What’s the Deal with Spam?

Photo Credit: Hormelfoods.com

Photo Credit: Hormelfoods.com

Spam……Makes your mouth water right? If you’re a local Hawaiian it probably does. That’s because Hawaiians consume nearly 7 million cans of Spam each year; the most per capita in the world. But why? This “mystery meat” was introduced by Hormel Foods Corporation in 1937 during World War II as a way to feed soldiers on the front lines. It was cheap and had a long shelf life, and so it became a mainstay throughout the war. As a consequence of its introduction to the Pacific region, including Hawaii, Spam also became common among the natives and they have been enjoying it ever since.

Apparently the meaning of the name remains a secret among former Hormel executives, but many people have speculated that it is either an abbreviation for ‘Spiced Ham’ or ‘Shoulders of Pork and Ham,’ or is an acronym for ‘Specially Processed American Meat.”

Unlike on much of the Mainland, Hawaiians truly do like Spam and have come up with clever ways to prepare it that bring out the pre-cooked meat’s flavor. One of the most popular is Spam Musubi; a sushi-style item of rice with Spam on top, wrapped with a strip of seaweed. You can find Spam Musubi at convenience stores all across the islands and is the perfect beach time snack. Other restaurants serve Spam with rice or fried with eggs for breakfast. Spam menu items can also be found at fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Burger King in Hawaii.

Spam Musubi. Photo Credit: Asianweek.com

Spam Musubi. Photo Credit: Asianweek.com

Hawaiians love Spam so much, they made a festival out of it! Spam Jam takes place every spring on the island of Oahu to celebrate this cultural food staple. There are a wide variety of foods featuring Spam throughout the festival from Spam cupcakes to Spam nachos and everything in between. The event also serves as a donation center for the Hawaii Food Bank to collect canned goods, such as Spam.

So, when in Rome Hawaii, eat like the Hawaiians do and give it a try! You just might like it!




Who is the Merrie Monarch?

KalakauaThe Merrie Monarch refers to King David Kalākaua, the last reigning king of the Hawaiian Monarch. Kalākaua ran for election after Kamehameha V passed away without naming a successor. He lost the election, however, to Lunalilo, a high chief who won by a large majority. Just a year later, Lunalilo passed away, also without naming a successor. This time around, Kalākaua was elected to the throne to serve as King of the Hawaiian Monarch. During his reign, Kalākaua made huge contributions to Hawaii that are still known today.

  • Requested the building of Iolani Palace- The only royal palace on U.S. soil
  • Requested a statue of King Kamehameha I be placed outside of the palace to honor the Hawaiian heritage.
  • Signed a tariff that allowed Hawaiian goods, such as sugar and rice, to be exported to the United States tax-free.
  • Reinstituted the art of the Hula, which had been banned in 1830.
  • He brought back the culture of Hawaiians by encouraging hula and other native traditions including language and arts.

Merrie Monarch Hula

King David Kalākaua had a lively personality and enjoyed music, dancing, and being joyful. His legacy lives on today in a number of ways, including the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long event held each year to celebrate the hula.  The festival has received world-wide recognition for its commitment to honoring and perpetuating the Hawaiian culture. It also helps to support programs that continue to keep its history alive. This year, the festival will be held in Hilo, Hawaii, on the Big Island, from April 5-11 and will feature hula competitions, a parade, and free hula performances.

Eddie Would Go!

By Maui Wowi Founder Jill Summerhays

Eddie AikauJust about the time we started Maui Wowi in the early 80’s I noticed bumper stickers with the phrase ‘Eddie would go’ on some of the vans parked at the beach. I recently watched the Netflix documentary on Eddie Aikau, who is the Eddie this phrase refers to. For Hawaiian’s, it’s the ultimate proverb of motivation and determination. It is commonly used when a surfer faces a big wave or simply adversity.

Eddie Aikau is one of the greatest surfing legends of all time who began life like a typical Oahu surfer. He grew up surfing the shores of Waikiki and worked endless hours at the Dole Plantation in hopes of purchasing his first real board. Once Eddie mastered the calm waves of Waikiki, he traveled up north to find the bigger and better waves along the island’s North Shore.

In 1967, sixteen years old and unknown on the North Shore, Eddie showed up on a huge wave day at Waimea Bay. He was seen free falling down 40 foot waves with a big smile on his face. He was immediately embraced by the professional surfing prodigies as he dominated every set of waves that day. Photos from this day appeared in Life magazine and unexpectedly, Eddie became a celebrity.

Although it wasn’t intentional, Eddie branded himself. He always used a red surfboard and wore white shorts with a red stripe. This was the way that people knew which surfer was Eddie. They always looked for the red surfboard and white shorts with the red stripe.

Eddie Aikau

Eddie’s occasional trips to the North Shore led him to become a lifeguard there. He was appointed lifeguard of the beaches in Waimea Bay. This was an appropriate role for the big wave surfer as he often swam rescue missions into 30 foot swells. During a nine-year term as protector of the hallowed coastline, he attempted over 500 rescues.

No lives were ever lost on Eddie’s watch. Surfing was a part of Eddie’s life, but Hawaii was his life. Eddie loved Hawaii and felt the land was sacred. He became one of Hawaii’s greatest ambassadors.  In 1978, when Eddie was 31 years old, he was invited to participate in a 30 day 2,500-mile historic journey from Hawaii through the Tahitian Island chains. However, the canoe soon developed a leak and later capsized about twelve miles south of the island of Molokai. In an attempt to get help, Eddie begged the captain to let him take his surfboard and paddle toward Lanai. He finally convinced the captain that this was their only hope. His last words were, ‘Don’t worry, I can do it.’ Although the rest of the crew was later rescued by the US Coast Guard just hours after Eddie paddled away, Eddie was never seen again. In an effort to save time he had removed his life jacket since it was hindering his paddling of the surfboard. The ensuing search for Eddie Aikau was the largest air-sea search in Hawaiian history. Only his life jacket and red surfboard were found.

Eddie left behind a legacy that is all about courage and helping others. He will be remembered for these things and for his remarkable surfing ability. “Eddie Would Go” continues to be a phrase used throughout Hawaii and an annual surf competition known as the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau is held at Waimea Bay in his honor.

eddie would go





For more information on the Eddie Aikau documentary, please visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2488386/. It can also be found on Netflix.

An Inside Look: Molokai

Molokai_FlightThe island of Molokai is just a short plane ride away from Oahu, about 30 minutes; and getting there is part of the fun. You can opt to take a larger aircraft that will get you there safely and comfortably… or you can have an adventure by flying on one of the smaller 10 passenger propeller planes. Still safe and fairly comfortable but a lot different than most people are used to. You are up close and personal with your pilot and get to finally see inside that illustrious cockpit. Another advantage, it’s like getting a private helicopter or small plane tour of the islands. Since it flies at a significantly lower altitude than the larger aircrafts, passengers are treated to some amazing views.

TerrainAs you approach Molokai, you are greeted by unimaginable cliffs, glorious beaches, and a terrain that is untouched. You won’t see many roads, cars, or even houses. Its small area and population keep it free from commercialization, and that’s the beauty of it. To get around, you’ll need a car; ideally one with 4 wheel drive if you want to see it all. There is one small town on the island called Kaunakakai and it is filled with friendly people who validate the island’s nickname. Small shops line the street and everyone knows everyone. You get that small town charm and local feel the minute you arrive. Pick up some produce and snacks at the market because you won’t find any big box stores here.

Molokai_landmarksThere are only a couple of options on where to stay on the island. Molokai Shores offers a beautiful view of the ocean, a refreshing swimming pool, and comfortable accommodations. In town, there is also the Hotel Molokai and a Bed and Breakfast. Just remember, life is slower on Molokai and life is quieter. As long as you respect the island and the people, they will welcome you.

Once you get there, what’s there to do? Number one on the list is Kalaupapa National Historic Park. This 2.9 mile hike (or mule ride if you prefer) will take you deep into the jungle on the North Central side of the island and into an area where a Leper colony once existed. Along the way you will discover the world’s highest sea cliffs, while learning about the people who lived in the colony and the struggles they experienced. You will become educated on this once misunderstood disease and how it changed the lives of many. For more information about the Kalaupapa tour, please visit http://www.muleride.com/.


Looking for a beach? Check out Papohaku Beach Park, known to locals as Three Mile Beach. You can’t swim here due to the dangerous shore break but since it’s’ Hawaii’s longest stretch of beautiful white sand beach, it’s definitely worth checking out.  Three Mile Beach doesn’t attract a whole lot of people either, an added benefit if you’re looking for solitude. For a list of other beaches where it is acceptable to swim, visit http://visitmolokai.com/beaches.php.

Molokai_3 Mile BeachIf waterfalls are your thing, you might have to dish out some money. To go on the Halawa Valley Falls Cultural Hike, you will need a guide. The trail goes through private property and it is not recommended for visitors to go it alone. Luckily, you can just call Greg. Or so the sign says. Schedule an appointment and get to the trailhead early. This hike is a little over three miles long and will traverse streams, rocks, and eventually lead you to the Mo’oula falls for a dip in the refreshing waters. For more information on how to schedule a hike, please visit http://www.halawavalleymolokai.com/.

Molokai_Halawa Valley Falls

Le’ahi: Diamond Head State Monument

waikikirainbowLe’ahi as it is known by the Hawaiian people, gets its native name from the word Lae, meaning browline and ahi because of how the ridgeline resembles the dorsal fin of the tuna fish.

Its English name, however, came from British sailors in the 19th century who mistook the calcite they found on nearby beaches for diamonds.

This iconic Hawaiian landmark is featured on postcards, t-shirts, and is one of the most widely recognizable coastal features. As a top tourist attraction, Diamond Head State Monument attracts thousands of visitors to its summit every year.

Sign.jpgAfter living on Oahu for nearly six months, I had yet to take advantage of my proximity to such a distinguished landmark. I’ve ran the 4 miles or so around the perimeter, done yoga on the ocean side edge, and taken numerous photos from all different angles. But to actually set foot inside this mysterious crater was still on my list. Living nearby, I set out on a trek to peek inside this cone shaped phenomenon.

I’ve learned in my research that “cone” is a very appropriate way to describe it. The correct term however, is volcanic tuff cone. Diamond Head Crater was formed about 300,000 years ago after an explosive eruption that occurred from a vent where magma was interacting with the sea, producing steam and volcanic gases. This interaction resulted in flying ash particles so fine they had the consistency of flour. Once the ash had settled, it formed what is called an ash cone, which later becomes a tuff cone as it hardens.

Interestingly, this all begins to make sense to me. Other nearby destinations such as Haunama Bay and Koko Head Crater, are all part of the Honolulu Volcanic Series, which formed as a result of the Ko’olau Volcano that has been dormant and extinct now for thousands of years.


From the outside, it’s hard to tell that a whole other world exists beyond the rim. It’s an easy walk up the hill towards the entrance. If you drive, it will cost $5 per vehicle but only $1 per person if you walk. The trail to the notable lookout is approximately 0.8 miles and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your ability. Throughout the uneven trail, you will encounter a spiral staircase, a 225 ft. long tunnel, and again even more steep stairs. Although it’s not significantly difficult, it is advisable to wear good walking shoes, bring plenty of water, and be prepared.

Stairs.jpgWhen you reach the top, you will have gained 560 ft. in elevation and come up for a breathtaking view of the Waikiki coastline. You can also see the entire interior of the crater. At the lookout is an old bunker that was once a part of Fort Ruger, a military reservation established back in 1906. Other remnants of the old military digs can be found on the outside of Diamond Head that include an old stone gate entrance and guard house.


Now, having made the journey to the top, I have a greater appreciation for this local and national landmark. Finally taking in the sights and soaking up its history, I realize that while Le’ahi may not have diamonds, it is definitely a gem.


Hawaiian Culture: Pele the Volcano Goddess

KilaueaOn the Island of Hawaii (“Big Island”), a real threat of devastation is approaching. The active lava flow is moving closer to homes and properties near the town of Pahoa every minute, causing serious implications for residents and the community. For weeks, the hot molten lava has inched its way, creating a path of destruction. Our hearts go out to those who are, or may be affected by this serious natural disaster. To learn more about the current situation on the Big Island, visit http://www.weather.com/news/hawaii-lava-flow-update-20141029.

When many of us think of lava and of volcanoes, one thing comes to mind; Pele. In the Hawaiian culture, Pele is the volcano goddess, spewing flames of lava into the air that both create and destroy land. Many legends surround her but most tell a story of how she came to the Islands of Hawaii after being exiled from Tahiti by her father.

lava tube

Her temper was fierce as she canoed across the Pacific looking for a place to make her home. The volcano goddess dug into the land with her o’o stick (a traditional groundbreaking stick), just off the waters near the island of Niihau where a small volcanic cone exists today, known as Lehua.

Although legends vary, it is then said that Pele arrived on the island of Kauai. There, she made her mark traveling along the Na Pali coast in search of a place to live but to no avail. She continued to canoe, landing next on Oahu and carving out several fire pits, one of which we know today as Diamond Head Crater. From there, Pele made stops on Molokai and then to Maui where it is said she had a deadly battle with her sister that resulted in her mortality.


After death, Pele is said to have retreated to the “Big Island” of Hawaii where she finally found her resting place in what is now the Kilauea Volcano. Pele is still, to this day, a highly respected element of Hawaiian culture and her visible existence continues to leave its mark on the Islands.

What is Kava?

KavaWhen we deal with the everyday stresses that come with life, many look for ways to enjoy some relaxation. Found in the Hawaiian and Pacific Island cultures, an interesting method for achieving such calming effects has been used for centuries. These cultures have long enjoyed the effects of a root known as Kava. (Other names it is known by are: ‘awa, ava, yogana, and keu.)


The earthy concoction has been made for generations by extracting the root’s sedative and anesthetic properties and diluting them with water. Kavalactones, an ingredient found in the kava root, are said to be psychoactive, creating the desired relaxing effects. The overall feeling is that of calm, without losing mental clarity.Kava-bar

Kava has been used throughout the Pacific Islands for medicinal, religious, political, and social purposes that are usually wrapped in legends and ceremonious traditions. It is prepared by pounding the kava root into a powder and then wrapping it in a cheese cloth that is steeped in cold or lukewarm water, similar to making tea. The mixture is then poured into a halved coconut bowl to be sipped.Awa-Bar

Today, many “kava bars” still exist on the islands where people frequent to enjoy relaxation and socialize with others. The root extract is also now made widely available in various forms, such as pills and droplets, however, these are not traditional forms.

While the effects of kava are ideal, there are still some questions regarding its safety and some countries have even banned its use.  Although there is a lot to still be learned about using the kava root as a natural relaxer, it will remain a historical method of achieving a state of peace and tranquility that will undoubtedly live on within the island cultures for generations to come.