Tag Archives: how to get to Hawaii

Historic Lighthouses in Hawaii

(Kauai, HAWAII) -- Kilauea Lighthouse is seen from a designated lookout point, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. Kilauea Lighthouse began illuminating the way for mariners in 1913. It served as a pivotal navigation aid for ships sailing on the Orient run. The historic light station consists of a concrete lighthouse, three field stone keepers' quarters, a fuel oil shed, cisterns, and a supply-landing platform. It is one of the nation's most intact historic light stations. 
 (U.S. Coast Guard photo / PA3 Michael De Nyse)

Kilauea Lighthouse. By United States Coast Guard, PA3 Michael De Nyse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

There are a number of historic lighthouses in the Aloha State that you might want to visit on your next trip to Hawaii.  In addition to their historic value, many of them offer commanding views of the Pacific Ocean as well as great opportunities to view a wide range of marine wildlife.  And best of all, they can be seen and experienced for little or no cost.

Kilauea Lighthouse – The Kilauea Lighthouse was built in 1913 and is located on the northern part of the island of Kauai. The facility is unique in that it is the only lighthouse in the state of Hawaii that is opened to visitors.  In addition to serving as a vital navigational aid to mariners, the Kilauea lighthouse was famous during World War II for offering radio beacon signals to aviators who had veered off course on their way to landing on one of Hawaii’s military airfields.

While it no longer serves as a lighthouse, since 1985 it has become the focal point of the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Here at the refuge, in addition to the scenic coastal vistas, you can see the marine wildlife such as seabirds, like the Laysan albatross and wedged-tailed shearwater, and marine mammals, such as the green sea turtle and humpback whale. The Kilauea Lighthouse was even depicted in several scenes in Disney’s popular animated movie, Lilo and Stitch.

Kalaupapa Lighthouse. By Boucher, Jack E. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Kalaupapa Lighthouse – This lighthouse, the tallest in the State of Hawaii, was completed in 1909 in response to the increasing amount of maritime traffic in the Kaiwi Channel which separated the islands of Oahu and Molokai. Kalaupapa was an ideal location for the lighthouse because it was located on a long peninsula that jutted out 2 miles into the sea from the north side of the island of Molokai. But Kalaupapa was also the isolated quarantine home for those in Hawaii who were afflicted with Hansen disease, then called leprosy. Initially, lawmakers were reluctant to build a strategically important navigational aid and to have personnel stationed nearby to those who were afflicted with the then incurable Hansen disease.

At 138 feet tall, the Kalaupapa Lighthouse is not only the tallest lighthouse in Hawaii, but it is also reputed to be the tallest one in the Pacific. Today, the lighthouse and the nearby settlement, still home to those once afflicted with the now curable Hansen disease, are part of the Kalaupapa National Historic District, which is administered by the National Park Service.

Flying over Makapu’u Lighthouse area. By U.S. Navy (Rear Admral Robert S. Quackenbush collection) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Makapu’u Lighthouse – Makapu’u Lighthouse, located on the eastern tip of Oahu, was built in 1909 for the same reason as Kalaupapa Lighthouse, which was to provide an urgently needed navigational aid in response to the increasing amount of ships sailing though the sometimes treacherous Kaiwi Channel. The lighthouse is the only one its kind in the US that was outfitted with the then technologically advanced hyperradiant Fresnel lens and, back then, was the largest one of its kind ever built.

The land that surrounded the lighthouse was declared surplus by the Coast Guard and was transferred to the State of Hawaii in 1987. Since then, the road to the lighthouse has become one of the most popular hiking trails in the entire State of Hawaii park system. The trail offers spectacular views of the rugged surrounding coastline, seasonally migrating humpback whales and the beautiful Hawaiian sunrise.

Where to Get Plate Lunches in Hawaii

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The healthier version of mixed plate lunch with the gravy on the rice option. Courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson.

One of the things that makes Hawaii unique is its food and one of Hawaii’s most unique foods is the plate lunch.  What’s a plate lunch?  Well for those who don’t know, a plate lunch in the Aloha State is usually a menu item served at places where fast foods are served, most typically at a drive-in restaurant.  The typical plate lunch consists of some sort of meat, fish, pork or chicken main item served with one or two scoops of white rice and either macaroni or potato salad.  A plate lunch doesn’t doesn’t have to be served only during lunch; it could also be served during breakfast and dinner too or, for that matter, anytime of the day.

There are some variations to this formula. A Hawaiian plate lunch, for example, could have as its main item kalua pig or laulau (pork steamed in taro leaves) or both, poi in lieu of rice as well as lomi salmon (salted salmon marinated in tomatoes, onions and chili sauce) instead of macaroni or potato salad.  A plate lunch with more than one main item is referred to as a “mixed plate.”  Today, the healthier versions of plate lunches come with brown rice instead of white rice and tossed salad instead of macaroni or potato salad.  Plate lunches served at some places even come with kim chee.  A very popular option among locals is adding gravy on the rice.  You can also get breakfast as a plate lunch, of course with rice.  And sometimes, you can substitute fried rice for white rice on your plate lunch breakfast.  But whatever you get on it, wherever you get it and whenever you get it, regardless of whether it’s a takeout order or not, it must be served on some kind of disposable plate, most typically styrofoam or paper, for it to be considered a plate lunch in Hawaii.

There is no definitive story as to the origin of the plate lunch.  Some believe it was originally derived from the Japanese bento, or boxed lunch, which were eaten by Japanese laborers who worked on the sugar or pineapple plantations in the late 1800s to early 1900s.  Another factor contributing to the evolution of the plate lunch was many of the plantation workers came from other Asian countries, such as China, Korea and the Philippines, where rice was the main staple.  As a result, many of the plantation workers typically ate rice, instead of bread, for lunch. Besides rice, their main entree item in their lunch was typically some sort of leftover or canned meat which formed the basis of what was to eventually become the plate lunch.  Later on, it is believed that western influences were instrumental in adding macaroni or potato salad to what can now be considered the quintessential plate lunch in Hawaii.  Eventually as the plantation days ended, mom and pop establishments began to sell plate lunches to working people as a convenient alternative to bringing a home lunch.

Today, you can get plate lunches almost anywhere in Hawaii. Besides getting them at local drive-ins, you can also get them at lunch wagons as well as at many places that serve prepared foods, including at local delicatessens, restaurants and stores. Some of the best known plate lunch places in Hawaii are Rainbow Drive-In, L&L Drive-Inn and Zippy’s Restaurants.

Eating Pancakes in Honolulu

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Traveling to Hawaii’s largest city, Honolulu, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the pleasures of home. And if you like pancakes, Honolulu offers some of the country’s finest, of course with a Hawaiian slant to them. Here are some of what we think are where you can find some of Honolulu’s best pancakes.

Tucker and Bevvy specializes in Australian and Hawaiian themed breakfasts and picnic foods and can be found in the Kapahulu area of Honolulu. It offers a wide variety of breakfast dishes, including its highly popular ricotta cheese pancake.

Bills Sydney is a restaurant chain that originally started in Sydney, Australia. Today, it has restaurants in a number of cities throughout the world. Bill’s establishment in Waikiki is located on Beachwalk Avenue and features great ricotta cheese pancakes on its menu.

Moeana Café, a breakfast and lunch restaurant, is located in the Hawaii Kai area of town. Its breakfast menu includes a wide range of pancakes, including cinnamon roll, strawberry and milk as well as its famous banana Chantilly pancake.

Mac 24/7, as noted in its name, is open 24 hours daily and is located in the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel on Kuhio Avenue.  Its breakfast menu offers huge, crazy pancakes and was once prominently featured on the television series, Man vs. Food.

Liliha Bakery is a long-time local favorite bakery and diner located in the Liliha area of town. You can’t be in business as long as Liliha Bakery has been if you’re not doing something right and their pancakes are definitely one of the reasons why.

Maui Onions

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Maui is famous for many of its unique agricultural products, including its world famous Maui or Kula onion.  Maui’s sweet onion is known to be on par with other world renowned varieties such as Georgia’s Vidalia or Washington State’s Walla Walla onion.  A sweet onion is an onion that is not pungent, has higher sugar and water content and is lower in sulfur than most onions.  Like Vidalias, Maui onions are a Yellow Granex type hybrid and originated from varieties developed in Texas.

Maui onions have a stout globular shape with a pale golden peel and a crisp, juicy white flesh and are grown in the Kula region on the eastern slopes of Haleakala, Maui’s legendary dormant volcano.  It’s been said that this region of Maui’s rich volcanic soil, perfect amounts of rainfall and sunshine play key factors in making Maui onions so special.  Maui onions are not grown in huge quantities with no more than 400 acres of prime agricultural land are set aside for the crops each year.  This makes the relatively limited supply of Maui onions even more special for those who can get them during the months of February through November.   You can readily identify such onions grown in this region as they are trademarked as “Kula Grown.”

The mainland US was first introduced to Maui onions when tourists brought them back after visiting Maui.  Today, Maui onions are widely available in most grocery stores throughout Hawaii as well as in a number of specialty stores and supermarkets on the mainland West Coast.  They can also be ordered from a number of online retailers.

Due to their sweetness, Maui onions are a favorite accompaniment served with Hawaiian food, typically eaten raw with some Hawaiian salt. They are also incorporated in many varieties of poke, a marinade of raw fish chunks, local seaweed and savory spices.

To celebrate Hawaii’s love of Maui onions, the community comes together each year at the Maui Onion Festival held in late April to early May.  The event has been a signature event at the Whalers Village in the Ka’anapali Resort since 1990 and features recipe contests, food booths, games, prizes and dinner events.

 

Airlines in Hawaii

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Most everyone is aware of the airlines that fly to Hawaii from the mainland US.  All of the traditional larger carriers like American, United and Delta all fly to Hawaii from their major gateway cities.  Plus, regional carriers like Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines, in particular, have a major presence in the islands.  Right now, Allegiant is the only discount carrier flying to Hawaii from the west coast.  There have been persistent and longstanding rumors that the granddaddy of all discount carriers, Southwest Airlines, is considering entering the market in 2015.  The general public is well aware of carriers such as these.

But who are the other guys that serve the traveling public in the Aloha State?  It’s believed that most people in America aren’t aware of such smaller carriers, such as Island Air and Mokulele Air, which service the inter-island market.  While Hawaiian Airline continues to dominate the inter island travel market with its all jet fleet, Island Air and Mokulele can sometimes offer a compelling alternative.

Island Air is an interesting story.  While Island Air may be relatively small, it is actually owned by one of the richest men in America, Larry Ellison, who founded software giant, Oracle.  Ellison recently purchased Island Air as part of his recent acquisition of all of the upscale hotel properties and most of the real estate on the island of Lanai, presumably as a means to ensure that tourists will visit and stay at his resorts on the island.  While Island Air’s is comprised of an all turboprop fleet, the carrier had recently upgraded it with more modern and larger aircraft.

Mokulele Air also serves the inter island market.  It has smaller turboprop planes that can hold up to nine passengers. Flying in small planes like these has some advantages; everyone has their own seat and has great views, particularly because Mokulele’s aircraft fly at relatively low altitudes.  And at some of the smaller neighbor island airports, there are no TSA security gates.  So you can take your time to get to the airport.