ABC Store in Ala Moana Center

They seem to be everywhere in Waikiki. And also in the Ala Moana Shopping Center. The ubiquitous ABC Stores, an operation that is aimed squarely at tourists and probably a very profitable business in the islands. Recently ABC Stores opened what I think is their largest store in Hawaii at the site of the former Honolulu Book Shop/Walden’s/Border’s Book Express location near Center Stage on the street level of Ala Moana Center.

I just happened to be by, camera in hand when I snapped this quick shot of the place lit up for the evening. I never shop at ABC since most of the items are geared towards tourists – sundries, disposable cameras, little batteries, film, cheap t-shirts, some tacky Aloha wear, gifts, sunscreen, sarongs, beach towels and stuff. Prices are generally higher than say, Long’s Drug where similar items and more are also sold, but usually at a better price. The tacky design t-shirts at ABC are cheap, sometimes 2 or 3 for $20. Maybe more.

Tourists like the stores because they are convenient and placed near or in the major resort hotels in Waikiki and elsewhere. There seems to be an ABC Store on every block of Waikiki. I think there is only one in Ala Moana Center and you’re looking at it (haven’t checked to see if the smaller location in the same center is still in operation)….

Tax Burden Still High in Hawaii

Let Honolulu’s Paul Smith reports this week that Hawaii continues to have one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. Smith says, “the Bureau of the Census reports that, on a per capita basis, Hawaii, in 2005, was the number 1 state for collections of general sales tax, and in 2006, had the fifth highest percentage (11.7 percent) of state and local tax burden as a percentage of state income.”

The report does not take into account the new tax increase that started on January 1 to fund Honolulu’s $6.4 billion rail transit project. That will surely push our tax burden higher the next time another report is filed.

Keep an eye on the State Legislature. You can’t trust many of the politicians who work in that building. They may be pushing more legislation to increase our tax burden. More fees, charges, cost, taxes. When will it all end?

Tax hell is alive and well in the 50th State.

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Tasty Fish Taco’s and what a view

After hiking the Diamond Head Trail, which is steep but well worth the hike, we needed to find some lunch. I had passed a small smoothie shop but after parking the car my friends spotted a little Mexican place across the street.
Mi Casa Taqueria

It was my friend, Jason, who turned me on to the fish taco. But, fish taco’s are not easy to find in Pittsburgh. So since they were on the menu I had to order a fish taco – it was delicious.

From my table I could look out over the strip mall (they have a lot of strip malls in Hawaii) and see the mountains. It kind of reminds me of being in Colorado.

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Turtle 2.0

One of the best places we stopped was the beach with the sea turtles. I think it was Laniakea beach on the North Shore.
These turtles are huge. Much bigger than I have ever expected.

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What is portuguese sausage?

I still don’t know but it taste good. We had breakfast at Koa Pancake house. It is amazing. We were told to try the portuguese sausage. Does anyone know what the difference between regular sausage and Portuguese sausage is?

Koa Pancake house is amazing. We don’t have anything like this back in Pittsburgh.

Not only are the pancakes delicious, but the hot chocolate comes with sprinkles too.

Aloha Honolulu

Aloha Honolulu, I am a metro blogger from Pittsburgh, PA and I am here visiting a good friend from Pittsburgh who now lives in Honolulu. I am actually writing this post from the Starbucks in Pearl City. This is my first visit to Hawaii and it is so great that I can blog while traveling.
I also write a blog about Pittsburgh –
I hope you will read and comment and maybe help us to find some more cool things to see while we are here visiting.

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Keep Out of the Water

A sign posted at the Diamond Head end of Kakaako Waterfront park warns users to stay out of the water. A sewer line break several blocks away from this area caused a spillage of several hundreds of gallons of raw sewage into the ocean this past weekend. Definitely not a sign the Hawaii Visitors Bureau would like to see!

Photo taken at the Diamond Head end of Kakaako Waterfront Park.

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Queen Mary 2 Stops in Honolulu

Queen Mary 2 In Honolulu

Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 stopped in Honolulu on Friday, February 9 as part of her 81-day around the world cruise. She left from San Francisco a few days before. Spent a whole day in Hawaii before leaving the same night for Pago Pago American Samoa. Here she is coming into Honolulu Harbor early that Friday morning. Photo shot from Kakaako Waterfront Park.

Smokers March to Overturn Ban

"Ban the Ban" Smokers Protest

Smokers and bar owners were protesting Hawaii’s new anti-smoking law at the State Capitol on Friday, February 9. Smoking should be allowed in bars and other adults-only entertainment and recreational establishments. Senate Bill 1970 will be heard in the Hawaii State Legislature on Feb. 12 to address the concerns of smokers and business owners. Several bar owners have been financially hit by the restrictive new law which has been in effect since November 2006.

I am a non-smoker but do understand their plight. The smokers need a public place to light up. Give them the bars.

Apple Store Opening at Kahala Mall

Hawaii’s second Apple Store will be opening at Kahala Mall on Saturday February 10. The 5,000 sq. ft. store will be larger than the first Apple Store which opened in 2004 at Honolulu’s Ala Moana Shopping Center.

As usual, Apple will be giving away free T-shirts to the first 1,000 people who visit the new store. There will definitely be a long line of people waiting to be “the first”. I won’t be one of them.

I love Apple, have owned and still own several Macintoshes as well as iPods. Waiting in a long line to get a free t-shirt is not my idea of spending quality time on a busy (for me) weekend. Also since I live closer to the original store, there is no practical reason for me to shop at the Kahala Store which is several miles away from my location. I know what the products are and I can get em close by.

Still, I wish all those who like to go to these kinds of opening day events the best of luck. Have fun, buy a Mac or an iPod. Aloha!


This is the former Tower Records Store on the corner of Keeuamoku and Makaloa Streets in Honolulu Hawaii. I shot this picture on a recent walk one afternoon. The store closed more than a month ago. The building is slowly deteriorating as the grafitti artists have already struck, leaving their ugly marks on many of the structure’s exterior surfaces.

The good news for this location is the fact that a Walgreens drug store is supposed to open here sometime this year. Walgreens will be a new entry into the Hawaii marketplace. They will be taking on the market leader Longs’ Drug, which has been established in Hawaii for more than 40 years.

This location is near the shopping meccas of Ala Moana Center and the WalMart /Sam’s Club complex just across the street.

Honolulu March for Life

The 34th annual Hawaii March for Life rally was heldon Monday, January 22 near the State Capitol in Honolulu, Hawaii. Hundreds of supporters of life came out to celebrate the sanctity of life — from conception to its natural end.

Participants heard inspiring speeches from clergy and political leaders of Hawaii who share in the common belief that “life is sacred” and must not be taken away even before it is born.

References to bills introduced in the State Legislature were acknowledged including measures that protect the unborn from partial birth abortion, parrental notification, and criminal acts. Several end of life measures will also be introduced to prevent physician assisted suicide.

Participants marched around the entire historic capital district in a march of unity that sent a strong message to the commuting public late in the afternoon.

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Let Honolulu Vote!

We need initiative. Especially tax initiatives where citizens get the right to vote on any and all tax issues that effect their pocketbooks. Let Honolulu Vote is a grassroots organization created just for that. Their mission this year is to get as many as 60,000 registered voters to sign their petition to amend the Honolulu City Charter allowing voters to place tax issues on future ballots. Power to the people, let the people decide!

From their website:

What is LET HONOLULU VOTE doing?

The LET HONOLULU VOTE Petitions seek to amend the City Charter. The amendment would allow voters to place tax questions on future City ballots, using the initiative process (the same process as this Petition itself, i.e., gather enough signatures, and a question goes on the next election ballot). The current petition charter amendment would be voted on during the November 2008 election.

Put tax making decisions back into the people’s hands. Sign the petition today.

Additional links:

Photo: Taken at Rally/Press conference in front of Honolulu Hale (City Hall).

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First Sunrise of 2007

First Sunrise of 2007

The new year dawned on Hawaii today. Unlike last year, the first day was a very nice one and yielded this most spectacular of sunrise shots that I captured today from Diamond Head lookout. Here’s wishing all of you the best of luck in 2007. Let’s hope we can all survive the new year and live to tell about it in 2008.

Happy Holidays from Hawaii

The annual Honolulu Hale (City Hall) Christmas light display is once again up for people to enjoy this holiday season. Thousands flock to city hall during the holiday season to view the lights, sights and sounds of Christmas. The annual display is kicked off on the first Saturday of each December with an annual Christmas light parade put on by the city featuring colorful and festive entries from various city departments. After the parade is over, the decorated area becomes a major community and tourist atraction during the holiday season.

To our Hawaii Metroblog readers, have a safe and happy holiday season. Aloha.

More photos at macprohawaii’s buzznet site.

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