Tag: Islands

Hanalei Is America’s Best Beach: Really?

Hanalei Is America’s Best Beach: Really? Photo by Fire Horse Leo via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Fire Horse Leo via Flickr (Creative Commons)

OK, it’s a beautiful crescent of golden sand. It’s wide and clean and almost aggressively picturesque. There’s no denying that it’s an archetype of what a perfect beach should be. And it was recently selected as the “Number One Beach in the US” by Dr. Beach, a self-declared beach expert. He seems to have gained quite the cred; my Google alerts are crowded with mentions of Hanalei Beach’s new “honor.”

Read More »


Budget Barbados: Five Free Island Activities

Budget Barbados: Five Free Island Activities Photo by Eva Holland
Photo of North Point by Eva Holland

I’ll admit, Barbados is hardly known as a shoestringer’s paradise—this isn’t $5, $25 or even $100 per day territory.

But still, after a couple of extended visits here, I’ve learned that it’s not all pricey cocktails, rooms with a view and chartered yachts, either. There are affordable accommodation options and wallet-friendly meals to be found—and, best of all, some of the island’s most memorable spots are free, or close to it.

Read More »


More Ahi, Please*

More Ahi, Please* Photo by goochie* via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by goochie* via Flickr (Creative Commons)

You can not pile too much ahi—the Hawaiian name for tuna—on my plate. I love the stuff: raw, grilled, wrapped in rice and nori and served as sushi, marinated in soy and spice and served as poke, crusted with macadamia nuts and coconut and topped with a little mango sauce ... I swear I am turning into a big drooling mess just thinking about it.

But overfishing is depleting tuna stocks, just like it’s depleting so many of our dinner-bound, ocean-dwelling populations, driving up the price and making for scarce supply.

Read More »


Hawaii Passes Islam Day Resolution, Haters Call for Boycott

High on the list of reasons I lost my heart so completely to Hawaii?

The diversity. You’ve got your Pinoys, your Japanese, your mainland surfers, your Native Hawaiians, your Portuguese and Spaniards, the descendants of European shippers and missionaries, a whole mess of “hapa” types who are half one thing, half something else, be it Scottish, Korean, Hawaiian, Jewish ...  If you’re looking for a slice of world culture, you’re as likely to find it in Hawaii as anywhere. All those cultures make for a lively and appealing place.

But a few spoilsports are calling for a boycott of travel to the islands because the Hawaii state Legislature recently passed a resolution recognizing “Islam Day.”

Read More »


The New Sand: May Contain Plastic

The New Sand: May Contain Plastic Photo by Mason Bryant via Flickr (Creative Commons).
Photo by Mason Bryant via Flickr (Creative Commons).

The May 2009 issue of Hana Hou!—Hawaiian Airlines’ in-flight mag—includes an article called The Voyage of the Junk. The story is about a journey from California to Honolulu via the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The ship itself was a trash heap, made out of plastic garbage and leftover bits of a Cessna. The goal of the journey was to raise awareness of the impact that all the plastic crap we create, buy and use is having on the oceans.

There’s a particularly sad and telling passage in the story. Upon arrival in Honolulu, one of the sailors decided to find out how long it would take to pull a piece of plastic out of the water. He hopped overboard, and: “Less than a minute later he was out, holding up an ‘ABC Stores’ bag. ‘Thirty seconds,’ he said, with both triumph and distaste.”

Read More »


Luau Chow: Chicken Long Rice

Luau Chow: Chicken Long Rice Photo by Randy Willis via Flickr (Creative Commons).
Photo by Randy Willis via Flickr (Creative Commons).

I admit it: I think you should go to a luau at least once. You need to see one of those big showy events where the dancers make you think impure thoughts with their suggestive hips and a shirtless guy twirls fire while drums pound. Also, there should be a huge buffet where a roast pig comes out of a hole in the ground and poi is dished up in polite amounts for the malahini (foreigners) and there’s a big gooey pan of chicken long rice.

Read More »


Eight Great Stories of Beaches, Islands, Travel and the Tropics

Eight Great Stories of Beaches, Islands, Travel and the Tropics Photo by Oscalito via Flickr, (Creative Commons).

To mark our eighth anniversary, we've collected eight favorite stories from our archives that celebrate and explore travel at land's end

Read More »


Still No Word on What Caused Scabies Outbreak Among Boston TSA Staff

Still No Word on What Caused Scabies Outbreak Among Boston TSA Staff Photo of Pohnpei's airport by Rob Verger
Photo of Pohnpei’s airport by Rob Verger

In late March, five TSA workers at Boston’s Logan Airport were infected with scabies, a nasty little bug that literally lives and breeds underneath the host’s skin.

The incident merited a posting on the TSA’s blog, reassuring passengers that there was basically no chance they could have contracted the bugs by going through security. (One of the many reasons why it would have been practically impossible for a passenger to become infected this way is that the TSA screeners wear gloves, and scabies is usually only spread through direct skin-to-skin contact.)

When I contacted the TSA this week to see if they had any leads in how the outbreak began, Ann Davis, the Public Affairs Officer for the TSA in Boston, said via email:

Read More »


The Deep-Sea Discoveries of Papahanaumokuakea

The submersible plunged into the deep waters of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in 2007,  but it’s only recently that we’re learning about what was found there. Seven new species of bamboo coral have been identified in the protected area northwest of Hawaii’s main islands. Researchers also located a coral graveyard that might have died a million years ago. The NOAA site has some pictures of the coral, the submersible used for exploration at depths of over 5,000 feet and, whoa, cool, that’s a robot arm poking a sponge. And, uh, a milk crate? Whatever is best for science, I guess.

Read More »


The Superferry’s Last Sail

The Superferry’s Last Sail Photo by James Willamore via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by James Willamore via Flickr (Creative Commons)

From day one, Hawaii’s Superferry was fraught with problems. It’s all over now. On March 19, the Superferry made its final run between Oahu and Maui.

From a logistics point of view, the ferry made travel between Oahu and Maui seem a lot easier. Drive on, drive off, with whale-watching thrown in for the price of the crossing, in season. Tourism boosters loved it, as did parents and schools—it made getting your baseball team to that game on Maui a snap, and you could bring your own bus or squeeze the whole swim team into the minivan.

But Hawaiian traditionalists objected to the Superferry because it made it too easy to plunder, like a pirate in a pickup truck, island resources. Environmentalists worried about the whales. And quality-of-life types bemoaned the traffic, suggesting that the cars lined up on either end would cause not only pollution, but delays and crowds.

The Superferry ran, and then it didn’t, and then it ran, and then it didn’t. If you held a ticket, you had to check the website the day of your sailing and, even then, there was no guarantee that you wouldn’t be turned back by protesters. The case to block the Superferry went all the way to the Hawaii Supreme Court. The issue? The Superferry had been allowed to operate before the environmental impact research was complete.

The Hawaii Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a law allowing the Superferry to operate while conducting an environmental impact statement was unconstitutional.—MSNBC

It’s back to interisland flights for travelers.You can’t take your car, but you’re less likely to get seasick. And yeah, you can get a refund for that Superferry ticket.


Volcano Erupts Off Tonga

This gets my vote for photos of the day. Check out this spectacular slideshow of an undersea volcano currently erupting off the Tongan coast. The volcano reportedly poses no threat to the human population in the area, though the rocks it’s throwing off are expected to wash up on the beaches of Fiji. For now, behold the power of nature.


I’m Dreaming of a Green Dubai (or at Least Some Clean Beaches)

I’m Dreaming of a Green Dubai (or at Least Some Clean Beaches) Photo by bryangeek via Flickr (Creative Commons).

It’s been a rough few months of sewage-on-the-beach damage control for the city of excess and $25,000-a-night hotel suites on artificial islands shaped like palm trees. After raw sewage, chemical waste and toilet paper washed up on opulent, luxury hotel-lined Jumeirah Beach and made international headlines, an environmental group is trying to clean up the beach and others along the United Arab Emirates coastline. The Emirates Wildlife Association will encourage managers of the beaches to apply for a Blue Flag designation and meet international standards for water quality and cleanliness.

Read More »


Global Warming Tourism: The Rising Sea Level Slideshow!

Global Warming Tourism: The Rising Sea Level Slideshow! Photo by mrlin via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Florida’s Key West as well as the Maldives, Tuvalu and the islands of Pate and Ndau in the Lamu Archipelago off the Northern coast of Kenya are among eight places that rising sea levels due to climate change will soon make uninhabitable, according to a provocative slideshow at Treehugger.

I hope this doesn’t start a trend in “climate-change cruises.”


New Zealand: The Dream Destination for ‘Ecomigrants’?

new zealand Photo by Sami Keinšnen via Flickr (Creative Commons).
Photo by Sami Keinšnen via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Most ecomigrants, or people who leave their home countries because of climate change, are poor, desperate and often homeless. Consider the citizens of Bangladesh, where between 12 million and 17 million eco-refugees have fled in the last few decades because of increased flooding and other environmental catastrophes attributed in part to global warming. But in an intriguing Washington Post story, it appears that well-off people from developed countries are also worried enough about climate change to relocate to greener locales.

Read More »


Hawaii vs. Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Photo by k*8 via Flickr (Creative Commons).

A brief disclaimer: I’m not an expert on legal matters and while I’ve been doing lots of reading, there’s still lots I don’t understand. Because of that, I absolutely welcome your more enlightened comments on the case. I’d just like to get you interested in what’s happening and why it’s a big deal, I’m going to keep it brief and send you elsewhere to more expert commentary. Now, in summary:

The Hawaiian State Supreme Court previously ruled that the state (Hawaii) could not sell lands ceded in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy until a settlement on those lands had been reached with the Hawaiian people. The gist? The lands were ceded to the U.S. government by those who had no right to do so.

The state of Hawaii is appealing the decision—it wants the right to sell those lands. It says that its ability to manage the lands is impeded by this ruling. That’s the bare bones of the case. But Native Hawaiians see a lot more at stake in the Supreme Court’s first case tomorrow.

Read More »


The Cooler

The Cooler iStockPhoto

We romanticize the past and become nostalgic about our first time in a place. Karl Taro Greenfeld returns to Thailand -- to that place.

Read More »


Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Darwin

Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Darwin From "HMS Beagle at Tierra del Fuego" by Conrad Martens (via Wikipedia)
From “HMS Beagle at Tierra del Fuego” by Conrad Martens (via Wikipedia)

Charles Darwin, author of the classic travel memoir The Voyage of the Beagle (oh, and that other book, too), would have turned 200 years old yesterday. To celebrate, the BBC’s David Shukman visited the Galapagos Islands, armed with a small Darwin library, and filed a series of compelling dispatches on how Darwin’s observations are holding up today.

A quick sample: “A giant frigate bird circles in the dusk sky. A lurid depiction of Charles Darwin adorns an arch outside our hotel. Once again, there’s a sea lion snoozing beside our table. It’s no longer a surprise. I must be evolving too.”


A ‘Guilt-Free Green Luxury Resort’ for the ‘Grown-up Backpacker’?

I’m guessing you have to be a very rich grown-up backpacker to buy a place at the Cacao Pearl, Palawan, billed as the first non-profit, luxury eco-resort community to devote all of its revenue to environmental protection and social improvement. Cacao Resorts is set to build the resort on an 124-acre private island in the Calamianes archipelago on the northern end of the Palawan Biosphere Reserve in the Philippines. Antonio Calvo, a former film art director who worked on “Love Actually” and the horrifically acted “Alexander,” designed the five-star resort, which will have chic, zero-carbon homes, a spa and organic food amid rain forests, coconut trees and beaches.

I hope they will let me visit if I am ever rich and quietly famous.


Wandering Through ‘Hawaii: Holoholo Wale’

Hawaii, surfboards Photo by Pam Mandel.
Photo by Pam Mandel

Confession. I was not all that interested in Hawaii at first. Too touristy, a cliche, whatever. Maybe it was the Elvis movies or the Brady Bunch in Hawaii episodes or the glitzy ad campaigns that showed swimming pools that looked like mini-golf courses. A significant birthday brought me there, my mom’s dash-zero year meant a family gathering, a holiday home, a minivan.

At the time, I was living a divided life between two places, a small town in Austria and Seattle, Washington. In order to get to Hawaii for this January birthday, my mate and I boarded a flight in wintery Vienna. Two days later—after a one-night stop in my Seattle apartment to repack—we stepped out of the plane on to the tarmac at the Kona airport and I fell in love.

Read More »


Honolulu Overheard

Honolulu Overheard iStockPhoto

Pico Iyer takes in the Hawaiian city through its sounds

Read More »