Travel agent Shane Klaver snaps a selfie inside Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. // © 2015 Shane Klaver
Feature image (above): Hawaii Island's geographic diversity is evident from its tropical beach-lined ocean to its snow-topped Mauna Kea volcano. // © 2015 HTA/Kirk Lee Aeder
While growing up in Iowa, Shane Klaver didn’t go on many big family vacations. When he was in high school, however, he went with his father to a travel agency to book a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and the planning process fascinated him. That’s when he decided to pursue a career in travel. Following an internship at New Horizons Travel, which is headquartered in Fort Collins, Colo., Klaver landed a job at the agency’s office in Ankeny, Iowa. There, he continues to tap his passion for travel by helping people discover what’s waiting for them out in the world.
A Hawaii Island Master Specialist, Klaver is particularly fascinated by the diversity of that destination. He shared his suggestions for selling the island most effectively.
What type of clients are best suited for a Hawaii Island vacation?
There is something for everyone on Hawaii Island. Active clients can go snorkeling, ziplining and even skiing in the winter on Mauna Kea volcano. Clients who like to relax will find some amazing oceanfront resorts. Foodies can tour coffee and orchid farms and farmers markets, and history buffs will find plenty of cultural attractions. And that’s just the beginning.
How much time should clients dedicate to a vacation here?
Clients should set aside at least seven nights on Hawaii Island. That way they can really enjoy the island’s diversity without feeling rushed, and they can experience a real range of activities, attractions and accommodations.
What are a few specific activities that exemplify the island’s range of offerings?
Snorkeling with manta rays was a highlight for me, as it is for anyone who tries it. The Hula Kai crew does a great job of keeping clients comfortable during an excursion they’ll never forget. Completely different but equally memorable is the sunset dinner at Kahua Ranch, an evening that’s both cultural and fun. Guests pitch horseshoes, try their hand at roping, eat Hawaiian barbecue and learn about the island’s “paniolo” (cowboys).
How about Hawaii Island hotels?
From resorts on a dramatic lava coastline to a hotel in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Island boasts an exciting mix of accommodations. Some of my favorites include Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, whose staff goes out of their way to share the history and culture of the area. On the Kohala Coast, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a graceful fusion of modern amenities and age-old style on a perfect white-sand beach. And there’s nothing like Volcano House, overlooking Kilauea caldera and offering views of glowing lava from Halemaumau crater.
Can you suggest a few restaurants that illustrate the island’s culinary diversity?
The island features a great range of dining to match most any mood. Clients can enjoy an equally satisfying meal by going local-style with Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai or upscale at Brown’s Beach House at Fairmont Orchid Hawaii. I particularly enjoy the island’s one-of-a-kind carryouts, such as Punaluu Bake Shop and Tex Drive-In.
What advice do you have for fellow travel agents who want to help clients create a diverse Hawaii Island itinerary?
Do your clients a service by encouraging them to get out of their resorts and really experience all that Hawaii Island has to offer. Book their hotels in all the major regions — Hilo, Kona and the Kohala Coast — to give them a well-rounded stay. That way they don’t have to spend more time in their car than seeing the sights. One of the great benefits of Hawaii Island is that it has two major airports — Kona on the west side and Hilo on the east —so clients can fly into one and out of the other.