Archive for the ‘Hawaii, the Big Island’ Category

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.


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?


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My mom sent me some cool photos this morning of a Hawaiian monk seal that was found hanging out at her work place yesterday. I couldn’t help but share the pictures. It’s not everyday you encounter a monk seal and a friendly reminder that if you do, to keep your distance. They are an endangered species. Here’s the story:

While cleaning Papawai Beach yesterday morning, one of our grounds crew discovered this teenage monk seal lounging at the main campsite.  I heard it gave him quite a scare.   According to DLNR, this monk seal has been spotted at various beaches on the West Hawaii coast, most recently Honokohau Beach, and is becoming a problem.  “Jr.” was observed going back in the water late yesterday afternoon.

Please note that Papawai Beach is located on private Queen Liliuokalani Trust land in Kona.





[Photos courtesy of Lyle Gomes.]
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Filming the opening sequence at Kualoa Ranch. Stunning!

What happens when you take one of MOJO’s most popular shows Pressure Cook with Ralph Pagano and shoot an episode in Hawaii? “Everyone here thinks its the best episode (of season two),” according to the show’s Executive Producer Sandy Green in a recent comment on my Facebook wall. 🙂

The Hawaii episode airs October 6 at 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. HST (according to and I can hardly wait. Sandy’s comments only make me more anxious to see the show.

It feels like it’s been so long since the completion of production on Oahu and Hawaii’s Big Island back in May. For those following my blog back then, you may have read about my experiences working with the production team here, here, and here.

It sounds like Hawaii will be well represented to a national audience of foodies and travelers. As you watch the show, be on the look out for the following industry partners who supported HVCB in this endeavor. Without these folks, none of this would have been possible: Outrigger Reef on the Beach, Hilton Waikoloa Village, The Shack Waikiki, Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Dave Miyamoto Photography, Pualani Hawaii, Makani Kai Helicopters, Kualoa Ranch, and Wailea Ag Group.


I’m interested in hearing from those who watched the episode, so if you want to weigh in with a comment, please do so here. Hope you enjoy the show.


Our final day on the Big Island was a leisurely one spent mostly cruising around Kailua-Kona town looking for omiyage (gifts) to take back to family and friends on Oahu. From the photo above, it’s obvious we were successful. KTA Superstore is a great place to load up on “made on the Big Island” goodies and we pumped every last dollar we had into deep sea salt, cookies, brittle, manju, sweetbread, chocolate covered mochi crunch, and a cool fish scaler (that stick with the bottle caps in the front).

But once we returned home from our shopping adventure, it was pure quality time with Kona Grandpa and Grandma. We found some old Fisher Price toys in my sisters closet that Ensen enjoyed playing with. Talk about quality, these toys are just like I remember them over two decades ago.

Even though it was getting late and we had to get ready for our late night flight, Ensen and Kona Grandpa were having too much fun playing in the box to stop now. But as you can see in the photo below, they had so much fun, the little fella actually fell asleep in the box while being carried around. Adorable!

But as Ensen slept, it enabled us to pack up at the last minute, including the 15 Kulana brand blood pork sausages Kelly’s dad requested. We whiped out KTA’s supply. Shhhhhhh!

So that’s what our family does when we visit the Big Island. Pretty chill all the way around. It was just good to get away, relax, and recharge the batteries. And of course, spend time with the family. Can’t wait to do it again, hopefully soon.


The Kam family posing for a photo with a herd of cows on our way to Kohala.

Day two on our recent Big Island vacation took us to the quaint town of Kohala, the birth place of King Kamehameha. We made the drive from Kona more to take in the scenery than anything else. They don’t call this place the Big Island for nothing. It’s twice the size of all the other islands combined and while the drives can be lenghty to get from place to place, the views along the way are priceless.

The goal was to make it to Pololu Valley lookout before heading to Queen’s Marketplace in Waikoloa Beach Resort for dinner at Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar. But that plan was spoiled when we got to the valley lookout and police had blocked off the entrance due to a hiker being air lifted out after having a heart attack. No biggie. We just turned around and headed to dinner early. We enjoyed shopping around Queen’s Marketplace and ended a great day with some delicious sushi at Sansei. Just how good was the meal you ask? So good, I forgot to take photos. 😦

White coral "graffiti" against the jet black lava fields is a common scene along the roads on the Big Island. That's Mauna Kea looming in the background.

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site built by Kamehameha in the 1790s near Kawaihae is a popular cultural stop on the way to Kohala.

Ensen and Kona Grandma having fun in the car on the way to Kohala.

We came across a field of windmills near Upolu Airport. Who knew?

The original Kamehameha Statue in Kohala is a popular photo opportunity that I couldn't pass up.

Ensen and Kona Grandpa checking out some of the cool artwork displayed around Queen's Marketplace.

A crowd gathers at Queen's Marketplace to enjoy live music as the sun sets.


The Kam family jetted off to the Big Island for the long Labor Day weekend to spend time with my parents in Kona. Needless to say, it was great to unwind and just veg out for a few days before coming back to reality (that is the working life) on Tuesday.

Here’s a few photos from our first day there. As you can see, Ensen had a great time playing with Kona Grandpa in the yard and checking everything out around the house. We ended the night with a delicious dinner which was the perfect way to end a long first day (that started at 3:30 a.m. to catch our 5:55 a.m. flight).

And don’t worry. Kona Grandma and Kelly were there too but somehow no photos of them on Day 1. They do make an appearance on Days 2 and 3. 🙂

Ensen chilling “Kona style” with one hand tucked under the shirt exposing the mid-section and other hand at his side. This is typical local style. After a quick change to a cooler tank top, Ensen show Kona Grandpa where to put the mini pineapple they picked from the backyard.

Ensen watches Kona Grandpa light the fire, while later that evening I pose for a quick photo with my boy!

Despite having to be at Honolulu International Airport at 5 a.m. to catch our Hawaiian Airlines flight to Kona, Ensen was in good spirits running around the waiting area. Once on the plane, he slept the entire way. This gave him plenty of energy to enjoy the first day in Kona.