Monday, March 22, 1999

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Cliff Koanui, Loren Koanui and Liane Koanui wait
for a flight to Kauai on Hawaiian airlines during the weekend.

Spring takes off

Hawaii folks turn students'
yearly break from school
into a family trip

By Mary Adamski


It was the beginning of spring break, and the Koanui family of Kahala observed family tradition, checking in at the Honolulu Airport interisland terminal for a neighbor island vacation together.

"We need a break from work," said Cliff Koanui, headed for a Kauai condominium with wife Debra and four children.

"And away from class," daughter Liane chimed in.

"And looking for surf," added son Loren.

It's the ninth year that the family has used the weeklong school holiday -- this week for most schools -- to get away for a family vacation. The two older children are Chaminade University students. Their younger brother Lyndon brought pal Courtney Hiramoto along.

They had a lot of company as hundreds of local residents left over the weekend during one of the busiest travel times of the year.

Aloha Airlines has added 85 extra flights throughout this week, said spokeswoman Stephanie Ackerman. "The rush begins right after school gets out. It's definitely attributable to the fact it is spring break."

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Tracie Loo, left, pushes a luggage cart bearing
baseball players Mihah Obrero and Kurtis Loo on
their way to a weekend Kauai baseball tournament.

From the looks of the airport crowd, Hawaii folks make the long school recess a family affair. That's a different story from the well-publicized mainland version of carousing college kids heading for Florida and elsewhere in the Sun Belt.

"We do see a lot of University of Hawaii students, four or five together for a four- or five-day trip," said Duke Ah Moo, manager of Pleasant Island Holidays. "Maui and the Big Island are popular with the college age; they like to go hiking and camping."

"Local families aren't looking for luxury," he said. "The big thing is to bring the family and have enough room. They want a moderate price, clean and simple, but something with a swimming pool, the amenities. Condos work the best for a lot of people."

Gordon U. Kai, director of regional sales and marketing with Budget Rent a Car, said every vehicle they have is booked through 90 percent of this week. "It's one of top four busiest weeks of the year."

"The big vehicles are sold out first, like in summertime, because of the families. We brought in 15 passenger vans," he said.

Keoni Wagner of Hawaiian Airlines said the spring break effect can be seen in travel to and from the mainland, as well.

"Our mainland bookings are heavy to family-type destinations," he said. "And college kids are coming home. It is one of our peak seasons for airline travel.

"This year it runs longer than in previous years," Wagner said.

Hawaii's spring break week is tied to the Kuhio Day holiday, on a Friday this year, which will bring another surge of travel this weekend. And Easter is April 4, making the following week a spring break for some private schools and creating another three-day weekend for many islanders.

Vernon Dang of Bishop Travel said: "It seems like, more than last year, seats are harder to come by. There's a lot of people going to neighbor islands and a lot going to Las Vegas. The only time that is tighter would be Merrie Monarch (Festival) week in Hilo.

"A lot of real locals would stay with relatives and won't need a car or hotel."

Joe Erban, general manager of Roberts Hawaii Tours, said it is one of the busier weeks for kamaaina travelers. "We see a demand for longer stays, three or four days. Hotel bookings are still the biggest, but because of the kids and the longer stay, we get more condo bookings."

Spring spurs some to
romp, others recover

Cindy Suzuki of Waianae said what's ahead for her on this spring break vacation is "No cooking!"

She, daughter Josie Bailey and grandson Kamuela Bailey, 3, were in a family party of eight headed for Hilo.

"We're going to visit Madame Pele and see what she's been doing," said Suzuki, in line at Honolulu Airport interisland terminal. Beyond that, only relaxing and eating out were on the agenda.

High school student Rachel Climenhaga had traveled from Toronto for her spring break. She and her sister, Marty Climenhaga of Waimanalo, were on their way to camp at a cabin and hike in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.

Whitney Pascual of Kahuku shepherded her children, Brian, Brittany and Kawehi, and their cousins Telynn and Christy to the departure gate on the way to grandma's house in Hilo.

"We're going to hang out and buy toys," said Brian.

That left Pascual with her own special spring break at home.

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