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Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman in Wailea on Maui -- this is their logo and we'll remove it if they ask.

Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman in Wailea, Maui

One of the first times I stayed on Maui at Kihei Akahi D-614, I was taken to Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman.  Now, I had heard of the chef, Merriman, from his other restaurants.

Monkeypod exceeded my expectations.  I am not a foodie, or someone that claims great sophistication about food (at ALL!).  But the food was flawless, the service perfect and the overall feel of the place excellent – comfortable and beautiful.  Its not a cheap restaurant, but it’s an experience you should have in Maui.

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Great Kihei Surfside 106 Review

Linda loved Kihei Surfside 106 and called it the PERFECT SPOT! Here’s what she wrote, “My husband & I just spent 10 days at the Surfside – great ground floor unit – were able to walk out and play bocce & shuffleboard. Keawakapu Beach is right around the corner – one of the nicest beaches in Kihei/Wailea. Perfect place for a nice, quiet vacation!”

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Got Hula?

The week after Easter Sunday is one of the most fun if you are in Hilo on the Big Island.  The Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long cultural festival honoring King David Kalakaua who was called the “Merrie Monarch” for his patronage of the arts.  He is credited with restoring many Hawaiian cultural traditions during his reign, including hula.

The festival was founded back in 1964 by George Na’ope, and a few years later Dorothy “Auntie Dottie” Thompson formed the private community organization and added the popular competition aspect of the festival later in 1971.  Since then, the three-day hula competition has received worldwide recognition for its cultural and historic significance and proceeds from the festival support educational scholarships, workshops, seminars, symposiums and the continuation of the festival.

The week is full of cultural demonstrations, craft fairs and entertainment at various locations around East Hawaii.  

Around Town

Craft Fairs will be in full-swing Wednesday through Sunday around Hilo. Here is a list of a few of them:

  • Wednesday – Saturday is a biggie held at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. Features local artists, crafters, food and entertainment. Opens at 8:30am and closes at 5p Weds – Fri and 4pm on Saturday. FREE admission.
  • Thursday – Saturday is another biggie at Sangha Hall. Small admission fee.
  • Friday – Sunday at Prince Kuhio Plaza. FREE admission.
  • Friday – Sunday at Hilo Shopping Center. FREE admission.

Entertainment:

  • Hula demonstrations at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, Hawaii Naniloa Volcanoes Resort, Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, Imi’loa Astronomy center
  • Native Hawaiian Art Exhibit at the Merrie Monarch Festival Office.

The Competition

The event is held every year at the Edith Kanaka’ole Stadium, an open-air yet covered venue.

The Ho’ike kicks off the performances on Wednesday evening and is a favorite among the locals – it’s a free exhibition night of hula, international performers and music. On tap will be halau from Hilo, Japan & Kohala, plus the Rangi Moana dancers from Easter Island and the Tahitian Troupe Nonosina. The event begins at 6pm, but you’ll find a line forming as early as noon for the first-come, first-seated performance!

Kane halau group performance

Wahine halau in group performance

Thursday night is one of the most beautiful, with the individual competition for the title of Miss Aloha Hula.  The contestants each perform a hula kahiko (ancient hula), hula ‘auana (modern hula) and oli (chanting).  

Island Princess rides horseback in Saturday’s Royal Parade

Saturday morning is the Royal Paradethrough downtown Hilo beginning at 10:30am.  It is one of the festival’s most entertaining and fun events for the entire family! You’ll see each island’s Royal Princess on horseback, local high school bands, an Ukulele marching band, and of course, hula dancers and floats.  The most entertaining is the clever decorations of the “pooper scooper brigades”!  :)   It begins and ends at Pauahi Street and winds through downtown Hilo along Kilauea Ave, Keawe Street, Waianuenue Ave and along the bayfront Kamehameha Avenue.

Saturday evening caps off the festival with the Group Hula ‘Auana (modern) competition with performances by both Kane and Wahine halau.  At the end of the night is an awards presentation for all group winners.

The Thursday – Saturday competitions will be aired live locally on KFVE tv.  KFVE will again provide online streaming of each night’s event.  Check their website at www.k5thehometeam.com for details.

Tickets are required for the competition nights.  If you would like to begin planning for next year, check out the official Merrie Monarch website for details on how to purchase.