Skip to main content

Honula Is the New Standard in Adventure Travel Booking

Image used with permission by copyright holder
For international lawyer Francesco Colicci, the call of the waves is more than a hobby. It’s a note from the soul.

An avid surfer with more than 20 years on the water, he’s enjoyed the sport in several different countries while building a successful food recovery business in his native Italy.

“The success of that business made me realize I could do something bigger and better,” he says.

All the while, Colicci became a leader among his group of friends in finding the best new spots to surf.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

“I was their source for recommendations,” he says.

He adds that he saw adventure travel was becoming more fragmented as a whole. In an industry that’s seem tremendous growth in the last few years, there wasn’t a one-stop shop for research and booking of adventure experiences worldwide – especially in the surfing community.

Colicci and five of his entrepreneurial, wave-catching friends saw an opportunity last year and started Honula – the first large-scale aggregator of surfing experiences worldwide. The name comes from a Hawaiian term for “red turtle” meaning safety in travel and adventure.

“People are searching for experiences more than anything now,” he says.

It’s a bet that’s likely to pay off.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), more than half of adventure tour operators expected to see profit growth last year and that’s not expected to slow down anytime soon. It’s a growing segment of the travel market – people looking for unique experiences that combine far-flung destinations and activity.

Launched at last fall’s Web Summit in Lisbon, Honula offers a frequently updated listing of surfing camps, lessons, and excursion in 14 countries around the world, with a primary focus on Europe.

Colicci and his team spend weeks on the road traveling everywhere from South Africa to Peru, creating relationships with small operators that have distinctive water experiences, sometimes in small beachside communities.

“Our offer is based on quality,” he says. “We really like to go to the destination and get to know the people (running the operation). The human approach matters.”

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Although it’s only been live for five months, Honula is already working with organizations like the Italian Rafting Federation to create specialized adventure experiences that other providers can’t offer. They’ll continue to build on that success with bespoke opportunities in other countries in the next phases of the company.

The variety is already appealing. You can surf off private islands in Panama, the havens of Southern California, or in the south of France (with, as Colicci puts it, “the inventors of Glamping”).

Over the next two years, Colicci will increase Honula’s focus on other water sports and have a broader worldwide presence by 2019. He’s aiming to become a major source of adventure travel booking for small operators globally, while keeping the community aspect of the business alive and well.

“Just like our name, we want to provide a unique experience,” he says, “and bring adventure travel tourism into the 21st century.”

Editors' Recommendations

Geoff Nudelman
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Geoff is a former contributor to The Manual. He's a native Oregonian who’s always up for a good challenge and a great hike…
Brad Leone Takes Us Through His Wild Angler Adventures and New Cooking Book
brad leone fishing guide youtube chef shares his wild angler adventures  and new cooking book

Anyone who's a fan of creating really amazing food and getting more involved in the kitchen at home has likely stumbled across Brad Leone's YouTube series with Bon Appétit, where he is the test kitchen manager. The 36-year-old hailing from New Jersey gained a significant following that is no doubt due to his scintillating teaching methods and jaunty personality.

From the original It's Alive with Brad Leone videos to the follow-up segments of It's Alive: Goin' Places, Leone has presented his depth of knowledge both in the kitchen and out in the field. Over the past few years, however, Leone has publicly stepped even further into the field and shared stunning photos from his game hunts and fishing charters.
Related Guides

Read more
When Will It Be Safe to Book Travel Again? Here’s What You Need to Know
when safe to book travel face mask at airport

This month, the COVID-19 pandemic marked its grim one-year anniversary. But with the vaccine roll-out well underway and spring in the air, most of us are feeling optimistic and hopeful that some parts of pre-pandemic life may soon start returning. And while there are plenty of encouraging signs that that is the case, we can't get ahead of ourselves. There are still unknowns about the vaccines' effects on new COVID strains, questions about how much herd immunity is enough to stop COVID, and concerns that discarding precautions too quickly could have grave consequences. So, even with the future looking bright, we're still in a pandemic that is impacting millions of lives, and we need to continue being careful.
Related Guides

When to Plan Travel in 2021
Should You Travel After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine?

Read more
Safara Travel Subscription Service Might Be the Best New Way to Book Hotels
safara new hotel booking subscription service bed lamp

There are so many ways to find and book a hotel these days. It’s easy to go to a specific hotel’s website and book directly but often, if you’re not familiar with the area you’re traveling to and you need to find the best price and reviews possible, you’ll use an online booking service (otherwise known as an Online Travel Agency or OTA) like Expedia or TripAdvisor. 

However, customers can still have varying standards or leave a bad review based on personal experience, so how do you know the hotel you’re looking to stay at has actually been vetted in any way to provide you the best hospitality experience possible? There are plenty of hotel groups and portfolio collections like Relais & Châteaux or Accor that vet their member properties before they can join, but that’s more about premium branding instead of rewards-based membership. 

Read more