|Helicopter view of the Big Island via Paradise Helicopters. // Photo by Joe Pike|
Travel Agent just got our hands on the latest newsletter from the Big Island Visitors Bureau and decided to highlight the latest cultural events, activities and hotel happenings.
Travelers planning a trip to Hawaii Island later this year may want to consider spending more time on the east side of the island. Developers currently working on a $20 million renovation of Hilo Naniloa Hotel and Golf Club have announced that the 388-room property will be rebranded as a DoubleTree by Hilton, the first major hotel flag to set up shop in the destination. The Hilo Naniloa will remain open during the renovation and continue under Aqua Hospitality management. Its first updated rooms will be available to travelers this fall.
Waipio RideTheRim ATV & Buggy Tour hosts private tours overlooking famed Waipio Valley, also known as the "Valley of the Kings." The company's new cultural consultant, Punahele Andrade, shares his manao (thoughts) about this once thriving community and the royalty that resided here. Home to generations of alii (royalty), taro farmers and ohana (families) who lived off the land, the longest black sand beach in the state, and the renowned 1,200-foot main drop of Hiilawe Falls, Waipio remains sacred to this day. Guests will capture breathtaking pictures while learning the rich history of this valley.
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows offers the perfect venue to view the full moon at its monthly Twilight at Kalahuipuaa - Talk Story Under a Full Moon. This family-friendly, complimentary cultural event is held on the Saturday closest to the full moon. Hotel guests, kamaaina and visitors are invited to experience the culture of the islands at the oceanfront Eva Parker Woods Cottage from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. It's an evening of storytelling, music, perhaps a little hula and scenic views of the ocean and full moon.
Client can immerse in the beauty of Hawaii Island in the heart of Kailua-Kona at Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. Overlooking Kailua Bay and surrounded by captivating Hualalai mountain, the hotel's famous luau takes place on the site of the former residence of King Kamehameha the Great. Neighboring this special site is Ahuena Heiau, a sacred temple restored by King Kamehameha between 1812 and 1813. The beauty of the setting as it stands today, blended with an unforgettable traditional Polynesian experience, make this luau an absolute must.
Kaunaoa Bay, known for its crescent shape, expansive white sand beach and clear blue water, is often ranked as one of Hawaii's best beaches by top travel authorities. Also known as the bay and beach that, 50 years ago, inspired Laurance S. Rockefeller to build Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Kaunaoa draws water sports enthusiasts and visitors looking for an unforgettable Hawaii Island getaway. The Beach Club at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel now offers a variety of ocean activities including sailing canoe rides, stand up paddle boarding, snorkeling, yoga, workouts in the sand and more.
Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay is a major landmark on the Kona Coast, and one of the most scenic and historic sites on Hawaii Island. Rising 27 feet, the monument's white spire strikes a beautiful contrast against the rugged ground, high cliffs and lush vegetation surrounding it. Because the monument can only be reached by boat or hiking, access to it is limited. Body Glove Cruises offers the only Historical Dinner Cruise to the monument, sailing 12 miles south along the Kona Coast from Kailua-Kona to Kealakekua Bay.
Guests can watch a picturesque sunset from the deck of an Ocean Sports Sunset Cruise. Aboard a well-appointed catamaran, visitors will capture the changing colors of the ocean and mountains at sunset while sipping refreshing tropical cocktails, local beers on tap, and more, from the complimentary bar. The cruise also includes a snack from the paniolo (cowboy)-style barbecue pupu (small bites). There's a chance that the infamous, yet elusive, green flash may be seen as the sun slips below the horizon, offering a beautiful end to the day.
"Rays" a glass of wine on the Manta Deck of Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa's Rays on the Bay restaurant during social hour, happening from 9 to 10 p.m. nightly. Sip handcrafted cocktails, cold local beers and volcanic wines while gazing at the majestic manta rays gliding through Keauhou Bay. Nightly manta talks, offering educational overviews on the gentle giants, are held in the resort's Manta Learning Center at 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The best time for close-up manta viewing begins at 8:30 p.m., when evening dive boats begin to recede from the bay.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival celebrates its 45th anniversary and stature as Hawaii's oldest food festival with 10 days of fan favorites and dynamic new events, beginning Friday, November 6. The festival promotes and perpetuates the culture, heritage, artistry and rich history behind Kona's nearly 200-year-old world-famous brew. A full program of Kona Coffee Farm Tours will offer behind-the-scenes glimpses of coffee farm experiences visitors might otherwise miss.
The award-winning Mauna Kea Golf Course and Hapuna Golf Course recently unleashed GolfBoard, a fun new mode of transportation for golfers to get from hole to hole in style. The individually driven platform allows golfers to easily navigate the courses, much like how a surfer on a surfboard negotiates waves. Mauna Kea Resort's courses are the first on Hawaii Island to offer GolfBoard, with its fleet of 24 the largest order of any course in the state.
The oceanfront Ocean Bar & Grill at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows has launched a new summertime menu allowing diners to savor Kohala Coast sunsets and starlit skies. Situated just steps from the ocean, the casual venue has its chefs firing up the grill with Hawaii Island rancher burgers, Keahole lobster, crab legs and ribs. The open-air Ocean Bar & Grill offers unobstructed scenic views and a family-friendly atmosphere.