An Eventful Vacation

Hawaii boasts an array of free events this season

By: By Karla Aronson

Hawaii Fall Value Vacations

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Fitness buffs, creative artists, sports lovers, foodies and Hawaii enthusiasts generally have many opportunities to connect their special interests to high-profile events scheduled across the islands of Hawaii this fall.

Each of the islands’ visitor bureau chapters maintains extensive calendar listings of events both localized in origin and of international appeal. Best of all, virtually all the events are free to spectators for at least some portions, if not entirely. Visitors may face only nominal museum, festival or exhibit admission fees and the price of a movie or basketball game ticket. Here are some of the major visitor draws for each island happening this fall — a time when planned events aim to lure travelers in the off-peak season.

Oahu’s Aloha Festivals feature hula dancing and a floral parade. // (c) Aloha Festivals
Oahu’s Aloha Festivals feature hula dancing and a floral parade.

Maui’s famed Halloween on Front Street — a street party with music, vendors and costume contests — will be tamed this year with official support withdrawn, and its largest food festival, A Taste of Lahaina, was cancelled due to the economy’s slowdown. However, a trio of high-profile sporting events will draw participants from across the nation and around the world this fall.

The spotlight will be on the XTerra World Championship triathlon on Oct. 26. International competitors, who earned their places in worldwide qualifying events, will race through South Maui with a 1.5K ocean swim, a 30K mountain bike trail through the rugged slopes of Haleakala volcano and along the coastline.

College basketball enthusiasts can get ready for the season by taking part in the 25th annual EA Sports Maui Invitational Collegiate Basketball Tournament, held Oct. 24-26. Among the top college teams will be the University of North Carolina, University of Texas, Indiana University and Notre Dame.

Surfing will dominate the scene Dec. 8-20 with the Billabong Pro Maui being held at Honolua Bay at Kapalua Resort where the best of the best female surfers will be vying for the $80,000 purse.

Perhaps representing the broadest expanse of Hawaii’s cultural heritage is the state’s six-decades-old Aloha Festivals. The festival kicks off on Oahu on Sept. 11 and runs through Sept. 20. Visitors can witness and take part in unique Hawaiian traditions, beginning with the investiture ceremony of Hawaii’s royal court. The large-scale events planned include Hawaiian music concerts, hula and ukulele competitions and a floral parade. Unique festival events are also scheduled across the islands.

Oahu will host the Textile Society of America’s 11th biennial symposium, Sept. 24-27, drawing thousands of participants in coordination with citywide activities. Local museums and galleries will feature more than two dozen exhibits focusing on the fiber arts from the perspective of historical and cultural value. Seminars, museum tours and displays of private collections are planned alongside an international textile marketplace. More than 25 vendors from around the world will sell their wares, including Hawaiian quilts, Japanese kimonos, antique costumes, rare books, screen prints and wearable art.

From Oct. 9-19, Oahu will be the base for the Hawaii International Film Festival. The prominent festival aims to highlight the works of filmmakers from Hawaii, Pacific Islands and Asia. More than a hundred features, documentaries and short films will be screened, and the selections will travel to sites across the islands.

On Kauai, a weeklong festival, the 24th Annual Kauai Mokihana Festival, will celebrate Hawaii cultural arts from Sept. 21-27. The festival takes its name from the mokihana, a native tree found only on Kauai, whose fruits compose specialty leis. Scheduled events include a Hawaiian church service, as well as competitions in hula, music, Hawaiian instrumental and Kauai composers.

The weekend of Oct. 11 and 12 will honor the uses and byproducts of the coconut seed in the 12th Annual Coconut Festival held at Kapaa Beach Park. Coconut games, a pie-eating contest and a children’s theater stage will entertain the young ones. The main stage will supply nonstop entertainment, music, cooking demonstrations by Kauai chefs, as well as a coconut cook-off contest by local residents. Kauai artisans and local crafters will display their works alongside Polynesian products.

All things Hawaiian will be celebrated at the Hawaiiana Festival Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. The three-day event, held at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, educates guests about Hawaiian customs and entertains them with local crafts. Stone carving, feather art, lei-making, lauhala weaving and other ancient practices and traditions will be covered.

Big Island
Woodworkers utilizing the native and exotic hardwoods of the Big Island’s forests will exhibit furniture and sculptural pieces during the Big Island Wood Exhibit, from Oct. 3-24. The woodcrafts will be arranged in room vignettes alongside abstract painting hangings at the Wailoa Center in Hilo.

The Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship will draw the top 1,800 triathletes from 50 countries and all 50 states on Oct. 11. The course spans a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike course and a 26.2-mile run on the Kona Coast.

Billed as Hawaii’s oldest food festival, since 1970, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival runs from Nov. 7-16. As many as 50 events are planned to honor Kona coffee’s nearly two centuries heritage, including tastings, farm tours and contests.

The full range of events is large, and the fall season will have them covered from island to island from the performing arts; cultural institutions; exhibitions and competitions; crafters and hobbyists of many persuasions; outdoor sports enthusiasts; and even the Humpback whales migrating back to their birthing place, Hawaii.