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Top five off-peak destinations for spring

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Photo: Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on February 28, 2008. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: destination, Hawaii, Jessica Labrencis, low season, Oaxaca, San Antonio, Seattle, shoulder season, spring, Toronto.

If you're willing to forego typical spring-break spots, you can save a bundle on your vacation this year. Vibrant festivals and events, plus cheaper airfare, hotels, and vacation packages are guaranteed to make you glad you skipped traditional destinations in favor of new places. This year, let San Antonio replace South Padre Island, substitute Toronto for Montreal, or choose Oaxaca as an off-the-beaten-path choice in Mexico over Cancun or Cabo. Rounding out the list are perennial favorites Hawaii and Seattle, both with springtime specials and activities.

Hawaii

Hawaii is paradise all year round. But, spring is one of the quietest travel seasons, making it an excellent time to visit the islands. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau reports visitors can fly for half the price of summer or winter airfare, and hotel rates also drop $15 to $20 per night. May is the best month to visit for cheap prices, according to CheapTickets' latest "Cheapometer Report."

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Aside from lower prices, the islands are hosting plenty of cultural festivals and events in April and May. The Big Island's Merrie Monarch Festival runs from March 30 to April 5, with music, large-scale parades, and a hula competition. The Kokua Festival, a benefit concert at Oahu's Waikiki Shell, seeks to promote environmental awareness on April 19 and 20. Performances include Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, and several local musicians.

Also on Oahu, the Hawaii Romance Festival presents 10 days of live music from local and international musicians, from May 2 to 11. For two weeks later in May, Maui hosts the International Festival of Canoes, showcasing the development of canoes, and featuring carvers from Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, and more.

Airline seat capacity for Hawaii flights is reportedly up nearly 4 percent, with added seats in Atlanta, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Oakland, San Diego, and Seattle. Additional capacity equals more seats, and often, cheaper fares. I found savings of a whopping $202 on May airfare when compared to fares available in August.

Route Off-peak fare Peak fare
Chicago (O'Hare) to Lihue, Kauai $536 $738
New York (JFK) to Kahului, Maui $574 $699
Orlando to Honolulu, Oahu $518 $641
San Diego to Honolulu, Oahu $620 $433

Off-peak fares are based on travel from May 5 to 12, and peak fares are based on travel from August 18 to 25. Prices were found on Travelocity and include taxes and fees.

Our Hawaii Travel Guide features tips on where to stay, how to get around, and what to do in Hawaii. Go Hawaii is a great resource for comprehensive trip-planning information on all the islands, complete with a downloadable free guidebook.

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