Shermanstravel Blog

Hawaii

POWWOWHonolulu isn’t all beaches and paper umbrella-adorned cocktails. There’s a fresh and youthful creative movement happening in the city, too. Here’s where to get a taste of it: Read more

When on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu, you just have to get outdoors. But if sunning yourself on a beach all day isn’t challenging enough, you can choose from the many hiking trails across the island, which are suitable for all fitness levels – and free.

Manoa Falls Trail

manoafallsThis 0.8-mile hike through lush rainforest is easygoing and shaded, but often very muddy. (Flip-flops are not a good idea.) The trail begins by crossing over a footbridge and a small stream, then makes a gradual incline, ending at a viewing area set back from the base of the 100-foot (and, honestly, rather underwhelming) waterfall. More than the falls themselves, this hike is most notable for the flora you walk through: bamboo, huge banyan trees, and colorful flowers. Parking costs $5, or you can get the #5 bus from Ala Moana.

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mauis winery ulupalakua vineyards-620Headed to Maui – perhaps for one of these fantastic hotel deals we highlighted this month? This beautiful island might be famous for its wealthy residents and spendy accommodation, but springtime offers a wide range of distractions for less. From marine fun, to golf, to happy hour, here are five ideas for a more affordable Hawaiian vacation:

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Mexico Riviera MayaAll-inclusive resorts are great at keeping their guests busy. Included yoga classes and dance lessons are a fun way to spend a less-than-sunny day, and free-to-use kayaks and snorkeling gear can get you away from the pool and into the ocean. But many resorts also offer additional activities and day-trips that aren’t covered by the basic all-inclusive rate. (Usually the division between included and not lies with the type of activity. If the activity is “non-motorized,” it’s probably included. If it requires a ride off the property or a heavy piece of equipment, it probably requires an additional fee.) The good news? In many cases, that additional fee is worth it.

The eight itineraries listed below will give you a sense of what’s available, and how much these day-trips cost. And keep in mind that these are just examples to show you the breadth of resort offerings. There are many other resorts that offer similar excursions.

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hyatt regency waikiki beach 2 - 620

Between the killer waves, unbeatable seafood, and lush landscapes, the amazing islands of Hawaii manage to captivate pretty much every traveler who visits. If you’re considering a repeat visit of your own, now’s the time to start planning – each May, a tiny tourism lull between the end of winter and the start of busy summer means a significant drop in hotel rates. Our advice? Snap up one of these eight great deals, catering to a range of budgets, while you still can:  Read more

With freezing temperatures across the country and what seems like an endless amount of snow this winter, it’s high time you treated yourself to a warm-weather escape at a reasonable price.  Swap the white snow for the white-sand beaches of the Bahamas, unwind under palm trees on a week-long sail to the Caribbean or Mexico, traverse the famous Panama Canal while visiting tropical Aruba and Curacao, or island hop through Hawaii, all for under $1000. If slow cruising in luxury is more your speed, travel through the translucent waters surrounding the Seychelles on a yacht, visit ancient Mayan ruins on a cruise to Central America and the Caribbean, or drop anchor in exotic marvels of the South Pacific.  So dig out of that snowbank and try one of these 10 warming cruises this season:

 

AmagerWe travelers jump at any chance to explore nature, whether it’s a sweaty hike through the Amazon, or maybe an afternoon spent flower-gazing on a mountain in South Africa. This is what travel is all about: seeing all the beauty the world has to offer. But what about sites that weren’t created by nature? Sometimes, they can be just as impressive. Below, we’ve rounded up eight man-made attractions around the world that you can visit for free… Read more

620x400_FlickrLauraMotta_LanaiGardenoftheGodsWe’ve always had a soft spot for Lanai, the small, sparsely inhabited Hawaiian island that’s a quick ferry ride from the east coast of Maui. Many travelers who visit its red-and-orange-sand shores are daytrippers who hungrily reserve the island’s limited rental cars far in advance. And they leave the comfort of their Maui resorts for good reason. Breathtaking solitude on its beaches, mysterious rock formations, towering offshore shipwrecks, and stoplight-and-shopping-mall-free roads are just some of its charms.

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 Lots of budget travelers like to avoid renting a car in favor of taking public transportation, but in the case of Hawaii, that’s not necessarily the case. By securing a rental, you’ll be able to access points of interest on your own that can be costly to experience on a guided tour. Here are five “tours” that require nothing more than a set of wheels and a good map: Read more

Ah, those pesky resort fees. We’ve all encountered them in our travels, lurking on our hotel bills.

They’ve been around since the 1990s when they were generally utilized to pay for the upkeep of high-end facilities at upscale resorts; the beach clubs and tennis courts, for example. However, in the last five years or so, more and more hotels have been tacking on these annoying – and often spendy – extra charges for considerably lower-end facilities. For example, almost every explanation of these fees we’ve encountered includes such uninspiring “perks” as a newspaper and local phone calls.

According to research by Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management at New York University, the U.S. hotel industry collected approximately $1.55 billion in fees and surcharges in 2009. Not all of which were resort fees, but you can see how fees and extras add up. Here’s a breakdown of these fees, how they work, when they’re charged, and how you can avoid them. Read more

Airline In-flight iPad OfferingsAs the popularity of mobile devices continues to grow, the airline industry – often slow to react to such changes – has begun redefining the notion of in-flight entertainment. Unlike the ceiling-mounted displays that used to force entire cabins to watch the same movie, or even the individual, behind-the-seat monitors we are all accustomed to now, newer hand-held entertainment devices are being tailored exclusively for passengers.

On flights where in-seat displays aren’t available, the addition of tablets is a huge boon, though arguments for their alleged “benefits” (small size, multiple viewing angles, ability to share with neighboring passengers) get a little shaky. However, for die-hard tablet fans – or those simply interested in a different take on in-flight entertainment, here’s a look at which airlines are now offering the devices on-board. Read more

Cheapest Cities for Rental CarsThinking of throwing together one last Great American Road Trip before the summer draws to an end? Though it’s always an option to depart from your own driveway, an affordable rental car allows you to cruise around highways and byways that are far from home. Toss in the fact that you won’t be adding miles and wear to your own vehicle, and the burden of responsibility is further lifted.

Of course, scoring a deal is what makes it all worthwhile, and not all cities price rentals similarly. Here’s a look at the best airports to fly into for a cheap ride – and some of the gorgeous roads that lead to them. Read more

Where You Can Dive with SharksAs the hilarious ads point out, it’s a bad week to be a seal (RIP, Snuffy), but an awesome one to be a shark fan, with the Discovery Channel’s hugely popular series, Shark Week, creating a bigger splash than ever in its 26th season. When the much-anticipated series debuted this past Sunday, a record 4.8 million viewers tuned in, according to Nielsen figures.

But the toothy good times don’t have to end when Shark Week does this Sunday, Aug. 11. On the contrary, the current range of shark-centric travel and excursions is truly staggering, offering adventurous souls numerous opportunities for climbing into cages, snorkeling with, and sidling up to these fearsome ocean predators in their natural habitat. Here, a few ways you can re-create your own real-life Shark Week experience. Read more

What to do in HonoluluWith Hawaiian Airlines adding to its list of routes, such as the recent launch of its New York to Auckland service, chances are increasing that you might find yourself in Honolulu with some time to kill. Even if you can’t take advantage of the airline’s free stopover policy, you can still make the most of a short layover with our suggestions. Read more

Whale Watching SpotsEven if you hold an annual pass to your local aquarium, it’s hard not to be awestruck by the sight of a slick-backed whale gliding through its natural habitat. The supersize creatures have fascinated travelers and scientists alike for eons, and the whale watching industry has benefitted greatly from all the intrigue.

Part of the mystique is the continual game of hide-and-seek whales play with us, their observers. Much like the Northern Lights, spotting a whale requires you to be in the right place at the right time. If you’re looking to spot a pod on your next trip, here are a few places where you stand a better-than-average chance at getting splashed. Read more

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