HAWAII HAPPENINGS THIS SUMMER
As Hawaii emerges from the pandemic, attractions, hotels, and events are placing a greater focus than ever on the islands’ culture, past and present, as well as sustainable practices for visitors and locals alike.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority says it is committed to regenerative tourism for Hawaii, “seeking to balance the economics of tourism with the wellbeing of our communities, natural resources and culture.”
This includes attracting and educating positive-impact travellers who are mindful of how they respect and interact with residents, of how their movement through Hawaii impacts the environment positively and of how they value and respect the Hawaiian culture and other cultures of Hawaii.
“This commitment to regenerative tourism advocates for solutions to overcrowded sites, overtaxed infrastructure, and other tourism-related issues; and works with responsible agencies, community and stakeholders to improve natural and cultural assets valued by Hawai’i’s residents,” says the HTA.
Here’s a brief look at what visitors and travel counsellors will find in the islands this summer:
• Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay recently partnered with Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter’s Ocean Friendly Visitors Program to offer guests of the hotel opportunities to learn how to mālama (“care for”) Kauai and, in exchange, receive a fourth night at the property free. The Kauai chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is encouraging visitors to engage in mindful practices such as using only reef-friendly sunscreen, minimizing single-use plastics, participating in beach cleanups, and admiring wildlife from a safe and legal distance.
• Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park (Kauai) — including its Kalalau Trail — now requires 90-days advanced reservations for all entries, camping and lodging, an increase from 30 days. Parking passes to the Kauai wilderness park are limited and sell out quickly. The pass, which is available for purchase at www.GoHaena.com, includes day-use park entry and is a good option for individuals unable to secure a parking pass.
• The phrase mālama ‘āina (“to care for the land”) reflects Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection’s (Hawaii Island) mission to protect, preserve and respect the island of Hawaii. The resort recently partnered with Māla’ai, a school garden program in nearby Waimea town, to responsibly and sustainably cultivate and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables in the resort’s on-property garden, Hoʻōla. With its name meaning “to give life to,” Hoʻōla provides purposeful, hands-on opportunities for Mauna Lani guests wishing to become involved with the garden.
• Paradise Helicopters (Hawaii Island), a locally owned helicopter company, is offering guests opportunities to both experience and protect the beauty of the island of Hawaii’s natural landscapes. The company’s Malama Charters provides exclusive landing opportunities paired with a native tree-planting experience and educational tour. Flights depart from multiple locations on the island of Hawaii.
• ʻAlohilani Resort Waikīkī Beach on Oahu recently announced that it is on track to become the first carbon neutral hotel in the state of Hawaii. The resort’s upcoming carbon neutral certification underscores its existing sustainability initiatives, commitment to plant 100,000 indigenous trees in its legacy forest, and use of renewable electricity throughout the property. In addition, credits for Beach Candy Waikiki are now included in the resort amenity fee to further enhance guests’ Hawaii experience while helping preserve the environment and reduce waste.
• Aqua-Aston Hospitality (statewide) is moving away from single-use plastic at its resorts statewide this year to convert 100% of its properties to bulk bathroom amenities. The Honolulu-based hotel management company continues to advocate for sustainability and marine life across its 25-plus properties in Hawaii by limiting plastic usage and partnering with local, environmentally friendly brands. Aqua-Aston recently introduced a new reef-safe sunscreen amenity to its properties through a partnership with mom-owned Little Hands Hawaii where guests receive access to samples of the lightly coconut-scented sunscreen at its front desks.
• Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s new partnership with Hawaii Land Trust focuses on Māhukona, an area north of the hotel’s property within the island of Hawaii’s Kohala district spanning the coastline of six ahupuaʻa (land divisions). Through a portion of donation proceeds, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is helping support the preservation of land at Māhukona and the practice of celestial navigation and open ocean voyaging. Also, within the area, local nonprofit Nā Kālai Waʻa hosts and cares for navigation-related cultural sites and uses the sailing canoe Makaliʻi to teach aspiring navigators how to sail.
• Montage Kapalua Bay (Maui) is offering guests opportunities to learn about Hawaiian culture from its new cultural ambassador, Hoku Haiku, who brings more than 25 years of experience as a cultural educator to the resort. New programs at the Maui resort include nā pā’ani kahiko (traditional Hawaiian games) and guided cultural educational walks. Hoku and Silla Kaina, the resort’s longtime cultural ambassador, lead classes sharing Hawaiian culture, Hawaiian myths and legends, coconut-frond weaving, and ‘ukulele and hula lessons with guests.
• Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort on Oahu is inviting guests to experience its newly created A’o Cultural Center, part of the property’s ongoing $80-million renovation. Open since March, the resort’s expanded cultural center features complimentary guest activities, including lei-making, ukulele, and hula lessons. The resort has also revamped its Herb Kāne Lounge with new local artwork and a more open structure.
• New activities at Royal Kona Resort on the island of Hawaii offer guests opportunities to experience Hawaii’s rich culture. Offered several times throughout the week, they include lessons on playing ʻukulele, dancing hula and making fragrant flower lei. Reservations are required due to limited space. An activity schedule and sign-up list is available at the resort’s front desk.
• Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu recently debuted its Thursday weekly Paniolo Pāʻina at The Stables. The event features live entertainment, food and cocktails, and interactive activities for the whole family honoring Hawaiian cowboy culture, which dates back to 1800s. Activities include the Pony Experience offering kids a chance to pet and feed ponies, paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) storytelling, fire-knife dancing, hula and a night cap of s’mores by the campfire.
• New, Lū’au Ka Hikina at the Sheraton Kaua’i Coconut Beach Resort. This new lū’au is held every Tuesday & Thursday in the property’s new open air event pavilion, Hālau Ho’okipa featuring a torch lighting ceremony, locally sourced foods and a celebration of the Hawaiian and Polynesian culture under the direction of award- winning kumu hula Leilani Rivera Low. www.luaukahikina.com
ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
• Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience (Oahu) is a showcase of more than 400 of French painter Claude Monet’s most iconic works of impressionism, set to run at the Hawaii Convention Center on Oahu from June 15 through July 31. Notable Monet artworks, including his Water Lilies series and Impression: Sunrise and Poppies, will be part of the display. With an enchanting musical score, breathtaking projections and stunning set pieces, Beyond Monet: The Immersive Experience encourages infinite interpretations of Monet’s work.
• Bishop Museum (Oahu) announced new exhibition, “The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu” from June 18 to Oct. 15. This exhibit will explore the history and contemporary meanings of four large pōhaku (stones) on Waikīkī Beach. Legend has it that these pōhaku were placed long ago as a tribute to four māhū (people of dual male and female spirit) who brought healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii. Although the stones have survived for centuries, the story behind them has been suppressed and the respected role of māhū erased. Using immersive media and innovative storytelling approaches, the exhibition revitalizes this traditional story to help restore this sacred site as a permanent reminder of Hawaii’s history of inclusion and acceptance. The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu is presented in both English and ʻōlelo Niʻihau, the only form of Hawaiian unbroken by foreign contact. This is Bishop Museum’s first fully bilingual exhibition, signaling its commitment to centring the exhibition in a Hawaiian worldview.
• In partnership with Hawaii Land Trust, the Mauna Kea and Hapuna golf courses on the Kohala Coast of the island of Hawaii, recently underwent an extensive sustainability analysis to implement best management practices designed to reduce both courses’ water consumption and downward run-off of fertilizer into the ocean. Collectively, the measures taken are positives for the environment and also help create healthy surroundings for Hawaii’s state bird, the threatened nēnē (Hawaiian goose), flocks of which can often be found grazing in and around the golf course fairways.
• No’eau Designers (Oahu) now offers Native Hawaiian and Hawaii-based artisans a venue to showcase their products to kamaʻāina and visitors with its newly opened location on the third floor of Ala Moana Center on Oahu. With the works of more than 100 vendors offered both in-store and online, buying local at Noʻeau Designers gives back to Hawaii’s artisan community.
• Nā Lani Sunset Stories welcomes audiences at International Market Place (Oahu) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, through February 2023, for a presentation honouring the Oahu shopping and dining centre’s rich history and sense of place with Hawaiian and Polynesian song and dance. O Nā Lani Sunset Stories begins at sunset with the ceremonial lighting of the International Market Place’s Lamakū Torch Tower on Kalākaua Avenue in Waikīkī and leads to the center’s Queen’s Court stage. Free to the public, the show begins at 7 p.m. through August, and at 6:30 p.m. from September through February.
• Visitors can learn how to make their very own lei pua kalaunu (crown flower lei) from start to finish at the Queens’ Marketplace’s Coronation Pavilion in Waikōloa on the island of Hawaii every first Friday of the month, from 6 to 7 p.m. The pua kalaunu was Queen Liliʻuokalani’s favourite blossom and was thought to resemble a royal crown, a distinction which also gave the flower its English-language name. Lessons are limited to 15 persons and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
• Situated in Waikīkī on Oahu, the Queens Waikiki Luau at International Market Place happens every Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 5 to 8 p.m., welcoming guests to enjoy dinner, bar access and interactive activities. Capped at 70 attendees, the lū’au’s Polynesian revue from across the Pacific includes music, song and the famed fire-knife dance.
• After a nearly two-year hiatus, the Royal Hawaiian Band has returned to ʻIolani Palace on Oahu for its popular lunchtime concerts. The concerts are free, open to the public and held on most Fridays from noon to 1 p.m. Once known as the King’s Band, the Royal Hawaiian Band was created by King Kamehameha III in 1836 and is the only full-time municipal band in the US. The band has grown in prominence over its many years, playing at state occasions, parades, national competitions and other international venues.
• Sea Life Park on Oahu is presenting its new Hawaiian monk seal talk story session, Meet Kekoa. Session participants learn about the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, and Kekoa’s incredible journey and contributions to human understanding of the hearing capabilities of Hawaiian monk seals, all integral learnings in protecting future generations of the seals. Sessions happen on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
• The Waikiki Trolley. Hop aboard the company’s brand-new Heroes and Legends tour to discover and hear stories about the district’s historical figures and their ground-breaking accomplishments.
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
• On the first Friday of each month, Aloha Stadium Swap Meet and Marketplace (Oahu) invites visitors and residents to attend its Taste of Oahu night market featuring food and live entertainment. Tickets are $10 for attendees ages 12 and older, $5 for keiki (children) ages six to 11, and free entrance for those ages five and under. Tickets can be bought online or at the event.
• Bring your beach chairs and coolers to Laʻiʻōpua 2020’s Ola ka Lāhui, a talk story and cultural activity gathering on the lānai of Laʻiʻōpua 2020 in Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaii, happening June 25, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Participants can join cultural artisans in demonstrations of treasured traditions. An hour-long talk story will feature kūpuna (elders), island historians, storytellers and artisans sharing their manaʻo (thoughts) about Hawaii’s history, arts, and traditions. The event’s name, Ola ka Lāhui (meaning “the nation lives on”), reflects its intent to share the ʻike (knowledge) and moʻolelo (stories) of Hawaii for future generations.
• For the first time in more than two years, the Paniolo Heritage Rodeo will return to Kōloa Plantation Days on Kauai, July 22-24, spotlighting the cultural experience of today’s paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) lifestyle. Cheer on competitors as they test their skills and nerves in high-stake races, fast-action riding and exciting roping sports. While there, enjoy local foods, exhibits, demonstrations, and cowboy storytelling.
• The Soto Zen Bon Festival (Kauai) returns on June 17 and 18, showcasing folk dancing, music and religious traditions that have evolved in Kauai’s Japanese American community for more than five generations. Guests of all ages are welcome to stop by the festival to taste and enjoy popular food items unique to Kauai, watch and participate in traditional dancing to the vibrant beat of taiko drums, and check out a variety of cultural and historical exhibits celebrating immigrant and sugar plantation heritage.
First published at Travel Industry Today