By Narbeh Minassian
I feel as though the United States could sometimes be renamed the Competing States. Every state is seeking its own identity and uniqueness and always wants to be better than another state in any given competition, which is perhaps best exemplified by the NFL and NBA. We are fortunate enough to be in arguably the only state that does not need to prove anything, and I am confident that I do not need to give any reasons for this. That is not to say, however, that we should be justified in closing ourselves off from other states, and, as of June 2012, Hawaiian Airlines offers a direct journey to one of the most special states in the nation. As one of only two states that is not physically united with the rest of the country, Hawaii’s claim to uniqueness is strong.
For a long time, the only direct flight from the East Coast to Hawaii was from Newark Airport in New Jersey. As of this summer, two other locations near the Atlantic coast have now opened a nonstop link with the Aloha State. One is flying from JFK – making it very convenient - and the other being Washington DC. Hawaiian Airlines has taken full advantage of this new possibility, with newly built, wide-bodied planes offering maximum comfort for travelers on Coach, Coach Plus and First Class. Every flight includes complimentary meals that have been curated by Hawaii’s own chef Chai Chaowasaree, and these meals can be tailored according to dietary requirements or vegetarianism. The even boast an award winning menu; they provide a delicious Pacific Asian flair on Tapas style presentation.
Hawaiian Airlines believes that Hawaii starts on the plane, as they strive to offer the best of Hawaiian hospitality right from the start and this is a big reason for their award from Travel and Leisure magazine as the best airline serving Hawaii in 2011. If you travel on first class, you are provided with complimentary cocktails, which will no doubt get you ready for the beach.
While Hawaiian Airlines can’t make the journey shorter from JFK, they can for sure make it go by a lot quicker. An 11 hour flight is made to feel as short as possible by the impeccable service of the airline’s cabin crew. You are made to feel like a VIP as each steward tends to any of your needs with meticulous care and attentiveness; and they do so with a smile on their face.
When you fly First Class with Hawaiian Airlines, you have access to the premier lounge, which, in addition to adding luxury to your journey, guarantees a speedy and smooth check-in and priority boarding. They strive to make your trip as stress-free as possible, and this is reflected in their pleasant and friendly customer service. State of the art in-flight entertainment has become something of a standard requirement for frequent flyers these days, and to that end Hawaiian Airlines provides a wide variety of films, games, TV shows and music to last you the entirety of your trip.
In terms of prices, Hawaiian Airlines can safely claim to be one of the more reasonable forms of air-travel. Given that the current trend dictates that cross-country fares are on the rise, Hawaiian Airlines works hard to represent fair rates; add to this the fact that Hawaii is 2000 miles away from any continent, and you can see why Hawaiian Airlines is doing such an admirable job of providing quality, long-distance service without the need to break the bank.
The means of travel to the island is justifiably recommended, but the question so far remains as to whether the island itself is worth all the hype or even indeed the travel. After all, Hawaii has such a reputation that expectations are understandably high, which in turn means that the potential for disappointment is very real. Well, for the short answer to this, close your eyes and think of everything that you associate with Hawaii; open your eyes and hold that thought, because it is going to be true!
Known as the ‘Paradise of the Pacific,’ Hawaii attracts over seven million tourists every year. Such a statistic can provoke two very different interpretations: either the obvious popularity is a great pull factor; or the over-influx of tourists, as it were, becomes an irresistible push factor. The former is perhaps a foregone conclusion in this case. However, while the latter has some substance to it given that this would not be the first tropical island to become overburdened by the tourist industry and lose its authenticity (read Ibiza, Spain), it simply isn’t true for Hawaii. The main reason for this is that Hawaii has preserved its culture and maintained a historical value, which is a major reason behind Hawaii’s appeal. While traditional Hawaiian culture is evident only in vestiges of society, there are reenactments of the island’s culture all over the state. The most notable of these are the famous luaus and hula -which I’m sure need no elaboration- and you are never far away from experiencing this hallmark of Hawaii.
Hawaii has seven main islands, and you’d be hard-pressed to pick out one as the best. You can of course visit all seven, which would not only give you a complete experience of Hawaii but would also take advantage of their famed waters. For the best water sports, it may be advisable to prioritize Kauai and Oahu, which are known as hotspots for kayaking and surfing respectively; Kauai in particular has stunning cliffs to provide the perfect backdrop. The less active holiday seekers, however, may prefer to relax on the beach. If you closed your eyes earlier, the first thing you imagined was probably an idyllic beach and an exotic cocktail, and to see this for real then Maui is your best option. This island is home to Kaanapali Beach and Makena Beach, and it is at these beaches where you can live out the said fantasy. Maui is also famous for sightings of the humpback whale, which are seen regularly in winter and spring.
It may come as a surprise that volcanoes –the cause of one of our planet’s most powerful and feared phenomena- are a major tourist magnet, but Hawaii’s main volcanoes are ‘shield’ volcanoes. These are the least dangerous type of volcano. They form gently sloping hills that lead toward a crater that only spews lava sparingly and slowly; nothing like the violent explosions that are synonymous with this geographical monster. Hawaii Island’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the top visitor attraction. Here you see the surface of the Earth much like how it would have been in its infancy. Hike across these desolate deserts that will, in time, be teeming with life.
As I have already made clear, Hawaii has retained its sense of tradition and history, and this is perhaps best preserved in its museums and national parks. The islands also have a much more recent historical interest in Pearl Harbor, which was an absolutely key part of World War II as it triggered the mobilization of American armies. Pearl Harbor is the only US naval base that is designated as a historic landmark; here, you can visit any of the four major museums that tell one of the most significant stories in twentieth century history in more detail.
Hawaii is a state that offers immaculate beaches, sunny weather, beautiful natural scenery, envied waters, unique and traditional culture, and even volcanoes. No other state can make the same claim, and it is this special identity that has demanded greater accessibility from the East Coast. It is not only accessibility that Hawaiian Airlines will bring you, but a taste of Hawaii before you leave JFK. Your holiday to Hawaii starts with Hawaiian Airlines.
Hawaiian Airlines departs everyday from JFK to Honolulu at 10am and arrives in Honolulu at 3pm Hawaii Standard Time
The flight back is just as easy - as it departs 3:05pm HST and arrives at JFK at 6:55am EST