Walking in Waikiki: Winter has come to Waikiki

Walking in Waikiki by Cloudia proudly features Cloudia Charters’ unique “Walking in Waikiki” column from a column from Waikiki News that takes you through the streets of Waikiki and paints a picture of what’s up-and-coming the neighbourhood of Honolulu in Oahu, Hawaii. Read past Walking in Waikiki Articles on

Waikiki The nights are cooling, and it is time to bring out the quilts after months of sleeping only under a thin, rayon pareau (sarong). At night we fall asleep to the “rigging chies” of the harbor: ropes clanging against masts of aluminium and wood like the orchestra at a NOH play.  Visitors enjoy the beaches, and locals may be spotted and known by their sweaters and light jackets. Delightful weather! 

There is snow atop the Big Island’s Maunakea and Miss Kitty’s fur is regal & thick once again. Visitors may only feel the relative mildness but we who live here, Kitty & I, we know the changes of this `Aina (land/country) in our bones and in our noses. Crystal sharp trade winds bear the scent of Alaska, of thousands of open ocean miles, and vast empires of sky.

They pause to pick up smells from yellow ginger, hidden mosses, and tropical soil, as they push themselves over the green Ko`olau mountains that backdrop our toy city like a misty Asian scroll painting. The character of the clouds tells me it’s winter. Is it their shape, activity & colour? Or is it their sense of humor as they tumble mumble and disassemble like Circe de Soliel acrobats above us?

The Hawaiians of old found ready messages and wisdom in the clouds. Knowing the Kanaka (Hawaiian person) love of fun and word-play, perhaps certain funny-clouds rained punchlines that made the Kahuna chuckle all day. . . their cirrus & cumulus descendants are not telling; Not even me, their cousin Cloudia. . . 

A new display at Iolani Palace features some of King Kalakaua’s personal treasures, including a gold cigarette case dusted with 99 diamonds, three emeralds, and four rubies, given him by his sister in law Po`omaikelani in 1881 as a birthday present.  Other royal baubles include a “unicorn” cane (actually the tusk of a narwhal) and a122 year old Swiss watch with a curious, early digital display. 

And speaking of family heirlooms, some of Madelyn Dunham’s dresses have been removed to the Mu`u Mu`u Heaven Shop in Kailua in order for the fabric to be reworked into dresses for great-granddaughters Malia and Sasha Obama to wear.  This sweet custom is an Obama family tradition.  The President-elect wears aloha shirts made from his late mother’s clothing as well . . . 

Winter surf is drawing crowds of up to 2,000 to watch world-class Triple Crown of Surfing events, like the kick-off  ‘Reef Hawaiian Pro’ men’s surfing contest recently at Ali`i Beach Park in Hale`iwa Town.  Waves the size of office buildings rush to the beach with a roar that cannot be described, you need to experience it.  Tiny humans perched on splinters of high-tech fiberglass glide down the ever-changing faces of these giants, sometimes they are tossed into the air and then immediately submerged under tons of crushing ocean, even dashed on the submerged reefs that give the ocean travelling swells the “ali-UP!” boost which causes the awesome monster waves. 

Reef Hawaiian ProOnly professionals may enter the water on those “big days.”  The rest of us are safer on the shore, contemplating nature’s furious ceremony.  DO observe posted warning signs, check in with life-guards, and as the Hawaiians always say:  “Never turn your back on the ocean.”  More better you do your OWN water sports here in gentle Waikiki! 

While we’re on the beach, did you notice that orange helicopter flying low up the coast a minute ago?  Every day our US Coastguard conducts these slow, watchful flights (around 80 knots, and as low as 200 feet) around our isle of O`ahu.  Flying about 350 search and rescue missions is just part of what they are doing. Enviornmental protection, such as enforcing the Marine Mammal Protection act, and port security, make the Coast guard a “multi-mission” asset to our island community.  They use cameras and deterrence to protect our wintering whales and they provide an ever-reassuring presence to boaters and kayakers far from shore.  Each HH-65 Dolphin carries two pilots, a rescue swimmer, and flight mechanic.  Thanks folks! 

Students on the island of Kaua`i recently released 11 `A`O, or endangered Newell’s Shearwaters, into the wild in a second annual E Ho`opomaika`i ia na Manu `A`O (Blessing of the the Shearwater birds).  For 30 years “Save our Shearwater” boxes have been available at island fire stations to receive (mostly) fledgling birds disoriented by lights, buildings, and human activity.   They are a marine species born in nests high in upland forests of ohi`a and uluhe, who find their way out to sea from mid-September to mid-December.  Thirty-two thousand such birds have been rescued and released since 1979, according to S.O.S.  Students and public officials shared a youthful “yeah!” as each guest departed; and students from Ke Kula (School) Ni`ihau O Kekaha chanted in Hawaiian.  “We’re here to celebrate this really awesome bird.  This bird is a part of you as you are a part of this island.” said Nick Holmes, the project coordinator. . .

Another endangered species, our local family-operated food producers, loses another member as Marufuku Brand Miso (soy bean) Paste Factory closes it’s 67 year-old doors in Honolulu’s workaday Kalihi neighborhod at the end of this year.  Mr Harry Morita cooked and fermented his first barrel in 1941 when there were 40 other miso producers in the islands, and sugar plantations still spread over our plains.  Mr. Morita immigrated from Japan at 11 years of age to work on a Maui Plantation.  He didn’t care for plantation life, ran away to work in a butcher shop and dreamt of owning his own store.  Employment at a miso factory in Liliha set him on his life’s path.  He chose the name Marufuku because it means “never-ending good fortune.” 

After his death 17 years ago the younger generation continued Harry’s exemplary service ethic, even going so far as to deliver fresh miso to the homes of those with questions, and demonstrating methods of storing and cooking with their product.  The Moritas will miss the clan business, but times change. “The family gets together to work and share stories . . . it’s kind of sad because we won’t be able to do that with the grand kids.” said John Morita. . . 

BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Kumu Hula, musical performer, writer and cultural icon Robert Cazimero on being named a USA (United States Artists) Fellow.  50 awardees from some 21 states were honored recently in Chicago.  A (well deserved) $50,000 grant is appended to this honor.  Do yourself a favor and check out ANY CD by the wonderful Brothers (Robert & brother Roland) Cazimero.  Hawaiian music is what angels listen to at home!  

Louis Vuitton BagWant to make YOUR angel smile? Take her to Paris Station on Keeaumoku at King Street!  Women from all over the islands, and the world, make their way to this locally owned small business to trade and buy designer handbags.  Cindy Young saw a market and boy has she cornered it!  Gently used, and carefully selected Gucci, Dior, Fendi, Vuiton, and Hermes bags (all at a major discount) fill the colorful little shop along with some brand new items selling at “retail.”  Some refer to Paris Station as the happiest place on earth.  That’s cool; I prefer to think of Waikiki as Paris in Flip-flops, so designer bags are not exactly my “thing” but if they are YOURS this place will put a smile on your face. .  .  . 

A minor industry of Obama Tours is stirring, including “Barack Obama’s Local Neighborhood” tour led by the civic-minded Clean Air Team. Call 808-948-3299 for information.  .  . 

Perhaps taking their cue from the stand-up surfing craze, skateboarders around Honolulu are now seen using “Pavement Paddles” to propel themselves along the sidewalk!  Remember attaching skates to a wooden fruit-crate for your first home-made skateboard?  Me neither

;-).  .  .  Walking these Waikiki streets, I like to have a dollar bill or two ready to share with a smile.  I spotted him just ahead: a young fellow with a well worn pack who looked as if he needed a meal.  “Aloha,” I smiled at him, “How’s it going?”  He looked happy but disoriented.  “Had anything to eat?” I asked, offering him a dollar.  “Oh that’s cool.” he replied with his own beatific smile. “I have this feather.” he said, happily showing me a white quill.  Nonplussed I continued on my way  thinking of Disney’s baby elephant Dumbo who was able to fly above the circus crowds clutching his magic feather.  Safe landings, young man. . . .  

This weekend, the Honolulu Christmas tree will be erected downtown.  Already!? Yes. I’d say we could all use a little Christmas right about now!  Think about celebrating it here with us.  Life’s parade is never boring . . . when you’re walking in Waikiki. . .A L O H A!

Photo courtesy of Ted Trimmer.
This article was originally published November 20, 2008 in Waikiki News and was reproduced with permission.

Walking in Waikiki by Cloudia Charters
Want to enjoy more Waikiki “street” life with Cloudia? Check out her Hawaii “Taxi Cab” Novel: “Aloha Where You Like Go?” at or local bookstores.

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