The Hawaiian islands aren’t just about luaus, mai tais, and surfing. Each year they get more inventive with special festivals that showcase their signature brand of food and entertainment. Of course, any visit to Hawaii is brag-worthy, but if your visit coincides with one of these festivals, that’s even more hu'i hu'i (cool).
For Film Fanatics
Let’s call this "Sundance...With Actual Sun." The 15th annual Maui Film Festival will be held June 4-8 at the Grand Wailea Resort, and for the first time ever, the festival will feature a “Seaside Cinema Under the Stars,” where guests can watch first-run, feature-length movies right on the beach. During the five-day event, "Supermensch," directed by Mike Myers, will debut alongside “Cuban Fury,” featuring Rashida Jones and funnyman Chris O’ Dowd. Awards will be presented to American Horror Story star Emma Roberts and the much lauded Lupita Nyong’o, who happens to also be a budding filmmaker. One movie will be shown for free on Wailea Beach; others come with ticket prices beginning at $24.
For Grub & Grape Lovers
It’s no secret Hawaiians are serious about "ono grinds" (delicious food), so scoring tickets to the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (August 29 - September 7) on the Big Island, Maui, and Oahu is a choice way to try local delicacies and culinary creations. The seven-day event, now in its fourth year, is all about food demos and wine tastings from more than 80 internationally known master chefs like Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong. Travelers will have the chance to taste one-of-a-kind dishes like crispy pork belly with Kaanapali Estate Red-Eye coffee gravy. Ticket prices vary depending on event; some are free.
For Rump Shakers
The 21st annual World Invitational Hula Festival in Honolulu (November 11-13) might be the most impressive showcase of hula that you'll ever experience. Watch as hundreds of students and professional dancers from Hawaii and all over the globe as far away as Pakistan demonstrate this storytelling craft. Who knew there were so many different forms of hula, from ancient to modern – or so many styles of costumes? Just in case that's not enough for you, the festival also offers island crafts, musical instruments, and, of course, a chance to pick up your own grass skirt and coconut bra. Tickets start at $10.
For Aviation Geeks
Most visits to Honolulu involve a stop at the Pacific Aviation Museum, Pearl Harbor on Ford Island. We suggest visiting on August 16 and 17, to catch its 6th annual Remote Control Airshow, also known as “Biggest Little Airshow." It's just as cool as it sounds, with more than 100 scaled, remote-control warbirds, jets, and helicopter drones performing amazing stunts, all at the hands of pilots from the Academy of Model Aeronautics. (On a big family trip? Don't miss the candy “bombings” for children.) Other highlights include hangar tours, hands-on exhibits, music, and food. Entry is free with $25 museum admission; airshow-only tickets are $5 at the door.