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Fiction Books Set in Hawaii – Kula: A Surfing Detective Mystery


Kula: A Surfing Dective Mystery
by Chip Hughes

I have started another category called “Fiction Books Set in Hawaii”. I will be reviewing some of my favorite novels with a Hawaii setting. Most of the authors are from Hawaii, live in Hawaii or have lived in Hawaii.

This book is a great beach (or pool) read and also for dog lovers. The descriptions of the various locales visited, during Kai’s investigation, are both vivid and accurate (yes I live on the islands).

Where to buy: Amazon
Price: $13.46

There are likeable characters in Tommy Woo (an attorney who would rather be a jazz musician), Miss Fujiyama (Kai’s landlord who runs a lei shop downstairs) and Maile Barnes (a pet detective whom Kai had a crush on in high school).

So…if you love Hawaii, surfing and dogs, this book is for you!

The Story

Kai Cook is a private detective who also happens to surf. Surfing, for Kai, is a time for relaxation and also a chance to examine his cases from a different perspective.

Things are a little slow, for the surfing detective, but he catches a break (pun intended) when Barry Buckingham calls him up. Buckingham has a popular radio show and is also a big time gold dealer.

Kai thinks the case will involve Buckingham’s missing wife but he is sadly disappointed. Kai is instead hired to find the lost family dog, Kula, who also happens to surf.

A shady character, who Kai meets in Waimanalo for information on the missing dog, ends up dead with the surfing detective as the prime suspect. Now Kai must hurry to solve the case and clear his name.

Kai’s case takes him from Kailua Beach, on Oahu, to the Big Island and finally to Maui. With the help of Maile Barnes, a pet detective and ex-K9 cop, can Kai track down the famous surfing dog?


About the Author

Chip Hughes began surfing, in San Diego, during the late 60’s. In 1981, he earned a Ph.D., in English, from the University of Indiana. Hughes taught at the University of Hawaii for nearly 30 years before becoming a full time writer.

The surfing detective mystery series began in 2004 with “Murder in Moloka’i” (which I also read many years ago). Kula is the third book in the series of six planned volumes.

My favorite quote from Kai Cook:
“Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. I have my surfboard!”

I Love Lucy in Hawaii? – Ricky’s Hawaiian Vacation

i love lucy

I Love Lucy in Hawaii? I loved this show growing up and have seen all the episodes. Suffering from a bit of memory loss, I couldn’t remember if there was an episode that was filmed in Hawaii. So I did a little research…

I Love Lucy: Season 3, Episode 22
Ricky’s Hawaiian Vacation
Original Air Date: March 22, 1954


lucy1Lucille Ball…Lucy Ricardo


desiDesi Arnaz…Ricky Ricardo


vivianVivian Vance…Ethel Mertz


WilliamWilliam Frawley…Fred Mertz


unknownFrank Nelson…Freddie Filmore



Ricky’s band is playing at the Royal Hawaiian, in Honolulu, but for only one night. Lucy is dying to go, along with Ethel & Fred, but Rickey says that he can’t afford it. Will that stop Lucy?

The “Dead Weight Trio”, as Ricky calls Lucy & the Mertzes’s, sing “King Kamehameha”, with Ethel on the ukulele, to try and convince Ricky to take them along as entertainment. It doesn’t work.


Lucy comes up with a scheme to get them to Hawaii. Lucy writes a letter to a game show called “Be A Good Neighbor” telling of a poor family who always dreamed of going to Hawaii. The Mertzes’s are the penniless couple and Lucy plays the sick mother.

The host, Freddie Fillmore, likes their story and invites them on the show. Ricky finds out about the shenanigan and comes on the show as a surprise guest.

You can just imagine the laughs to come…all at Lucy’s expense! What’s funny is that we never see Ricky go to Hawaii.

Filming Locations

movie camera
Stage 9, Motion Picture Center Studios – 846 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA

Ren-Mar Studios – 846 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA

Hmm…no Hawaii location :-/


triviaMusic performed on this episode:
“King Kamehameha”
“A Hawaiian War Chant”
“Cielito Lindo”
“La Cucaracha”
“I Get the Blues When it Rains”
“Let’s Have Another Cup o’Coffee”
“I’m Putting all my Eggs in one Basket”
“How Deep is the Ocean?”.

This was Frank Nelson’s 3rd appearance as game show host Freddie Fillmore. It’s strange that Freddie Fillmore did not recognize Lucy or Ricky. Lucy had previously been on Fillmore’s quiz show twice and Ricky once.

Waikiki Aquarium, Oahu – Fish, Coral, Clams, Fun!

waikiki aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium Postcard Circa 1910

Waikiki Aquarium in Oahu? Originally it was the “Honolulu Aquarium” but since 1955 the name has been “Waikiki Aquarium”. Okay, the Aquarium is no Monterey Bay or Sea World so I won’t compare. The Waikiki Aquarium is what it is…very, very small. You can probably see everything in under an hour. That being said, there are some nice exhibits and the Aquarium IS in Waikiki!

Small Kine History

Waikiki Aquarium was founded in 1904 and is the second oldest aquarium in the US. James Castle contributed the land while Charles & Anne Cook donated the funds for the construction. When it first opened, some considered its collection of fishes the finest in the world. The Aquarium began as a private organization but is now administered by the University of Hawaii. The facility celebrated its 110th anniversary in 2014.

Here are some of the exhibits that my five-year-old son, Gabriel, enjoyed on our visit. I don’t know if the gift shop counts as an exhibit but my son spent a long time contemplating his purchases.

edge of the reefEdge of the Reef

This 7,500 gallon outdoor exhibit recreates the habitat found on Hawaiian shorelines. If you went snorkeling, in Hanauma Bay, you might see these same fish. Get up close and personal with the yellow tang, red pencil urchins and porcupine pufferfish among others. You can witness the feeding frenzy at meal times.

 Barrier Reef Exhibit

barrier reef exhibit

This huge 5,500 gallon tank contains many species of tropical fish, coral and giant clams (over 100 different species!). The colorful fish and coral were stunning and kept my son engaged for almost 15 minutes (long time for him!). The giant clams are likely the oldest in the world (in captivity).

Hunters on the Reef Exhibit

hunters on the reef exhibit

My son, Gabriel, saw a reef shark so he was totally into this exhibit. Gab recently watched Jaws (1975) and plays the iPad games Jaws and Jaws Revenge and is now shark crazy! The blacktip reef sharks, jacks and groupers make up the exhibit. They just looked like big, dull, ugly fish to me!

Lucky Us!

lucky us

Admission was free, when we went, because of the Mauka to Makai Expo. There was free parking, at Waikiki Elementary, with complimentary shuttle service. At the expo, there were hula dancers, a puppet show, informational booths, food booths, games, prizes and fun photos.

Important Info

Regular admission is $12/adults, $5/kids & kids under 3 are FREE (Kamaaina $8). There is a small gift shop and a vending machine with drinks. There is no food sold so bring your own snacks. Daily hours are 9:00am to 4:30pm.

Parking, Parking, Parking

Yes, parking is a very important factor when I go anywhere! There are only like 10 parking stalls, in front of the Aquarium, so get there early or find metered parking. There is also paid parking at the zoo (only a short walk).

Leonard’s Bakery

leonards malasadas

Oh, I almost forgot! Anytime your in Waikiki, Leonard’s Bakery is a must stop in nearby Kamaiki. Home of the original malasada, these golden brown, Portuguese style donuts, have brought smiles to thousands of locals and tourists since 1952.

Hiking Manoa Falls – A Muddy Adventure

manoa falls
manoa falls mapHiking Manoa Falls? A muddy adventure! Well…there are no spectacular waterfalls, on Oahu, compared with the other islands. One exception is Sacred Falls which has an 1100 foot drop but unfortunately is no longer accessible (the state closed access after a fatal landslide in 1999).

That leaves Manoa Falls at 55 feet, Waimea Falls at 45-55 feet (North Shore) and Maunawili Falls which is 15 to 30 feet (near the Pali Lookout) as the popular waterfalls to visit on the island.

After Diamond Head, Manoa Falls is probably the most popular hiking trail for island visitors. The route, to the falls, is only a .8 miles making for a short 1.6 mile trip.

The Manoa Falls Trail is technically considered “easy” and it’s close proximity to Waikiki makes this a popular destination. Don’t be surprised if the trail has “choke” hikers of all ages and nationalities.

This lush area, which is considered a rain forrest, receives a lot of rain and can be a muddy mess at times. Closed toe shoes with good tread is usually recommended but locals, myself included, like to hike in flip flops (see pics).

A Little Advice

Bring insect repellant as there are mosquitos galore and plenty of water to keep hydrated. It would be a good idea to stay out of the water if you have any cuts (swimming is no longer allowed at the base of the falls).

Leptospirosis is common in Oahu’s freshwater streams. This disease is caused by a bacteria that can be transmitted through open cuts as well as through the eyes.

A warning for those hiking with their dogs: on Wednesdays and Sundays there is active pig hunting on the trail. The hunting dogs may be unleashed so you might want to hike another trail with your pet.

manoa falls3 manoa falls4 manoa-files5 manoa falls6 manoa falls7

Parking and Directions

The Manoa Falls parking lot has been closed because of high car thefts. There is parking nearby at Paradise Park, for $5, or you can park in the lower neighborhood for free.

I found a cool moped map with directions from Waikiki to Manoa Falls. There are some streets that change names, which can be a little confusing, but keep going straight and you will arrive at your destination…no worries!

manoa falls map2

One Last Thing

There are some possible dangers if you linger around after dark. The trail is a path used by the Night Marchers which are the spirits of ancient Hawaiian warriors. This may just be a legend but…no need take chances! Protection Status