Island of Hawaiʻi (December, 2023) — As 2023 comes to an end, the island of Hawai‘i is preparing for exciting events, activities and happenings in the new year filled with fresh beginnings and breathtaking adventures. New and exciting offerings travelers can look forward to in 2024 include immersive tasting tours, café openings, tennis matches, lū‘au and more.
Read on to learn more about what travelers can add to their island of Hawai‘i itinerary in the coming year.
On November 12, the County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation, in collaboration with the dedicated support of Friends of the Panaʻewa Zoo, unveiled the newly renovated pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl) exhibit at the Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens. Extensive renovations required for the new exhibit involved replacing aging wood components, installing new aviary mesh material, applying fresh coats of paint, and introducing native plants to enhance the pueo habitat both within and surrounding the enclosure. The renovated habitat will be home to the zoo’s new resident pueo, Lilinoe, who was was recently rescued under unfortunate circumstances. Due to the severity of Lilinoe’s conditions, she could not be returned to the wild. Fortunately, the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources entrusted the zoo with her care. Admission to Pana‘ewa Zoo & Gardens is free to the public. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for Christmas, New Year’s Day and the first Thursday of each month when the zoo is closed.
Situated near the birthplace of King Kamehameha III and overlooking Keauhou Bay, Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa invites Hawai‘i visitors and residents to experience its signature Feast and Fire Lū‘au. The lū‘au was curated by Traditions Hawai‘i, a family-owned and operated production company created by the Lim and Yap families with more than 36 years of entertainment experience. The evening lū‘au offers island-favorite fare, Pacific Ocean views and even an artisan village where guests can create lei, watch a poi-pounding demonstration, create an art piece using traditional ‘ohe kāpala (bamboo stamps), or shop a selection of works from local artisans. The lū‘au’s makahiki gaming grounds host interactive traditional Hawaiian games including ʻulu maika (stone bowling), kōnane (a checkers-like game) and more.
Big Island Coffee Roasters recently opened its first café and roastery, allowing patrons to view the company’s coffee roasting and production process and enjoy specialty espresso, coffees and māmaki tea. Big Island Coffee Roasters is also offering monthly community and cultural events and activities at the new 4,000-square-foot Hilo storefront near Lili‘uokalani Park and Gardens, including block printing on upcycled clothes, wreath making and yoga in the roastery. In early 2024, patrons will be able to book tasting tours, participate in educational events and roast their own coffee.
Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort, recently reintroduced its Kona Village Lūʻau, where guests can experience Hawaiian culture through traditional food, live music, song and dance. Located next to the property’s lagoon and gardens, the lūʻau offers guests a family-style feast featuring an array of dishes showcasing local and seasonal ingredients alongside a selection of wine and cocktails. A lūʻau highlight is a demonstration of the resort’s imu, an underground oven pit that early Hawaiians utilized for some of their cooking. The result for lūʻau guests? A 10-hour, imu-cooked bounty of kālua pork.
Mauna Kea Resort and its oceanfront Seaside Tennis Club are inviting interested participants to its second-annual Seaside SMASH, happening December 11 through 13. Participants will join the resort’s tennis professionals — along with celebrity coach, strategist and Association of Tennis Professionals champion Brad Gilbert — for on-court clinics to improve their game. Participants attending the Seaside Smash Tennis Benefit are invited to an opening SMASH reception and meet-and-greet; live play-by-play with Brad Gilbert vs. Mauna Kea Resort’s tennis professionals; clinics with coaching insights and doubles game play strategy; opportunities to compete and play with Gilbert; a Doubles Round Robin tournament with prizes; a commemorative tennis hat and shirt; and daytime clinics with snacks and refreshments. Proceeds of the three-day event will benefit junior tennis programs for local schools on the island of Hawaiʻi.
West Hawaii Dance Theatre and Academy will present a performance of the endearing holiday season classic, “The Nutcracker Ballet,” on December 23 at the Kahilu Theatre. The festive, family-friendly production will include more than 55 local dancers and professional guest artists from the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Cleveland Ballet and more. New and original choreography will be included to present the iconic and charming fairy tale — based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” — performed to music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Performances are set for 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. .
Presented by the County of Hawai‘i’s Department of Parks and Recreation and community members, the annual Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is set for February 3. Following Waimea’s seasonal winter chill, the festival marks the blooming of the town’s historic cherry trees at Church Row Park and celebrates the Japanese tradition of hanami, which translates as “cherry blossom viewing.”
The Pana‘ewa Stampede Rodeo is a two-day rodeo that highlights the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) skills of our local cowboys, cowgirls, keiki (children) and traveling rodeo contestants in traditional cowboy events, rain or shine. Both locals and tourists are attracted to this special annual event featuring popular sports such as cattle roping, double mugging, and bull riding, along with many other thrilling, fast paced shows, all throughout the President’s Day weekend, February 17-18.
The annual Kona Brewers Festival returns on March 9 celebrating local-made craft beer. Hosted by the Ke Kai Ala Foundation located in at BREW in Kailua-Kona, the festival welcomes attendees to enjoy an array of craft beers from some of Hawai‘i’s finest breweries alongside specialty brews from the continental U.S. and cuisine from island of Hawai‘i restaurants and chefs. Attendees can also look forward to live musical performances and the fest’s main event: the Trash Fashion Show.
Returning for its second year, the Mauna Lani Culinary Classic is a three-day food celebration set for August 29 through September 2 featuring James Beard Award-winning chefs. In partnership with Blue Ribbon Restaurants and nonprofit Mālaʻai: The Culinary Garden of Waimea Middle School, the Mauna Lani Culinary Classic connects chefs, sommeliers, mixologists, friends and neighbors in the spirit of culinary creativity. The event will happen over Labor Day weekend 2024 but presale tickets will begin selling near the end of 2023.
The Arc of Hilo’s new vocational training café, The Tiki Turtle Cafe, is now open in Hilo across from Wailuku River State Park’s Rainbow Falls area. The Arc of Hilo’s mission is to create a world of inclusivity and empowerment by expanding opportunities for individuals with disabilities. With its new cafe, the organization hopes to provide a supportive and nurturing environment where individuals with disabilities can thrive and grow personally and professionally. The café serves hot specials daily from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Its menu includes a café signature chicken macadamia nut pesto incorporating Mauna Loa macadamia nuts and plum dressing. The café also serves wraps, deli sandwiches and for dessert, pineapple Dole Whip in a cone or cup for $4.
Hilton Waikoloa Village’s Kamuela Provision Company (KPC) recently launched a revamped menu created by its new Chef de Cuisine Robert Love. Chef Love brings his passion for island-inspired food creations to Hilton Waikoloa Village’s premier restaurant, aiming to capture Hawaiʻi’s many flavors in his dishes. He has refreshed the entire KPC menu of diner favorites and added several of his own original creations.
Pueo’s Osteria, an Italian restaurant in Waikoloa, welcomes all to experience its new fall dinner menu created by Chef James Babian, featuring ingredients sourced from Hawai‘i Island farms paired with imported Italian products and served with a contemporary and local twist. Highlights of the restaurant’s fall menu include kabocha pumpkin ravioli and chianti-braised boneless short ribs. The fall menu will be offered through Christmas and the beginning of the new year, with some ingredient substitutions possible due to seasonal availability of local produce. Pueo’s Osteria will also offer special prix fixe menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Dinner seating is available daily from 5 to 9 p.m. and the bar is open daily from 5 to 11 p.m.
Hilton Waikoloa Village recently introduced Naupaka Point, its new, outdoor event venue with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. A flexible gathering space for events — from intimate receptions to expansive gatherings — Naupaka Point offers an off-the-beaten-path, tropical setting closely connected to the rest of the resort’s world-class amenities and facilities. Naupaka Point sits on a 34,000-square-foot oceanfront parcel adjacent to the coastal walking path traversing the hotel’s shoreline. It can accommodate weddings and corporate events, hosting up to 1,000 attendees for receptions and up to 750 for lunch and dinner events. The venue can also host smaller, intimate gatherings or team-building activities.
Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa, a 22-acre property perched above Keauhou Bay, launched a revitalization process this year to honor the legacy of its location and highlight its existing architecture while modernizing to meet the expectations of contemporary travelers. The Hawaiian words ke au hou carries the meaning “ the new era” or “the new current.” It’s an ethos the Outrigger team hopes to carry throughout the design of the resort’s adult and family pools, on-property restaurants, Kaleiopapa Convention Center, fitness center and all guest rooms. The resort’s revitalization project is set for completion in quarter two of 2024.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection, recently announced a $180-million renovation for 2024, evolving its offerings to meet the demands of modern travelers while preserving its heritage and timelessness that have drawn guests since American financier, Laurance S. Rockefeller opened the resort in 1965. A phased transformation, commencing in quarter two of 2024 and slated for completion in early 2025, will encompass a redesign of the resort’s 252 guest rooms and suites and four dining venues, including signature restaurant, Manta, overlooking Kaunaʻoa Bay. The renovation will also include an extensive destination spa and infinity pool experience with 11 indoor and al fresco treatment rooms, a full-service salon and an enlarged state-of-the-art fitness center. New garden areas will include a chef’s garden providing fresh produce for the resort’s kitchens and a botanical garden with indigenous and endemic plant species.
The recently completed soft goods renovation at Hilton Grand Vacations Club Kings’ Land Waikoloa includes new paint, upholstery, carpet and drapes. Reservations booked by December 31 for stays through May 31, 2024, receive up to 20% off the best available rates.
About the Island of Hawaiʻi Visitors Bureau
The Island of Hawaiʻi Visitors Bureau (IHVB) is an island chapter of the Hawaiʻi Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB). HVCB is contracted by the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) for destination marketing in the United States. IHVB supports our international marketing partners in Canada, China, Japan, South Korea and Oceania, and collaborates with island partners — in government, hospitality and other industries — and the community to implement the island of Hawai‘i’s Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP). For more information, visit www.gohawaii.com/island-of-hawaii.
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