September traditionally marks the start of Hawaii’s “shoulder” season, when the number of visitors dips as mainland and local families send their children back to school. It’s a time of warm weather, low airfares and tourist-enticing events such as the Aloha Festivals, set to begin its 75th anniversary with a Royal Court investiture in Waikiki on Sept. 18.
But with coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surging to record levels across the state, many in the islands are questioning the ethics of traveling there now. While Gov. David Ige has simply asked visitors and residents to postpone nonessential travel, others point to the decisive action of a real-life royal, Queen Liliuokalani.
This Labor Day weekend would normally have seen hundreds of domestic and international competitors, and thousands of supporters and spectators in Kailua-Kona for the world’s largest outrigger canoe competition, the Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race, founded in 1972. But in the spirit of the race’s namesake, whose birthday is Sept. 2, the organizers first limited the event to paddlers from Hawaii Island, and then recently canceled it altogether.