Kapiolani Park

One of the most prominent parks on the island of Oahu, and is very popular among tourists and residents alike. Queen Kapiolani Park, which is commonly referred to as Kapiolani Park is located near Waikiki and Diamond Head. Kapiolani park is the largest and the oldest public park in Hawaii. The park was granted from royal lands and was the first public space on Oahu. This park is always busy and is a beautiful place to participate in any number of activities. Its convenient location makes it a perfect place to meet up with family and friends.

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The park got its name from the queen consort of King Kalakaua, Queen Kapiolani. Kapiolani park is a 300 acre open air park. As the park continues south it becomes Kapiolani Beach Park which is right next to Kuhio Beach and Waikiki Beach. The park is also a natural division between the Waikiki and Diamond Head neighborhoods. The park is also home to the Honolulu Zoo, and the Waikiki Shell. The area was originally a mix of swamp land and a dry plain that was not deemed suitable for building. King Kalakaua was trying to find an area for a horse racing course in the 1870′s and since Waikiki was popular with the wealthy racing fans he decided on the dry plain at the foot of Diamond Head where the park stands today. The park was dedicated on June 11, 1877 as the first public space on Oahu.

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The Kapiolani Park Association was a group of businessmen, including Scotsman Archibald Cleghorn, that convinced King Kalakaua to allow them to have a 30 year lease for $1 a year. Archibald Cleghorn was a Hawaiian citizen that married into Hawaiian Royalty and was later Vice President and President of the Kapiolani Park Association. He was responsible for planning the parks landscaping including the massive and majestic Ironwood trees. The money needed was raised by selling $50 shares of the association, in turn shareholders could then lease beachfront lots near the park. By the 1880′s many shareholders had built cottages on their lease space. The Honolulu Cricket Club received their lease in 1893 and many top cricket players from San Francisco’s California Cricket Association then played for some of the local teams. According to the Guinness Book of Records it is now the oldest sporting club in the Pacific, and the only cricket club in Hawaii.

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Upon the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, many of the cottages were privately owned. Most were later returned to the city or condemned. The land was then given over to the Republic of Hawaii, and was governed by the Honolulu Park Commission. Legislation was passed that set the land aside permanently as a free park and recreation grounds. Sale or lease of the was strictly forbidden as charging an entry fee to the park. Since 1913 the park has been maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department of the City and County of Honolulu. The park has a large open green spaces, lily ponds, tennis and basketball courts, softball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer and rugby fields, as well as an archery range. Each year it is also host to many international rugby and lacrosse tournaments. The park is also a favorite for joggers who use its 2 mile circumference, and is also the start and finish point of road races in Honolulu including the Honolulu Marathon.

Written by James Bredeson

Scuba Diving Halona Cove on Oahu

This scuba diving sight isn’t for beginners.  It’s for divers who are certified and strong swimmers as there are strong currents and the deepest you go is around 60 feet.  Let alone entering the water from the cove beach can prove difficult depending on the tide.  It’s a tiny cove which means the waves can come in strong and out strong, and if you’re not careful, can throw you into a side rock wall.

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Once you enter, swim straight out, and then head right following the rock wall.  Twenty feet will soon turn into 60 feet and that’s where you start seeing huge coral rock structures full of sea life.  Floating through what feels like a gorge surrounded by tall cliffs we saw several octopus, green sea turtles, moray eels, frog fish, and a banded coral shrimp among many large schools of fish of course.  Be careful of the frog fish, those puppies are poisonous!  We were hoping to see a shark or two, but weren’t lucky this time.

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Can you see the Frog Fish?  They blend in well.

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Written by Johann Moguel

Tropical Hike on Oahu

Weighing in at 4.2 miles round trip from the Manoa Falls parking lot, the Aihualama Trail is that tropical trail you’ve always wanted to hike.  Full of bamboo forests, extremely large banyon and guava trees, you get your fill of what Oahu is like inland away from the beach.  Close to Honolulu, the trek to the falls from the parking lot is pretty simple.  At the falls you’ll see a sign on your left pointing to the Aihualama.

As soon as you begin, you’ll realize that the trail is full of rocks, boulders, and muddy areas.  So, it would be wise to wear some decent hiking shoes/clothes that you’re not afraid to get mud on.  Especially after a rain.  Oh, and step wisely on those rocks as they can get slippery!

There is a lot of beauty to be seen as you’re surrounded by tropical vegetation.  The highlight for me was spotting guava trees.  This tree’s bark is a smooth reddish brown so they can be easily spotted among other trees.  From there you will usually see round yellow plum to apple sized fruit on the ground.  Safe to eat, make sure they’re not soft or rotted out and you’ll be able to pull them open with your fingers.  So good.  Just don’t try to eat the green ones as they are not ripe.

After you’ve hiked all the way to the top for scenic views of the valley and made it back to the falls, it wouldn’t hurt to take a dip in the pool under the waterfall.  I certainly did and it felt phenomenal!  Understand that there are signs warning you that there’s a chance for falling rocks.  So enter at your own risk.

Written by Johann Moguel

Dole Pineapple Plantation

One of the most recognizable symbols of Hawaii is the pineapple. While you are visiting our little tropical paradise you have the chance to visit the famous Dole pineapple plantation. The Dole pineapple plantation is located near Wahiawa on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. You can find it on your way to or from the North Shore, and it makes a perfect place to stop and relax while sightseeing. You can visit the country store and perhaps sample some pineapple ice cream, or try your luck in the hedge maze.

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James Drummond Dole made his way to Hawaii in 1899 shortly after graduating Harvard with degrees in Agriculture and Business. He purchased 61 acres in 1900 that was located in historic Wahiawa and subsequently established the first plantation of his agricultural empire. James Dole had a unique vision at the time, that there would be a huge market for pineapples outside of Hawaii. The techniques and technology to make that vision a reality had recently been perfected. The ability to can food had been around for decades, but the new methods that were discovered made it the best way to keep it fresh over long distances. The first Dole Cannery was opened in 1901 in Wahiawa, and was later moved to Honolulu in order to be closer to the labor pool, shipping ports and supplies. In order to keep up with the demand for canned pineapples James Dole bought the island of Lana’i and transformed it into the the largest pineapple plantation in the world. The island of Lana’i supplied 75% of the worlds pineapples for almost 70 years.

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The Dole plantation in Wahiawa now offers a fully narrated rustic train ride through working agricultural lands and is home to the world’s largest hedge maze. The country store has many souvenirs and sweet treats to take back home with you to your loved ones. This is one spot that everyone should check out while sightseeing in Hawaii.

Written by  James Bredeson

Halona Cove on Oahu

Just past the snorkeling mecca known as Hanauma Bay from Honolulu is a parking lot for Halona Blow Hole.  The blow hole attraction pulls a lot of tourists and the small parking lot located just off of the Kalanianaole highway is basically a quick scenic stop for tour buses.  You get a chance to take photos of the amazing views and then head off to see the rest of the island, but if your looking to go swimming, you’re going to want to hike down to Halona Cove.

The parking lot turns quickly, so if you’re willing to wait a couple minutes, parking spots will open up soon.  Looking from the lot down to this beach, I was surprised it wasn’t flooded with people!  It’s one of the coolest beaches I have ever seen.  Since a lot of tourists are on the move, they do not have time to go swimming.  This is where renting a car comes in handy!

Bring your snorkeling gear or if you’re certified, your scuba diving gear because just out at the end of the rock are some cool crevices and rock structures full of fish.  Other fun parts to this beach are climbing, hiking, and jumping from the surrounding rock.  As well as hiking up to the blow hole itself, but be careful not to fall in!

Written by Johann Moguel

Honolulu Zoo

Even on vacation there is something special about checking out a zoo. Everyone seems to have a good time while visiting zoo’s especially the children. The Honolulu Zoo is part of Queen Kapiolani park and is the only zoo in the entire United States to be established by land grants from a reigning monarch. The land was originally considered a swampland, but in 1877 the marshes and lagoons were drained and Queen Kapiolani park was created in order to honor the queen consort to King Kalakaua. King Kalakaua used the park as a home for his personal collection of exotic birds and horses.

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The City and County of Honolulu appointed Ben Hollinger as the administrator of the Parks and Recreation in 1914. As the administrator the collection of animals at the park continued to grow with the additions of a monkey, a bear, and several lion cubs. Hee convinced the City and County to purchase an African elephant named Daisy in 1916 and with that addition Honolulu had a zoo.

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The zoo continued to expand its collection of animals by purchasing an elephant, a bactrian camel, sea lions, several species of birds, spider monkeys and a tortoise in 1949. Again in 1974 the zoo accepted donations of an elephant, a camel, chimpanzees and some deer. Later on in the 1990′s the layout of the zoo was changed to recreate more natural settings for the animals. The zoo continues to operate today and is enjoyed by more than 600,000 people a year.

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The museum hours are 9 am to 4:30 pm daily, and the admission fees are: Adults 13 and over $14.00, children 3-12 $6.00, the zoo also provides Kama’aina and military discounts with a valid ID. The zoo provides a nice change of pace from the usual sightseeing and allows you to see many different types of animals during your visit.

Written by James Bredeson

Off the beaten path on Oahu

Tucked away at the very end of Hau’ula Homestead Rd in Hau’ula, Oahu, HI is Hau’ula Loop Trail.  Best place to park for this?  Hau’ula Beach Park across the Kam highway.  Let’s see how many more times I can use Hau’ula.

Because it’s off the beaten path, this isn’t a very easy trail to find.  You literally walk down Hau’ula Homestead Rd right off the Kam highway to the end.  You second guess yourself because you eventually come to a yellow gate with no trail head sign and thick forested driveways on the left and right stating “Do Not Trespass” or “Private Property”.  For a split second you think you’re in the movie “Wrong Turn”. Although, the reality is you’re in paradise and if you walk past the yellow gate and straight ahead you’ll come to a very colorful box with the trail head sign right after.  Don’t ignore the colored box as inside there is a register for those that hike on the trail.

The trail itself is approximately a 2.5 loop up & down a mountain and you can either go left or right when you come to the fork.  It’s rather easy compared to other trails around the island with many flat areas.  Most of the trail is dense woods with some scenic views.  There are lots of strawberry guava trees, if you like to eat wild grown fruit.  If you haven’t tasted one of these before, do so or the fruit gods will be displeased.  It can get muddy and slippery in certain parts, so don’t wear your nice shoes and don’t rush over rocky areas as you can expect to slip.  You’ll come to 2 spots where it looks like there could be some cool waterfalls and small pools, but if it hasn’t recently rained they’ll look more like small trickles into uninviting clouded pools.

Bring bug spray & water.  Afterwards, go check out North Shore Tacos.  The food is really good and they have this pineapple smoothie that’s literally served in a full grown pineapple.

Written by Johann Moguel

Shangri La mansion tours

Shangri La is highly recognized around the nation for its amazing artistic value and is one of the most significant homes here in Hawaii. While you are visiting here on Oahu this a magnificent sightseeing opportunity that you should take advantage of. The beautiful collection of art and the architecture of the home offers one of a kind breathtaking views and scenic overlooks of the Pacific Ocean and Diamond Head. Tours of Shangri La begin and end at the Honolulu Museum of Art. The tours last approximately two and a half hours with one and a half hours actually spent at the Shangri La mansion. The tours feature the public rooms of the main house and portions of the grounds which include: Entry Courtyard, Foyer, Damascus Room, Central Courtyard, Living Room, Upper Lawn with views of the Playhouse, pool, terrace, Syrian Room, Moghul Garden, Mihrab Room, Dining Room and covered lanai’s.

Shangri La is located on about five acres near Diamond Head, on the island of Oahu. The mansion is on an ocean front property located in the exclusive Black Point residential neighborhood.This unique structure was given the name Shangri La and is an Islamic style mansion built by heiress Doris Duke. She wanted to build it after the honeymoon she took to the Middle East in 1935. The construction on Shangri La began on the site in 1937. She owned other homes, but this is the only one that she had built from the ground up and filled with art from the inside out. While on her honeymoon she became captivated by Islamic architecture and art, as well as the beauty of Hawaii. With the assistance of architect Marion Sims Wyeth they worked to fuse the two ideas together.

The 5 acre site boasts a 14,000 square foot house, a playhouse, and a pool. It also contains a series of interlocking spaces that include gardens, lanais, terraces, numerous water features, and indoor and outdoor rooms. Doris took many pictures of varies architectural styles and ideas while traveling. She wanted some of these incorporated and sent them to her architect. She also commissioned large orders of artworks from local artisans from India, Morocco, Iran, and Syria. The Shangri La property is filled with traditional Islamic artwork and modern sensibility. An example of this concept can be seen in the contrast between the Moroccan living room ceiling and the adjacent glass wall that can be full retracted into the basement which gives a sense of the fusion between tradition and modernism.

Doris Duke spent nearly 60 years acquiring a massive collection of over 2500 pieces. Many of these pieces have been incorporated into the structure of the house. Iranian tile panels, Moroccan ceiling paintings, perforated screens doors and windows, and various textiles and carpets all of which create an environment of Islamic design and architectural decoration. This is a unique chance to visit and tour one of the islands most impressive art and architectural features.

Written by James Bredeson

Jogging or Walking the Diamond Head Loop

Excellent Morning Walk/Jog Near Waikiki

 On vacation and feeling guilty because you strayed from the diet plan?  Go for a walk or jog around Diamond Head!  It’s scenic, it’s close to Waikiki and if you go early enough, you can end with watching the sunrise.  Also, there are a few beaches & Kapiolani Regional Park you can check out.

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 To me, there’s nothing better than an early morning activity.  You feel great afterwards.  Get the endorphin’s going, you feel productive, you don’t feel guilty downing a two liter of coca-cola when you’re done.  Ha-ha!  Minus the coca-cola, you feel great.  The hardest part is getting up!  Just check out this pic in all its glory.  This is why you’ll want to turn that early morning frown upside down.

 We started jogging at 6:15 am from the corner of Monsarrat Ave & Paki Ave for a 7:00 – 7:15 sunrise.  Made our way clockwise around Diamond Head.  Monsarrat turns into Diamond Head Rd and you follow all the way around back to Paki Ave.  Total length of the loop is 3.9 miles.  Although be sure to time everything for the sunrise if that’s what you want.  There are look out areas above Diamond Head Beach Park before you get back to Paki Ave where you can sit and enjoy.  With jogging/walking, it took us just over 30 minutes in the direction we went to get to the look out area for the sunrise.

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 And if you want to reward yourself with some delicious breakfast afterwards, check out  Bogart’s Espresso & Cafe Bar on Monsarrat & Kanaina Ave.  You’ll feel your day is already complete.  Insert smiley face here.

Written by Johann Moguel

Happy New Year

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With the New Year just on the horizon I would like to take the time to wish everyone a Happy New Year! This year has been full of fun and exciting things and I can not wait to see what 2015 brings. Polynesian Adventure Tours wishes everyone the best in their future endeavors, and may the new year fill your life with joy. It has been a great year and as we take our time to look back and reminisce with our friends and family we also look forward to the challenges of the upcoming year.

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We usually make some New Years resolutions with good intentions, whether to improve ourselves or the world around us. I would like to wish everyone the best of luck with each and every one of their resolutions in the upcoming year. I hope everyone finds their own measure of success in 2015. It has been a marvelous year and I hope we all have a healthy and safe New Year for ourselves, our families, and our friends. Aloha and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou, which of course means HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Written by James Bredeson