In a sense, Wizard Publications is not just about creating fantastic guidebooks and smartphone apps about Hawai‘i, it’s more of a love story. Every day we marvel at the beauty that surrounds us here in the islands. Our main objective is to assist you in finding the bliss that can accompany a Hawaiian vacation. We recognize the effort people go through to visit and our goal is to expose you to every option imaginable so you can decide what you want to see and do, so you can have your best vacation—ever.
What Makes Us Unique? Most travel publishers send a writer or writers to a given location for a few weeks to become “experts” and to compile information for guidebooks. To our knowledge, we at Wizard Publications are the only ones who actually live our books and apps. We hike the trails, ride the boats, eat in the restaurants, explore the reefs and do the things we write about. It takes us two years, full time, to do a first edition book, and we visit places anonymously. We marvel at writers who can do it all in a couple weeks staying in a hotel. Wow, they must be really fast. Our method, though it takes much longer, gives us the ability to tell-it-like-it-is in a way no one else can. We put in many long hours and doing all these activities is a burdensome grind. But we do it all for you—only for you. (Feel free to gag at this point.)
We Find the Hidden Gems. Longtime locals have been surprised at some of the items described in our book. We have found many special places that people born and raised here didn’t even know about because that’s all we do—explore the island. Visitors will find our books and apps as valuable as having a friend living on the island.
How We Earn and Respect Your Trust. In this day of easy-to-access online reviews from countless sources, you can get “ratings” for nearly every company out there. What you get from our reviews is a single source, beholden to none and with a comprehensive exposure to all of the companies. There are two critical shortcomings to online reviews. One is that you don’t know the source or agenda of the reviewer. Nearly every company that offers a service to the public thinks they are doing a good job. (But as you know, not everyone does.) So who can blame a company for trying to rig the system by seeding good reviews of their company on their website. Many also encourage satisfied customers to write favorable online reviews. (Obviously not encouraging unhappy customers to do so.) But maybe their enemies or competitors retaliate with bad reviews. The point is, you never really know where those reviews come from, and it’s almost impossible to reconcile terrible reviews right next to glowing ones for the same company. Which do you believe? The other problem is a lack of a frame of reference. A visitor to Hawai‘i goes on a snorkel boat and has a great time. (Hey, he’s snorkeling in Hawai‘i, swam with a turtle—cool!) When he goes back home he posts good reviews all around. That’s great. But the problem is, he only went on one snorkel boat. We do ’em all. If only he’d known that another company, he didn’t even know about, did a much better job, had way better food, and a much nicer boat.
We listen to Our Customers. We are blessed with hundreds of thousands of readers, from our books as well as our smartphone apps, that alert us to issues with companies and places. Every single message from our readers is received, placed in a special database and we personally followed up on every observation they make. So when we walk into a business or restaurant, we look to see what our readers say, and tips that they send us, and we use them to our advantage. (Thanks for the heads up to that incredible coconut cake at so-and-so restaurant—I know what I’ll be ordering for dessert today.) With such a resource, and having spent two decades reviewing companies in Hawai‘i full-time, there ain’t much that’s gonna get past us.
We Reinvented the Guidebook. A quick look at our books and apps will reveal features never before used in other guidebooks. Let’s start with the maps. They are more detailed than other maps you will find, and yet they omit extraneous information. Where needed, we’ve drawn legal public beach access in yellow, so you’ll know when you’re legally entitled to cross someone’s land. Every inch of every road and trail on our maps is repeatedly GPSed by us. This is important because many of the roads and trails represented on existing maps have been shifted, moved or eliminated. You could become very frustrated trying to find certain beaches or other scenic spots using other maps. We physically check every place and often use aerial photography and a GPS to determine the best methods for getting to certain places.
Is Free Really Better? Slick (and not so slick) free magazines and publications are strewn throughout the islands. Most claim to point you to assorted wonders. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the adage, “You get what you pay for,” applies. Let’s put it this way: If all the companies in this book were companies that we had to solicit for advertising, how much candor do you think we could provide? That’s why you pay for the book, not the companies we describe. We’re free to be as brutally honest as we want to be. Since we accept no advertisements, our allegiance is to our readers, not advertisers.
What You Read is What You Get. As you read this book, you will also notice that we are very candid in assessing businesses. Unlike some other guidebooks that send out questionnaires asking a business if they are any good (gee, they all say they’re good), we’ve had personal contact with the businesses listed in this book. One of the dirty little secrets about guidebook writers is that they sometimes make cozy little deals for good reviews. Well, you won’t find that here. All businesses mentioned in this book are here by our choosing. None have had any input into what we say, and we have not received a single cent from any of them for their inclusion. What we’ve seen and experienced is what you get. If we gush over a certain company, it comes from personal experience. If we rail against a business, it’s for the same reason. We review businesses as anonymous visitors to ensure that we are treated the same as you. (Amazingly, most travel writers announce themselves.) What you get is our opinion on how they operate. Nothing more, nothing less.
Candor and Honesty for Your Best Vacation. Sometimes our candor gets us into trouble. More than once we’ve had our books pulled from shelves because our comments hit a little too close to home. That’s ok, because we don’t work for the people who sell the book; we work for the people who read the book. Our guidebooks and smartphone apps are intended to bring you independence in exploring Hawai‘i. We don’t want to waste any of your valuable time by giving you bad advice or bad directions. We want you to experience the best that the islands have to offer. Our objective is to give you the tools and information necessary to have the greatest Hawaiian experience possible. We hope we succeeded.