Homey hamlets of Hawaii are honored


POSTED: Sunday, March 01, 2009

The March issue of Sunset magazine highlights two Hawaii towns as among the editors' favorites.




On the Net:

        » www.sunset.com

The magazine's “;20 Best Small Towns in the West”; singles out Hanalei on Kauai as one of its five favorite beach towns - and Kamuela, which Big Islanders call Waimea, as one of its five favorite small towns for getting outdoors.

Sunset has longer stories about other towns, but entices visitors to get off Hanalei's “;tourist track”; to enjoy the “;scenery, surfing and multicultural cuisine.”; It specifically names “;chef Jim Moffatt's tuna carpaccio at Bar Acuda,”; as well as teriyaki and taco trucks.

On the Big Island, it was Kamuela's “;pristine ranchlands, ocean vistas”; and “;Merriman's, one of Hawaii's best restaurants,”; that captured the editors.

The population of each is listed, 478 for Hanalei and 8,158 for Waimea - sorry, Kamuela - as well as what a house costs - $945,000 and $369,000, respectively.

Each burg's blurb online includes a link: the Kauai Chamber of Commerce for Hanalei, and kamuela.com, for Waimea, er, Kamuela.

The magazine confesses to using “;subjective”; criteria for the ranking, published every two or three years, said Peter Fish, editor at large.

“;We've been to all the places that we wrote about and did a fair amount of phone reporting,”; he said.

It was a “;fun problem”; deciding which towns belonged in which categories, which was “;hard work, but enjoyable,”; he said.

The magazine wants these types of rankings “;to work in two or three ways.”;

One is to honor towns' achievements in say, becoming environmentally conscious.

Also, “;we definitely know that among our readers there is a certain wish-fulfillment aspect,”; he said.

For many, Hawaii is still the stuff that dreams are made of and it is among the places readers may either want to move to someday or be inspired to visit.

People in towns left out of the rankings don't hesitate to let the magazine know their feelings, “;which is actually great,”; said Fish.

“;What we love most is when people write in (and say) 'you should have paid more attention to ... Hilo,'”; and other places.

“;We really keep track of those letters,”; Fish said. “;It gives us a reason to go take a hard look at Hilo,”; for example.

Sunset has an estimated 30,000 readers in Hawaii, but more importantly for the visitor and real estate industries, perhaps, it has a circulation of 1.2 million and overall readership of 5.3 million, given the magazine's pass-along rate.

Many of those who read the March issue may be further inspired by Susan Casey's evocative story on Page 34, which begins, “;About five months ago, I accidentally moved to Maui.”;

The magazine is on newsstands and online.


Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).