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Extreme Hawaii Adventures With a Cultural Twist

Looking for adventure through the aloha lens? The Hawaiian islands are the stuff of legends for a reason. By sea, by sky, and by tropical rainforest, Hawaii’s got you covered–with a pineapple twist. This past week in Hawaii I pushed my adrenaline meter to the limits with zodiac-rafting, zip-lining, and waterfall diving, and learned some very intriguing island facts along the way.

“The Screamer” zip-line course in the West Maui Mountains.

Postcard From Hawaii

Aloha from the Hawaiian islands! I am writing live from the Hawaii Superferry on my way between the islands of Maui and Oahu. To my right, I see the open Pacific Ocean, and to my left lies the green mass of Molokai. So far, on this trip, I have visited both the islands of Kauai and Maui and have done everything from zodiac-boating along the dramatic Na Pali coast and zip-lining down the West Maui Mountains to indulging in luxuriant lomi lomi massage treatments and swimming beside rainforest waterfalls.

Along the way, I’ve been learning a great deal about Hawaii’s history and culture from the first Polynesian arrivals to the missionary days. I’ve eaten strawberry-guava straight off the tree, rubbed noni fruit juice into my sunburn, and squeezed fresh awapuhi into my hair in an attempt to see first-hand the island’s healing and restorative powers. I’ve also spoken with many people about what the island is doing to protect its treasures, from saving the coral reefs to safe-guarding the monk seals and sea turtles.

In blog posts to come, I’ll fill you in on the details of my adventures. Wish you were here — the weather is fine!

Photo coutesy of IgoUgo member creekland.

News Flash: US Airways to Charge for Beverages, First Checked Bag

US Airways is the third major carrier to begin charging $15 for a first piece of checked luggage. United Airlines announced a similar policy on Thursday. American Airlines was the first to announce this new fee last month.

In addition to charging $15 for a the first piece of checked luggage, US Airways will be the first major carrier to charge for non-alcoholic beverages in flight. The cost for soda, juice, coffee and bottled water will be $2. This comes on the heels of an announcement from the airline that they will no longer serve free pretzels in-flight.

The carrier has also announced it will assess a fee to travelers redeeming frequent flier miles. The fee will be $25 for domestic (excluding Hawaii) and Canada flights; $35 for flights to Mexico and the Caribbean; and $50 on flights to Hawaii and international destinations outside of North America.

The airline will also eliminate jobs and capacity in an effort to control fuel costs. US Airways plans capacity reductions of up to eight percent in the fourth quarter. The airline will eliminate roughly 1,700 jobs.

According to the US Airways, the cost of jet fuel has increased more than 90 percent over the last 12 months and more than 200 percent since 2000. Most major carriers, including Continental, American, and Delta have announced capacity reductions and job eliminations in recent weeks, citing the high cost of jet fuel.

In May, all six major carriers along with several smaller carriers, announced they would charge passengers $25 to check a second piece of luggage. Elite members of the individual carrier’s frequent-flyer programs are generally exempt from this charge, as are passengers with plans to travel outside of North America.

Stargazing in Paradise: The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai’i

You may not be aware of this, but it snows regularly on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Yes, you read that right–at a staggering 13,790 feet, the dormant volcano Mauna Kea (“White Mountain” in the native Hawaiian tongue) dons a sparkling cap of snow in wintertime. (Its counterpart, Mauna Loa, does the same, although snow on the latter is less visible due to its more rounded peak.) Because of Mauna Kea’s unique assets, native Hawaiians have long considered it a sacred site.

Incidentally, the summit of Mauna Kea is also an ideal place for stargazing, given its height and remoteness from major cities. Hence, it now houses several of the world’s leading astronomical observatories. Native Hawaiian groups are displeased with these developments, protesting that the developments defile the sacredness of the site.

Photo courtesy of the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai’i.

News Flash: ATA Ceases Operations

ATA filed Chapter 11 and ceased all operation on Wednesday, April 2. The airline has cancelled all current and future flights.

On its website, the airline states “ATA currently is unable to provide refunds to customers who purchased tickets directly from ATA with cash or a check. These customers may be able to obtain a full or partial refund for their unused tickets by submitting a claim in ATA’s Chapter 11 proceedings. Information about submitting a claim will be available at the following website:”

The airline has a codeshare agreement with Southwest Airlines and suggests customers who purchased tickets from Southwest Airlines for flights operated by ATA under the codeshare agreement should contact Southwest Airlines directly at (800) 308-5037.

Travelocity customers should view the FAQ page for more information on their options and information on how to contact an agent for assistance. Agents will work to minimize the impact of this disruption on your travel plans.

According to the Associated Press (via USA Today), “Prior to the shutdown, the airline had approximately 50 flights a day, mostly between Hawaii and four west coast cities — Oakland, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas.”

USA Today’s Ben Mutzabaugh’s reports “ATA’s shutdown is another blow for air travelers in Hawaii, where Aloha –- formerly the state’s No. 2 carrier -– ended passenger service earlier this week. ATA, which had briefly grown into one of the USA’s 10 biggest carriers earlier this decade, had a heavy focus on Hawaii. In addition to its charter business, ATA offered regularly scheduled commercial service on several routes -– almost all to and from Hawaii. The Hawaii flights operated as part of a codesharing partnership with Southwest.”

The airline cited the cancellation of a major military contract and the high cost of jet fuel as reasons for its decision to cease operations.