Destinations

Here’s what’s new on the Island of Hawaii

Do you foresee a warm getaway for your clients to the Island of Hawaii in the near future? The new year will welcome even more occasions for exploring the island via exciting events, activities, updated accommodations and much more.

Here’s a comprehensive rundown on all that’s happening on Hawaii’s Big Island in 2020 for visitors to enjoy:

Tours and activities

Fairmont Orchid, a AAA Four Diamond luxury resort on the Kohala Coast, is launching a new cultural tour in the new year hosted by its director of Hawaiian culture, Kaiulani Blankenfeld. Na Mea Waiwai O Milokukahi is a walking exploration of the property, visiting its fishponds, tidepools, honu (Hawaiian sea turtles), petroglyphs and beehives. The tour is designed to encourage participants to be good stewards of our aina (land), and honors Hawaiian history, stories and culture. The hour-long tour is open to guests of Fairmont Orchid and begins in the lobby at 8am daily. It culminates at Ahu a Kupuna, a traditional altar honouring Hawaiian ancestors. Click here for more info.

Hawaii Forest & Trail is launching a new waterfall adventure for 2020. Its Hilo Chocolate and Waterfalls tour explores the rich heritage of east island of Hawaii town Hilo and visits a working cacao farm where guests embark on an interactive tree-to-chocolate adventure. The farm visit includes time harvesting cacao pods, learning about the pods’ fermentation process, and chocolate tastings at the farm’s chocolate bar. After everyone has their fill of chocolate, the tour continues to a 120-foot waterfall for some swimming. The Hilo Chocolate and Waterfalls adventure includes light snacks and lunch. Pickups are available from select Hilo locations. Click here for more info.

Kokua Kailua, a popular village stroll event on Historic Kailua Village’s Alii Drive, happens one Sunday monthly from 1pm to 6pm. On Kokua Kailua Sunday afternoons, the village’s main thoroughfare closes to vehicular traffic and becomes a festive, family-friendly, pedestrian-only outdoor marketplace. Stretching from Kailua Pier through Historic Kailua Village to Hualalai Road, the event features more than 100 vendor booths showcasing the work of local artisans, crafters, musicians and merchants. Dates for Kokua Kailua in 2020 are 19 January, 16 February, 15 March, 4 April (a Saturday), 17 May, 14 June, 19 July, 16 August, 20 September, 18 October, 15 November, and 13 December. Click here for more info.

Festivals and events

The Waimea Ocean Film Festival, set for 1 to 8 January, will screen more than 70 films, as well as host filmmaker Q&A sessions, presentations and panel discussions highlighting a diversity of ocean-related topics, including the ocean experience, ocean environment, island culture, inspirational stories and tales of epic ocean adventures. Film festival-related events will be held at a several locations from 1 January to 4 January in Waimea, at the Fairmont Orchid resort and at the Mauna Kea Beach Resort, before moving to Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, from 5 January to 8 January. Click here for more info.

The 27th annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is set for 1 February in Waimea town, from 9am to 3pm. The town-wide celebration showcases the annual blooming of its historic cherry trees and the Japanese tradition of viewing and appreciating the transient beauty of their flowers, or hanami. Festival attendees enjoy Japanese and multicultural live performances, as well as colourful craft fairs and hands-on demonstrations exploring bonsai, origami, a traditional tea ceremony, and mochi pounding. Free shuttle transportation between most festival venues is provided by Roberts Hawaii. Walking is also encouraged. The festival is organised by the County of Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation. Click here for more info.

The Kings’ Course at Waikoloa Resort will host the 29th annual Amer Ari Intercollegiate Golf Tournament from 5 February to 8 February. Considered one of collegiate golf’s iconic events, the tournament will include competition from multiple NCAA Division I teams from across the country. Click here for more info.

Presented by the Hawaii Institute for Music Enrichment and Learning Experiences (HIMELE) and the Ke Kula Mele Hawaii School of Hawaiian Music, the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival annually brings together legendary steel guitarists for a celebration of the instrument and its music. Set for 7 February to 9 February at the Mauna Lani Auberge Resorts Collection Hawaii resort, the three-day festival features performances, presentations, instructional workshops, jam sessions and school visitations focused on the Hawaiian steel guitar and its importance in Hawaiian music. Click here for more info.

The 28th annual Panaewa Stampede Rodeo, happening from 15 February to 17 February, will spotlight three days of Hawaii-style rodeo at the Panaewa Equestrian Center, just outside of Hilo. The event welcomes paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys and cowgirls) and spectators to experience competitive rodeo skills born of the island’s deep ranching history and still practised today. The event features bull riding, calf-roping, bronco bustin’, barrel racing and a trio of unique-to-Hawaii events. The rodeo will also feature a rodeo clown, professional announcer, food and craft booths, leather- and saddle-making exhibits, and a culture and history display tent highlighting the island of Hawaii’s and state’s paniolo history. Click here for more info.

Accommodation

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai recently unveiled the first Dom Perignon-inspired hotel suite in the United States. The Waiolu Suite by Dom Perignon represents a physical transformation of one of the resort’s top 10 suites to include a number of new champagne experiences. The suite features design elements crafted to suit the authentic Hawaiian architecture style of the resort, while highlighting the unique elements of the champagne house. Guests can try out the resort’s exclusive menu experiences that showcase the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai’s unique qualities in unity with the champagne. The experiences include a sommelier wine tasting, sunset dinner, champagne and oysters tour and tasting, and a private helicopter tour with a Luana Beach landing. Click here for more info.

Hilton Waikoloa Village’s Makai Tower has a new room category, Makai Ocean Front, which guarantees guests will receive an oceanfront view regardless of the room they are assigned. Other perks included with stays in the new room category are fast-track luggage service, a dedicated Makai Ocean Front concierge, a reserved lounge area at the resort’s Kona Pool with complimentary use of pool safes, and complimentary access to facilities in the resort’s Kohala Spa, including its jacuzzi, steam room and fitness centre. Click here for more info.

Castle Resorts & Hotels recently completed an extensive $1.6 million renovation of the lobby at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. Inspired by Hawaii’s natural beauty, the new lobby design was conceived to combine authentic Hawaiian charm and modern enhancements, incorporating organic textures, colours and materials such as natural wood floors, coral stone and dark wood accents. In addition to the design updates, the renovation included the installation of touch-screen directories, monitors and charging ports throughout the lobby. Click here for more info.

In an effort to re-establish native sandalwood trees on its lands, Puakea Ranch recently enhanced its sustainable and regenerative practices via a partnership with the non-profit Hawaiian Reforestation Program (HRP) and its founder Mark Hanson. Puakea Ranch will make a cash donation to HRP for every visitor to its property to directly fund seedlings and the germination of trees. Guests will also have the opportunity to volunteer with HRP on tree planting days, exploring island landscapes while making a difference. Additionally, Puakea Ranch is collecting seeds and seedlings, which guests are invited to help plant on the property. Click here for more info.

Each Thursday and Saturday, Royal Kona Resort features live evening island music performances by local musicians at the resort’s oceanfront Don’s Mai Tai Bar. Thursday evening’s Legends of Hawaiian Music series features a different artist weekly, including Ledward Kaapana, John Keawe, Henry Kapono, Brother Noland and Johnny Valentine. Saturday evenings feature some of Henry Kapono’s favourite musicians, courtesy of his own Henry Kapono, Inc., including Alx Kawakami, Mike Love, Tavana and Blayne Asing. Performances are free and happen from 5pm to 7pm on Thursdays and from 6pm to 8pm on Saturdays. Click here for more info.

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