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Guests may, with permission, swim in the pond at the base of Kulaniapia Falls, a 120-foot-tall cascade about three miles from Hilo on Hawaii Island. <br>Catharine Hamm, Los Angeles Times/TNS

Nature nurtures at inn near Hilo, Hawaii

If you arrive here on a moonless night, you can hear the water before you can see it rushing to seek its lowest point, as water always does. At first, it sounds like a hose that’s been left on, but as you try to track down the source, it begins to sound like a horrendous water main break.

Soaking up an Alaskan adventure, unswayed by the rain

A torrential downpour lulled me to sleep the night before my all-day kayaking expedition in the waters around Fox Island off Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Through the cracked windows of my log cabin, I watched the waves slap the slate beach as rain pounded the roof. I had come to southwestern Alaska with three friends to cap off the summer with an ocean adventure.


Beyond the beach: Take your taste buds on a tour of Kauai

Floating on the waves and hiking through the jungle are must-do activities on Kauai. But to better commune with the westernmost of the well-populated Hawaiian Islands, I also wanted to taste the local bounty. Fortunately, there are great ways to savor what makes Kauai unique without breaking the bank at gourmet restaurants.


Go to Kobe for the beef, stay for the pork buns and European cityscapes

Located just one hour by train from Kyoto and just 30 minutes by train from Osaka, Kobe offers the perfect mix of vintage allure and 21st century excitement.




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  • A breathtaking Himalayan journey to ’the rooftop of the world’

    Tibet. Nepal. Bhutan. The names rolled of my tongue like a timeless Himalayan mantra. I was itching to go, but after decades of solo rambling, I was done with handling tricky logistics. Let someone else — preferably an established tour company — arrange flights, guides, hotels, baggage and, most important, assorted visas and travel permits.


  • Okinawa’s Tokashiki Island a snorkeler’s paradise with beautiful beaches

    Just a quick ferry ride from Naha, Tokashiki Island is part of the Kerama archipelago and is famous for its white, sandy beaches and diverse marine life.


  • In Japan, boat tours of fanciful formations

    “Everybody, that is Fukuro [owl] rock. It’s a work of art created by nature,” said pleasure boat guide Yoshiteru Mizuguchi, 79, as he pointed to a rocky area sticking out into a blue sea. Passengers aboard the boat, the “Pearl Queen,” exclaimed, “It’s the spitting image!”


  • Defense Department-owned Hale Koa pumps $14M into its new pool area

    The Hale Koa Hotel’s swimming pool complex on Waikiki Beach, including its popular Barefoot Bar, is getting a $14 million makeover.


  • Waikiki Beach is only two miles of Oahu. The rest is well worth checking out.

    The towers of Waikiki Beach cast such long shadows over Oahu that it seems daunting, in the mind’s eye at least, to escape them when weighing a visit to Hawaii’s most populous island. But it can be done, and we did.


  • Hawaii is about to ban popular sunscreen brands to protect its coral reefs

    From Banana Boat to Coppertone, major sunscreen brands will soon have to revamp their products or stop selling them in Hawaii. State lawmakers passed legislation in May that would ban skin-care companies from selling and distributing sunscreens on the islands that contain two chemicals deemed damaging to coral reefs. The bill is opposed by various companies and business associations and even some dermatologists, who worry that the ban may discourage people from wearing sunscreen at all.


  • All aboard Hello Kitty: Pink bullet train debuts in Japan

    A Hello Kitty-themed “shinkansen” bullet train has debuted in Japan. Adorned with the cartoon icon inside and out, it’s a dream ride for fans of the internationally popular character.


  • Explore an abandoned Chinese village now engulfed by nature

    Blanketed with greenery, the ghost town is perched atop cliffs looking west into sea mists obscuring the horizon. Abandoned homes ravaged by weather and creeping vines stand silent but for the surf, the whine of mosquitos, and birdsong. This is Houtouwan — “Back Bay” in Mandarin — an abandoned fishing village engulfed by nature on the far eastern island of Shengshan, 90 kilometers off the coast of Shanghai.


  • It’s leisure as usual for travelers to Hawaii despite lava flow

    While the photos and videos of the popping, churning, spewing lava from Kilauea volcano look post-apocalyptic, officials with the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau say that the danger zones are isolated to private, residential areas and they don’t expect an impact on travelers. "Really, almost 90 percent of the island is unaffected," says Ross Birch, executive director of the Hawaii Island Visitors and Convention Bureau.


  • The Maldives’ new star villa is underwater

    On a recent trip to the Maldives, my itinerary was planned around a single hotel amenity: a bungalow with a two-story waterslide. In the luxury-friendly Maldives, more than anywhere else on Earth, it’s extravagant design features rather than location or good restaurants that make a hotel.


  • Hiking the authentic Great Wall of China, without the crush

    Tires crunch the gravel as our driver turns around and makes his way back down the narrow access road, leaving my fiance, his mother and me alone in front of an empty building. The air is cool and fresh, and a few white clouds move briskly across the blue sky. Beijing, with its more than 20 million inhabitants, gleaming skyscrapers and intermittent layer of smog, is a safe 50 miles to the south. All being well, we’ll see the driver again in about four hours, at our pickup location.


  • Alaskan illuminations

    Where were they? The hour was closer to midnight than noon, and the sky above the small Alaskan town of Talkeetna was as black as a bear’s button nose. Several stars twinkled their encouragement. Before stepping out in the minus-numbing-degree air, I had checked the Aurora Forecast. The rating was a 5, which the Geophysical Institute described as meaning “Auroral activity will be high.” I had even brought along my lucky charm, Aurora Dora. So I ask again: Where were they?


  • Solomon Islands: A deep dive, and WWII artifacts

    If a remote South Pacific destination with lots of World War II artifacts and world-class diving appeals to you, check out the Solomon Islands. This 992-island archipelago sits northeast of Australia, about 6,100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Most of its 550,000 citizens are Melanesians and almost everyone speaks English.


  • Blossoming cherry trees serve as reminder of allies’ colorful history

    More than 100 years ago, Japan sent more than 3,000 Japanese cherry trees to Washington. In 1982, that symbol grew even greater meaning.


  • Cambodia up close: River cruise on the Mekong makes for immersive experience

    "Life is not staying still," Vuthy spoke softly to me, like a kind older brother. "It is moving from one place to the next." I followed his rhythmic breathing -- in, out -- inhaling the lotus air and untangling my own breath from the outside Cambodian breeze, flowing in through the open temple doors.


  • A wintry windfall in Japan's heavenly ski region

    There are 195 countries in the world, many that can be envisioned before ever stepping foot on foreign soil. And then there's Hokkaido, a destination within a destination that will take every preconceived notion you have about Japan and crumple it into a little ball. In its place will be snow, more snow and the champagne powder that has turned sleepy farm towns into the next big thing since Whistler.


  • A region on New Zealand’s North Island is the Southern Hemisphere’s take on Yellowstone

    I’d been warned about the stink. It hit me the instant I stepped off the plane in Rotorua: a mix of bad egg and warm sewer gas that has earned this city on New Zealand’s North Island the nickname "Sulphur City" -- or, less kindly, "Rotten-Rua." I sucked in a deep breath and smiled. That subterranean scent meant I would soon be soaking in curative hot springs, smothering my body in primeval goo and exploring a land of burping mud pots, prismatic pools, boiling rivers and shooting geysers.


  • Disney family magic wanes in Hong Kong as Macau's lights dazzle

    When Chinese tourists choose a family travel destination, Hong Kong Disneyland would seem like a logical choice. But it's the nearby gambling hub of Macau that has all the momentum.


  • Fiji pride: Where paradise is more than sand and sea

    If Fiji was nothing more than sand and sea, palm fronds and flowers, it wouldn’t matter which South Pacific beach resort you visited. Every vacation would be just another ho-hum adventure. But after 15 years and as many visits to this 333-island nation, I’ve got a pretty good idea why each destination promises a unique experience. What’s the secret? It’s the Fijians themselves, proud to be Fijian and proud to show you their country.


  • Aloha, partner: Riding the Hawaiian range

    Concho wants to gallop. I can tell. He's a horse, after all, a headstrong one, and rippling green hills spread in every direction. Every so often, a break in the clouds reveals the barren summit of Mauna Kea to the south. But galloping is still a little ways outside my skill set, so with a twinge of guilt I pull the reins to keep my mount at a slow trot. He makes his disappointment clear with a snort and a toss of his head. The pace does make it easier to soak in the landscape of the 300-acre Dahana Ranch in the upcountry of Hawaii's Big Island.


  • Beyond the musts: 3 free sites off the beaten path in Maui

    If you’re visiting Maui, a few sites are musts. You must visit Haleakala. You must enjoy the dancing — and the food — at the Old Lahaina Luau. You must walk through the branches of the Banyan Tree in Lahaina. And don’t drive past the Maui Ocean Center, especially if you love turtles. My husband and I had two weeks on the island paradise, so we could afford to indulge in some of the sites less traveled. Once we’d seen the “must” places, we dove deeper into the island’s history and wildlife.


  • Proposal aims to reduce Mt. Fuji climbers by up to 25 percent

    Japan's Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures proposed reducing congestion on Mount Fuji by 12 to 25 percent per day during the peak period by lowering the number of climbers using two of the mountain's four trails.


  • After their town was relocated, they found an uneasy truce with the Pyeongchang Games

    One by one Friday, in new living room after new living room, the television sets flicked on in this village of 12 homes, just in time to watch the opening ceremony for an Olympics that had changed everything here. "Live," it said in the upper right corner of Nam Jae-hwan’s television screen, and he sat down with his wife on a linoleum floor.


  • During Japan's tourism boom, try these off-the-grid locations

    Travel to Japan showed double-digit growth in 2017 from 2016, so you’ll want to take advantage of this development and escape the crowds by hitting the stunning countryside.


  • Tokyo studios photograph clients as samurai and courtesans

    Studios where visitors can have themselves dressed and photographed as samurai warriors or high-ranking Japanese courtesans are becoming increasingly popular in Tokyo.


  • Famous Maui road leads to enchanting, rarely visited Kahanu Garden

    Kahanu Garden was to be one of our two stops along the Hana Highway. The site would be the best of all worlds for us — native plants and flowers for me, and history for my husband.


  • Singapore: The world's newest great cocktail capital

    For a place that’s known to be quite conservative, Singapore offers cocktails that have a tendency to make your heart race.


  • World’s largest, most lavish Starbucks opens in Shanghai

    Starbucks once made waves with the indulgent sizes of some of its drinks, such as the Trenta, which contains a staggering 31 ounces of joe. Now, as part of the company’s aggressive expansion in China, the Seattle-based coffee retailer opened its largest store in the world: a nearly 30,000-square foot compound that does much more than simply serve coffee.


  • South Korea’s Jeju Island attracts tourists with Hawaii-like scenery

    Volcanic mountains, waterfalls and scenic beaches are among the many reasons Jeju Island is known as the Hawaii of South Korea.


  • On Molokai island, the site of an 1860s leper colony draws determined travelers

    The isolated historic leper colony of Kalaupapa is the No. 1 tourist destination on the untouristy Hawaiian island of Molokai.


  • Night market re-energizes Hawaii's lava-buried village of Kaimu

    What remains of this Big Island village south of Hilo has re-energized with a weekly night market that draws lines of cars to fill a parking lot edging a sprawling black field of lava rock.


  • A visit to Japan's space center can be out of this world

    The Tsukuba Space Center is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s version of NASA mission control.


  • Secret Garden lets tourists follow in the footsteps of Korea’s kings and queens

    Visitors used to require permission from the king to enter the Secret Garden, a lush park behind the Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul. Now you can book a guided tour online.


  • The Kingdom of Tonga offers unspoiled beauty, a slow pace and expressive locals

    As I stepped off the little boat after 48 hours of travel, I felt a little like Tom Sawyer. Mostly because my family would be staying in a treehouse. But also because the island looked like something out of a storybook.


  • Maui's Lahaina boasts some of the best attractions in Hawaii

    Lahaina is better known for its modern-day touristy souvenir shops and cafes, but a stroll along its waterfront yields a glimpse into Hawaii’s past, from its whaling days to King Kamehameha’s extracurricular activities.


  • Maui’s heavenly Hana is more than just a road trip

    Hana is most famous not on its own merits, but for the coastal road to it, which is a winding, unbelievably gorgeous tropical adventure of two very narrow lanes.


  • Skip the taxis; enjoy Kyoto by rail, foot or bicycle

    Many foreign visitors see getting around Kyoto as a problem rather than an opportunity. Instead of walking, biking and riding Kyoto’s working museum of train lines, they turn to taxis (expensive and slow) and buses (extensive but even slower).


  • Modern architecture makes for eye candy in Osaka, Japan

    Visitors will be able to look inside some of Osaka’s premiere buildings at the fourth-annual Living Architecture Museum Festival Osaka, set to take place Oct. 28-29.


  • Temple in Sasayama, Japan, opens up to anime and video game subculture

    Daikokuji temple in Sasayama is dubbed the “Shoso-in of the Tanba area” after the repository in Nara that dates back to the eighth century. Tanba is the area in Hyogo Prefecture where Sasayama is located. The temple is said to have been opened by a hermit sometime between 645 and 650, during the Asuka period, to pray for the nation’s peace and security.


  • Hawaii center lets kids learn while having fun

    Let’s from the get-go concede one problem with Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center: It’s hard to get a kid to leave this prepubescent paradise.


  • A curious journey through southwest China

    It was a road trip through one of China’s most tightly controlled regions. We were closely monitored. Each time we stopped at an attraction, two to five SUVs full of brooding middle-aged men would park behind us.


  • 9 fun things in Honolulu: Foodie finds old favorites and new

    Here are nine ways to help make a weekend or so here great — centering on eating and drinking that's not the Cheesecake Factory.

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