Can you remember the last time someone had something disparaging to say about a vacation to Hawai’i? Probably not. In fact, did you know that Hawaii boasts a 98% vacation satisfaction rating? Why is that? Other than it’s perfect weather, and resplendent scenery, Hawai’i is a destination for absolutely every type of traveler: The adventurer, the hopeless romantic, families, the solo traveler and the I-just-need-to-lay-in-the-sun vacationer. It’s also the most ethnically diverse American state with a proverbial melting pot of cultures from Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, and Micronesian, to Chinese, Thai, Tahitian and of course, the indigenous Hawaiian people. So when our in-house bespoke luxury travel designer Anita Beishuizen had the opportunity to join a familiarization trip to the Big Island of Hawai’i and Kaua’i, she couldn’t say no!

Waimea Canyon, Kauai

Anita’s 10 day long meander through paradise included a visit to Volcanoes National Park and world famous Akaka Falls, a traditional Hawaiian Luau, site inspections of various resorts, and the pièce de résistance, a breathtaking helicopter ride across the island of Kauai. Here is what Anita had to say about her Hawaiian experience:

Starting with the Island of Hawai’i, what was a highlight for you? 

Volcanoes National Park.

What is the one misconception you may have had about the island of Hawai‘i prior to becoming more familiarized after your fam?

I had heard that the island was very volcanic and not at all an Island for beaches and swimming. The first half of this statement is true, it is volcanic – but there are so many nice sandy beaches – it is just about knowing where to go for them.

How did this familiarization trip change the way you present Hawai’i as a destination to your clients? 

I really feel confident now to be able to specifically direct clients to pinpointed locations based on not only the geography, but the character of the main tourist/hotel areas. I do not think that unless you have been there, visually seen the areas and got a feel for the individual character of the locations could you do that effectively. This is going to help me expertly direct my clients, based on the trip they are hoping to have.

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Flora of Hawai’i

What was one of the highlights for you when you visited Kaua’i?

Honestly, from the moment I got off the plane it was an instant feeling of peace, and I fell in love. I will say (and I mean this sincerely) that Kaua’i is now my favorite Hawaiian Island.

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The Garden Isle and Anita’s new favourite Island

I think that the reoccurring theme, and the part that I can pick out as the overall highlight of really all the activities and sites we saw – was the sheer beauty and magnificence of the Island. It is jaw-dropping and to be surrounded by it while you are there has an effect that you cannot deny. It truly is what most people envision when they think of the Hawaiian Islands as a collective, and I do not think that people realize that those stunning images are in fact coming from the Island of Kaua’i alone.

tripzter hawaii fam
Helicopter Tour over Kaua’i

We were so fortunate to experience a helicopter tour! I have never done anything of that caliber when travelling, and I cannot recommend it enough. I suggest taking the heli-tour as early as possible on their trip, because I think that it is something that resonates with you and you mentally refer back to when you are seeing those various sites from the ground. I had shivers, it was so good!

Allerton Gardens, Kaua’i

Because I am a huge flora and fauna fan, another stunning highlight for me was Allerton Gardens. I really, really enjoyed our time there as well.

Now, moving on to the accommodation options. You visited a number of properties on this fam trip, what did you think of them? 

Kaua‘i Shores

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Kauai’i Shores Hotel

The Kaua’i Shores was a very cute, smaller property. I really liked the retro throwback motor-inn feel, and the location on the beach was perfect.

This is the perfect property for younger travelers, or young families. This would be an ideal property for budget oriented or no-frills travelers. And even though I sell to mostly luxury oriented clients, it is exactly the type of property that I am drawn to when I travel. Simple, clean, character, good pool and great location.

Waimea Plantation Cottages

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Waimea Plantation Cottages

I was quite blown away by this property. It’s a very different type of property, and perfect for families that want to have a more local, non-hotel type stay. I love the grounds and the spread-out cabins. I like the privacy and independence that is promoted at this property. We saw two of the cabins – one quite large and the other a two bedroom and both had their own distinct style. I like the vintage Hawaiian feel and appreciate the uniqueness of the property. The cabin interiors were a bit older – but nonetheless impeccably clean, spacious and quite charming. This is a great option for groups or large families. Pricing also seemed to be quite reasonable.

Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort & Spa

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Grand Hyatt Kaua’i

Beautiful, flashy, tropical and very luxurious grounds. Picturesque. A great option for our luxury clients, the property sort of sells itself and I’m happy I had the opportunity to see it.

Kōloa Landing Resort

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Kōloa Landing Resort

The perfect property to have in mind for families with teenage children. Easy go to with the 2/3 bedrooms. Definitely a condo property feel vs. a hotel/resort – but to be expected. Really nice units and the grounds had a good layout. The restaurant, lounge/pool area was great for drinks and people watching. I didn’t get to see the beach, but I heard it was also quite nice. Funny enough, two days after being home I was quoting this property to my clients for Spring Break!

And there you have it. From active volcanoes, pristine waterfalls, rugged mountain ranges, and post-card worthy beaches, Hawai’i is a feast for the senses. And because of it’s unique location, the Hawaiian archipelago is an ideal place to visit all year round. Contact us today to get started on your dream Hawaiian escape. Aloha!

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Yay, we made it through January! On one hand, we survived “Blue Monday”, but now we can look forward to an extra six weeks of winter (thanks alot Punxsutawney Phil). And to make matters worse, those of us on the Pacific ‘Wet’ Coast are suffering through our 19th day of rain…in a row. Sounds like some of us need to head south, waaay south. And the Tripzter team knows exactly where you should go.

Somewhere, amidst the 1.2 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean, halfway between the Hawaiian archipelago and New Zealand, lie the idyllic Cook Islands. A tepid climate, mosaic of rich traditions, and the warmth of proud people waiting to welcome the weariest of travellers. Devoid of brash fast food chains, gargantuan tour buses, shopping malls or anything resembling its cousin to the far north (Hawaii), Islands like Raratonga, Aitutaki and Atiu are a quiet feast for the soul, and more importantly, a much needed break from all this rain.  Our very own Corporate Travel Manager and perpetual globetrotter, Matthew Quinton, set off to experience the idyllic Cook Islands over New Year’s and here’s what he had to say about his unique experience:

So Matt, how do we get from Vancouver to Paradise..err…we mean the Cook Islands?

I flew with Air New Zealand through Auckland and Sydney. And on the way home, I took United Airlines from Los Angeles back home to Vancouver. One thing to consider with Air New Zealand, is opting for the upgrade to Premium Economy. You get to enjoy business class service (including a premium meal paired with complimentary wine) and of course, more legroom, all for less than you would spend on a business class ticket.

Air New Zealand Premium Economy

What was your favourite memory from your time in the Cook Islands?  

My favourite part of the trip was a day trip we took to the island of Aitutaki. It’s only a 45 minute flight with Air Rarotonga from Rarotonga. Aitutaki is a small island protected by a series of small Atolls and a lagoon…absolutely stunning. The bluest, crystal clear water I have ever seen and soft, white, powdery sand beaches. And even, though I was on a boat with 20 other people, I still felt like I had the place to myself.

Polynesian Culture

Do you have some tips or interesting tidbits our clients might want to know about travelling to the Cook Islands?  

Cash or credit. Most people don’t know, but the currency used is New Zealand Dollars. And avoid using at ATM if you can, otherwise you’ll be shelling out $7.00 per withdrawl – Ouch!

Rarotonga Tripzter Travel

Rent a car. One of the best and easiest ways to see Rarotonga on your own is to rent a car, and there are plenty of companies to rent from. You can circumnavigate the island in just over an hour, and since there’s only one main road, it’s impossible to get lost.Take a Tuk Tuk. Another great way to get around the island is by Tuk Tuk. And the best part, they’re quiet, and emissions free which means you get to sit back, relax and enjoy fresh island air while learning all about the history of this beautiful little island from a local expert. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, hop on an electric bike and take a self-guided tour.

Stick to local drinks! There are many restaurant and café options to choose from, but if you’re trying to keep the expenses down, avoid drinking Coke and Coke Cola related products – You could be paying as much as $5.00 per can.

Leave the diet at home. We all know vacations are a time to be adventurous and enjoy local cuisine, guilt-free. These are a few of my favourite restaurants:

  • Nautilus Restaurant at Nautilus Resort
  • Café Salsa in Aitutaki – best coffee/lunch on the island
  • Café Beluga – best breakfast on the island
  • Tamarind House – Colonial upscale dining with an amazing view!
  • Vaima’s – great food, right on the beach.
  • The Spaghetti House for Italian food at the Edgewater resort.
Tamarind House, Rarotonga

Mingle on Market Day. If you happen to be on Rarotonga on a Saturday, wander down to the waterfront, and next to Avarua, the island’s main township, you’ll find the Punanga Nui Cultural Market. Here you’ll find everything from local art, clothing and jewelry to fresh fish, veggies and fruit, and a great opportunity to mingle with vendors from surrounding islands.

CCIC Church in Avarua, Rarotonga. This quaint church was built in 1853, fashioned from limestone and coral

Enjoy a day of rest. After a day of hustle and bustle at the Saturday Market, set your soul free at Mass in any one of the beautiful local churches on the island. Christianity is a very important component of local culture, so much so, that you’ll be hard pressed to find a restaurant serving alcohol on a Sunday.

If you are looking for a sun-drenched alternative to Mexico, the Caribbean or even Hawaii, the Cook Islands is a great, year round option. And what’s more, if you are looking for a unique destination to ring in the new year, you won’t be dealing with swarms of other tourists.

Aitutaki Lagoon

If you’ve been dreaming of an idyllic Cook Islands escape, or if Matt’s Instagram account is making you jealous and now you can’t get visions of endless horizons and turquoise seas out of your head, we would love to offer you one of our many South Pacific promotions. Pop your details into the form below and we’ll have you on your way to the idyllic Cook Islands.

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