By Matt PearceJanuary 22, 2014, 7:24 p.m.
Some of the biggest waves to hit Hawaii in years began slamming onto shore Wednesday, turning beachgoers into spectators as waves up to 40 feet tall crashed into idyllic getaways.
Waves up to 50 feet high were feared on the famous North Shore of Oahu and at other islands. Beaches were closed across the island chain as the surge was expected to peak Wednesday night and remain potentially dangerous through Thursday.
Coastal roads and parking lots reportedly flooded as wind gusts up to 40 mph whipped onlookers and tore fronds from palm trees. Officials urged surfers not to risk their lives to ride the violent surges.
Danger wasn't just on the beach: There was at least one report of a golfer hit by a tree branch.
"It's a real mess out there," Tom Birchard, a senior forecast for the National Weather Service in Honolulu, told the Los Angeles Times.
He said it was difficult to get a precise measure on how large the waves were because surfers weren't on the water.
But according to one buoy northwest of the island of Kauai, the surf heading toward Hawaii was at its highest level since 1986, Birchard said.
An extreme low-pressure system brought in this week's heavy waves. A similar high-surf event happened in 1998, Birchard said, but Wednesday's were the largest waves of his almost 20-year career.
"We get high-surf events every year, but those usually run about 25 to 35 feet and a little bit larger," Birchard said, noting that the waves were forecast to reach up to 50 feet in height. “This one is not only larger than normal, but it’s expected to last longer than normal.”
The spectacle was not lost on sightseers on the western and northern sides of the state's islands, where many shared photos and video of the tremendous waves crashing ashore.
Jan 3, 2014, 7:18am HST
Average hotel rate on Maui nears $500 during Christmas week. The average daily room rate at Maui hotels rose 7.5 percent to $495.78 over the Christmas holiday, according to a report by Hospitality Advisors LLC and Smith Travel Research. Statewide, the average daily room rate at Hawaii hotels rose 7.3 percent to $338.88 during the week of Dec. 22-28.
Hawaii hotels enjoyed a good Christmas week, with the average daily room rate rising 7.3 percent to $338.88, despite statewide occupancy slipping by 3.4 percentage points, compared to the same week last year, according to the weekly report from Hospitality Advisors LLC and Smith Travel Research.
Hotels in the Islands had a statewide occupancy rate of 81.1 percent during the week of Dec. 22 to Dec. 28, with all four major islands seeing declines in occupancy.
Maui hotels saw the average daily room rate climb 7.5 percent to $495.78, the highest in the state, while occupancy declined 3 percent to 81 percent, compared to the same week last year.
Oahu hotels had the highest occupancy rate at 83.8 percent, which was 3.5 percentage points lower than a year ago, while the average daily room rate rose 7.6 percent to $266.63.
Kauai hotels saw the average daily room rate rise 6.6 percent to $328.22, while occupancy fell 4.5 percentage points to 76.7 percent. On the Big Island, the average daily room rate rose 4.3 percent to $339.09, while occupancy declined by 3.3 percentage points to 74.1 percent.
Kauai, Hawaii Couples who prefer romance paired with secret waterfalls come to Kauai to enjoy the unharnessed natural beauty of Hawaii's oldest island. Kauai trades in high heels, nightclubs and shopping malls for hiking boots, pristine beaches and majestic cliffs. Its romance factor is undeniable. Just ask Elvis, who (fictionally) tied the knot here in his 1962 film Blue Hawaii.
KAUAI TOP WINNER FOR BEST ANNIVERSARY DESTINATION Sedona, Telluride, Charleston other US winners
Romance comes alive with sunshine and beautiful scenery, as indicated by the winners of our 10Best Readers Choice contest for Best Anniversary Destination. Readers of 10Best and USA TODAY cast their votes over a four-week period and the results are in.
The winners in the 'Best Anniversary Trip' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice are as follows:
Tom LaVenture - The Garden Island | 0 comments LIHUE — Big wave surfing legend Laird Hamilton is coming home.
Actually, the famous wave rider is building a home — on the Hanalei property where he lived as a child.
Hamilton said he and his wife built another home on Maui in 2008, but he still spends half of his time on Kauai, and wanted to build a home where he grew up.
The two-story, single-family residence is on the property Hamilton has owned on Kauai for several years.
“When the Maui house was finished I really wanted to come back to Kauai where I grew up,” he said. “I wanted to bring the kids back here and let them experience the lifestyle and energy of this island.”
It has been almost 19 years since he met his wife, Gabrielle Reece, a former volleyball star and model. He said they spend their summers at a Malibu home and migrate to Hawaii during the big wave season. They have two young daughters.
He said part of the delay was the change in the laws concerning flood plains and tidal zones, which complicated building on the North Shore.
The couple is working with the Honolulu architectural firm of Avery Youn. The home construction is listed at $1,548,100. A separate permit for a 10-foot retaining wall to solve the zoning issue has a $63,800 price tag.
“My wife and I designed this to be a functional house that wasn’t too complicated, and it’s basically about living comfortably versus the look of it,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said he focused on things like the foundation and the beams. His wife took charge of the colors and textures of the interior. The permits were again approved by the county on Oct. 17 and they are still working to hire a contractor.
What else is he up to?
Hamilton is working on several projects, including a line of fitness programs and a new “GolfBoard” described as a stand-up personal golf cart. The electric vehicle has four tires but the rider stands on a center board not much wider than the shoulders.
It is a much healthier approach to golf and Hamilton says that in a way it’s a “glorified skateboard.”
“It does less damage to the course and presents a new way to play golf,” Hamilton said. “We have had a good response from the golf community and that is giving it a big push.”
The Hamilton brand of stand-up paddleboards and gear is continuing with a new line for this season. It is a recreational activity that resembles the Hawaiian and Polynesian traditions.
Change and progress is slow, and Hamilton said he had no hesitation about moving forward with the “marriage of the outrigger paddling and surfing. There was negative backlash from some Mainland circles that didn’t like seeing so many non-surfers out using the boards.
“The ‘blame me’ campaign started and I took that as a compliment,” Hamilton said. “I said ‘blame me’ for all that fun you’re having and liked the idea of turning a negative into a positive.”
In the end, he said paddleboarding is an example of how to use the oceans and waterways more responsively. It is a way to conduct oneself in the water that is in tune with the environment.
The 49-year-old Hamilton said he has no designs on slowing down his big wave surfing.
“Big wave riding is still in the forefront of my passion and my psyche, even with the family and everything else going on,” Hamilton said. “I train all year for it, and I design equipment for it.”
He is constantly looking at surf locations around the world — France, Spain and the Basque area of Portugal — whether it means paddling out to the waves or pushing the limits for the tow-in techniques he is credited with helping to invent.
“We are always looking at riding the biggest waves and the winter in Hawaii, obviously, has some of the biggest surges in the world,” he said. “I am always thinking about the Hawaii conditions and what the winter will bring us, and now that we are at the start of the season I am excited.”
The Garden Island Newspaper
Legend of surfer Eddie Aikau becomes topic for ESPN Big-wave specialist and lifeguard is subject of ‘30 for 30’ season premiere September 25, 2013 by David Strege
Eddie Aikau was not afraid of big waves. The Hawaiian lifeguard wouldn’t give it a second thought to run into the surf with pounding waves that were 20 feet tall to make a rescue. Nor would he think twice about surfing those big waves.
Long before the likes of big-wave surfers Greg Long, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Mark Healey, and Garrett McNamara there was Aikau, legendary big-wave surfer and beloved lifeguard.
In 1969, Aikau was the first lifeguard hired by Honolulu to work on the North Shore. Not one life was lost at Waimea Bay while Aikau was on duty.
But his fame is tied to surfing where he won several awards and contests, including the 1977 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship.
“Eddie Would Go” became a common refrain among surfers daring other surfers to take on the big surf. Eddie would go.
Those unfamiliar with surfing, and who aren’t Hawaiian, might not know about the exciting life of Eddie, but ESPN is bringing the legend to its popular, Peabody award-winning film series “30 for 30.”
“Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau” will kick off the new season on Tuesday, October 1 at 8 p.m. ET. Here’s a trailer:
The accolades are abundant from those who knew him, as you can see in the trailer.
“He was just the brightest star out there.”
“He couldn’t have been more at ease on these gigantic waves. He looked like the perfect big-wave surfer.”
“When he surfed, it was about that connection with the ocean.”
Sadly, it was the ocean that took Aikau’s life. Not from wiping out on a big wave, but setting out on his surfboard in an attempt to save lives.
Aikau had joined the crew on a traditional sailing canoe that set out on a 30-day, 2,500-mile journey following the ancient route of the Polynesian migration between the Hawaiian and Tahitian islands, according to the Eddie Aikau Foundation.
The Hokule’a departed the Hawaiian island on March 1, 1978, and capsized in stormy weather 12 miles south of the island of Molokai.
A commercial plane spotted the capsized boat and alerted the Coast Guard, which saved the crew. Alas, Aikau, 31, had already set out on his surfboard in an attempt to get help. He was never seen again.
Photos courtesy of ESPN.