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Most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Features Open as Winter Weather Continues in Hawaii

Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) and the Kahuku Unit reopened Saturday, although heavy rainfall persists at times. The snow-cloaked summit of Mauna Loa will remain closed to all day use and overnight camping until it is safe to reopen.

NPS Photo by Janice Wei

NPS Photo by Janice Wei

Nāhuku is open, but the lights are still out. Visitors must bring a flashlight to explore the 300-foot lava tube, which becomes pitch black just a few yards in without light, has uneven flooring, and a low ceiling in some sections. Rangers are stationed at the lava tube to assist visitors during peak hours, and signs are posted.

The park’s Kahuku Unit in Ka‘ū reopened Saturday morning and remained open through Sunday. The 116,000-acre Kahuku Unit is open to the public for hiking and exploring Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The Mauna Loa summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised during the permit process to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

“The park is open, and we remind visitors to drive with caution and aloha,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Roads are flooded in places, and visitors might encounter fog, additional rain and other inclement weather today and as the week progresses,” she said.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Announces Closures – Thurston Lava Tube Floods

Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) and the Kahuku Unit are closed due to impacts from heavy rainfall and flash flooding. The summit of Mauna Loa remains closed to all day use and overnight camping. Closures remain in effect until it is safe to reopen.

A closure sign at the entrance to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)/NPS Photo

A closure sign at the entrance to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)/NPS Photo

On Friday, the floor of the lava tube was flooded with rain, and water covered the electrical conduit system. The power was shut off, but visitor access is prohibited until further notice.

The floor of a dark Nāhuku flooded with rainwater Friday afternoon, with the power off./NPS Photo

The floor of a dark Nāhuku flooded with rainwater Friday afternoon, with the power off./NPS Photo

The Kahuku Unit, which is usually open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, was closed for the day on Friday morning due to flooding and a road closure on Highway 11. Staff will reassess conditions Saturday morning, and determine if Kahuku will open for the weekend.

The National Weather Service extended the flash flood warning for Hawai‘i Island Friday afternoon through 5:15 p.m. HST.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the summit of Mauna Loa that remains in effect. Heavy rain and high winds pummeled the 13,677-foot summit, and abundant snow was visible on webcams and at sunset Thursday.

Rainwater ponding along the rainforest trail at Nāhuku. NPS Photo

Rainwater ponding along the rainforest trail at Nāhuku. NPS Photo

The summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised during the permit process to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

“Park rangers will constantly monitor the roads and destinations within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park during this storm, and additional closures may be warranted,” said Chief Ranger John Broward.

Hilo Passport Acceptance Fairs

Thinking about applying for a U.S. Passport? Don’t put it off any longer!
hilo-passport-fairApply for your U.S. Passport at a special Saturday Passport Acceptance Fair at Hawai’i Community College on December 3, 2016; April 1, 2017; and May 20, 2017.

To request an appointment, email your name, phone number, and preferred appointment date and time to PassportFair@state.gov. Walk-in customers will be accommodated as time permits.

Kona International Airport to Resume International Flights

Gov. David Y. Ige and the United States Customs and Border Protection announced the re-establishment of a Federal Inspection Service (FIS) facility at the Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA). The inaugural international flight from Kona to Tokyo, Japan is scheduled to depart on Dec. 20, 2016. The flight from Tokyo to Kona is scheduled to arrive at the Kona International Airport on Dec. 21, 2016.

ige-announcement“The resumption of international flights to Kona will have a wide-ranging positive impact on Hawai‘i Island and the state as a whole by boosting tourism spending, creating jobs and generating millions of dollars for our economy,” said Gov. David Y. Ige. “I especially thank our partners at U.S. Customs and Border Protection for working with us to achieve this goal. This was a top priority for my administration and I am pleased that we were able to make the Federal Inspection Service facility in Kona a reality.”

“In fulfilling our important role protecting the border and fostering lawful travel, CBP relies on strong partnerships with stakeholders. This is why we are especially grateful for the commitment of Governor Ige and the people of Hawai‘i to providing adequate airport inspection facilities,” said Brian Humphrey, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, director, field operations. “In equal good faith, CBP is committed to providing a welcoming experience to passengers in Kona while we simultaneously protect America.”

The new FIS will benefit Hawai‘i in several ways. The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation estimates new international flights to Kona will result in more than $7 million in annual projected tax benefits. International visitors will also spend tens of millions of dollars at local businesses and attractions, further boosting the economy and generating jobs. Hawai‘i has seen the numbers of international travelers increase by more than one million passengers, or nearly 60 percent, since the economic downturn in 2009. The trend in international passenger arrivals in Hawai‘i is expected to continue to grow, enhancing the need for a second airport to accept flights from international destinations.

The secondary international point of entry in Kona will ease congestion at the Honolulu International Airport, especially during daily peak hours and busy travel seasons. The FIS will improve health and safety by increasing resiliency in an emergency. Should an unforeseen incident occur in Honolulu, international flights would still be able to land safely in Kona. Currently, Honolulu is the only landing option in the state for international flights.

The United States Department of Transportation approved Hawaiian Airlines’ request to fly non-stop international flights between Kona and Haneda International Airport in Tokyo beginning in December.

“We look forward to welcoming our Tokyo guests with our authentic Hawaiian hospitality as they enjoy the convenience of our direct flights to the spectacular Kona coast,” said Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “We are pleased to return international flights to the Big Island and thankful to all of our government, business and community partners for their support of our newest route.”

Several improvements are being made to the international arrivals section at KOA, including the installation of security cameras and motion sensors, an upgraded access control system, 10 Automated Passport Control kiosks to process incoming international passengers quickly and efficiently, and refurbished restrooms.

“After multiple meetings and on-site visits, we finally made it across the finish line,” said Sen. Brian Schatz. “I thank CBP and the Obama Administration for recognizing the potential of our visitor industry and for working with the State of Hawaii, the people of Kona, and many others in state government and the hospitality industry to finally get this done.”

“After six years of working closely with federal and state officials, and community partners to reestablish direct international flights to Kona International Airport, today’s announcement is good news for Hawai‘i’s tourism industry and the Hawai‘i Island economy. In particular, I want to acknowledge the efforts of Customs and Border Protection to work with the state on the Federal Inspection Service facility that made this a reality,” said Sen. Mazie K. Hirono.

“Today’s announcement not only positively impacts our tourism-based economy, it addresses a critical safety and security need for our state by providing a secondary international port in case of emergency,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “This project has been a priority of mine, and became a reality through many years of hard work by community leaders, local businesses, and county, state, and Federal government.  I especially want to thank HDOT and CBP for their leadership and upholding their commitment to reopening international travel to Kona.”

Regularly scheduled international flights to Kona began in 1996 and were discontinued in October 2010.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to Offer Free Admission on 10 Days in 2017

There are 10 more reasons to enjoy Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2017! The park will offer free admission to all on 10 days in 2017.

Visitors observe the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater from the Jaggar Museum observation deck at dawn.  NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Visitors observe the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater from the Jaggar Museum observation deck at dawn. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

The 2017 entrance fee-free days are:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • February 20: Presidents Day
  • April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week Weekends
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

“We encourage everyone to take advantage of the free entry days, and come visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “The park is a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, and is easily explored on foot or by vehicle,” she said.

Usually, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle and the pass is good for seven days. (The entrance waiver does not include camping fees). Park visitors can also purchase the annual Tri-Park Pass for $25 and enjoy Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and Haleakalā National Park for less than seven cents a day. The annual Tri-Park Pass, which is good for one year from the date of purchase, is available at the entrance stations of all three parks.

An NPS report shows that 1,832, 660 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2015 spent $151,246,200 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,834 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $189,391,100.

New Guided Tours to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Vacationers and residents on Hawaii island now have a new way of discovering the island and the famous Kilauea Volcano with the recent debut of Kilauea Summit Adventures.

kilauea-summit-adventuresCreated by Pat Wright, founder and owner of Mauna Kea Summit Adventures (the leading activity outfit for guided tours to Mauna Kea for 30 years), Kilauea Summit Adventures offers small group excursions along the Hamakua Coast to Volcanoes National Park.

summit-adventureProfessional guides with over 50 years of combined experience share their expertise in the history, culture and geology of Hawaii island, leading guests through the diverse climates unique to the island, starting at Waipio Valley lookout, along the Hamakua Coast, including Rainbow Falls, and to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  They journey around Crater Rim Drive, getting up close to steam vents and lava tubes, with a final visit to the Jaggar Museum and Overlook which provides a panoramic view of Kilauea caldera and Halemaumau crater.

waipio-lookoutThe new operation is managed by Mike Sessions, who has been working with Pat for 10 years. Guests are shuttled in micro coach vans with huge windows for viewing and coach-style seating for comfort. The 10- to 12-hour excursion includes admission to the national park, dinner, gourmet hot beverages, drinking water, rain ponchos, umbrellas, flashlights and convenient resort pick-up points at most locations along the west side of the Big Island.

summit-adventure-2For more information on booking a reservation, restrictions, and details of the tour, visit their website kilaueasummit.com.

Island Air Offers “Buy Three, Get One Free” Holiday Promotion

Ready to take a neighbor island vacation with the family or visit relatives and friends for the holidays? Now is the time to take that long overdue trip, and book tickets with Island Air’s limited-time holiday promotion, the Pā‘ina Pass – “buy three, get one free”.

island-airStarting today through Saturday, December 3, 2016, customers are able to make reservations utilizing the Pā‘ina Pass promotion. The travel period is Monday, November 28, 2016 through Wednesday, January 11, 2017. No blackout dates.

In order to qualify for the Pā‘ina Pass, “buy three, get one free” promotion, all travelers need to be booked on one itinerary and traveling to the same location on the same day, flight and time. This promotion cannot be combined with any other Island Air promotion, offer or deal, such as the Kūpuna & Keiki Fare, College Student Standby Program and Travel Pak.

Reservations for the Pā‘ina Pass promotion must be made by calling (800) 652-6541 between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. (HST).

For more information, visit www.islandair.com.

Hawaiian Airlines Pilots Closer to Striking – Possible Shutdown of Airlines

Many folks have seen Hawaiian Airline Pilots wearing lanyards that read “Fully Qualified… Partially Paid” for the last few months that represents the pilots frustrations with their contract negotiations.

I have learned that “mediation process” that was going on during November has ended without resolution.

What this means, is that Hawaiian Airline pilots are getting closer to a strike and shutdown of the airline!

mec-alertHawaiian Pilots:

Your MEC and Negotiating Committee were back in Virginia this week for the last scheduled round of mediation under the supervision of Senior Mediator Patricia Sims and NMB Board Chair Linda Puchala. Like our other sessions, mediation again ended without an agreement. To say we are unhappy is an understatement.

Management efforts to reach an agreement were completely unsatisfactory. While adding money to their previous substandard position, the company does not believe that Hawaiian pilots are due the market compensation that other pilots receive. Instead management continues to argue that we should work for less than our professional colleagues, or “buy” industry pay rates by generating offsets that fund those increases.

The MEC and NC categorically and emphatically reject that choice.  We are tired of subsidizing the company’s success. The company has no choice but to pay market rates for airplanes, and they will have no choice but to pay market rates for pilots.  It’s alarming that the CEO risks Hawaiian Airlines’ 2017 financial plans and projections, and its long-term future, by repeatedly denying the reality of the commercial marketplace.

Not only was the Company’s final pay proposal more than $20 less than the rates in recent pilot settlements, but also, management’s offer continues to pro-rate days off, keep vacation and training days at their current rate, and demand non-seniority list simulator instructors.

Early Saturday morning the NMB advised the bargaining parties that it will not schedule additional mediation sessions.  While no specific timeline was discussed, the NMB stated it will instead move forward with the actions available under the Railway Labor Act to bring negotiations to a close.  We left the meeting with renewed resolve to achieve a market-rate contract – and one that reflects our contribution to the company’s stunning and record profitability.

Senior management will no doubt try to “spin” a story about their latest proposal and argue that ALPA rejected a major pay increase without providing the full picture. We will provide additional information about the parties’ positions in the coming days.  The Association will also provide opportunities for increased pilot activity to warn the public about our looming dispute and possible disruptions to their travel plans once the RLA process is completed.  In addition, ALPA will soon be setting new informational picketing dates and other opportunities for you to show your resolve through lawful activity.

Amazingly, management continues to request contract concessions that facilitate more efficient training and operation!  In the face of management’s failure to consider the interests of Hawaiian pilots, ALPA pilot leadership has no appetite whatsoever for new LOAs like those.  In fact, we are considering whether it is even appropriate to continue existing discretionary arrangements.

It’s unfortunate that we have reached this point. Hawaiian continues to earn massive profits and its finances are stronger than ever. The company can afford your proposals. It simply doesn’t want to agree to them and considers pilot pay increases “discretionary” or “controllable.”  As the end of the year approaches, each Hawaiian pilot family must carefully review its personal financial situation to determine whether you are prepared for a strike. We recommend that major purchases or expenditures be postponed.  Be prudent and be ready.

Thank you for your continued interest, support and activity.  Regrettably, we will soon ask you to do even more to help bring home the market rate contract you have earned and deserve.

December’s Centennial Events at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park celebrates its 100th anniversary throughout 2016, and continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture and After Dark in the Park (ADIP) programs with the public in December.

All ADIP and Hawaiian cultural programs are free, but park entrance fees apply for programs in the park. Programs are co-sponsored by Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association. Mark the calendar for these upcoming events:

Hawai‘i Nei Saturday. Come “Find Your Park” in Hilo and enjoy artwork that celebrates the native plants and animals of the five national parks on Hawai‘i Island, and the human connection to these special places. The “National Parks Preserving Pilina” category celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and features artwork from talented Hawai‘i Island artists, including a painting titled “Lava Coming to Life on the Coastal Plain,” by Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Ranger Diana Miller! Hawai‘i Nei is an annual juried art show that is not to be missed. Visit www.hawaiineiartcontest.org for more information. Free.

  • When: Sat., Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Where: Wailoa Center, 200 Piopio Street, Hilo

Gorillas, Volcanoes and World Heritage of Virunga National Park. Founded in 1925, Virunga National Park became the first national park on the continent of Africa. Join travel writer and Virunga advocate, Kimberly Krusel, as she takes us on a virtual visit to what has been called “the most biologically significant park in Africa.” Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

  • When: Tues., Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Kapa Making. Feel the unique texture and beautiful designs of Hawaiian bark cloth created by skilled practitioner Joni Mae Makuakāne-Jarrell. Kapa is the traditional cloth used by native Hawaiians for clothing. Kupu kapa, the skill of creating kapa, is rarely seen today and requires years of practice and labor to master. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.

  • When: Wed., Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

After Dark in the Park: Kīlauea Military Camp, Once a Detainment Camp. Most people are unaware that Kīlauea Military Camp in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park was used as a Japanese detainment camp during World War II.

Soldiers outside Building 34 in Kīlauea Military Camp during the 1940s. Photo courtesy of Kīlauea Military Camp.

Soldiers outside Building 34 in Kīlauea Military Camp during the 1940s. Photo courtesy of Kīlauea Military Camp.

Park Archeologist Dr. Jadelyn Moniz-Nakamura will discuss the experience and subsequent detention of Japanese-Americans here following the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The last After Dark in the Park Centennial series presentation of 2016! Free.

  • When: Tues., Dec. 13, 2016 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Centennial Hike: Kīlauea Military Camp. Park staff will lead a revealing walk through Kīlauea Military Camp, used as a Japanese detainment camp during World War II. About an hour. Free.

  • When: Sat., Dec. 17, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Where: Meet at the flagpole at Kīlauea Military Camp

Kahuku ‘Ohana Day. Calling keiki 17 and younger and their families to journey into the past on the new Pu‘u Kahuku Trail in the Kahuku Unit in Ka‘ū. Create your own piece of Hawaiian featherwork on this day of fun and discovery. Call (808) 985-6019 to register by December 2. Bring lunch, snacks, a reusable water bottle, water sunscreen, hat, long pants and shoes. Sponsored by the park and the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association. Enter the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5, and meet near the parking area. Free.

  • When: Sat., Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Register by Dec. 2.
  • Where: Kahuku Unit

Find Your Park on the Big Screen: Acadia National Park. Acadia and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Parks are thousands of miles apart, but they have much in common. Both parks turned 100 this year, and both are on islands defined by their indigenous host cultures, fascinating geology, and intriguing biodiversity. Learn about Maine’s iconic national park in the new film, “A Second Century of Stewardship: Science Behind the Scenery in Acadia National Park,” by filmmaker David Shaw. Free.

  • When: Tues., Dec. 20, 2016 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Kenneth Makuakāne in Concert. Enjoy the melodies of multiple award-winning artist Kenneth Makuakāne. His accolades include 15 Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards and six Big Island Music Awards. A prolific songwriter, Kenneth’s compositions have bene recorded by artists such as The Brothers Cazimero, Nā Leo Pilimehana, and many more. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing Nā Leo Manu “Heavenly Voices” presentations. Free.

  • When: Wed., Dec. 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Hawaii Governor Extends Emergency Proclamation for Maui County

Gov. David Ige signed an extension to the emergency proclamation originally signed on Sept. 16, to provide relief for disaster damages, losses and suffering following September’s heavy rains and flooding on Maui.

iao-valley-damageThe proclamation also serves to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the people of Maui County and to maintain the strength, resources and economic life of the community.

maui-supplementary-proclamation

Click to read

The proclamation signed today expires in 60 days.

DoubleTree by Hilton Opens Historic Oceanfront Hotel on Hilo Bay in Hawaii

Following a $30 million renovation, a historic Hawaiian property debuts today as the first hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii for DoubleTree by Hilton, one of Hilton’s 13 market-leading brands.

naniloaThe Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton is located on 70 acres of stunning and lush oceanfront property, with magnificent views of Hilo Bay and the Mauna Kea Volcano. The hotel’s 320 fully-refurbished guest rooms and suites provide upscale, contemporary lodging for vacationers exploring the charms of Hilo and nearby attractions, such as stunning waterfalls, the lava flows of Kalapana and snorkeling or surfing off the beautiful bay and ocean coasts.

Just two miles from Hilo International Airport, The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton blends traditional Hawaiian culture with the most modern and luxurious conveniences. Its extensive, property-wide renovations have added a local design experience centered around respecting the cultural tradition of hula, and the spirit of Hilo’s famed Merrie Monarch Festival.

naniloa-roomKim Taylor Reece, one of the most famous hula photographers in the world, is the artistic curator for the hotel and has provided $4-million worth of his own hula art which is displayed in the guest rooms and common areas. The hotel lobby also features curated, rotating exhibits that highlight aspects of Hilo’s history and Hawaiian culture.

naniloa-lobby“Hilo Bay is filled with scenic destinations and is home to some of the most exciting, natural geology in the world,” said Dianna Vaughan, senior vice president and global head, DoubleTree by Hilton. “As our first hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii, this stunning property is sure to deliver the ‘wow’ its guests are traveling to find, while also providing the warm Chocolate Chip Cookie welcome and award-winning service that our guests expect when staying at any DoubleTree by Hilton around the world.”

Beginning with that DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookie welcome, The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton offers an array of delightful comforts – whether guests seek adventure or relaxation. Golfers enjoy Hilo’s only 9-hole golf course, while swimmers and sunbathers bask in – or on the decks surrounding – a beautiful outdoor swimming pool. While some of Hawaii’s finest landmarks are close by, guests need not leave the grounds to take a brisk run along Banyan Drive under the shade of towering banyan trees or to exercise in the state-of-the-art fitness center.

naniloa-fitnessEach inviting guest room comes with complimentary Wi-Fi, a generously-sized work desk, a microwave, refrigerator, in-room safe and DoubleTree Sweet Dreams® Sleep Experience beds. Guests who upgrade to a spacious suite may also relax in a separate living area and enjoy breathtaking ocean views from the balcony.

Another stunning view may be seen from the Lobby Lounge, where guests may admire sweeping vistas of Hilo Bay while sipping cocktails, wine and locally brewed beer from the large outdoor deck. Those who are eager for entertainment may visit the hotel’s vast showroom, a stylish venue providing nightlife and a space to showcase talented local musicians.

naniloa-corner-roomThe longtime host to activities surrounding the annual Merrie Monarch international hula competition, The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton is the ideal venue for meetings, conferences and weddings. Its 13,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, including a wedding gazebo, can accommodate gatherings of up to 400 people. An updated sound system and A/V equipment are also available, as is a 24-hour complimentary business center. Plus, the hotel provides the most extensive catering facility on the east side of the Island of Hawaii.

The hotel also provides a full complement of services and DoubleTree by Hilton brand amenities, including an assortment of gourmet in-room tea and coffee offerings by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®, and a refreshing array of the Aroma Actives Essentials natural skin and body care line.

naniloa-outdoors“For years, our property has been a marquee destination for guests traveling to the volcanoes or for business. Now, thanks to our extensive renovations and inclusion under the DoubleTree by Hilton brand banner, we are undoubtedly the finest upscale hotel option anywhere on this side of the Island of Hawaii,” said Phyllis Branco, general manager, The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton.

As part of the Hilton portfolio of brands, The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton encourages guests to participate in Hilton HHonors, Hilton’s free-to-join loyalty program. Hilton HHonors members who book directly with Hilton save time and money and gain instant access to the benefits they care about most, including:

  • An exclusive member discount at more than 4,500 hotels worldwide.
  • Instant benefits, such as free Wi-Fi, the ability to earn and redeem Points for free nights as well as access to digital check-in with room selection and Digital Key.
  • Unforgettable, exclusive experiences, available via Points at HHonors.com/auctions, such as access to private concerts or sought-after events.

To celebrate the hotel joining the DoubleTree by Hilton portfolio, Hilton HHonors members will earn an additional 5,000 Points for a three-night minimum stay from opening day through March 15, 2017, when booking directly with Hilton. Gold and Diamond members will also enjoy free premium Wi-Fi and space-available upgrades to the hotel’s exclusive Hilton HHonors floor and complimentary Wake Up DoubleTree Breakfast.

naniloa-suiteThe Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton is located at 93 Banyan Drive, Hilo, Hawaii USA 96720.

For more information, or to make a reservation, travelers may visit grandnaniloahotelhilo.doubletree.com or call 808-969-3333. The property is owned by WHR, LLC and managed by Aqua-Aston Hospitality.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Inducted into the Prestigious Historic Hotels of America Program

The iconic Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is proud to announce its induction into Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest historic hotels. The hotel will now be included in the organization’s elite directory.

mauna-kea-beach-hotel“As the first resort hotel built on the Kohala Coast, renowned for its timeless design and architectural excellence, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is honored to be selected for membership in this distinguished organization comprised of some of the most historically significant buildings in America,” said Craig Anderson, general manager.

Of the 34 hotels inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2016, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was one of the few mid-century modern historic hotels selected and is currently the only one with that unique design aesthetic in Hawaii.

Induction into the prestigious program is based upon remarkable standards, including quality of accommodations, historic significance, record of preserving authenticity, sense of place and architectural integrity. Additionally, nominated hotels must be at least 50 years old, a milestone achieved by Mauna Kea Beach Hotel in 2015, and designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Place.

Founded in 1965 by venture capitalist and passionate conservationist Laurance S. Rockefeller, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel offers 252 luxurious guest rooms, a variety of dining options including Copper Bar and Manta Restaurant, spa and tennis facilities, and the award-winning championship 18-hole Mauna Kea Golf Course. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel overlooks Kaunaoa Bay, one of the Hawaii’s finest natural white sand beaches. For more information or reservations, please call 1-808-882-5707 or visit maunakeabeachhotel.com.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes Will Charge for Camping Starting November 1

Starting November 1, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will charge for all overnight camping as part of a plan to meet national standards for parks with similar visitor amenities.

Kīlauea aglow from its summit crater is visible from Kulanaokuaiki Campground. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

Kīlauea aglow from its summit crater is visible from Kulanaokuaiki Campground. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

For backcountry camping, a $10 fee will be charged per trip, in addition to the park entrance fee. All eight backcountry campsites (Ka‘aha, Halapē, Keauhou, ‘Āpua Point, Nāpau, Pepeiao Cabin, Red Hill Cabin and Mauna Loa Cabin) require a permit, with a stay limit of three consecutive nights at one site. Campers can move to another backcountry site for the fourth night, but no more than seven consecutive nights per trip will be allowed.

A camper enjoys the shade at Halapē. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

A camper enjoys the shade at Halapē. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

Permits must be obtained no more than 24 hours in advance from the Backcountry Office, open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fees for backcountry camping can be paid in person at the Backcountry Office, or online through pay.gov. Call (808) 985-6178 for more information.

Tent camping at ‘Āpua Point along the coast at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

Tent camping at ‘Āpua Point along the coast at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo/Jacob W. Frank

Kulanaokuaiki Campground, a drive-in, front-country campsite off Hilina Pali Road, will cost $10 a night per site, with a stay limit of seven consecutive nights, and a maximum of six people per site. The nine designated campsites at Kulanaokuaiki have picnic tables and tent pads, and are available on a first-come basis. Fees for Kulanaokuaiki can be paid at the campground’s self-registration station. Checkout time is 11 a.m.

The new camping permit fees are similar to other public camping fees statewide. At Kulanaokuaiki, campers who hold the Interagency Senior (Golden Age) and Golden Access passes pay $5 per site.

Picnicing at the Kulanaokuaiki Campground. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Picnicing at the Kulanaokuaiki Campground. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Nāmakanipaio Campground off Highway 11 is managed by Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC and is under its own fee structure.

Pets are not permitted in any of the campgrounds, except for leashed pets in Nāmakanipaio Campground. Leashed service animals are allowed.

Big Island Visitors Bureau Officially Changes Its Name

The Big Island Visitors Bureau has officially changed its name to the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB).

the-island-of-hawaii-logo
“Depicted in IHVB’s new logo, the design retains its overall elements and feel of the previous look, while aligning itself with the Hawaii Tourism Authority and Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau branding of the Hawaiian Islands,” said Ross Birch, IHVB executive director.

IHVB will continue to use the island’s name, Hawaii, to help identify the destination accurately in its marketing communications and business operations.

To avoid confusion with the state name, IHVB is encouraging the use of “island of Hawaii” when referring to the destination. For shorter references, it also suggests the use of “Hawaii Island” to identify the island.

There will be no interruption in IHVB’s operations during this naming transition.

The Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau is an Island Chapter of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB). HVCB is contracted by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state of Hawaii’s tourism agency, for marketing management services in the United States. The HTA was established in 1998 to ensure a successful visitor industry well into the future. Its mission is to strategically manage Hawaii tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with the state of Hawaii’s economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires, and visitor industry needs.

Body Glove Hawaii is Hiring

Pro Surfer Jamie O'Brien in front of the Body Glove Hawaii boat.

Pro Surfer Jamie O’Brien in front of the Body Glove Hawaii boat.

Body Glove Hawaii is hiring two separate positions:

Deckhand Position – This is a FULL TIME position. Must be able to work in a fast paced environment, providing world class customer service. CPR and Lifeguard certified a plus. Pay will commensurate with experience. Candidates must be able to work flexible hours, including early mornings, afternoons, early evenings and weekends. Some heavy lifting are required. Pay will commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits; medical, dental, vision, chiropractic, paid vacations, simple IRA and tips!

Apply online at https://bodyglovehawaii.bamboohr.com/jobs/view.php?id=2

Prep Cook – Candidate must have basic food prep knowledge, excellent communication skills, be multi task oriented, enjoy working with people in a fast paced environment, have strong organizational skills, be a self-starter with the ability to keep on task and in line with programs. Must have flexible availability, hours to include mornings, afternoons and weekends. Hawaiian drivers license, and clean drivers abstract required. Kitchen Experience Required.  Pay will be based upon qualifications and experience.

Please apply online at: https://bodyglovehawaii.bamboohr.com/jobs/view.php?id=8

Body Glove Cruises is a drug free work environment. Pre-employment Drug testing required.

Notice of Last Date of Molokai Ferry Service and How to Obtain Refunds

On October 17, 2016, the Public Utilities Commission of the State of Hawaiʻi (“PUC”), in Order No. 33977 in Docket No. 2016-0214, approved Sea Link of Hawaii, Inc.’s (“Sea Link”) request to voluntarily surrender its certificate of public convenience and necessity (“CPCN”) to provide water carrier services between Maui and Molokaʻi (“Maui-Molokai Ferry”).

molokai-ferryThe PUC found “good cause” to approve, subject to certain conditions, Sea Link’s request to voluntarily surrender its CPCN, in part, because the Commission acknowledged Sea Link’s representation that its financial losses are no longer sustainable and the Commission cannot compel (i.e. force) Sea Link to continue to operate as a water carrier of passengers and property at a financial loss.  As a result, the last date of ferry service operations will be Thursday, October 27, 2016.

SEA LINK WILL REMAIN AVAILABLE TO PROCESS REFUNDS UNTIL FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2016

Refund instructions for unused fares:

Unused Paper Tickets and Coupon Books

  • Refund Forms will be made available on Sea Link’s website, molokaiferry.com, and at Sea Link’s main office by mail by phone at (808) 661-3392, by email to info@molokaiferry.com, or by postal mail, 1036 Limahana Place, 3E, Lahaina, HI 96761.
  • By December 16, 2016, completed Refund Forms may be mailed, along with unused paper tickets or coupons, to Sea Link of Hawaii, Inc., 1036 Limahana Place, 3E, Lahaina, HI 96761. Unused paper tickets or coupons must be stapled to or enclosed with the form.
  • Until October 27, 2016, Refund Forms will also be available in person at:
    • Sea Link’s ticket sales/terminal at Lahaina Harbor from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday;
    • Sea Link’s ticket sales/terminal at Kaunakakai Harbor from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; and
    • Sea Link’s Main Office, located at 1036 Limahana Place, 3E, Lahaina, HI 96761, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Unused Electronic Tickets

  • By December 16, 2016, Sea Link will attempt to notify Electronic Ticket holders using the contact information provided at the time of sale of the last date of ferry service and options for refunds via phone and/or email. Electronic Ticket holders may contact Sea Link’s office by phone, 808.661.3392, or by email, info@molokaiferry.com.  Please provide full name and/or confirmation number to expedite refund.

Unused Prepaid Bulk or Group Tickets

  • By December 16, 2016, Sea Link will attempt to notify Prepaid Bulk or Group Ticket holders using the contact information provided at the time of sale of the last date of ferry service and options for refunds via phone and/or email. Prepaid Bulk or Group Ticket holders may contact Sea Link’s office by phone, 808.661.3392, or by email, info@molokaiferry.com.

THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT REFUND REQUESTS IS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2016

PUC CONTACT INFORMATION

Comments addressed to the PUC may be mailed to 465 South King Street, Room 103, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813, or sent by electronic mail to Hawaii.PUC@hawaii.gov.

Hawaii Ecotourism Association Announces Winners of Sustainable Tourism Awards

Hawaii Ecotourism Association (HEA) announced the winners of sustainable tourism awards at a luncheon today in Waikiki. Twenty-three tour operators were certified as sustainable tour operators by HEA, a local nonprofit organization that protects Hawaii’s unique natural environment and host culture by promoting responsible travel.

Valley Isle Excursions, a company known providing luxury and eco-friendly tours to Hana and the road beyond, was awarded with the coveted the 2016 Sustainable Tour Operator Award. “This outstanding example of a sustainable tour operation far exceeds HEA’s mission and goal of protecting the unique natural and cultural resources of Hawaii nei,” said Aaron Lowe, President of HEA’s Board of Directors.

The 2016 Ecotour Guides of the Year were announced as follows: From Oahu – Manly Kanoa of Hokupaa and Andrew Puchalski of Kailua Beach Adventures; from Kauai – Abraham Frehm of Na Pali Experience, from Maui – Rowdy Lindsey of Hawaiian Paddle Sports and Curtis Geary of Maui Kayak Adventures; from Hawaii – Ben Catcho Jr. of KapohoKine Adventures and Richard Lindberg of Hawaiian Legacy Tours. Guides make each tour guest feel connected to Hawaii’s natural resources and Hawaiian culture. HEA is delighted to recognize the contribution of the award winners.

The Travel Writer of the Year was awarded to Shannon Wianecki. She is a prolific freelance writer who shares the natural and cultural history of the Hawaiian Islands with the readers of local and international travel magazines and books.

Pro Surfer Jamie O'Brien is sponsored by Body Glove.

Pro Surfer Jamie O’Brien is sponsored by Body Glove.

The twenty-three tour operators were awarded HEA’s Sustainable Tourism Certification for 2016-2018. They include: Under the Sea Hawaii, Hopkupaa, Dolphins and You, and Ocean Joy Cruises on Oahu; Kipu Ranch Adventures, Holo Holo Charters, and Na Pali Experience on Kauai; Aloha Kayaks Maui, Maui Nei Native Expeditions, Haleakala Bike Company, Temptation Tours, Maui Dreams Dive Company, Valley Isle Excursions, Maui Ocean Center, Maui Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Maui Surf Lessons, and Hawaii Mermaid Adventures on Maui; and Body Glove Cruises, Mauka Makai Adventures, Essential Hawaii Tours, Kona Honu Divers, Sea Quest Hawaii, and Kohala Ziplines on Hawaii.

“As a founding member of the organization, I am excited that the number of certified operators across the State more than doubled since the 2014-2016 certifications were awarded,” said Annette Kaohelaulii, HEA Board Treasurer.

IUCN recognized HEA’s Sustainable Tourism Certification Program in the tours organized especially for this event, which just ended. The Hawaii Tourism Authority also supports HEA efforts to educate commercial tour operators and community stakeholders on best management practices for the use of natural and cultural resources. HEA’s Certification Program is only one of two statewide programs in the U.S. providing a third party, comprehensive assessment of tour providers whose operations positively affect the State’s natural and cultural resources, contribute to conservation and help sustain local communities.

Kīlauea’s Summit Lava Lake on the Rise Again

During recent summit deflation, the lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater dropped out of view of overlooks in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

But since the switch to inflation early Sunday morning (September 18), Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake has been rising again, bringing the lake surface back into view. This morning the lake level was measured at 12 m (39 ft) below the vent rim, with sporadic spattering visible from the Park’s Jaggar Museum Overlook.

Click to enlarge

This telephoto image provides a closer view of the lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater and spattering on the lake surface. Click to enlarge

This image is from a research camera mounted in the observation tower at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The camera is looking SSE towards the active vent in Halemaʻumaʻu, 1.9 km (1.2 miles) from the webcam. For scale, the crater wall of Halemaʻumaʻu behind the eruptive vent is about 85 m (~280 ft) high.

This image is from a research camera mounted in the observation tower at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The camera is looking SSE towards the active vent in Halemaʻumaʻu, 1.9 km (1.2 miles) from the webcam. For scale, the crater wall of Halemaʻumaʻu behind the eruptive vent is about 85 m (~280 ft) high.

Informational Meeting for Manta Ray Viewing Rules This Weekend

A public information meeting will be held this Saturday to discuss new, proposed rules for the Makako Bay and Keauhou manta ray viewing sites in Kona.

manta-rayThe Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Boating and Ocean Recreation Division (DOBOR) has scheduled the meeting on September 24, 2016 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Palamanui Campus of Windward Community College, 73-4255 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Room B-126, in Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i. The meeting was rescheduled from Sept. 3 due to severe weather forecasts earlier this month.

Manta ray viewing opportunities on the Kona coast are unique worldwide  Tours are presently conducted in two specific areas where mantas tend to congregate at night to feed on plankton – at Makako Bay (Garden Eel Cove) and at the coastline fronting the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Hotel.  The activity has become so popular in recent years that it has reached a point that is unsustainable and unsafe. Regulation is needed to preserve the resource and address the dangers posed by overcrowding of boats and swimmers/divers in the water.

The first part of the meeting will be devoted to discussing the history of manta ray viewing on the Kona coast. The second part of the meeting will be to present DOBOR’s proposed management plan in detail and collect feedback from all interested stakeholders.

DOBOR staffers have been working closely with DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources staff, commercial tour operators, the staff of the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Hotel and other stakeholders to draft administrative rules to mitigate environmental hazards and decrease the potential risk for accidents causing harm to people or manta rays.

In 2016 DOBOR has been surveying the two manta viewing sites to determine where and how additional moorings could be placed to alleviate coral damage from vessel anchoring and allow for a safe, sustainable and environmentally conscious regulation of commercial manta diving activities.

DOBOR has drafted a proposed management plan and potential management options for the sites based on two years of collected stakeholder input.  The proposed management plan contemplates strategies such as prohibiting anchoring at the sites, limiting the number of commercial operators, prohibiting rafting, and restricting live boating to improve safety.

In order to give stakeholders time to review the proposed management plan before the September 24 meeting, DOBOR released the plan on its website on September 10, 2016.  Interested parties can access the proposed management plan and get meeting updates by visiting DOBOR’s meeting announcement page: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/meetings/

(The original meeting announcement was issued Sept. 1, 2016).

Tips for Safe and Easy Lava Lake Viewing in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Visitors and local residents gather nightly at the Jaggar Museum observation deck in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to watch the lava lake spatter and glow within the summit crater of Kīlauea volcano, vying for the best parking spot and vantage point.

Daytime viewing of the lava lake activity has been exceptional. Photo taken from Jaggar Museum observation deck on Friday, 9/9/16. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Daytime viewing of the lava lake activity has been exceptional. Photo taken from Jaggar Museum observation deck on Friday, 9/9/16. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

The lava within Halema‘uma‘u Crater recently became visible for the first time since May 2015, and rangers have been busy directing vehicles at Jaggar Museum from 5 p.m. until well after dark, often sending people to park at Kīlauea Overlook, about 1/3 of a mile away.

Park rangers share the following tips for an optimal viewing experience:

  • Avoid the busy times, and visit the lava lake during the day. Or come after 9 p.m. The park is open 24 hours a day.
  • Be mindful of air quality. Hazardous volcanic gas and particulates can drift over the summit area in light or southerly winds. These gases are a danger to all, especially people with heart or respiratory problems,      young children and pregnant women. Kīlauea Visitor Center offers updates on air quality 24 hours a day, and visitors can monitor the Hawai‘i SO2 network website.
  • Be prepared to hike a 1/3 of a mile each way between Kīlauea Overlook and Jaggar Museum on Crater Rim Trail. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes, bring rain gear, water, binoculars, a flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Carpool if possible to reduce the number of vehicles in the parking areas.
  • Monitor the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) webcams. The KI camera provides a panoramic view of Halema‘uma‘u Crater from HVO, near Jaggar Museum.

In addition, air quality is poor at the coast where another eruption from Kīlauea enters the ocean at the Kamokuna site. Park rangers have roped off sections downwind of the ocean entry and have placed signs warning about toxic fume clouds which contain sulfur dioxide, volcanic particulates, and hydrochloric acid near the coast.

To stay upwind of the fumes, it is currently best to hike in from the County of Hawai‘i lava viewing area on the Kalapana side to access the ocean entry in the park. The Kalapana access is open daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s about a 4.2-mile hike from the Kalapana boundary to the ocean entry viewing point, one way, along the gravel emergency access road.