From voluntourism activities to fireworks cruises and an ever-evolving snorkeling adventure, there are new options to consider when booking Hawaii tours as the destination returns from its pandemic hiatus.
• In Pearl Harbor, the Ford Island Bus Tour is one of these new options. It takes visitors by shuttle to Ford Island to see the USS Oklahoma and USS Utah memorials, which are not otherwise accessible as they are on an active military base. The 90-minute guided tour is led by a National Park Service ranger, who will give an interpretive talk and answer questions. One must reserve.
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum takes visitors to the top of Ford Island’s restored control tower. Photo credit: Courtesy of Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
• Also on Ford Island, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum has opened the Tower Top Tour, which takes visitors through an operations building, through a fire station exhibit and up to a elevator to the top of the red and white control tower, which was completed just months after the attack on December 7, 1941. After a $7 million renovation, the tower offers visitors a 360-degree view of Battleship Row, military bases and the USS Arizona Memorial.
“The Ford Island Control Tower is a symbol of resilience and peace, guarding this hallowed ground,” Elissa Lines, executive director of the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, said in a statement. “It’s time for the world to see Pearl Harbor from an aerial perspective.”
There are only 120 Top of the Tower tickets available each day, so it’s best to book early.
• Earlier this year, the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s long-standing Friday night fireworks tradition returned after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19 restrictions. The return of the popular weekly event has opened the door for tour operators to launch evening cruises to view the spectacular fireworks.
Known for its scuba diving excursions and whale-watching cruises, Atlantis Cruises now offers a fireworks and cocktail cruise on Fridays aboard the Majestic, a three-level ship with a cocktail bar and waiter service. complete. The Waikiki Cruise departs from the Aloha Tower at 7 p.m., and guests can roam freely and watch the sunset from its decks, listen to live entertainment, and enjoy an uninterrupted view of the fireworks.
Atlantis Cruises offers a Friday night cocktail cruise to see the fireworks off Waikiki. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Atlantis Adventures
• Hawaii Wow Tours launched a Waikiki gondola experience on the Ala Wai Canal in June. It offers daytime and evening tours, including a Friday night fireworks cruise.
“Our gondola cruises provide that unique romantic or family/friends setting in which you can relax and enjoy luxury,” said Shantel Kalmanson, one of Hawaii Wow’s owners. “You can sip fresh sparkling apple cider and indulge in delicious pastries as your friendly personal gondolier guides you on a melodic journey to Magic Island for majestic views of Diamond Head, then crosses under three bridges of what we affectionately call the Waikiki Grand Canal.”
• On the Big Island, Hawaii Forest & Trail added a private lava tube excursion to its Volcano Unveiled tour in 2018 and late last year launched a voluntourism trip called Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Give Back Experience . The tour takes visitors into the Waikoloa Dry Forest to participate in native seed collection before climbing the summit of Mauna Kea.
“The experience allows our guides to immerse guests in this endangered dry forest as well as learn about the area they will be visiting on Mauna Kea and how to best preserve it for future generations,” said Jonathan Wilt. , Director of Sales and Marketing for Hawaii. Forest & Trail. “After the postponed portion, guests travel to Mauna Kea for the summit sunset, then stargaze at lower elevations with our Celestron and Stellina telescopes.”
Voluntourism activities such as this are increasing as regenerative tourism continues to be a priority in Hawaii, thanks in large part to the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Malama Hawaii program. Voluntourism opportunities include restoring a native fish pond with the Malama Loko Ea Foundation, planting native trees with the Hawaiian Heritage Reforestation Initiative, and assisting in the restoration of the USS Missouri Memorial .
A diver on the Maui Nui Wild Side Lahaina tour with PacWhale Eco-Adventures. Photo credit: Courtesy of PacWhale Eco-Adventures
• PacWhale Eco-Adventures offers a new snorkeling tour in Maui that takes visitors “where most bigger ships can’t”. The adventure, called Maui Nui Wild Side Lahaina, is a six-hour excursion aboard a 34-passenger vessel that departs from Lahaina.
Offering guests an open itinerary, the captain will choose two destinations on the day of the tour depending on ocean conditions. Potential snorkeling spots could include Honolua Bay, the Carthaginian Wreck, or even a few spots off Lanai Island.
“They will see a plethora of beautiful reef fish and coral with possible sightings of dolphins, green sea turtles, octopuses and many other marine animals,” the company said.
Owned by the non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation, the tour will have certified marine naturalists on board to answer questions. Lunch and refreshments are also provided.
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