This is a precious kukui nut.

Kukui nuts have had many useful purposes to the people of Hawaii over the centuries, if placed on a timeline one can see how the kukui trees have provided much more than shade for nearly two millennia. Kukui trees grow along beaches and more commonly on the low valleys of mountainsides but can also be found as landscaping for homes during the modern era. The coloring of the trees resemble an aquamarine with silvery highlights around the edges and the trees can grow to be 80ft tall if given the right conditions. These majestic plants that produce the kukui nut have been known to symbolize much more than just survival. They have traditionally symbolized peace, protection and Mālamalama. Mālamalama means clarity of the mind or in other words enlightenment.

What does Hawaii nei mean? Hawaii nei means beloved Hawaii in the Hawaiian language.

The flowers and husk of the kukui tree have been used by Hawaiians to treat yeast infections of the mouth, a health problem also known as thrush. Before the popularity of western medicine, Uncle Harry Mitchell of Keannae suggested the use of kukui nut in small doses to treat high blood pressure. Ancient Hawaiians were more than incredibly resourceful, they were highly intelligent in their usage of natural riches brought or found on the islands. They were also keenly aware of how important the kukui tree was to survival. More than medicine, the kukui is well-known for the role of providing light. Kukui nuts could be burned at predictable intervals, each kukui nut lasting for about 12 minutes at a time. Hawaiian’s would (some still do) burn the kukui nut speared with a palm leaf. It was due to the Kukui nuts reliable burning that early Hawaiians also used this as also a way to measure time. In fact, it is often a joke today when kids are late to come home in the evening that they must have been tracking the time with a slow burning kukui nut. Uses of kukui are so many that it was named the state tree of Hawaii. Fisherman used Kukui oil to help strengthen their nets and protect them from daily use in the glaring sun over the Hawaiian Islands. Dye was produced from the inner bark and used in a variety of clothing. In the tattoo culture of Polynesia, charred nuts were used to create tattoo dye. If one was to get a traditional Polynesian tattoo done today, those who still practice the ancient methods would likely use kukui dye for the Polynesian tribal tattoo designs.

Did you know? Hawaiian fishermen would scatter roasted kukui across the water to improve visibility when looking at the fish underneath the surface. Now that is ancient Hawaiian science!

The kukui nuts were introduced to Hawaii by the original Polynesians. Even thousands of years ago ancient travelers knew of the many uses of the kukui nut, as well as, the plants critical role in survival. 

(Source: hawaiiphotography.yo-rg.info)

Surfing in Hawaii is much more than a sport. It is an identity and culture of the Hawaiian people. If you ask any of the old timers in Hawaii about the origins of surfing, you will more than likely hear that it all began on the Hawaiian Islands. Though, few other places outside of Polynesia had ever heard of surfing during the sports infancy. Hawaiians believed that the art of surfing was just as much a way of their society as it was a spiritual experience, long before the sport brought to existence surfing legends like Kelly Slater. In the days when the first western sailors visited the islands, priests would pray to the gods for safety while surfing and more. Catching a wave in Hawaii is still a spiritual experience that most modern surfers will speak openly about. The deep rooted personal connection that many of this sports enthusiasts feel is almost symbolic of the awe inspiring power the Pacific Ocean has over all who enter the great waters. Some surfers are so extremely dedicated to their sport, they make huge personal sacrifices to spend the most possible time they can in the water each and every day. When the waves are pumping in Oahu, surfers of all skill levels can be found doing what they love the most.

"Out of water, I am nothing"
Duke Kahanamoku

In the late 1800s several teenage students from a boarding school in Hawaii decided to take their hand crafted redwood boards over the San Lorenzo river mouth to catch waves. Though these students were likely not capable of doing the 360s and aerials that are typical of modern surfing today. These young Hawaiian princes are the first example of surfing in California. Mahalo to the spreading of ideas, since if it wasn’t for Hawaii’s passion for surfing the sport may have never become what it is now.

During the early days of settlers on Hawaii, missionaries tried to stop the locals from surfing.

These priests would use Christian messages and values as a means of making the Hawaiians feel guilty about their culture. Though this was often disregarded by the locals, enough of the local population became convinced that there were issues with surfing that might be a problem to their way of life. By the mid 1800’s many native Hawaiians had already given up their religion for Christianity. Along with their religion Hawaiians were forced to give up their language, culture, society and soon afterwards their kingdom. Some records seem to indicate that the missionaries might have saved the Kingdom of Hawaii, but eventually the Hawaiians would be forced to give up everything by European businessmen.  

(Source: hawaiiphotography.yo-rg.info)

If you are looking for a gorgeous hike then take a ride to a Ka’ena Point trail from either the South Eastern Makaha entrance or the Eastern entrance located near Mokulēʻia in the Waialua District. The state park is located on the northwestern tip of Oahu, Hawaii. There can be found beautiful views of the western coastline, plenty of wildlife and split color sunsets. Ka’ena Point State Park is as remote as it is wild compared to the controlled tourist destinations found elsewhere on the island. During certain times of the year, waves hit Ka’ena Point with a large powerful force. These monstrous waves tower over the coastline and smash the dormant lava rocks found along the shoreline. The Makaha entrance gives views of these waves as they tumble inside of several blowholes near a cove midway between the entrance of the trail and the state park. These natural occurrences symbolize the Pacific’s might and prowess by blasting salty spray 30 or more feet into the air.

The rough surf the winter waves produce isn’t the only cool excitement on this part of the coastline. As the sun rises high in the Hawai’i sky and the temperature climbs to almost unbearable levels. Noon is exactly the time in which the albatross, hit the wind, beginning the days search for fish and other creature snacks found in the reef surrounding the island. These Boeing-like Laysan Albatross stretch their wings to spans of 6 or 7 feet. Majestic to the sight and gracious, the albatross can be found comfortably nesting or sunbathing in close proximity to those visiting the state park. Several of these birds have found their homes next to monk seals near a beacon, which had been constructed as a reference point for those traveling on one of the several paths leading into the park. This place is considered by local Hawaiian legend to be the jumping off point for souls leaving this world and one might completely believe this legend by looking at the pillars of igneous basalt rocks that guard the coastline. The rocks themselves armed with jagged edges, stand ready to threaten the life out of those who dare to travel too close. This, coupled with the rumors of large waves heading to this side of the coast is enough of a reason to say why for cautions sake. Typically these waves are said to reach regular heights between 40 and 80 feet high for the right swell.

At one point in modern history the largest wave claimed to have ever been witnessed was photographed by a surf photographer named Albie Falzon at Ka’ena Point. Albie had rented a flat close to the action and was able to snap shots from a safe enough distance. The massive power of the waves that took place on December 4th, 1969 wiped out an entire array of fisherman shacks that were seen in one of the photographs documenting the events taking place that day. Greg Knoll, a celebrity surf star of the time period, was said to have surfed from the largest wave to hit Makaha ever. For twenty years the legend was stated that Greg Knoll broke the world record and surfed the largest wave in the history of humankind. As waves destroyed the North Shore coastline, Greg and other surfers braved the fears of many to mark history for the actions they took, making this an iconic day in surfing history. Albie Falzon said during an interview, years later, that every surfer who went out on that day caught a big wave and as to whether or not Greg Knoll did surf the biggest wave; Albie could not say or determine. Unfortunately for would be spectators, none could witness either. The roadblocks police had set up made it so many would be unable to get close to the monstrous surf. Sealing Greg’s place in history according to popular belief.

With dangerous conditions on the North Western tip of Oahu, traveling alone to Ka’ena Point State Park should be approached with caution. Narrowing paths, erosion and steep cliffs all provide for a treacherous hike if the weather conditions are stormy. The challenging terrain is worth the trouble, in the end, for the stunning landscapes that make Ka’ena Point a unique ecosystem.

(Source: hawaiiphotography.yo-rg.info)

This is not your typical image of beaches for those who may be imagining the usual nature photograph seen taken in Hawaii. This picture of daily life in traffic is found in abundance throughout the highway system inside of Oahu. Shot from a H1 overpass, this is considered a day of light traffic locals.

Traveling tip: As a reminder to those driving Oahu, plan some extra time to get where you are going as travel times may take much longer than expected. This can be challenging to manage, especially for those who are accompanied with young children. Plan trips around rush hour and bring activities in case of delay.

Don’t worry, as the government may have a solution.

In recent years, Hawaii has seen heated political debates focused on whether or not to fund the launch of a commuter rail project. The Honolulu city rail is drafted to stretch from the west end of Kapolei down to the world famous Ala Moana Shopping Center, a center and hub for Honolulu retail commerce. Such a rail system will provide those traveling from the west side of Oahu an alternative route for travel to work and shopping malls. The route the new rail system will bring commuters is, similar to the old travel time but, through a different route than the Honolulu’s city express busses use. Due to the fact the rail lines will be traveling directly through Pearl City, commuters will have a new option to get to old destinations sooner than what was possible before.

Rail is a new route the bus has never been able to provide.

The travel time on rail is projected to take about 45 minutes and  is similar to what the C Country Express currently offers via the H1. Some of the Honolulu Rail’s biggest supporters say that travel times may actually be sooner than those projected. Though many claim that this rail will be the solution to Honolulu’s big traffic problems. It is unclear exactly how rail will fix the current issues with Honolulu’s traffic congestion.

Several years prior, candidates for the mayoral election threatened to close rail projects all together. Similarly to what the government had done with the Hawaii Superferry. The Superferry had provided inter-island commuters with a way to transport their vehicles to other islands. The ferry regularly operated to popular destinations such as Maui and Big Island. As booming as business may have been, it was quickly met opposition with environmental groups. These groups had pressured the Hawaii government to investigate the commuter ferry due to damages it may have caused the reef wildlife. In light of the circumstances to this situation, if you were to be travelling throughout the islands, then booking a flight is the only choice.

Even with the traffic in Honolulu being awarded the status of worst in the entire United States it seems that Aloha Spirit has helped put traffic woes behind those living in Hawaii for decades. Unfortunately for the nerves of those stuck in hours on the highways, there is not much else to do but listen to jams and wait for break.