TourTalk-Oahu Hits The Road

Audio driving tours let travelers set the pace on cultural journeys

By: Dawna Robertson

Oahu is an island that blends a rich history with a vibrant present. And thanks to an award-winning audio tour that has been introduced by TourTalk-Oahu, visitors can experience it all with narrated convenience as they cruise the island at their own pace.

TourTalk-Oahu is a culturally authentic audio driving tour that transports visitors through time, blending ancient Hawaiian historical and cultural highlights with famed attractions. The one-of-a-kind, self-driven audio tour contains site information with specific directions to each location provided by male and female narrators. What distinguishes this product from any other of its kind are the cultural histories provided by experts throughout the tour.

“When I was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, I was often inundated with visitors,” said Denise Moreland, owner and creator. “I found myself constantly driving around the island, pointing out the few areas and things I knew. Then I began creating maps for visitors pointing out things I thought they should see and experience.”

But Moreland found that this became rather time consuming and laborious because she was also finishing her business degree and had little free time.

One of her final college classes was Intro to Hawaiian History.

“It was one of my best classes as well since it introduced me to more than the intellectual precepts of the culture,” Moreland said.

As she drove across the island at 7 a.m. every Saturday morning for this class, she began to experience for herself the energy of the places she visited.

“The island and its culture became alive for me! And thus, a seed was planted to share with others what I as a transplanted mainlander was experiencing,” said Moreland.

In addition to the audio tour which is presented in both cassette and CD formats each TourTalk-Oahu package contains a full-color booklet filled with important information to prepare visitors for their touring experience. It includes a full-island foldout map for quick reference, factoids that further enhance site information and photos and detailed maps to assist along the journey.

There are also note pages, a reference section that revisits key information and a "More To See" component that provides information on several sites not included in the driving tour. Significantly contributing to the TourTalk-Oahu experience, the stand-alone booklet helps visitors relive their Oahu memories even after they’ve returned home.

More than an informational tour with driving directions, TourTalk-Oahu digs deeper into such things as the meaning of aloha, importance of ohana (family), connection to the aina (land), the inter-connection of all things, life in ancient ahupuaa (land divisions and political systems), core cultural teachings that live on today, sacredness of heiau (temples), Hawaiian spirituality, historical battles and hula.

“Oahu-bound visitors now have the option and convenience of renting a car and having a ‘semi-self-guided tour’ of the island,” said Moreland. “For those who don't prefer a bus tour, this is the answer. This tour allows the purchaser to travel at their own time, at their own pace, and in the convenience of their rental car. They can stop to visit any locale they finding attracting them."

“It's also perfect for those living on Oahu who either want to better integrate into the

Island experience such as military newcomers or have lots of visitors but no time to take them around the island,” Moreland said.

While the TourTalk-Oahu package retails for $24.95 on the company’s Web site, travel agents can purchase the guide individually or in bulk as client gifts at a 20 percent discount. Moreland added that she is in the process of creating a separate Web site that will feature a selection of new experiential vacation programs conducted by cultural guides. Operational by June, will share details on such programs as hula as a healing art, and Hawaiian cultural understandings and practices.