Fall is a great time to visit Hawaii—the hottest summer months have passed and the winter rains usually haven't started yet. And once the kids are back in school, the islands go into "off-season" mode: crowds thin out, and airfares and room rates go down. Whether you're into great food, beautiful music, traditional culture, sports, or a little of it all, there's a lot going on in Hawaii this season.
Hawaii has some amazing culinary chops. And one of the best ways to get a taste of it all is through the many food-focused festivals like the Big Island's annual "Taste of the Range" at Hilton Waikoloa Village, on October 4, where local chefs prepare dishes showcasing Hawaii's locally grown, range-fed meats and fresh produce.
Following renovations, Honolulu's Pearl UltraLounge, on the third level of Ala Moana Center, will reopen for the nightlife crowd in October.
Also in October, the long-loved Hilo Bay Cafe will reopen at a gorgeous new Hilo Bay location, in the former site of the popular Nihon restaurant. The restaurant will retain Nihon's sushi chef and sushi bar.
Arts and Culture
The Hawaii International Film Festival presents top festival picks across all genres and from countries around the world, from October 10-20 on the island of Oahu.
Kauai's Emalani Festival commemorates Hawaii's beloved Queen Emma on October 12, when kumu hula (hula masters) and their students from Hawaii, Europe, and Japan will dance in her honor.
The Honolulu Museum of Art presents "Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures," an exhibit featuring works created in and about Hawaii by two American masters. Interestingly enough, both artists are known for capturing specific landscapes outside of Hawaii—O'Keefe in the American Southwest and Adams in Yosemite—but both also went to great lengths to capture Hawaii beyond the beaches. This exhibit provides a great glimpse into the other sides of the state.
New and Improved Sleeps
The Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort & Spa, a luxury resort on Mokapu Beach, opened in September 2013. It also has a handful of two- to four-bedroom residential villas and a 14,000 square foot full-service spa.
The Big Island's Volcano House Hotel, perched dramatically on the rim of Kilauea Volcano's Halema'uma'u Crater, recently reopened following a major renovation. The iconic hotel, built in 1846 and still the only lodging within Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, offers 33 historic guest rooms and a renovated dining room with spectacular crater views.
Hawai'i has a strong tradition of great music, and there's a lot of it in the air this fall.
Waimea's Kahilu Theatre on the Big Island reopens after being closed for a year with a September 21 concert by Hawaiian music and hula masters Kekuhi Kanahele and her son Kaumakaiwa Kanaka'ole.
Oahu's Manoa Jazz Festival features jazz artists performing at the University of Hawaii's open-air amphitheater next month.
Festivals and Parades
This year's Aloha Festivals celebrate traditional Hawaiian ocean voyaging. On Oahu, activities run from September 12 to 28, including Waikiki's Ho'olaule'a (block party) on September 21 and the Waikiki parade on September 28.
The Hawaii Fishing and Seafood Festival is October 13 at Honolulu's Fishing Village at Pier 38. Go for the fun fishing-related activities and the mouthwatering seafood dishes from top island restaurants.
Honokaa's 7th annual Peace Day Parade & Festival on September 21 offers music, food, crafts, taiko drums, and a community bon dance in honor of the United Nation's International Day of Peace.
Coffee lovers should plan their trip around the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, November 1-10, which features tastings, coffee plantation and mill tours, a parade, a golf tournament, and art exhibits.
The Moku O Keawe International Festival is dedicated to hula and associated arts, with dancers, workshops, and cultural classes at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, November 7-9.
The Maui County Fair, held October 3-6, kicks off with an old-fashioned country parade to the fairgrounds at Wailuku's War Memorial Complex.
Spend Halloween on Lahaina's Front Street, which closes to car traffic, and has been called "the Mardi Gras of the Pacific." Tens of thousands of revelers attend each year. There is a children's parade in late afternoon, but the party (and costumes) get more adult-oriented as the night progresses.
The Kauai Coconut Festival is held at Kapa'a Beach Park and focuses, obviously, on all-things-coconut including cultural, social, and historical aspects. You'll definitely learn new and fascinating tidbits about the tropical fruits. October 5 and 6.
Featuring Hawaiian and Japanese music and dance, origami, tea ceremony, bonsai, martial arts, and more, the Matsuri Kauai festival will be held on October 11-12 at the Kaua'i War Memorial Convention Hall.
On September 29, join the Honolulu Century Ride, Hawaii's premier bicycling event and over one of the most beautiful routes in the world.
Runners, take heed: The Maui Marathon and Half-Marathon held on September 22 is known as one of the 10 most scenic marathons in the U.S. Or on October 25, spring for the XTERRA Kapalua Trail Run, an off-road 5/10K on Maui.
The Ironman World Championship triathlon will be held on October 12 in Kona. Then, October 27 is the XTERRA World Championship Off-Road Triathlon on Maui, while the Lavaman Keauhou Triathlon takes place on the Big Island on November 24.
Photo credits: Hilo Bay Cafe courtesy of Hilo Bay Cafe; Hula festival via Dreamstime.com; Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort & Spa courtesy of Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort & Spa; Ukulele Festival courtesy of Ukulele Festival/Facebook; Matsuri festival via Dreamstime.com; Hawaii marathon via Dreamstime.com