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Top five off-peak destinations for spring 2005

Generally speaking, off-peak travel entails visiting a destination when the weather is less than perfect in exchange for lower travel prices and less crowding. However, we found numerous destinations that have near ideal weather in spring but not the popularity of summertime. So, if you can beat the summer tourists, you may be able to enjoy the perks of off-peak travel without sacrificing decent weather.

Our top five choices for off-peak spring travel are Bali, Barcelona, Hawaii, San Diego, and Buenos Aires.

Bali

Europeans flock to Indonesia’s paradisiacal island of Bali every summer begining in June, but the warm dry weather that draws the crowds precedes them by two months. If an exotic beach vacation sounds good to you, you’ll do well to avoid the crowds and high prices in Bali by arriving in April or May when the temperatures are in the 70s and 80s, rain is infrequent, and the prices for travel are low. And, although last December’s tsunami hit several southeast Asian beach resorts hard, Bali, situated behind the island of Java, was untouched by the waves’ devastating affects.

While you’ll miss the crowds of foreigners by coming in the spring, you won’t miss out on local Balinese festivals and attractions. Numerous holidays and celebrations take place on the island in spring, including Hari Waisak, which commemorates the life of Buddha. You’ll also be able to explore Bali’s wild interior and witness local people performing traditional arts and music with little competition from other tourists.

Saving money is a big perk of spring travel too. Hotels reduce rates, airfare prices drop, and vacation packages may be hundreds less. To demonstrate this, we compared vacation packages from three providers for travel in the spring and summer below.

Package Provider Spring rate Summer rate
Seven nights in Bali Go-Today $989 (April 1 to May 31) $1,229 (June 1 to 21)
Five nights in Bali Pacific Delight Tours $1,059 (April 1 to May 31) $1,279 to $1,299 (June 1 to August 15)
Five nights in Bali General Tours $1,299 (January 1 to May 31) $1,599 (June 1 to August 15)

Prices are based on flights from Los Angeles and hotel double occupancy and were on found the providers’ websites. Rates vary by departure date and may be higher for stays over holidays.

To find more Bali vacation packages, visit the websites of Go-Today, Pacific Delight Tours, and General Tours. For air deals, check out the sites of airlines that serve Bali from the U.S., including Cathay Pacific and Korean Air. For general information on Bali, go to the Bali Tourism Authority website.Top

Barcelona

If you dare to venture to pricey Europe this year, traveling in the spring will help to avoid summer’s outrageous airfares and crowds. And, for good weather and more daylight, head south to a Mediterranean city like Barcelona, which experiences mild temperatures in the 50s to 70s and low humidity from April to June.

During these months, enjoy exploring the city neighborhoods like Barri G���²tic and Gr��� cia before the weather gets too muggy. Plus, take in uncrowded attractions like the La Sagrada Fam���­lia cathedral, the Picasso Museum, and the Mir���³ Foundation.

Although hotel rates in the city don’t fluctuate much throughout the year because of business travelers and visiting Europeans, travelers from the States will find major savings with spring airfare and vacation packages. Looking at three different air-and-hotel vacations from three different providers, we found that rates for travel in summer were about $300 more per person than in the spring.

Package Provider Spring rate Summer rate
Six nights in Barcelona Go-Today $749 (March 14 to May 29) $1,019 (May 30 to August 25)
Four nights in Barcelona Gate 1 Travel $969 (April 1 to May 26) $1,259 (May 27 to July 4)
10 nights in Barcelona and Northern Spain Go Ahead Vacations $2,299 (April 7 to May 12) $2,589 (May 26 to August 11)

Prices are based on flights from New York and hotel double occupancy and were on found the providers’ websites. Rates vary by departure date and may be higher for stays over holidays.

Find low Spain fares by visiting the SmarterTravel.com air section, or the websites of airlines that frequently have sale fares to Barcelona, like Iberia. Look for low-cost packages in the SmarterTravel.com vacation section.Top

Hawaii

While Hawaii never really experiences a low season, winter and summer tend to be more popular times to visit the islands, so the spring (as well as the fall) tends to be a cheaper season to come. And, the weather between April and June is actually better than the winter, with less rainfall and pleasant temperatures ranging from about 68 to 86 degrees.

Lounging on beach, surfing, and exploring the islands’ undersea and volcanic wonders are always in season, but visit in the spring to see unique events like the Pan Pacific Festival, the International Festival of Canoes, and the Maui Classical Music Festival. Visit the Hawaii Tourism website to find other spring events.

To get an idea of the price differences you can expect between spring and summer travel, we compared Hawaiian Airlines fares for travel in April versus travel in July, and found that you could save several hundred dollars with spring travel.

Route Spring fare Summer fare
Los Angeles to Honolulu $298 $517
Phoenix to Honolulu $498 $619
Seattle to Maui $398 $633

Spring fares are based on travel between April 11 and June 9 and summer fares are based on travel July 13 to 20. Prices were found on the Hawaiian Airlines website.

Find the latest sale fares to Hawaii by checking the SmarterTravel.com air section and the websites for Hawaiian carriers that have regular specials and promotions including Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines. For air-and-hotel packages, check the SmarterTravel.com vacation section.Top

San Diego

Spring weather in San Diego is still a bit brisk for the city’s favorite pastime—frolicking on the beach in small swimsuits—but pleasant enough for exploring the region’s other attractions and participating in water sports like surfing (with a wet suit) and sea kayaking. Temperatures from late March to June range from about 55 to 70 degrees, and most days are sunny. However, mid-May through June, much of Southern California experiences the “June Gloom,” a period when fog hangs along the coastline, particularly in the morning. Head a bit inland to the nearby mountain and desert areas for clear skies.

Visit in March and April to view the blooming wildflowers at the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch and Anza Borrego State Park. Or, visit in May to take part in one the city’s many Cinco de Mayo fiestas, or in June for the nationally acclaimed Mainly Mozart Festival. Come anytime to see the city’s popular family attractions, the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and Legoland.

While there’s plenty to do in San Diego during the spring, lack of perfect beach weather means fewer visitors than during the summer. As a result, you can take advantage of lower hotel rates. Sample off-peak hotel rates for the spring compared with peak summer rates include:

Hotel Off-peak rates Peak rates
The Beach Cottages $75 to $250 (October 18 to May 10) $120 to $310 (July 1 to September 6)
Coronado Inn $99 to $149 (January 1 to June 30) $125 to $175 (July 2 to N/A)
San Diego Oceanfront B&B $175 to $195 (November 1 to May 31) $195 to $225 (June 1 to October 31)

Prices are based on the per-day double occupancy rates posted on the hotels’ websites and do not include taxes. Rates vary by date and may be higher for stays over holidays.

Browsing the websites of local convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) can help you find more spring travel deals. For example, the San Diego CVB is currently offering specials on accommodations and coupons for discounts on dining and shopping. For air deals, check SmarterTravel.com for U.S. airfare sales. Or, visit the sites of budget carriers that service San Diego—Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue, and Southwest—for everyday low fares.Top

Buenos Aires

Located south of the equator in Argentina, Buenos Aires experiences fall during the Northern Hempishire’s spring, offering pleasant tempatures in the 60s and 70s. Although spring weather is preferable to the area’s cooler winter (our summer), fewer tourists from the north visit at this time. So, if you can break away from work or school a little earlier than everyone else, you can take advantage of better weather and lower prices. Plus, with the Argentine peso down, your American dollars will take you a lot further than in other parts of the world this year.

The city boasts a strong European flavor, with cobbled streets, chic restaurants, and a lively atmosphere. Come in April for the Feria del Libro, the annual book fair, or in May for the Feria de Galerias de Arte, an arts festival.

The seasonal savings are clear when comparing the cost of airfare and accommodations in the spring against the cost in the summer. Looking at vacation packages from popular providers, you can see a price difference of $100 or more between the seasons.

Package Provider Off-Peak rate Summer rate
Five nights in Buenos Aires Gate 1 Travel $739 (April 9 to May 28) $899 to $909 (June 11 to August 13)
Six nights in Buenos Aires and Mendoza Go-Today $1,299 (January 11 to June 9) $1,439 (June 10 to August 21)
Seven nights in Buenos Aires and Bariloche FreeGate Tours $1,679 (December 25 to June 17) $1,744 to $1,831 (June 18 to August 15)

Prices are based on flights from New York and hotel double occupancy and were on found the providers’ websites. Rates vary by departure date and may be higher for stays over holidays.

Keep abreast of the latest deals on Buenos Aires travel by browsing SmarterTravel.com’s vacation and airfare sections. For general information on Buenos Aires travel, visit the website of the Argentina Tourism office. Top

This feature is the first 2005 installment of our off-peak travel series. Stories covering the top off-peak destinations for summer, fall, and winter will be published later this year. For general off-peak travel planning strategies, read our feature Low season, low cost: Five tips for off-peak travel.

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