HAWAII– The islands of Polynesia ooze with rich folkloric stories, exploring the creation and magical essence of its highly heterogenous terrain. No island is exactly like the other. Famous for being an internationally impactful hub of research and development, as well a geographically significant picture of volcanic mountains and lush folliage, Hawaii is a truly unforgettable place to visit.
Day 1: Seattle, Washington, United States
Bounded by the Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the east, and surrounded by forests and mountains, Seattle, Washington is a stunning location. But the largest city in the Pacific Northwest is as much an homage to human ingenuity as it is to natural beauty. From logging to shipbuilding to aircraft manufacturing to modern-day software and biotech development, the Emerald City has worn a succession of industrial hats, birthing the likes of Amazon and Starbucks—not to mention music legends Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana—along the way.
Day 2: Victoria, British Columbia
Of all the cities in Canada, Victoria may be the furthest from Great Britain, but it has the most British vibe. Between sipping afternoon tea, visiting flower gardens and castles and stopping in at pubs, one could easily forget about the Pacific Ocean lapping at the other side of Vancouver Island. The influence of the First Nations culture is also strong here in Victoria. Extensive galleries are devoted to the history of the First People at the Royal British Columbia Museum, one of Victoria’s top tourist attractions. Other waves of immigration besides that of the English are evident in the streets of Canada’s oldest Chinatown. Whale-watching cruises and sightseeing floatplanes take off and return from their excursions here and government buildings, museums, the Visitor Centre and the grand Fairmont Empress provide a dignified welcome.
Days 3-7: At Sea
Days 8-9: Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Sitting pretty on Oahu’s south shore, the capital of Hawaii—and gateway to the island chain—is a suitably laid-back Polynesian mash-up of influences and experiences. Modern surfing may have been invented along the crescent beach of Waikiki long before the glossy high-rise hotels arrived to dominate the shoreline, but the vibe is still mellow and it’s still the go-to neighborhood. These days, the city adds dining, shopping and cocktails to its repertoire, all done with a view of the iconic Diamond Head in the distance. But away from the Waikiki crowds, you get the scoop on the “real” Hawaii: brick Victorian buildings, including America’s only royal palace; thriving Chinatown nightlife; sacred temple remains on distant bluffs; and the wartime memories of the attack on Pearl Harbor, including the USS Arizona Memorial. Of course, the real Hawaii can’t be quantified so easily. It’s everywhere—in the volcanic nature of the soil, in its lush bounteous flora, and in the positive spirit of the people, who know there’s real raw magic in their gentle islands.
Day 10: Lahaina, Hawaii
Most of Polynesia has stories of the cultural hero and demigod Maui. In Hawaii, he’s given credit for fishing up the islands from the ocean floor. He’s also the one who caused the sun to move more slowly and who lifted the sky, so people had room beneath. To the rest of the world, the word Maui just means the perfect island paradise, and Lahaina is the gateway to its most photogenic areas. So how beautiful does a place have to be to win the title of paradise of paradises? Well, start with enormous stretches of beach, some full of surfers, some off bays packed with whales, some sporting nothing but your own footprints. Toss in two volcanic craters, one with a road that takes you from sea level to 3,055 meters (10,023 feet) and through tunnels of jacaranda trees. Then there’s the rain forest, which you can experience on a scenic drive so full of twists and turns and waterfalls that 83 kilometers (52 miles) can take most of the day.
Day 11: Kona, Hawaii
Both culturally and geographically, Hawaii’s Big Island divides into exact halves. The east is jungly, dark and prone to lava flows. The other side, the Kona side, grows all the coffee. Much of this drier region almost resembles a desert. But the shapes of the hills and the way rain snags on ridges means Kona holds hundreds of microclimates. Variations of only a few feet in altitude can result in very different brews. Thankfully, plenty of places exist to play and burn off a little caffeine around Kona. History lies thick on the ground, from Kamehameha’s heiau (temple) to the sacred buildings of Puuhonua O Honaunau (“The Place of Refuge”) to the bay where Captain Cook breathed his last. Whales love the Kona side, spinner dolphins live up to their names, and giant mantas slowly barrel roll up from the depths.
Day 12: Nawiliwili, Kauai, Hawaii
The oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai, sits under a steady blast of trade winds that sweep in abundant moisture. Expect a wet, tropical climate—especially in the eastern and central areas—complete with swamps and rain forests. In 1778, when Captain James Cook discovered Hawaii—never mind that plenty of people already lived here—the British explorer sailed right past Oahu, the first island he sighted, and disembarked in Kauai. It’s called the Garden Isle for good reason and Hollywood can’t get enough of this backdrop, from White Heat in 1934, all the way through Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark and the 1976 remake of King Kong.
Days 13-17: At Sea
Day 18: Seattle, Washington
For this Group only (Please ask agent for specific details and reservation instructions):
Shore Event in Honolulu
Traveler Cocktail Party