HI Travel Guide
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Summer is a great time to visit Hawaii — but then, who are we kidding? Anytime is a great time to visit. Thankfully, booking your flight just got much easier, as Hawaiian Airlines has updated its website — and it looks pretty darn snazzy if you ask us.
Things are still being tested out, so technically it’s just a beta version of the final project; however, we like what we see. There’s gorgeous aerial imagery of the islands, vibrant colors, crisp fonts — and well, it basically makes us just want to turn over our credit card digits immediately.
Remember way back to when the Hawaii Superferry was doing its thing, as it took tourists and locals alike across a quick stretch of the Pacific? Well things did not really work out too well, and that last we heard the ferry was sent off to an early retirement over in Virginia—far, far from the islands of Hawaii.
Well now it looks like the state government in paradise is thinking about a little ferry fun once again, as there is discussion about starting up a more affordable way to get between the islands without taking to the skies. Officials like what they have seen over in Washington State, and they have given the go ahead for the Department of Transportation to study how things could shake out. This time there seems to be more of a focus on passengers only rather than cars too.
One of the concerns is that residents just can’t afford the airfare to hop between the islands, and that’s especially the case when multiplying things for a family of four—or more. So there’s certainly a lot to look at here, and by no means will you be taking a traditional ferry between Oahu and Maui anytime soon. However, we’ll see where this goes, and of course will keep you posted.
Above: Ni'ihau as seen from Kauai
Perhaps you've heard of Hawaii's "Forbidden Island," where just under 200 residents speak Hawaiian as their first language, and no outside visitors are welcome without explicit invitation. Sitting so tantalizingly near to the coast of Kauai, this privately owned island, named Ni'ihau, is the westernmost of the Hawaiian Islands chain. It's so close and, yet, so far.
There are, however, ways to visit Ni'ihau on your vacation. One of the most popular trips to Ni'ihau focuses on the pristine waters of the island's coastline, home to many rare endemic species of sea life. Only one tourist boat operator on Kauai crosses the Kaulakahi Channel between Kauai and Niihau for snorkeling excursions on its coast and around Lehua Crater daily, and that's Holo Holo Charters, who also originated Ni'ihau snorkeling trips.
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Tell friends who've been to Hawaii before that you're heading to Kauai and there's one thing you'll hear over and over: "you've got to take a helicopter tour!"
Soaring above remote waterfalls, azure reefs, untouched coastline, and Hawaii's own version of the Grand Canyon (Waimea Canyon) sounds like a no-brainer... until you see the price tag. Averaging $200 per person, helicopter tours around Hawaii demand more consideration and budgeting than, say, a surfing lesson. And, for some of the islands' more unique destinations, scenic helicopter flights edge upward toward $300.
Recently while in Kauai, we flew with Island Helicopters, the only company with landing rights at the impressive Manawaiopuna Falls, better known as "Jurassic Park Falls" for their cameo in the movie. The "Jurassic Park Falls Helicopter Landing Adventure" tour costs from $269 per person and lasts 75-85 minutes. The more basic flight, named "Grand Circle Tour," is available from $145 per person and lasts 50-60 minutes.
However, today, they have announced REAL new flights from San Francisco to Maui and Honolulu. Whee!
Even better, Virgin America says the flights will be on new Airbus A320 jets that they are expected to receive later this year. New routes, new planes, new reasons for a Hawaii vacation.
We got so excited by the thought or riding a moon-lit Virgin America plane to paradise, we immediately headed over to Virgin America to start the booking process but our roll was slowed down by the fact that the new service won't start until November 2. That's for daily round-trip flights to Honolulu, starting at $199 one-way. The flights to Maui will begin on December 3. Because that's prime holiday vacation time, the rates are rather insane. There are a few flights at $199 one-way, but most of the flights are going for $782 in mid and late-December. Yes, that's one-way.
And of course, these new routes only serve the folks in the Bay Area, and people who fly themselves to the Bay Area, not Los Angeles which is another big market for Hawaii flights. But perhaps if all goes well, both San Francisco and Los Angeles will get lei'd by next year.
[Photo: Virgin America/Facebook]
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Hope you're hungry.
We may have already shared our secret of the best local ramen on the island (Hamura Ramen Stand!), but the truth of the matter is that there's enough good eats on Kauai to warrant more than just a quick trip. It's no wonder Kauai is a destination with visitor loyalty; travelers and families we met all seemed to have a history with the place, vacationing there for generations or having made it their permanent vacation with a long-distance move.
Deep into a shave ice with a view to the sunset over surfers in Poipu Beach, we admit to considering it ourselves; it would be all too easy to live in Kauai and eat well every day of the year. Still, for those with only several days to taste Kauai, we recommend these 17 favorites:
That croissant in Paris. The char kway teow in Singapore. That cup of hot chocolate in Perugia. This is Food Worth Flying For. In this new series, Jaunted's contributors share the foods they'd gladly fly around the world for (and probably already have).
Shave ice. Puka Dog. Mai Tais. Ahi poke. Kalua pork. Macadamia nut...everything. We could go on.
You see, the food-related reasons to travel to Kauai, HI are pretty much endless, but we keep returning to one taste from the island over and over: Saimin Ramen.
Though you may recognize the word ramen, "saimin" is a special sort of the comforting noodle dish specific to the Hawaiian islands. The original influence is a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino, but the inclusion of Hawaiian-favorite Spam lunch meat and, depending on your personal preferences, may also contain, sausage, eggs, wonton, dumplings, and kimchi.
Dear snorkelers and scuba divers:
Have you ever experienced a trip out into the water which was so impressive, effortless, and magical that you just know you'll be comparing all future water adventures to it?
Such was our recent experience during a dive off the south coast of Kauai, Hawaii, with the island's Seasport Divers.
What made it special enough to become the best scuba dive of our lives (so far)? During the long, long flight home from Hawaii, we boiled down the exceptional experience to 8 factors to look in every future dive:
Airfare Deals / Hawaii Travel / Kauai Travel / TheFlightDeal / FareDealAlert / Budget Travel / Island Travel / Beach Travel / Travel Deals / → All Tags
Hawaii is cheap this season, you guys. The faraway state of paradise (both literal and figurative) has seen airfare deals from all over the country, for totals that've been beating prices to Cancun, Cabo, and even Florida. Right now is the time to rethink and reroute vacation plans in the direction of the Pacific Ocean.
The onslaught of Hawaii deals began in December, with some roundtrips from almost all major US cities to most major Hawaiian airports in the high $500 range. We jumped on a $570 US Airways deal from Boston to Kauaione of the most expensive islands to travel toand a friend snagged Detroit-Kauai on Delta. It seemed a Christmas miracle, having flights to Hawaii for 50% off!
To our surprise and everyone's benefit, those deals have continued and, in certain cases, even sweetened. Our friends at FareDealAlert just dug up a $355 roundtrip to Honolulu on United from Minneapolis and various other middle America cities suffering from the winter blues. Chicago is a hair more at $500.
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The wind in your hair, the radio turned up, sunglasses on fleek, and every hottie on the sidewalk glancing your way. You're driving a convertible, baby!
The transformer of automobiles is frequently associated with men in mid-life crises and women who list "trophy wife" as their occupation, but there's no reason it's not also for you, for at least a few days. Convertibles are best enjoyed as a rental car, but making the decision to lay down the dollars for the upgrade is the worst part of the experience. In fact, it's a dilemma we faced hardcore in Hawaii this week.
Arriving to the Avis rental car counter at Kauai's Lihue Airport, we asked about the availability of an upgrade to a convertible. This being Hawaii, the lot was packed with Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro convertibles, and the agent noted that typically they cost $129/day to rent (Priceline actually has them from $65/day at the LIH Airport location), but the upgrade price is significantly less on a prepaid economy reservation such as ours.
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Leaving Hawaii is never easy, but at least your time at the airport might be that much more enjoyable thanks to the folks over at Hawaiian Airlines. They’ve always had a few lounges here and there across the island airports, but now they’re spending some cash to spiff them up for both tourists and locals alike.
All in all they’re upgrading and improving six of their Premier Club lounges, but up first was the one over at Honolulu International Airport—and it’s now open for business. Think the usual lounge offerings like free WiFi, plenty of power outlets, and free snacks and beverages.
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If you do just one thing today—besides going to work—be sure it’s entering the latest contest from the folks over at the Travel Channel.
This year their big giveaway known as The Trip: 2015 is all about Hawaii, and one lucky winner is going to score around $100,000 worth of airfare, vacation, and spending cash.
Hosts from the channel will take viewers across five different islands showing off all the giveaway goodness. That way you’ll know what you’re getting into if you win the grand prize (the next airing is February 4 so set your DVR).