LIHUE — San Jose, Calif. natives Nonnie Capurro and her husband Eric Van Patten enjoy the feeling of the holidays on Kauai.
“It feels more like the spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas than it does back home: not as rushed, not as hectic and people tend to take more time to say hi and happy holidays,” Van Patten said.
The couple has been visiting Kauai every year for 19 years, and attributes the aloha spirit during the holidays as one of the main reasons for their visits.
“Everybody just stops in the grocery story, hugs each other, asks how your family’s doing,” Capurro said. “They just talk story.”
The Thanksgiving travel period is expected to be the busiest in almost a decade, according to a AAA travel forecast.
Almost 49 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more between Wednesday and Sunday, the most since 2007, because of lower gas prices and an improving economy. The trend represents the eighth-consecutive year travel volume has grown this holiday season.
Of the 48.7 million travelers, AAA forecasts about 3.7 million of them will travel by air. The margin is a slight growth from last year’s mark of 3.63 million.
Mark O’Flynn of San Francisco has celebrated Thanksgiving on Kauai with his wife for the last four years.
“We’re making it an annual tradition,” O’Flynn said. “We’ll have dinner here. My wife got back from the market and she got a beautiful piece of ono. She’s going to do a sake soy marinate. We’re gonna do more of a Hawaiian Thanksgiving.”
Like the couple from San Jose, O’Flynn and his wife traveled on a full flight.
“Traveling here has been generally good,” he said. “We discovered last year that it makes traveling much easier to fly directly whichever island we’re going to; rather than going through Oahu. It saves two to three hours on travel time.”
The holidays on Kauai, for O’Flynn, is very relaxing.
“We enjoy Kauai more because it’s less developed than the other islands.” he said. “We’re finding that Maui is getting crowded. I remember 30 years ago, Lahaina was a quaint little town. Now it appears to be more of a tourist attraction. We tend to just seek out and enjoy the non-tourist areas and enjoy the traditional Hawaiian lifestyle.”
John Lloyd of Canada visits Kauai almost every November.
“We come here for holidays when we get bad weather,” he said. “We come at least once a year. Sometimes two times a year. We like to come in November, and we also like to get away in February. They are the worst months of our winter in Canada.”
Lloyd traveled from Canada to Seattle, then trekked from Seattle to the islands.
“The flight here from Seattle was packed, a totally full flight,” he said. “I think Hawaii in general is a very attractive place for Canadians this time of year.”
The rainy weather has been disappointing, Lloyd said.
The weather on the Mainland appeared to be cooperating for the most part, with no significant issues, National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley said. There was light rain in Chicago, a major airline hub, but delays were only averaging 15 minutes, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.
“It looks pretty quiet across the country today; I’ll take it,” Seeley said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.