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Hawaiian festivals can be colorful, musical, chocolate, and fruit. Be prepared for exciting events no matter the season or island. Some festivals you will find honor the past, too. Enjoy!
The Color Festival Hawaii: Hawaii’s most colorful event is back! Join us for an afternoon of family friendly food, performances, and of course color. Headliner Rayland Baxter along with Shea Butter and the Cream, Yum Yum Beast, DJ Boomshot and more! Kahului, Maui; April 13, 2019, 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm.
Merrie Monarch Festival: King David Kalakaua, who reigned in Hawaii for 20 years until 1891, was one of the most popular local rulers, devoted to local culture and traditions like the hula dance. That’s why he was called the Merrie Monarch. The 7-day festival features many cultural events: an exhibit, a crafts fair, a parade, and a three-day hula competition that is known worldwide. The first 4 days of the Merrie Monarch Festival consist of non–competition events. These include free concerts and performances by dancers as well as an arts and craft fair. The most popular non–competition event is the Merrie Monarch Parade that takes place on Saturday morning featuring dozens of floats, dancers and marching bands. Hilo, Hawaii; April 21–27
Big Island Chocolate Festival: With the theme, “Black & White,” the eighth annual Big Island Chocolate Festival is being held at The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. The two-day chocolate extravaganza includes a guided cacao plantation tour at Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Keauhou-Kona, a college culinary competition and several public foodie and agriculture-themed seminars. Activities culminate 5-9 p.m. April 27 with the indoor-outdoor festival gala—enjoy a host of sweet and savory culinary stations presented by top isle chefs, chocolatiers and confectioners to benefit eight community beneficiaries. Fun includes chocolate body painting, silent auction and dancing. Kona, Hawaii; April 26-27
Mango Jam Honolulu: Mango Jam Honolulu is a 2-day festival celebrating of one of the most beloved fruits of the island, the MANGO! Presented by Hawaii Maoli, with support by the City and County of Honolulu, Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts, and Honolulu Magazine. June 28, 2019 – June 29, 2019; Honolulu.
42nd Prince Lot Hula Festival: Move Forward, O Youth, is the theme of the 42nd Annual Prince Lot Hula Festival, which will take place at historic Iolani Palace in 2019 announced Moanalua Gardens Foundation (MGF), the festival’s presenter. The largest non-competitive hula celebration in Hawaii, the festival is held each year to honor Prince Lot Kapuāiwa who reigned as Kamehameha V. The Royal Order of Kamehameha will open the festival followed by an impressive line-up of 20 premier hula groups who will perform ancient and contemporary hula over the festival weekend. Presented by Moanalua Gardens Foundation, there will also be cultural demonstrations, a Hawaiian-themed craft fair, poi pounding demonstrations, entertainment and free admission to Iolani Palace! Local food and refreshments will be available for purchase. Admission is free. July 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, July 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Honolulu
49th Annual Ukulele Festival: Every July – as welcome as summer itself – Ukulele Festival Hawaii presents the annual festival at Kapiolani Park on Oahu. Families jam the park. Ukulele fans wouldn’t miss it; tourists follow the sounds of music. The music swirls over the tops of ironwood and monkeypod trees toward Diamond Head. It’s upbeat, infectious, bouncy about surf and sunny days. It’s music you want to dance to or sing to like a beachboy. It embraces everyone who hears it. That’s the irresistible charm of the ukulele. For four hours ukulele virtuosos, internationally known musicians, local celebrities donate their time and talented ukulele players from around the world and a ukulele orchestra of over 800 students, mostly children will take the stage and delight the crowd. It’s summer’s best musical treat and it’s free. Waikiki, Oahu; July 21, 10:30 am – 5:00 pm
Other Festivals: Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, Oct 5 – 27: Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, Nov 1 – 10
PLACE OF INTEREST
The Island of Molokai
Nicknamed “The Friendly Isle” for its welcoming residents and open-armed invitation to visitors, Molokai is a rural land, nestled quietly among crystal waters and endless skies of blue. A far cry from the world of Oahu’s Waikiki, visitors here will find no traffic lights, zero shopping malls and no skyscrapers touching the clouds. What they will discover, much to their delight, is simple beauty marked by the magic of quiet moments spent amid nature, friendly residents and stunning scenery. From lush rolling hills to tropical rain forests and white sand beaches without another soul in sight, visitors truly seeking peace and quiet will embrace the simple pleasures offered by this tucked-away island paradise. Points of interest here include the ancient valley of Halawa and historic Kalaupapa Peninsula.
Mention to somebody you’re going to Molokai and they’ll tell you there’s nothing to do. It’s a myth that couldn’t be further from the truth but is fueled by the fact that Molokai is free of large oceanfront resorts. Sure—Molokai has fewer visitors than islands like Maui, or Oahu, but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of things to do once you get there.
One of the best and most popular attractions on Molokai is the Kalaupapa Peninsula, which you can either reach by air, by foot, or by riding in on a mule. This isolated spot was where Hawaii’s lepers were essentially sent to die, when they were rounded up, shipped on a boat, and left to fend for themselves. Backed by some of the world’s tallest sea cliffs and surrounded by tumultuous ocean, it’s essentially an island attached to an island with minimal ways to get out. Life was unspeakably miserable and hard for residents of Kalaupapa, and it wasn’t until Belgian-born Father Damien arrived in 1873 that living conditions slowly improved and light was brought to the dark. Though leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, is now a curable disease, the remnants, history, and stories remain for visitors to hear and experience while touring around the infamous settlement. It’s a trip that takes up most of the day, and aside from the sobering doses of history, also offers sweeping views of Molokai’s northern coast.
Visitors Get a Glimpse at Historic and Present-Day Life: Upon arrival at Kalaupapa—which can only be visited with a permit—guests are loaded on an old yellow school bus and driven around the settlement, learning the history of the homes, the heiau, and the thousands of patients who lived, and died, on Kalaupapa’s shores. Journeying across to Kalawao—or what very little is left of it—guests will get the chance to visit historic St. Philomena Church, and stand in the spot where Father Damien infused the darkness with light.
Another top attraction on Molokai is the drive to Halawa Valley, which is made even better by taking part in a guided cultural hiking tour. This remote valley on the northeastern coast is believed to be Hawaii’s oldest continuously inhabited spot, with evidence of human activity here as early as 600 AD. The drive to Halawa is an experience, where a single lane road hugs a rocky coast that’s been sculpted and carved by the sea, and then climbs through pastures full of cattle, deer, and even endangered nene geese. When the road finally ends at the beach in Halawa it can feel like the end of the Earth, and to truly experience the beauty of this valley and learn its powerful past, guided cultural tours depart each day at 9am from the pavilion. It’s best to make reservations for the hike through an activity operator in town, and be sure to bring a ho‘okupu, or gift, as an offering for entering the valley.
In addition to Kalaupapa and Halawa, other Molokai attractions include the famous “Post A Nut” post office, where you can decorate a coconut and then send it by mail to virtually anywhere in the world. You can pick up local, organic produce while shopping at Kumu Farms, or visit a macadamia farm to taste and crack the nuts.
There are hiking trails in Pepeopa‘e Bog and on the coast at Mo‘omomi, and downwind kayak and standup paddle tours through the island’s south shore lagoon.
While the island’s main town, Kaunakakai, is mostly utilitarian, there are a handful of stores with souvenirs and impressive island made art, and island’s west coast is a procession of beaches that are windswept, white sand, and empty. Finish the day with an oceanfront meal at popular Hotel Molokai, and for a unique way to squeeze in dessert, join in a classic Molokai pastime by cruising down “Hot Bread Lane,” where gooey sweet bread with multiple flavors is served from a hidden, back alley window behind Kanemitsu Bakery each night.
Add in snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and whale watching tours in winter, and there are just as many things to do on Molokai as anywhere else in Hawaii. The difference, of course, is the lack of crowds, and the genuine Hawaiian atmosphere, where simplicity, sincerity, and a sense of aloha still form the foundation of a slow-paced life that’s an attraction unto itself.
Kalaupapa Lookout: Standing at the edge of Kalaupapa Lookout in Pala’au State Park and gazing down nearly 2,000 feet to the peninsula below, one gets a sense of how truly spectacular Molokai’s geography is. Home to the world’s tallest sea cliffs, the island remains a pristine, uncrowded destination, with many spots still possessing the mana (life force) of earlier times.
The island offers many other historic sites. In 1865, King Kamehameha V selected Molokai as the coffee-growing region for the Kingdom of Hawaii. Today, those seeking a mule-drawn tour and a fine cup of 100-percent Molokai coffee should head for the rolling hills of Kualapu’u, near the center of the island, which are home to the 500-acre plantation of Coffees of Hawaii.
Not far from here one can also find the Molokai Museum and Cultural Center, which hosts an extensive collection of artwork from the late 1800s, plus the entire R.W. Meyer Sugar Mill, a National Historic Place built in 1878 that has been restored to its original operating condition.
Take a Guided Cultural Hike through Halawa Valley: When visiting Halawa Valley today, the best way to experience the history and beauty is with a guided cultural hike, which not only takes visitors to 250 ft. Mo‘oula Falls, but also incorporates history lessons and passes historical relics. Learn how Hawaiians lived off the land—and manage to do so today—and experience the proper respect and protocols for entering this hallowed place.
Places to stay: Kaluakoi Resort on Hawaii’s island of Molokai, Ke Nani Kai Resort is a complex consisting of 120 low-rise condominiums that is perfect for your next escape to paradise. Perhaps Hawaii’s best kept secret, boasting pristine lands and an unhurried pace of life that begs to be adopted, Molokai is indeed feels a world away from the stress and mess of the Mainland. Ke Nani Resort, with its serene setting amid the rolling hills and uncrowded beaches of Molokai, offers its guests one-and-two-bedroom suites adequately equipped and decorated in the island-inspired style of classic Hawaii Nei.
Hotel Molokai: this establishment celebrates all the things that make this little island so remarkable. Known as being the birthplace of Hula, and closely located to Hawaii’s only barrier reef, Molokai is a magical destination where one can enjoy scuba diving, swimming and so much more. During one’s stay here, comfort and culture combine to create the perfect blend of Hawaiian tradition and still luxurious accommodations. Imagine yourself lounging in your oceanfront bungalow after enjoying a meal made right in your own private kitchenette. It’s possible, at Hotel Molokai.
A Tale Like No Other: The Story of Kalaupapa – Additional Information
From the west end beaches to Kaunakakai and out to Halawa Valley. On the island’s northern coast, however, at the base of cliffs that spring from the sea and disappear into the clouds, Kalaupapa Peninsula is part of tiny Kalawao County—a place with a landscape, history, and story unlike anywhere else in the islands.
In Ancient Hawaiian Village Becomes a Leprosy Quarantine: Native Hawaiians first settled this area in the 9th century AD, where they set up basic village sites and temples made of stone. Historians estimate as many as 2,000 residents once lived on the isolated peninsula, but by the 1850s less than 200 people still called the area home. At the same time, Hawaii was battling a leprosy crisis that was out of control and seeking a place to isolate patients afflicted with leprosy—or Hansen’s disease—this peninsula was chosen for the fact it’s essentially an island attached to an island. The few remaining residents of the area were relocated elsewhere on the island, and with a remote and empty swath of land to quarantine those with the disease, boats began arriving in 1866—and patients were basically left to die. Father Damien Brought Hope to a Hurting People: pockets of help from Mormons, ministers, priests, and volunteers, a man by the name of Joseph de Vuester—aka “Father Damien”—arrived in forsaken Kalawao in 1873. By helping patients build homes, a church, and even constructing a water system, Damien made Kalawao a place to live—rather than somewhere to die. When visiting Kalawao today, the only remaining structure from this time is soaring St. Philomena Church, which Father Damien helped expand to accommodate a growing congregation. When traveling to Kalaupapa today, visitors don’t have any contact with the handful of former patients, all of whom are advanced in their years and clinging to the last stages of life. Instead visitors endure the trail down the 1,600 ft. cliff face, either while riding on top of a mule or hiking the trail on foot.
Contact Kathryn or Sandra – TravelKatz – if you’re going to Hawaii and Molokai is on your list of islands to visit. firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-277-7300 We do all the planning for you.
Hawaii State Capital: Honolulu
While popular legend has it that Honolulu is Hawaiian for “fair haven,” that explanation actually conflates two separate moments in the city’s history. While the port was referred to as Fair Haven in English in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the region’s original indigenous name, “Honolulu,” more accurately translates to “sheltered bay” or “protected bay.” Honolulu is the only state capital with an autonomous name, and was founded by the indigenous people of Hawaii as long as 2000 years ago.
USS Arizona memorial: You need to take a short ferry ride to access the memorial and tickets are required, so you should get those as soon as you arrive. If you have to wait for your scheduled time there are 2 wonderful museums on site. We would recommend visiting these before your day is over. The video shown before your ferry ride is powerful. It really sets the mood for the reverence and respect the memorial deserves. You only get about 10 minutes at the memorial since there are so many visitors so try to pick a time when there as not a lot of visitors. travel light due to security.
The history section is well done and sets the scene for the memorial. The section salvaged from ARIZONA is new. The model of the memorial ties together well and let’s one begin to grasp the violence of the explosion that morning.
The alpha and omega of the Pacific War allows one to understand the scope of the war. The vast expanses of the Pacific are not easy to express. These exhibits present the history from the late 1800’s through the end of the war. It provides insight into the perspectives of both sides and how that led to the conflict. It also reflects on the war’s impact on civilian populations. We recommend you spend the time to observe and consider the information presented. We feel that the conditions than are relevant to the conditions today.
The Pearl Harbor area is something that has to be experienced. There is so much information on Pearl Harbor, the surprise Japanese attack, the USS Missouri and the USS Bowfin submarine. There is also a fantastic “gift” store that is full of books, DVD’s and various other paraphernalia about Pearl Harbor. A fantastic place to remember the courage of the brave men who without warning, gave their lives so that we can enjoy peace today. Must see place.
Battleship Missouri Memorial: The fact that Japanese surrender was signed in here makes this big ship interesting. You can take beautiful pictures in the main deck with many big weapons. Walking into the ship is interesting. The ship is huge. The staff are knowledgeable and love to tell you stories. Go on the tour at the start and then wander back to places you want to spend longer at. This is a must see attraction to help gain appreciation for the men and women that are currently serving but also for what life was like during war time.
Note: no bags of any kind are allowed inside and it can be warm on the ship deck so carry a water bottle in hand and you will be prepared. Make sure to not rush yourself but allow time to pause, reflect, and soak in the stories.
Iolani Palace: Pay attention to your guides, or docents, because they aren’t just retelling history. The anecdotes animate the historical lives and events of the Time, and will make the visitors marvel at how “modern” Hawaii was ahead of the other Mainland states. And, of course that’s not surprising as Hawaii was the only independent Nation absorbed by the US. Well organized, excellent audio visual equipment. Clear and concise information about Hawaii’s royalty and excellent display of historical art effects associated with the period. A must see. Wow! What a great opportunity to learn more about the TRUE history of Hawaii. Unfortunately, many visitors likely have never learned the specifics of Hawaiian culture, specifically that it was an independent kingdom. This was ABSOLUTELY the best part of our time in Oahu! It is not a long tour, but will definitely leave you and your party talking about what was and/or what could have been in Hawaii.
Manoa Falls: Immerse yourself in the beautiful nature found of Hawaii as you hike 2 miles to Manoa Falls in Oahu on this small-group excursion. Join a local hiking expert, and a group of no more than 14 guests, as you journey via the Manoa Trail on a moderate hike to the tallest accessible waterfall on the island, a location made famous as a film location for Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Lost World.’ This Oahu waterfall excursion also includes a backpack and hiking staff plus round-trip transport from Waikiki hotels. What a great tour! Our guide was super friendly and knew such a lot about the rain-forest, the waterfall and about Hawaiian history – Plenty of photo stops and lots of information about movies that were made along the way.
Waikiki Beach: Very nice beach to visit. Great for families. Gets quite busy but is close walk from many hotels. Water usually calmer here as they have rock jutting out to protect from waves. Nice spot to hang out. Great view of Diamond Head from the beach too.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve: Terrific views, great snorkeling. Get there early, as the parking lot fills up quickly. Best snorkeling is very early in the morning before the crowds. A truly beautiful place to visit. The Bay was formed from an old volcano which is now almost entirely submerged. It has a sensational beach and beautiful coral reef and sea life. It provides great opportunities for budding snorkelers.
Diamond Head State Monument: Diamond Head State Monument is beautiful. You can get good views of Honolulu at the main entrance but if you want great views you need to hike up the volcanic cone. For experienced hikers, the trek is fairly simple. It could be challenging for those with some limitations as there are uneven, rocky paths and a lot of steep stairs. Once at the top you get a full view of Waikiki Beach.
Fort DeRussy Beach Park: Anyone who’s stayed at the Hale Koa Hotel (a military ‘rec camp’ located here) already knows about the superb beach and supporting beach services found here. What many don’t realize is that this part of Fort DeRussy is open to the public! The former coastal artillery fort is now a lovely 70+ acre mixed use facility supporting various military missions, with a large green space park area that’s home to a wide variety of outdoor activities. The wide sandy beach has excellent snorkeling offshore, and you can rent from the two beach service stands located at either end of the beach as well. Everything from umbrella & chair combos to paddleboards and kayaks are available to rent at the best prices along Waikiki Beach. Lovely park in front of the beach and military museum. Great from a break from usual tourist activities. It’s a great park area, with lots of grass and open areas. People were having picnics, grilling food, and playing games like Frisbee and cornhole, there are also 2 volleyball courts that looked like a lot of fun. The beach in front of the park was very nice and not as busy as the main area of Waikiki beach. There were also a couple spots right beside the beach where you could get a drink or some food. There was also a rental place where you could rent chairs, umbrellas, water sport equipment, etc.
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HAWAII Natural Wonder: The Kilauea Volcano
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