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Around the Big Island

Around the Big Island

Hawaiian Falsetto

September 6, 2015

Hawaiian music, fun and games, help celebrate Queen Lili’s birthday

This weekend the 15th annual Liliʻuokalani Festival in Hilo celebrated the Queen’s birthday.  There were food, crafts, cultural demonstrations, hula, and plenty of music featuring Hawaiian falsetto.  In this 5:13 minute video (courtesy, the band Komakakino entertains the crowd, with excellent examples of Hawaiian falsetto, including the yodel-like haʻi vocal breaks.

They say falsetto originated long ago, during the time women did not sing in public.  Men singing in the soprano range, an octave above their own range, produced flute-like sometimes ringing sounds.  This is falsetto.

How did Hawaiian falsetto originate?

When the vaqueros were brought over to manage the King’s cattle on Hawaiʻi Island, they brought their guitars.  Sitting around campfires, European and Hawaiian cowboys shared their music.  Some say Hawaiian falsetto evolved from ancient Hawaiian chants and the music of other immigrants to Hawaiʻi, who also introduced new harmonies.   Continue Reading…

Around the Big Island

This Summer’s Wild Hawaii Weather

September 4, 2015

Though West Hawaii weather has greened the hills, end to the drought is tenuous.


There’s no doubt about it, recent Hawaii weather has been wild.  Since the hurricanes started marching by and around Hawaii this summer, our relatively cool, trade wind days have been banished.  While conditions have definitely improved over the past few days, the last month especially has been a bit of a trial for West Hawaii.  A major Kawaihae wildfire got into the fray, preceding this Kawaihae flash flood (above) early last month.

While we wait for the next potential hurricane trying to come our way, we wonder if our years long drought may finally be coming to a close.  Unfortunately, the brewing super El Niño may prevent an end to the drought.  According to local forecaster David Miskus who was speaking about the drought, “El Niño events typically bring dryness during the winter and spring.”

To catch up, here’s West Hawaii Today’s summary of the last several weeks.  What can we expect next week for West Hawaii weather?  It’s hard to tell, but there’s no longer a need to pack for Panama if you are coming to Hawaii.  Whatever happens, there’s always the pool!  Hawaii weather

Around the Big Island

Hurricanes Stream Past Hawaii

August 29, 2015
Hurricanes, Hawaii late August

From left, hurricanes Kilo, (the Hawaiian archipelago is gray), Ignacio, and Jimena

Hurricanes passing by the Big Island have made for an unusually humid summer.

Compared to the mainland, summer in Hawaii starts early and ends late. Of course we go to the beach year ’round in the islands, but a few weeks ago I started hearing locals complain that the water is too warm. Super warm water at the beach usually happens at the end of September and the beginning of October.  In early autumn the ocean can feel like a bathtub.  When the air temperature has cooled off the high summer peak, it can feel nice to splash about in too-warm ocean water.  But during the tropical Pacific’s dog days of August, refreshing is what we want.

West Hawaii temperatures have been higher than normal and humidity has been off the charts.  A Honolulu meteorologist talked about our numerous hurricanes.  He said at least one day last week the humidity in Hawaii was as high as it could go.  Yes, I thought as I listened, sweat dripping, Continue Reading…

Around the Big Island

Volcano Pottery Sale this weekend

June 11, 2015

June 12-13 pottery sale

Though the Big Island’s Halema’uma’u crater lava lake has drained out of view, there’s still a reason to visit Volcanoes National Park this weekend: the 7th annual pottery sale at Volcano Village.  It’s never too early to start holiday shopping. Support the Big Island potters guild.  Buy local pottery!  Friday and Saturday June 12 & 13, 2015.

Around the Big Island

Follow the action in Kona at

June 5, 2015

West Hawaii Today shared the website of the contractor hired to widen the Queen K highway from Kona harbor to the airport.  It is  Orange fencing says the job has commenced.  Any bets on how long will it take to complete?  They say two years.  I’m guessing five.  Remember the Phase 1 widening from Kona town to the harbor?  It was effectively built twice because so many mistakes were made.  I suppose the time frame for Phase 2 depends on what the archaeologists find.  In any event, this is Hawaii, not Dubai.  Why take a week when you can string out salaries paid by taxpayers for years?  Right now the job is estimated at $20 million per mile.  Any guess on what that number will be upon completion?  We’ll need to hang on to our checkbooks and traffic snarled tempers for a few years.  Here we go!

Around the Big Island

Improvements underway at Saddle Road park

July 17, 2014

Improvements underway at Saddle Road park

On your next drive across Hawaii Island on the Saddle Road, take a picnic lunch. The Mauna Kea Recreation Area located near mile marker 34, is being refurbished. Picnickers will enjoy new lighting, refreshed landscaping, improved rest rooms, and paved parking. Dead trees will be removed, new picnic areas will be added, and cabin maintenance will be completed.

Continue Reading…

Around the Big Island

Hawaiian quilt exhibit at the Firehouse Gallery, Waimea, Big Island

May 28, 2014

The Japanese Hawaiian quilt club, Quilts Lei Hayama, is visiting the Big Island.  Waimea’s Firehouse Gallery will exhibit samples of their work 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, May 30 and 31.

481px-'Na_Kalaunu_Me_Na_K(-a-)hili',_quilt_attributed_to_Mary_Sophia_Rice,_c._1886,_Honolulu_Academy_of_ArtsThe work of Shigemi Obata, club president, Hawaiian-style appliqued quilt designer and teacher will be featured.  Ms Obata visits the islands a few times each year to photograph Hawaiian flowers which inspire new quilt designs.

A Waimea Arts Council project, the Firehouse Gallery, 67-1202 Mamalahoa Hwy, is at the intersection of Kawaihae Road.  It’s best to park behind Bank of Hawaii and walk a short distance to the gallery.

Photo cc:  Quilt attributed to Mary Sophia Rice, 1886, courtesy of the Honolulu Academy of Art

Around the Big Island

Big Island Bees now offering morning tours

May 18, 2014

Big Island Bees in South Kona, Hawaii Island, is now offering morning tours of their raw, organic honey operation, by appointment. Big Island Bees collect nectar from a single type of flower: Hawaii Island ohia lehua, macadamia, Christmas berry.  Each of these flower at different times of the year, and the company harvest each honey at the end of it’s flowering period.  The flavor, texture and color of each varietal are completely different.  Big Island Bees raw honey is more intense than honey produced from several flower types or pasteurized honey. Big Island Bees also produces honey mustard, jellies, lip balm and soaps.  If you are going, pack a lunch and enjoy picnic tables after your tour with a view of Kealakekua Bay, South Kona.  For reservations call 328-7318.  To learn more, visit

Video by Big Island Bees