1 Aloha Honolulu and Waikiki.
Your complimentary, private transfer takes you to your local departure airport. You will be greeted with a smile and a traditional flower lei before being transferred to your elegant Ritz Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach. On arrival, you'll be met by the doorman and whisked up to the the airy eighth-floor lobby to check in. You will be swept away amid the ocean breeze to spaces that frame the surrounding natural beauty and experiences that draw inspiration from local traditions. You will then be escorted to your upscale studio with bedroom, oversized bathroom, separate living room, dining area, floor-to-ceiling windows and private lanai. You'll have breathtaking views of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean. Relax or start exploring Waikiki on your own. Explore the adjacent boutiques of Luxury Row and walk down Kalakaua along the famed Waikiki Beach. Your Travelling Concierge will be available at the hotel this afternoon. In the evening, meet with your travel companions for a welcome drink at the second-floor wine bar overlooking Honolulu's famous beach, followed by a Welcome Dinner served at the open-air Market restaurant, highlighting the best of Hawaii's regional and seasonal offerings through a daily menu. (DW) Stay: The Ritz Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach (Deluxe Studio with Ocean View).
2 Exploring Honolulu's Major Icons.
This morning you will partake in a renowned experience as you are taken on a private, guided visit of Iolani Palace, the royal residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii, from the Kamehameha to the Kalākaua Dynasty. It was the home of Hawaii's reigning monarchs and served as the official royal residence and the centre of the Kingdom's political and social life until the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893. Learn about Hawaiian royalty as you explore this unique palace and its royal collections, the only royal palace on American soil. Later head to the Eastern Shores of the island before returning to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure. (B)
3 Hawaiian culture and free time
Start the day with a private, before-hours guided visit of the Hawaiian Hall at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. The museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in honour of his late wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family. You'll have all the three floors of the spectacular Hawaiian Hall to yourselves and your expert guides. Each of the three floors will take you on a journey through the different realms of Hawaii. The first floor is the realm of Kai Ākea which represents the Hawaiian gods, legends, beliefs, and the world of pre-contact Hawaii. The second floor, Wao Kanaka, represents the realm where people live and work, focusing on the importance of the land and nature in daily life. The third floor, Wao Lani, is the realm inhabited by the gods; here, you will learn about the ali‘i and key moments in Hawaiian history. Afterwards, head for historic Pearl Harbor National Monument, where you will be met by your personal veteran guide.
Take the short boat ride which brings you to World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, home of the USS Arizona Memorial. Next, head for the Punchbowl, the crater that is home to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The rest of the day is at leisure. This evening, dinner will be served at restaurant Alan Wong's. As Chef Alan Wong ceaselessly raises the bar for creativity, innovation, quality, and service, your experience here will truly reflect Hawaii regional cuisine at its finest with a seven-course tasting menu inspired by the diverse ethnic cultures found in Hawaii and the freshly farmed ingredients from the islands. (B/DW)
4 The Big Island of Hawaii.
Fly to the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island. It is the youngest of the Hawaiian Archipelago and home to Mauna Loa and Kilauea, two of the world's most active and accessible volcanoes, making up Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. More than 4,000 feet high and still growing, Kilauea abuts the southeastern slope of the older and much larger Mauna Loa, or "long mountain." Mauna Loa towers some 13,677 feet above the sea: measured from its base 18,000 feet below sea level, it exceeds Mount Everest in height and is the planet's most massive single mountain. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park presents such an outstanding universal value and a fascinating world of active volcanism, biological diversity, and Hawaiian culture, past and present, that UNESCO designated Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as both an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. Stop at the Kilauea Visitor Centre for an introduction to the park. Enjoy creative Hawaiian cuisine at The Rim, overlooking the Kilauea caldera and the billowing Halema'uma'u Crater.
Then drive along Rim Drive circling Kilauea Caldera past the park's main attractions; the Kilauea overlook, Devastation Trail and Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook. In the tropical forest area and hidden by thick ferns is the entrance to the Historical Landmark Thurston Lava Tube (Nāhuku), a long, subterranean cave formed by ancient flowing lava and one of the park's main attractions. Stop at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, one of Hawaii's most famous black sand beaches. It is also popular with the large honu, (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles), which are often found basking in the sun there. Your day ends at your resort, where the rest of the day is yours to relax. (B/L) Stay: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Kohala Coast (Beachfront Wing Rooms).
5 Kona Coast Excursion.
If you are interested, wake up early for a private yoga session on the most beautiful beach in Hawaii. Then another exclusive Luxury Gold experience awaits you as you witness artistry coffee making from farm-to-cup. The plantation is family-owned-and-operated by the Bolton family. It was started by Dan and Jan Bolton 20 years ago, when they planted 20 acres of Kona coffee on an old cattle ranch land called Waiono Meadows, located on the Kona Coffee Belt, in Holualoa. Today those first 20 acres have grown to over 200. The coffee has won numerous awards, and is enjoyed by connoisseurs around the world. Their daughter Malia and son Danny will take you through the coffee making steps from seed planting to hand-picking, the artful milling and roasting and tasting. The rest of the Bolton family will join you for a delicious al-fresco lunch served in the coffee fields, of course followed by a curated coffee sampling.
There will be time to wander through the town of Kailua-Kona, home to Hulihee Palace, a former royal vacation home dating from 1838 and Mokuaikaua Church, from the 1800s. Back at the hotel, you will have time to relax or perhaps meet with Ms. Patti Cook, who will bring to life Laurance Rockefeller's priceless collection of Pacific Rim, Asia and Oceania art, strewn through the resort with her stories of the art, architecture and history of the hotel. Or stroll along the resort's beach, the only white sand beach on the Kona Coast, which garners the much sought-after number one spot of “Top Beach in America.” Don't miss the Manta Ray Lookout – directly at the water's edge sits a manmade circular lava outcropping. As the name implies, this locale provides resort guests with the popular evening tradition of viewing manta rays in the sea below. By day, there is no spot to get up close and personal with these gentle giants without getting wet! This evening, you have the choice of a traditional Hawaiian luau at your hotel, or dinner at one of the acclaimed local restaurants. (B/L/DW)
6 On to Kauai, the Garden Isle.
Fly to Lihue on the island of Kauai, nicknamed “the Garden Isle” thanks to the tropical rainforest covering much of its surface. On arrival, you will head straight for Kilohana, Kauai's Legendary Plantation Estate. Here, you will be met by your singular Local Expert for the day – Aletha Kaohi, a direct descendant of King Kaumuali'I, the last king who ruled the islands of Kauai and Niihau. Enjoy lunch on the plantation and head for Waimea Canyon with Aletha as your guide. Drive through Kauai's famous Tree Tunnel, a striking canopy of 500 Eucalyptus trees planted along Maliuhi Road.
As you travel through the impressive Waimea Canyon, you'll also learn about the culture, history and traditions of the island of Kauai. At 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) long, one mile (1.6 kilometers) wide, and 3,600 feet (1,097 meters) deep, you'll understand why Mark Twain was the first to lend it its nickname, “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. Marvel at the geological kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and browns. It is a contrast from the lush green valleys with its vibrant colours and barren landscapes. There will be several stops along Waimea Canyon Drive, including the Waimea Canyon Lookout, and the Waipio Falls. Your day ends as you check in at your beachfront resort, the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. The rest of the day is yours to relax in your Ocean View room or explore the resort. (B/L) Stay: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa (Ocean View Rooms).
7 Kauai Leisure.
You have the entire morning at leisure to pursue your own interests. For a once in a lifetime experience, we recommend an optional helicopter excursion that will take you to places inaccessible by land. Soar above two of the most recognizable landmarks on the island: Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali-Kona Forest Reserve, one of the most stunning and pristine coastlines in the world. Spot Bali Hai Cliffs, also known as Mount Makana and travel over the tropical rainforest, to Mount Waialeale. In Hawaiian, waialeale means “rippling, overflowing water,” which has inspired its English nickname the Weeping Wall—and for very good reason: cascading down the majesty of Mount Waialeale—the remnants of a shield volcano and the second highest peak on Kauai, it is one of the wettest spots on earth with a mean annual rainfall of 476 inches. Because of how varied they are, single waterfalls have yet to be measured but are believed to reach lengths of almost 2,900 feet. This adventure culminates with a trip past the "Jurassic Falls," Kauai's famous waterfall and finishes over Hanapepe Valley, also known for the location of many scenes in the Jurassic Park movie collection.
This afternoon, head for the windward side of the island and pull off the road at the Hanalei Valley Look out to get your shot of one of the most photographed places in all Hawaii. The Hanalei Valley is an enchanted site charmed with the likes of countless waterfalls, rainbows and fields of taro set against the backdrop of the carved out and waterfall bejewelled Namolokama mountain. Later you'll meet your guide for a private, after-hours visit to the famous Allerton Gardens. Located on the South Shore of Kaua'i between the Pacific Ocean and NTBG's McBryde Garden, Allerton Garden is a lush paradise transformed through time by the hands of a Hawaiian Queen, a sugar plantation magnate, and most significantly by an artist and an architect. See rainforest trees with tall curving roots, bamboo groves, a cut-flower garden and tropical fruit trees. Tonight you'll enjoy a mai tai watching the sunset, followed by a private dinner served on the lanai of the Allerton Estate. (B/DW)
8 Fly to Maui, the "Valley Isle".
Fly to Kahului on the island of Maui. A tropical paradise known as The Valley Isle, it has been consistently voted "Best Island in the World" by the readers of Condé Nast Traveller and Travel + Leisure. Hawaii's second largest island offers visitors a remarkably beautiful and welcoming environment to enjoy a wide variety of beach, ocean and island adventures. Head for the Iao Needle State Monument for a quick stop to view the iconic 1,200-foot Iao Needle, surrounded by towering emerald peaks. Aside from its natural tropical beauty, the sacred Iao Valley has great historical significance. It was here in 1790, at the Battle of Kepaniwai, that King Kamehameha I clashed with Maui's army in his quest to unite the islands. Even with the Iao Needle serving as a lookout point, Kamehameha defeated Maui's forces in a ferocious battle that ultimately changed the course of Hawaiian history.
Fly to the island of Maui. Head to historical Lahaina before transferring to your hotel, the Fairmont Kea Lani, an oceanfront paradise on Maui's coveted Wailea coast, and Hawaii's only oceanfront all-suite resort. The rest of the day is yours to do at you please. Relax by the pool, stroll along the Beach Walkway, or perhaps visit the award-winning Willow Stream Spa, recognised as "World's Best Hotel Spa - Hawaii". This state-of-the-art luxury Wailea day spa offers a full menu of locally inspired experiences combined with the latest in spa technology to provide the ultimate retreat. (B) Stay: Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui (Suite).
9 Maui Upcountry and Haleakala National Park.
After breakfast, drive up to Mount Haleakala National Park, an International Biosphere Reserve. Dubbed “House of the Sun” by native Hawaiians, it is the world's largest dormant volcano. Descending through Maui Upcountry, stop at Bev Gannon's famous Hali'imaile General Store. Indulge in an exclusive lunch while learning about the unique culture of paniolos - Hawaiian cowboys. Paniolos have existed since the 1800s and have their own rich culture that makes them distinct from their mainland cousins. After lunch, experience Maui Your Way with a choice between a visit to Maui Gold Pineapple or an interactive glass blowing experience at Makai Glass Maui. (B/L)
10 Maui at leisure.
A full day at leisure. Relax and enjoy the resort's luxurious facilities or partake in an exhilarating Locally Available Experience. From helicopter flights to a snorkeling cruise, your Travelling Concierge is on hand to help you plan your day. Back at the resort, get ready for this evening's Celebration Dinner at Kō restaurant, awarded "Best Hawai'i Regional Cuisine" (Gold) in Maui No Ka 'Oi Magazine's 2018 'Aipono Restaurant Awards for the sixth consecutive year. This award-winning signature restaurant offers plantation inspired cuisine featuring Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese menu items. (B/DW)
11 Mahalo Hawaii!
Say “A hui hou” to the islands and your newfound friends as you transfer back to the airport for your journey home. Please allow a minimum of two hours for departure flight check-in at Kahului Airport. On arrival at your home airport, your driver will greet and escort you to your waiting car for your private transfer home. (B)