(CNN) — With Covid-19 regulations a thing of the past, Hawaiʻi is poised to be a top destination in 2022 thanks to a slew of new offerings.
New restaurants and tours are springing up, along with a nice discount at a newly renovated luxury hotel and the continued marriage of tourism and culture.
If you’re heading to the islands, here’s the recap of what’s happening in Hawaiʻi right now:
Hawai’i: New Volcanoes and Stargazing Tours
Hawaiʻi Forest & Trail, a Big Island adventure tour operator, offers a new Maunakea summit experience in Kona.
The tour takes guests into the Waikoloa Dry Forest habitat for an interpretive hike, where they help naturalists collect native seeds that will be used to restore the forests. Then, guests are transported by van to the slopes of Maunakea for a sunset dinner and a private stargazing session with a professional guide.
The new offering is the latest example of a statewide trend that incorporates “voluntourism” and return elements into the visitor experience. It is usually a partnership between a travel agency and a local non-profit organization in which customers can have fun but also be part of ecological and cultural initiatives.
The lack of gates means you’ll get relentless otherworldly views and photos, not to mention a high dose of adrenaline.
Kauaʻi: New reservation systems and nature tours
Those who haven’t been to Hawaiʻi in a while (or ever) should know that policies across the islands have changed. Reservations are now required at many state-run recreation areas, including Haleakalā Sunrise on Maui, Hanauma Bay Snorkeling and Diamond Head Hike on Oʻahu, and Beach Parks along the north shore of Kauaʻi.
Kauai’s spectacular Ke’e Beach is part of Hāʻena State Park, which requires parking reservations and entry passes. Or visitors can use the new north shore shuttle.
Douglas Peebles/Corbis Documentary RF/Getty Images
While this may be inconvenient for those making last-minute plans, the idea behind these initiatives is to provide a better experience for customers following the overtourism of recent years.
“Reef life has returned, trails are less crowded, and locals have a better balance in their lives,” said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauaʻi Visitors Bureau.
“One of the great things about this tour is that it takes people away from the more populated parts of the island, into an area rich in natural and cultural history,” Felsen said.
“Walking this long stretch of undeveloped coastline, a stone’s throw from the bustling resorts of Poʻipū, gives visitors the opportunity to connect more deeply with the land, to imagine what it must have been like to walk on the same cliffs that the island’s first inhabitants over a thousand years ago.”
The experience includes a visit to Makauwahi Cave, Hawaii’s largest limestone cave and one of the state’s most important archaeological sites.
The South Rim Coastal Hike also has a wellness component: Felsen donates 15% of each outing to nonprofits working to preserve Makauwahi Cave.
Maui: renovated hotel offer and cultural center
Maui is beloved for its combination of luxury and farm-inspired local culture. This summer, we see two evolutionary examples in action.
The lobby verandah now features fire pits and seating areas to take in views of Honokahua Bay, while the refreshed outdoor space features three interconnecting pools with cascading waterfalls, surrounding tropical gardens, and new luxury cabanas .
A complete renovation at the Ritz-Carlton Maui in Kapalua includes a refreshed outdoor space with three interconnecting pools.
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua
“It has been our family vision for a long time to activate our property into a center of cultural learning,” said Kainoa Horcajo, the farm’s cultural practitioner. “We wanted a place where we could teach and share traditional arts but also a place to ask ourselves and our community: how can our culture evolve…so what?”
Workshops involving laʻau lapaʻau (Hawaiian plant medicine), Kaulana Mahina (Hawaiian lunar calendar) and lei making will be held, as well as mele (song), moʻolelo (stories) and meaʻai (food) nights.
“We’ll bring in a local chef and musician, and with myself, we’ll host an evening that explores a Hawaiian cultural concept where dish, song, and story come together to entertain and educate,” Horcajo said.
Follow the farm on Instagram (@mahinafarmsmaui) for the latest experiences to come.
O’ahu: New and fun food abounds
Oʻahu isn’t known as the “gathering place” for nothing. Its diverse population and mix of cultures results in a culinary scene that is exploding again as the grip of the pandemic eases.
“We use Matsumoto family syrups in our seltzers for a grown-up version of a classic from the hanabata (childhood) days as keiki (kids) running around Hawaii,” says Lanikai Brewing’s owner. , Steve Haumschild.
In Honolulu, locals have long awaited the reopening of Pint + Jigger, a gastropub once popular for its craft beers and burgers. Its King Street location was forced to close in April 2020, only to have its move and reopening repeatedly delayed by the pandemic.
If you are going to
Pre-tests and vaccination cards are no longer required on arrival for domestic travelers from the United States. Most international arrivals are still required to be vaccinated, but pre-testing is no longer required for international travellers.
All local restrictions on restaurants have been lifted and the statewide mask mandate is no longer active.
Private businesses in Hawaii have the right to require masks, and many locals still choose to wear them. As a visitor, you will want to respect all local requests to mask up in crowded places.