Virtual Hawaii includes happy hour at Tiki Iniki and tours of popular attractions

From a virtual happy hour at Todd Rundgren’s tiki bar to a lesson on making a lava lamp from the mayor of Kauai, Hawaii is just a click away

Sandra Thomas Travel

I’m a big fan of all of the Hawaiian Islands and typically visit Hawaii at least once a year.

But, of course, as with the rest of the world travel anywhere is on hold for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19.

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So, I’ve turned to the internet to get my Hawaii fix while hoping it will be sooner rather than later that I can return to visit friends once again.

Here are just a few options for getting into the aloha spirit no matter where you are.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami on Facebook

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami has been entertaining Hawaiians with daily videos. Photo Facebook

I started following Mayor Kawakami on Facebook weeks ago after he imposed the “stay at home” order for the island.

But, instead of simply ordering everyone home to fend for themselves, Mayor Kawakami began making videos as a way to entertain locals — and entertain he does.

I’ve watched the mayor do everything from finally nailing the moves to a TikTok dance, make a lava lamp from scratch and build a DIY projector out of toilet paper rolls.

Here’s Mayor Kawakami’s recipe for a homemade hydrating moisture mask.
1/2 Avocado
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup honey
Mash avocado. Mix in yogurt and honey. Leave on your face for 15-20 minutes.

Virtual happy hour with a live bartender at Tiki Iniki

Learn how to make tropical cocktails during happy hour at Tiki Iniki. Photo Tiki Iniki

I’ve had the pleasure of drinking too many tropical drinks at this Princeville, Kauai, tiki bar, which is owned by Michele and Todd Rundgren — Todd is a well-known musician known for his work with his band Utopia and producing records for artists including Badfinger, Meatloaf, Grand Funk Railroad, the New York Dolls and XTC.

On Friday nights Tiki Iniki hosts virtual happy hours with talented bartenders who demonstrate how to make authentic tiki cocktails, including everything from mai tais to the tequila-fuelled Iniki.

Tropical cocktail fans can also submit their own creations on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #ilovetikiiniki for an opportunity to win a tiki mug. These happy hours take place at 4:20 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time (7:20 p.m. PST).

Hawaii-themed Zoom backgrounds

Hawaii Magazine has six tropical photos of Oahu available to download for Zoom meetings. Photo Hawaii Magazine

The talented staff photographers, David Croxford and Aaron K. Yoshino, at Hawaii Magazine have taken tropical photos from various locations across Oahu, including a glorious sunrise at Lanikai and a secluded stretch of sand at Makapuʻu Beach.

There are six photos to choose from for your next Zoom meeting and downloading them is easy by following these three steps:

  • Download the images here. Click on the image you want, then download by clicking on the download arrow button in the lower right corner. For the right image size, choose “original file.”
  • Once you log into your Zoom call, click the arrow directly to the right of the “Stop video” icon near the bottom left of the screen.
  • From the pop up, click on the “Choose a virtual background” and select the images you want.
  • To switch the backgrounds out, follow the previous steps and toggle between the images you uploaded when you feel like it.

Hoʻokuaʻāina Farm Tour 2020

Take a live tour of Hoʻokuaʻāina Farm, which uses ancient methods to grow kalo/taro. Photo Hoʻokuaʻāina Farm

Since March, the team at Hoʻokuaʻāina Farm has sadly had to cancel more than 40 program events (mostly designed for kids and students) so they decided to get creative and offer a virtual tour.

Hoʻokuaʻāina empowers youth to realize the meaning and purpose of their lives by helping them develop life strategies and skills through the cultivation of kalo/taro and Hawaiian values-based coaching.

Spring is the time when students who participate in farm’s Kupuohi multi-visit education program visit the farm one last time to celebrate their hard work throughout the year through some sort of food preparation.

To make the most of the situation, the Hoʻokuaʻāina ʻohana created this farm tour video for all to enjoy.

Live Hawaiian music— livestreamed

Hawaiian musicians, such as ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro, are performing live to online audiences. Photo Sandra Thomas

There are numerous Hawaiian musicians playing live for an online audience and one who I’ve been following is Jake Shimabukuro, famous for his mind-blowing ukulele skills.

I was lucky enough to meet and have an ukulele lesson from Jake a few years ago and I’m sure he’ll never forget my rousing rendition of “Bad Boys, Bad Boys…”

You can follow Jake on Facebook here.

Meanwhile Hawaii Public Radio keeps a running list of musicians livestreaming their talents for us all to enjoy here.

Virtual tour of Iolani Palace

Take a virtual tour of Iolani Palace. Photo Sandra Thomas

This historic palace was commissioned by King David Kalakaua and completed in 1882. An earlier palace, known as Hale Alii (House of the Chief), was demolished in 1874.

During a recent visit I was intrigued to learn about King Kalakaua's interest in the modern amenities of the day, including indoor plumbing.

The king also replaced the gas chandeliers installed when the palace was first built with electric lights, just seven years after Thomas Edison invented the first incandescent light bulb.

King Kalakaua also installed a modern communications system, which included the newly invented telephone.

While the Iolani Palace is closed for now, you can still take a virtual tour, which allows visitors to roam through the building beyond the stanchions, climb the majestic koa staircase, and see remarkable artifacts on display on your computer or mobile device.

Waikiki Aquarium

You can take a virtual tour of the Waikiki Aquarium and sit in on live video classes and programs. Photo Waikiki Aquarium

The Waikiki Aquarium is offering a live video series that includes talks and activities on everything from humpback whales to “Ask the Aquarium Director — Live” to drawing lessons.

You can also take virtual tours of the monk seal habitat, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands exhibit, the Waikiki Aquarium South Shore surf cam and more.

If you have any Hawaiian-related news you’d like to share, drop me an email at




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