Check out all the latest news, events, activities and tips for the US state’s Big island so you can sell the destination with confidence.
Culinary scene and cuisine
For those of your clients who consider themselves ‘foodies’, the Island of Hawaii offers many different ways for them to explore their taste buds, with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood raised or procured by locals fuelling the island’s unique, diverse and ever-expanding culinary scene.
Visitors can discover the Island of Hawaii’s first rum-producing farm, distillery and restaurant on the Kuleana Rum Experience. Guests on the farm-to-table tour explore the Hawaiian heirloom sugarcane fields of Kuleana Rum Works, learn about the history of sugar in the Hawaiian islands, and get to taste the end result of distillery processes that turn sweet sugarcane juice into Kuleana’s collection of rums. The tour finishes at Kuleana Rum Shack where tour participants are invited to enjoy a flight of signature rums and island cuisine crafted by chef Keola Valdez. Click here for more info.
Hilton Waikoloa Village’s Kamuela Provision Company restaurant recently introduced new menu items spotlighting Hawaii ingredients from land and sea. The menu includes a seafood tower with Keahole lobster, tiger prawns, ahi poke, Pacific oysters and king crab; and dishes such as seared diver scallops and a Kona kampachi tostada. Dishes from the land include double lamb chops served with roasted Kula onion puree, and prime ribeye poke – the latter a unique twist on the classic Hawaii seafood dish, served rare with daikon, grated ginger, bean sprouts and smoked ponzu. Click here for more info.
Puakea Ranch offers stays in historic bungalows on acreage home to some of the Island of Hawaii’s longest-serving agricultural lands. Guests enjoy complimentary access to the ranch property’s bounty of herbs, vegetables and fruit, and can arrange to have meats delivered from local purveyors, including grass-fed beef from a fifth-generation local rancher. Guests opting to have a meal prepared for them can inquire with ranch staff about arranging for a private chef to craft one utilising produce grown in Puakea Ranch’s garden. Click here for more info.
The golf courses of Waikoloa Beach Resort have teamed with chef Allen Hess to offer golfers a dining deal at his restaurant Mai Grille. For $20, guests can enjoy an ice-cold beer and Mai Grille’s signature ‘Alii Burger’; its patty a blend of 80 percent local grass-fed, dry-aged beef and 20 per cent ground house Mai bacon, grilled to satisfaction. Served on a sweet-roll bun, the Alii Burger includes avocado, pickled onion rings, Swiss cheese, Nakano Farm tomatoes and local butter lettuce, topped with slices of Mai bacon. Guests can call (808) 886 7888 for more information or inquire with the Waikoloa Golf shop when checking in for tee time.
Guests of the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai can now embark on a private tour of Kona Coast kanpachi farm Blue Ocean Mariculture’s hatchery, led by a marine biologist who shares facts about the life of the very in-demand fish, from its spawning to juvenile growth. Back at the resort, a Ribcraft boat next takes guests to Blue Ocean Mariculture’s open-ocean pens for an up-close look at a kanpachi feeding and, on the way back, some ocean snorkelling time. Guests end their day of adventure with a five-course dinner featuring kanpachi prepared in several ways, with wine pairings. The Blue Ocean Mariculture tour is available to guests of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and may be booked through the concierge with 72-hours advance notice. Click here for more info.
On Hawaii Forest and Trail’s new culinary adventure, Flavors of Hawaii, guests visit several small island of Hawaii boutique farms to learn about their histories, how each selects and develops crops, and meet with farmers, all the while discovering the secrets of growing cacao, vanilla and teas. The day-long farm and foodie adventure ends with a three-course meal and glass of wine at Pueo’s Osteria in Waikoloa Village. The Flavors of Hawaii experience departs from Hawaii Forest and Trail’s Kona headquarters Wednesdays and Saturdays, offering pickups in Waikoloa. Click here for more info.
Many visitors to the island of Hawaii have heard of its abundance of farms growing macadamia nuts, tropical flowers and some of the world’s most award-winning coffee. Lesser known is that fact that farmers on the island are also producing prized cacao and vanilla, singular honey varieties and acclaimed ocean-farmed seafood.
Many island growers offer educational farm tours and tastings where visitors can experience firsthand how the island’s bounty is raised and procured.
A growing number of accommodation providers and activity operators are even joining in to support island farming and ranching efforts by offering their own unique agricultural experiences. Click here for more info.
Another great way to experience the Island of Hawaii’s cultural and culinary diversity is visiting its many farmers markets, including the Hilo Farmers Market – one of the largest in the state.
Those who visit farmers markets across the island will find local vendors selling eclectic island of Hawaii-exclusive fruits and vegetables, as well as prepared foods like malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts), kimchi (Korean spicy pickled cabbage), lumpia (Filipino fritters), poi (a staple of Hawaiian cuisine, made from taro), and a variety of local-style plate lunches.
Some of the entree favourites visitors might find in their plated lunch – often served with macaroni or tossed salad and a couple scoops of rice – include chicken katsu (panko-coated fried chicken cutlets) and teriyaki steak.
Some of the island’s most popular farmers markets include:
- Hilo Farmers Market
- Volcano Village Farmers Market
- Honokaa Farmers Market
- Keauhou Farmers Market
- Waimea Town Market
Click here for more info.
The Island of Hawaii hosts multiple food festivals throughout the year celebrating and showcasing the bounty of the island’s farmers, ranchers and fishermen, and the diversity of its culinary scene.
The multi-island Hawaii Food and Wine Festival touches down at Waikoloa Beach Resort on 5 October with ‘From Portugal to Spain: An Iberian Feast’, with six renowned chefs offering their contemporary interpretations of the cuisines and food traditions of the Iberian peninsula alongside wine pairings. Jayson Kanekoa, executive chef at event host resort Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, will be joined in the kitchen by top chefs Josef Centeno of Baco Mercat in Los Angeles, Antelmo Faria of Uma Casa in San Francisco, Jose Garces of The Garces Group in Philadelphia, Margarita Manzke of Republique in Los Angeles, and George Mandes of Aldea in New York. Click here for more info.
The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, one of the longest-running food festivals in Hawaii, is set for November 1 to 10. The festival, which celebrates all things related to the coffee farmers, farms, roasters and world-renowned coffee beans grown on the island’s Kona Coast, includes nearly 50 events spread out over its 10 days. Festivalgoers are invited to enjoy coffee tastings, cupping competitions judging Kona’s best coffee, farm and mill tours, coffee art exhibitions, an evening lantern parade through historic Kailua-Kona, food events, and lots more. Click here for more info.
The IRONMAN World Championship is the most prestigious competition in the multi-race sport of triathlon. Set this year for 12 October, the championship annually invites 1,900 of the world’s top triathletes to the Kona Coast to compete for the sport’s top honours via a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon run – the latter two through a blisteringly hot lava dessert. It’s a triathlon course and competition unlike any other in the world. And if your clients are in Kailua-Kona, they can catch it all. Click here for more info.
The Kohala Institute is set to host its inaugural Traditional Tattoo Festival, a celebration of the ceremonial artistry of traditional tattooing practiced by Pacific and Arctic cultures. According to organisers, the inspiration for the festival – which will present the tattooing skills of Hawaiian, Inuit, Filipino and other cultures – aims beyond current tattoo trends to illuminate the deep cultural origins of tattooing as well as the perpetuation and innovation of original traditions. The four-day festival, set for October 25 to 28, includes a one-day cultural event open to the general public, featuring music, dance, kapa (bark cloth) making, wood carving, lauhala (pandanus leaf) weaving, and traditional tattooing demonstrations. Click here for more info.
Kudos and accolades
Fairmont Orchid was recently named best hotel on the island of Hawaii in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards 2019, which also ranked the resort third-best hotel in the state of Hawaii. In addition, Travel + Leisure magazine listed Fairmont Orchid among the top 15 resorts in Hawaii in its World’s Best Awards 2019, while the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce awarded the resort its 2019 Pualu Award for Environmental Awareness in honour of Fairmont Orchid’s property-wide sustainability programs.
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters was recently recognised as best tour company in Hawaii by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards 2019. Nominees were selected by a panel of experts and voted on by the public.
Three-time James Beard Foundation Awards-nominated chef and co-founding chef of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement Peter Merriman’s collection of Merriman’s Hawaii restaurants was recently ranked third in USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards 2019 listing of the 10 best Hawaii restaurants. Merriman’s restaurants are found on Kauai, Maui, Oahu and the island of Hawaii, whose founding Merriman’s Waimea restaurant is celebrating its 32nd anniversary this year.
Hawaii Helicopters recently announced a new partnership with KapohoKine Adventures to introduce its HeliZIP Package – a helicopter and zipline combo adventure tour on the island of Hawaii. The eight-hour experience, which departs from the Waikoloa Heliport, begins with a helicopter tour over the rainforests and waterfalls of the island’s Hamakua Coast, eventually landing at a private waterfall for a barbecue lunch and refreshing swim. After this, guests embark on KapohoKine Adventures’ Zipline Through Paradise eight-line course, covering nearly two miles of tropical river gorges. The tour concludes with a return drive to Waikoloa traversing the centre of the island and its stunning views of the Maunakea and Maunaloa volcanoes. Click here for more info.
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters has launched its new mini-tour adventure, Hilo Holoholo Tour, on the island of Hawaii. Guests who book the activity will experience a 15-minute highlight tour over the picturesque town of Hilo. Departing from Hilo International Airport, the tour travels over sweeping Hilo Bay, where guests will learn about its history of tsunami activity and view the massive break wall that protects the town from the sea. The tour then travels over Onomea Bay, which features Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and the legendary “lovers of Kahalii” or “Twin Rocks”, before passing over the island of Hawaii’s incredibly lush rainforest on the return trip to the airport. The Hilo Holoholo Tour is US$99 per person. Click here for more info.