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Yaling Fisher is along with Aloha Bruce for this latest episode of the Hawaii Vacation Connection Podcast and they are talking about Hawaii’s real estate market, Malama Hawaii volunteer opportunities for visitors, and run down some recently booked deals for a Hawaii vacation.
Bruce notes several famous celebrity Hawaii Vacation sightings of late in Hawaii and talks about some superstars who have chosen to make Hawaii their home (at least part of the time). Bruce mentions Carlos Santana, who just bought a $20 million property in remote Kauai (after selling his previous $10 million getaway). He and Yaling note the scarcity of medical services in rural Hawaii areas. The main hospital on Kauai is Wilcox Memorial, which has only six (6) ICU beds. Yaling recalls a tragic incident when a client had a heart attack and had to be airlifted to Oahu. Our hosts remark briefly on the skyrocketing cost of real estate in Hawaii.
Bruce moves the conversation to current conditions “on the ground” in Hawaii. Things are, in a word, hectic. The current average number of daily Hawaii arrivals is about 33,000 people, which is just slightly under pre-pandemic. That number does not include international arrivals, which are essentially nonexistent.
Bruce and Yaling remind listeners of pandemic restrictions that remain in place in Hawaii and note that many visitors are unaware of that fact when they arrive and become upset over masking and distancing rules. Bruce and Yaling agree that many visitors are looking to book “on the cheap” and that rates for rooms, cars and other services are all spiking due to high demand.
Bruce describes a $2349, 5-day package for two from Dallas at the Aston Waikiki Beach in late November. He makes the important point that the price does not include meals, activities, resort, and other fees. Bruce says those activities and services would add about $250 per day to the price of the package (without a rental car).
A 5-adult package from Dallas to the Royal Kona on Hawaii Island and Honua Kai Maui with two rooms came in at $28,547 for 12 nights in December. Bruce notes the benefits of a “hybrid” hotel/condo like the Honua Kai. Bruce says the incidentals will add “probably another $7000”. A Las Vagas to the Sheraton Waikiki Turtle Oceanfront in Late July/August package comes in at well over $5000.
Bruce urges visitors to “tone it down” and to not “go all New York or Miami”, which is to say that pushy, entitled visitors are frowned upon in the laid-back Aloha State. He explains the Malama Hawaii program, which offers incentives for visitors who volunteer for community-based improvement and education projects.
Bruce refers to a Travel Weekly article that lists volunteer opportunities, including helping maintain and caretake the USS Missouri, or the “Mighty Mo” at Pearl Harbor on Oahu. He also mentions a program on Kauai that helps protect a variety of highly endangered native bird species. A Big Island guide, Kimo Durante, runs a program that allows visitors to help maintain the native koa forest. The Pacific Whale Foundation offers many opportunities on the Garden Island, as well as farming work and stream restorations.
“You want to embrace the Aloha Spirit when you’re here on a Hawaii Vacation,” Bruce says. Yaling says that Maui visitors can expect limited activity options and long waits. Many restaurants in throughout Hawaii are no longer taking reservations because of unprecedented demand. Of Maui, Bruce says simply, “They’re oversold.” The conversation moves to the fact that rental cars are difficult to find and prohibitively expensive.
“We’ll be realistic with you,” Bruce says. “We will still find you the best price.” Bruce reminds listeners about Hawaii Aloha Travel’s Secret Hawaii Tours, personalized tours to some of Hawaii’s hidden gems.