Hawaii’s Big Island – Celebrate the New Year with easy-to-keep resolutions! Whether you want to fulfill a whale watching fantasy, help the environment, spend more time with the family for less money, or simply have the adventure of a lifetime, Hawaii’s Big Island is the destination for 2009.
ADVENTURES, ACTIVITIES & EVENTS: Hail to the Chief! On Jan. 20, Kona Joe Coffee unveils its new “Barack O Blend” to honor Hawai’i-born President-Elect Barack Obama as he steps into the White House. The Barack O Blend, a combination of Hawaiian, Kenyan and Indonesian beans, honors Obama’s roots via a rich, smooth cup of joe. The inaugural java can be purchased online at www.konajoe.com, or by visiting the 20-acre award-winning plantation above Kealakekua Bay. For info, call (808) 322-2100.
Hawaiian Vanilla Company and Fly Away Holidays Inc. collaborate with Hāmākua farms to present monthly culinary tours in one of Hawaii’s most agriculturally diverse regions. Upcoming tours will feature Volcano Island Honey, Mauna Kea Tea, Hawaii Island Goat Dairy, and of course, Hawaiian Vanilla Company. From $79/person, each tour culminates in a delicious luncheon at the vanilla company. Call (877) 771-1771 for reservations and information.
Ocean Sports celebrates the return of the humpback whales. Now until mid-April, learn about whale behaviors from Ocean Sports’ expert marine naturalists, listen to whale songs using hydrophones, and experience the thrill of a breach and the beauty of a slow-motion tail lob. Whale watches off the Kohala Coast offered daily for only $88/person. Call (808) 886-6666 ext. 103 or visit www.hawaiioceansports.com.
Add An Hour at Kona Honu Divers. The popular Dolphin Snorkel Trip now includes an extra hour to spend with Hawai’i Island’s most beloved annual visitors, the humpback whales, for the same price of $99. Swim with dolphins, snorkel on Kona’s best reefs, and enjoy spectacular encounters with majestic humpbacks. Visit www.konahonudivers.com or call (888) 333-4668.
Saddle up, Start your Engines, or Shop ’til you Drop! This year, discover Parker Ranch, one of the largest and most historic ranches in the United States, on open-range horseback tours, all-terrain vehicles, or at the Parker Ranch Store where the perfect gifts are found. Mark your calendars: Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival Feb. 7 and Parker Ranch Rodeo and Horse Races July 4. Call (808) 885-7655 or visit www.parkerranch.com.
Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2009 named Hawaii’s Big Island one of the Top 10 Regions of 2009! Chosen by Lonely Planet’s staff and authors, this annual book names the best places to visit in the upcoming year. The Big Island was chosen for the diversity of its environment, from wintry Maunakea to rainforest-shrouded waterfalls to multi-hued beaches. Hilo’s Merrie Monarch Festival where one can experience serious hula competitions, the regional cuisine, and Puna’s eccentric vibe are also highlighted as essential Big Island experiences. http://bigisland.org/calendar.
ACCOMMODATIONS The Hilton Waikoloa Village Ocean Explorer Family Escape package provides everything for an underwater adventure in Hawaii: keiki backpack including an underwater camera and ocean fish guide, daily Palm Terrace breakfast buffet for 2 adults/2 children, glass-bottom boat cruise for 2 adults/ 2 children. Starting at $294, four-night minimum stay, and 14-day minimum advance booking required. Package code: P9. Available Jan. 1 – Dec. 20, 2009. Call 1(800) HILTONS or (808) 886-1234. Visit www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com/specials.
Roaring Savings! Get a Seventh Night Free at Bears’ Place Guest House in Kailua-Kona. These new, spacious studios accommodate up to four guests and are equipped with a kitchenette, an ocean view lanai, private bath, and cable TV. Guests save even more with FREE wireless Internet, parking and beach gear. Centrally located. Rates from $75. Valid through May 31, 2009. Wir sprechen Deutsch. Visit www.bearsplacekona.com or call (808) 325-7563 or (808) 990-1383.
Hula Girl Getaway. Just for the girls, this new package at The Fairmont Orchid includes accommodations and daily breakfast with your girlfriends for your entire stay, daily “Hula Hands” oceanfront massages, yoga under the coconut trees, hula lessons (reservations required), stand-up paddle boarding and “talk story” time with the Beach Boys. Prices from $979/night including taxes for two rooms. Valid through Dec. 20, 2009. Call (800) 845-9905 or visit www.fairmont.com/orchid. Free Daily Breakfast for All. Keauhou Beach Resort offers visitors in 2009 a spectacular value for with a complimentary daily buffet breakfast for all hotel guests. Rates start at $130 for a partial ocean view room. Valid Jan. 5 – Dec. 21, 2009. Call (866) 326-6803 or visit www.keauhoubeachresort-hawaii.com.
The Better Tomorrows package from Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa guarantees that for every night at regular rate, guests receive the next night for 50 percent off. Rates begin at $205 (mountain view) meaning the average rate for a two-night stay could be as little as $153.75 per night. Request rate code: BTBAR6 and let your Better Tomorrow begin today. Visit www.sheratonkeauhou.com. Voluntourism Discount. The Dragonfly Ranch, a treehouse-like getaway on the sunny Kona Coast near Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park, invites adventurous travelers wishing to contribute an hour a day to the national park or the Dragonfly’s organic garden to stay for a 10 percent discount. Call (808) 328-2159 or visit www.dragonflyranch.com.
ResortQuest Hawaii helps guests save double! Book a stay by Feb. 28, for travel between Jan. 2 to Dec. 21, 2009 and receive a discount of 20 percent off daily rates as well as the fourth night free. Participating Big Island properties are: ResortQuest Shores at Waikoloa, $166/night; ResortQuest Kona by the Sea, $169/night; ResortQuest Waikoloa Colony Villas, $209/night. Restrictions apply. Visit www.resortquesthawaii.com or call (866) 774-2924.
Royal Kona Resort, an oceanfront property overlooking beautiful Kailua Bay, is offering Aloha Special Value Rates. Bay Tower Standard View rooms from $115/night. Valid now through Jun. 7, 2009. Rates based on double occupancy and exclude tax. Call 1(800) 22-ALOHA, or (800) 222-5642 or visit www.royalkona.com.