Weight=179.4 pounds, Steps=14,313
I have been aging my wine in Hawaii's in lava tubes (caves formed by lava flowing underground) for the past ten years. We went to the usual Kaumana Caves to place my next bottle, a 2014 vintage Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Valley), which I picked up at the KTA store in downtown. The retrieval of the last bottle aging for five years did not go so well. We forgot the exact location where it was hidden in the rock wall deep inside the cave Furthermore, I slipped and was cut-up by the razor sharp lava cinder stones...blood was drawn. So I decided to leave it as an offering to Goddess Pele.
he Kaumana Caves, part of a 25-mile-long lava tube located on Hawaii's Big Island, are the centerpiece of a small park maintained by the County of Hawaii. Set on a hilltop above Hilo, near the 4-mile marker along Kaumana Drive (often called Saddle Road by the locals), the cave's entrance is accessed by walking down a steep staircase.
The lava tube was formed by lava flow from Hawaii's Mauna Loa eruption which began on Nov. 5, 1880 The lava continued its slow approach on Hilo through the first few months of 1881. By late June, it was within five miles of the town and began picking up speed. Legend has it that Hawaii's Princess Ruth, sent from Honolulu, is responsible for saving the then-tiny village because she was carried into the hills in late July and took up a position in front of the lava, praying to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of religion and fire, to spare the town. The flow began slowing, and finally stopped in early August 1881, just 1.5 miles from Hilo Bay.
Those who plan to explore the caves beyond the first 200 or 300 feet should bring at least two powerful flashlights with extra batteries; wear long pants, closed-toe shoes, gloves and a long-sleeve shirt or jacket. I didn't heed my own advice this time and paid for it in blood, after loosing my footing while climbing up the side of the cave. The lava cinders are sharp and rough. Proceed with caution and always shine the flashlight ahead, because the lava can be slippery, especially after heavy rains, and the farther you go, low ceilings, ledges and outcroppings make it easy to bump your head or another body part. The height of the ceiling varies from 25 to 30 feet in areas near the entrance to less than three feet in some deeper sections.
Pele is a very powerful Goddess who controls all the lava flow on the island according to Hawaiian legend. The wine aged in her caves has miraculous effects.
If you want to know all intricacies of lava tubes and the names of their features visit the Virtual Lava Tube site
Weight=180.2 pounds, Steps=19,164
Loco Moco is Hawaii’s answer to cheap and filling fast food which is popular with locals at any time of the day. This dish consists of a mountainous portion of white rice, topped by a meat patty, on which rests a sunnyside-up egg. The meat consists of equal portions of minced pork and beef … sort of a hamburger patty. The dish is doused with one or two ladles of prepared gravy which is primarily Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. Rather than a hamburger patty, it can also be made with other kinds of meat products, be it ham, Spam, or even more caloric bacon. The proper way to eat this dish: break the egg, then blend the burger, egg, rice, and gravy on your fork for each bite for a real taste of paradise. If you are counting calories this local favorite is not for you--easily 1,000 or more calories for a medium portion. In my book, it is one of the leading candidates for the Cholesterol Hall of Fame.
Loco Moco can be found at just about any fast food joint, roadside diner, mom-and-pop restaurant, or food truck in the Hawaiian Islands. Don’t look for this food in upscale restaurants or hotels. This comfort dish is unique to Hawaii and part of the “local grind,” as they say.
There are many people who claim to have invented Loco Moco, but it is generally agreed that after WW2, around 1949, the Lincoln Grill in Hilo, Hawaii, originated the first dish of Loco Moco. The other contender is Café 100. Today, Hilo, is known worldwide for rain, tsunamis, volcanoes, Sig Zane aloha shirts and the Merrie Monarch Festival. Long before Sig Zane aloha shirts, there was the Lincoln Grill, across from the fire station in Hilo. The fire station is still there. Alas, the Lincoln Grill has gone to that great diner in the sky. Café 100 is still serving up their signature dish, with chicken, fish, vegetables, sausage, or the traditional hamburger patty. According to the story, the dish was created for teenagers who wanted something different from typical American sandwiches and less time-consuming than Asian food to eat for breakfast. The nickname of the first boy to eat this concoction was Loco (“crazy” in Spanish and Hawaiian pidgin). Moco rhymed with loco and sounded great, so Loco Moco became the name of the dish
Weight=180.4 pounds, Steps=14,187
Rainbow Falls is near downtown Hilo--about three miles from the Farmer's Market. To get there, go west on Waianuene Avenue to Wailuku River State Park. It is the most accessible waterfall in Hawaii.
Here you’ll discover the easy-to-hike Waianuenue (Rainbow Falls), which has an 80-foot drop and is known for the rainbows that are formed in the surrounding mist. The strength of the waterfall depends on the recent rain frequency and how much it rained. After heavy rains, it can gush water from the top very forcefully as flash floods seem to converge here. During periods of drought, such as several years ago, the waterfall can be completely dry.
Try coming in the morning because the falls face east so the morning sun can present some really interesting rainbows. There are bathroom facilities and ample parking at the falls overlook. You can take a stone trail with handrails that winds to the top of the falls--a fairly steep climb. Mind the stone steps as they can be slippery after a rain.
It is a very peaceful and tranquil setting. It is what Hawaii is all about lush greenery and plenty of waterfalls.
Weight=180.6 pounds, Steps=13,416
Pahoa (population about 1,200) is located in the Big Island's Puna District. It is also noted as being a hippie haven, a place where new agers, hippies and others are living an alternative lifestyle reside. The pride of "downtown" Pahoa is its raised wooden sidewalk, the false-front stores and the numerous old buildings, which give it a "Wild West" atmosphere. In fact, Pahoa has the highest concentration of old buildings in Hawaii.
Ten days before I arrived in Hilo, a fire devastated a complex of three buildings housing Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant, the Akebono Theater and a pawn shop in Pahoa.
The historic Akebono Theater, built in 1926, Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant, built in 1907, and a pawn shop building, built in 1938, were gutted by the fire which spread rapidly through the wooden structures. The building owner and his relatives who lived upstairs escaped without injury. The cause of the fire has not been definitely determined but speculation is that a camping lantern tipped over in one of the sheds behind the building.
Considered the biggest venue in Pahoa, the Akebono Theater was a place where residents could attend concerts, comedy shows, community meetings, and even a place of worship on Sundays. Luquin's Mexican Restaurant was a local landmark. The restaurant, which was opened by Salvador Luquin in 1984, and the theater, which Luquin also owns, were integral to everyday life in the Pahoa community. It appears that Luquin will be cooking again soon as he plans to install a food truck at the site while rebuilding is going on.
The La Hiki Ola kava bar, which is located in a separate but adjoining building, was unscathed. The kava bar had a previous fire and was rebuilt with a hollow-tile concrete wall. This wall stopped the fire from spreading and probably spared the rest of the block.
Pahoa itself was almost destroyed by a fire in 1955. Right in the middle of town was a tofu factory that had a wood-fired furnace. The owner usually turned-off his fires before he went home, but that night, the fire got out of control. It burned all the way to the main alley. Luckily, a papaya farmer who had water loaded on the back of his truck saw what happened and extinguished the fire, saving Pahoa from possible destruction.
Weight=182.2 pounds, Steps=13,320
This restaurant list is not a comprehensive one but includes those I actually visited during my travels to Hilo.
Ken's House of Pancakes
Open 24 hours, Ken's is a local landmark and the definitive go-to place for locals. It is much more than a pancake place. The menu is wide and long...the portions are generous. Large menu for those that want a little variety. The food is good, but more like comfort food than anything.
The booths are original from the time it opened in the 70s. The place is busy but they move people through quickly. This is a classic Hawaiian diner with reasonable prices and a friendly wait staff.
Ponds overlooks an "ice pond" where one can feed koi fish when seated in the area next to the water. Ducks come by asking for a bit of handout from the diners. The views are very tranquil. The pond is also a favorite for swimmers and kayakers.
The restaurant is not fancy but the prices on the menu tend to be on the high side ... most are $25 or above, and many $30 or above. I suspect that more tourists go here than locals. Many think that Ponds is a seafood oriented place but it is not...it has limited fresh seafood and many beef-related items on the menu. Many dishes are fried and no gluten-free options, if you are in that class.
The reviews of the food and service are all over the map, depending on your culinary experiences, but generally comes out as above average overall. Special theme menus on weekdays and local musician appearances keep the restaurant lively and fun.
Kaleo's Bar and Grill
On Momi's birthday so we went to a local restaurant in Pahoa -- just few miles from the Kapoho tide pools and the hot pond. It is a moderately priced local joint in the very funky and hippy Pahoa town. The urban definition of "Kaleo" is someone who is independent and loves to do whatever he feels like and is awesome at it. Started eight years ago Leslie Lai, Kaleo's serves up good grub which caters to varying tastes: fish and chips, shrimp, pasta, salads, hamburgers and other meat dishes -- all with a Hawaiian flair. Popular with locals and tourists, it is nothing fancy but the Korean "Kal Bi" (spicy Korean beef short ribs, marinated and char grilled with small salad and rice) that we ordered was tasty. This family-friendly restaurant also has outdoor seating and is the place to go for "grindz" in Pahoa
Queen' Court, Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
If you are seeking a seafood feast on a Friday and are willing to dish out about $65/person (including tax and tip), then head to the Queen's Court Restaurant situated in the recently renovated Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. After local investors purchased the hotel in 2010 for $17 million, the upgrades did away with the 1970s style dive bar aesthetic in favor of an open, well lighted dining area with free-standing tables.
For many years, the hotel has been serving up the buffet to satisfy patrons who are intent on a steamed crab binge. These are Alaskan snow crab frozen and shipped in by the crate load. They are served ready to go on the large serving trays after being given the usual steam blast treatment. The only gripes diners seem to have sometimes is that the "butter" dip next to the crabs is actually mix of butter and yellow margarine (hydrogenated soybean oil and flavoring). This faux-pas can be rectified by asking the helpful wait staff to bring a small bowl of melted butter.
The buffet spread includes roast beef, ahi sashimi (or something similar), lau lau, salad bard items, steam table fare, such as kalua pork and Chinese-style buns, and an array of calorific desserts. The price tag includes a never-ending flow of house beer and wine (emphasis is on quantity).
During the non-Friday feasts one of the items favored by diners is the Kalbi Medallions plate which is said to have a tasty soy-sugar-sesame marinade. Overall, reviewers rate this "fine dining" establishment four out of five stars. Chefs have come and gone ... some days it's hit-or-miss. Some complaints include items being served from pre-packaged frozen sources. The wait staff is very helpful and friendly.
The dining room's bright ambiance is enhanced by unmatched views of Hilo Bay and Mauan Kea. For details, view the current Friday night buffet menu here.
Dragon Kitchen Sushi:
The Dragon Kitchen is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant houses several food stands or kitchens. What is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant? It is cramped and has a few number of seats, probably less than 20. Some think it must be at least a little dirty with fluorescent lights and formica tabletops. The food served is relatively inexpensive and they are not always well known, except to the locals.
The brown rice sushi stand is the one we like to eat at. Modest prices and reasonably good sushi served with brown rice--a better alternative to white rice from a nutrition viewpoint. Both rolls (maki) and handrolls (temaki) are available. The cold soba noodle salad is a good add-on. My favorite was the avocado and ahi sushi roll.
The tables in this joint are a bit grimy but don't let that slop you -- takeout is an option. The selection sushi and sashimi is limited but adequate. Unfortunately, if you like copious quantities of ginger, it is an extra price for a very small amount. It can a short wait as there are only one or two persons behind the counter. It is a cash-only place.
Finally, eating advice from the Dragon Kitchen owner as shown on Facebook:
"Let me introduce the traditional way to eat healthy in Japan which is quite famous for its longevity. It is very very simple, easy and effective.
1. Chew it very well.
2. Eat up to 80% (of your stomach) - Do not eat till you get full.
There are so many kinds of diet plans in America. But unfortunately, there is no perfect diet plan that works to every single person. But then, how can I find the diet plan that works the best for me? Do I need to try all those kinds of diet out there one by one? How long should I try each diet to find out that it actually works for me or not?
It might be a good start to eat healthy by taking the Japanese traditional diet that teaches you how to eat and how much to eat. You might find yourself already being healthy before you find a best diet plan that tells you what to eat.
I myself eat ANYTHING. In addition, I am a heavy carbo eater. Probably 70% of what I eat is carbo. I am 48 years old, and my weight has not changed for the last 25 years, always around 125lb and there is no health issue. I just do not eat too much. That's it. And I chew it very well when I eat. Try to stay away from overeating, something too sweet, something too salty and something too oily.
Happy life to everybody."
City of Refuge
Hawaiian Paradise Park
Hawaii Volcanoes Nat. Park
Hilo Farmers Market
Hilo Orchid Society
Imiloa Astronomy Center
Kahalu'u Beach Park
Kapoho Tide Pools
Kilauea Iki Trail
Pacific Tsunami Museum
Suisan Fish Market
Uncle Robert's Night Market
Wailoa Sampan Basin
Sig Zane Designs