get people traveling? Will people pay for an incredible vacation experience or settle for a mediocre one to save $$? I decided to ask the question on Facebook and Twitter and got some interesting responses. Here’s the feedback from Facebook:

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Folks on Twitter had similar comments:

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Not surprisingly, folks are looking for an incredible vacation experience at a good value. Some will save their money until they can afford that trip. Others will use rewards programs to make the trip a reality now. Shorter trips are also an option. And some are going to travel regardless of what the economy is telling them.

Is it enough to tip the scales? Only time will tell. Bottom line is the tourism industry is rallying to keep travel affordable to places like Hawaii (Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii Island) and other popular destinations. Get while the getting is good! Now is the time to go, so what are you waiting for?

-NGK

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Shave ice from Aoki's on Oahu's North Shore is always a great way to cool off!

Shave ice from Aoki’s on Oahu’s North Shore is always a great way to cool off!

It’s been pretty hot and humid in Hawaii the past week. So much so that Mother Nature has forced us to use our portable AC  at night in our bedroom to get a good nights rest. As locals and visitors alike look for options to beat the Hawaii heat, it got me thinking about some of my favorite ways to cool down when the sun is out. And I’m not talking about beaches, swimming pools, or spa treatments. I’m talking about cool treats to bring the body temperature down while satisfying the sweet tooth and quenching that thirst.

Here’s my suggestions for island treats to beat the summer heat:

Shave Ice
This one is pretty much a no-brainer when it’s time to cool off after a long day at the beach, hiking, or working at the office. Institutions like Waiola Shave Ice, Aoki’s Shave Ice, Matsumoto Shave Ice, and countless other are the perfect cure. You really can’t go wrong with any flavor combination. But my personal favorite is to have shave ice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and li hing mui syrup all over. YUM!

Strawberry and pineapple mix ice cream from Tasaka Guri Guri at Maui Mall. A "must try" for anyone visiting Maui!

Strawberry and pineapple mix ice cream from Tasaka Guri Guri at Maui Mall. A “must try” for anyone visiting Maui!

Ice Cream
There’s a few local ice cream producers like Roselani Tropics Ice Cream (Maui), Lapperts (Kauai), and the famous Tasaka Guri Guri (Maui) that trumps the national brands any day in my opinion. Maybe it’s just the proud local in me, but I’m not sure there’s anything more satisfying than a bowl of Roselani’s Haupia (coconut) ice cream, or Lappert’s Kona Coffee ice cream, or Tasaka’s Strawberry and Pineapple Guri Guri. And don’t forget about mochi ice cream found at many Japanese restaurants, sushi bars, and stores like Shirokiya in Ala Moana Center. SO ONO!

Frozen Yogurt
In the past year, there’s been a resurgence in the popularity of frozen yogurt. We’ve seen places like Yogurtland, Menchie’s, Red Mango, and many more sprout up on Oahu like weeds. I’m sure there’s many other on the neighbor islands. I’m not going to waste my time explaining why. All you need to do is read my friend Melissa Chang’s review of “Yogurt mania in Hawaii” in Metromix to understand what the buzz is all about.
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Tropical Drinks
A tropical drink may not be considered a “cool treat” to everyone, but it certainly means exactly that to me. And to many visitors as well having as I’ve witnessed while attending many business meetings at Hawaii resorts and jealously see vacationers lounging poolside with Mai Tais and Pina Coladas (pictured above) in hand. Hawaii has some of the best cocktails found anywhere in the world. So do yourself a favor and get out of the sun for a minute, belly up to the bar, and enjoy a refreshing tropical drink. I always do when I’m enjoying a cocktail at my favorite beach bar. BTW, I hear the Mai Tai Degeneres at The Royal Hawaiian is incredible. Can you guess who it’s named after? I thought you could.

These are just a few of the ways I stay cool when things heat up in the Islands. I know there’s plenty of other local treats that will do the job. What are some of your favorite ways to cool off?

-NGK

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The view from my room at The Fairmont San Francisco.

The view from my room at The Fairmont San Francisco.

It’s been about 10 years since I last visited the San Francisco Bay Area as a college youngster attending the PRSSA National Assembly with fellow classmates from the University of Hawaii. Looking back on that trip, the only things I recall were the conference itself, Fisherman’s Wharf, and drinking Guinness for the first time. Couldn’t tell you what hotel we stayed at, where we ate, who we met, and what else we did. Sad but true!

So I was excited to get back to the Bay Area this past week on business to launch the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau’s (HVCB) new Hawaii: A Thousand Reasons to Smilecampaign. What’s this all about and what else did I do there? Read on.

San Francisco Chronicle Travel Editor Susan Fornoff and SFGate's Hawaii Insider Jeanne Cooper.

Catching up with San Francisco Chronicle Travel Editor Susan Fornoff and SFGate.com's Hawaii Insider Jeanne Cooper at the HVCB Smiles reception.

Hawaii: A Thousand Reasons to Smile

Hawaii’s second-largest market for visitors – the San Francisco Bay Area – is going to see, hear, and experience the Islands of Aloha in March like never before in a new campaign led by HVCB. This initiative is a month-long promotion throughout March that will showcase the appeal of Hawaii’s culture, natural beauty, and music to residents throughout the Bay Area through print, broadcast and online advertising, digital freeway bulletin boards, in train stations and BART cars, on ad walls in popular settings, and TV shows, including ABC’s The View From the Bay. The campaign will direct consumers to visit GoHawaii.com/LotsofSmiles, a new HVCB microsite that will engage them with interactive promotions, offer information about Hawaii events in the Bay Area, and let them plan their vacation.

To kick it all off, HVCB hosted a reception for more than 50 Bay Area media at the Fairmont San Francisco on Feb. 26 featuring the incredible music of Willie K. and the Polynesian Cultural Center, along with the delicious cuisine of Chef Jake Belmonte of The Faimont Kea Lani, Maui. Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann was also there, along with HVCB and its Island Chapters. This event has been my pet project for the past couple months and it went off well. I also owe a huge mahalo to my colleague Michael Ni who traveled with me and also my team back at the office who made it happen. It was an amazing night and you can see who was there by checking out the photos on my Flickr page.

Aloha Friday Pau Hana Concerts at Gordon Biersch

In the island-style tradition of “work over, hang loose”, Hawaii’s music, cuisine, and Aloha Spirit will also be showcased in Aloha Friday Pau Hana Concerts being held at Gordon Biersch restaurants in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and San Jose. Each Friday in March, from 5-11 p.m., some of Hawaii’s top entertainers will perform their musical magic and Aloha Spirit, including Willie K., Raiatea Helm, Brother Noland, Mailani Makainai, Kealii Kanealii, John Cruz, Cyril Pahinui, and Taimane Gardner. Patrons will also enjoy a special menu of Hawaii-inspired cuisine and can win trips to the islands. My colleague Michael has done an amazing job putting this all together with the GB team and we look forward to seeing many smiling faces at the events.

Great meeting Nancy Brown (@nancydbrown), David Lytle (@davitydave), Amy (@cookingwithamy), and Vanessa (@amidoingokay).

Great meeting Nancy Brown (@nancydbrown), David Lytle (@davitydave), Amy (@cookingwithamy), and Vanessa (@amidoingokay).

Uptake.com and HVCB SF Blogger Meetup

Through the magic of Twitter, I’ve gotten to know Uptake’s Elliott Ng and appreciate his passion for travel. At his suggestion, he recommended co-hosting at meetup of local SF bloggers at the Hukilau restaurant on Feb. 27. It would be the last order of business before the Hawaii team headed back home. So Michael, Rebecca Pang of Stryker Weiner and Yokota Public Relations (representing Oahu Visitors Bureau), and I had the opportunity to meetup with about 20 bloggers/tweeters to talk about Hawaii and the new campaign. It was a great event pulled together by Uptake’s Pat Jenkins and Alison Osborne and I couldn’t help but take as many photos as I could which you can also find on my Flickr page.

Also found some time to “play”

While this was strictly a work visit to the Bay Area, I did manage to find some time to have just a little bit of fun. I’ve recapped most of that on my Flickr page, but also want to highlight a couple other nuggets of fun:

  • I finally had the chance to meet fellow tweep Ken Yeung in real life (IRL). He’s actually very familiar with Anthology Marketing Group having worked at Starr Seigle Communications after college before moving to the Bay Area. We stumbled upon a great little sushi restaurant – Sudachi – with great food and cheap beer for a mini-Tweetup. He’s a fellow social media explorer like me and maintaines a great blog that’s a fun and interesting read. Looking forward to tweeting up with Ken again.
  • I first had the opportunity to meet Social Media Club co-founder Kristie Wells in Honolulu last October at one of her workshops she was doing with hubby Chris Heuer. Since then we’ve managed to stay in touch via Twitter. So when the opportunity came up to have breakfast with Kristie in SF, I couldn’t pass it up. Breakfast itself at Brenda’s French Soul Food was unreal (I had the oyster scrambled eggs, potatoes, and biscuit which was phenomenal), but the conversation about social media, marketing, and life in general was incredible. Mahalo Kristie for a fun impromptu Tweetup. Only wish Chris could have been there too!

I could go on and on and on, but I’ll close here. San Francisco is an incredibly beautiful city for so many reasons. I can’t wait to get back and hope I can find a way to return soon with the family on vacation. Until then, I look forward to keeping in touch with all the great people I met. As we say in Hawaii, a hui hou (until we meet again)!

-NGK

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