Exploring the Hamakua Coast, by Ken Okimoto, 2002, Watermark Publishing
A Call to Hawai`i – A Wellness Vacation Guidebook, by Laura Crites and Betsy Crites, Aloha Wellness Publishers, Honolulu
This is one of the most interesting and unique books about Hawai`i that I've come across in quite a while (actually it came across me – it just showed up in the mail recently). It's quite unusual because the authors look at the Islands from the unique perspective of health, healing and wellness. I've seen the Islands mentioned as a source of some of these things many times before, but I've never seen a book that looks at Hawai`i as a whole through that particular lens alone. Looked at that way, the view is new, different, and pretty amazing.
The Crites have put together something here that is far more than just a compendium of healers in the Islands, though it also partially serves that purpose. It's a fairly complete personal guide to vacationing and exploring Hawai`i with a focus on wellness, as opposed to treating wellness as something that can happen as an offshoot of a "vacation in paradise." This is a wonderful book – there's something in it for everybody. It's definitely a "must have" for both visitors and residents. (Read the Full Review)
Exploring Lost Hawaii, by Ellie and William Crowe, Island Heritage Press, 2001
The Crowes' book is a new addition to the "guidebook" literature of Hawai`i. A guidebook it is, but one with a specialized focus on historical sites that are, in many cases, a little off of the "beaten path" of the average tourist. There is an obvious steadily rising interest around the world in the "magical" places of indigenous peoples, and I suspect from it's design and format that the Crowes' book is aimed straight at that market. This is a slick, partly "coffee table" type of book that's also meant to be actually used. The authors start out with a good preface that emphasizes understanding and respect for Hawaii's sacred places, including instructions on how to view such sites and admonishments not to remove stones, leave inappropriate offerings, etc. Following this is a short (4 pages!) discussion of the culture of the ancient Hawaiians.
Each site has it's own numbered mini-chapter in the book; the sites are grouped together and organized according to which of the main islands (excluding Kaho`olawe and Ni`ihau) it is located on. The material on each site has the same format - descriptive narrative of the site, followed by "people" material (often including interviews and/or stories from local people or scholars) and then directions to get there. In addition, each island's section has a few recommended day trips connecting the sites together and a few suggested places to stay. This format helps the book flow well and also holds your interest since it reads much like a novel. It's a good concept and the Crowes have executed it well.
This is a VERY well done guide to Hawaiian archaeological "places of interest," as the author refers to them. It's one of the most engaging guides to historical sites that I've found anywhere (not just in Hawai`i). I'll bet you that even if you live on O`ahu, you can learn a lot from this guide! One real plus is that the author is a native Hawaiian, and it DOES make a difference. He approaches each site out of a deep sense of love, respect and connection. Because of this, of course, he is also very concerned with accuracy. Van begins with a brief but excellent description of Hawaiian culture, including the Hawaiian's sense of place and Hawaiian values, then gives some definitions of Hawaiian cultural terms. This is followed by a section describing each type of historical site and includes heiaus, põhaku, petroglyphs, fishponds, and caves and rock shelters. What's really special about this section is that not only are the descriptions outstanding, but each section is keyed to the sites in the rest of the book. Next comes a map that divides O`ahu into 5 regions, with a very complete site map for each region. And finally (but most certainly not least), the descriptions of the sites themselves. of which there are 40. Each individual site description is very well written, with good photographs and drawings. Site descriptions often include a description, uses and even some mythology. There are even appendices covering the best sites for visitors, preservation, a glossary and a bibliography! So ... after THAT glowing description, is there anything wrong with this guidebook? Not that I can see ...
OK. PAY ATTENTION HERE !! This is a REALLY COOL book. If you want to know all of the great places to visit and things to see in Hawaii, then don't even think of getting on the plane without this guide !! We actually recommend that you buy it well in advance of your trip to use for planning. When we first saw this guidebook in the 1980's, we knew it would be one of our "workhorse" books. That has definitely turned out to be true; we anxiously await each update. We could go on and on about it, but we think you get the idea!
We like Bisignani's
handbooks. One of our reasons for this is that he is very sensitive
to the Hawaiian culture and to the land itself, which is called ka
`aina in Hawaiian (you will see this
word in Hawaiian newspapers and writing constantly). Basically,
this THICK book (1004 pages !!), consists of all of the separate Chico
Press Hawaiian Island handbooks combined into one, and without leaving
much out! One of the great things about is them is that they have
special chapters on geography, climate, history, government, economy,
culture, religion, arts and crafts and camping and hiking as well as the
"normal" ones on transportation, accommodations and "round
the island" tours. If you are going to be visiting two or more
islands on the same trip, or you just want to be able to read about ALL
of Hawaii in one place, then this book is perfect. It's very comprehensive.
Read this one and you will know more than many people who live there!
There are two guidebooks to the Big Island that we consider absolutely mandatory for any trip to that island, and this is one of them. It's hard to describe exactly what it is that makes this guidebook so different and so much more useful than most others, but it is. It's organized in a unique way that makes it extremely easy to find things. Not only that, but it really DOES have the best stuff on the island, including secret beaches, other "can't miss" places, restaurants and accommodations. And it's "culture sensitive" too! One reason that it's good is undoubtedly because the authors actually live there, and that's unusual for a guidebook. Chapters include "The Basics," plus regional chapters and then sections on beaches, activities, adventures, eating and accommodations. The BEACH section is absolutely fantastic! A truly great guidebook.
This is the second guidebook that you MUST have for a trip to the "wide open and wild" Big Island of Hawaii. Bisignani's books have been some of the best guidebooks on Hawaii for a long time, and his Big Island guide just keeps getting better and better. Also highly recommended - makes a great set along with the one above! Somehow they actually manage to cover slightly different things, and so compliment each other. The guidebook's format is the same as the Hawaii Handbook (top of the page).
I've been to Kauai, and this guidebook is a good one. It starts out with an excellent "Planning Ahead" section, followed by sections that are organized by type of activity (which works well for an island as small as Kauai). You can plan your travels according to what you want to do. Almost half of the book is devoted to restaurants. There are lots of good ones on Kauai, so this section is nice to have. It has great maps too. This guidebook is especially good for families. The only thing that I feel that this guide needs is more material on the Hawaiian culture - but there is some woven throughout the text. Important note: part of the profits from the sale of this book go towards the support of Children on Kauai !! It also comes with a CD by Keali`i Reichel, who also supports the "Underground Campaign for Kids." Hawai`i Magazine says the Underground Guide has, "Everything you need to know about Kauai's beaches, restaurants, tours, adventures, accommodations..."
Now here's an excellent Kauai companion guide to Lenore's (see above); they compliment each other. One of Bisignani's real strengths is his cultural awareness. Chapters here include Land, Flora and Fauna, History, Government and Economy, People, Language, Religion, Arts and Crafts, etc. There's LOTS of information on things like hiking, historic and cultural sites, etc. Bisignani's guide is arranged by areas of the island, which is good for getting an overview of what is in each area. So for COMPLETE coverage of Kauai, you need this one and the one above. I guarantee that's all you'll need !!