Hawaiian Drinks: A Brief Guide To Hawaii’s Tropical Drinks

My Hawaiian Drinks

Hawaiian Drinks: My secret family recipe.

Hawaii is home to beautiful beaches, active volcanoes and beautiful flowers like ginger and anthurium flowers. In Hawaii, you can also find several drinks have become closely associated with the islands. Few people fail to think of Mai Tai’s or Blue Hawaii’s, when the drinks of Hawaii are mentioned. But Hawaii also offers a special type of coffee and an exotic drink called kava. Here are a few of my favorite Hawaiian drinks.

Mai Tai

Almost everybody who visits Hawaii has heard of the legendary drink called the Mai Tai. But did you know that this drink wasn’t invented here. It was invented by a man named Donn Beach who owned a restaurant in California. Beach’s recipe consists of rum, orange curacao and orange juice. Beach seems to have the perfect surname for a man whose drink is sipped on the beaches of Hawaii.

Kona Coffee

A man named Samuel Ruggles brought the first coffee plant to Kona in 1828. Kona’s unique weather and fertile soil produces a coffee that surpasses nearly all other coffees in the world. The only comparable coffee outside of Kopi Luwak (which is not for the squeamish) is probably Jamaica’s Blue Mountain coffee. Kona coffee is grown on over eight hundred farms that are located in the districts of North or South Kona. Only coffee cultivated in these two districts can be called Kona Coffee.

Blue Hawaii

The Blue Hawaii was created by Harry Yee in 1957. Yee came up with the Blue Hawaii, which is a combination of vodka, rum, blue curacao and pineapple juice, after being asked by a product sales representative of the Bols Company to create a drink featuring their new Blue Curacao liquor. Obviously, it was a big hit. The Blue Hawaii, with its signature blue color, has become a popular drink in Hawaii.


Kava is grown all over the pacific. Early polynesian voyagers introduced kava to Hawaii and have been having it for centuries. Kava appears to calm the mind and body, and also seems to foster sociability. But be forewarned, most people who try kava for the first time say that it is one of the most horrible tasting drinks they have ever tried.

Mauna Kea Observatories

Did you know that the largest astronomical observatory in the world is located in Hawaii? Well it is, the summit of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Mountain is home to thirteen telescopes. The total light gathering capacity of these telescopes is fifteen times greater than the Palomar telescope, which used to the largest telescope in the world. Mauna Kea is home to several of the largest telescopes in the world, including the largest optical telescope, the largest infrared telescope and the largest submillimeter telescope.

Mauna Kea, which means “white mountain” in Hawaiian, is aptly named as it is covered in a thick white blanket of snow for most of the year. It is the highest point in the Pacific and it is the highest island mountain in the world, measuring 32,000 feet from its base on the ocean floor to its summit. This is higher than Everest, which is 29,000 feet.

Mauna Kea is the ideal location for setting up telescopes to look deep within the universe. The air above it is some of the driest in the world. Clouds are almost never an issue as it has an incredibly high number of cloud free nights, which allow uninterrupted observation. It also has a tropical inversion layer which traps pollutants and moisture thousands of feet below the summit. This ensures that the summit has extremely clear air, which is important when gazing far into the universe.

The actual telescopes are off limits to the public, but you can still visit the summit. Be prepared for extremely cold and windy conditions. Also, you must be prepared for the altitude which is close to 14,000 feet. Altitude sickness can be a big issue for some people.

You should stop at the Onizuka Center before proceeding to the summit. The center is located at an elevation of 9,300 feet and stopping there will give your body a chance to acclimatize to the elevation. At the center you can see exhibits about Mauna Kea and its observatories.

Hawaii Treats: Snacks From Hawaii

One of the really cool things about Hawaii that I don’t see people writing about much is its incredible snack foods. People from all over the world have made Hawaii their home and this cultural diversity, coupled with Hawaii’s amazing environment for agriculture has produced some incredible snacks: here are some of my favorites.

Chinese immigrants brought a tasty snack originally called cha siu bao to Hawaii. Here they are called manapua, which means “pork cake” in the local dialect of Hawaiian pidgin. In Hawaii, they have been modified with many local twists. For instance, instead of the typical char siu filling, in Hawaii, they may be filled with local foods like kalua pig or curry chicken.

One of my favorite snacks is chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Chocolate is made from the cacao tree which originated in South America, while Macadamia Nuts grow on Macadamia trees which are originally from Australia. Both types of trees are grown in Hawaii, but Hawaii is, of course, better known for Macadamia Nuts. When you put the two of these together you get a signature Hawaiian snack.

Shave ice is another excellent treat that is perfect for a sunny place like Hawaii. It consists of finely shaved ice that is topped with sweet fruit flavored syrups. The syrups are brightly colored and come in all of the colors of the rainbow. Just about the only downside to them is that they can turn your tongue blue, or green, or whatever color you happen to be eating. But fortunately the effect is not permanent.

Pineapples are neither pine nor apples. How they got their name was a complete mystery to me for the longest time, until I learned that pine cones used to be called pineapples a few centuries ago. When Europeans saw their first pineapple they gave it its name because they resembled pine cones. Pineapples come in white and yellow varieties and, for me, they have the perfect blend of sweet and acid flavors that make a perfect snack on a hot day.

As you can see, Hawaii offers a wide range of tasty treats. But there is much more to Hawaii than these yummy snacks. In Hawaii, you can swim with the dolphins or even see a live volcano up close. Hawaii is also home to a number of beautiful flowers like ginger and anthurium flowers. And it has many special animals like the Monk Seal and the Nene Goose. I hope that you get a chance to visit and see some of these amazing things for yourself.

Hawaii Beaches: A Guide to Hawaii’s Best Beaches

Hawaii is home to all sorts of wonderful things. It has beautiful flowers like: hibiscus, orchids, plumeria, heliconia and anthurium flowers. It has interesting animals like the nene, hawaiian owl and the monk seal. It is also home to a number of wonderful beaches like Barking Sands, Waikiki Beach, Hapuna and Green Sands.

One of the most majestic white sand beaches in the world is Hapuna Beach. It is probably the most popular beach on the island of Hawaii and it tops many lists of the world’s best beaches. Its sapphire water and powdery white sand make it a favorite of both tourists and locals. When the waves are small it is the perfect beach for snorkeling and swimming. But when the waves are big its wide berth of soft, white sand make it the perfect place for catching some rays.

Barking Sands beach is located on the island of Kauai. It is hard to get to this beach because it is located on a military installation. It possesses incredible white sands and is generally not crowded at all. No one really knows how it got its name. Some say that it received its name because a barking sound could be heard from the friction of running on its sands, but this is only a myth. Others say that the waves crashing on the shore sounds like barking. But no one really knows.

Now for something way out of the ordinary, Hawaii even has a green sand beach. What makes the sand green is a mineral called olivine, which is common in volanic rocks. Very few people get to see Green Sand Beach, because it takes an arduous five mile hike to get there unless you have an off-road vehicle. But, once you get there, you will be greeted with bright green sand and a beach that is almost never crowded.

Waikiki Beach is the beach that everyone thinks of when they think of beaches in Hawaii. It is probably the most famous beach in Hawaii. It has awesome white sand and it is a favorite of everyone who visits. It is the beach where the great Duke Kahanomoku taught many celebrities how to surf. You simply should not visit Hawaii without checking out Waikiki Beach. Sure, its crowded, but you just have to visit to get a taste of history.

A Short Guide to Hawaii’s Modern Cuisine

Hawaii is famous for a number of things like volcanoes, surfing and anthurium flowers. One thing that it should be even more famous for is its food. It is fusion cuisine at its finest. You can taste the Hawaiian, Asian, European and American influences in many local dishes. Here are some of my favorite dishes.

Sashimi is just about the simplest local dish. It is thinly sliced raw fish that is usually flavored with soy sauce and wasabi. This dish has a very subtle flavor and if properly prepared doesn’t taste fishy at all. Sashimi is incredibly tender and when made from tuna with a high fat content can be as smooth as butter. This dish was introduced to Hawaii by Japanese immigrants.

A Lau Lau is a Hawaiian dish that consists of salted pork, fish and taro all wrapped in a taro leaf and then in a ti leaf and cooked in a traditional earth oven called an imu. The imu is used to slow cook and steam the Lau Lau all day, so the meat comes out incredibly tender and it has an appealing smoky flavor.

Malasadas are a donut like creation introduced by Portuguese immigrants. They look almost like donuts, except they usually do not have holes. The immigrants would make them before Lent to use up all the leaven in their house and they would often share them with their neighbors. This is how the malasada spread beyond the Portuguese community to become a favorite of all of Hawaii’s people.

Poke is a Hawaiian dish that resembles sashimi, but it was in fact a native dish. It consists of raw fish mixed with sea salt, kukui nuts and a special type of seaweed. Even though it and sashimi are both made from raw fish, they taste quite different due to the different ingredients. And if you are at all adventurous enough to try raw fish, I recommend that you try both and you will definitely taste the difference.

Hawaii’s Signature Exports

Hawaii is a unique place. It is located in the middle of the Pacific and is as far from a continent as a place can be. It is home to many unique plants and animals, and it also produces a number of unique products.

Would you believe that one of Hawaii’s biggest exports is bottled water? Well it’s true. But this bottled water is unlike any bottled water in the world. It doesn’t come from a pristine mountain stream. Instead is comes from the bottom of the ocean. Water, from melting glaciers in Alaska, travels in an undersea current to Hawaii. This trip takes over a thousand years. Several companies extract this water, remove the salt and bottle it. Much of this unique bottled water is sold in Japan, but people from the U.S. are beginning to buy it too.

Another product that Hawaii is known for is anthurium flowers. These South American plants were brought here in the 1800s and have become an established part of the local economy. Many new varieties were developed by local growers and the university and they are shipped from Hawaii to many different parts of the world.

Hawaii is also known for Macadamia Nuts, especially chocolate covered ones. The Macadamia Nut is originally from Australia, but like the Anthurium it has become a big part of the local economy. They taste amazing when dry roasted and sprinkled with salt or when coated in chocolate.

Kona Coffee is yet another superb product from Hawaii. Only coffee that is grown in the districts of North and South Kona can be called Kona coffee. Several factors make Kona Coffee special. The first is the rich volcanic soil that it is grown in. This gives the coffee a distinctive aroma. The second is the specialized micro-climate of the Kona region. Sunny days and afternoon rains give the coffee a very smooth flavor.

Ukulele History: The History Of The Ukulele In Hawaii

Mahalo ukulele by tawalker, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by  tawalker

The ukulele is a Hawaiian instrument that resembles a miniature guitar. Though it might look like a guitar it is quite different from a guitar. It has four strings, instead of six strings like a guitar and it is tuned differently. It usually is tuned to GCEA, while a guitar is tuned to EADGBE. It is also played differently. Though a few ukulele players will use a pick like most guitar players use, traditionally, an ukulele is played with the fingers alone.

This instrument was first introduced to Hawaii back in 1879. It is based on two Portuguese instruments called the cavaquinho and the rajão, which were brought to Hawaii by the early Portuguese immigrants, who came here to work on the sugar plantations.

Edward Purvis, the vice-chamberlain of King Kalakaua, heard someone playing the cavaquinho and decided to learn how to play it. Purvis was a small and very energetic man. He played the cavaquinho with a lot of energy and because of this; the Hawaiians gave him the nickname of “Ukulele”, which means jumping flea. He received this nickname because his energetic playing style and small stature reminded them of a jumping flea.

Later, three cabinet makers from the Portuguese region of Madeira, built the first ukulele, modeling it upon the rajão and cavaquinho, which Purvis played so well. Someone decided to apply Purvis’s nickname to this new instrument and this is how the ukulele got its name. The name of this instrument is doubly apt, because many say that the fingers of an ukulele player resemble jumping fleas, especially when they are playing a fast song.

From its humble beginnings back in 1879, in Hawaii, the ukulele has become a popular instrument. In 1920, it first became popular in the U.S. during the Jazz age. And in the 1990s its popularity has begun to climb again through musicians like Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Jake Shimabukuro and even former Beatle, George Harrison.

Hawaii Plants: Anthuriums, Silverswords, Noni and Sandalwood

Hawaii has a number of plants and animals that are found nowhere else on the planet. It also has a number of plants and animals that have either come here on their own or been brought here by people that now consider Hawaii a second home. Today I would like to share a few of these remarkable plants with you.

Haleakala Silversword
The Haleakala Silversword is incredibly rare, it is only found in one place in the entire world, on the summit of mount Haleakala on the island of Maui. It is a very interesting plant that has thin silver colored leaves that look almost like nails sticking out of the stalk of the plant. The leaves are arranged in a circular pattern around the stalk, which grows straight up. It is well worth visiting Haleakala, to see a Silversword, as its crater is an interesting place. It almost looks like the surface of the moon, except for the Silverswords.


Red Anthuriums

Red Anthuriums

The anthurium is not native to Hawaii. In fact, it originally comes from South America and it was brought here in 1850. But Hawaii has done a lot to popularize anthurium flowers. In the 1950s, anthurium growers started developing many of the varieties that we see today. Now you can find heart shaped, tulip shaped or even obake shaped anthuriums and they come in many different colors. When you visit Hawaii, be sure to check out an anthurium farm.

Sandalwood is found in India, Australia and across the Pacific. It was once plentiful in Hawaii, but it was almost wiped out by the Sandalwood trade. The reason Sandalwood is so popular is that it produces a beautiful wood that also smells great. It is often used to build small items like jewelry boxes and chess pieces and its scent lasts for years.


Noni Plant

Noni Plant

Noni is native to South East Asia and Australia and is widely distributed around the Pacific, including Hawaii. The fruit of the Noni has a horrible smell and taste, sometimes it is called the vomit fruit. In some places it is only eaten when there is nothing else left to eat, when people are on the verge of starving. Here in Hawaii, it is used in traditional medicine. And it appears that scientists are also becoming interested in its medicinal properties. Now there are a number of research studies in progress.

Hawaii Flowers: Anthurium, Heliconia, Hibiscus and Orchid

anthurium tropic sunrise

anthurium tropic sunrise

Today I want to tell you about some of my favorite varieties of tropical flowers that grow here in Hawaii. As you well know, Hawaii is a tropical island that never experiences the snows of winter. In fact the temperature seldom drops below 65 degrees. Also, Hawaii has an abundance of sunshine and rain, making it the ideal environment for plants to grow. This ideal environment allows many beautiful varieties of flowers to thrive here.

Anthurium Flowers

The first of my favorite flowers are anthurium flowers. The anthurium was brought here more than a hundred years ago from South America. It produces a lovely flower in many different colors. I have seen colors from red all the way to purple. Most of the time, it is shaped like a heart, though some varieties may be shaped like a tulip. A majority of the varieties are unscented, but a few of the tulip varieties smell great.


Heliconias are some of the most exotic looking flowers in the world. You can just imagine how these flowers look, when one of the varieties has been nicknamed, lobster-claws. The can be found near Indonesia and in South America. But they also seem to enjoy growing in Hawaii. The often produce red, orange or yellow flowers in strange configurations.


The Hibiscus plant grows all over the world, including in Hawaii. In fact, Hawaii has made the yellow Hibiscus its state flower. Out of all of the flowers that I am describing today, the Hibiscus is the flower with the most conventional shape. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a beautiful flower. It comes in many colors, including red, yellow, pink and white.


Finally, the orchid is another of those flowers that seems to grow everywhere. But they definitely enjoy it here too. Next to the heliconia, they are one of the most exotic looking flowers. I like how they look almost carnivorous, like they could gobble up a bee that is trying to pollinate it. As far as I know, there is only one edible orchid, the vanilla orchid. And this is grown on Hawaii too.

Hawaii: A Few Of Hawaii’s Natural Wonders

The State of Hawaii is filled with amazing natural beauty. It has extraordinary flowers like: hibsicus, ginger and anthuriums. It has rare creatures like the Hawaiian Hawk and the Hawaiian Bat. And it has incredible natural wonders like valleys, mountains and waterfalls.

0712Hawaii045 by LukeGordon1, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by  LukeGordon1

Volcano is a small village on the Island of Hawaii, where the Kilauea Volcano is located. If you pay a small fee, you can visit the Volcano National Park. The park has a number of magnificent attractions including Halemaumau Crater, the Jagger Volcano Observatory and the Thurston Lava Tube. Where else can you walk across the bottom of a volcanic crater, see steam pouring out of the earth and cruise through a lava tube? You can also have lunch at the Volcano House Restaurant, which over looks a gigantic crater.

Mauna Kea is a mountain on the Big Island that is home to many of the best observatories in the world. Situated in the middle of the Pacific it has some of the cleanest air in the world and is an excellent location for peering into the outer reaches of the universe. Measured from its base, at the sea floor, it is taller than Everest. Mauna Kea is frequently covered with snow, a rare sight in on a tropical island. From its summit you can see the whole island.

In the Iao Valley of Maui, you will find the Iao Needle. It is a massive 2,000 foot tall stone column that is covered with vegetation. Way back in 1790, the valley was the sight of an important battle that led to the unification of the Hawaiian Islands. This monument in the verdant Iao Valley was once used by the ancients an altar.

Right outside the quaint village of Honomu, you’ll find Akaka Falls Park. It is home to a towering, 400 foot waterfall called Akaka Falls. When you enter the park, you will be awed by the majestic beauty of the tropical jungle that surrounds the falls. You will hear many native birds singing and you will see quite a number of native trees. When you reach the end of the short trail to the falls, you will be overwhelmed by the roar of thousands of gallons of water rushing over the falls.