The best places to spot humpback whales in Hawaii

The best places to spot humpback whales in Hawaii

Calling all wildlife lovers: from Hilo to Hanalei, Hawai‘i boasts one of the largest seasonal populations of North Pacific humpback whales in the world as they commence their annual winter migration from the Gulf of Alaska to the North Pacific Ocean.

Visitors travelling to the volcanic archipelago between November and May are in for a treat as thousands of 45 tonne magical mammals fill the tropical waters surrounding the islands.

It’s possible to get up close and personal with the humpback whales, or koholā as locals fondly refer to the guardian animal, on a boat trip – or you can even view whales breach from the shore!

The largest concentration of whales reside between the shallow ‘Au‘au Channel between Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. Below is a list of some of the boat tours available this season:

humpback whalesAtlantis Cruises
Hawai‘i’s largest company offering ocean tour experiences has just launched daily whale watching cruises. While searching for humpback whales, guests can enjoy a buffet lunch and panoramic cruise on board the 150-foot Majestic. A naturalist is on hand to provide guests with educational information about the whales’ behaviour and biology. Tours start from $40 for children and $69 for adults.

Pacific Whale Foundation
Certified Marine Naturalists provide an innovative and educational whale watch eco tour, offering sailings from both Mā‘alaea and Lahaina Harbours. Guests can choose from a number of different excursions, ranging from sunrise cruises, whale safaris and sunset cocktail sailings. Tours start from $35.

Lāna‘i Ocean Sports
Tours depart from Mānele Small Boat Harbour and include whale watching expeditions, as well as snorkelling excursions, PADI certification courses and private tours.

humpback whalesCaptain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watch
For more than 35 years, Captain Dan McSweeney has been known for his pioneering efforts on behalf of whales and dolphins. The tours specialise in whale watching and learning adventures and visitors are guaranteed sightings or invited to come along again for free. Tours start from $110.

For those looking to remain on land, check out the top humpback whale spotting viewpoints:

The Makapu‘u Lighthouse Trail, O‘ahu
The lookout point is at the most eastern part of O‘ahu, just off Kalaniana‘ole Highway after Waimānalo and Sandy Beach. Boasting spectacular views of Moloka‘i, the channel is also a popular route for migrating whales and the state park provides telescopes for those wanting a closer view.

Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Island of Hawai‘i
Pu‘ukoholā, ‘the hill of the whale’, offers a great free observing spot with its elevated views over Kawaihae Harbour. Located next to Spencer Beach Park, there are plenty of picnic tables and a campground, allowing visitors to maximise their experience whilst whale watching.

humpback whalesKīlauea Lighthouse, Kaua‘i
The elevated peninsula offers an excellent viewing point for whales spouting and breeching just offshore from the lighthouse (an entry fee of $5 is required to enter the lighthouse). Visitors should also keep their eyes peeled for Hawaiian monk seals and native birds.

As well as whale watching, Hawai‘i offers marine lovers an array of unique experiences and animal encounters, including the chance to see Hawaiian spinner dolphins, green sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals and swim with manta ray. Furthermore, visitors can snorkel with the world’s most exotic fish and enjoy the abundance of marine life.

More information

Go Hawaii
The Official Hawaiian Islands Tourism Board

Where to experience the 2017 US Solar Eclipse

Where to experience the 2017 US Solar Eclipse

This summer, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical wonder will grace the US – a total eclipse, where the sun is blocked out by the path of the moon, will stretch out across the entire American mainland.

The first full solar eclipse since 1918, the line of totality will lead south and east across the country from Oregon to South Carolina, blanketing parts of 14 states in complete shadow for around two-and-a-half minutes on 21st August.

If you’re planning a trip to see this stunning phenomenon there’s a calendar of events brimming across the country to mark the occasion. Taking in stargazing parties, observatory tours and some of the country’s finest natural scenery through Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska, here are some of the best ways to celebrate the 2017 eclipse.

lower_falls_of_the_yellowstone_river

Lower falls of the Yellowstone River

Yellowstone National Park

Not under the path of the full eclipse, but Yellowstone’s a great place to head if you’re looking to spend a weekend beneath the stars. Spread across three states, the park fully lives up to its billing as one of the picks of the US’s natural beauty spots, with opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, fishing and horseback riding thrown in. You should squeeze in a visit to Old Faithful too – the world-famous geyser gets its name from the reliability of its eruptions, which unfold every 60 to 90 minutes.

As long as the weather’s clear, you’re in for a stunning show as just about anywhere at Yellowstone – with three full hours of the moon’s passage across the sun starting at around 10.15am and two minutes of 95% peak coverage timed for around 11.35am.

Snow King Mountain, Jackson

Yellowstone is not getting a complete eclipse, but nearby Grand Teton National Park and the town of Jackson, Wyoming are set to land the whole nine yards. The state’s astronomical society is duly pulling out all the stops, with two nights of events set to play out in the Jackson Hole valley over the weekend.

Visit the Snow King resort on Saturday and Sunday for presentations from astronomers and the chance to chat with astronaut Scott Altman, as well as expert demonstrations and a guided stargazing session. All this is bookended by the chance to take the chairlift up to the top of the resort and take in dramatic views of the night sky.

Wyoming Eclipse Festival, Casper

The people of Casper predict the moon will be throwing shade on them for a full two minutes and 26 seconds during the eclipse – a fine reason to throw a week-long festival in its honour. Located almost exactly on the centre of the path of totality – 280 miles from Jackson – Casper will be home to a fit-to-burst schedule of talks and workshops across its galleries and museums.

Stop by the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center for talks on all things starry, while AstroCon 2017 will pitch up at the Parkway Plaza with an all-day feast of talks and workshops, plus the chance to chat with eclipse experts. There are an array of public parks and open spaces, just about anywhere you pick in town will be the perfect spot for an unforgettable eclipse experience.

mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

South Dakota is away from the path of totality, but if you’re making the most of your US trip with a cross-country drive then it’s well worth pitching up between eclipse hot spots at one of the States’ most iconic man-made monuments.

Located within the beautiful surroundings of the Black Hills National Forest, the heads of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln are immortalised in granite, a tribute to the nation’s best-loved presidents.

Originally meant to serve as a head-to-waist portrait of its subjects, Mount Rushmore was completed in late 1941 after further funding fell through. But that won’t stop you marvelling at the work of dedicated craftsmen in celebrating some of history’s most vaunted figures.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

The Badlands and Black Hills are just nearby Mount Rushmore, offering outdoor escapes along with a special treat for space fans. The Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater offers regular Night Sky viewing programmes at weekends, where rangers break out the telescopes and give visitors the chance to look out to the heavens.

With light pollution firmly out of the equation, in the Badlands it’s possible to spot the swirls of the Milky Way. With entire star clusters and nebulae visible from the park, take in the skies from an entirely new light within the intimate surroundings of an amphitheatre.

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska, USA, central cars

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska, USA, by Brian W. Schaller

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

Some say the awe-inspiring Stonehenge was built by druids in tribute to the almighty Sun; it lines up perfectly with the entrance on the Summer Solstice. Whatever its intentions, a neat parallel presents itself just three miles north of Alliance, Nebraska, in the form of the mysterious Carhenge.

Here a circle of cars in a similar formation to the stones at Salisbury, some standing on their rear ends with others laid across. Eccentric art project or mysterious ode to consumerism? Whatever your take, this unique construction is well worth a look.

As is happens, Carhenge is one of the prime viewing spots for the 2017 eclipse; with the skies set to go dark for a full two-and-a-half minutes at 11.49am local time. If you’re planning to visit, be sure to arrive early to nab a vantage point at perhaps the country’s quirkiest viewing spot.

Wherever and however you enjoy the eclipse, just remember never to look at the sun without appropriate safe eyewear.

main image: The progression of en:Solar eclipse of August 1, 2008 in Novosibirsk, Russia

This article was brought to us by Hertz car rental

Sky High Delights

Sky High Delights

Your time in the sky may never be the same again, if you have the chance to encounter the cabin crew aboard Icelandair who are waiting in the wings – to put on a live theatre show for passengers at 39,000 feet.

The airline is set to trial the unique in-flight entertainment to mark its 80th year and no expense was spared to ensure the performance is a show stopper. Flight attendants were sent to stage school to learn various elements of thespian arts such as singing, dancing and comedy. The results will be revealed in midair this September, lucky passengers on a flight from London to New York via Iceland, will catch the opening performance – a live, three-act, theatrical performance in mid-air.

The airline launched the initiative following a global survey of 9,000 air passengers in the UK, US, Canada, Scandinavia, France and Germany which found 52 per cent end up ‘bored’ during a flight. The company’s research found travellers are looking for more of a human touch on their journey.

To be ensure the entertainment is top notch, Icelandair have partnered with an immersive theatre group to create the unique three-act play starring the airline’s staff. The show will transport passengers from 1937 right through to the future, all on one transatlantic flight from London to New York via Iceland.

 

 

Turkey sees a rise in hotels for holy guests

Turkey sees a rise in hotels for holy guests

Turkey’s  move towards a more Islamic identity hasn’t only meant a growing popularity for headscarves amongst women in the country that has been secular since 1924  ­­- it has also led to a growth in so-called Halal tourist resorts. A New Yorker article from 2016 neatly summarises the socio-political context:  “Throughout his tenure as Prime Minister and now as President, Erdoğan has distanced himself from (modern Turkey’s founder), Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He views himself as the father of a new Turkish identity, one aligned more closely with its Ottoman past, its Islamic heritage. He has taken the country in a more religious direction, similar to a place it was in before the 1997 coup.”

One of the outcomes of such a move is the burgeoning crop of Islamic friendly hotels serving halal food and enforcing a no-alcohol policy in all or some areas of their premises, alongside on-site prayer facilities. Such hotels and resorts have separate pool, spa and leisure facilities for women, whilst some properties have private women-only beach swimming and/or sun tanning areas, whilst others have mixed beach areas for families with modest swimming dress code.

Halal hotels were once the preserve of rich Muslims, but over the last couple of years, these hotels are cropping up along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, in resorts such as Antalya. Resorts previously catering to beer swilling Russian and west European tourists are now keen to respond to the growing number of websites offering Islamic friendly holidays for Muslim travellers, joining the various other speciality holidays on offer such as kosher, vegan and even specialist Christian holidays.

Join Justine on her trip across Turkey or purchase the DVD or digital file at our shop.

Turkey

main image: Panoramic view of the courtyard of the Blue Mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey. The courtyard has a square shape, but the mercator projection necessary to squeeze all the field of view into the frame bends the horizontal lines. Panorama created with Hugin.

By Benh LIEU SONG – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12654068

Venice gives fast food the chop

Venice gives fast food the chop

Venetian authorities have banned the sale of  kebabs from its central tourist district in an effort to preserve the cultural identity of the historic city which they say is being diminished by fast food outlets.

Venice’s tourist chief, Paola Mar, says the sale of mini pizza slices will also be banned from fast food outlets though also added, “The city does not object to kebabs or fast food in principle and does not have a problem with people eating outside.”

Mar went on to say, “The problem is that with a tourist city like ours, there is a risk of it losing its identity.”  Only foodstuffs such as artisanal ice creams will be excluded from the ban.

Venice, like much of Italy, is proud of its locally sourced cuisines and is the latest city to shut out fast foods from its popular tourist districts. Similar measures have been enacted in Florence and Verona, where it has been met with opposition from locals who appreciate the variety that other cultures bring to the Italian offering.

Venice receives millions of tourists each year and has  long grappled with environmental protection measures for its canal city, including limiting tourist numbers and the introduction of charges to enter public spaces, such as St Marks Square.

To find out more about Venice check out Globe Trekker’s Venice City Guide and Metropolis Venice on our website and store.

A message to our fans

A message to our fans

We urge you to visit our store or on Vimeo where we are curating this valuable and unique collection of shows for our loyal fans around the world.

Only a small selection of our shows are now available on Youtube and Amazon.

We are unhappy with the way these all powerful behemoths of the digital age treat content providers like us, small businesses, producing quality programming, who wish to reach as broad as an audience as possible.

Moving forward all our new shows will only be available on our shop or via Vimeo, our preferred online platforms, until further notice.

Our 25th Anniversary Special – Globe Trekker Season One!

Our 25th Anniversary Special - Globe Trekker Season One!

To celebrate Globe Trekker turning 25, we have a very special special offer – own the HISTORIC FIRST SEASON and watch it instantly for only $19.95!!!! 

Our classic adventures include trips to:

Indonesia – The Eastern Islands
La Ruta Maya
Morocco
Jamaica
Alaska
Pacific Islands
Southeast Australia
Vietnam
North East Brazil
Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands
Japan – Tokyo to Taiwan
North India – Varanasi to the Himalayas
Africa – Zimbabwe, Botswana & Namibia
fabulous logo supplied by: Wedding vector created by Ibrandify – Freepik.com

Happy 25th Anniversary Globe Trekker!

Happy 25th Anniversary Globe Trekker!

It’s been a quarter of a century of travel, adventures, thrills and spills!

To celebrate we will be looking back at some of the highs and lows from the earliest Season 1 episodes: when Ian Cross and the crew visited Indonesia or Ian Wright hitched through Morocco, there are so many adventures and tales we can’t wait to share with you.

And of course, you can always share your favourite Globe Trekker moments here on Facebook.

Here’s to the next 25!

Ian Wright with almost everything but his head in the sand in Japan

Ian Wright with almost everything but his head in the sand in Japan

Martin Luther King Day, a lasting legacy

Martin Luther King Day, a lasting legacy

“I Have a Dream” was the infamous line given during American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr’s public speech delivered during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he called for an end to racism in the United States and for civil and economic rights. The speech was delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.

Martin Luther King was a vital part of the civil rights activist. As one of the leaders of the movement to end racial segregation in the United States, he was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and was assassinated in 1968.

In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King died, a campaign was instigated for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him. After the first bill was introduced, trade unions led the campaign for the federal holiday which was endorsed in 1976. Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single “Happy Birthday” and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983. Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986, although not observed in all states until the year 2000. In 1990, the Wyoming legislature designated Martin Luther King Jr/Wyoming Equality Day as a legal holiday.

We visited the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial  located in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. , covering four acres and including a granite statue of King by sculptor Lei Yixin:

 

main image: c/o By ProhibitOnions – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16146667

The Magnificence of Mayan Structures

The Magnificence of Mayan Structures

Rising out of jungle across the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico are the ruins of dozens of Mayan cities. Most of these ruins are at least 1,200 years old, dating back to the glory days of the Maya around 700 AD.

Discovered though largely ignored by Spanish conquistadors during their Aztec conquest in the 16th century, it was 300 years later, in the 19th century, when European explorers ‘discovered’,  and subsequently took the time to investigate and learn the ways to unlock the wonders of this fascinating pre Hispanic civilization.

Mayan structure

A great Mayan structure

Today the sites of Chichenitza, Tulum, Palenque and Uxmal are internationally famous but scores of other sites remain little known and visited.

One  such site, Coba, about two hours drive south of Cancun, and one hour west of Tulum, is home to the largest Mayan pyramid in Mexico, which visitors can still climb.

Coba was an important Mayan city, evidenced by the many raised stone roads linking its buildings which stretch out across a 120 square kilometre site. Here you can see two Mayan ball courts where the Mayans played their ingenious ball game, pelota. Then  bicycle or walk along enchanting paths encased by the jungle canopy to visit the imposing Nohoch Mul, at 138 feet the highest Mayan structure in the Yucatan.

Sak Ch’een, lord of Motul de San José c.8th century,[27] dressed as a ball player with a large yoke, painted deerskin hip guards, and elaborate headdress. He is dropping onto his knee to strike the ball, which is probably exaggerated to huge proportions. Photograph by Madman2001

Sak Ch’een, lord of Motul de San José c.8th century,[27] dressed as a ball player with a large yoke, painted deerskin hip guards, and elaborate headdress. He is dropping onto his knee to strike the ball, which is probably exaggerated to huge proportions. Photograph by Madman2001

For how long tourists will be allowed to clamber up the steps of this awesome structure remains to be seen as the Mexican authorities step up their efforts to preserve the wonders of this magnificent pre Hispanic civilization.

Learn more Mayan culture in our epsiode, La Ruta Maya