HONOLULU -- The islands of Hawaii are bursting with activities and special events, providing travel agents with a wide range of options to match their clients interests. The challenge may be to sort through the listings.

TravelWeekly.com asked the tourism executives at the various islands to identify some of their favorites:

The Big Island

Im torn between the Hawaiian cultural events, including hula festivals, Hawaiian falsetto contests, slack key guitar festivals and the many food festivals on the Big Island, said George Applegate, Big Island Visitors Bureau executive director.

He also cited the Senior PGA Mastercard Championship at Hualalai Resort, being held this year from Jan. 19 to 25; hula performances at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park throughout the year; and the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo in April as noteworthy.

The Ironman Triathlon World Championship in October, Hawaiis Big Island Festival and the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, both in November, also made Applegates list.

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, in particular, Hawaiis oldest and most successful product festival -- and the only coffee festival in the U.S. -- has become an institution on the island.

Held in early November, the festival is made up of more than 30 community events that showcase not only the harvest but the local traditions, as well. The festival draws more than 12,000 visitors over the 10-day period.

Another big draw, the third annual Big Island Festival, is on tap for Nov. 2 to 6 and features five days of cultural activities, golf and culinary events. Activities take place at various resorts, and travel packages tied to the event are available at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. 

Ongoing packages also can be used to work around festivals or other special events, such as the Fairmont Orchids Rock On at the Fairmont Orchid package, created to showcase the propertys ancient Hawaiian petroglyph tour.


The Sony Open -- the PGA Tours first full-field event of the season, held this year from Jan. 10 to 16 -- is one of Oahus signature special events, according to Maura Jordan of the Oahu Visitors Bureau.

The tournament, which attracts golf pros to the Waialae Country Club, is the largest charity sports event in the islands, Jordan said. The Hawaii State Golf Association offers a discount card that trims rates at participating courses and golf shops, available for $12.

Golf packages are widely available on the island, including the Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa Ko Olina and Turtle Bay Resort, both of which offer amenities and packages geared to this market.

There are more than 30 golf courses on Oahu, from the oldest -- built in the 1890s and now known as the Moanalua Country Club -- to the newest -- the Royal Kunia Country Club, which opened in 2003. Other notable courses include the designed Ko Olina Golf Club, known for its water features. 

Knowing something about the courses and being able to tie them in with a big-name golf event is just one more way for travel agents to sell the destination, Jordan said.

The Pro Bowl, the National Football Leagues all-star game, is scheduled for Feb. 13 in Oahu. Pleasant Holidays created a series of air inclusive group packages with hotel accommodations -- at a number of participating Waikiki properties -- as well as preferred seating at the game.

Also on tap are the Polynesian Cultural Center Fireknife Competition on May 12 to 14, showcasing the ancient wooden weapon and its uses, and the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing event, held for six weeks in November and December. The surfing competition takes place on the North Shore and is spearheaded by the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour and the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.


Maui offers a range of special events all year, from golf to culinary themes, according to Kelii Brown, director of public relations for the Maui Visitors Bureau.

My subjective favorite is Hula O Na Keiki [childrens hula competition], which helps perpetuate the Hawaiian discipline of hula and instills Hawaiian values in our children at a very young age, Brown said.

It also helps our visitors understand that hula is ... a way of communicating and a way of perpetuating the Hawaiian culture.

A Hula O Na Keiki Room & Hula package is available at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel during the event, which takes place in November and includes accommodations, reserved seating for each night of competition, 30 resort dollars to spend at the hotel and an event T-shirt.

LifeFest Kapalua, held in September on Maui, is known as HawaiiAnother favorite event, held in September, is LifeFest Kapalua, regarded as Hawaiis premier health and wellness event because of Mauis reputation as a haven for the wellness movement, Brown said.

The biggest golf competition on Maui, which boasts its own roster of signature courses, is the Mercedes Championships at the Kapalua Resort, a tournament which was held earlier this month.

Other noteworthy events include Maui Chefs Presents at the Kaanapali Beach Resort, with packages available at participating properties.


The PGA Grand Slam of Golf, held annually at the Poipu Bay Golf Course, is one of Kauais most important events and one that agents use to sell travel, according to Edie Hafdahl, director of sales and marketing for the Kauai Visitors Bureau.

The event is scheduled for Nov. 21 to 23 this year.

The tournament, a 36-hole, stroke-play event conducted over two days, features a purse of $1 million. The headquarters is the Hyatt Regency Kauai, with other area accommodations available through the Poipu Beach Resort Association.

To contact reporter Felicity Long, send e-mail to [email protected].

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