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Hawaii Island corners the market on superlatives. It's the biggest and youngest island in the Hawaiian chain. It boasts the most climate zones in the state, and it lays claim to more active volcanoes than any other destination in Hawaii.
As for vacations, however, is it the most creative of the islands? Check out these five new Hawaii Island innovations and decide for yourself.
Bar on Wheels at Hilton Waikoloa VillageHappy hour is on a roll at Hilton Waikoloa Village courtesy of the new Kohala Beverage Cart, a surf-themed bar on wheels. Roaming the grounds of the 62-acre resort from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the electric-powered wagon draws attention with its two-tap system that pours frosty ales and lagers. The bartender also mixes cocktails on the spot and serves slushies, both alcoholic and virgin.
For hungry clients, the cart sells quick bites such as burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, ahi poke wraps, chips and tropical fruit. Coming soon to the menu: Buzz Bars, featuring unique combinations of booze-infused ice cream confections.
Craters and Coffee With Blue Hawaiian HelicoptersBlue Hawaiian Helicopters’ latest lure offers an extra lift thanks to a visit to a coffee farm, complete with tastings. After an initial 25-minute flight over Kilauea volcano’s steaming vents and calderas, the chopper touches down at Kau Coffee Mill in the southeast region.
There, clients get a private, 45-minute tour of the farm, from its fields of thriving trees to its milling and roasting rooms. Guests sample some heady brews along with local macadamia nuts and chocolate-covered coffee beans.
The thrills continue during the final 35-minute air tour of black-sand beaches and towering sea cliffs (from $439 per person).
Cultural Champion at Fairmont OrchidWhen it comes to heritage, Kaiulani Blankenfeld is the real deal. As Fairmont Orchid’s new director of Hawaiian culture, Blankenfeld traces her roots back to the earliest native Hawaiians, and she’s a seasoned hula practitioner, lei maker and storyteller. Clients can embrace the destination’s rich legacy during stimulating programs led by Blankenfeld, from hula workshops to talk-story sessions about Kilauea Volcano. In addition, she dreams up special presentations timed with holidays and celebrations that are significant in Hawaii.
Alongside these newer cultural pastimes, Fairmont Orchid continues to showcase its longstanding guest activities that exude a sense of place, such as outrigger canoe adventures and botanical tours.
Family Golf at Waikoloa Kings’ CourseMultiple generations are craving quality time together during vacation, so Waikoloa Kings’ Course has come up with a clever solution: family golf. Each day after 3:30 p.m., the course is promoting reduced rates for nine holes of play. Juniors (ages 6-17) pay $25 per person and get free rental clubs, while adults pay $50 plus $25 for clubs. Fees include a shared cart, bottled water and unlimited use of the practice facilities.
Distinguished by lakes and lava outcroppings, the links-style course is billed as great for all talents. It promises to keep the clan entertained from the first hole to the last, at a discount.
Star Gazing at Westin Hapuna Beach ResortOn the Kohala Coast, the evening skies are often so clear that clients can see an astonishing assortment of heavenly bodies with the naked eye. To enhance the stellar experience, Westin Hapuna Beach Resort recently joined forces with Star Gaze Hawaii, which sets up finely tuned telescopes at the hotel on Sunday and Wednesday nights.
As the universe comes into focus, astronomers add insights into the views, helping guests learn about remarkable space objects while sharing legends and lore associated with them. The one-hour stargazing sessions take place in Westin Hapuna’s Kohala Garden, next to the pools. Rates are $40 per adult and $20 per child.