Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hidden Hawaii--Ray Riegert (Book Review)

One thing I love about reading: it lets my mind travel to places I'll probably never see. After Graham Salisbury's Night of the Howling Dogs took my kids and me to Hawaii (a rough trip, what with the tsunami and all), I was glad to continue that mental journey with a review copy of Hidden Hawaii from the Ulysses Press via Mini Book Expo.

Hidden Hawaii is a treasure trove of information about the geography and history of the fiftieth U.S. state. Did you know the hula dance was outlawed by Christian missionaries? It was brought back by King David Kalakaua at his coronation in 1883. "Hula is the language of the heart," he said, "And therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people." The story of the Hawaiian people over the last two hundred years is both tragic and inspiring, and award-winning travel writer Ray Riegert offers just enough to whet my appetite.

The author lives in California, but the sections on each of the islands read like letters from a local, offering tips as you plan your trip. Check out this description of the mule ride to the historic Kalaupapa Leper Colony (people still live there!):

You saddle up near the Kalaupapa Lookout and descend a 1700-foot precipice, among the tallest sea cliffs in the world. Kalaupapa unfolds below you as you switchback through lush vegetation on a three-mile long trail. The ride? Exhilarating, frightening, but safe. And the views are awesome.

The selling point of the Hidden Travel books is that they clue readers in to the less touristy places, so I was expecting to learn which beaches, parks, and dining establishments are enjoyed by the locals, and I did. I was surprised to find locally used lodgings listed as well:

For a funky country place high in the mountains overlooking the Kona Coast, check in here. Catering primarily to workers, this 11-unit hotel remains a real sleeper. It might be difficult to book a room during the week, but on weekends, the lunchpail crowd heads home and you can rent a small place at an unbelievably low rate.

Now that's my kind of book.

This is the fourteenth edition, published in 2008—I think we definitely need a homeschool field trip to Hawaii before the next edition comes out, don't you? We could call it a unit study. Read some more Graham Salisbury Pearl Harbor and volcanoes...

Your turn to test out this book: Ask me anything about Hawaii, anything at all, and I'll see if the answer is in there. Come on, see if you can stump me!


  1. The problem with a book like this is that once others read it, all the Secret Great Places are outed.

  2. Maybe, Caite, but there are an awful lot of them in this book, so I wouldn't worry too much about that. I think that holds especially true for magazine articles, which might list ten places, that then get inundated.

  3. Where can I go to see Lost being filmed?!

  4. My Hub, bless his heart, keeps asking me when he can take me to Hawaii and I just don't want the jet lag from Boston! I want at least 3 weeks... sigh.

  5. I love Hawaii :) It sounds like a really nice bok and I love the music too! That's so cool how you do the music with your post! I love that!

  6. My mother-in-law grew up in Hawaii and everybody is still over there. I knew marrying my husband would be a great idea! And it's paid off! Hmm . . . a question. Do the locals have to watch the film before going to Hanauma Bay?

  7. OK, Lenore, you managed to stump the book--it doesn't talk about Lost at all, as far as I can tell.

    Care, travel tip: Boston to Portland. Hang out with me for a day or two, shop at Powell's. Portland to Hawaii!

    ChicGeek, Thanks for appreciating the music!

    Natasha, I'm not sure if you stumped the book, but you did stump me! I looked up Hanauma Bay, and there's reference to two films: Blue Hawaii, and From Here to Eternity. I don't think either of those are required viewing, though!

  8. hi, new to the site, thanks.