By Dimitra Lavrakas
Senior Voice Travel Correspondent 

Now is a great time to go to Hawaii

Alaska Airlines mileage will take you there

 

February 1, 2024 | View PDF

Dimitra Lavrakas photo

Let the kids loose on the beach to discover what's washed ashore.

Hawaii is the perfect place to go in February- only six hours out of Anchorage, to a nearby time zone just one hour behind, where you land with nary a hint of jet lag and ready to again experience the warmth of the sun.

Islands with distinctive differences

While Mokoka'i is quiet and not very touristy, Kaua'i bustles with tourist shops and excursions, O'ahu is home to the state's capital Honolulu with its royal palace and of course the famous Diamond Head commanding the harbor, Lāna'i has a luxury resort with a botanical garden nearby, and the Island of Hawai'i has active volcanoes.

Healing and helping

Mau'i's main town Lahaina, as we all know, was destroyed by a fire in August 2023. Should you visit Maui right now is the question.

The professional travel agent site GoHawaii says that with the exception of Lahaina, Maui is open and there is plenty to see and experience. "However, we urge visitors to be especially respectful and mindful in the following ways: 

visit with aloha, compassion and empathy.  

support local businesses. Visit mauinuifirst.com for suggestions.

mālama (care for) Maui and give back to the community by signing up for an enriching volunteer experience."

Go to https://handsonmaui.galaxydigital.com/

Several organizations offer opportunities for visitors to pay it forward, like beach clean-ups, or native tree planting to experience Hawai'i on a much deeper and connected level. Through the program, you could qualify for a special discount or even a free night from a hotel when participating in its dedicated volunteer activity.

Bring family for a big welcome

Hawaiians are very family oriented and family, or 'ohana, is core of Hawaiian culture. So, bring yours.

When I took my mother on two trips, one to Moloka'i and the other to Kaua'i, we were treated the best I have ever experienced in all my travels.

Consider a family reunion on one of the islands that will give the youngest to the eldest a wide variety of things to do that will make treasured memories for years.

You don't have to travel to California or Florida to experience the magic of Disney. Aulani Resort on Oahu in Ko Olina is also a spa, so when the kids go on an adventure you can unwind.

Included in your stay is Disney character experiences, Aunty's Beach House and complimentary kids club activities, no resort fees, five pool areas and a beach, and family and children's activities at the Pau Hana Room in the community hall.

There's also the Māka'ika'i Nature Tour to learn about the birds, ocean inhabitants and wildlife of the islands.

Learn to play the ukelele, listen to live Hawaiian music and see hula dancers.

Take it all in at http://www.disneyaulani.com, and make sure to look at the room deals in February and March where the longer you stay the more you save.

A full moon is on Feb. 24 and March 25. Hawaii is breathtaking under a full moon.

Peace and quiet in Moloka'i

Unlike other islands, Moloka'i is quiet and without the hustle and bustle of other islands.

What it does have is the 500-acre Moloka'i Coffee Plantation and, if you like coffee, order three 2-ounce samples for $26 from them by mail. Go to https://www.coffeesofhawaii.com/Sampler-Box--1-Island_p_558.html.

The organic farm Pu'u O Hoku (Hill of Stars) Ranch is a family-owned biodynamic and organic ranch as well as a retreat center surrounded by 14,000 acres of protected land. It offers a lodge and cottages for stays.

Go to https://puuohoku.com/.

The Alaska connection

Don't be surprised if Hawaiians you meet know about Alaska. I was on Kaua'i when I was living on the North Slope and people knew about Utqiagvik, then Barrow, saying "I heard you can make good money there."

You'll find lots of Alaskans on all the islands, recognizable by their Eddie Bauer swimsuits and pale bodies.

And for Alaskans, the news that Alaska Airlines is trying to buy Hawaii Airlines is welcome.

'"This brings together two great companies steeped in history-both 90 years in service," Alaska Airlines chief executive Ben Minicucci said in a press release. "We share the same values-connecting communities and connecting people."'

Peter Ingram, chief executive of Hawaiian Airlines, said in a press release that his airline has expanded over the years, adding a hub in Maui and more international flights, but hasn't been able to offer its customers access to more destinations on the mainland. The deal with Alaska will make that possible.

Dimitra Lavrakas photo

The Moloka'i Forest Reservation Path is a 25-mile trail, but once past the five-mile road, there is a picnic area with bathrooms, but no water.

"There is something really unique about this combination when you think about the origins of these two companies," Ingram said. "There are no two states in the country that are more reliant on transportation than Alaska and Hawaii."

The exact details of how the merged loyalty programs would work haven't yet been announced and won't be released until after the deal is approved. Until then, nothing about the programs will change, says Alaska Airlines.

Alaskans on the Mileage Plan can sign up for Club 49 benefits that include two free checked bags when traveling to or from Alaska on Alaska Airline and two Travel Now discounts per year, good for 30 percent off one-way travel in a refundable Y-Class fare to, from, or within Alaska on Alaska Airlines, booked within four days of departure.

For rural Alaskans, Freight for Less offers Club 49 members $49 (plus tax) cargo shipping within the state of Alaska for 100 lbs. Make sure to see the size of allowed packages.

 
 

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