The Hawaii Tourism Authority hosted Toronto agents this week at an event aimed at highlighting the archipelago’s wide appeal to Canadian travellers.
Destination representatives took to the stage to show the best of what their islands have to offer, with each location boasting its own distinctive flavour and unique identity.
The youngest of all the major islands, its brand essence is ‘inspiring.’ One of its centrepiece attractions is Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain if measured from below the water; agents were encouraged to promote its status as one of the world’s best locations for stargazing.
- The island offers a unique and surreal nighttime experience: the ability to dive by night with manta rays, some of which have a 10 ft. wingspan. “It’s almost like being in outer space,” Maile Brown, director of marketing, Kaua’i Visitor’s Bureau, assured the audience.
- Growing interest in the experience, she noted, meant that agents should pre-book for clients as far in advance as possible.
- A haven for golfers, Hawai’i features more oceanfront golf holes than any of the other islands. It also hosts Akaka Falls, the tallest sheer-drop waterfall in the state of Hawai’i.
- Other noteworthy attractions include the iconic Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, which recently relebrated its 100th anniversary; novel ways to see the volcano include the lava boat tours and ‘doors on/doors off’ helicopter ride.
Kaua'i's Waimea Canyon
This island’s status as the oldest in Hawai’i is significant, according to Brown. “The age of the island definitely shapes each island,” she said. “It’s so old that it’s like a fine wine.”
- With a brand essence of ‘rejuvenating,’ the island is renowned for its natural beauty and peaceful, idyllic atmosphere. “It’s for people who are travelling to escape the craziness.”
- The island is serviced by non-stop WestJet flights from Vancouver, with 26 daily flights also offered between Honolulu and Lihu’e.
- Its most renowned attraction is its famous Napali coastline – with clients recommended to see it either by boat or plane. With other notable areas including Waimea Canyon – described as a ‘mini Grand Canyon’ – it’s little surprise that the island takes preservation of its natural beauty seriously. A law on the island prevents the construction of buildings taller than four storeys – or the height of a palm tree.
- The island, Brown said, is ideal for outdoor activities including river and ocean kayaking, and a rundown of all its yearly events and festivals is available for agents at www.kuauifestivals.com.
Described as ‘captivating’ by Julie Yoneyama, director of leisure sales, Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau, this island has ‘a little of something for everybody.’
- The island’s main attraction is the enormous Haleakala volcano, renowned for its spectacular sunset, sunrise and stargazing opportunities. New restrictions on the number of vehicles allowed on Haleakala, Yoneyama said, meant that clients should register in advance at www.recreation.gov to ensure access for sunrise viewings.
- Whale season is another big attraction in Maui, running from December through April. The best time to go, Yoneyama advised, is January or February.
- One of the most popular areas for sightseeing is Hana, with land-air combo tours offered through Hana Sky-Trek.
- Opportunities for voluntourism are also rife in Maui. Cultural learning experiences and revitalization opportunities are offered in the Ko’e’ie Fish Pond, while the Maui Ocean Center is also focused on preserving Hawaii’s native flora and fauna.
- Opportunities for add-ons in Maui include Maui Nei native expeditions, with the chance to make your own nose flute; other popular attractions are the island’s historic Front Street, and its Kepaniwai Park.
Accessible by plane or ferry, this island includes the Manele golf course, designed by none other than Jack Nicklaus. The Discover Lana’i day trip was highly recommended, while the Four Seasons Lana’i – the island’s only resort – offers the chance for clients to ‘unplug in luxury.’
An ‘enlightening’ island, Moloka’i was described by Yoneyama as one of the most authentic local experiences in Hawaii, offering clients an experience whose value is difficult to quantify. Among its main attractions is the mule tour, with a steep descent providing breathtaking views over the Kalaupapa Settlement.
Its cloister of churches of various denominations – Buddhist, Protestant, Mormon and Catholic – contributes to its status as a highly spiritual island.
The pillars of this island’s brand, said Karishma Chowfin, director of travel industry sales, O’ahu Visitors Bureau, are energy, beauty, surf culture, historic icons, arts and culture and natural beauty – all contributing to its brand essence of ‘energizing.’
Guests to the island, she said, are typically active, highly-engaged travellers, who ‘relax by having fun.’
- The island has a vibrant town and country scene, with over 125 miles of swimmable beach and notable attractions on its north shore including the Turtle Bay resort area.
- The Iolani Palace, which features many precious artifacts, also welcomes a special performance every Friday by the Royal Hawaiian Band – who also perform a free concert every Sunday at Kapiolani Park’s bandstand. Bishop Museum have teamed up with the palace, and offer a combination tour.
- Unique itineraries for travel agents to offer clients include a trip to Honolulu’s Madre Chocolate, which offers bean-to-bar chocolate making and truffle-making classes, with the island’s International Marketplace now also open. One of the most popular tourist destinations remains the Pearl Harbor historical site.
- Another offering that’s well worth mentioning is AccesSurf, an organization that takes guests on surfboards in a barrier-free environment – allowing anyone with a disability to enjoy the water.
- The island includes a range of voluntourism opportunities including the chance to protect the He’eia Fishpond, encompassing 88 acres, with more than 600 years of history. “It’s a unique opportunity for clients to enjoy,” remarked Chowfin.
- Snorkeling is a popular choice along the island’s famous north shore, where trucks also line the streets cooking up heaps of shrimp.