How We Can Save Hawaii Reefs

I’m an advocate for building Coral Reef Cages when offered at my favorite beach resorts. It is one small way of saving important reefs in our ocean.

This is a personal shout out from my esteemed cousin, Mark Hixon, who is a Professor and Hsiao Endowed Chair in Marine Biology at the School of Life Sciences University of Hawai ‘i at Mānoa. 

His dad was an aviator in the Navy, which translated to a global lifestyle. My aunt & uncle traveled the world with their kids. When we were young, Aunt Margie & Uncle Ricky gave the best birthday gifts, pearls from Japan and trinkets from Morocco. Mark was always a. cool kid, and as an adult he is even more cool and accomplished!

My cousin Mark, is on the advisory board of #fishpono  How do we help?  We must begin now. For generations of Hawaiians, pono has been the practice of living in balance. And with Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs severely threatened due to various human activities, understanding our role in the fragile balance of our reef’s ecosystem has never been more critical. We believe if we live this practice of pono through our fishing we’ll ensure healthy reefs teeming with life for ʻohana to come.

Please take a minute to read and share the Fish Pono Site.

Fishing is part of Hawaiian Heritage. In Hawaiʻi. Some fish for sport. Others fish for food or income. We’re not telling people not to fish. (We fish ourselves.) We’re not here to regulate fishing either. We’re a growing ʻohana of ocean-lovers, scientists, watermen and women, and yes, fisher people, who care about our Hawaiian Islands, the culture, and the reefs that surround them.

And we all fish pono.

How and what we fish matters. Hawaiʻi is blessed with coral reefs that feed us, protect our coasts from erosion, provide many recreational and employment opportunities, and are increasingly a source of new medicines. When coral dies for any reason, it is replaced by either new coral or by seaweeds. If seaweeds prevail, then the reef dies and the fish leave. But if corals remain healthy, they will continue to grow and become more resilient to other major stressors such as ocean pollution and coral bleaching.  Herbivores such as uhu (parrotfish) eat the seaweeds, acting as lawnmowers for the reef, keeping the coral clean, healthy and resilient.

We can help keep Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs alive and beautiful by not taking too many of these fish, especially uhu. More of these lawnmowers means more healthy coral. Healthier coral means more shelter and food for all fish… and more fish means better fishing for all!


One of my diving photos.

No gardeners, no gardens. When herbivores — our reef’s lawnmowers — such as uhu, nenue, surgeonfish, and sea urchins are in low abundance, coral reefs get overrun with seaweeds, and begin to suffocate and die. These ever-important lawnmowers, especially the uhu, must be abundant and thriving for seaweeds to remain in check, our corals to survive and flourish, and our beaches to get their essential, desperately needed sand.

  1. We fish only what we need to feed ourselves and share with our immediate family. We fish for our table not the freezer. By taking only what we need and not what we can, we allow our fisheries to replenish.
  2. We avoid taking many uhu that help keep reefs clean and thriving. We also avoid taking too many other herbivores like chubs, surgeonfish, and sea urchin that play their part in coral reef health as well.
  3. We pass on our knowledge. When we see someone taking too many fish vital for reef health, we speak up and honor the opportunity to educate. It’s everyone’s kuleana to fish pono.

#FishPono  Scientific Advisors.

Dr. Alan Friedlander, Pristine Seas, National Geographic Society
Dr. Mark Hixon, School of Life Sciences, University of Hawai’i
Dr. Randy Kosaki, NOAA, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
Dr. Kawika Winter, Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai’i

Spread the word.

Share how you #FishPono and tag  @fishponohawaii on social media and let your friends and family know about our threatened reef ecosystem. There’s no better way to make an impact than to become an active advocate yourself.

Together we can save Hawaiʻi’s reefs. Join the #fishpono movement!

Save the reefs!

Four Seasons Hualalai: As Expected.

Four Seasons Hualalai: Predictable: to be expected; unsurprising; formulaic…Would you consider this description a negative if I used it to describe a hotel or a guide or…

My recent visit to the Four Seasons Hualalai on the big Island was predictable. Our clients are all-encompassing enthusiasts of the brand, with good reason. Although, I have stayed multiple times at many Four Seasons, if I haven’t stayed at a particular resort, and a client wants to stay, we can confidently reserve knowing it will be predictable, ie very reliable. Excellent service, impressive dining, and superb service, over the top luxury, perfection.

Four Seasons Hualalai

Several decades ago, Four Seasons introduced a mission statement based on The Golden Rule: To treat others as we’d wish to be treated ourselves. This has never failed to impress me, and I see it practiced at all the Four Seasons Resorts I visit.

Hotels must practice and strive for brand perfection, something the Four Seasons takes very seriously. I hadn’t been to Hualalai in years and was greeted as if I had visited last week. Not everyone at these hotels knows me, it’s always a lovely surprise to be so warmly welcomed.

On landing, I had forgotten about the small outdoor luggage carousels, so unique that they still exist! A Four Seasons rep met me as I exited the plane, and we strolled a short distance to the casual outdoor baggage area. Bags collected and off to the resort –  mere minutes away through a black lava field. So close, yet you never hear any planes overhead.

The Four Seasons Hualalai is located on the Kona-Kohala coast of Hawaii Island. It’s a roughly 15-minute drive from Kona International Airport (KOA). It’s about a 20-minute drive to the town of Kona, But, why leave?  Entering the resort, the landscape quickly transforms to a lush tropical oasis of palms and red blossom hibiscus. Truly a tropical paradise, black lava shows itself in some locations, however this is truly a tropical retreat.

Surrounded by white-sand beaches and black-lava landscapes, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is perfectly situated for all kinds of island adventures. The spirit of Hawaii, from its long-held traditions to its inspired art, informs every detail of this idyllic retreat.

The islands lack no shortage of five-star properties, many are tucked into ultra-touristed rows like a Las Vegas row of swanky hotels. Many things set this property apart from other hotels, the setting and location. The Four Seasons Hualalai has an incredible amount of coastline, and there’s a pathway along the entire beach. A quiet expansive ribbon of land.

Stop a moment, a lavish lei of orchids slipped over your head, a chilled hibiscus scented towel in hand, balanced with a frosty drink. Leave your busy world at the doorstep, the view of paradise is straight ahead: past the lawns, past the pools, the sparkling Pacific Ocean beckons. Room ready, yes – beautiful amenities in room – yes. Room explanation, perfect- I recently covered a room lamp with an ice bucket as I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off – plug was obscured by a massive desk…and no, it was not a Four Seasons!

Four Seasons Hualalai

The open-air reception area and most of the other public spaces are all traditional Polynesian spacious architecture, consisting of buildings no higher than two stories, maximizing indoor/outdoor living. Aside from the rooms, and since I never close my screens, I was rarely in a closed room, except for a spa treatment.

The property seems expansive and for one who gets lost at many resorts, it was compact and easy to navigate. This is an ideal family destination, as there’s something here for everyone, whether you want to swim, golf, tennis, hike – a long list of activities. Kids Club for the kiddos as well.

I stayed in an ocean view superior suite, which had a comfy living room, with a large couch that could be turned into a bed, to tuck in a kiddo if one tags along. Two bathrooms and a double lanai terrace overlooking a beautiful ancient pool, beneath soaring palms, and gigantic ferns – the water attracted dozens of dancing iridescent dragon flies. The resort is built on the site of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village and in the initial development, a historic Hawaiian trail and several anchialine pools were found. The hotel has gone to great lengths to preserve the pools. With an array of feathered birds pecking for brekkie crumbs and the wildlife below, I could have sat for hours.

If you’re game for the best the Four Seasons Hualalai has to offer and price isn’t a factor, the property has several private villas. The Ho`onanea Villa, can be configured as a two- or three-bedroom villa, is the perfect friend or family Villa. Spacious rooms, an enormous kitchen-living room space with floor-to-ceiling glass doors which open onto an expansive lanai with an outdoor table, fire pit, and plunge pool. There’s also an external staircase leading to a sundeck/outdoor living room perfect for whale watching or sipping sunset cocktails at the end of an afternoon. Although the villa is mere steps from the beach and is really in the heart of the resort, it feels very private. All the villas are quite special, one is located with views of the golf course and overlooking another Sacred Pond, a short trail leads to the edge of the pond, where two chairs sit side by side. Perfect for contemplation.

The adult pool has lodging surrounding it, pretty much dedicated adult rooms- the hotel is very observant at managing the guest ratio near the adult pool, something I truly love.

Pools- who has so many pool choices?!  A morning stroll along the beach path led me to count and photograph all the pools: The King’s Pond and King’s Pool. The Seashell Pool. The Palm Grove Pool. The Beach Tree Pool. The Lap Pool. And the final most expansive pool: The Ocean Pool!

One of my favorites was the King’s Pond, which is a 1.8 million gallon “aquarium” for swimming. I brought my underwater camera to catch the ancient manta ray in the pond. The pool is carved out of lava rock and has more than 1,000 tropical fish in it. The sandy bottom and multiple stairs for entering the pool, make it accessible to all. The Kumu Kai Marine Education Center is here, where you can learn more about the marine life, as well as join daily ray and fish feedings. Kiddos can hold sea horses in a small on land tank. I did photograph the ray, who apparently survived under piles of debris in the last big hurricane. King’s Pond is also surrounded by lounges and chairs for a quiet pool aquarium setting.

Villa Views – Contemplation

Activities – wow- something for everyone! A world class tennis club with 8 courts, a world-class 18-hole golf course, a four-lane lap pool, and I discovered a beachfront aquatic center where you can learn how to paddle a traditional canoe, try out a stand-up paddle board, or join a snorkeling adventure. The resort provides a cart over to this stretch of beach, but I walked to it along the long resort path. There are also night swims with Manta Rays in the ocean, I was a little afraid, my horoscope predicted: Do something different today, I did inquire – the trips were full- pagan girl prayers do work!

Golf – Crafted with sensitivity to its unique environment, this 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus-signature, championship course winds over 7,100 yards, beginning in a lush oasis, flowing across bright green fairways contoured against black lava, then returning to the ocean for the final hole. Exclusive Golf Experiences

The Spa is over the top fabulous, the Zen inspired tropical treatment rooms are indoor and outdoors. Gift shops are always supported by me- so easy to add to m y tropical wardrobe and a treasure trove of distinctive attire to be found! Clothing that can be worn at home as well as the resorts…

Dining – There are several on-site restaurants, including the casual open-air Beach Tree, set on the edge of the beach, white surf laps the beach…kids were playing in tide pools while parents dined.

The beachfront Ulu Ocean Grill with an adjacent sushi lounge, and the Hualalai Grille. Enjoy local seafood with flavors inspired by the Pacific rim, served steps away from the ocean surf and beneath a canopy of stars at our award-winning. Enjoy local seafood with flavors inspired by the Pacific rim, served steps away from the ocean surf and beneath a canopy of stars at the award-winning restaurant. The culinary philosophy is to begin with ingredients from the island and beyond – ensuring the freshest, most sustainable ingredients available. Working with over 160 local farms, approximately 75% of the food served is from the Island of Hawai’i, prepared oven roasted, flame grilled and wok fired – fusing the flavors of Hawaii with Pan-Asian techniques.

Off property unique experiences Blacksmith experience. Journey to a secluded coffee farm on the hills of Hualalai where the famed, Hawaii Island-born blacksmith Neil Kamimura forges his state-of-the-art specialty knives. After an initial consultation, assist Neil in creating a unique, personalized knife: forging, pounding and adding a custom handle to complete the one-of-a-kind chef’s knife to use in your kitchen, or to treasure as a piece of art. A chef by trade, Flora Kamimura, Neil’s wife, will create a custom lunch to enjoy between the efforts of constructing your creation. After your time spent with the knife master, return to the Resort, and receive a knife-skills cooking class with a tenured Resort chef, using your new creation for the first time.

Natural Pools View from my Suite

If Predictable Perfect Luxury is your Jam, then please ring me, as I Highly Recommend Four Seasons Hualalai!