Hawaiʻi has a special place in my heart. The Big Island is where my family went on vacation. Maui is where I became friends with fellow Expedia Viewfinder bloggers. And Kauaʻi is where my husband and I went on our honeymoon. Over the years, Hawaiʻi has wedged its way into my heart because it has always been the place where I go to spend time with the people I love. It truly is the perfect spot to get away from the chaos of regular life, reconnect with each other, and make memories together.
Undoubtedly, Hawaiʻi is a well loved vacation destination and everyone has their own unique motives for going to the islands. Many go for relaxation, others go for adventure, and some go for meaningful cultural experiences. No matter what you are looking for, it is very likely that Hawaiʻi has something for you. To learn more about what Hawaiʻi has to offer, I used my smile (and my webcam) on Expedia’s Discover Your Aloha website to meet my guide through its facial recognition technology. I watched three short videos and then it matched me with an animal guide who paired my vacation style with the perfect trip itinerary. My guide is He‘e, which means ‘Octopus’ in Hawaiian, and they put together a list of activities that are built specifically for spending quality time together. I loved it!
To better understand He‘e’s generous spirit, today I will be interviewing Tara Jones, an Expedia Local Expert Concierge, who was born and raised in Kahaluu on Hawaiʻi Island, and was the 2014 Global Concierge of the Year.
Lauren LeBrun: Tell me a bit about He‘e?
Tara Jones: He‘e represents Hawaiʻi’s loving spirit. Many people refer to this guide as “The Loyal,” since they are known for being a generous spirit who loves sharing experiences with those closest to you.
LL: What’s your personal take on how visitors can best experience the Hawaiian Islands?
TJ: First off, I believe that life is better when it’s shared. The most memorable and meaningful moments of our lives usually involve our loved ones. Right? That’s why I enjoy showing people how Hawaiʻi can bring people together. The islands offer many opportunities for bonding experiences. When I make recommendations, I don’t just focus on things to do. I focus on things to share. With that said, I believe visitors can best experience Hawaiʻi by doing activities that bring them together in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
LL: Please share a couple of your favorite activities on different islands.
TJ: Wow, that’s hard to choose! If I had to pick two, I would say a jungle expedition in Oahu and a catamaran cruise along the Na Pali coast in Kauaʻi. On the jungle expedition, you can horseback ride, drive an ATV, or take a bus through Kualoa, which is one of the biggest cattle ranches in Hawaiʻi. It is made up of thick rainforests, large valleys, and gorgeous white sand beaches. Many movies and TV shows have been filmed here. It is incredible! On the catamaran cruise, you sail to the gorgeous Na Pali coast. Massive cliffs tower along the coastline and you can jump in the sapphire blue water below. The snorkeling is beautiful there.
LL: That sounds incredible! Kauaʻi is my favorite island. In your opinion, what sets Kauaʻi apart from the rest of the Islands?
TJ: Kauaʻi is a special place, because it is the oldest of all the Hawaiian Islands. It is also the most far north, so the climate is a bit different. Kauaʻi gets a little more rain than the rest, but that just makes it even more beautiful. The island is known as “The Garden Isle” for its green landscape. Tropical rainforests, emerald valleys, and massive waterfalls are abundant in Kauaʻi. There are also many remote areas that are fun for hiking too. Although some places can only be reached by boat or helicopter!
LL: You just named everything I love about Kauaʻi! Where is your favorite spot on the island?
TJ: That’s also hard to choose, but I would have to say Waimea Canyon. It is on the west side of the island and often called “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It is huge! The canyon is 14 miles long, one mile wide, and more than 3,600 feet deep. There are multiple lookout points where you can hike. The main vantage point, Waimea Canyon Lookout, gives you panoramic views of the buttes that stretch for miles. There is also a lower lookout point, Waimea Canyon Overlook, which gives you a view of the dramatic rock formations in the canyon.
LL: That sounds amazing. Do you recommend any other things to do in Kauaʻi?
TJ: Of course! A fun bonding experience is jungle kayaking and zip lining. You start off by kayaking down a quiet river. Then, you take a 400-foot zip line across two valleys and a waterfall. There is a picnic lunch break, then you float in inner tubes down a river. You stop at a gorgeous waterfall where you can swim or relax on the riverbank. Then, you finish off with a little hiking! It is super fun for families, couples, and groups.
LL: Sounds like a blast! Any last recommendations for our readers?
TJ: Yes! If you are thinking about a vacation in Hawaiʻi and not sure where to start, then check out the Discover Your Aloha quiz. You will get matched with a Hawaiian guide and they will pair you with a vacation itinerary that’s tailored just for you. If you are matched with He‘e, then I can’t wait for you to experience these activities! If not, you will be in very good hands with the other guides. They are experts on the islands as well. Thank you for having me today!
As we’ve learned from He‘e, Hawaiʻi is a special place. There are endless things to do and infinite reasons to come back year after year. Check out the Discover Your Aloha page to learn even more about Hawaiʻi. Aloha!
What activities do you want to do in Hawaiʻi?
Tara Jones is an Expedia Local Expert Concierge, was born and raised in Kahaluu on Hawaiʻi Island, and was the 2014 Global Concierge of the Year.