Archive for the ‘Hawaii’ Category

 E Komo Mai! (Welcome)


Red and Yellow Spotted Flower~ Photo taken at Dole Plantation, Hawaii
Copyright Kelly Vial (2007)

So you have decided to take your yearly vacation and live it up in Hawaii! What a great choice you have made! There are so many things to do and a variety of places to see. Whether you are just wanting some beach time, want to have a destination wedding, want to learn how to surf, relax or just be by yourself, there are many different venues that may attract you. Maybe you are on a strict budget, like a lot of others. What will you be able to do in Hawaii that won’t cost you an arm and a leg?

Getting Married?

Your most frugal option if you are planning to get married here in Hawaii, is to get married on the beach. I was married here on the beautiful beaches of Oahu in 2007, and yes, I was on a strict budget myself! After paying the outrageous prices for airline tickets, I had to save money elsewhere. My husband’s family were born and raised here, so I had to purchase invitations, and really do some web searching for a reception hall that would hold several hundred people, find a good caterer, pick out a wedding cake, and purchase a wedding gown! Preparing for a destination wedding was not easy, and I won’t tell you that it is. You want the picture perfect wedding and Oahu has some of the most beautiful, picturesque beaches in the world to help you achieve this. I was married at 8 a.m. in the morning, and the photos came out beautifully. I wanted to find a somewhat private beach to get married at, so I chose one that was centrally located to family and friends, so they wouldn’t have to travel so far to get there. I researched photographers and found one that was also licensed to perform the ceremony! I was extremely lucky in that respect. But if you are looking for something very private, I would have to recommend “Captain Howie” as he is called. The web link is posted below if you are interested in his services. You can create an ala carte package of your own or choose the pre made packages that they have listed on the site. You can view some of the couple’s wedding photos here too. It really is a great value versus obtaining a professional studio to do what you need. Just an idea!

Budget Friendly Ideas for Fun in the Sun

First off, do your research on things to do in Hawaii that are both fun and something you couldn’t do anywhere else. For instance, if you like hiking like I do, try hiking Diamond Head on Oahu, but make sure you bring plenty of water to drink as there aren’t any places to stop by for a drink. Take your time hiking and don’t overdo it, as it can be very hot once you get going. I hope you are in shape for this, because before you reach the top, you have a series of steps to climb! The hike is only a little over 1 and a half miles round trip.The first set of steps, if I am remembering correctly, are 74 steps that lead you to a 3 story spiral staircase and then to reach the top, you have to climb another daunting stairway of 99 steps! Diamond Head is an extinct volcanic crater that provides you with great exercise and a 360 degree view of the islands. Allow yourself at least 2 hours for a leisurely hike. As always check with your doctor before doing anything strenuous; the air gets thinner when you are approaching the top, so it may feel like you can’t catch your breath. Hiking Diamond Head is very cheap, only $5 per carload, or $1 if you just walk in to the park itself, and once you reach the top, there is a man selling t-shirts that say, “I Hiked Diamond Head”. Great souvenir! Tip** Go early in the morning as it’s cooler and the park opens at 6:00 a.m. You will be glad you did, the view from the top is phenomenal! You’ll overlook all of Waikiki and can see as far as the Wainae Mountain range in the West. Happy Hiking!!

  • Check out the Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe. It is a very beautiful replica Buddhist temple of the original one located in Japan. There is a little tourist shop there that has a few items that may interest you. Feed the ducks and the Koi fish, but watch out as there is some stiff competition with the other birds also wanting to eat, as you toss the pellets! The pellets can be purchased in the shop.
  • Aloha Tower Marketplace- plenty of shops to look around, places to eat such as Don Ho’s restaurant, but truthfully, you can get the same items at Aloha Stadium’s swap meet on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at a much cheaper price! But it is nice to relax and just listen to some of the entertainer’s and watch the ships pass by in the harbor.
  • Aloha Stadium Swap Meet- You really must visit here at least once! The deals are great and with some vendors, you may even be able to talk them down in price just a little! Drink coconut water out of a coconut, snack on some of the foods offered, but there is one place I just cannot pass by- the lady that sells Li Hing Mui sprinkled pineapple! It is a local favorite and personally, one of my own! This is the place to come if you want to send souvenir’s back home to family. Kukui nut leis, shell jewelry, Hawaiian jewelry- especially the Hawaiian bracelets are super expensive as the price for a 10 mm bangle type bracelet goes for almost $2000! But it’s an heirloom of sorts and all the locals wear them, or should I say MOST of them.
  • Take ukulele or hula lessons at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center- good fun!
  • Fly a kite or take a plate lunch to Kapiolani Park in Waikiki; the beach is right across the street! Beaches are my favorite place to be.
  • Watch a polo match at Waimanalo Polo Grounds, pick a team and have fun!
  • Enjoy the many different festivals and events throughout the year including AT&T’s Hawaii Dragon Boat Festival, celebrate the Chinese New Year and see the lion dances and over 100 other events
  • Learn about the history of Waikiki by taking the Waikiki Historic Trail walking tour.
  • Honolulu Zoo
  • Walk through Chinatown for a fascinating look at noodle factories, markets and gift shops
  • If you are visiting Waikiki, near the Duke Kahanamoku statue, at sunset, you can witness the culture of Hawaii by viewing the torch lighting and hula dancers, or just listen to the drums playing.
  • Take a scenic drive to Pali Highway and go to the Nuuanu Pali lookout for a beautiful view. Wear a light jacket as it gets really windy at the top- keep hold of your camera because the wind can blow it right out of your hands and keep an even closer eye on your children- granted there is railing, but people have been known to be blown off the side of the mountain. Be very cautious!
  • Visit Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona, I visited the USS Missouri and spent the entire day there, learning and taking pictures! A great educational experience.
  • Go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and check out the beautiful array of colorful fish.
  • Visit the beaches of Lanikai and Kailua for a more serene experience, plan a cookout at the beach and just enjoy the day with your children and family.

These are just some of the things you can do, there are plenty more things to see and explore!

Image representing Mahalo as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

A Haole Girl’s Life

Living in Hawaii has been such a blessing and I have met so many wonderful people along the way. The spirit of Aloha is definitely instilled in the Hawaiian locals, probably even from birth. Everyone is so nice and you are treated as if you are family or even long time friends. Being from the mainland, it was a sort of culture shock for me and took some adjusting to. My husband and I moved from the Atlanta area, where we were always used to the hustle, the shopping crowds, the congested highways driving into downtown, and yes, even some rude people that have major road rage issues. So what happened to southern hospitality? I’m not sure. It has to be there somewhere, but I am thinking that the true southerners are more humble than most.

Within my first few months of living in Hawaii, I had my husband, Nakeu, who was born here in Hawaii, drive me around and play the part of “Puka Shell Tour Guide”. He drove to so many different places so I could play tourist and take pictures of some of the beaches and other sites such as the Byodo- In Temple and the Bishop Museum, which houses ancient artifacts of Hawaii’s kings and queens, and several different exhibits which helped me learn a lot about their culture and history. The museum had a dinosaur exhibit which is great fun for kids, the Hawaiian Hall, which boasts three floors that takes visitors on a journey through different realms. The first floor is the realm of Kai Akea, which represents the Hawaiian gods, legends and beliefs. The second floor Wao Kanaka, represents the realm where people live and work and also focuses on the importance of land and nature in daily life. The third floor, was called Wao Lani, and it is the realm inhabited by the gods; this is where I learned about the ali’i, or gods, and other key moments in Hawaiian history. The museum also has a sports hall of fame that displays pictures and memorabilia of Hawaii’s accomplishments in sports history.

The beaches offer you all the serenity you could ever ask for; all you have to do is just sit there on the shoreline and watch as the ocean’s waves come in, one after another. It is so peaceful. The salty spray of the water, the balmy breezes on a warm day, watching the surfers ride the swell, is so appealing at any time of the year. Since Hawaii doesn’t have your traditional changes of the season like they do in the mainland, it makes for the perfect vacation getaway. They do have a rainy season, but it really isn’t any different than any other morning or afternoon shower. Not really! It comes and goes and then the rest of your day is absolutely beautiful. I won’t try to paint a picture of Hawaii being the absolute best place for all people, but it is perfect for me and my family, even though it can be quite expensive!

If you are a foodie like myself, then you definitely need to visit! The local cuisine cannot be beat! Cinnamon’s in Kailua has the best Guava Chiffon pancakes I have ever eaten! That says something because I really don’t like guava too much nor do I particularly care for pancakes most of the time, but I will eat them on occasion. But whatever your taste buds desire, you shouldn’t have a hard time finding it here. Another local favorite spot is L & L Barbeque, they serve a variety of plate lunch specials that will make your mouth water.

Before I end this article, I have to tell you not to forget Island Snow, also located in Kailua, it is part surf shop and shave ice counters that have every conceivable flavor! It’s not a slushy or anything even close- I had one called Mele Melona and it tasted like honeydew heaven. To my surprise there was also a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the bottom! My taste buds just screamed, “Mahalo!”


English: Mother's Day card

English: Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I want to wish all the mothers out there a very special Happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy your day~ you deserve it!

I am spending my Mother’s Day with my mom today and wanted to share some photos of our morning at the beach! Have a wonderful day!

Kalama Beach, Hawaii
Flowers seen on the walking trail to Kalama Beach

My Mother Enjoying the Ocean

What a Beautiful Morning It Is!
Footprints In The Sand

Today was a beautiful day here in the islands of Hawaii. The photos below were taken with just an Iphone camera! Not bad for a cell phone camera. I would swear I was a beach bum or a mermaid in another life; as much as I love the ocean, I can never get enough of it! The water was just cold enough to be shocking to my sun kissed skin. 

The beach was full of both tourists and local people, you would think it was the weekend or summer break. I thoroughly enjoyed the cerulean blue water, the silky fine sand in between my toes, the balmy ocean breeze, and the smell of the salty air. When I go to places like this, I love to just watch people just to see what they do. Even though I live here, it’s fun to watch the keiki’s (young children) play in the water, carry their boogie boards- which looks much larger than the children. But they are having the time of their lives, trying to catch the colorful fish in their little sand buckets, building sand castles and just having fun like little kids do. They are so carefree and enjoyable to watch. This one little boy came up to me and my friend today with the biggest smile on his face, carrying a boogie board. How can you not smile back and say hello? 

Many people become so preoccupied with their own personal lives and the stress they may carry on their shoulders that they seem to forget to stop and take a look around them and consider the blessings that God has already given them. So when I feel all out of sorts and stressed, where do you think I go? I go to the beach of course! I go to my “happy place” and just sit down and watch the waves come in and go back out into the vast ocean. For me, it’s very calming and it’s almost like the waves pull all my stress and problems of the day and take it to the ocean. I hope that makes sense to whoever is reading this blog. But seriously, for me, the ocean has this peaceful way of making me feel like a brand new person. I end up being stress free and makes me feel like I can take on the world! 

These are my Monday Memories… 

Kalama Beach- Just a Walk Away and My Backyard (so to speak)

I love Hawaii, the people, the culture, and the places I can go. My Ohana is always saying I should have majored in photography in college or writing because I always have something to say. Well they were definitely right! I love taking pictures of everything from local style food, nightlife, places I have visited and even family outings to the beach. 

Living life on an island is not what some may seem to think it is. Yes, I am surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but at the same time I laugh when some people think we all live in grass shacks on the beach and have “Coconut Wireless” for communication! Personally I do not know what I would do without my Iphone or Internet. 

After visiting the many beaches on the Windward side of the island, I find myself wanting to go somewhere I have never been. New experiences = New photo opportunities! On Thursday, my husband, Michael and I will be going to Turtle Bay Resort, which is on 880 ocean front acres of the legendary North Shore. I am excited to go as it is a place I haven’t been to yet. Only 45 minutes from Waikiki and Honolulu, and some of the most beautiful cerulean waters that Oahu is known for! I am ready to immerse myself in the tranquility and laid back lifestyle that the North Shore community displays to its’ visitors on a daily basis. 

Yesterday was a great day off from my genealogy research that I have been doing practically nonstop. I just wanted to share my day with you! Located at the foot of the Ko’olau mountains in the Valley of the Temples of Kahaluu, Hawaii. The day was perfect and serene; even though it’s a popular attraction for visitors to the island of Oahu, being that I live here, I just wanted to go anyway. It’s not too far away from my home in Kailua; so it was just the three of us that went to the temple- my mom, my husband, and I had a great time feeding the Japanese koi fish while the nearby birds tried to get the food before the fish did! I can’t forget the one brave turtle that popped up in the middle of all the thrashing koi to get his share too. 

Byodo-In Temple, Hawaii
(My Personal Photo)

The Byodo-In Temple is a replica that was built in the 1960’s to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant worker that came to the Islands to work the sugar plantation fields. It is a replica of the original 950 year old temple that is located in Uji, Japan. 
Bridge to the Temple
(My Personal Photo)

In the above picture, the bridge takes you towards the temple; it was also used for the proposal scene for Sun and Jin in the ABC Television series, Lost. (House of the Rising Sun episode)

Lotus Buddha
Notice that the image is called this because the Buddha sits upon a Lotus flower.
(My Personal Photo)

The Buddha was carved by a famous Japanese sculptor by the name of Masuzo Inui, and it is an original work of art; the largest of its’ kind that was carved in over 900 years! How’s that for a little history lesson?

Enjoy your day and happy hunting!