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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Adventure Islands

 •  Hawai'i essay a labor of love

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Heading to his first Hawaiian vacation four years ago, Peter Frank expected, as many do, a polarized paradise of "beaches and high rises."

Visitors to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park get the opportunity to photograph lava flows entering the Pacific Ocean, plus getting in some excellent deep-water fishing.

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Hawai'i is a good destination for people who like adventure — but not too much.

The "Ultimate Guide to Hawaii" suggests kayaking Kaua'i's Na Pali Coast.
"But as soon as I got there, I realized there was so much more going on," said Frank. "Going to Maui and Kaua'i flooded my expectations."

In particular, the deputy editor of Men's Journal said he was amazed by the diverse outdoor activities readily available to adventurous travelers.

"Hawai'i has a little of everything," he said. "Amazing hikes, great sport fishing, great mountain-bike trails, epic kayaking. It has it all, and it's in the U.S., so it's easy to get to and easy to get around."

Frank's readers apparently agree, rating the islands as one of several "dream destinations" in a recent poll.

And what readers want, the magazine is all to happy to deliver. The January issue, on newsstands this week, features the confidently titled "Ultimate Guide to Hawaii" — a special section listing the many ways Hawai'i can and should be considered a top adventure travel destination. Award-winning travel writer, author and North Shore resident Paul Theroux wrote the introduction.

The package is the second in a series of "Ultimate Guides" the magazine has planned. The first featured Montana; future guides will highlight Alaska, Patagonia and Belize.

"In my mind, Hawai'i is in that realm as one of the premier adventure travel destinations," Frank said.

The Men's Journal package is the latest and perhaps most substantial addition to what has been an impressive reconsideration of the islands by the national media. Several other outdoor-lifestyle, men's and travel magazines have recently run extended Hawai'i-related features. In addition to spot coverage of surfing events, Outside Magazine has run several features on Hawai'i hiking and paddling sites, and in the last year alone has featured Hawai'i-residents Laird Hamilton, Gabrielle Reese and Lokelani McMichaels on its cover.

"You can't put a dollar value on it," said Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau vice president of marketing Jay Talwar of Men's Journal section. "Well, actually, you probably could. But we couldn't afford it."

Talwar is part of a HVCB team that recently visited the East Coast to promote Hawai'i as an adventure travel destination to editors and publishers.

"It's a new facet of Hawai'i that a lot of editors are picking up on," Talwar said. "The different island chapters (of the HVCB) have been good in talking about activities that go beyond the beach, but we're dealing with 100 years of branding."


In the cover story of the January issue of Men's Journal — "The Ultimate Guide to Hawaii" — travel writer Paul Theroux highlights four of his favorite O'ahu recreation spots.

• Mountain Biking: Peacock Flats. "A steep five-mile climb to the summit of the Wai'anae Ridge."

• Swimming: Waimea Bay (summer only). "One of the most beautiful places in the Pacific."

• Paddling: Waikiki. "Ala Wai Yacht Club to the buoy at Diamond Head. Kailua. "A chance of visiting the nearby islets of Moku Lua."

• Diving: Pupukea. "Shark's Cove or Three Tables is my choice."

Talwar said Hawai'i's adventure marketability is enhanced by the down-to-earth image of its residents.

"Hawai'i is seen as a real place," Talwar said. "Las Vegas is about total escape. In Hawai'i, people are honest and real, and that resonates with people who are into adventure travel."

While hard-core adventurers are unlikely to give up Denali for Diamond Head, Talwar said, Hawai'i is a perfect destination for "soft-adventure" people.

"We're very attractive to people who want to do their outdoor activities in the daytime, then go back to the hotel, get a spa treatment and then go eat some Pacific Rim cuisine," he said.

Appropriately, HVCB's target demographic has much in common with that of Men's Journal.

"Our ideal reader is a guy in his 30s who does well in his career and who wants to pursue adventure in his life," Frank said. "He doesn't want to lay on a beach. He wants to get out and experience the world, challenge himself physically and get his blood pumping."

The "Ultimate Guide to Hawaii" did an impressive job cataloging some of the best places to fish, hike, kayak, surf, swim, dive and cycle.

For fishing, the magazine looks to the Big Island's Kona Coast. For hiking, it recommends places on each island, including the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, and O'ahu's Kuli'ou'ou Ridge Trail.

It also suggests kayaking the Na Pali Coast and lists several surf, dive and cycle havens.

"It's hard to argue with anything they included," said Keith Kawasaki, who has been surfing, hiking and cycling around Honolulu for all of his 41 years. "There are better spots around that they could have put, but maybe it's better for us that they didn't. I think for tourists, this is plenty."

Reach Michael Tsai at 535-2461 or mtsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.