Heaven can wait: Why Hawaii is worth a 20-hour flight

Heaven can wait: Why Hawaii is worth a 20-hour flight

Waikiki Beach – photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

With the remake of Hawaii Five-O currently on British screens, the six main islands of the Aloha state are back on the radar. So what better time to take a fresh look at America’s 50th state?

Hawaii has been a US state for little more than a half a century. It has a population of 1.3 million, two-thirds of whom live on Oahu, which is also home to the capital Honolulu.

The other five main islands – Maui, Big Island, Lanai, Molokai and Kauai – are amazingly diverse in terms of sights, activities and adventures. But is it worth the 20-hour flight from the UK?

Well, there’s simply nowhere on earth like Hawaii. Home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes and tallest sea mountain, the Aloha state also gave the world the hula, some superb cuisine and, of course, surfing.

Best of all are the Hawaiians themselves, naturally warm and welcoming people who know how to enjoy life. As for the temperature, all your clients need to know is that it’s perfect all year round. In a nutshell: tropical paradise meets US convenience and lifestyle.

Island hopping


This is the most developed of the islands and the point of entry for most clients. Honolulu, the capital, and Waikiki beach are pretty urban, with high-rise buildings along the ocean.

They’re also great for shopping, dining, festivals and nightlife. Clients who explore a little further will find plenty of picture-postcard, palm-fringed beaches. Oahu highlights include Pearl Harbor, Iolani Palace, Aloha Tower and of course, plenty of surfing.


The south and east coasts of this island are part of Haleakala National Park, and Maui has plenty of wow factor when it comes to the great outdoors.

Mount Haleakala, which is Hawaiian for ‘house of the sun’, is the island’s highest peak and an early-morning drive to catch sunrise from the top is a must.

Once the capital of Hawaii, Lahaina is a historic town-turned-cultural-hotspot, with galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Here, too, clients can find some of the islands’ best seaside luau, a feast of Hawaiian food and beer, while they watch the traditional dances of Polynesia.

Big Island

This has the most diverse terrain of all the islands, with Kilauea, an active volcano at its heart.

Sandy beaches range from black to green while hiking trails give access to leafy hills rich in tropical fauna and flora, streams, waterfalls, volcanic craters, scalded deserts, Pacific overlooks, and more.


This is arguably the most beautiful and definitely the most photographed of the islands. Films shot here include Jurassic Park, South Pacific and the latest Pirates of the Caribbean caper.

Kauai also boasts the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific,’ a mile wide and 14 miles long, laid-back beaches and abundant vegetation.

The green cliffs and waterfalls of the Na Pali Coast on the north shore are best seen by boat or kayak, or even from the air.

For serious hikers, an 11-mile trail crosses five valleys before ending at the picturesque, secluded Kalalau Beach.


Once a leper colony, Molokai is now known as Hawaii’s most secluded island. The perfect place to get away from all the stresses and strains of modern-day life. It is also an excellent place to spot whales.


Known as the pineapple island, Lanai only has three hotels. While there may not be a great range of accommodation, the landscape is certainly diverse. Red-earth plains rise to a central peak, reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands, that enjoys its own microclimate.

Street sign, Honolulu, Hawaii - courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority
Street sign, Honolulu – photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

News and tips

Virgin Holidays’ new properties this summer include The Waikiki Edition and Maui Coast Hotel.

Product development manager Mark Meredith says Oahu remains the most popular of the six islands, although Maui is selling well this year.

“In terms of sales,” he adds, “it’s a very broad demographic, although less suited to young families due to the flying time.

“Most arrive in Honolulu, and Waikiki, which is a must for first-timers. But to say you’ve really been to Hawaii, you have to visit at least one other island. My favourite is Big Island.”

Over at Funway Holidays, product director Melissa Tilling says there has been a 15% rise in sales this year, with average length of stay also up.

“Combinations with the West Coast and inter-island remain popular,” she says, adding, “The new Hawaii Five-O series has given the destination a boost.”

Selling Hawaii

It’s important to bear in mind those combinations when selling Hawaii. The flight is a long one but there are many routing options, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, or even Chicago. These give clients the chance to break up their flight.
And what better combination than a superb tropical paradise and a vibrant US city?

It’s also worth encouraging clients to be adventurous. Oahu is wonderful but the islands differ widely in terms of personality, so it’s worth seeing two or three. Flying between islands is quick and easy, and a ferry service links Maui and Lanai.

Sample product

Funway Holidays has a nine-night, twin-centre holiday to Los Angeles and Hawaii from £5,029 for a family of four (two adults and two children, age two to 11 years), departing on September 5. The price includes three nights’ accommodation at Beverly Garland’s Holiday Inn in Los Angeles and six nights at the Maile Sky Court on Waikiki beach, plus flights from Heathrow to Los Angeles and on to Oahu (returning via Chicago). funway.co.uk, 0844 557 0626

Kuoni offers four nights at the Hilton Waikoloa Village plus four nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, both on a room-only basis, for £2,820 based on two sharing. The price, which includes flights and transfers, is based on a September departure. kuoni.co.uk, 01306 747008

Virgin Holidays has two nights in San Francisco, at the Renaissance Stanford Court, and five nights in Honolulu, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, this October from £5,699. The price includes flights and room-only accommodation and is based on two adults and two children. virginholidays.co.uk0844 557 3859


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