When you come to Hawaii, it’s good to step out of your comfort zone and try new things

We asked our Facebook followers to give us some insight about how they’ve stepped out of their comfort zone while vacationing in Hawaii, and we received some great feedback. While some folks have faced their fears with zip lining and parasailing, others have branched out and tried local foods like poi and loco mocos. Some still have aspirations and dreams of how they plan to go beyond their limits with water sports, dolphin swims, or surfing. A trip to Hawaii can be as adventurous or as relaxing as you’d like, but today let’s focus on the thrill-seeking aspect of travel.

Thrills don’t always necessarily mean a physical adventure. Stepping out of your comfort zone can mean anything from trying a different type of food or clothing style, to branching beyond normal music preferences. And what better time to try these new things than when you’re on vacation? Especially when vacationing in a place like Hawaii, where customs and traditions remain rich and alive in the everyday culture. Plus Hawaii’s natural landscapes allow a multitude of adventures for the everyday vacationer, from small exploits like hiking to bigger (scary) journeys like shark cage diving. You’re in a playground while visiting Hawaii, so take advantage of it and return home with at the very least, a killer story.

A few of our Facebook commentators mentioned they tried poi. This is a traditional food that Polynesians, Hawaiians, and many other locals still eat today, but is an ancient staple that was considered a sacred part of daily Hawaiian life. Made from taro that has been mashed and pounded into a viscous liquid, many visitors get the chance to try poi at luaus, but you can find it at most grocery stores island-wide. I think you either love or hate poi, and personally, I could do without. But at least I’ve tried it! And it’s a good feeling knowing I’ve branched out and tried a type of food that is completely outside of my norm.

Water activities are a huge hurdle for many visitors to Hawaii. A few weeks back we talked about how limiting (or not) Hawaii is if you don’t know how to swim. But this week we’re saying, get out there and create some experiences, water related or not! Hawaii is an ideal place for ocean sports such as surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, SUPing, and more. It is a much more agreeable place to jump in the water than any other location in the Continental US, because the water is warm and refreshing and the sun dries you off in minutes. Plus the colors are so tempting it would drive you mad if you didn’t at least wade in the tropical shallows. It is a great place to test your limitations and see how brave you really are. There is something about Hawaii that brings out the adventure seeker in many people, even if it is just tasting a different food or attempting a different sport. I know I can say this is true for myself while living here in Hawaii.

When you step outside of your comfort zone, most times you receive the reward of personal achievement and powerful accomplishment. This feeling is truly something we should experience every… month… or so. Branching out and trying something different gives us fulfillment beyond what we experience on a day-to-day level. And fulfillment is something everyone seeks; it’s what we question about our lives or struggle with every day. Humans constantly strive for fulfillment in their lives. So this being said, why not branch out and try something new or different? Even if it is something like tasting sashimi for the first time, swimming into the deeper parts of the ocean, or renting a mo-ped instead of a car, these are the fun experiences that ultimately build our character and give us satisfaction. These feelings also ultimately become deliciously addictive, so explore away and find yourself in an experience you never thought probable. Don’t lose your nerve, because my guess is, your new experience will always be worth it.

Alaska Airlines Adds Seasonal Flights to Kauai from Portland, OR

To jump-start this holiday season, Alaska Airlines is adding four additional flights to Kauai from Portland, Oregon starting November 5th. This addition to their flights is a precursor to the higher demands for trips to Hawaii, generating $12.7 million in visitor spending and $1.4 million in tax revenue in the state of Hawaii, a calculation made by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Alaska Airlines will now be operating 26 flights to Hawaii from Portland, including non-stop flights to Honolulu, Maui, and Kona.

President and CEO of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority (HTA) Mike McCartney states that the seasonal increase of direct flights to Kauai is great news for the tourism economy. With this new boost in visitor spending and tax revenue, Hawaii will be off to a good start for the holiday rush of vacationers. “The four weekly flights is an indication of the continued demand for travel to the Hawaiian Islands and will help to distribute the benefits of tourism across our state,” continues McCartney.

Alaska Airlines flights from Portland to Kauai during the month of December are currently ranging anywhere from $497 per person one-way to $669 per person one-way and beyond. So despite the increase of flight options, prices are not dropping any lower than roughly $900 per person roundtrip for a Christmas vacation in the Hawaiian tropics. Even on sites like Priceline and Travelocity, flights are steadily increasing by the day. So if you’re looking into planning your winter trip to the islands, we highly recommend looking into Hawaii Aloha Travel for great rates and low prices on both airfare and hotel accommodations.

Quiet Garden Isle Gets Busier with Increased Tourism

Although Kauai used to be one of the world’s best-kept secrets for vacationing and travel, the cat is outta the bag now, which is great news for tourists. With over one million visitors in 2011, tourism on Kauai increased by 6.3% with visitor spending jumping 18.3% to $1.3 billion. Although this may be due to the island’s desirable landscapes, quiet towns, and relaxing lifestyle, a bigger contributing factor may be its increase in hotel and resort occupancy.

With renovations to the Sheraton Kauai and the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Poipu, St. Regis Princeville’s opening on the north shore, and new resorts such as Koa Kea and Koloa Landing Wyndham Grand Resort popping up, Kauai has greater hotel accommodations than ever before. It’s no wonder why Kauai edged both Oahu and Maui on visitor spending and arrivals growth in 2011. “We’ve turned a corner, and I really do think things are moving in the right direction,” said Sue Kanoho, executive director for the Kauai Visitors Bureau.

The economic recession that arguably began in 2007 forced Hawaii tourism and ultimately the state’s budget to take a major hit. 2011 has been the first big swing of upward motion for state recovery, with Kauai coming back faster than the other islands due to its newer inventory. Joseph Toy, Hospitality Advisors’ president and CEO believes the new renovations and hotel developments are the factors. Which means, 2012 will be Kauai’s debut for the best business to date!

The Kauai Visitors Bureau also gives credit to Hollywood as a contributor to more tourism. Feature films like Pirates of the Caribbean, The Descendants, and Soul Surfer, as well as older flicks like Jurassic Park, South Pacific, and Tropic Thunder have continuously brought visitors to the soil of Kauai. Sue Kanoho, mentioned above, states that 20% of those surveyed under age of 50 said movies influenced their decision to visit Kauai in 2011.

Record Visitor Arrivals and Spending in 2012

The state of Hawaii has broken its record visitor arrivals and spending estimates, from $12.62 billion in 2007 and an arrivals high of $7.52 million in 2006. After The Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) revised the 2012 statistics on May 9th, it has been released that Hawaii expects 7.7 million visitor arrivals and $13.9 billion expenditures.

These numbers were first forecasted in January 2012, but after the May revision, statistics have increased by 6.5% (for visitor arrivals) and 9% (for spending). “We are happy that the momentum for our tourism economy remains strong. At this point, we are happy with the pace and we are exceeding our targets,” said Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO. The good news too, is that this tourism is spread amongst all Hawaii’s islands, not just Oahu, which has been typical in the previous years. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, travelers spent $12.58 billion within Hawaii in 2011, an increase of 15.6% year over year, not to mention the second-largest amount in Hawaii’s history.

Some other interesting increases:

– The number of visitors traveling to Hawaii for meetings, conventions and other incentives jumped 25% from January 2011, while average daily spending per person rose nearly $10, now up to $192 a day.
– Arrivals from the U.S. West were up 3.3%
– Arrivals from the U.S. East climbed 4.1%.
– Travelers from Japan increased 3.9%
– Canadian visitors rose by 9%.
– Cruise arrivals surge 22.7% in January 2012 to 13,764 visitors.

Weekly Activities for 5/17/2012

MAMo Maoli Arts Month– Native Hawaiian artists and cultural practitioners come together during the month of May for their 7th annual celebration of the Native Hawaiian arts community. Upcoming events include the 7th Annual Native Hawaiian Arts Market this Saturday and Sunday at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, from 9:00am till 5:00pm and the MAMo Eats the Streets on Friday, May 25th from 4:00pm till 9:00pm at 555 South Street in Honolulu. Come check out the Hawaiian culture through their vibrant art community and join in on some local fun.

Lantern Floating Hawaii– Come celebrate Memorial Day Hawaii style at Magic Island in Waikiki by setting a candle-lit lantern afloat in the tropical waters. This ceremony has had locals and visitors alike coming year after year to commemorate our American soldiers who have died during war. This year they’re expecting 40,000 to gather around the island, with the program beginning at 6:00pm and lasting 90 minutes. Musical performances, speeches, and chants will provide entertainment, while the Hawaii Convention Center will offer free shuttle services and free parking to all attendees. And in case you’re wondering, all lanterns are collected at the end of the ceremony and saved again for the next year.

Honolulu Farmers Market– If you’re looking for a late afternoon activity (and you’re sick of hearing the word “happy hour”) than check out the Honolulu Farmers Market at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center on Ward Avenue and Kapiolani Blvd. They are open every Wednesday from 4:00pm till 7:00pm and offer shoppers and visitors an array of fresh fruits, vegetables, floral bouquets, crafts, handmade goodies, and more.

Waikiki Artfest- Saturday and Sunday, May 19th and 20th, the Handcrafters and Artisan Alliance is sponsoring the Waikiki Artfest. Come browse through fine arts and crafts booths, taste great local foods, and watch live entertainment at the Kapiolani Park. Admission is free, so make sure to check this event out and support the local artists of Oahu.

Big Island Film Festival– This weekend, come stop by The Shops at Mauna Lani or The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii on the Big Island to watch movies screened in the warm outdoors. Beginning on Thursday, May 24th and lasting until Monday, May 28th, filmmakers, family, and friends gather together to watch some of the most artistic independent films of the year. The festival also has Ohana (family) films, which are free to the public. For more information, or a complete program with dates and times, visit their website at bigislandfilmfestival.com

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