The seven sites readers vote as Hawaii's most wondrous are clear winners among 25 nominees
Diamond Head. Waimea Canyon. Kilauea Volcano. Haleakala. Hanauma Bay. Na Pali Coast. Iolani Palace. Seven wonderful places.
These are the sites chosen by nearly a thousand Star-Bulletin readers to represent the "7 Wonders of Hawaii." The number is both arbitrary and handed down by ancient classical and mystical traditions, but you have to start somewhere. What's interesting is that in the vote tally, these seven were substantially ahead of eighth place and below. Clearly, these sites have resonance for both Hawaii residents and visitors.
Also, the more things change, the more things remain the same. We first floated this concept in 1996, and readers then also chose a list of seven Hawaiian wonders -- which, except for one, was exactly the same as the current list. (We'll reveal which one in the online comments for this story at starbulletin.com.)
Speaking of online comments, some readers have wondered over the last week whether the wonders were orchestrated by the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau. In a nutshell, no. The original list was suggested by readers, with additional honing by Hawaii pop-culture expert DeSoto Brown and preservation architect Glenn Mason.
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The resultant list of 25 -- more candidates than the Democrats have fielded in the presidential race -- was voted on again by readers, and the top seven selected. Only after the series started did we contact the HVCB.
"We've been a little busy this last week with ATA and Aloha airline issues," explained Darlene Morikawa, public-relations director for the HVCB, "but we're aware of the series. Our only concern is that each island be represented, if possible, because we promote all of Hawaii as a destination."
Five of the ballots were chosen at random for a prize of $50 restaurant certificates. The winners are Lowell Tom, Beatrice Hano, Amy Teruya, Karen Kunde and Kylie Higaki.
Hano has visited all the sites -- she calls herself "one ol' lady from Hawaii Kai" -- and doesn't know why Diamond Head made the list. On the other hand, she remembers the days when Hanauma Bay was rife with fleas and pigeons, and thinks it's better now, despite the crowded conditions.
Honolulu resident Tom "likes the mountains the best." He makes the trek to Kilauea and Haleakala every once in a while and is still amazed at the epic grandeur of nature. "It's like going to the Grand Canyon," said Tom. "You've seen it in pictures, but you really have to be there yourself to experience it."
That pretty much sums it up, Mr. Tom. Wonders have to be appreciated firsthand.
And here's a shout-out to editor Mike Rovner, who dreamed up the giant-poster idea for the "Wonders" page, and to talented Star-Bulletin artist Kip Aoki, who designed the logos for each site. Expect to see these logos popping up elsewhere.