Visiting the Hawaiian Islands – Your Planning Guide for 2018

by Daniel Nikulin

Street parties, parades, food fairs and festivals bring the Hawaiian Islands to life throughout the year. While many are annual events, some are once-in-a-lifetime experiences organized to showcase Hawaii’s unique culture and undeniable charm.

Plan your trip around one or more of these fantastic 2018 events, and you’re sure to be in the Aloha spirit in no time.


Hawaii International Billfish Tournament (Aug 10) – Big Island

Founded in 1959, the 5-day tournament is the second oldest big game sportfishing event in the world. Watch the dramatic weigh-ins nightly.

Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival (Aug 10) – Oahu

Enjoy 10 days of fabulous films at the Honolulu Museum of Art Doris Duke Theatre, presented by The Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation. The 29th annual event is one of the longest running LGBT film festivals in America.

Duke’s OceanFest 2018: Waikiki’s Premier Ocean Sports Festival (Aug 18) – Oahu

Hawaiian Islands surfing

A celebration of various ocean sports Hawaiian legend, The Duke, was fond of, including longboard surfing, paddleboard racing, swimming, tandem surfing, surf polo, beach volleyball and stand-up paddle boarding (commonly referred to as SUP.)

Hawaii Shorts Film Screening at the Waikiki Aquarium – Under the Stars (Aug 21) – Oahu

An unforgettable night in the perfect outdoor setting! Enjoy the year’s best short films from the world’s top filmmakers. From the producers of New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and Austin Short Film Festivals.

Amazing Comic Con Aloha (Aug 24) – Oahu

Costume up and head over to the Hawaii Convention Center for the best in comic book entertainment at this action-packed 3-day event. Celebrities, comic creators and exhibitions galore!

Queen Liliuokalani Long Distance Canoe Races (Aug 30) – Big Island

Running annually since 1971, this is the world’s largest long distance canoe race, where women and men take part in an 18-mile ocean competition. Other races include a double-hull canoe race, a stand-up paddleboard race, and more.


Waikiki Roughwater Swim (Sep 1) – Oahu

Almost 1,000 swimmers of all ages and from around the world take to the ocean for this challenging 2.38-mile race.

The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon (Sep 2) – Kauai

Race past Taiko drummers and hula dancers in one of the world’s most beautiful destination races.

Hawaii Island Festival – 30 Days of Aloha Poke Contest (Sep 8) – Big Island

Hawaiian Islands poke

A not-to-be-missed event for lovers of Hawaii’s famous poke, where guests can sample the various preparations of the delicious seafood dish.

Hawaiicon, The World’s First Sci-fi, Science & Fantasy Tropical Convention (Sep 13) – Big Island

Rub shoulders with leading TV and movie actors, cosplayers, gamers, comic book artists and space scientists in an otherworldly setting.

Pailolo Challenge 2018 (Sep 15) – Maui

Paddlers from across North America, and from as far away as Australia, join Hawaiians for a 26-mile outrigger canoe race from Maui to Molokai.

Chinese Moon Festival (Sep 22) – Lahaina

Join in the Chinese celebration paying tribute to Lahaina’s locally grown produce to a backdrop of colourful lanterns, local art, traditional music and teas served in beautifully manicured gardens. Kids can learn to make paper lanterns at this great, family-friendly event.  

Hawaii’s Woodshow™ (Sep 22) – Oahu

View various works by some of Hawaii’s premier woodworking artists, showcasing their versatility across design mediums, including sculpture, furniture, musical instruments, and more.

Maui Ukulele Festival (Sep 30) – Maui

Celebrate Hawaii’s iconic musical instrument with some of the best players in the business.


New Order (Oct 3) – Mui

Yes, that New Order! Catch the electronic music pioneers on their world tour in one of the most exotic destinations on the planet.

Hawaiian Islands markets

Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (Oct 6) – Oahu, Maui & Big Island

A delicious line-up of events featuring local and world-renowned chefs, winemakers and sommeliers attracting thousands of locals and visitors alike.  

Ironman World Championship 2018 (Oct 13) – Big Island

Since moving to the Big Island from Oahu in 1981, the world-famous endurance event has been held along the Kona Coast, with final instructions reading, ‘Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles, brag for the rest of your life!’.

Maui Marathon & Half Marathon (Oct 14) – Maui

Hawaiian Islands marathon

As the oldest marathon west of the Mississippi, the Maui Marathon is the longest consecutively held running event in the state and was voted in the Top 10 Most Scenic Marathons in America.

Kauai Chocolate & Coffee Festival (Oct 19) – Kauai

Hawaii-grown chocolate and coffee take centre stage in delicious displays, workshops and exhibitions, and plenty of sampling, too!

XTERRA World Championship (Oct 28) – Maui

The world’s top off-road triathlon race, combining a 1.5km swim, 32km mountain bike ride, and a 10.5km run through forested trails and beach. This year, 46 countries are represented by 800 racers. This is the last race in a series of more than 100 off-road triathlons held in 30 countries.


Kauai Writers Conference (Nov 5) – Kauai

Join some of the world’s most sought-after authors in popular fiction & non-fiction, poetry and screenplay for the ultimate writer’s conference, complete with person-to-person manuscript critiques, pitch sessions, and more.

Poipu Food & Wine Festival (Nov 7) – Kauai

The talented chefs of Poipu Beach showcase their goods, street-food style, at this tasty event. Get in on various culinary demonstrations, food stalls and outdoor beer & wine gardens.

Hawaii International Film Festival (Nov 8) – Oahu

The Pacific’s top international film event premiers feature films and documentaries from Asia and the Pacific Islands, focusing on accurate portrayals of Polynesian culture.  

Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival (Nov 9) – Big Island

Hawaiian Islands coffee

Here’s the ultimate way to get your caffeine fix! Considered among the world’s finest coffee growing regions, come out to the 48th  annual celebration, of Hawaii’s world-famous coffee.[AB6]

100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon (Nov 10) – Big Island

A scenic race covering the coastline from Kailua to Kona capped off with Kona’s infamous coffee for everyone.

The Jim Maui Invitational (Nov 19) – Maui

Catch some of the best NCAA basketball teams at the Lahaina Civic Center for 12 games at this ESPN televised event. Teams featured include Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Xavier, and more.


NTBG Christmas Craft Fair (Dec 8) – Kauai

Get your holiday shopping done at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, featuring jewelry, clothing, arts & crafts and a variety of other Kauai-made products.

Honolulu Marathon (Dec 9) – Oahu

The 46th annual race takes runners through a scenic 42km course, from Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head to the Koko Head Crater.

hawaiian islands dragonboating

Jingle Bell Beach Run (Dec 16) – Big Island

Marathoning never felt so festive! Experience a different kind of Christmas when you race in the tropics (Santa hat optional!) All fitness levels are welcome at the 14th annual Kona running event.[AB7]

Hawaii Bowl (Dec 22) – Oahu

Aloha Stadium will again host Hawaii’s traditional holiday football game, televised nationally on ESPN – teams are to be announced.

Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Dec 22-25) – Oahu

The Diamond Head Classic is a bracket-style basketball tournament held at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, featuring 12 games over 3 days, with NCAA teams UNLV, Colorado, Rhode Island, and others.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Celebration at Poipu Beach Park (Dec 31) – Kauai

Start 2019 with a boom! Unwind with a free family-friendly outdoor movie before the annual seaside fireworks spectacle, with the beautiful Hawaiian scenery as the backdrop to this colourful display.


First Friday Art Walk – Downtown Chinatown (First Friday of Every Month) – Oahu

Honolulu’s Chinatown is transformed by lovers of local art and culture. Follow the masses for a lively art crawl through the many galleries, boutiques, outdoor exhibits, cafes, bars and restaurants, free music and entertainment included.


Any time of year is the perfect time to plan a  trip to Hawaii’s exciting islands. Use this as a rough guide, or talk to your Flight Centre Expert Traveller for a polished and personalized itinerary. Contact us at 1 877 967 5302, connect online or Live Chat or drop by a store near you.