by Alex Palmer | March 30, 2016

Sun and fun may be the typical reasons travelers consider visiting Hawaii, but there are also a number of historic and cultural reasons why this destination will attract incentive groups this year.

"Many of our iconic experiences will be celebrating a major milestone in 2016," says Marie Watanabe, director of sales for Oahu Visitors Bureau. She points to the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the National Park Service Centennial (Oahu's WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument includes nine historic sites, including the USS Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri Memorial), and the 100th anniversary of the King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade. "There are many 'once in a lifetime' events planned around these milestones," Watanabe adds.

Helping to meet the growing demand the destination is seeing from groups, the island has seen a growing room inventory in recent months. This year, more than 1,300 rooms will be added, or return after renovation, on Oahu, thanks to the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach, Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina, and The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach. The Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa recently completed a $22 million renovation, including a new lobby, registration area, and ballroom.

The island is also adding venues to attract new groups and return visitors. These include the lounge and nightlife spot SKY Waikiki, Tommy Bahama Waikiki (a three-level restaurant, bar, and store opening in August), and the 9,000-square-foot jazz club and restaurant Blue Note Hawaii. Another spot groups can tour is the Kualoa Private Nature Reserve -- home of last summer's massive hit Jurassic World. 

Among the other properties to top the list of incentive groups is The Royal Hawaiian. This Waikiki Beach landmark, originally built in 1927, has maintained its historical roots and romance while keeping pace with the times. The 528-room property offers top-notch restaurants, a Mai Tai Bar, the luxurious Abhasa Spa Waikiki, and the 17-floor Royal Beach Tower (opened in 2010). The nearby Sheraton Waikiki, has an infinity pool and resort pool (complete with waterslide), as well as an ocean-side bar and three on-property restaurants.

It's also a good year for groups to visit Hawaii Island -- as is every year, according to Big Island Visitors Bureau Executive Director Ross Birch.

Scuba diving is one of many great
outings in Hawaii

"The island is one of diversity, and there is something for everyone," he says. "The west side boasts year-round great weather and there are many outdoor event space options."

For those who want to get closer to the Aloha State's alluring waters, Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay is now offering scuba lessons through Keauhou Bay Adventures and Jack's Diving Locker. For a larger type of ocean life, groups can take advantage of the annual return of the humpback whales to Hawaii's waters with Kohala Tours' whale-watching cruise, hopping aboard one of the group's eco-friendly catamarans and heading into the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.