The University of Hawaii announced that they will host North Carolina men’s basketball in 2024. This is a strong indication that UNC will participate in the 2024 Maui Invitational.
Roy Williams was famous for participating in the pre-Thanksgiving tournament as often as he was allowed. Williams’ Carolina teams would usually pair the tournament with a west coast away game, or a match up with Hawaii in the days leading up to the Invitational, to help break up the travel. UNC played Hawaii in 2016 and were scheduled to play the Rainbow Warriors again in 2020, but had to cancel due to COVID.
For those UNC fans looking to spend Thanksgiving in Hawaii, the pre-tournament game against UH will act as an appetizer to the three-day basketball feast on Maui.
The game in Honolulu also serves as a useful waypoint for travelers from the Mainland. If you’re flying from anywhere on the continental United States, it is easier and cheaper to fly into Honlulu (HNL) than Kapalua (JHM) on the west side of Maui. Fly your preferred national carrier (United, Delta, American, etc) into HNL, spend some time on Oahu, watch Carolina beat the ‘Bows, then fly on Hawaiian or Southwest to JHM on a separate ticket (the flights are less than an hour and usually run for around $100 each way). The Lahaina Civic Center is a 10-15 minute drive from the airport. You’ll want to stay at a resort on the west side as well, that’s where the best beaches are.
When you return to Oahu, enjoy the winter swells, which bring huge waves to the North Shore. Kooks should not attempt to surf during this season, as you may die, but you can watch the locals and professionals catch waves with faces 16 feet or taller (up to 50 feet on good days, 100 feet as a record!)
For fans of history, a tour of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a must. On the ferry from the museum to the site of the USS Arizona, you may get a glimpse of the USS North Carolina (SSN-777)—a nuclear-powered Virginia-class submarine stationed at Pearl Harbor—provided she isn’t underway.
There are few things better than Thanksgiving, Hawaii, and Tar Heel basketball, but when you combine them all together? Absolute heaven. If you’ve been saving up for the trip of a lifetime, want to cheer like crazy for Carolina in a high school-sized gym that isn’t filled with dookies, and want to feel Aloha vibes, then mark your calendar now. And get vaccinated and wear your mask so Maui can actually host the event again!