Destinations

How to make the most of summer on the Island of Hawaii: the ultimate guide

Summer has arrived in Hawaii, meaning it’s the perfect time for your clients to get outside, soak up the sun and experience everything the US state has to offer.

On the Island of Hawaii, they can take advantage of the extra hours of sunlight and explore the five National Park Service-managed parks, sites and trails, and a dozen-plus state parks.

There are also a tonne of tours, activities and upcoming events for them to look forward to on the island, along with some fantastic accommodation offers.

Read on to get the lowdown on the best of what the Island of Hawaii as to offer this summer…

EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS 

National parks, sites and trails

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Hawaii

The Island of Hawaii boasts five national parks, sites and trails, all rooted in Hawaiian history and culture:

  • Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail: this 175-mile corridor traverses hundreds of early Hawaiian settlement sites and more than 200 ahupuaa (traditional land divisions). In ancient times, the Ala Kahakai circled the entire island. Today, visitors can access segments of the trail on the west and southeast coasts of the island. Click here for more info.
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: this 330,000-acre park encompasses two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Maunaloa, hosting some of the most unique geological, biological and cultural landscapes in the world. Visitors should plan to spend a full day (or more) exploring the dramatic, vast and still growing park to fully appreciate its wonder. Click here for more info.
  • Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park: your clients can visit the remnants of an early Hawaiian settlement at this 1,160-acre Kona Coast site, as well as hike a portion of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, where they’ll see heiau (sacred temples), kii pohaku (petroglyphs) and explore four ahupuaa. Click here for more info.
  • Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site: travellers can walk in the footsteps of a king at this massive Kohala Coast heiau, the last and largest of its kind built in Hawaii. Its construction was ordered by future first monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Kamehameha I, to appease war god Kukailimoku and realise a prophecy of him uniting the Hawaiian Islands under one rule. Click here for more info.
  • Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park: the Hawaiian name of this 182-acre oceanside park means “place of refuge at Honaunau”. In pre-contact Hawaii, it was a sanctuary providing full protection to fugitives breaking kapu (Hawaiian law) or fleeing death or harm. The park now preserves the site’s sanctuary area, palm grove of its royal compound, fishponds and remnants of an old fishing village. Click here for more info.

State parks and hiking trails

Akaka Falls State Park

The island of Hawaii is home to several state parks that preserve its unique cultural, historic and natural wonders:

  • Akaka Falls State Park:your clients can take in vistas of the park’s two beautiful cascading waterfalls – the 100-foot Kahuna Falls and 442-foot Akaka Falls – while trekking through a lush Hamakua Coast rainforest. Click here for more info.
  • Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area: long considered one of the Island of Hawaii’s best beaches by residents, Hapuna Beach is a dreamy stretch of white sand on the Kohala Coast. The array of ocean activities ready to impress beachgoers here includes swimming, snorkelling and bodysurfing. Click here for more info.
  •  Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park: this Kona Coast park marks one of the first locations in the islands where extensive contact between Hawaiians and Westerners took place, notably with the 1779 arrival of British explorer Captain James Cook. Visiting the bay is recommended via licensed tour operators. Click here for more info.
  • Hulihee Palace: once a summer vacation home for Hawaiian royalty, Hulihee Palace today serves as a museum showcasing Victorian artefacts from the era of Hawaii monarchs King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani. Situated oceanside in Kailua-Kona, the historic structure features heirloom koa wood furniture, royal portraits, kapa (tree bark) works, feather works, Hawaiian quilts and monarchy artefacts. Click here for more info.

Hawaii’s state government created the Na Ala Hele Trail and Access Program to preserve the Hawaiian Islands’ historic trails and ensure safe public access to these and other trails.

The program’s interactive website shares information about approved trails, activities allowed on each, trail features, amenities, island weather forecasts, safety and hazard warnings, and trailhead directions.

Visitors can customise their search for hikes matching their interests to find trails with waterfalls or streams, or even trails open to horseback riders.

As noted on the Island of Hawaii Pono Pledge, visitors are encouraged to follow safety guidelines and be cognisant of “no trespassing” signs. Click here for more info.

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES

Umauma Falls Zipline

Kohala Coast resort Fairmont Orchid is offering guests complimentary guided hikes of the Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve twice a week. The largest petroglyph field on the island of Hawaii at 233 acres, the preserve contains more than 3,000 lava rock carvings – some dating as far back as 1200 A.D. – etched by early Hawaiians. The carvings are believed to be records of both everyday activities and significant events in the lives of area residents centuries ago. Click here for more info.

Mauna Lani Golf‘s Wikiwiki Golf Course is for Kohala Coast golfers looking to play a quick round in about an hour. The Hawaiian word wikiwiki means ‘fast’. And with just nine holes, this short course was designed with convenience in mind, allowing golfers to play a quick round at their leisure. The Wikiwiki Golf Course is open for group use and also offers customised lessons at the Mauna Lani Golf Academy for all levels of golfer. Click here more info.

Umauma Falls Zipline and Rappel Experience recently introduced horseback riding to its outdoor adventures at Umauma Falls. Guests on the new tour, offered in partnership with Wailea Horseback Adventures, will explore area pastures and waterfalls accessible only on horseback. Participants are also invited to swim at a private waterfall and combine their horseback tours with 9-line zipline and ATV experiences. The Umauma Experience is open daily from 8am to 5pm, with horseback tours offered twice a day. The horseback adventure is open to all rider levels, including first timers. Click here for more info.

Bike Volcano recently introduced a new bike tour combining time at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Akaka Falls State Park and Punaluu Black Sand Beach all in one day. Visitors can now add on Bike Volcano’s new roundtrip transportation service from Waikoloa and Kailua-Kona on the island’s west side to Volcano Village on its east side for a full-day five-hour bike adventure or a half-day three-hour summit special bike tour of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Advanced reservations are required. Click here for more info.

Mauna Lani Golf‘s junior golf special welcomes families for a round of golf together. Accompanied by a paying adult, children aged 15 and under are invited to enjoy free golf after 3pm, with complimentary Callaway rental clubs all day and complimentary instruction. Click here for more info.

Fairmont Orchid is offering guests an opportunity to learn a hula performance with the resort’s new summer Hula Lea Wale workshop. Participants are offered lessons in hand movement and steps, as well as the historic significance of hula, led by resort Director of Hawaiian Culture Kaiulani Blankenfeld. Classes are offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from until 1 September. Cost per workshop is $50 per person, or $75 per family. Click here for more info.

KapohoKine Adventures has partnered with Polaris Adventures to launch a new ATV/zipline combo tour operating the newest models of the Polaris ATVs and UTVs. The off-road vehicle tour features six miles of trails weaving landscapes marked by waterfalls, muddy hills and verdant fields. The added eight-mile zipline course offers nearly two miles of tropical river gorges and dual lines allowing side-by-side ziplining. Click here for more info.

Waikoloa Beach Resort Golf invites families with junior golfers to try out its King’s Course after 3:30pm. Junior golfers aged six to 17 years old can golf for $25 and accompanying adults for $50. Rental clubs for junior golfers are complimentary, and adult rental club fees are $25. The greens fee includes a shared cart, bottled water and unlimited use of practice facilities. Click here for more info.

Your clients can hit up Mauna Lani Golf just before twilight for its Sunset Golf Cart Tour on the South Course. The tour includes stops at scenic locations on the course, such as the no. 7 hole, and ends at sunset at Mauna Lani Golf’s over-the-ocean no. 15 hole. The tour is $45 and includes a cart for two. Click here for more info.

EVENTS

Hawaii Island Festival – 30 Days of Aloha

July

The 60th annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, set for 29 July through to 2 August, welcomes anglers from around the world to the waters off of Kailua-Kona to compete in the venerable sport fishing contest. Tournament teams partner with island of Hawaii-based charter boats for five days of game fishing, racking up points based on species caught and the weight of their catch. Click here for more info.

August

Devotees of the classic tropical mai tai cocktail are expected to congregate in Kailua-Kona on 17 August for the 11th annual Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival at Royal Kona Resort. Fest attendees get to celebrate and imbibe the legendary cocktail while catching and cheering on more than 20 of the world’s top bartenders as they battle for the title of World’s Best Mai Tai and an accompanying $10,000 cash prize. Click here for more info.

The Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race is the world’s largest long-distance outrigger canoe race, annually welcoming thousands of international paddlers to the Kona district for five days of competition. The event’s 18-mile signature race, set for August 31, follows a historically and culturally significant course between historic Kailua-Kona village’s Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark – once the site of King Kamehameha the Great’s residential compound – and Honaunau Bay alongside Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. Related events include a historic walking tour, cultural fair and torch-light parade. Click here for more info.

The Hawaii Island Festival – 30 Days of Aloha annually celebrates Hawaiian culture and traditions with a month of activities and events featuring music, dance and more. Signature events scheduled throughout the month of August include the Clyde “Kindy” Sproat Falsetto and Storytelling Competition, the Waimea Paniolo Parade, Waimea Hoolaulea and a poke-recipe contest. Click here for more info.

September

The four-day sci-fi, pop culture, anime, comic book and gaming convention, HawaiiCon, is set to welcome fans between 26 and 29 September at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay. The family-friendly festival features panel discussions, interactive workshops, movie screenings, costume contests, robotics demonstrations, hula instruction, live entertainment, local food, and art and tech vendors. Invited celebrity guests for convention panels include stars of science-fiction TV series and movies, comic book artists and world-renowned scientists, educators, authors and cultural leaders. Click here for more info.

Taste of the Hawaiian Range is a day-long festival celebrating the island of Hawaii’s hardworking farmers, ranchers and chefs. Events and activities at the September 7 fest’s Daytime Agriculture Festival and Farm Fair include ag-focused educational exhibits, cooking demonstrations and food vendors. The fest’s evening culinary Taste Gala showcases an array of dishes created by island chefs and culinary students utilising as much island of Hawaii-grown-and-raised ingredients as possible. Daytime festival events are free to the public. Tickets for the evening gala are on sale now. Click here for more info.

ACCOMMODATION

Hilton Waikoloa Village

As part of Hilton Waikoloa Village’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact, the resort recently announced the conversion of its canal boats to fully-electric propulsion systems upgraded with new features. Operating on full electric power and zero carbon emissions, the canal boats will welcome guests with improved air and water quality, and nearly-silent motors, as they navigate the resort’s tropical surroundings. The boats have also been newly equipped with LED lights to illuminate the waterway at night, cabin-floor lighting and an improved marine-grade sound system. Click here for more info.

In support of the Kona Pride Festival, set for September 14, the Fairmont Orchid is offering a special Kona Pride package, which includes 30 per cent off the resort’s daily room rate, two welcome Rainbow Flow cocktails and daily breakfast for two. Fairmont Orchid will donate $10 to Kona Pride Festival for each night of a guest’s stay on the package. The Kona Pride package is valid for resort stays between 1 September and 20 December. Click here for more info.

Bike Volcano is offering a special combo package encompassing a full-day bike adventure in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and luxury-room accommodations at the Hilo Beach House Inn. Each room at the inn features original carved artwork and furniture from Bali, air conditioning and a private screened lanai (patio). Click here for more info.

TASTY TIDBITS

Merriman’s Hawaii has partnered with ride service Lyft to offer diners 20 per cent off all rides to-and-from Merriman’s Waimea restaurant. Restaurant guests can use the code “Merrimans” on the Lyft app to receive the discount. New riders to Lyft also receive $2 off their first 10 rides. Click here for more info.

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