Showing posts with label Hawaii. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hawaii. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Waikiki ~ A Royal Pink Palace Celebration

Once upon a time in the middle of the Pacific Ocean there was an island kingdom; a land of islands ruled by kings and queens. . . a Land we now call ‘Hawaii’. . .

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Island of Lanai - Hawaii
Visitors who spend anytime in Hawaii will soon be caught up in its history and the stories of those who ruled that not-so-long-ago Kingdom. Reminders and tributes are everywhere from the Kamehameha Highway to Queen’s Hospital.

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Island of Oahu, Hawaii
Among the Royalty were – just to name a few -- King Kamehameha, also known as Kamehameha the Great, who conquered most of the Hawaiian Islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in 1810. . . and Queen Emma, consort of King Kamehameha IV. . . and King Kalakaua, and finally Queen Lili’uokalani the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. She reigned until the overthrow of the Kingdom in 1893.

The history of the Kingdom, the arrival of Christian missionaries, the introduction of sugar cane and pineapple production, its tourism industry and the road to statehood in 1959, is multifaceted. Today I am focusing on one small but important part of its fascinating story . . .

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel ~ The Pink Palace of the Pacific

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Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Waikiki Beach - Honolulu
If you look closely at my photo above you’ll see the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel, ‘the Pink Palace of the Pacific’ tucked away in the shadow of modern high-rise hotel towers. What a contrast to when she reigned over Waikiki Beach as shown in the photo below. The Grand Old Queen of the Beach celebrates her 90th anniversary this month.

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Royal Hawaii Hotel - Photo, Historic Hawaii Foundation Collection
The first Royal Hawaiian Hotel was originally built in downtown Honolulu to house visiting dignitaries. Opening in 1871 it was called the Hawaiian Hotel, then soon after King Kalakaua came into power in 1874, it was called the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. In the early 1900’s, with the hotel in decline, the YMCA took over the building and Matson Navigation Company bought the name.

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The Regal Entry to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
Opening at its present-day Waikiki location on February 1, 1927, the new Royal Hawaiian Hotel drew 1,200 attendees to its opening night gala.  The hotel’s Spanish-Moorish style was popular in the 1920’s, partially due to the popularity of Rudolph Valentino, an Italian actor who often portrayed Arab sheiks in movies, according to Bob Sigall, who writes “Rearview Mirror” for the Honolulu Star Advertiser Sunday Magazine.

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Promotional posters from yesteryear on display at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
With the hotel’s opening, the era of luxury travel to Hawaii had begun. Matson Navigation Co. operated two cruise ships, the Lurline and the Matsonia that traveled between California and Honolulu. Passengers sailed on the luxury liners and then stayed in luxurious surroundings at the Royal Hawaiian. (Matson ultimately owned four hotels in Hawaii and in 1959 sold them to Sheraton for $18 million.)

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If the walls could talk - Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
Those early day cruisers after being welcomed with leis and serenaded by the Royal Hawaiian Band at the pier were treated to a lawn party at the hotel. While guests partied, servants unpacked their bags, according to Sigall.

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Wall map in entry way of Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
During World War II tourism tanked. The luxury cruise ships were painted war-time gray and became troop transport ships while the Navy took over the Royal Hawaiian, paying $17,500 a month rent. The hotel was then used for a Rest and Relaxation (R and R) facility for troops. It didn’t take long after the war for tourism to return and the hotel reopened to resume hosting the luxury traveler.

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Ceilings in the Royal Hawaiian - Pink Palace of the Pacific - Hotel 
Hawaiians like to ‘talk story’ and among the hotel’s stories is one explaining its pink color:  it was inspired by the colors of homes in Portugal, many of which, back in the 1920’s, were painted pink with blue shutters.

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William "Chick" Daniels - Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
A look at the history of the ‘Pink Palace’ wouldn’t be complete without mention of the Waikiki ‘beach boys’ –  those talented and athletic young Hawaiians who taught visitors how to surf and to use outrigger canoes.  There’s a photo display at the hotel that pays tribute to one of their favorite ‘beach boys’:  William ‘Chick’ Daniels (1899-1982).  Chick, as he was called, began his 50-year career at the Royal Hawaiian in 1927. He became their Head Beach Attendant.

This talented waterman was also a musician and entertained guests by day then performed with his band, the ‘Royal Hawaiians’ at night. They performed at the hotel’s opening gala. Years later, he wrote the Hawaiian song, “Lei Aloha” which he performed in New York on the Arthur Godfrey radio show.

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Waikiki Beach - Honolulu, Hawaii
It was a different time, those glory days of luxury in the ‘Pink Palace’. The price of a ticket to that that opening gala cost $10 per person, or about $150 by today’s standards.

But it’s not too late to have a taste of the elegance: The hotel’s 90th Anniversary Gala is slated for March 3rd, tickets are $350 per person with all proceeds going to the ALS Association. The event, housed in the hotel’s elegant Monarch Room, will include a cocktail reception, three-course meal, entertainment and silent auction. Tickets are still available. For information: royalhawaiian90thgala@luxurycollection.com or (808) 931-7912.

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Window display hotel shop - Royal Hawaiian Hotel
If you want a bit more ‘talk story’ about the ‘Pink Palace’ the hotel’s historian, Kehaulani Kam, leads one hour tours twice a week. They currently begin at 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Contact the hotel for details, (808) 923-7311.

Aloha for this week. If you have a story about the Royal Hawaiian we invite you to tell us about it in the comments below or send us an email and we’ll add your story. The hotel wants to hear your memories, so hashtag it, #Royal90.  May your travels be happy and healthy! Hope you’ll be back next week and bring a friend or two with you.

Linking up with:
Linking with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration .

Thursday, February 9, 2017

In Hawaii: E Komo Mai ~ All Are Welcome

E Komo Mai (eh koh-moh my-ee) – Hawaiian for ‘welcome’ or ‘come in’.

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A KoOlina Tradition
The small gathering – an ever-changing mix of visitors and locals, representing a variety of races and religions --  has become a part of Sunday morning traditions at KoOlina on O’ahu’s west coast.  The group gathers on a grassy area between two lagoons; a peaceful area overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean. This weekly worship service has been held for years in this location.

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Hawaiian greeting
A small yard sign near the public pathway reads, “E Komo Mai, All Welcome”. Even those of us who are simply passing by pause to listen to a bit of the sermon or one of the hymns being sung. In keeping with this island's Aloha Spirit and E Komo Mai attitude, there’s no pressure to stay or leave; all are made to feel welcome.

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E Komo Mai - welcome
Those messages of aloha and welcome were being expressed just down the road some 20 miles away on this same Sunday morning two weekends ago but in a much different setting. Another group made up of various races and religions had gathered at the Honolulu International Airport. The signs they waved were of welcome to this tropical paradise – where close to one-fifth of the state's residents are foreign-born. Theirs was a protest of the then-hours-old Executive Order barring entry to the United States for travelers from seven countries.

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KoOlina - O'ahu
Now this post isn’t going to rehash that Executive Order but that juxtapositioning of welcomes did get me thinking about how often we take visas and entry into foriegn countries for granted. This post is about E Komo Mai, as the Hawaiians say, being made to feel welcome.


Welcome – (as a verb) – greet someone arriving in a glad, polite or friendly way.
                                                -- Dictionary Definition


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Wadi Rum - Jordan
As a travelers  who’ve  been to any number of countries that require tourist visas we have a healthy respect for the variety of requirements each country has for entry into it, if even for a short visit. Some require nothing more than paying a fee upon arrival, a computer scan of your passport followed by a stamp in it. Some require that you fill out an application on-line, pay for it, and print out a copy for the authorities upon arrival. Others, like India, have a such a complex application process, high fee ($400 per person) and relinquishing our passports to their US representatives for a week or more,  that had our cruise a year ago not required us to have had the visa to board the ship, we’d have simply never gotten off the ship in India.

A smile is the universal welcome.
Max Eastman

However, once we had the visa, we have never been made to feel unwelcome in any country we’ve visited.
 
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Our guide in Petra and The Scout
Like most who travel, we find that the every-day people we've encountered are simply normal people living in a different culture and religion than we know. Sometimes we don’t fully understand it, but that is why we’ve gone there in the first place – we want to learn more about them. And in the course of our travels, we’ve given those everyday folks a chance to meet everyday Americans as well. More than once we’ve been told we don’t ‘act like Americans’ – at least how they have believed or thought Americans would act.

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A new friend, a business traveler we met in Cairo, Egypt
One reader of a post I wrote about our time in Cairo told us to be careful because ‘they don’t like Americans there'. Well, I suppose that if I were to survey everyone of the more than 20 million people in the city, I’d find some that didn’t like Americans for whatever reason. But I can assure you those that we have met not only welcomed us but thanked us for visiting their country. (When’s the last time you thanked a foreign visitor for coming to your country?)

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Greek olive grove
We’ve actually had people ask us “How do you find the Greeks?” when they learn we have a home there. “Find them?” we respond.  “You know. . . do they like Americans?”  Now I have to admit we find those questions absolutely absurd based on our experiences.  We have been made to feel more than welcome from the locals we have met in our villages.

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Our village children lead a parade through Kardamyli
We are feeling so welcome, that  as we’ve said in earlier posts, we are seeking resident visas which would allow us more time in that country. I can assure you, this visa process makes those tourist visa applications look like a piece of cake. It is neither easy nor inexpensive but it is definitely humbling.
And probably not unlike what the United States requires of those wanting similar status here.

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Welcome Mat at The Stone House on the Hill
If we are not granted a resident visa we will continue going to our Greek life and staying for as long as our tourist visa allows.  However,  I won’t take either the tourist or resident visa for granted anymore.  I’ve seen how quickly, with a single signature, a government can impact the lives of travelers who believe they hold valid visas.

So aloha from Hawaii where our timeshare life is drawing to a close for another year.  Again, the 'e koma mai' spirit makes it difficult to leave but new travel adventures await.  May your travels be safe and may you always find a welcome mat waiting for you.

Linking with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Travel Inspiration .

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Here Comes the Bride, Wedding Guests . . . and Tourists

Just like kittens, wine glasses and sunsets, I can’t pass up a good wedding photo. Can you? It doesn’t even have to be anyone I know, as evidenced by this post. And I am seldom alone in my efforts –  other tourists seem to be as taken with the scene unfolding before them as I am.

I should have this shutter-finger reaction because I am a romantic and love weddings. But I don't. We simply enjoy watching the drama surrounding those perfectly posed wedding photos. Those images that will lock the day’s events into picture-perfect history.

Destination weddings have become big ticket tourism in the United States.  Gone are the days of the traditional church wedding with the couple jetting off alone for a honeymoon destination – nowadays the wedding, the guests and honeymoon merge into one far-away affair.

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Undeveloped lagoon at KoOlina; the alter for a wedding in the photo on the right

Hawaii is one of the destination that attracts thousands to its sandy shores for the all-inclusive wedding and honeymoon events. A research manager for the Hawaii Tourism Authority, quoted in an on-line news article, reported that 27,000 Japanese couples married in Hawaii in 2010.

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That’s not surprising based on what we’ve seen there recently. At KoOlina, the resort on O’ahu’s west coast where we spend several weeks each winter, there’s a steady stream of limousines bringing wedding parties to the small wedding chapels strategically located throughout the development. Each chapel just footsteps from one of the four lagoons that are on the property. Often times the wedding photos include backdrops of semi-naked sun-basking tourists like the one below. It was taken front of the wedding chapel located next to Disney’s Aulani Resort (that high rise building in the background is the former JW Marriott Ihilani, soon to be Four Seasons).
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KoOlina Wedding
 
Depending on number of guests and amenities (like bridal bouquets, chairs for guests and photographers) the prices quoted on the KoOlina Weddings web site range from $5,600 to $9,000.  Not bad when compared to the average cost of a wedding alone in the United States being somewhere in the range of $28,000 to $30,000 (depending on the source of your statistics).
 
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KoOlina wedding
We’ve been spotting destination (and a few local) weddings almost everywhere we’ve been in recent years. Like our cruise ship stop in Catania, Italy where the wedding party dog stole the show from the bride and groom:

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In Greece we happened upon weddings in small villages as well as the big city.

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View of Kardamyli's Historic old town - Peloponnese, Greece
From our hotel room in Kardamyli a small town in the Mani region of the Peloponnese peninsula of Greece we overlooked the old town section with its newly renovated tower.  One day while admiring the view we couldn’t help but notice a flurry of activity among the historic buildings.  A closer look, showed us what was happening: wedding photos.

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Kardamyli, Greece
During a stop in Athens, we  headed to the Acropolis – one of our favorite strolling places in town.

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Athen's Acropolis
As we strolled its perimeter and approached the nearby Areopagus or Mars Hill, we noticed far more tourists clamoring on it than we’d seen on earlier visits.

Areopagus is the hill from which St. Paul preached about the identify of the “Unknown God” to the Athenians in 52 A.C; a time Athens was occupied by the Romans. It is named for Ares, the god of war, (known to the Romans as Mars). Ares, as the story goes, was tried on this marble hill for the murder of Poseidon’s son who had violated his daughter.

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Areopagus, or Mars Hill, Athens, Greece
Zooming in on the beehive of activity, I realized we were witnessing yet another ‘destination wedding’ photo shoot – this one a stumbling, bumbling affair as groomsmen swayed back and forth trying to get a foothold on the uneven surface. Several times they rescued the bride and her dress as they jockeyed for a position in front of the camera and out of the way of other tourists.

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Ooops, almost. . .

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Not quite ready for that photographer (hidden behind the bush to the left) to snap some photos. . .

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No, not yet. . .enough! We couldn’t watch anymore. We continued our stroll.

As interesting as it sounds, I don’t think we could have done a destination wedding, way back when we married. How about you? Destination wedding? If so, where was it? Or where would it be?

That’s it for today from us.  We’re still busy with projects at The Stone House on the Hill and will tell you more about it and our cruise in future posts. But with June being the 'wedding month' I thought I'd share some of these wedding moments with you. Thanks for your time and welcome to all of our new followers!! Happy Travels to you.

This week if the internet gods are with us, we are linking up with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox  
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Something to Crow About: Kauai’s Birds of Paradise

KauiSm2014 008It was easy to be captivated by the beautiful birds that unknowingly entertained us during our time this fall on Hawaii’s island of Kaua’i.


This twosome clucked and cooed sweet nothings to each other early each morning, oblivious to the two of us sitting below them sipping coffee and watching the sun wake the day during our time in Princeville on Kauai’s North Shore.




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Morning love songs - Princeville, Kaua'i
Birds of paradise – just the phrase evokes images of cooing doves and graceful tropical creatures, like the swan that glided past our Poipu condo with regularity – undisturbed by the camera-toting visitors, like me.

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But, wait! These aren’t the ‘real’ birds of paradise on this island!


The real birds of this paradise – the one’s that give the island something to crow about -- are the hundreds of roosters, hens and chicks that freely roam the streets, sidewalks, parks, and public areas from restaurants to rental car lots.

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This fellow was patrolling the parking lot at a scenic overlook. . .

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And this one was ducking rain drops at the end of the road on the North Shore’s, Ha’ena Beach Park, in much the same manner we tourists were scurrying to find shelter from the often intense rain squalls there.

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But the funniest by far were the resident trio of mischief makers (pictured above) at the Marriott Waiohai in Poipu.  One morning while I was on our fourth floor deck, the normally quiet surroundings came to life with a commotion below me.

A guest in the ground floor unit just below us -- a grown man -- was shooing this Fowl Flock from his patio by doing what one might call a chicken dance -- hopping about while flapping his bended arms.  It worked for a minute or two then they chicken danced right back to him.  It went on for a few minutes .
(I was so busy laughing I didn’t think to get the camera).

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Chicken Marketing in Kaua'i
What Came First – the Chicken or the Egg?

One might ask from where the multitudes of these strutting troubadours came.  Historians can’t put all their eggs in one basket so I found two answers: the Polynesians who discovered the islands centuries ago brought chickens with them and they’ve been here since then. Some say the large numbers of Feral Fowl can be blamed on 1992’s Hurricane ‘Iniki that blasted the island with 145 mph winds (gusts of 165 mph) and scattered domestically raised poultry far and wide. 

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Whatever the origin, they are a permanent part of the population now.  Souvenirs with roosters are everywhere from tee-shirts to home-décor, notepads to Christmas tree ornaments!  The tourism folks really do have something to crow about!!

Post Script: Your thoughts on Columbus Day

HAL 2009 cruise photos 051I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank those of you who responded to last week’s post about celebrating Columbus Day. 
The responses to that post are examples of what blogging should be – a thoughtful exchange of ideas and opinions from across the globe.

Too often we bloggers get caught up in a quest of statistics – the more ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ the better. This post and its responses reminded me why blogging should be a richer experience than that. For that, I thank you! (Click here to access it and the comments.)

As a result of that post, one of our blogger buddies, currently residing in Fiji, shared a link to a post written by Jose Alejandro Amores, a professor at Grand Valley State University who wrote an insightful piece with a headline that begins, “We are all Columbus. . .”   I’d encourage you to take a moment to read it.

Hope to see you back again next week ~ until then, Happy Travels!

Linking Up this week at:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Travel Photo Monday – Travel Photo Discovery
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Maui: Prisoners in Paradise

We are talking ‘captives’ not ‘captivating’ as we take you on a tour through a bit of history in Maui’s port town of Lahaina.
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Banner over Lahaina's Main street 
MauiLanaiSF2014 029This small town, the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, is  now a hub of tourism on this Hawaiian island.

Once a busy whaling port and (sugar cane) plantation settlement, it continues to be a busy port town although it is day-tour boats and cruise ship tenders that ply the Pacific waters these days.

As you know a trademark of our travel lifestyle is to get off the beaten path – away from the tourist bustle – in this case, anywhere near the port.

We set off on foot as Lahaina is an easy walking town and just a few blocks away from this bee hive of commercialism we found ourselves strolling through a laid-back semi-residential neighborhood.

Soon we came to a road called “Prison Street”.  We followed it and found ourselves at . . ., you guessed it. . .a prison. A prison that is now an outdoor museum, that is.

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Hale Pa’Ahao, which loosely translated means ‘stuck in irons’ was built by convict labor. In the late afternoon we found the entryway open – there was no admission charge and no one staffing the historic site. We had the place to ourselves.

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(Note the sign says guardhouse and cells were rebuilt in 1959 – the same year Hawaii became a part of the United States, so one might assume from its worn interior today that it was still in use then.)

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As far as prison grounds go, this one seemed rather comfortable (at least in is present state) with green lawn and trees.  But it was clear that comfort was left on the doorstep of that small building that housed the prisoners:

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It appeared that it wasn’t just a place to ‘sleep off’  too much fun --  prisoners had rules. . .lots of rules, for example:

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It’s unclear how long the place housed prisoners, but the cells and stockade were reconstructed, according to historical records, as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). And then there’s the plaque in the photo above says there was a rebuild in 1959. By 1967 the place was in a state of deterioration and the Lahaina Restoration Foundation developed a plan approved by the Historical Commission to save it.

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Walls of coral border the old prison site
If only those coral walls that surround the prison could talk. . .

TRAVEL TIPS:
A number of airlines have direct flights from the Mainland US to Maui’s Kahului airport and there are several flights daily from Honolulu. You’ll need to hop the local bus or rent a car to get to Lahaina.

Map picture

Stop by the Visitor’s Center (housed in Lahaina’s historic courthouse) footsteps from the harbor and take a tour of the Museum (in the same building) – entry here is also free but donations are welcome. While there pPick up a free copy of the Historic Walking Tour map and take a self-guided tour of the area’s  62 historical sites.  Bronze plaques at the sites give brief overviews of the historic significance.

The old prison, now considered an outdoor museum, is open daily from 10 a.m. – 4  p.m.

As always, we thank you  for spending time with us today. Hope to see you back again soon – bring a friend or two with you!

Linking with Judith's Mosaic Monday at Lavender Cottage Gardening

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