Tag Archive | 2016

35-Day Hawaii, Tahiti and South Pacific Sun Princess

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It sounds almost cliché at times to call Hawaii a paradise. The orange sherbet sunrises, verdant rainforests, golden and black sand beaches and smoking volcanoes will have visitors rethinking their definition of the word. There is nothing cliché about these islands. Hawaii captures not only the vast natural beauty of the state, but also the indelible warmth and spirit of the people who call it home.

With 19 distinct volcanic islands, Hawaii is an archipelago located over a geological hotspot in the Central Pacific. Six of these islands are open toImage result for Rainbow Falls and Kaumana Caves visitors and have a tourism-driven economy. The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest of the islands and is home to the most active volcano in the world, located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Hilo is the largest city on the Big Island and home to natural wonders including Rainbow Falls and Kaumana Caves.

The most populous and developed island, Oahu is home to the state’s capital, Honolulu. It is the governmental and commercial hub of the island chain, and arguably one of the best-known destinations in Hawaii. Waikiki Beach has become a mainstay for tourism with its hotels, high-rises, surfers and sun-worshipers who gather here year-round. Just to the west of Honolulu is Pearl Harbor. Visit the national memorial and museum for an insightful and solemn look back into the start of the United States’ involvement in World War II.

Image result for Lahaina, Kaanapali and KapaluaMaui, the second-largest of the islands, has several resort areas on the western side including Lahaina, Kaanapali and Kapalua. In addition to luxury resorts, championship golf courses and endless shopping opportunities, stunning views can be seen from the summit of Haleakala National Park or by taking a helicopter ride over the volcanoes, jungles and beaches of the island. Known as the “Garden Isle,” Kauai is covered with lush tropical plants and is home to several natural wonders such as the Na Pali Coast, Wailua River and Waimea Canyon. As a top diving destination, Kauai has beautiful, unspoiled coral reefs and a variety of fish not found anywhere else in the world. Molokai and Lanai are the least-developed islands of Hawaii and are perfect for a relaxing and secluded beach getaway.

A multiethnic blend of American, Asian and Polynesian influences, Hawaiian cuisine has been making a resurgence with fine and casual dining throughout the state. Replacing pizza and burgers as the late-night comfort food of choice, ethnic noodle stands and houses are popping up in greater numbers. Check out Hamura’s Saimin Stand (think homemade ramen noodle soup) in Kauai or Jimbo’s Restaurant in Oahu. Another staple in local Hawaiian cuisine are plate lunches. These usually consist of a single plate with scoops of rice and a protein, such as kalua pork, beef teriyaki or chicken katsu. For a romantic atmosphere with an incredible view, try the CanoeHouse on the Big Island. The local seafood offerings like Hawaiian snapper and gobo shrimp reflect the restaurants’ Pacific Rim origins. One of the best upscale restaurants in Maui, David Paul’s Lahaina Grill serves signature dishes like seared Ahi tuna with jasmine rice or kalua duck.

All international flights and the majority of those coming from the mainland U.S. arrive at Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on the island of Oahu. Direct service from the mainland is also available for smaller airports in Kahului on Maui, Kona on the Big Island and Lihue on Kauai. From each of these airports, travelers can connect to an inter-island flight using Hawaiian Airlines, MarJet Hawaii, Mokulele Airlines, Island Air, Pacific Wings and the discount carrier, Go! While on Oahu, the cheapest way to get around is the public transportation system called TheBus. There are taxis on all the islands, but for longer stays it’s more efficient to rent a car. Be sure to book your rental car as soon as possible, as prices are based on supply and demand.

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Boasting 11 different climate zones, the weather in Hawaii can vary greatly due to elevation and terrain. The overall climate of Hawaii is subtropical due to the close proximity to the ocean, which moderates temperatures with gentle leeward breezes. There are only two seasons in Hawaii – summer (May to October) with average highs around 85°F, and winter (November to April) with temperatures that rarely fall below 65°F. Areas on the northern and eastern flanks of the islands will receive the most rainfall due to trade winds bringing in precipitation. The winter months tend to bring the most rain, yet there is no best or worst time to visit. The high season runs from mid-December to mid-April, when flights and hotel prices are the most expensive. The crowds tend to thin out from mid-April to May, as well as mid-September to November; this is the best time to find great deals.

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Turks and Caicos

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The Turks & Caicos Islands are two islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of the Bahamas. The islands were part of the United Kingdom’s Jamaican colony until 1959, when they assumed the title of a separate crown colony. Although independence was agreed upon for 1982, the policy was reversed and the islands are presently a British overseas territory.

Turks & Caicos is arid compared with other Caribbean destinations; the island receives less than 50 inches of rainfall annually and generally lacks the lush landscape found across other Caribbean nations. Still, the islands are consistently favored by sunshine and cooling breezes, and the beaches rank with the Caribbean’s best. The Turks & Caicos’ primary appeal is its status as a mostly undiscovered and not overly developed tourism destination.

Providenciales is the main tourism city although not the capital (which is Grand Turk). It features a handful of attractions including the Provo Golf Club, the island’s only 18-hole championship course, site of the 1999 and 2009 Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships. There are also various operators offering dive tours at reefs across the island. Travelers can also rent a boat for a full or half-day, or enjoy virtually every form of water sports, from parasailing to sail boarding. Picnics on exclusive private beaches can be arranged and there are multiple spots for snorkeling among the island’s exotic fish and coral. The Turks & Caicos has one of the world’s longest coral reefs, making it a premier dive destination.

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Horseback riding and kite boarding are other available activities; visitors can take in the Caicos Conch Farm to learn about the life cycle of the conch, an unofficial island symbol. Fishing excursions are also available. The Turk & Caicos has an upscale beach-side dining scene, with a wide variety of restaurants including the popular Hemingway’s at the Sands at Grace Bay hotel. Grand Turk attractions include a historic lighthouse, which features a keeper’s residence and a kerosene storage building, all built of local limestone blocks. For generations, the lighthouse served as mariners’ sole beacon to avoid the treacherous northeast reef, which extends eastward far out to sea and was responsible for multiple shipwrecks.

Cruise ships call at the Carnival Cruise Line’s beachfront terminal in Grand Turk, which represents the islands’ closest link to mass tourism. Located toward the south end of the island, the terminal complex features a tourism village with shops and restaurants, an oversized pool where guests can rent private cabana, and an 800-foot-long beach. Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville is one of the popular eateries featured found here.

The main airport, in Providenciales, is small and at times struggles to keep pace with the recent wave of tourist arrivals. Travelers should arrange for a shuttle or taxi to meet them after landing. Upon departing, travelers should arrive at the airport approximately three to four hours before their fight time, especially on Saturdays, when lines can extend out of the airport doors.

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