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Whenever you book a guided tour, find out what's included and what isn't. A "land-only" tour includes all your travel (by bus, in most cases) in the destination, but not necessarily your flights. In most cases prices in tour brochures don't include fees and taxes. And remember that you'll be expected to tip your guide (in cash) at the end of the tour.
Globus has four Hawaii itineraries that include Oahu, one of which is an escorted cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America that includes two days on the island. Tauck and Trafalgar offer several land-based Hawaii itineraries that include two or three nights on Oahu. Both companies offer similar itineraries with visits to the USS Arizona Memorial National Park and plenty of free time to explore the island. Tauck offers 7- and 11-night multi-island tours, including a "Magic Hawaii" trip for families. Highlights of the Tauck tours include a catamaran sail along Waikiki Beach and hula and surf lessons. Trafalgar has 7-, 9-, 10-, and 12-night multi-island tours.
EscortedHawaiiTours.com, owned and operated by Atlas Cruises & Tours, sells more than a dozen Hawaii trips ranging from 7 to 12 nights operated by various guided tour companies including Globus, Tauck, and Trafalgar.
Atlas Cruises & Tours (800/942–3301. www.atlastravelweb.com.)
Globus (866/755–8581. www.globusjourneys.com.)
Tauck Travel (800/788–7885. www.tauck.com.)
Trafalgar (866/544–4434. www.trafalgar.com.)
More than 150 species of birds live in the Hawaiian Islands. For about $4,200 per person, Field Guides has a three-island (Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island), 11-day, guided bird-watching trip that includes accommodations, meals, ground transportation, and interisland air.
Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, the largest company in the world specializing in birding tours, has a nine-day "Fall Hawaii" trip to Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island that costs around $4,000 and includes accommodations, meals, interisland air, ground transportation, and guided excursions.
Field Guides (800/728–4953. www.fieldguides.com.)
Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (800/328–8368. www.ventbird.com.)
Elderhostel, a nonprofit educational travel organization running tours under the name Road Scholar, offers several guided Hawaii tours for adults 50 and over that provide in-depth looks into the culture, history, and beauty of the Islands. A " Tall Ship Sail Training: Sailing the Hawaiian Islands " is an incredible six-night sailing adventure through the Hawaiian Islands aboard the SSV Makani Olu, a 96-foot, three-masted schooner. Prices for this tour start at about $1,080 per person and include accommodations and meals on board the schooner.
Travelers who want to learn more about the geology and heritage of Hawaii and its people can book the eight-night "Oahu and Maui: Experience the Essence of Hawaii" vacation. During the five nights on Oahu, you will visit the Bishop Museum, USS Arizona, Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific, and Queen Emma Summer Palace. Presented in conjunction with Hawaii Pacific University, the program is priced at $1,440 per person and includes accommodations, meals, tours and activities, ground transportation, and air travel between Oahu and Maui.
"Hawaii: The Land & the People" is a six-night vacation on Oahu's North Shore that introduces travelers to the Hawaii of yesterday and today. Participants visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, Waimea Botanical Garden, USS Arizona, and USS Missouri. Highlights also include a glass-bottom boat ride and day trips to learn modern surfing and the ancient arts of poi pounding and navigation by stars. Priced at $875 per person, the vacation includes accommodations, meals, ground transportation, and activities.
Road Scholar (800/454–5768. www.roadscholar.org.)
Imagine the thrill of working alongside marine biologists and helping with conservation efforts on Oahu's west coast. Wild Side Specialty Tours offers seven-day "Under the Sea Ocean Trekker Expeditions" where you can do just that. You'll also visit Hawaiian historical and cultural sites along the coast and learn about the people who settled on these shores. Priced at about $1,900 per person, the trip includes accommodations at Makaha Golf Resort, meals, and all activities.
Want to hike through lush rain forests, snorkel at Shark's Cove, discover quiet beaches, and visit historical monuments? Check out the 10-night "It's Not Just Waikiki: Hiking and Touring Oahu" tour offered by Sierra Club Outings, priced at about $2,000 per person, including condominium accommodations in Honolulu and the North Shore; vegetarian-friendly meals with fresh, local seafood, produce, and fruit; ground transportation; and activities. The 12 travelers on this tour will also be able to participate in a community-service project on the island.
Sierra Club Outings (808/538–6616. www.sierraclubhawaii.com.)
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