Mainland images of the fall harvest may not apply to Hawaii, where the growing season is year-round. But after the islands’ busier summer than 2009’s and before a Christmas break that’s expected to be even more robust, travelers may find that quieter autumn is the peak period to reap the benefits of new and renewed activities and accommodations.
For activities, the menu of agritourism options – an appetizing way to support farmers and rural landscapes – keeps expanding on the four major islands:
Maui: The new Grown on Maui Bus Tour lives up to its name by including a locally sourced continental breakfast at the Whole Foods Market in Kahului, a company tour and pineapple tasting at the Haliimaile Pineapple Co., a gourmet lunch and tour at upcountry Oo Farm (owned by PacificO and IO restaurants) and a walking tour and dessert at Alii Kula Lavender Farm, before returning to Whole Foods. The weekly Tuesday tour, open to ages 12 and older, costs $130 plus tax. (808) 879-2828, www.akinatours.com.
Kauai: One of the founders of Hawaii regional cuisine, Jean-Marie Josselin, is back on the Garden Island with a new restaurant in Koloa, Josselin’s Tapas Bar & Grill ((808) 742-7117, www.josselins.com). The rustic, international menu includes a section inspired by local farmers. On the north side, the popular Historic Rice Mill & Taro Farm tours in Hanalei have resumed after one of the fifth generation of Haraguchis to farm the wetlands gave birth to a new member of the sixth. The Wednesday tours, by reservation only and best booked through concierges, start at $65 (including lunch); proceeds benefit the nonprofit “agrarian museum.” (808) 651-3399, www.haraguchiricemill.org.
Oahu: Roasting Hawaii-grown coffee beans is a specialty of Mt. Kaala Coffee Co., which is opening a cafe and tasting room in the Ilikai Hotel in Waikiki and an agricultural visitor center in Waialua. The cafe, due to open in October, will feature island coffees and fresh baked goods from former Roy’s pastry chef James Davidson. The North Shore visitor center, due to open in November, will offer farm tours along with outdoor dining on light fare from Davidson. For updates, check mtkaalacoffee.com.
Hawaii: Known for its sheep and cattle, Kahua Ranch offers ATV tours, horseback riding and barbecue dinners for visitors. The Legends of Kahua Ghost Tour, led by a storyteller through a “haunted” sheep-shearing shed, 1928 main house and church, includes paniolo (cowboy) beef stew for dinner; it’s $65. (808) 882-7954, www.kahuaranch.com.
The lodging industry is turning over some new leaves as well: The Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club ( www.kauaimarriott.com) took advantage of the recent slowdown to redo the 356 guestrooms, add a sushi restaurant and build a children’s pool – $50 million in renovations.
Marriott is also teaming with chic hotelier Ian Schrager to open a boutique hotel, in the former Yacht Harbor Tower in the Ilikai complex. The first in the new Edition brand ( www.editionhotels.com), Waikiki Edition will feature a restaurant by “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, nightclub, spa and outdoor movie theater. Opening rates, starting Oct. 5, begin at $195 a night.
On the Big Island, guests at the Keauhou Beach Resort ( www.keauhoubeachresort.com) can take a fresh look at the cultural treasures on the 12-acre site, learn lei making and lauhala weaving, and play Hawaiian games on the new Huakai Tour led by revered educator Keala Ching. At the end, participants plant a native ti plant. The tour is free with a minimum three-night stay; rooms start at $129.