Hawaii Islands Are “Like Siblings,” But With Their Own Little Quirks

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

There's really no destination in the world like Hawaii. 

Its Aloha spirit, rich culture and educational opportunities entice travellers beyond its idyllic beaches, outdoor adventures, Jurassic-park-like landscapes and diverse cuisine.

L-R: Julie Yoneyama, Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau; Maile Brown, Kauai Visitors Bureau;
Karishma Chowfin, Oahu Visitors Bureau; and Deanna Isbister, Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau.

Vox International hosted an agent training session on 22OCT with 19 Hawaii partners and operators, as well as representatives of Hawaiian destinations who made the case that each corner of 50th state has its own distinct story to tell.

"We like to say that we're sisters but like siblings, we all have our little quirks," says Karishma Chowfin with the O'ahu Visitors Bureau. "You have beautiful beaches anywhere in the word, but what you don't have is this rich coast culture that you can only get in the state of Hawaii."

Hawaii suppliers and partners at ALOHA Canada 2019 in Toronto.

As the only U.S. state that had a monarchy and has distinct Polynesian roots, the depth of cultural immersion is unparalleled. 

"We offer experiences that have a cultural component on all of our islands. Sometimes people don't look for that, but then you miss the point of coming to Hawaii," said Julie Yoneyama with the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau.

It's an experience increasingly sought by Canadian travellers, as well.

"Our Canadian travellers want value, education, and to get something back in terms of experience. Everyone knows we have Kona Coffee, but maybe it's about roasting their own coffee, or listening to the ranger talk at a national park, or planting their own orchid,” said Deanna Isbister, representing the Island of Hawaii. “You can drive around and see beauty, but that's not what creates the memories.”

Scratch the Map’s Renee Gancasz (left) gets a lei adorned with real flowers.

That's one of the reasons why Hawaii doesn't have a single all-inclusive resort. Because if you're coming to Hawaii to stay within the confines of a resort, you might be missing the point of being there in the first place. 

"We don't want to compete on the price point with other beach destinations because our product is different. We have fabulous hotels throughout the islands, but we don't want you to stay there -- go out and explore our island," said Maile Brown from the Kauai Visitors Bureau. 

But there's a caveat – yes, go out and explore Hawaii, but with a dose of kuleana (responsibility) towards the land and Kama'aina, the locals. 

Gancasz (left) and The Travel Agent Next Door’s Becky Kershaw show the shaka
– or “hang loose” -- gesture.

Getting There

Air Canada Vacations flies between YVR-HNL daily, year round, and seasonally between:

  • YVR-KOA 

WestJet's winter 2019/20 schedule includes flights between:

  • NEW YYC-OGG – launching 31OCT


The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world with all but four of the major climate zones. This means that in one trip, you can go from volcanic deserts to rainforest to the rolling pastures of cowboy country.

At twice the size of all the islands combined, it's also the largest, a feature agents should keep in mind when planning itineraries.


At 6 million years of age, Kauai is the oldest of Hawaii's islands.

"Mother Nature has had the most time with her, so while every island is unique and beautiful, Kauai has that iconic beauty that I think a lot of people are looking for," says Brown.

If tourists want to work for their views, Kauai is the place to go. Many of its best sights aren't accessible by car or are subject to daily visitor limits and mandatory reservations.

The evening was punctuated by traditional Hawaiian dance and music performances.
Maka’ala and Moana, pictured, played the guitar and ukulele.


Oahu is an island of contrasts, blending the modern with the ancient, the cosmopolitan with the countryside. 

"The visitor profile is tourists who want to sit on the beach and drink fruity cocktails, but also want to engage, whether it's shopping, culinary, nightlife or soft adventure," says Chowfin.

Because of the depth of experiences, she encourages agents to remember that it's more than just Waikiki, the popular high-rise hot-spot in the capital of Honolulu. 


Maui has more miles of accessible beach than any of the other Hawaiian Islands, says Yoneyama. 

The County of Maui includes two very distinct islands, Lanai – a high-end luxury destination -- and Molokai – catering more to avid adventure travellers who want authentic and off-the-beaten-path. Both make great add-on destinations to Maui.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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