HERE IN HAWAII – Downtown on Black & White Night

Downtown on Black & White Night

 “Things will be great when you’re downtown,” as the song reminds us.  And it’s certainly true of Downtown Hilo.

 The core of the city is easy to walk around in, and always fun for shopping and window-shopping.  It’s essentially bounded by Kam Avenue along the Bayfront and Kinoole St. two blocks mauka; by Waianuenue Ave. on the Hamakua side, and Ponahawai St. on the Waiakea side.

 Many downtown stores stay open late on the first Friday of every month.  But the biggest and brassiest of these first-Fridays is the first Friday in November (Nov. 2, this year), when there is free live music in storefronts and on street corners from 5 in the afternoon to 9 in the evening.

 It’s called “Black & White Night.”  People are encouraged to wear black and/or white clothes – and they do: strolling around in everything from the formal to the ridiculous.  (There’s costume competition, too.)  Parents and children like to go on the Treasure Hunt, collecting “stamps” at various downtown businesses, many of which also offer free snacks.

 But it’s the music that really draws the crowds.  Alice Moon, who originated Black & White Night and continues to produce its events (amoon@bigisland.com), estimates that, last year, nearly 5,000 people came to what she calls “Downtown Hilo’s biggest strolling party.”  Local musicians play jazz, rock, bluegrass . . . you’ll hear something for every taste.  And this year, there will also be an after-hours dance party to a vintage Swing band, from 9 to midnight.

 So . . . come on down!

ATA Deals

If you’re thinking about taking a trip our way, check out www.ata.com and sign up for their Travel Awards / Notifications. For example, I received the following special savings notification earlier this month:

Oakland       To/From      Hilo        $159/one way

They also have lots of opportunities to earn double points.

To view where ATA flies, use their handy route map tool (click Hilo to see all routes).

To drive the old road is to experience a bit of “old Hawaii”

Right up through World War II, there were railroads on the Big Island. Passengers and freight rode up the Hamakua Coast from Hilo, crossing the gulches on high trestle bridges. But only some of those trestles survived the 1946 tsunami, and while the entire railroad was being dismantled, everybody had to use the paved road, which hugged the hills, and forded the gulch streams deeper inland with one-lane bridges. Not surprisingly, it was eventually superseded by the modern, mostly-two-lane Highway 19. Cut straighter, the “Belt Highway” made oxbows of the old road – the “Old Mamālahoa Highway.” And they’re still in use, one-lane bridges and all. Maps show them diverging from main road, mauka and makai: they’re shady lanes, often cool and quiet; and right now, in autumn – pungent, in wild guava season.

The old road starts as Wainaku Street, in Hilo, and a pleasant segment – popular with surfers – descends to Honolii. The best-known stretch is the four-mile “Scenic Drive” from Papaikou to Pepeekeo. The longest mauka segment runs through Ahualoa, from Honokaa to Waimea.

To drive the old road is to experience a bit of “old Hawaii.” It’s certainly worth taking these side-trips on your way to Laupahoehoe, because there you can glimpse an even older Hawaii, now gone . . . at the Train Museum:
 www.thetrainmuseum.com

Here on the Big Island

“It’s really big!”

You hear that a lot, from visitors, especially first-timers. Maybe they’ve cruised the Caribbean islands, most of which are downright tiny by comparison. Or they’ve seen the other Hawaiian islands first – Maui, Oahu, Molokai, Kauai, or Lanai – before coming here to the Island of Hawaii.

In the words of the late naturalist Euell Gibbons, “This one island is considerably larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined, and rises to an altitude much higher than New Hampshire and Vermont would be if they were stacked one on top of the other.”

It covers 4,000 square miles – literally twice the area of all the other Hawaiian islands combined. And since it measures 100 miles long by 100 miles wide, you need a full two hours to drive non-stop from one end to the other. But that’s not the best way to see Hawaii. Better to take at least two days, and make a circumnavigation. There’s an airport with rental cars on each side: in Hilo on the east side, and in Kona on the west, which also serves the big resorts that are oases on the black lava fields of South Kohala.

Driving from Hilo, the “classic” visitor route is clockwise: heading first to the volcano – Kilauea has been especially active, lately – and coming up to Kona from the south; spending a night there, and going back to Hilo by way of the ranchlands of Waimea and the lush Hamakua Coast. From Kona or South Kohala, the “classic” drive is typically counter-clockwise, heading south through the coffee fields of Kona and the windswept landscape of Ka’u, to see the volcano. Worthwhile side-trips are to North Kohala, still reminiscent of its “old Hawaii” days, or to rural Waipio Valley. It takes a four-wheel-drive vehicle to cross the island over the Saddle Road, but renting one (and being very careful!) you could visit the astronomy center at 9,000 feet, and even attain the 13,900-foot summit of Mauna Kea, which is often snow-capped in the winter.

The Big Island is therefore practically a continent in miniature, with all but two of the world’s climate zones – sorry, no glaciers or sandy deserts, but everything else from tropical jungle to alpine heights.

That quote from Euell Gibbons, by the way, is from his 1967 book Beachcomber’s Handbook, which has marvelous recipes for local fruit, vegetables and fish, about which I’ll write more in the weeks to come.

Market Conditions Report – Hilo

Market Conditions Report

* Hilo *

You asked for it!  We’ll now be periodically providing Market Condition Reports on specific areas on the Big Island, and we’ll start with Hilo …

Area Characteristics: Hilo is located on the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii. It is the second largest city in Hawaii with a population of approximately 60,000. Generally this is a lush green area with fair amounts of rainfall. The population makeup tends to be more local (native Hawaiians) then that of the Kona area, or west side of the island. The county, state, and federal offices are all located in Hilo, as well as the University of Hawaii at Hilo, a major contributor to the local economy and culture.
     For the individual thinking of relocating to Hilo, you will find the people warm and friendly, and there are numerous opportunities. Unemployment is extremely low, and well paying jobs may be hard to find. On the other hand housing is relatively affordable when compared to other parts of Hawaii or the continental U.S.
     If you are looking for a small town feel with all the amenities of a larger city, Hilo is the place to be.

Buyer’s or Seller’s Market: On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being a buyers market and 5 being a seller’s market, Hilo is at a 2. This is a buyers market.

Recent Price Trend: On a scale of 1 to 5, with a 1 reflecting sales prices down and 5 reflecting prices up, Hilo is “Down”, with a rating of 2.

Market Report Narrative:
Hilo has not really been affected by the market downturn over the past 1.5 years. Sellers are still listing their properties at nearly the same price range as last year. The difference is, there is greater inventory on the market, and sellers are often willing to take less than asking price in order to move their properties. Over the last year those properties that were listed on the MLS in the Hilo area (up to 1 million) sold for an average of $375,434. Currently, there are 143 properties listed that fit this description, with an average listing price of $428,059. As these properties linger on the market, most of these sellers will accept less. While this is definitely a buyer’s market sellers, particularly those of high end properties, are still getting fair value.

Alaska Airlines Now Serving Hawaii

According to www.cheaptickets.com today:

Alaska Airlines Expands into Hawaii

     Alaska Airlines introduced its first nonstop daily service between Seattle and Honolulu on Friday, October 12th.
     The flight is part of a wider expansion by the airline into Hawaii, with routes from Seattle to Lihue and Kauai due to commence on October 28th.
     In addition, a nonstop service from Anchorage to Honolulu will be launched on December 9th.
     Gregg Saretsky, Alaska Airlines’ Executive Vice-President of Flight and Marketing, said, “Our customers and employees have been waiting for this day — when Alaska says ‘Aloha’ to Hawaii — for years.
     “Customers now will be able to enjoy Alaska’s unique brand of service and earn Mileage Plan miles whether they’re booking a flight or a complete vacation package to the beautiful islands of Hawaii.”
     All the new flights will be operated with Boeing 737-880 aircraft and passengers will be able to purchase Hawaiian-themed meals onboard.