Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens in Hilo on the Big Island

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On Baynan Drive in Hilo on the Big Island, you will find a 30-acre garden of serenity in the Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens. The park, which was originally built in the early 1900s, is reportedly the largest such gardens outside of Japan. You will find koi ponds, pagodas, bridges and other Japanese garden fixtures.

It’s a perfect place for a picnic lunch or a nice stroll, no matter what the weather. Hilo is often known as the rainy side of the Big Island, and this rain makes for some of the most gorgeous, lush scenery you will find on the Big Island. Lush, serene, tropical and beautiful.

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My island Valentine

From the moment you land. IMG_1141

Until your last setting sun.

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Love is always in the air in Hawaii. Aloha.

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Yoga by the sea

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When the going gets tough, the tough do yoga by the sea. Morning yoga practice at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay south of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. Aloha.

Majestic Molokai

IMG_1612The island of Molokai is visible from the Kapalua area of West Maui. At 260 square miles, Molokai is the fifth largest of the main Hawaiian Islands. Its sea cliffs are majestic, awesome and immense with some towering up to 3,000 feet–the tallest on earth. If you look closely enough, there always seems to be a rainbow somewhere above Molokai. On a visit, you’ll quickly discover its natural, rugged beauty and the fact that there isn’t a single traffic light on the whole island.

Princeville on the North Shore of Kauai

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Located on the North Shore on the island of Kauai, Princevile is lush, green and gorgeous. It is home to the St. Regis Princeville Resort, which overlooks the beautiful beach of Hanalei Bay. This is also a paradise for golfers.

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The cliffs on some parts of this side of the island are 200 feet above the Pacific, offering panoramic views of the ocean. It’s often rainy in Princeville, but you don’t seem to mind when you look in the distance and see the lush valley of Hanalei.  With an average rainfall of 85 inches a year, the rain is welcome as it usually tends to fall during the evenings and the showers are typically brief.

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Green everywhere you look. Lush plants and trees surround you. Enjoy the views of mountains with waterfalls in the distance.  Here, you’ll find temperate weather with highs in the 80s during the summer months and 70s in the winter months. The rain doesn’t distract from the beauty of Kauai, it adds to it. And, quite often, you will be greeted with a rainbow in the distance.

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The beauty of the Big Island

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When you land at the Kona International Airport (KOA) on the Big Island, you are greeted by the unique beauty of West Hawaii. This is the island known for its active volcano, gorgeous coastlines, diversity in climate and natural, rugged beauty. Once in a while, you find yourself stopping to take it all in, such as when you discover an orchid thriving in a bed of lava rocks. As you explore, the scenery is difficult to describe or categorize. Ocean views or a trip to the 4,200-meter high summit of the Mauna Kea Observatory. Snowboarding or surfing? It’s your choice. The Big Island of Hawaii lives up to its name. It will call you back again and again.

Kalalau Trail – Napali Coast Kauai

At the end of the Kuhio Highway on Kauai–Highway 56– you will find the magical entrance to the Kalalau Trail. Kauai’s Napali Coast is one of the most spectacular sights you will ever see. This trail has it all. Cliffs, gorgeous views, waterfalls, spectacular ocean views. For the adventurous, this 11-mile trail will lead you to some of the most gorgeous scenery on earth. The pali, or cliffs, offer one of the most majestic views of the earth meeting the sea you will ever find. For most experienced hikers, this 11-mile trail will take you a full day. The signs warn you to be cautious and this is good advice. Enjoy the wonder of beautiful Kauai. Aloha.

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The sweet smell of Hawaii

The minute you step off the plane, it welcomes you. What is it about the smell of Hawaii? Is it the fact that you are on a Pacific island with pure, light tropical breezes?

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DSCN2983Or, the flower-lined paths that warmly welcome you wherever you go? This path laced with Bougainvillea, is especially inviting. Everywhere you look, you see color. On the Big Island, the black of the lava, mixed with the ocean blues and tropical flowers, is especially inviting.

Or, is it one of the world’s sweetest scents of all—plumeria? The yellow ones seem to make the most fragrant leis. When you see them in a natural setting, it’s one of life’s best reminders that you should never get too busy to stop and smell the flowers.

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Monkeypod Kitchen – Wailea, Maui

Since it’s almost Friday and much of the country is stuck in Polar Vortex 2, it seems like an appropriate time to profess my love for Monkeypod Kitchen on Maui. Oh, how I wish there was a Monkeypod Kitchen just down the street. And that it was 78 and sunny with a light tropical breeze.

Peter Merriman is one Hawaii’s most recognized, celebrated and well-known restaurateurs. Credited for developing the locavore concept in food, his work to elevate the farm to table concept is a big contribution to Hawaiian cuisine–and to locally grown, harvested and simply prepared foods all over the world.

After a tip from a server at Merriman’s in Kapalua, we made a beeline to Monkeypod Kitchen to burn off that awkward time when you have to check out of your hotel (weeping) and it’s much too early to sit at the airport in Hawaii when it’s so incredibly gorgeous everywhere you look.

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So, off to Monkeypod Kitchen for happy hour we went. Wow. This place puts the happy into happy hour.

IMG_1204For starters, there is the Monkeypod Mai Tai. Old Lahaina light rum, Maui dark rum, lime, orgeat, orange curacao, honey-lilikoi foam. Did I mention honey-lilikoi foam? Unbelievable. Luckily, I wasn’t driving to the airport. The handcrafted culinary cocktails are imaginative, reflective of the Hawaiian setting and yummy. What’s not to like?

Then, there are the appetizers and salads. The pumpkin patch ravioli was delicious and more than enough to share.IMG_1208

The wood fired pizzas were hand tossed and with a variety to choose from such as Hamakua wild mushroom & truffle, roasted butternut squash, bourgeois with Big Island lobster, mushrooms, white sauce, parmesan, thyme. To top it off, they had live Hawaiian music and a beer list featuring high-quality brews from top breweries and microbreweries from around the world. Although I am not a beer expert or a beer drinker, I know quality and selection when I see it.

Gotta go! Time to search for some flights to Hawaii.IMG_1211

Aloha to 2014

There’s a trend in the business world of asking employees to set annual SMART goals—goals that are specificmeasurableattainablerelevant (or realistic) and timely.
 
So, in that spirit, my personal SMART goal for 2014 is to visit Hawaii, specifically the Big Island. This goal is especially SMART considering the temperatures and images of our Midwest home in comparison to the Aloha state. Yes, that’s a 125 degree temperature difference. Right now and always, 81 and sunny sounds like perfection.
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Annual year-end lists have always fascinated me. The New York Times even has The Top 10 Top 10 Lists of 2013. I love the idea of a clean blank slate to start another chapter in life, while pausing to recognize the wonder of the past year. Most years come with an unpredictable mixture of happiness and sadness, highs and lows, struggles and successes. I wish you peace warmth and joy in 2014. Thank you—mahalo—for stopping by to read this blog about my favorite place.
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Aloha.