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Take a break from sunbathing in Waikiki for a day trip to Oahu’s North Shore, where you can get a feel for a more local way of life on Oahu — the surfer way of life, that is. While not the sleepy, totally undeveloped area it used to be, the North Shore still allows you to enjoy a slow-paced day away from high-rise resorts. Drive yourself along Kamehameha Highway, heading south in order to follow the stops below, which cover an eight-mile coastal route from Sunset Beach to Hale’iwa.
In what has become an annual highly anticipated sale, dozens of hotels and resorts have gotten into the Black Friday and Cyber Monday game, offering deals that must be booked either the day after Thanksgiving (November 28 this year) or the following Monday (December 1) for varying days of travel.
We’ve got the scoop on so many great travel deals for this year’s sales that we’re trying something different. Instead of one big, overwhelming list, we’re sharing themed roundups for easier vacation planning. First up is the Beach edition — whether you yearn for bustling Waikiki Beach in Hawaii or Florida’s quiet Gulf Coast side, you’ll find up to 50 percent discounts next week.
Mark your calendars, then check back in the coming days for our Urban, International, and Adventure editions.
Waikiki, the prime location choice for travelers to Oahu, was once dominated by large expensive hotels and budget bare-bones ones. But in recent years, several boutique chains have been upgrading the older, small properties – meaning travelers can enjoy more personal service as well as good value so long as they’re willing to pass up some frills like the spa, room service, or a lobby bar. If you appreciate a good boutique but don’t want to break the bank, consider these properties on your next visit. (Only one of them charges a resort fee — and all offer free wifi.)
The Hawaiian islands aren’t just about luaus, mai tais, and surfing. Each year they get more inventive with special festivals that showcase their signature brand of food and entertainment. Of course, any visit to Hawaii is brag-worthy, but if your visit coincides with one of these festivals, that’s even more hu’i hu’i (cool).
O’ahu has a calendar that’s full of festivals and celebrations, from the Honolulu Festival in spring to the Aloha Festivals in fall. Kamehameha Day on June 11 is one of the most colorful and elaborate of the island’s celebrations, and it offers the opportunity to delve into the history and culture of the Hawaiian islands. Read more
Barcelona has its Sagrada Familia. Sydney has its white-hooded Opera House. And other places? Well, they’ve got steps – lots and lots of them. As the examples illustrate below, epic staircases aren’t just a way to reach higher ground. They can be major attractions unto themselves. From the fabled Ha’iku Ladder in Hawaii, to Norway’s never-ending Flørli Steps, these jaw-dropping ascents aren’t for the faint of heart. But once you get to the top, we think you’ll agree the views more than make up for the effort. Read more
Honolulu 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
This 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.
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 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
Even 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
Think New York City has a lock on the most expensive hotels in America, or glitzy South Beach? Think again. The highest hotel rates in the U.S. are actually in Hawaii. So far in 2013, guests have spent an average of $233 per night for a hotel room in Hawaii – that’s an increase of $27 over the previous year! With airfare costs on the rise, this can make for a spendy island getaway. But not all Hawaii hotels cost a fortune. Here are some money-saving tips so you can enjoy the luau (or the whale watch, or six hours of lazying in the sun with a view of Diamond Head in the distance) without worrying about how you’ll pay for it: Read more
In many parts of the world, temperatures are starting to slide in a bitter direction. The calling of Old Man Winter is growing tougher to ignore, and the yearning to escape to warmer weather is very, very real. It’s probably about time you rewarded yourself with a trip to Hawaii…or perhaps somewhere even more exotic.
For those already planning a jaunt to the 50th state, or those who have had it on their bucket list for many years now, there’s a little-known secret that could enable you to make that dream trip even more spectacular. Island lovers the world over have fawned over the gems tucked away in French Polynesia, but Tahiti is undoubtedly one of the most remote locales in the world. Getting there is not only trying, but incredibly expensive. If you’ve done even casual research on flying there, you’ve most likely turned away in disgust after seeing how high the fares were when connecting through LAX. Read more
By: Becca Bergman and Jennifer Bernstein
We’ve picked 10 choice beach spots that are serviced by short, direct flights from the east or west coasts, so you can be on the sand by lunchtime. Hurricanes threaten some of these locations this time of year, but some hotels offer drastic discounts to those willing to take the risk. Regardless of the destination, these are the perfect spots for one last quick beach getaway before the fall routine sets in.
By: Kate Sekules
For a brief few months each year, warm weather, long days, and generous vacation time opens up a world of travel possibilities. Whether you enjoy climbing the top of remote mountains, exploring breathtaking river gorges, or biking quiet backcountry roads, we’ve selected 10 spectacular outdoor adventures that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping – and earn you bragging rights, to boot. And to make sure there’s a trip to suit every taste, we’ve included a splurge option (for those who must have the most exotic and/or pampered voyage) as well as a great value (for those who don’t mind roughing it).
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