Few places exceed expectations like Hawai‘i, where each island is unique, breathtaking, and magical. Whether it’s your first, second, or your fifth visit, discover new, one-of-a-kind, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences across the archipelago. Stargaze on the world’s tallest mountain, pay your respects at Pearl Harbor, sip Maui-made wine, and catch the adrenaline thrills as your zip-line races over the forest canopy.
The new Stellar Explorer expedition with KapohoKine Adventures (kapohokine.com) is a full day of stargazing magic. You’ll begin at Hilo’s ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center to experience exhibits that intertwine astronomy and Hawaiian culture and the planetarium show “Maunakea: Between Earth and Sky.” The excitement builds as thetour enters Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to viewthe large fissure on the east riftzone of Mauna Ulu, (which last erupted in 1974). Stops here also include Jaggar Museum and Thurston Lava Tube. As darkness descends, your group heads to the 9,200-foot elevation Maunakea Information Station and then to Mauna Loa for incomparable stargazing.
A full day of private waterfalls, peaceful streams, picturesque shorelines, and rugged valleys await on the Kohala Waterfalls Adventure with Hawai‘i Forest & Trail (hawaii-forest.com). The eight-hour journey kicks off with a drive to an exclusive trailhead aboard a six-wheel Pinzgauer, an Austrian military vehicle. From there, take a relaxed, guided walk through a private nature reserve, cool off under waterfalls, and explore a restored, ancient Hawaiian agricultural site. Enjoy a private picnic lunch and mesmerizing views of sea cliffs and valleys from a scenic lookout before visiting historic H¯aw¯I town.
If Pearl Harbor has been on your bucket list, this is the year as 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and other military bases on O‘ahu. In honor of the 75th Commemoration (pearlharbor75thanniversary.com), O‘ahu is hosting an unprecedented series of events December 1-11 with the theme “Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future,” many free and open to the public, others requiring tickets. Events include the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Parade, memorials dedicated to the USS Utah and USS Oklahoma, the reconciliation Blackened Canteen Ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial, the Remember Pearl Harbor documentary film premiere, a historic movie series on Waik¯Ik¯I Beach, a Pearl Harbor survivors gala tribute, and the “Inspiring the Future” concert at Aloha Stadium.
Discover how early Hawaiians lived in self-sustaining, mountain-to-sea communities called ahupua‘a in breathtaking Waimea Valley (waimeavalley.net) on O‘ahu’s North Shore. Stroll the grounds, visit a recreated village, wander through the botanical gardens, and cool off under the waterfall. Learn about and take part in Hawaiian cultural activities such as hula, Hawaiian games, crafts, and storytelling. For an in-depth look at Waimea Valley, book a guided hike with Hawaiian Hiking Company (hawaiianhikingcompany.com) and experience the remote valleys, exotic plants, ancient cultural sites, and panoramic views.
Contemporary winemaking, Maui’s ranching heritage, Hawai‘i’s royal past, and island hospitality all come together at MauiWine (mauiwine.com) on the southern slopes of the island’s dormant Haleakal¯a volcano. The new King’s Visit tour is an exclusive look at grape growing and winemaking, and it includes an intimate and casual tasting in the recently refurbished “Old Jail,” a historic stone building dating back to when the property was known as Rose Ranch. You’ll taste MauiWine’s smallproduction single varietal ‘Ulupalakua Vineyards estate wines, visit the historical winery grounds and cellar, and learn about the practices that make these vines and their wines so special.
Travel back in time on the new Discover Old Hawai‘i tour with Maui Nei Native Expeditions (mauinei.com). This 3.5- hour interactive program reveals authentic Hawaiian cultural arts and skills along with stories of Lahaina’s sacred sitesand traditional ways of life during the town’s early years. As you move from site to site, a kumu (teacher) guides you on the creation of a cultural item using traditional Hawaiianmethods. Learn about such traditional Hawaiian customs as ‘ohe hano ihu (bamboo nose flute making), ‘ohe kapala (bamboo print stamping), kalo (taro) cultivation, poi (taro) pounding, and hula kahiko (ancient dance).
Discover the diverse natural beauty of Kaua‘i at your pace via customized hikes, backpacking trips and driving tours with Kaua‘i Hiking Tours (kauaihikingtours.com). Their mission of “Sharing Kaua‘i’s Beauty with Aloha” is integrated into each unique adventure as the expert guides aim to inspire understanding that the island’s landscape is both sacred and fragile, while providing local and historical knowledge. Kaua‘i is home to a wide range of spectacular landscapes, and you can opt for adventures that include coastal/beach, jungle/river, valley/waterfall, or ridge top hikes, and multiple driving tours. Explore famed such attractions as N ¯apali Coast, K¯oke‘e State Park, Waimea Canyon, and Alaka‘i Swamp, along with lesser known, but equally breathtaking destinations.
Adrenaline rushes await on the newest attraction from Outfitters Kaua’i (outfitterskauai.com). The Kahuna Zipline Tour, with six unique zip-lines (no beginner lines), starts with the thrills of the takeoff tower for two and side-by-side tandem lines. You’ll soar high above towering trees, through the forest canopy, and over rivers and waterfalls, while the breathtaking Kipu Ranch landscape — made famous in Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean — unfolds below. The fifth zip-line has the longest airtime of any on Kaua‘i and is the ultimate rush. Finish up with the Water Zip, which involves a plunge into the Bamboo Pool, a natural lava-rock swimming hole lined with fragrant white ginger.