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Top five off-peak destinations for fall 2007

SmarterTravel

Fall is quite possibly the best season to travel. As dependably as the leaves change, each year travelers can count on late-summer announcements of great deals for travel after Labor Day. This year is no exception; in fact, it’s one of the best we at SmarterTravel.com have seen for across-the-board savings on airfare, accommodations, and vacation packages.

Consider yourself lucky if you have the vacation time (and funds) to visit one of this year’s top choices for autumn travel, which include Hawaii, Los Angeles, Tuscany, the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago, and Ponce, a small city on Puerto Rico’s southern coast.

Hawaii

Hawaii is a perennial favorite for many Americans. Though it’s always a pricey destination, visitors can save by traveling in the fall shoulder season. This year in particular brings a slew of accommodations and vacation deals, plus added airline service to several of the islands. And though Hawaii sees fewer people in fall than summer and winter, it certainly isn’t because of the weather—expect near-perfect temperatures throughout the season.

Several seasonal events make fall a special time to visit Hawaii. The second annual Maui Pineapple Festival & Homecoming showcases Hawaii’s most famous fruit with a themed lunch and live music on September 22. Through October, Aloha Festivals are celebrated on the islands with music, parades, and cultural events. Kona hosts the Coffee Cultural Festival from November 2 to 11 with samplings of its homegrown beverage.

This fall, vacation providers such as Apple Vacations, Pleasant Holidays, and United Vacations are offering add-ons to packages, including free nights, upgrades, and dining credits. Hotel rooms are on average about $20 lower in fall, too.

Interisland flights on Aloha, Hawaiian, and go! start as low as $19 each way (without taxes), making it affordable to island-hop. The Hawaii Superferry will begin service on August 28, shuttling tourists from island to island for as little as $44. Low-fare carriers ATA and Alaska each recently increased their service to Hawaii, giving travelers even more choice when booking flights to the islands.

The Hawaii tourist board claims travelers can save up to 50 percent on airfare by traveling off-peak. While I didn’t find such dramatic price differences in my searches, I was able to save up to $132 by choosing travel dates in fall instead of winter.

Route Off-peak fare Peak fare
Chicago (O’Hare) to Lihue, Kauai $634 $701
Houston (Bush) to Kona, Big Island $611 $662
New York (JFK) to Kahului, Maui $646 $778
San Francisco to Honolulu, Oahu $304 $394

Off-peak fares are based on travel from September 18 to 25, 2007, and peak fares are based on travel from January 8 to 15, 2008. Prices were found on Travelocity and include taxes and fees.

For comprehensive vacation-planning tips, read our Hawaii Travel Guide, or visit Hawaii’s official tourism site.

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