Making a little Hawaii at home

It’s official: Hawaii is closed to visitors through May, according to the latest edict from Gov. David Ige.

Technically, the state cannot completely shut down inbound flights, but all arrivals are subject to a 14-day self-quarantine period, and violators have been arrested and sent home in recent weeks. While Hawaii requests visitors stay home until the state is ready for tourism again, there are a growing number of ways for people to stay connected with the Islands as more and more programs, services and properties augment their online offerings. 

Travel advisors can learn some more about Hawaii by participating in the courses, workshops and entertainment, and can share tailored offerings with their Hawaii clients based on their specific interests. Here are a handful of ways to tap into the island spirit while staying home. 

A great activity for families that channels the typical menu of Hawaiian resort programming is to forage for some flowers and leaves in your own neighborhood and then craft a lei that represents the endemic flora of your area. There are numerous lei making video tutorials online, including an excellent, step-by-step breakdown of how to make a haku lei, or flower crown, in a traditional Hawaiian style.

The Hawaiian language was banned in the state’s classrooms in 1896, three years after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Use was discouraged through the mid-20th century, and with no written tradition, the original language of the Islands faced extinction. In the 1970s, the last fluent Hawaiian-speaking elders and a group of college students, including Larry Kimura, today considered the grandfather of Hawaiian language revitalization, helped spark a movement to revitalize the language. Along with the revival of wayfinding, traditional hula and other practices, the use of the Hawaiian language has grown steadily on the Islands since the ’70s,  and today many Aloha State children study the language in school. Making the effort to learn a few words beyond “aloha” and “mahalo” and practicing the pronunciation can have a plethora of benefits, not least of which is a better understanding of directions when navigating the Islands and more opportunities to engage with locals. Both the University of Hawaii and Kamehameha Schools host a series of free, online classes in the Hawaiian language that can take a student from beginner to advanced.

More than two-thirds of Aloha State tourists are repeat visitors, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. For all of the Hawaii lovers who previously purchased a ukulele, the Islands’ signature instrument, now is the time to finally take it down from its wall hanger and learn how to play. The Kapena School of Music based on Oahu has been posting regular ukulele video lessons during the pandemic in addition to some bonus tips for cooking Hawaiian treats.

As the stay-at-home orders have dragged on, more and more Hawaii hotels, bars, and restaurants have been divulging secret recipes for guest favorites in order to keep their businesses top of mind. The Halekulani in Waikiki has published its popover recipe. It only takes four ingredients (flour, salt, milk and eggs) to make the popular brunch treat, and Halekulani executive pastry chef Mark Freischmidt says the simple recipe is “perfect for beginners who are looking to get into the quarantine-inspired baking spirit and pairs perfectly with almost any dish.” Of course, a culinary trip to Hawaii would not be complete without a tropical cocktail, and Kauai-based Koloa Rum offers a mixology section on its website with a variety of drink recipes, including two versions of the mai tai.

To help set the mood at Hawaii-themed quarantine happy hours or other activities, each of the five Four Seasons Resorts in the state has curated its own playlist. The Spotify collections are heavy on a range of Hawaiian musicians, including Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Jake Shimabukuro and Jack Johnson, while also incorporating tracks from other artists commonly heard on the Islands, such as Willie Nelson. Each resort crafted its playlist to reflect the respective island where it is located, including songs from local artists with international followings.

Additionally, the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina is putting on different virtual workshops each Friday. On May 15 they will broadcast a mindfulness yoga class and a lesson on how to do housekeeping the Four Seasons way. Previous installments included a mai tai mixology course, cooking instruction, and an art class. The course schedule is available on the resort Facebook page.

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