Last updated: 06:01 PM ET, Sat April 11 2015

Diverse Diversions

New attractions offer travelers authentic experiences of Hawaii

Vacation Agent | Destination & Tourism | Ryan Rudnansky

Diverse Diversions

PHOTO: The National Tropical Botanical Garden has a new Biodiversity Trail at NTBG’s McBryde Gardens that has received rave reviews (courtesy Kauai Visitors Bureau)

Hawaii’s attractions and events continue to evolve, offering visitors one-of-a-kind experiences across the spectrum, while hewing to Hawaiian traditions and culture. These attractions contribute to the total travel experience that makes Hawaii such a special destination.

Not only will you find plenty to do and see, but you will also get to partake in authentic Hawaiian culture, which will add to the magic and fulfillment of your Hawaii vacation.

From a nature trail to marketplaces and entertainment, following are some of the top new and updated attractions from Oahu to Kauai to the Big Island.


Hukilau Marketplace/Polynesian Football Hall of Fame: The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) in Laie celebrated the grand opening of Hukilau Marketplace in February.

A tribute to the early days of Laie, the marketplace is a family-friendly attraction open six days a week, 12 hours a day. The new marketplace, which encompasses 119,000 square feet on the PCC’s 42-acre site, features more than 40 retail, dining and activity outlets.

Many of the stores at the Hukilau Marketplace are culturally tied to Laie, Oahu’s North Shore and Polynesia, offering items that are not available at other major tourist attractions and shopping centers in Hawaii. These include arts-and-crafts shops that offer a variety of handcrafted works made by local people. The Hukilau Plaza Gazebo showcases live entertainment by PCC musicians or visiting groups on a weekly basis.

The marketplace also pays tribute to major local figures, including Hamana Kalili (the father of the shaka) and Joseph Kekuku (the inventor of the Hawaiian steel guitar). In addition to honoring the past, Hukilau Marketplace has made sure to include some highly valued modern services such as free Wi-Fi.

Hukilau Marketplace is also home of the new Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, which was established in 2013 by Super Bowl Champions Jesse Sapolu and Ma’a Tanuvasa to honor Polynesia’s greatest football players, coaches and contributors. The Hall of Fame recently selected University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota as the inaugural recipient of the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award presented by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

PHOTO: Hukilau Marketplace is a new attraction at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

A two-hour variety show at Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, CabaRAE is a hot new attraction that officially opened in November.

A collaboration between former Cirque du Soleil director Alan Goldberg and entertainment company RMD Group, the two-hour CabaRAE show includes trapeze artists, aerial artists, acrobats, balancing artists, magicians, impersonators, comedians and more, all hailing from shows in major destinations such as Las Vegas, Berlin, Australia, London and Paris.

Performances are Wednesday through Sunday, starting at 8 p.m.

CabaRAE is performed in a new 10,000-square-foot theater-in-the-round showroom whose design was inspired by the Spiegeltent design.

Audience members can continue the night at the theater’s lounge, which is open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., where they can partake in “meet-and-greet” cocktails with members of the cast.

Visit or call 808-354-0629 for more information.

eight50 Bar and Lounge: A new Pearl City craft beer bar and lounge opened in late February, adjacent to Leeward Bowl, featuring nearly 100 local, domestic and international brews.

Located at 850 Kamehameha Highway, eight50 Bar and Lounge features a dozen rotating beers on tap, including beers from Kona Brewing Co., Maui Brewing Co. and Big Island Breuhaus.

Menu items such as candy bacon wrapped asparagus, beef tenderloin and wild mushroom eggplant are featured. The bar also serves handcrafted cocktails, whiskey and wine.

eight50 expands the options for craft beer for those in Central and Leeward Oahu, while also being situated next to a top bowling venue.

For more information, visit or call 808-454-1350.


The National Tropical Botanical Garden’s New Biodiversity Trail: NTBG unveiled a new Biodiversity Trail that has received rave reviews.

The 800-foot walk at NTBG’s McBryde Garden in southern Kauai, introduced in August, is specifically designed to tell the story of plant evolution over the past 450 million years. Visitors can go on self-guided tours through the botanical wonderland, which includes a “moss tunnel,” ferns, cycads, early palms, hybrid hibiscus, anthuriums, orchids, Spanish lime trees and more.

Signs along the trail paint a clear picture of how everything is interconnected. About halfway along the trail, visitors enter an industrial landscape that is full of dials and pressure gauges, designed to highlight the pressure environmental threats are placing on the planet.

But the Biodiversity Trail ultimately offers an uplifting message. The final portion of the trail, entitled “Redemption,” portrays a positive future stemming from environmental research and conservation.

The Biodiversity Trail is McBryde’s first fully accessible trail and is part of NTBG’s larger long-term McBryde Garden Renewal Project. The self-guided tour runs daily, with seven departures from the NTBG’s Southshore Visitors Center. Tours of these gardens are open to all ages and can be booked at or by calling 808-742-2623.

For more information about Kauai, visit or call the Kauai Visitors Bureau at 800-262-1400.

May Day/Lei Day: The Kauai Museum has some new activities in store for the annual May Day/Lei Day in Hawaii.

Beginning at 7 a.m. on May 1, the official lei entries at the museum’s 35th Annual May Day Lei contest will arrive. The museum will open at 11 a.m. At that point, people will be able to bid on the top leis in a silent auction. Special for this year, acclaimed musician Paula Fuga will perform a concert to cap off the event.

For more information, visit or call 808-245-6931.

Princeville Makai Golf Club: A new “Sunset Golf Cart Tour” offers a way to experience the scenic vistas of the famed Makai Course and Kauai’s spectacular North Shore. Starting at 5 p.m. daily, guests can explore the course at leisure in a 2014 Club Car Prestige electric cart and follow the cart paths meandering through 18 holes, stop to take photos, and watch the sun set over Hanalei Bay. Information on wildlife and scenic points is provided for this self-guided cart tour, with 90 minutes allotted on the course.

For more information, visit

Big Island

Portuguese Bread Making: The Kona Historical Society has unveiled a new attraction, a Portuguese wood-fired stone oven, or forno, located in the pasture below the H.N. Greenwell Store Museum.

KHS is allowing visitors to try their hand at the traditional art of baking Portuguese bread every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Staff and community members will talk history (including how Portuguese immigrants came to Kona in the 19th century), roll dough and bake the delicious bread.

But this isn’t as simple as popping it in the oven for half an hour. This oven needs at least four hours of heating time, including a dedicated volunteer who will tend the fire. While the oven is heating, the dough is mixed, allowed to rise, rolled into seven balls (a lucky number for the Portuguese) and then set in pans.

Before the bread is put in the oven, the coals from the fire are removed, and so the stored heat in the stones bake the bread. The first batch of bread comes out of the oven around 12:30 p.m.-1 p.m. The loaves are sold for about $7 each on a first come, first serve basis. The oven can hold over 30 loaves of bread at a time.

For more information, visit or call 808-323-3222.

Taste of the Movies: As part of the Big Island Film Festival, The Shops at Mauna Lani will host “Taste of the Movies” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on May 22.

The event, which celebrates the festival’s 10th anniversary, is a foodie/moviegoer’s dream come true. Ten Hawaii Island chefs will present signature dishes and specialties, paired with favorite foodie movies including “Mystic Pizza,” “Chocolat” and “Ratatouille.”

For more information, call 808-883-0394.

Street Market Bubbles & BBQ: Starting in April and continuing through the summer, Rays on the Bay at Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay will offer “Street Market Bubbles & BBQ” on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The weekend event will feature stations that include produce from local farmers, boutiques and the works of artists, as well as food booths with poke bowls, yakitori and hulihuli chicken, and sparkling wine and spirits. Complimentary and interactive cultural activities include hula and storytelling.

For more information, visit or call 808-930-4900.

For more information on Hawaii, O'ahu, Kauai

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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the April 2015 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.