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Gong Xi Fa Cai(Mandarin) & Gong Hey Fat Choy

February 7, 2014

Welcome to new Nat Hi contributor, Michellee Phelps, Senior Project Manager (she’s still nice and polite—we’ll give her a few more weeks). Thanks Michelle for the pics and all.

My husband Will and I just recently moved here to Oahu a few weeks ago from Orange County, CA and were really excited to check out the Chinese New Year Celebration in Chinatown over the weekend. We had a lot of fun joining the community in watching the parade and checking out the street vendors. I am really looking forward to what this new year has in store for me since I was born during the Year of the Horse which is considered a lucky year, according to the Chinese.

If you were wondering, “Gong Xi Fa Cai” means “Happy New Year” in Mandarin while Gong Hey Fat Choy” is Cantonese. The New Year festivities are over, but here’s a link to other events in Honolulu’s Chinatown.

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Happy New Year

January 17, 2014

It’s already January and oh my, it’s been two months since we’ve posted. It’s time for some serious catching up! 

Although this blog is dedicated to showing off places to visit in Hawaii, there are times when nothing can compare with Mom’s kitchen. New Years is huge in the Japanese culture, and my mom spends the week between Christmas and New Years cutting ingredients into perfectly uniform little pieces for each of her dishes: Nishime, a chicken stew with Asian vegetables and a shoyu-sugar base; Ozoni, a clam-based soup with mochi that you eat for good luck; and bara sushi, a mixed-up sushi that in my mom’s case, is filled with color. At times, we’ve asked if she’d like a hand cooking, but she always says no. She  says it’s her gift to us, and she knows that we’re always grateful.

nishime sushi mochi 2 ozoni

Giving Thanks

November 27, 2013

On Thanksgiving, we’re all about ample servings of roasted turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. But after rolling around for a few hours with family and friends, it’s good to get moving again. So in honor of Thanksgiving, we’d like to share with you some of the more active ways we celebrate this lovely place called Hawaii.

Mahalo to Erica Chun, Account Coordinator on McDonald’s of Hawaii and Whalers Village, for our Thanksgiving inspiration. 


Get out on the water, or in Erica’s case, Kaneohe Bay. At Heeia Kea Pier you’ll find glass-bottom boats, scenic tours and our NatHI favorite, Heeia Kea General Store and Deli.


Take in a sunset. The one on the right was taken overlooking Ala Wai Boat Harbor.


Hawaii is a hub for live music. Kore Ionz played at Next Door not to long ago, but you can catch other bands live in Chinatown and Waikiki.


If for some strange reason you didn’t have enough to eat this Thanksgiving, Hawaii has no shortage of restaurants. Erica says the “Uni Tacos” at Nobu’s is quite a catch. 

If you’re ready to hike off that extra helping of stuffing, check out our next post by Rosie Eckerman and views of from Mariner’s Ridge.

Happy Thanksgiving from MVNP.

Mariner’s Ridge – V3

November 27, 2013

We just can’t get enough of this hike—and this view. This post comes from our MVNP creative intern, Rosie Eckerman. Rosie is an Interface Design major at KCC, due to graduate Spring semester of 2014. Outside of design, she’s interested in photography, cooking, family, her dog and she likes to make furniture when she has the time—preferably using materials from Reuse Hawaii (more on this later).

Mariner's Ridge taken from the top of the ridge.

Mariner’s Ridge taken from the top of the ridge.

Overlooking Waimanalo.

Overlooking Waimanalo.

Rosie's tired pup Bloo, who passed out on the ride home.

Rosie’s tired pup Bloo, who passed out on the ride home.

The Mariners Ridge hike starts in Hawaii Kai and is about 3 miles round trip (but feels like more with the amount of uphill.) I brought my dog Bloo and encountered quite a few other dogs, big and small. Throughout the climb you’ll experience great views of Hawaii Kai, and once you reach the top, you can see a large portion of Waimanalo, Kaneohe and beyond.

Ono Friday at Highway Inn

November 22, 2013

One of our favorite local hangouts opened a new restaurant in Our Kakaako. Highway Inn, a small family run business in Waipahu, has always been known for its Hawaiian food and more authentic items like naau puaa (pork chitterlings and taro leaf stew), squid luau (squid and taro leaves cooked in coconut milk) and uala (sweet potato) chips. Second generation owner Monica Toguchi has managed to merge the plantation-style charm of the original restaurant (which is still going strong) with a fresh look and feel that fits well in the trendy urban setting just outside downtown Honolulu.

Not everything on the menu requires a bold palate. There are the usual local favorites like beef stew and poi, varieties of fresh fish poke, poi pancakes with haupia (coconut) sauce, kiawe bean Belgian waffles with lilikoi (passion fruit) syrup and their classic fried rice served with locally-grown Peterson Farm eggs. Getting hungry? Visit their website at

If you have questions about  those strange names on the menu, they also have a handy “Malahini Guide” for newcomers to the Islands.





Sandy Beach

October 25, 2013

Sandy Beach

When Kevin Wee, MVNP interactive project manager, is late for work, we know where he is—at Sandy’s with his GoPro. NatHI tip: For experienced bodysurfers only.

Open for Business – what to see when you can’t see what you came to see

October 2, 2013

Sigh. The closing of Hawaii’s many national parks have wreaked havoc on quite a few “vacations of a lifetime.” Hopefully, these parks will be open soon, but in the meantime, here are a few of our favorite places we’d like to recommend. If they weren’t on your original Hawaii to-do list—well, you just got lucky.


Oahu – The Battleship Missouri Memorial


Can’t visit Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial? A few minutes away lies a huge piece of American history, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, aka “Mighty Mo.” And mighty it was.  One of the Missouri’s mighty guns could fire shells the weight of my Jetta wagon into a football field on the other side of the island. What’s even more significant, is the place on the deck where Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers to end World War II, thereby turning an instrument of war into a setting for lasting peace. Getting “chicken skin?” Go there and you will. NatHI tip: Ask for a docent tour.

Oahu – The Pacific Aviation Museum


These are not mere airplanes. We’re talking the SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber and the F4F Wildcat and World II history that’ll make even the non-aviation enthusiast (aka – skeptical teen)  let out a big “whoa.” Then it’s a stroll to MiG Alley for a look at the Museum’s Soviet MiG-15 and their North American F86 Sabre—America’s transonic jet fighter that battled in the air above Korea in deadly dog fights.  NatHI tip: Think you’re bad on the X-Box? Try their flight simulator.

Hawaii Island – Mauna Kea 


At 14,000 feet above sea level, visiting Mauna Kea will take your breath away—literally. There are important warnings if you’re in poor health, susceptible to attitude sickness or will be scuba diving the next day. Children under the age of 16 should not go past the Visitors Center. That said, if you have a 4×4 and are able to make it to the summit, you will be amply rewarded. To get there by sunset, you need to start early. Consider the long and winding road, as well as a few hours to acclimate at the Visitors Center which is located midway. On your way back down, stop at the Visitors Center for free stargazing every night from 6-10pm. NatHI tip:  Pack a picnic, some drinks, lots of blankets and enjoy the view from one of the scenic vantage points.

Maui – Hana Highway


With 620 curves and 59 bridges, the road leading to the quaint town of Hana is meant to be savored. From native flora to waterfalls to rambling shorelines, you’ll want to take your time. Not to mention, with all the one-lane bridges where motorists take turns to cross, you couldn’t rush it if you tried. So just smile and enjoy the trip. NatHI tip: When someone  lets you pass on a bridge, give them a “shaka sign” as a thank you. It’s the local thing to do.