What’s new in the Hawaiian Islands

What’s new in the Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Islands offer a vast breadth of experiences and attractions ideal for all manner of travellers.

From exploring Hawai‘i’s islands by air within the cockpit of a helicopter to checking out one (or more) of the Islands’ vibrant summertime cultural festivals back on solid ground, you’ll definitely want the lowdown on everything happening throughout the Islands as you begin your planning.

We’ve got lots of summering-in-Hawai‘i activities listed below, plus additional updates on just about everything else new happening statewide.

New hotel developments 

The island of Maui’s Fairmont Kea Lani resort recently introduced its new Inspire Your Energy Wellness Suite designed for health-minded travellers. According to the resort, the suite “offers guests a new way to relax, recharge and replenish their energy” and is “designed to create the ultimate luxury retreat for health-minded travellers.” The 860-square-foot single-bedroom suite features vitamin-infused showers, linens designed to promote sleep, skin care and aromatherapy amenities, spa experiences and in-suite fitness equipment. www.fairmont.com

Opening this summer, the nine-suite ESPACIO The Jewel of Waikiki will, according to its management company Aqua-Aston Hospitality, “redefine the luxury hotel experience in Waikiki for guests who seek the ultra-exclusive with personalized service and privacy.” Each of the hotel’s nine floors will be home to a single three-bedroom suite with a dedicated butler, Italian-marble bathrooms, dry sauna and other amenities. The hotel’s public spaces will feature a restaurant and a rooftop infinity pool and spa. ESPACIO’s in-room guest experience will include in-room iPads equipped with remote controls for lighting and temperature, and messenger service for service requests. www.aquaaston.com

The Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger recently completed a $35 million property modernization featuring newly restyled rooms, a modernized lobby, a new pool experience and a makeover to the Oahu hotel’s public spaces and exterior. Ocean photography from Hawaii-based artists such as Zak Noyle are featured throughout the hotel as well as music from award-winning Hawaii musicians. www.waikikibeachcomber.com


The White Sands Hotel is set to reopen in July following the completion of a full restoration designed to return the property to its original 1960s glory. One of Waikiki’s last remaining walk-up hotels, the White Sands, according to its management company Aqua-Aston Hospitality, “will be a funky, fun return to the Hawaii that everyone remembers.” Its public spaces will include a new garden and pool courtyard oasis with a bar-adjacent hot tub, and a culinary and cocktail concept created by Honolulu-based Fete restaurant group reimagining continental cuisine and serving modern takes on 1960s menu items. www.whitesandshotel.com

Hotel Renew, one of Waikiki’s first boutique hotels, is readying to return to its boutique roots in June following the completion of what its team describes as “a property-wide reimagination focused on holistic Hawaiian wellness.” Rebranded as Renew, the 72-room hotel, situated at Waikiki’s east end and within walking distance of Waikiki Beach, will feature new amenities focused on holistic healing – including craft juices, coffees and elixirs at its updated lobby bar –, and partnerships with fitness and beauty vendors off property. www.hotelrenew.com


Makana, the Hawaiian word for “gift,” is the name chosen by Fairmont Kea Lani resort for its new, recently opened gourmet marketplace. MAKANA Market + Cafe specializes in Maui- and island of Hawai‘i-grown and roasted coffees, offered as nitro cold brew, espresso and pour-over drinks. The Maui cafe’s beverage menu also offers smoothies, matcha drinks and Lot35 tea blends. A selection of house-crafted pastries, sandwiches, salads, pizzas and acai bowls are offered on the café’s island fare-focused food menu. MAKANA Market’s in-house Pang’s Poke Bar sources locally-harvested fish for its poke creations. Customers can also purchase makana from the market’s curated selection of Hawai‘i artisans to take home to friends and family. www.fairmont.com/kea-lani-maui


The Grand Wailea resort is planning a weekend of live-fire eats, BBQ pitmasters, winemakers, master distillers and culinary celebrities from around the country served up oceanfront at Fire It Up!, happening July 19-21. The Maui culinary event will showcase Hawai‘i’s bounty of meats, seafood and produce, cooked exclusively with fire and paired with wines, beers and spirits. www.fireitupmaui.com

Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa has partnered with whiskey distiller Maker’s Mark to design Sheraton Maui’s Private Select, a blend of bourbon whiskey exclusive to the hotel. Sheraton Maui’s whiskey blend was created from a combination of 10 finishing staves, which were added to original blend Maker’s Mark and aged for nine additional weeks. Sheraton Maui’s Private Select may be enjoyed at the resort’s restaurants and bars. It is also the featured spirit of the resort’s signature Private Select Bourbon Ginger Julep cocktail, which includes muddled fresh mint, ginger, rock candy and Maui Brewing Co. ginger beer. www.marriott.com/hnmsi

Cattleya Wine Bar at Orchids, the Halekulani hotel’s newest addition to its dining outlets, features Mediterranean-influenced tapas-style cuisine paired with curated wines offered by the glass. Located in the entry area of the Waikiki hotel’s award-winning Orchids restaurant, Cattleya welcomes guests with seating at an earpod wood communal table overlooking the ocean. It offers a global selections of wines served by the bottle, glass and its new Cruvinet temperature-controlled wine-dispensing system, complimented by the light food menu inspired by Orchids’ Mediterranean theme. www.halekulani.com

Attractions and activities

Culinary tour company Tasting Kauai is now offering tours of Lihue and the west side of the Garden Island. Tasting Kauai’s West Shore Food Tour leads guests on a stroll through historic Hanapepe town for farm-to-table eats, private tastings and chef demonstrations. The Lihue Farm Tour is centered around farming and agriculture on Kauai, with stops at farms, farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants. Tasting Kauai also operates food tours on the island’s north shore, south shore and east side. www.tastingkauai.com

Maui resort Fairmont Kea Lani’s Willow Stream Spa combines reflexology – one of the world’s oldest healing methods – with local ingredients and technique for its new Restorative Volcanic Foot Experience. Utilizing a hand-crafted lomi stick crafted from invasive guava wood harvested on the island of Hawaii, the technique combines foot, head and neck massage to activate key points of the body, bringing all of its organs back into balance. A volcanic clay foot mask is infused with kava, noni and wasabi to ease tired feet and restore vitality after long journeys. www.fairmont.com

Kaanapali Beach Hotel recently unveiled an updated suite of on-property Hawaiian cultural activities, offering its guests a more focused menu of interactive opportunities designed to increase their knowledge of local history, customs and culture. The hotel has condensed its list of cultural classes to 11 and lengthened class times to allow for more in-depth experiences. Guests new to the Maui property are invited to expand their understanding of Hawaiian culture, while the hotel’s repeat guests are welcome to take in additional cultural knowledge from hotel staff. New activities include Kanikapila, a style of Hawaiian music produced in an impromptu jam session; Nala, an in-depth look at various weaving techniques; and Moolelo, storytelling sessions. www.kbhmaui.com

Hawaii-based helicopter company Paradise Helicopters is set to launch two new Oahu air tour experiences: a 90-minute Legends of West Oahu Tour, and the close to 5-hour Oahu Eco Landing Tour, which includes a landing and native tree planting at Gunstock Ranch’s Hawaiian Legacy Forest. Both tours depart from Kalaeloa Airport in west Oahu. www.paradisecopters.com

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetFollowing a quarter-century of building its reputation on the island of Hawaii, Hawaii Forest and Trail recently launched three never-before-offered custom outdoor adventures on Oahu. The activity company’s Farm to Forest adventure offers guests an opportunity to experience the local history and culture of Oahu through the island’s unique sights, stories and food. Guests enjoy a birds-eye view of Oahu and discover how Honolulu’s volcanic past continues to shape and influence island life on the Honolulu Heights tour. And guests on the Birds and Wildlife of Oahu adventure track native and exotic species at a private access forest reserve high in the Waianae Mountains, and at the beaches and wetlands of the coast below. www.hawaii-forest.com

Festivals and events 

The 56th annual Merrie Monarch Festival is set for April 21-27 in Hilo on the island of Hawaii. In addition to its world-renowned three-day hula competition, the festival schedule also includes several free, open-to-the-public events, including a kick-off hoolaulea (celebration) on April 21 and the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade in downtown Hilo on April 27. Visitors and residents are also invited to stop by the festival’s popular Merrie Monarch Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair to shop the works of local artisans and crafters and enjoy live entertainment. www.merriemonarch.com


The annual Koloa Plantation Days Festival, set this year for June 19-28, celebrates the many cultures from around the world that arrived as laborers during Hawaii’s sugar and pineapple plantation era and later settled here, bringing their traditions, music, dance and cuisine to the rich melting pot of cultures that now populate the Islands. A number of the Kauai district’s resorts and businesses participate in Koloa Plantation Days festivities, welcoming visitors and residents to enjoy the fest’s guided walks, talk story sessions, outdoor sports, live entertainment and themed keiki (children’s) activities. The festival schedule also includes a three-day rodeo competition celebrating the rich heritage of Hawaii’s paniolo (cowboy) culture. www.koloaplantationdays.com

Located in the north shore Kauai town of Hanalei, the artworks on display at Michal Abramovitz’s Art Studio, according to the studio, aim to “capture the vibrant essence of the Hawaiian Islands.” Further, “Abramovitz’s original style of art transforms the islands varied complexion of rich hues into living color on her canvases.” The artist’s designs also feature on swimwear, silk pareus, beach towels and other items, available for purchase at the studio. Studio and store hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by appointment. www.michalart.com

The North Kohala Kamehameha Day Celebration on the island of Hawaii annually honors and celebrates the life and legacy of King Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian Islands under one rule, becoming the founding monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Held on the June 11 statewide Kamehameha Day holiday, the celebration will begin at 8 a.m. with a lei-draping ceremony at the original King Kamehameha I statue in North Kohala’s Kapaau town, featuring hula, music and the sharing of history. A traditional pau parade featuring women horseback riders – with both horses and riders adorned with fresh flowers and colors representing each of the eight main islands of Hawaii – happens at 9 a.m. The public is also invited to join in on a town hoolaulea featuring crafts, food and live music at Kamehameha County Park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All festivities are free and open to the public. www.kamehamehadaycelebration.org

The week of the June 11  Day state holiday will also be marked by other celebrations on the island of Hawaii, including the Kamehameha Day Celebration Parade, set for June 8 in Kailua-Kona at 9 a.m., with post-parade festivities held at oceanside Hulihee Palace. Hilo town’s Kamehameha Festival happens on June 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a lei-draping ceremony at the King Kamehameha I statue in Wailoa River State Park alongside attendee activities, craft vendors, music and food. www.konaparade.org and www.kamehamehafestival.org


The Jazz Maui East Meets West Festival is an annual weeklong event series bringing together performers, educators and students from Hawaii, the U.S. Mainland and Southeast Asia for celebrations of jazz, contemporary dance and Maui multiethnic cuisine. For this year’s fourth annual festival, happening June 23-30, music students will participate in a special five-day jazz camp facilitated by invited music educators. The festival’s dance component will offer a series of workshops and performances in partnership with community jazz concerts. A sampling of favorite multiethnic dishes prepared by local restaurants will be offered at festival concerts. The festival week ends with a series of community concert performances across the island. www.gohawaii.com/islands/events/jazz-maui-east-meets-west-festival

As part of its continuing mission of sharing the stories of Hawaii’s monarchy and the Kingdom of Hawaii, Iolani Palace recently added a reproduction of Queen Kapiolani’s coronation gown, created by award-winning Hawaii designer Kini Zamora, to its collection of installations. The gown is the newest addition to the palace’s Alii Garment Reproduction Project. Two new kahili (feather standards) were also added to the queen’s bedroom. The royal residence of Hawaii’s monarchy from 1879 until the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893, Iolani Palace is located in downtown Honolulu’s Capital district. www.iolanipalace.org

The 49th annual Ukulele Festival Hawaii, happening July 21 at Kapiolani Park Bandstand in Waikiki, will once again bring together ukulele performers and groups from around the world to showcase the versatility and virtuosity of the ever-popular Hawaii-born musical instrument. The Oahu fest will also offer up favorite local eats, ukulele displays and giveaways, an ukulele workshop and children’s activities. www.ukulelefestivalhawaii.org

The Kau Coffee Festival annually celebrates the award-winning coffees of the island of Hawaii’s southeast Kau district with a two-week schedule of activities, including the Miss Kau Coffee Pageant, a recipe contest, stargazing sessions, farm tours and a hike to the highland water systems that irrigate the area’s coffee fields. This year’s 11th annual festival, set for April 26 through May 5, will again culminate with its popular community hoolaulea at the Pahala Community Center, featuring live entertainment, hula, farm tours and coffee-infused arts, crafts and eats. www.kaucoffeefestival.com

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