OMG! There was a 40 ton Whale below my kayak today!!

July 30, 2008

maui kayaksOur favorite guests, the humpback whales travel from Alaska to Hawaii every winter to have their young. The Islands of Maui, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Molokai make a bowl with depths of only 300 feet creating a perfect environment for the birthing of the calves.

Our morning began by meeting Kaleo and his 5 yr old son Kahi at Olowalu Beach for a 3 hour guided tour of whale watching. There were 8 of us all together. Kaleo works for Maui Kayaks, he is extremely personable and very well versed in Maui geography, history, culture and sealife. Combined with his knowledge is a true enthusiasm for his job - he really loves coming to “the office” every day! Kaleo is a single Dad so Kahi tags along with him - this is Kahis’ daycare. He is the sweetest little boy, just sits up on the bow of the kayak looking out for the whales.

As we are waiting for Kaleo to get the kayaks ready, the sun was rising and about a dozen turtles were popping their heads up out of the water checking us out on the beach. Meanwhile we could see whales off in the distance breaching and blowing.

The water was as clear as glass, every shade of blue you can imagine and the colors of the coral spectacular.

The whales played cat and mouse with us for the first 2 hours and then they decided to come and visit us. Oh my gosh - they would swim under our kayaks, we could see the white outline of their tails but there wouldn’t be a ripple in the water. Then in a moments notice they would pop out of the water.

Next time you visit Hawaii - you must try kayaking with Maui Kayaks! The whales visit the Hawaiian islands between Thanksgiving and Easter holiday!

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Maui - I love where I live!

July 27, 2008

Maui - I realize this island is a dream destination for many people and I am blessed to live here for the last 20 years…I love the tropical warm island breezes that make it possible to have my door open year around, I love waking to the sound of melodic birds singing (all a different tune).

I love the slower pace of life, where people stop for each other in traffic and greet each other with a smile and a “shaka bra” hand signal (whether they know them or not). I love the different cultures co-existing harmoniously - just experience a school pot luck dinner and you will find dishes from at least a dozen different cultures.

I love the idea that weekends are for beach barbeques and the parks are always full of families enjoying the ocean and each other. I love that our favorite annual visitors, the Humpback whales bless us yearly with their presence to birth their calves in our warm, calm, safe waters and we get to watch the Mothers teach them how to breach, slap their tales and mingle with the other whales and dolphins.

Maui No Ka Oi - Maui is the best!

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Fiji - Cruise Where Very Few Have Cruised Before!

July 24, 2008

Incredible 7 night Captain Cook Northern Fiji Dateline Cruises aboard
the MV Reef Escape

Fiji Cruise Sale - 40% off Brochure fares

Captain cook cruise• Cross the International Dateline
• Visit historic Levuka (old capital)
• Island feasts & elegant dinners
• Sacred village ceremonies
• Snorkel the famous Taveuni reefs

Visit places without postcards in the remote Northern Fiji Islands aboard MV Reef Escape. The special seven-night cruise, venturing to the international dateline has been developed after months of research and includes islands rarely visited by commercial vessels. Join the Captain and crew as they guide you through the hundreds of islands and reef; and the unique history, art and culture of the Northern region.

Cruise beyond the Yasawa Island to Levuka on the island of Ovalau. This quiet town with its stately backdrop of 19th Century colonial architecture and waterfront promenades is a time capsule of colonial rule. Swim in the Bourma Waterfall lagoon on Taveuni Island and stand on the 180th Meridian - the arbitrary Dateline between today and tomorrow.

Our journey takes you to Savusavu’s extinct volcanic crater, hot springs and thriving markets. Explore picture perfect coral cays where the water is so clear the marine life appear like stars on a giant movie screen.

Set Sail on your Adventure

Tuesday: Tivua Island
Welcome aboard Reef Escape with a complimentary fruit punch and welcome salusalu (lei) as we set sail for our Fiji Island adventure. This afternoon visit Captain Cook Cruises own exclusive island “Tivua?where you can enjoy a twilight swim, snorkel or relax on the beach. Tonight enjoy our special Welcome Dinner and crew entertainment.

Cruise Remote Northern Fiji

Wednesday: Nanuyakoto, Nananu-I-ra
Today we venture beyond the Yasawa Islands to the north coast of Viti Levu with fabulous views of the main island, plus two island stopovers for some sun, sand and snorkelling. A fabulous day to relax into your Fiji adventure and to fully explore all the facilities of your own small cruise ship. Meet your fellow passengers and Ship’s Officers for pre-dinner cocktails in the Ra Marama Lounge with music on the Baby Grand. In the evening join the fun of our popular shipboard Crab Races.

Meet the Locals

Thursday: Levuka
This morning we arrive at the port of Levuka on the island Ovalau, situated off the northeast coast of the main island. Levuka was the first European settlement in Fiji and became the centre of British colonial administration and trade. At its peak over 50 hotels catered to the thirst of sailors in port and the town gained a wild reputation. In 1888 the capital was moved to Suva on the main island, and Levuka’s notoriety gradually waned. Passengers are invited to join an optional tour of this now quiet historic town with its stately backdrop of 19th Century colonial architecture and waterfront promenades. In the afternoon we visit the children of Marist Convent Primary School.

Relax on the Beach

Friday: Savusavu
This morning we arrive at Savusavu, the second town on the second biggest island in Fiji, Vanua Levu. Savusavu is positioned on an extinct volcanic crater. Choose from a selection of optional tours including a visit to the hot water springs, pearl farm and markets. Later this afternoon we cruise to swimming beach in Savusavu Bay.

Village Ladies

Saturday: Bourma Waterfall/Naselesele
This morning we disembark on the western side of Taveuni Island - the “Garden Island?of Fiji. The optional bus tour takes you to the beautiful Bouma Waterfall where you can swim and relax in the beautiful setting. The tour then continues to the Naselesele Village where you can visit the local handicraft markets. Tonight enjoy the tastes of Fiji with a traditional ‘lovo?(earth oven) feast where we share fresh local seafood, meat succulent tropical fruits. Then dance to the drum of the meke (dance) and kava ceremony.

Stand in both Today and Tomorrow

Sunday: Waiyevo & Dateline
For an experience not to be missed, join the special choral church service at Waiyevo on the western side of Taveuni. Taveuni Island lies on the 180th Meridian, the arbitrary line between today and tomorrow. After the service our crew will take you to the famous Dateline Meridian where you can literally stand with one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Late morning we depart for our scenic cruise along the south west coast of Vanua Levu navigating Bligh Water.

Beachcombing

Monday: Sali Sali Island, Mystery Island
Cruising south west from Vanua Levu we arrive at Sali Sali Island on the northern side of Viti Levu for our customary swim, snorkel and beachcombing. A lazy morning to enjoy our last beach visit before we reboard for lunch and our homeward journey, with a afternoon stopover at a mystery island (time permitting). This evening don your sulu (sarong) and join all the celebrations of our Pacific Island Night Finale. Pre-dinner cocktails and appertisers are served in the Ra Marama Lounge before our gala farewell dinner featuring the music and dance of the South Pacific.

Tuesday: Nadi
Enjoy breakfast before we return to Denarau Marina with farewell Isa Lei, disembarking 9.00am

Discount applies to select cruises - call us for details, pricing and dates of departure at 800 644-6659

Valid for sale 01 August 2008 to 30 September 2008
Valid for travel 01 August 2008 to 31 March 2009
Room Type: Valid on all levels of accommodation

If you too would like to cruise the remote islands of Fiji
Call Me at 1-800-644-6659
Your See the South Pacific Specialist at Luxury Hideaways

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Fiji - Helpful Hints for you

July 24, 2008

happy fijiansThe beautiful islands of Fiji are situated in the blue seas of the South Pacific and have been called the world’s friendliest paradise. Set in truly magical surrounds with an inviting tropical climate, lush vegetation and white sandy beaches. The Fijian people personify hospitality and have a more gentle pace of life, mixed with a rich blend of culture and traditions.

Accommodations

Accommodations range from budget to luxury and 5-star with the amenities you would expect. What is a “bure”? A bure is a thatched roof resort villa reflecting the style of a traditional Fijian village accommodation with all your 3-5 star inclusions.

Airport

Nadi Airport is the gateway for International travelers and is situated only minutes from Nadi Town. Nausori Airport is about 40 minutes drive from Suva city.

Banking hours

Monday to Thursday 9:30am to 3:00pm; Friday 3:30am to 4:00pm. There is a 24 hour bank at Nadi Airport.

Passport and Visas

All visitors to Fiji must have a valid passport with at least six months validity from the date of departure from Fiji. No visas are required for North American passport holders for a 30 day stay or less. Visitors not traveling on North American passports should check visa details with their travel agent.

Climate

A Fijian Coastline Fiji enjoys a tropical maritime climate, with maximum summer temperature in November through to April averaging 30°C. The cooler months from May to October have a maximum average of a pleasant 26°C. The summer months is the usual time for tropical rain and cyclone activity, although rain can occur at any time through the year. Trade winds from the east southeast bring year long cooling breezes late afternoon and early evening.

coupleClothing

Visitors to Fiji need a light, tropical wardrobe. Bathing suits, shorts and T-shirts are a must. The emphasis is on casual attire; however; for exclusive resorts or high category hotels a “smart casual” dress is more appropriate. Visitors are asked to dress modestly when visiting villages or when shopping in town.

Credit Cards and Travelers’ Checks

Traveler’s checks are the safest way to take money with you on holidays. International credit cards are welcome at most hotels, restaurants, shops, rental car agencies, tour and cruise companies.

Currency

The Fijian dollar is the basic unit of currency. It is issued in dollar notes and cent coins. Banks will offer the best rate of exchange, although currency exchanges will also be available at hotels and resorts.

Electricity

The electrical current in Fiji is 240 volts AC 40 cycle. Fiji has a three-pin power outlet.

Language

Fiji is an English speaking country. Their national language is Fijian, however you won’t have any trouble communicating with these friendly, open people. A Fijian Lunch

Health

There are no specific requirements or inoculations needed for travel to Fiji. However, we do suggest you seek advice from your physician regarding your individual requirements.

fiji kidsTipping

Tipping is not encouraged in Fiji and it is left to the individual to determine whether or not to pay a gratuity.

For more information on travel to Fiji or anywhere else in the South Pacific, please call the Specialists at 800 644-6659 or email at info@luxuryhideaways.net

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Australia vs Europe – Do The Math!

July 24, 2008

Frazier islandWith the comparatively stronger US dollar, Australia offers an amazing getaway any time of the year. Choose from amazing vacations in world-class wine country, vibrant cities, tropical beaches or the Outback. Australia truly is the land of no worries.

With the current US exchange rate compared to the Euro, your dollar will stretch much further in Australia.
Europe - Lunch or cappuccino? In Australia, you don’t have to choose.
But… I Hate Math. Don’t worry mate - I’ve done all the math for you… the US dollar goes much further than with those Euro dudes.

Pint of Beer -
Australia - $3.00 USD vs Europe - $7.00 USD

Cruise with Lunch
Australia $56.00 USD vs Europe $78.00 USD

Round of Golf
Australia $98.00 USD vs Europe $104.00 USD

Two nights in a 4 star hotel
Australia $279.00 USD vs Europe $459.00 USD

So, where are you going for your next holiday?

If you would like to take a trip Down under to Australia
Call Me at 1-800-644-6659
Your See the South Pacific Specialist at Luxury Hideaways

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Royal Davui Resort was First Class!

July 22, 2008

Royal DavuiHi Teresa:

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. As for Royal Davui, Marisa and I had a wonderful time. The accommodations were first class, and the food was wonderful! We never had a problem with eating at the same place day after day. :-) Marisa and I did probably most of the available activities on and off the island.

All were very good, but we probably enjoyed the whitewater rafting the most because we were able to see a side of Fiji that you can’t see from the barrier islands. We did, however, grow a bit tired at the end of the trip of having to drive back and forth on the boat. It was mostly because we had a strong Southerly wind for most of the trip and fairly bumpy seas.

They didn’t have our accommodations right when we got there because they put us on the shady side (i.e., the South side) of the island. They were, however, able to move us to the West side after 2 nights. So it wasn’t a big deal. The weather was good for most of the trip. It did, however, rain all day on our last full day at Royal Davui. It was also raining the day we left, so we left Davui on the early helicopter to beat the weather. We got a day room at the Hilton just outside of Nadi, so it worked out just fine.

We were really happy that we saw the East side of Fiji. What a difference from the West side. I’ve attached a picture of Marisa and I from one of the dinners on our trip. This is from the dinner when we ate the fish that we had caught earlier in the day.

Thanks again for all of your help with another fabulous trip. I’m sure that we’ll be in touch when we start planning our annual trip for ‘09.
Best regards.
Todd [Read more]

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The Aloha State Became the 50th State in 1959

July 21, 2008

But the history of Hawaii goes back centuries earlier. More than 1500 years ago, Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands first set foot on Hawaii’s Big Island. With only the stars to guide them, they miraculously sailed over 2000 miles in canoes to migrate to the Islands.

500 years later, settlers from Tahiti arrived, bringing their beliefs in gods and demi-gods and instituting a strict social hierarchy based on a kapu (taboo) system. Hawaiian culture flourished over the centuries, but land division conflicts between ruling chieftains were common.

In 1778, Captain James Cook, landed on Kauai at Waimea Bay. Naming the archipelago the “Sandwich Islands” in honor of the Earl of Sandwich, Cook opened the doors to the west. Cook was killed only a year later in Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii’s Big island .

In 1791, Kohala born Kamehameha united the warring factions of the Big Island and went on to unify all of the Hawaiian Islands into one Royal Kingdom in 1810. In 1819, less than a year after King Kamehameha’s death, his son, Liholiho, abolished the ancient kapu system.

In 1820, the first Protestant Missionaries arrived on the Big Island filling the void left after the end of the kapu system. Hawaii became a port for seamen, traders, and whalers. Throughout these years of growth, western disease took a heavy toll on the native Hawaiian population.

Western influence continued to grow and in 1893, American Colonists who controlled much of Hawaii’s economy overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom in a peaceful, yet still controversial coup. In 1898, Hawaii became a territory of the United States.

In the 20th century, sugar and pineapple plantations fueled Hawaii’s economy bringing an influx of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Portuguese immigrants. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Oahu. Four years later, on September 2, 1945, Japan signed its unconditional surrender on the USS Battleship Missouri , which still rests in Pearl Harbor today.

In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th State of the United States. Beyond the sun and surf of the islands, we urge you to discover the rich cultural history of the Islands of Aloha to add even more depth to your visit.

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