Posts Tagged ‘maui’

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When our zipline guides George and Luke joked about it being Joe’s (pictured above) third day up on the mountain strapping guests into their harnesses and sending them flying high through the West Maui mountains, it only made our group of 10 first time zippers that much more anxious. The additional jokes about how the trees below will soften the fall in the unlikely event of an accident only compounded the butterflies in my stomach. But truth be told, we were safe and in good hands and “greenhorn” Joe was an excellent guide. By the time the group reached the third zipline, my butterflies and fear of heights had vanished. Adrenaline had kicked in. This was also the case for the rest of the group.

Let’s get a couple things out of the way. I’m not the biggest fan of heights and I’ve never ziplined before. Kelly and her family did the ziplines at Kapalua Adventures earlier this year and had a lot of fun. So my visit to check out a new client Skyline Eco Adventures on Maui a couple weeks ago was one of great excitement and fear. I’d been told by owner Danny Boren and others that their line was one of the more “adventurous” ones on the island. “What the heck did that mean?” I thought to myself. I soon found out after committing to do both of Skyline’s courses – eight zips in Kaanapali in the morning, followed by five zips up on Haleakala in the afternoon – for a total of 13 incredible zipline crossings in one day. Here’s a few photos I took at both courses and a video highlighting some of the fun we had.

As they say, go hard or go home, so I made the most my time on Maui. The three-hour Kaanapali Skyline Adventure course winds its way down Mount Kahalawai over verdant valleys at a leisurely pace with spectacular views of West Maui and Lanai. This would prove to be a great way to start the day. The eight ziplines progressively get longer and faster starting at about 350 feet and ending at over 1,100 feet. But the most exciting and unexpected thing about the experience was the harness system Skyline uses. You’re literally strapped in at you waist and given the freedom to control how you twist and turn down the line by steering with the carabiner.

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No two zips are alike…I went down a few straight, sideways, and backwards…which added to the thrill and excitement. The entire group had a great time and gave the tour 20 thumbs up. I documented my Kaanapali adventure on Twitter with commentary and photos which you can find here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

With my adrenaline still going, I jumped in my rental car and booked it up to the Hakeakala Skyline Tour for another five zips just after noon. This tour was much shorter at one and a half hours and featured a much tighter course in cooler mountain conditions. If you’ve been upcountry on Haleakala, you know the air is much crisper up there. The lines aren’t nearly as long as the Kaanapali course with the longest at just over 750 feet, but the thrill and excitement was just as intense. About a dozen of us took to the course. For most it was their first time. For a handful they had come back to do it again with friends.

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The first four lines prepare you for what was my favorite zipline of the day…the fifth and final run that you saw in the video above. Talk about WOW! Perched high above the final destination, this line featured quite a drop and a boomerang effect for extra excitement. You go pretty fast on this line too (someone said up to 50 miles a hour). As the ladies rushed off the platform, some of the men in the group (including yours truly) had a sudden rush of butterflies in our stomachs again. But when all was said and done, we all made it, enjoyed it, and left wanting more! Again, I documented this Haleakala adventure on Twitter here, here, here, here, here, and here.

So there you go. If you want to overcome your fear of heights while enjoying some serious adventure, consider a zipline tour. It worked for me. Hawaii’s got plenty of them on Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii’s Big Island. They’re all different in their own way so be sure to do your research before you book. Some have you seated in a swing type seat going straight down the line, while others give you the freedom to maneuver around. Whatever you chose, be sure to bring your camera and take lots of photos. The views are priceless.

And before saying aloha, I leave you with some helpful zipline tips from my friend Sheila Beal who authors the GoVisitHawaii.com blog. She had the opportunity to zip on Kauai and provides some great reminders about being in Hawaii’s great outdoors.

Happy ziplining!

-NGK

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Sunset at the Sheraton Maui.

In most cases, pictures speak louder than words, so I’m going to let the photos do the talking in this post.

But first a brief overview of what’s going on here. The Kam family enjoyed spending time this past weekend at the Sheraton Maui. It was a mix of business and leisure as I attended the Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association’s Annual Membership Meeting and brought Kelly and Ensen along too. Ensen was especially glad Uncle Jon flew up to join us and was excited to cruise with Maui Grandma, Uncle Frank, and other family as well. By the end of the trip, I realized I hadn’t taken many photos though we were on the go-go-go most of the time. For what it’s worth, here’s a handful that documents our time there.

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New toys awaited Ensen at Maui Grandma’s house.

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We had a goal of eating Tasaka Guri Guri ice cream everyday we were there, but failed. We only ate it once but we ate a lot. Just for the record, Maui Grandma and Uncle Jon were with us. Four scoops mix (strawberry/pineapple) for the big kids…two scoops for Little E.

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Our room at the Sheraton Maui in Kaanapali Resort was great. Tons of space for the family to chill out and beautiful views of the West Maui coastline. We had perfect weather too which didn’t hurt. As for the awesome pictures of Little E and me swimming in the pool…err…we’ll keep those in the family vault for now. :-P

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We even took some time to relax and play on the oceanfront lawn.

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Watched the locals folks jump off legendary Black Rock.

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Here’s some photos I took with my new Canon EOS Rebel T1i. I’ve got a long way to go in figuring out all this technical camera stuff and the fancy settings, but I did manage to take some pretty neat looking pics.

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All in all, a great weekend trip to the Valley Isle. I should also note that we had tons of fun at the Maui Brewing Company which serves up great food and some of the best local beers in Hawaii. Strategically, there are no photos from those experiences. ;-) But trust me, we had an awesome time!

-NGK

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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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On our visit to Maui last weekend, the family headed to Kapalua to check out the buzz surrounding the new zipline adventures there. Kapalua Adventures is the outfit behind the excitement and I had a blast with my mom Lynn, brother Jon, and his girlfriend Sarah on the Upper Mountain Loop zip tour. I’ll let the following video speak for itself, but the scenery was incredible, our tour guides were fun to hang out with for 3.5 hours, and the ziplines were exhilirating.

In total, we did four runs.  Including one at 2,500 feet.  We also walked the longest suspension bridge in Hawaii (the thing in the video that looks like the Golden Gate Bridge).

You’re probably wondering where Nate was on this trip, right? Afterall, he set the whole thing up with is friend Adam Quinn, Kapalua Resort’s director of VIP relations. Well, he took one for the team and watched Ensen for the morning. But word is they had fun with Adam playing disc golf, enjoying the mini-golf course, and driving around the resort in a golf cart. There’s obviously a lot to do at Kapalua.

It’s always fun as a local to play tourist and do these activities. I’m glad I had the chance to experience this side of Maui with my family and would do it again in a heartbeat. Here’s a few more pictures I took while up on the mountain.

-KK

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