Let’s plan on visiting them all in the next three years!
by Jim Peacock
Why Visit Hawaii This Weekend
We can’t believe anyone wouldn’t want to go to Hawaii, especially in winter. Whereas most of the rest of the country is an arctic tundra, Hawaii is warm and sunny and gorgeous all year round. The white sandy beaches don’t freeze over, you won’t have to wear a puffer coat — or any coat really, and you can eat shave ice to your heart’s content without feeling chilled to the bone.
Of course, if those aren’t reason enough, The Active Times has thought of 15 more reasons you need to go to Hawaii this winter. We have highlighted scenic landscapes, gorgeous beaches, tasty drinks, good food, and amazing hotels and spas that we think are reason enough to take the trip west. These spots are some of the best in Hawaii as ranked by The Active Times.
Pack your bags or even pack a mini Christmas tree if you’re worried about missing out on the fun in the mainland, and book your flight to Hawaii. We promise you won’t need to bring coats, gloves, or even a scarf, just your aloha spirit, which is just one more of the 15 reasons you need to go to Hawaii this winter.
It’s winter, so unless you live in Los Angeles, Miami, or parts of Arizona and Nevada, it’s cold where you are! However, it’s incredibly temperate in Hawaii. You’ll forget that it’s snowing in Des Moines or wherever it is you’re from while you’re soaking up the sun on a white sand Hawaiian beach with a tropical drink melting in your hand. Your friends practically freeze just walking to their cars, but not you. Not on this winter vacation.
Maui is known for its beauty, and its most beautiful beach is located in the hippest city in Hawaii, Lahaina. Now a popular beach retreat for many from around the world, Ka’anapali Beach used to be a favorite of Hawaiian royalty, and for good reason. Gorgeously clear water and a pristine white shore stretches for 3 miles in what became Hawaii’s first planned resort and later an example for many future resorts around the world. Stay until sunset for the cliff diving ceremony, in which a diver lights torches along the cliff, known as Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock, before diving off of it to reenact a legendary feat of the Maui King Kahekili.
Maui Brewing Company’s Imperial Coconut Porter won the gold medal at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival for Field Beer, and it’s been a favorite of fans and critics alike ever since. Thanks to its malted toasted coconut flavor and creamy, silky mouthfeel, this 9 percent brew goes down smoothly.
Hawaii’s Ala Moana Center is the seventh largest mall in the U.S. Visitors can inhale the fragrant Honolulu breezes as they peruse the over 340 shops in this open-air mall. Plus, six days a week the Ala Moana Hula Showcase performs traditional hula dancing for the mall’s guests. Plus, it’s also a great place to pick up Christmas presents and souvenirs for your friends and family freezing back on the mainland.
Hawaii undoubtedly has some of the best seafood in the U.S. It can be found in amazing Hawaiian dishes like the Ono Burger at Paia Fish Market, the fish tacos at Coconut’s, and the shrimp at Giovanni’s food truck. Hawaiian fish even takes center stage when prepared Japanese-style at Sushi Sasabune, the best sushi restaurant in Hawaii. However, the same fish can be found cooked with Italian and Mexican flavors in Hawaii’s best Italian and Mexican restaurants Arancino di Mare and Alejandro’s, making you wonder whether you’re still in Hawaii at all or possibly transported to the Amalfi Coast or even a beach town in Baja California.
The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa was voted one of the Top 10 Spas in the United States by both Condé Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure. This 40-room spa is the largest spa in Hawaii. Guests can experience Roman tubs, saunas, waterfalls, soothing massages, body care treatments, and five specialty baths. Be sure to eat at one of the best places for food and drink in Hawaii after pampering yourself silly. You’re worth it!
On Maui’s stunning North Shore rests the gorgeous town of Paia. Full of hippies, trinkets, yoga classes, and galleries, the town of Paia is easily the most bohemian town in Maui. When locals aren’t catching waves in the crystal blue waters of Ho’okipa Beach Park, many can be found showing reverence at The Great Paia Lha Bab Peace Stupa at the Maui Dharma Center. A memorial to the legacy of Lama Tenzin, this Paia landmark is a gorgeous 27-foot-high structure with hand-painted murals and a large Manu prayer wheel inside.
This is a place you can only see by kayak, and the trip is worth it. The 17 miles of ocean shores is one of the most popular attractions on Kauai. The 4,000-foot tall cliffs along the coastline are some of the most dramatic in the world. You’ll see dolphins, seals, sea turtles, sea caves, mangoes, waterfalls, and many stunning and secluded beaches. Visit the state park and hike the rugged, but beautiful Kalalau Trail. It may be tough, but you’ll never forget those views.
If you only do one thing on the island of Maui, it should absolutely be a trip to see the famous Haleakala Crater in Haleakala National Park. But first, a science lesson: Unlike most craters formed by volcanic activity, Haleakala was actually shaped over eons as the result of erosion of the entire volcanic mountaintop. When the smaller lava flows back-filled the eroding valley, this built the floor of the crater, which is why it is officially called the “Haleakala National Park Summit Area” instead. For the best experience, wake up extremely early (about 3 a.m. local time) and make the drive (or take a bus tour) all the way up to the 10,000-foot-high summit, where you can view the sun rising in the distance while looking down at the crater through the clouds. It is one of the most spectacular National Parks in America.
Say aloha to your dream Hawaiian vacation. At Travaasa Hana, programs and activities fall under the resort’s five “experiential pillars”: Adventure, Culinary, Culture, Fitness, and Wellness. In addition to full access to all of these, the all-inclusive package includes being greeted by a Welcome Banana Bread once you arrive on site, unlimited bottled water and organic fair-trade coffee, spacious and luxurious rooms, and three meals a day prepared by a chef, as well as $175 in resort credit (eligible to be used for spa services and private classes) every day for each guest. In addition to the usual water adventures, guests can also take a trail ride around the island on horseback or take to the skies on a glider adventure, where you can even pass over the world’s largest dormant volcano, Haleakala.
The Road to Hana is a must-visit on your trip to Hawaii. It means the road to heaven, and with sights like this, it’s pretty hard to argue that it’s anything but heavenly. This road is one of the most sceneic roads in America, and will take you past the scenic Twin Falls, the absolutely stunning Garden of Eden Arboretum, upper Waikani Falls, the Hana Lava Tube, gorgeous beaches, and quite a few places to stop and grab a bite to eat or take home a souvenir from your path to “heaven.”
Locals and visitors to Hawaii always make it a point to stop by Lappert’s, which has locations across the islands. There are Hawaiian-inspired flavors such as Hanah Road and Hawaiian Sea Salt Caramel, but there are also world-inspired flavors such as Manila Mango, Costa Rican Plantain Cajeta, Mexican Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl, and Philippine Macapuno Peach Sorbet.
Shave ice is a Hawaiian tradition. Yes, you can get it in other parts of the country, but it tastes best in Hawaii (where it’s actually from). The ice is softer ice than a snow cone, and the syrup tastes so much better, plus shave ice is frequently topped with sweet toppings like condensed cream, coconut, nuts, even chocolate sauce. We can’t imagine enjoying this in 30-degree weather — that’s why you have to come to Hawaii this winter to try it!
Located more than 1,000 feet above the Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Molokai’s Kalaupapa Lookout used to be the location of a leprosy colony. Now home to over a dozen residents, the spot is a great place to whalewatch, as humpback whales make an appearance off the coast during winter. Tell me: How many wales can you see leaping out of Lake Michigan in December?
Hawaii is known for its high-quality coffee. This state cultivates a few different varieties of coffee, but is most notable for its beans from the Kona region on the Big Island. Grown on the slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanos, Kona coffee is immensely popular thanks to its buttery finish, deep aromatics, and medium body. Starbucks recently added it to their collection, but there’s nothing quite like drinking a cup on the beaches of Hawaii’s Big Island.
Still not convinced that you need to hit up Hawaii as soon as the temps start to drop? Maybe we can appeal to your stomach.
Drumroll, please: the Salzburg Festival is turning 100, and this heart-stealer of an Alpine city is singing about it at the top of its voice. One of the world’s greatest classical music shindigs, the festival is always a riotous feast of opera, classical music and drama – and never more so than in 2020. Salzburg will be pulling out all the stops for the centenary, with special exhibitions and events taking place all over the historic centre – concerts, plays, readings, Mozart matinees, you name it. Top billing, as always, will go to Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Jedermann, based on a medieval morality play and performed in all its glory in Domplatz. So dust off your dirndl or lederhosen, book your tickets months ahead, and get ready to rock into the summer like Amadeus (perhaps minus the wig).
All eyes will be on Washington, DC, this year, as the city celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment – the law that granted women the right to vote. Iconic museums like the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Women in the Arts will have special exhibitions related to this major milestone in human rights. Tie this in to the excitement for this year’s presidential election and DC will be one of America’s most dynamic cities in 2020. Politics aside, Washington’s renaissance is in full bloom, with a revitalised waterfront, celebrated new museums and an exploding food scene. Green roofs, hundreds of newly planted trees and an innovative floating wetlands system have the city looking greener than ever.
Egypt waved Tutankhamun’s treasures off on a globetrotting tour in 2018, declaring it the last time the pharaoh’s burial-booty would leave its shores. Want to gawk at ancient Egypt’s wealth in the future? You’ll need to visit Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). The year 2020 is set to be the date – inshallah (God willing) – this state-of-the-art museum in Giza throws open its doors. Head here to marvel at a mind-boggling collection in what will be the world’s largest museum entirely committed to one civilisation. For Red Sea and Luxor holidaymakers, a Pyramids and GEM add-on will also become a doddle with Giza’s newly inaugurated Sphinx Airport set to operate domestic flights.
Brilliantly bohemian Galway is arguably Ireland’s most engaging city. Here brightly painted pubs heave with live music and cafes offer front-row seats to watch buskers perform. And this year all that creative exuberance is being supercharged by events marking the Galway region’s role as a 2020 European Capital of Culture – the city’s calendar is as packed with activity as the bars are with locals on a Saturday night. Expect street spectacle, live and digital art as well as world-class music, theatre and dance. Sleep might have to wait – in Galway even the buskers play late into the night. Vivid and vibrant, brimful of imagination, Galway in 2020 is home to a year-long, city-wide, arty party. And you’re invited too.
Once capital of West Germany, Bonn slipped off the radar when Berlin reseized the reins in 1990. But it’s back in the spotlight with a cymbal roll in 2020, as the city gears up to mark Beethoven’s 250th birthday. What’s the score? Well, you can expect a year-round line-up of concerts drawing world-famous orchestras, soloists and conductors (among them Sir Simon Rattle and Daniel Barenboim). Theater Bonn is staging Fidelio, the composer’s only opera. Beyond this, there are installations and competitions tuning into Beethoven’s musical genius, picnic performances, and ‘home concerts’ where local musicians fling open their doors to the public.
Perhaps it’s the Jetsonian capsules gliding over La Paz along the world’s largest cable-car system that are the most obvious signs of its new-found ambition. There were just three lines in 2014, but there will be 11 in 2020. Down below, the once-drab city is racing towards a more radiant and inspired future. Everyone from a flamboyant self-taught architect to the budding chefs leaving new culinary schools is thriving here – not because of some borrowed ideas and global trends, but rather due to a renewed sense of pride in Bolivia’s indigenous roots. It’s not hard to see why an increasing number of tourists are now sticking around in La Paz before they venture further afield.
This nicely chilled city in southern India has seen the light. Grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast in Kerala, Kochi has become a shining example in renewable energy in recent years, launching the world’s first fully solar-powered airport, which snagged it a UN Champions of the Earth award. But that’s just tip-of-the-iceberg stuff. With boho cafes, intimate homestays hidden away in lazy, colonial-era backstreets, and a raft of forward-thinking galleries, this city keeps a tight grip on its heritage while wholeheartedly embracing its newfound cool. In 2020, street art comes to the fore at Kochi-Muziris Biennale, putting India firmly on the contemporary arts festival map.
This natural playground – squeezed majestically between the blue waters of the Pacific and the forest-clad mountaintops of the North Shore – was the birthplace of Greenpeace, so it seems fitting that Vancouver has been trying to lead the world in urban sustainability. And for you, the environmental benefits of its longstanding Greenest City 2020 Action Plan will only enrich your stay. Take to its vastly expanded cycling and walking network, including an unforgettable 28km section along beaches and shorefront, and comfortably hop between the city’s many sights on an upgraded public transport system. Or simply catch some shade under one of the 102,000 new trees that have been planted since 2010.
The future is now in Dubai as the superlative-craving emirate launches several boundary-pushing marquee projects in 2020. Top billing, of course, goes to the six-month-long World Expo 2020, where 190 nations go all out in showcasing the latest visions in sustainability and mobility (think: flying cars) in architecturally showstopping pavilions. Also expected to open is the Museum of the Future, a cabinet of next-gen wonders in an eye-shaped building festooned with calligraphy. Meanwhile, two miles off-shore, a Europe-themed fantasy resort on an artificial archipelago called The World is gearing up to welcome its first guests to such only-in-Dubai phenomena as underwater bedrooms and year-round snow.
Denver’s elevated position as one of the USA’s most charming boomtowns has reached new heights as the Mile High City enters its latest phase of growth, creative energy and damn good food. Construction cranes dot the mountain-studded horizon and empty lots turn into hip new hotels seemingly overnight, while new food halls such as Milk Market satisfy appetites with an eclectic mix of farm-to-table and international fare. The mind-bending Santa Fe art experience Meow Wolf has installed a psychedelic ride called ‘Kaleidoscape’ at Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park as a precursor to a permanent $50-million Meow Wolf installation to come in 2021. Meanwhile, the fascinating Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art has moved into a magnetic Olson Kundig–designed building within the city’s Golden Triangle Creative District.
How do I try to explain the fascinating adventures each day brings when cruising the Greek Islands on your own boat. I’ve done this trip twice now, each time with 8 fellow travelers, a captain and a cook. First, let me say that all of the folks I travelled with are still my close friends, and i expect them all to be for many years to come. There’s something about sharing these experiences each day, and getting to know each other in a way that’s impossible in normal daily interactions.
Talking about people, you’ll get to know your captain and cook just as well. On each trip our cook was always the life of the party, and made incredible dishes for us each day. She learned our likes and dislikes, and made her trips into each village to find the freshest and most interesting traditional Greek dishes for us. The captain had 30 years of experience sailing these waters, and was the steady “hand at the helm”. He advised us which islands to visit, and showed us so many out-of-the-way spots most tourists never get a chance to see.
Our “boat” was a catamaran with 5 sleeping births, a kitchen / dining area, an outdoor deck, and a sun deck in the front! Steps made it easy to snorkel in the warm waters or to explore each islands trails and architectural ruins.
Which brings me to the reason for our voyage – exploring the Greek Islands on our own. We met with our captain on day one to plan a course. We set our priorities and asked his advice. Some wanted to head to Santorini. Others wanted to visit Mykonos. Each day we’d sail 2 or so hours to the next island. During the day we’d explore. Late afternoon we’d sail into that island’s port for some incredible vistas, people, restaurants, and fun! Each day brought more and different unique experiences.
Of the travelers I’ve taken this trip with so far, not a single one hasn’t used the phrase “the trip of a lifetime”. Come join us summer 2020.