Down on the Ranch on Hawaii Island

Once past the magnificent Kohala coastline and away from the massive black lava fields, Hawaii Island offers many unique adventures for visitors. One such experience is found in and around the quaint town of Waimea.

This vibrant community is set in the green, rolling hills of the Island and is the home of paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys), astronomers, farmers, business and medical professionals, educators, country stores and restaurants, schools, and Parker Ranch.

Founded in 1847 by John Palmer Parker, the ranch comprises about 250,000 acres, making it one of the oldest and largest spreads in the United States. Because Parker rid the Island of wild cattle that were troublesome to the native population and destroyed their crops in the early 1800s, King Kamehameha I granted to him land that would become Parker Ranch.

The last owner of the massive property was actor and sixth generation heir Richard Smart, who died in 1992.  The ranch was then placed in the Parker Ranch Foundation Trust, which, today, oversees the large-scale cattle and farm operations.

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Parker Ranch on Hawaii Island is one of the oldest and largest spreads in the U.S. Rodeos and wrangling contests are often held at the ranch.

Two of the ranch’s historic homes are open for self-guided and private tours, featuring family heirlooms, antiques, artwork, and everyday ranch life artifacts.  There is also a visitor center in Waimea that presents information on the early days of the community.

Horseback riding and game-managed hunting excursions are also offered year-round on the ranch.  And there is an arena, where Hawaii Island paniolos often compete to demonstrate their horsemanship and cattle roping abilities.  Every 4th of July and Labor Day, the ranch hosts its own rodeo that draws thousands of visitors and participants.

The Activities Center at the Royal Kona Resort can guide you to this interesting part of Hawaii Island, where you can find unusual beauty in the windswept grasslands and an entirely new perspective of Hawaiian life here.

 

 

Adventures in Paradise: Hawaii Island

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Green sea turtles are often found on the black sand beaches of Hawaii Island, basking in the warm sun.

All of the Hawaiian Islands are unique and certainly beautiful, but the youngest of them all—Hawaii Island—is truly special.  No place else on Earth gives you an opportunity to swim with manta rays, horseback ride, rodeo or go on a cattle drive.  Here, you can whale watch, walk through magnificent lava tubes, see molten lava streaming into the ocean, experience a black sand beach, and watch green sea turtles basking in the warm sun.  You can marvel at a 420-foot waterfall, gaze at the galaxies from one of the best vantage points on the planet, learn how famous Kona coffee is made or visit unbelievable ancient and historic sites.

And this is just the beginning.  If golf or beaching it suits you, Hawaii Island has some of the best in the world.  If art and crafts turn your head, you will find an amazing array of paintings, sculptures, glassware, and distinctly hand-crafted jewelry and wooden koa bowls in many places around the Island.

You will also discover a number of museums that contain art exhibits and artifact collections from the 1800s, such as at the famed Lyman Mission House in Hilo.  Water sports and deep sea fishing are renowned here.   Even the Ironman Triathlon challenges athletes each year at this destination.

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The exciting “Voyagers of the Pacific” luau and show at the Royal Kona Resort is not to be missed.

Then, there are the luaus and shows, such as the spectacular “Voyagers of the Pacific” at the iconic Royal Kona Resort of gorgeous Kailua Bay.   The East Hawaii Cultural Center in Hilo is a terrific location to take in some live performances of the Island’s finest artists, singers, and dancers. 

There is a lot more to see and do on Hawaii Island, but let’s just say this is an incredible place to explore. With your headquarters during your stay at the Royal Kona Resort, we can guide you and help you discover new adventures of almost any description; memories you will cherish forever.

Maui’s Top Five Beaches

Hawaii is truly a beach lover’s Paradise, where there are hundreds of sandy spots to enjoy the warm sun and almost limitless water activities. On Maui alone, there are 40 beaches that offer something for everyone, but we’re going to look at what are generally considered the top five; some among the finest in the world.

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Famous, 1.5-mile stretch of Kaanapali Beach fronts the Royal Lahaina Resort on Maui, where the golden sands and water activities are among the best in the world.

Let’s start with our own Kaanapali Beach that fronts the Royal Lahaina Resort. This famous, 1.5-mile stretch of golden sand was once a retreat for Hawaii’s Alii (royalty). Today’s visitors can enjoy everything from lounging around to sandcastle building, surfing, volleyball, catamaran sailing, boogie boarding, snorkeling, scuba, and much more.

A few hundred yards from the Royal Lahaina Resort is Black Rock, which separates Kaanapali from Kahekili Beach. This is an ideal snorkeling and scuba diving spot; however, underwater lava rocks and strong currents make it dangerous for swimmers.  On the other hand, the nice sand beach is a great place for picnicking.

There is a fine swimming spot close by in Lahaina at Napili Bay. The large expanse of golden sand and calm waters are made for families wanting to spend the day at the beach.

Moving south, Keawakapu Beach is sandwiched between Wailea and Kihei.  This secluded spot is a great getaway from the more populated beach areas.  Here, you can count on good swimming conditions year-round.  There’s also great snorkeling near a close-by reef. Plus, the soft, white sand is ideal for the sun worshipers and sandcastle builders.

To the north of the Royal Lahaina Resort, is Kapalua Beach with its beautiful sand and protected bay, which is surrounded by swaying palm trees and lava rock.  With its gentle surf for swimming and the fun tide pools, Kapalua is a favorite of families with young children. During the winter months, you can often see huge whales making their way to deeper waters.

You really can’t go wrong with Hawaii beaches and Maui has some of the best.

Discover the Beaches of Hawaii Island

The “Big Island” of Hawaii is unique in the Hawaiian chain, with everything from soft sand beaches to jagged volcanic lava fields, lush vegetation to rugged mountains.  In all, picturesque Hawaii Island is one of a kind, which may be why it’s also called the “Island of Discovery.”

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Hawaii Island beaches come in a variety of colors, including white, green, and the famous black sand variety, which just add to the uniqueness of this beautiful destination.

If you are a beach lover, Hawaii Island’s white, black, and green sand beaches are calling.  Some of the beaches are in resort areas, while others are hidden in remote places, where you may find the only other living creatures on land there are the sea turtles.

On the popular Kohala Coast, you can find the largest stretch of white sand on the Island at Hapuna Beach.  Anaehoomalu Beach is great for picnicking and tons of water activities, plus, there’s a historic Hawaiian fishpond right alongside.  One of the best locations is the crescent-shaped Kaunaoa Beach, where its calm waters are a favorite for swimmers.

Holoholokai has a small beach that’s not sandy, but it’s ideal for snorkeling and exploring the area’s tide pools.  It’s also near a petroglyph preserve where hundreds of ancient lava carvings can be found.

In the northern part of the Kohala Coast, you will find the popular Samuel Spencer Beach Park, which is the perfect spot for reef-protected swimming and snorkeling.  There are lots of tables and BBQ grills, as well, and it’s within walking distance of the national historic Puukolola Heiau site.

Just south of Kailua-Kona, home of the Royal Kona Resort, is Kahalulu Beach in the Keauhou area, which is great for snorkeling beach for humans and lounging spot frequented by Hawaiian green sea turtles. Laalao Beach, also known as Disappearing Sands and Magic Sands, is near the Royal Kona and is a wonderful place for body-surfing and bogie-boarding. This small beach may disappear overnight due to tidal shifts or strong surf, but it always returns.

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Green sea turtles come ashore to bask in the warm, black sands of Hawaii Island.

The east or Hilo side of the island also has terrific beaches and parks, where exploration and picnicking are at their best.  Here, you’ll find jungles running to the ocean, waterfalls, tide pools, good snorkeling sites, and the famous black sand beach, where Hawaiian green sea turtles come shore to bask in the warm sun.

The Activity Center at the Royal Kona Resort can help you discover the best spots for swimming, sunning, surfing, snorkeling, scuba, kayaking, picnicking, and much more on Hawaii Island.

‘World’s Best Mai Tai’ Announced at Don the Beachcomber Festival

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Hundreds enjoyed the 8th Annual Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival in August, where bartenders from around the world vied for the $10,000 top prize and title as the “World’s Best Mai Tai.”

Every August for the past eight years, the iconic on the “Big Island” of Hawaii pays homage to the legendary Mai Tai cocktail.  Hundreds of visitors gather at the resort on beautiful Kailua Bay in Kona for a fun filled Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival.

The day begins at 11 a.m. with the Battle of the BBQ.   Local restaurants and chefs competed for the title of “World’s Best BBQ.” This year’s Judges winner was Cool Runnings Catering of Kailua-Kona, which received a 5-night stay for two in a deluxe ocean view room at the Royal Lahaina Resort on Maui, a luau for two, round of golf for two at one of the neighboring courses, and a $500 food and beverage credit at the resort.  The People’s Choice award went to Umeke Restaurant, also from Kailua-Kona.

 

While the BBQ competition was heating up, the Mai Tai Marketplace was opened for all to enjoy the arts, crafts and products of local vendors and artisans from throughout Hawaii.  The delicious island produce and other food treats tantalized for every palette.

Grammy-nominated musician Henry Kapono and his band took center stage at the Royal Kona Resort’s main swimming pool in the early afternoon for a free concert.  Guests kicked back with their own Mai Tais and relaxed to the island rhythms of this world renowned, award winning performer.

The main event started at 4:30 p.m. at the resort’s Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Bar.  The Mai Tai Mix-off attracted over 20 bartenders and Mai Tai aficionados from many parts of the globe, all vying for the prestigious title as the creator of the “World’s Best Mai Tai.”

The First Place, $10,000 winner and new title holder was Art Deakins from Bar Leather Apron in Honolulu, HI.  Second place and $5,000 went to Tim Rita of the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, NV.  The third place prize of $2,500 was awarded to Kevin Beary of Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, IL.  Contestant Carl Kimura of 3 Fat Pigs in Waikoloa won a free, 7-night stay in a one-bedroom suite of his choice at any Diamond Resort in the United States valued at up to $6,300.

Throughout the Mai Tai competition, an enthusiastic audience cheered their favorite mixologists in a rousing tribute to the classic rum drink.  The bartender concoctions were judged by a special panel based on taste, creativity, and name in the wild, 3-hour contest that produced lots of laughs and some amazing recipes.

And, after the Mix-off, visitors stuck around at Don’s Mai Tai Bar to reflect on a fabulous day and take in the sun setting over the blue Pacific.  It’s a full day of merriment that shouldn’t be missed next year.

For more information, go to www.donsmaitaifest.com or www.royalkona.com.

 

6th Annual Maui Jazz & Blues Festival

Warm surf, golden sand, and hot sounds will greet those attending the 6th Annual Maui Jazz & Blues Festival at the Royal Lahaina Resort September 10, 2016 on spectacular Kaanapali Beach.  A star-studded show of top Jazz and Blues artists will emanate from the resort’s oceanfront stage from 5 to 9 p.m.  Gates open at 4:30 p.m.

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The 6th Annual Maui Jazz & Blues Festival is set for September 10, 2016 at the oceanfront Royal Lahaina Resort on famous Kaanapali Beach, featuring top artists to heat up the night.

A who’s who list of musicians will thrill the audience, including blues guitar legend and Blues Hall of Famer Joe Louis Walker, jazz guitarists Larry Coryell and Benny Uyetake, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, Grammy-winners The Band Courtbouillon, saxophone masters Javon Jackson and Rock Hendricks, jazz trumpeter Gabriel Mark Hasselbach, and many others to be announced.

This amazing night of hot sounds under the stars, overlooking the beautiful Pacific is just $50 per person for general admission, $100 for Premiere VIP seats, and $1,000 for Premiere VIP tables for 10.  This event is always a sellout.  To purchase tickets and for more information on the Festival itself, go online to www.mauijazzandbluesfestival.com.

To round out the weekend, the Royal Lahaina is presenting a special Jazz Brunch, featuring some of the Festival artists and The Jazz Alley TV Trio on Sunday, September 11. The meal will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All of the action will be at the Royal Lahaina Resort at 2780 Kekaa Drive, Lahaina, HI. For JAZZFEST room rates at the property, call 808-661-3611.

 

‘Big Island’ Golf to Remember

The “Big Island” of Hawaii has been called the “Golf Capital of Hawaii” for good reason.  There are 16 public courses throughout the beautifully diverse island, including many, magnificent resort courses along the famous Kohala Coast that shouldn’t be missed.

If you’re a serious golfer or just want to experience some of the best golf in the Islands, make sure your bucket list has on it: Mauna Kea Golf Course, Waikoloa Beach Resort’s two courses, the two courses at Mauna Lani Resort, the Big Island Country Club, and the Kona Country Club.  Each is uniquely designed, offering postcard perfect signature holes and lots of challenges for all skill levels.

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Golfers on Hawaii’s “Big Island” can experience magnificent ocean views on courses cut into ancient lava fields. Other venues run into the hills, overlooking the blue Pacific. It just doesn’t get much better than this.

Often cutting through lava fields and jetting into the blue Pacific, these courses will take your breath away (and probably a few golf balls).  Away from the ocean and at 2,000 feet in elevation, the Big Island Country Club is in the foothills of 14,000-foot Mauna Kea Volcano, with the Kona coastline below.  Also in the mountainous area above Kona is Makalei Golf Club, with its 900-foot elevation changes.  It just doesn’t get much better than these venues for golfers.

The Royal Kona Resort is the perfect headquarters for your golf adventures on Hawaii Island. You can arrange tees through the resort’s Activity Center and, after your rounds, relax at Don’s Mai Tai Bar overlooking Kailua Bay or dine at Don the Beachcomber’s restaurant or take in the amazing “Voyagers of the Pacific” luau spectacular.

For more information on the resort, go to www.royalkona.com.

 

Maui: The Valley of Golf

The Valley Isle of Maui is a golf nirvana, boasting some of the finest courses in Hawaii.  The resort areas of west and south Maui are beautiful and challenging, but the Maui airport side of the island offers some outstanding links, as well. You could golf every day for nearly two weeks and never play the same course twice.

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Two of the Kaanapali golf courses are next to the Royal Lahaina Resort and feature holes right down to the ocean or spectacular mountain views.

Adjacent to the Royal Lahaina Resort on the golden sand of Kaanapali Beach, there are two championship courses—Royal Kaanapali, which runs along the ocean, and the Kaanapali Kai that moves up the nearby mountainside for some spectacular elevation changes. Staying at the resort can get you some good rates, including a special golf package and free club rentals.  For details, go to www.royallahaina.com.

Northwest, a few miles from the Royal Lahaina, is the famous Kapalua Resort, which features the professional-grade Plantation Course, where the PGA’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions is played.  The Bay Course will also stir your Tour ambitions and test your golfing skills.

South of the Royal Lahaina is the lesser-known, but terrific Maui Nui Golf Club.  Located in Kihei, you will enjoy the venue that is suited for all levels of play.

Further down Maui’s west coast is Wailea with three fantastic courses.  You can immerse yourself in golf for several days at the Gold, Emerald and Old Blue courses for unforgettable play.

Next up is the private King Kamehameha Golf Club and its sister Kahili Golf Course.  The King Kam does allow outside play and shouldn’t be missed, if you’re a serious duffer.

Across Maui toward the Kahului Airport side is the Dunes at Maui Lani, which is a links-style course at the base of a mountain.  The sand dune terrain and elevation changes make for a nice change up from the ocean venues on the island’s west coast.

Near the airport is Pukalani Country Club with its tree-lined Par 3 course that will test your short game.  There’s one hole that features two greens and an interesting risk-reward approach option.

If you have a golf bucket list, there is plenty to fill it on Maui. The Royal Lahaina Resort, in the heart of Maui’s golf country, is an ideal headquarters and the resort’s Activity Center can make all of your golf dreams come true.

 

‘House of the Sun’ Welcomes Visitors

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Sunrise atop Haleakala is an almost mystical experience, as magnificent colors emerge from the crater floor.

Haleakala, called “House of the Sun” by Hawaiians, is actually a massive shield volcano that makes up 75 percent of the island of Maui.  It’s also one of the top visitor attractions for hikers, nature lovers, campers, star gazers, horseback riders, and those who simply appreciate magnificent views of the island and the skies above it.

Ancient Hawaiian legend says the powerful demi-god named Maui lassoed and held the sun captive until it agreed to go more slowly over the crater each day.  Who is to say? But what can’t be denied is that the sunrises crawling up the slopes of Haleakala are truly spectacular and draw thousands of visitors each year.

At its highest point, the in-active volcano is 10,023 feet above sea level.  From the peak’s summit, you can look down into the huge crater that is seven miles across, two miles wide, and 2,600 feet deep.  The surrounding walls are steep and the interior is mostly barren-looking with some scattered volcanic cones. Nonetheless, some unique plants and animals have evolved here and cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.

Haleakala National Park surrounds and incorporates Haleakala, encompassing a total of over 30,000 acres; two-thirds of which is wilderness. To the southeast is Kipahulu Valley and Oheo Gulch (and pools), extending to the shoreline in the Kipahulu area. From Haleakala’s summit, there are two main trails leading into the crater: Sliding Sands Trail and Halemauu Trail.

Because the daytime and evening temperatures vary so dramatically, take warm clothing if you’ll be there before sunrise and after dusk.  There are some simple cabins for overnight renters, but there are no gas or food outlets in the park, so stock up before taking the trek.

You’ll want to come before the glorious sunrise and stay after the sun comes up for an amazing show of color that spreads across Haleakala’s vast landscape.  The Activity Centers at the Royal Lahaina Resort can arrange your adventure to the House of the Sun.

 

 

 

Hawaii’s Marine Life on Display

fish3Each year, thousands of visitors of all ages from around the world come to the spectacular Maui Ocean Center just south of the Royal Lahaina Resort.  Perched above beautiful Maalaea Harbor, with spectacular ocean views as the perfect backdrop, the aquarium is a wonderful place to encounter the amazing sea life found in the Islands, including about a quarter of the species only found in Hawaii. Guests will also discover the importance of the ocean and its creatures to the Hawaiian people.

Since its opening in 1998, the Center has faithfully created an environment that fosters an understanding and Turtle-Reefappreciation of Hawaii’s marine animals.  There are hundreds of tropical reef fish, octopus, moray eels, sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, sea jellyfish and lots more amazingly colorful and unique ocean specimens.

Here, Hawaii’s natural ocean ecosystem is presented in a warm, inviting setting that features over 60 exhibits of live corals, interactive displays, touch pools, and a 750,000-gallon “Open Ocean” aquarium with a 240-degree, acrylic tunnel.  There are daily interactive presentations by marine experts at various times throughout the Center, plus behind-the-scenes tours, turtle encounters, presentations by special guest speakers, and other educational programs to delight and inform the entire family.

For the more adventurous, some visitors can actually swim with the sharks, stingrays and thousands of tropical fish in the Shark Dive Maui®.   The Center allows certified divers to get face-to-face with these unique sea denizens.  Most divers in the ocean would rarely come across many of the sharks living in the Hawaiian waters, but they can here, including sandbar sharks, blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, hammerhead sharks and even a tiger shark.  The diver’s friends and family can also watch everything from a special viewing area and follow along the diver’s incredible underwater journey in a 54-foot-long acrylic tunnel through the exhibit.

The Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (‘til 6 p.m. in July and August).  For more information and reservations, call 808-270-7000 or go online at www.mauioceancenter.com.  After a visit, check out the collection of items at the Center’s Maui Ocean Treasures gift shop or enjoy a great meal at the Seascape Maalaea Restaurant or Reef Café, overlooking the harbor.  The Activity Centers at the Royal Lahaina Resort can also help with your arrangements to see Hawaii’s magnificent marine life up close.