I’ve spent the majority of my Hawaii vacations on the island of Maui, and it is my favorite of all the islands. But I have been lucky enough to visit each of the islands, most for several days and one for just a day. So I thought I would share with you my personal favorite thing to do on each Hawaiian Island.
The Island of Lanai
With only two hotels on this island, known as the Pineapple Isle, you might consider a day trip from Maui. It’s a great way to visit this tiny island, where Hulopoe Beach is my favorite thing. The marine preserve at this beach is home to tide pools, turtles and wonderful marine life. The golden sand beach is beautiful and it’s a perfect snorkel spot.
The Island of Kauai
The oldest and lushest of all the islands, beautiful and green Kauai is known as the Garden Isle. There are many amazing things to see and do on this beautiful island, but my favorite is Na Pali Coast Wilderness. There are several hikes to get into this beautiful but very remote area. However, don’t attempt hiking here unless you are an experienced hiker.
The Island of Hawaii
The Big Island is the youngest of the inhabited island and is an amazing sight with the recent lava flows and stark and barren landscape. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is amazing, but my favorite thing to do on the Big Island is to do a night swim with the manta rays in Kona. Swimming with the manta rays is one of the most amazing things I have ever done.
The Island of Oahu
The most populous of the islands, nicknamed The Gathering Place, Oahu is home to the state capital of Honolulu. This is the first island I visited back in 1977 and I fell in love with Hawaii. There are so many things to do on this island, but it is also very crowded with tourists. Shopping and dining are popular and of course going to the beach and snorkeling. I loved the quieter and more laid back North shore. But my favorite thing I have ever done on this island is hike up the Koko Head stairs. This “hike” is a scramble up a very steep, uneven, ancient railroad track. It’s 1048 stairs up. It is hard but it’s still my favorite thing to do on Oahu.
The Island of Molokai
The Friendly Isle is very much that. This island feels the most like what I imagine Hawaii was sixty or so years ago. There is lots to do on The Friendly Isle, but my favorite thing, unfortunately is currently closed. Taking a mule ride down to the Kalaupapa Leper Colony is an amazing experience. The history is fascinating and the beauty is sublime. I hope this attraction can reopen. You can get to the colony by flying, but the mule ride is just so awesome. While on Molokai be sure to visit Kamoi Snack-n-Go ice cream shop! It’s owned by my dear friend Kimberly and you will love the ice cream!
The Island of Maui
Maui no ka oi. The Valley Isle. My favorite island and one of my favorite places in the world. I love Maui. I just tried to count how many times I have visited Maui and I think it’s about 8…but maybe 10. Anyway in all those visits we have done pretty much every attraction and seen every destination there is. I have a favorite beach (Keawakapu), a favorite restaurant (Mama’s Fish House), a favorite place to run (Wailea Beach), a favorite hike (La Perouse), a favorite farmers market (Upcountry), a favorite snorkel spot (Blackrock Kaanapali) and a favorite public golf course (Maui Nui). I even have a favorite yoga studio (Maui Yoga Path).
But what is my most favorite thing to do on the beautiful Valley Isle? Absolutely Nothing. I love to sit with my morning coffee or my afternoon gin and listen to the waves and breath the clean fresh air and count my blessings.
I looked forward to this book by Lisa Wingate, because I really enjoyed her earlier work Before We Were Yours. Once again Wingate takes a significant event in history and creates a fictional tale that brings the reader back in time. The Book of Lost Friends provides a wonderful history lesson. Here is my Book Review of The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate.
There are two parallel stories in The Book of Lost Friends. The first follows Hannie, a former slave girl in 1875 as she becomes entangled in a sinister crime ring. During this adventure she discovers a newspaper that provides former slaves an opportunity to place ads looking for lost family members separated during slavery. The ads become what drives Hannie to survive the adventure she is snared in along side her mistress Lavinia and Juneau Jane, Lavinia’s mulatto half sister. The women begin to collect stories as they travel and The Book of Lost Friends begins to emerge.
First year teacher Benny, finds herself in a back water Louisiana school in 1987 with little funds, direction or motivation for the poor and forgotten children of the town…many descendants of slaves. The town is suspicious of Benny and her unconventional teaching ideas and throw roadblocks in her way at every turn. Until she befriends the local heir to the former glorious town plantation with centuries of history connecting nearly everyone in town
The stories of these two women will merge in a history lesson for both the town and the reader of The Book of Lost Friends. Once again I have really enjoyed Wingate’s ability to to take the reader on a historical journey with interesting and engaging characters and a happy ending .
*****Five stars for The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate
As an adult I look back on so many fond memories of my 1960’s and 70’s childhood, including Halloween. As soon as school began in September we began thinking about and planning for that big day. We always made our own costumes just from found things around the house…never sewing anything elaborate and NEVER purchasing anything from a store.
Halloween When I Was a Kid
Unfortunately my parents were not big photo takers so I have only one photo I know of, of me with my siblings on Halloween. That was the year my sister proclaimed she was going to be the Fairy Godmother and I was going to be Cinderella in rags. Okay fine. My brother was a “hippie” and my littlest brother was a cowboy. It was a time in life when it didn’t take a lot ot make us happy.
In highschool and even college we celebrated the holiday with homemade costumes but the trick or treating gave way to parties. Here I’m sharing a few photos I pulled up from those days.
Halloween When My Kids Were Little
When my kids were little I made their costumes most years and we had a lot of fun with Halloween as a family. In the 1990’s when my kids were young, trick or treating was still safe and the school always had a special event with costumes.
Today fewer kids wander the neighborhoods, but with Covid it’s hard to imagine that communities and malls will be holding their annual gatherings. I feel so sad for the little kids of 2020.
The History of Holidays
I’ve always been fascinated with our our holidays evolved into what we accept today as normal, ever since I discovered that Santa Claus is a fairly new invention. So I have over the years gathered lots of fun information about holiday rituals and their evoloution.
Halloween Began 2000 Years Ago
The origin of Halloween can be traced 2000 years years ago to the Celtic festival called Samhain. This festival was a celebration to ward off ghosts and included costumes and bon fires.
In the 8th Century Pope Gregory III declared that November 1st would be All Saints Day to remember all Catholic Saints and the Samhain festival the day before became known as All Hallows Eve.
November 1st was also considered the New Year to the Celts and was marked as the end of the harvest and bounty and the beginning of the dark days of winter, a time of hunger and death.
The Druids (Celtic Priests) gave the Celtic people guidance during this time, when all believed the ghosts were responsible for failed crops, poor health and bad weather. The Druids built bon fires and everyone dressed in costumes to scare away the ghosts. Crops and animals were sacrificed.
Rome, Of Course, Intervened
When the Romans conquered this region, the Samhain festival merged with Feralia, a Roman festival similar to Day of the Dead; and Pomona, a celebration of the apple harvest (assumed to be where bobbing for apples comes from).
By the 9th century the Celtic lands had become Christian and the November 2nd Christian holiday All Souls Day merged with All Hallows Even (Alholowmesse) and the costume tradition expanded.
Welcome to America
Colonial America celebrated this holiday, despite the New England Protestant objection due to the pagan origins. As immigrants from many nations came together, the American version of the holiday emerged.
Outdoor parties, bon fires, scary stories, fortune telling, pranks, games, music and dancing were all part of the early American celebration. By the early 1800’s most communities celebrated an Autumn festival but Halloween as we know it was still a ways away.
Irish Americans Bring the Tradition
As Irish immigrants flooded America in the late 19th century, with them came many of the traditions we today associate with Halloween in the USA. This included costumes, Trick-or-Treat for food or money, and the focus of the holiday became more about children.
But in the 1920’s and 30’s vandals hijacked the holiday with pranks and sometimes drunken violence and many gatherings stopped. By the 1950’s local towns redirected the holiday back to family-focused and encouraged family gatherings. Trick-or-Treating was revived.
Small homemade treats gave way to store bought candy in the 1960’s when parents feared for their children eating anything they didn’t know the source of. Today 6 billion dollars are spent annually on Halloween and it is the biggest candy buying time of the year in the USA.
Both children and adults dress up annually, with many adults wearing costumes to their jobs. Halloween parties for kids and adults happen in the weeks ahead of the actual Halloween night.
Halloween is the second biggest commercial holiday after Christmas in the USA.
My first book by this author and I really loved her writing. Here is my book review of Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.
An epic story of the life of Sunja a young Korean teenager living on a tiny island off the coast of Busan, Korea. Pachinko chronicles her extraordinary life of survival.
In the early 1900’s Sujan is a beloved only child of two hard working parents. When her father dies Sujan and her mother run the local boarding house alone. But when a rich and smooth talking stranger gets Sujan pregnant life will never be the same. Shamed when her lover confesses to already being married, Sujan accepts a marraige proposal from a sickly minister who wants to save her from the shame. And thus begins the saga of her life as Isak’s wife, her love for her sun Noa from the other man, and the lifetime of regrets, hardships and coincidences.
Isak and Sunjan move to Osaka Japan, where Isak takes a position in a church. Here they will raise their family until Isak is arrested during a time where Korean’s were treated horribly and often thrown in jail or worse. Isak spends several years in jail and eventually will die.
Sunjan learns her former married lover has been watching out for her and her family and he helps them in ways she doesn’t even know to keep their heads above water during the terrible years of World War II. Eventually learning of his generosity Sujan wants nothing to do with him and to keep him away from both of her sons.
But secrets are hard to keep and eventually all the secrets tumble down to mix with the incredible racism towards Koreans by the Japanese, the economic situation during and following the war, and a general hard scrabble life Koreans endured in Japan.
This story will have you sobbing with sorrow, cheering for justice and holding out hope for this family, it’s numerous members and their love and faith and perseverance. Heartfelt and personal, Pachinko is a brilliant look into life in Japan for the thousands of Koreans who immigrated there and their descendants. And Sujan is a heroine to respect.
Here we are. Day ten already, Maui Musings on Island Time. So blessed to be here and feel safe and healthy here. Realizing now how hard hit this place is economically. I’m glad we didn’t cancel and can contribute in a little way to bringing it back to life. Here is our story, day ten.
Getting Here Wasn’t Easy
We came so close to canceling so many times. We didn’t want to lose any more travel money, and we had made these reservations so long ago…back in the days of carefree travel and no pandemics.
Neither myself or my husband had received our negative test by the time we boarded the plane. On arrival my negative test was in my inbox. Arne was still waiting. In fact he would wait another 12 hours until it arrived. So Hawaii told him to go into quarantine and stay put. When his tests arrived he immediately uploaded it to the Hawaii website per all the instructions but it would be another 36 hours before he received his official release from quarantine. My advice would be NOT to come unless you can get the rapid test because the red tape seems to be taking a long time. We talked to a woman today who has been waiting four days…and she is ignoring quarantine.
By the way when Arne received the email that he was free to leave quarantine we ran down the stairs and jumped in the ocean. A perfect celebration.
Where We Are
We call it the Lund Condo, owned by Arne’s uncle, at the Kihei Surfside, as far south as you can go in Kihei at the Wailea entrance. We have been here many times over the past 23 years. It’s a remarkable place and we are blessed to have access to it. The view is unsurpassed. In fact the unit had some major work done to it last February, and then everything shut down. So we are the first guests to enjoy all the new and beautiful tile work.
Since we have been here so many times, we know the area well and it feels like home turf. We are very sad to see one of our favorite restaurants next door has permanently closed. I know there are more too that didn’t survive the shut down.
Even though we have been here many times, we have never stayed as long as we will stay this time. It will really feel like home by the time we say Aloha in late November.
What’s Open What’s Not
Since we were one of the very first visitors to arrive on opening day, the first two days the island was so quiet. Our condo which has 85 units only had one other occupied unit. The beach was empty.
Ten days later the condo now has about a dozen occupied units but the beach and pool are still lightly populated. When walking around most people are wearing a mask, but not at the beach where it is very easy to distance. Everyone is masked up inside the stores. But if I’m being honest here, visitors are more resolute with mask wearing than locals…so far.
The large and fancy resorts near us in Wailea are all closed, with opening dates in early November. There is a beehive of activity at these resorts as the staff prepares the grounds and insides for guests. There have been no guests since March.
Small restaurants are open, but most of the large restaurants are still closed. The famous Mama’s Fish House is scheduled to open November 6th. Old Lahaina Luau is scheduled to open November 20th. Today for the first time we saw some snorkel tours heading out from the harbor next to our condo. Slowly, slowly things will come back to life.
We have not been to any restaurants. We went to the grocery store on our first day and stocked up and went again today on day ten. We have been cooking and eating clean and healthy and delicious.
We have been running and doing yoga on our own each day…very easy to distance. In the past I have taken yoga classes here but this time I will continue my own practice to be safe and solo.
We took a hike where we saw only three other people. We went golfing and it was easy to distance. So far, we have just done a lot of things quiet and easy. Beach time, pool too. All distanced. Feeling safe and healthy. In fact, it’s really not any different than home…well except the weather. That’s a lot different.
We have several friends on the island, some from back home and some who are here permanently. We plan to get together with them, in pairs so to keep it easy to distance. We hope to invite several couples over to watch the sunset with us here at the Kihei Surfside. It’s a great place and makes a perfect evening with friends…distanced of course.
Social Media Purge
Over the past ten days I have had great success staying off social media…it’s actually easier than I thought it would be. I’ve checked in a couple of times, but not every five minutes per usual, and it feels good to just take a break. My blog posts will continue to post automatically and I will check in from time to time.
Meanwhile, time for a gin and tonic I think. A little Aloha and down time is just what the doctor ordered. Maui Musings, on island time. Wish you were here….
Hiking is one of our most favorite activities and it is so good for you too. We love everything from walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain (almost 500 miles) to short day hikes close to home. Spending our summers in the Pacific Northwest where we grew up, we are spoiled by so many great day hikes close by. So I thought I would put together a list of my favorite day hikes in the Pacific Northwest.
Definitely one of the most beautiful places to hike anywhere in the world, the Olympic Peninsula is the closest to my home of the regions I’ve listed here. Located in Washington State’s upper Northwest region, it offers both day and overnight hiking options for the novice to the advanced. Listed here are a handful of my favorite day hikes on the Olympic Peninsula.
Beautiful and relatively easy with minimal incline (there is some but nothing too strenuous) this well-maintained trail skirts the South Fork of the Skokomish River in a region just Southwest of the lower Hood Canal. To walk the entire out and back it can be eleven miles or a bit more, or turn around at any point. Keep your eyes open for some beautiful and massive old cedar and Douglas fir trees. There are a handful of areas to access the river for your picnic or a place to rest and enjoy this peaceful location.
Parking is available
Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass Required
We hiked this for the first time this past July and it is a climb! If you don’t want incline this one is not for you. But boy do you get some beautiful views from the top. The trail is steep and in places rocky as you traverse the 2 miles to the top. It’s popular on weekends so consider off season or mid-week. The last part to the peak requires use of ropes to conquer the top. Or just sit on the rocks and eat your lunch and let the young kids do that last part.
Parking is available at the Crescent Lake parking area
I have hiked this trail all my life, since I was a little child and we used to hike overnight for our summer vacation. Some elevation to lower Lena, but it’s a perfect day hike at about 7 miles round trip. The incline is gentle and most anyone can do it. The trail does have some rocky areas and lots of roots but you will marvel at the beautiful old growth Douglas Firs. The turquoise blue lake is perfect for your lunch and then head back down. Overnight hikers can consider continuing on to upper Lena another xx miles.
Northwest Forest pass or America the Beautiful Pass required
Visitors and locals in the Seattle area are lucky to have great day hikes a short drive or even a walk away. We often urban hike around Seattle and Ballard or head east of the city into the Cascade foothills for easy, accessible hikes.
A hidden gem in the City of Seattle, Discovery Park is just that – a surprising discovery! Suddenly you find yourself in a beautiful wooded park, on a bluff high above the Puget Sound or on the shore of a driftwood-littered beach. If you are in Seattle and are looking for the perfect day hike close to the city, this is it. Multiple hiking options through out this beautiful 534 acre city oasis. Who knew day hikes in the Pacific Northwest would include one in the heart of a city?
Less than an hour East of Seattle just off Interstate 90 is an easy little 2 mile hike to Franklin Falls on Denny Creek. This popular day trip from Seattle can get really crowded on a summer weekend. But check it out in the fall for a beautiful getaway with fall color, or in the spring when the falls are crashing from the winter melt. It’s a great multi-season destination and perfect for the whole family.
Washington State Discover Pass or Day Pass required
The North side of Mount Rainier is easily accessed from central and south Puget Sound and is one of my most favorite places to hike. There are many choices but the ones listed below are some of my favorite.
I love this hike, even though the road getting to the trailhead can be rough. Start at the Mowich Lake campground and hike the 7 miles round trip to one of the best views in all of Washington State. Passing by Eunice Lake and continuing up to an abandoned fire look out where you will not only enjoy a stunning Mount Rainier view but on a clear day you will also see Mount Baker, Glacier Peak and Mount Saint Helens.
This trail also begins at Mowich Lake on the south end. The first quarter mile your are walking on the Wonderland trail before the Spray Park trail branches off. This trail (6 miles RT) takes you through a beautiful and delicate sub-alpine meadows and along to Spray Falls. In late summer an abundance of wildflowers make the trail popular especially on the weekend. Gentle incline and this is easy for most anyone.
On a clear day you can see forever. No joke. This hike is worth the elevation gain of about 1300 feet over about 3 miles. It’s just gorgeous. The road to get there is not so gorgeous though so be sure to have a all-wheel drive if possible. The road often has snow into June. The best time to hike here is June through October.
Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass required.
The Mount Rainier gondola at Crystal Mountain ski resort is open in the summer and zips you up 2400 feet to the top of the ski area for a spectacular view. On a clear day you can see a succession of mountains including Rainier, Saint Helens, Adams and Baker through out the Cascade range. Hikers can hike down the mountain enjoying the wildlife and subalpine meadows, small lakes and creeks along the way or you can ride the gondola back down.
Gondola price ranges from $19-34. Online reservations are available.
More remote than the North side of Mount Rainier, the Southside, including the Sunrise Visitor Center, has fewer visitors so is a good choice during peak season. But it does take longer to get there. Overnight in the Ashford or Packwood area makes for a nice multi-day visit.
We just did this hike for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I loved it. The weather was not very cooperative however, so we did only about five miles. This trail, part of the Pacific Coast Trail, goes on and on, and I really would like to return and see more of it next summer. The first part up to Sheep Lake is very easy as the trail wanders along the ridge and then inland to the lake. Continuing on you have several options to Sourdough Gap as well as Crystal Lake. This hike skirts Mount Rainier National Park and falls within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
We had the place to ourselves on a fairly stormy fall day, but this hike can be very busy on a nice summer weekend. Consider midweek or fall. The fall colors were excellent.
America the Beautiful or Northwest Forest Pass Required
On this five mile hike that leaves from the Sunrise Visitor Center in Mount Rainier National Park you will get as close as possible to Mount Rainier without actually climbing the mountain. There are three Burroughs peaks on this hike, and snow is often on or near the trail well into the summer months so come prepared. It feels like a moonscape, and yet a few flowers and plants flourish as do several small mammals.
This very easy 3 mile round trip hike starts at the Ohanapekosh campground and leads you to one of the prettiest waterfalls in Mount Rainier National Park. Easy meandering trail through beautiful forest, offers a great option for families or those looking for less incline with a big impact. Spectacular hike.
One of the most magical hikes in Mount Rainier, Grove of the Patriarchs is a wonderland of old growth trees, some as old as 1000 years. This easy 1.5 mile round trip hike can be done by anyone, including children. It’s a remarkable oasis of nature’s beauty and a reminder of the importance of preservation and care of our natural wonders.
This beautiful alpine trail is 8.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2100 feet as you traverse from wildflower meadows up into subalpine tundra admiring views of Mount Rainier along the way. Steady incline and occasional rough trail make this better for more experienced hikers. Snow can be present into early summer. Very popular on weekends and parking is limited so come midweek, fall or early in the day.
There are many more hiking options both for day and overnight that I have not listed here including trails North and farther South. Two great websites to learn more about day hikes in the Pacific Northwest are Alltrails.com and Washington Trails Association wta.org.
Be sure to check the weather before setting off on any hike in the Pacific Northwest, as even in the summer it can be unpredictable. Be prepared to encounter wildlife, bring bug spray and sunscreen and plenty of water. And always make sure someone knows where you are going.
With a little preparation, day hikes in the Pacific Northwest are rewarding, invigorating and always stunningly beautiful. Go outside!
This will be a short review. I didn’t like this book. Yawn… here is my book review of The Choice by Nicholas Sparks.
Usually I would put down a book like this, or more likely never start it. But I needed a read and this was all I had at the moment. I know Nicholas Sparks is beloved by many readers, but for me, this is not my kind of book.
Predictable to peril, sappy and silly, the story of two neighbors who fall in love, marry, have kids, endure a tragedy but live happily ever after was boring. I knew at every page what was going to happen next.
My apologies to all those Sparks lovers…I know he has millions of fans. But I need a more challenging read and don’t plan to read anymore by this author.
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