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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.)
By now you’ve likely heard about the controversy surrounding SeaWorld. As a result of the documentary film Blackfish, and its exposure of what animal rights advocates claim is mistreatment of the orcas used in SeaWorld shows, calls for a boycott of the marine mammal theme park chain have grown. The debate goes on: SeaWorld released an open letter stating that, among other things, their research on captive whales benefits those in the wild, but the Oceanic Preservation Society then rebutted the claims.
And there are signs that public opinion is turning against the theme parks. The company recently posted a 13 percent drop in attendance. If you the claims have gotten the better of your conscience and you’re looking for an alternative, here are seven places in North America where you see the same animals that you’ll find at SeaWorld, but in their natural habitats. Read more
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
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
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
A couple of weeks ago, Delta’s CEO Richard Anderson issued a rare public lashing on immigration wait times for passengers coming into the United States. Obviously, the leader of a U.S.-based airline has financial motives for wanting to get passengers off the plane and through passport control in a more efficient manner – but his rant still held a lot of truth. Immigration wait times in countries like Japan or the Netherlands are far shorter than what we face here in the United States.
For those looking to make informed decisions around their future travel plans, here’s a quick look at which airports boast the shortest wait times – and perhaps more importantly, which airports have the worst. Though we can’t guarantee you’ll miraculously breeze through immigration on your trip, at the very least, you’ll know which entry points to avoid or plan for longer layovers if you have a connection. 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
Like anyone else, we love the idea of a free trip. And that’s just what major airlines are offering when they advertise a “free” stopover in one of their home cities — essentially a bonus side trip to another city while en route to your final destination.
Not to be confused with a layover (a few hours in the airport while waiting for your connecting flight), a stopover is any stay longer than 24 hours in which travelers leave the airport and go explore the surrounding city. The length of a stopover is entirely up to the traveler, and since there is often no extra cost added to the original ticket, the stopover is considered free. (In airline speak, this is known as a “dual destination vacation.”)
But how exactly does one go about booking a stopover? And is it a better deal in the long run?
First off, it is important to understand why certain airlines provide free stopovers. In almost every case, these are major international carriers based in major hubs (Emirates/Dubai; Singapore Airlines/Singapore; Japan Airlines/Tokyo; etc.) that want to lure more tourists to their destination. Enticing travelers with a “free” stopover leads to hotel bookings, restaurant meals, and other tourism dollars that otherwise wouldn’t have been spent.
To book a stopover, select “multi-destination” or “multi-city” on the airline’s website and plug in the specific dates for your desired stopover. As long as your stopover is in the airline’s home city, chances are it will cost the same price as a ticket without a stopover.
For example, if I’m looking up flights from New York to Budapest in October, Kayak tells me that Aeroflot offers the cheapest route for $808, with a 3.5 hour layover in Moscow. If I then go to Aeroflot’s website and type in a multi-destination trip that includes two days of sightseeing in Moscow, the flight is the exact same price: $808.
Here are some more examples: Read more
A visit to the museum needn’t be a serious, subdued affair – despite whatever you were told on the field trips of your school days. Many museums are catching on to the trend of keeping doors open after hours so that guests can combine a love of art and culture with good food, drinks, music and dancing. Here are a few of the best.
Warm Up at MOMA PS1, Long Island City, New York
This experimental summertime dance party is one of New York’s hottest tickets and runs on Saturdays from late afternoon through the evening. The museum’s courtyard is taken over by an installation created by the winner of their Young Architects Program while a stellar lineup of international DJs plays to the crowd. You can also expect food, drink and al fresco dancing come rain or shine. 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
Have you booked a trip to Hawaii for 2013 yet? On and off since late fall, we’ve seen jaw-droppingly low fares from Hawaiian Airlines, offering non-stop service to the 50th State. And they’re back again this week.
Depart from New York City and head to the Aloha State’s capital, Honolulu, for just $365, round-trip, taxes included. For a more laid-back vacation on the islands of Maui, Kauai, or Kona (The Big Island), add just $13. For less than $400, you could trade next week’s chilly New York forecast for Hawaiian paradise. Seriously. 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
JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines have announced a partnership that’s primed to make travel to the Aloha State easier than ever before, particularly for East Coast travelers. The newly inked arrangement will allow for seamless daily connections between flights out of New York City (via JetBlue’s JFK hub) and into Honolulu (on Hawaiian Airlines), allowing customers to book single tickets that combine travel on the two carriers.
The new partnership will be featured on Hawaiian Airlines’ soon-to-launch flights (on June 5, precisely) between New York City and Honolulu (where continuing connections are additionally available to Kauai, Maui, or Hawaii Island), on what will be the only nonstop offering on that particular itinerary (advertised rates start at $431 each way). Or, customers can book travel immediately via Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), where JetBlue operates, and Hawaiian Airlines currently offers multiple daily departures to Hawaii (rates start at $339 each way). Plus, the airlines have agreed to allow for reciprocal frequent flyer benefits between the two carriers. Read more
This whiskered mug (shown at right) was my last hurrah on Kauai before it was time to board a plane bound for covert Nextpedition destination #2.
Considering that I’m obsessed with any adorable wild creature – let alone one that waddles from the surf onto the beach before my very feet – this, I decided, was going to be a tough surprise act to follow.
When the plane’s wheels rolled down the runway in Honolulu, I have to admit that I still wasn’t entirely convinced that the second leg of my mystery trip could possibly live up to the past four days.
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