Q I have plans to go to Punta Cana soon. What have you heard about the situation there after the floods in the Dominican Republic and Haiti?
A Punta Cana, on the Dominican Republic's far eastern tip, is more than 200 miles from the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where the floods occurred. Torrential rains caused the River Solie to overflow during the pre-dawn hours of May 24; more than 3,300 are either dead or missing. In D.R., the village of Jimani was especially hard hit.
The Dominican Republic government is urging tourists to go on with their vacation plans. "There is no reason tourists should not go," said Judith Marcano of the Embassy of the Dominican Republic, adding that the flooding was in an area not frequented by tourists.
The country has not seen any decrease in tourist arrivals since the flooding, according to Tomas Otano, director of the Dominican Republic Tourist Board in Miami. "People are pretty much aware that this took place very far from the resorts," he said. The only tourists who usually venture to the Jimani area are bird watchers visiting nearby Lake Enriquillo.
Our family of 14, ranging from 4 to 73, would like to visit Oahu. There are four families involved. Should we rent a van or small bus that holds 14? Should we reserve a suite for each family? We'd like to do this as economically as possible.
It'll be more economical to share the housing and split up the cars.
Even if you could find a vehicle that would hold 14, the cost would be high and wouldn't allow the flexibility to break up into smaller groups. Instead, rent two minivans. Dollar Rent a Car, for example, has seven-passenger Dodge Caravans for $528 per week, including taxes. Public transportation is another option: The Bus (808-848-5555, www.thebus.org) offers regular service to the major attractions throughout Oahu, and visitors can get a four-day unlimited pass for $20. But the convenience of having your own wheels, especially with children, may be worth the extra money.
As for accommodations, Aston Hotels & Resorts has several low-priced, conveniently located properties. They're not beachfront but are within walking distance of Waikiki Beach. They include the Aston Pacific Monarch Condominium Resort, with one-bedroom units running as low as $133 a night, and the Honolulu Prince, with two-bedrooms from $139 a night. Info: 877-997-6667, www.astonhotels.com. You can also rent a house or two, although this will probably cost more, especially in Waikiki. The Oahu Visitors Bureau (808-524-0722, http://oahu.gohawaii.com) keeps a list of accommodations.
I'd like to take my wife to Maine for a long weekend at a nice ocean location that offers good food. We'd like to try one of those clam-bake things. Any ideas?
Maine is a great place to decompress. The night sky is so clear you can see satellites orbiting, the air is crisp even in August and the lobsters are sweet, plentiful and relatively cheap.
I'd recommend flying and renting a car, especially if you have only a long weekend. You can currently fly nonstop from Dulles into Portland on United for as little as $207 round trip. Independence Air will begin offering service on June 23 for a similar price.
I'm partial to Mid-Coast region around Boothbay Harbor, about an hour's drive from Portland. It has shopping, restaurants, hiking and an interesting day trip by boat to Monhegan Island. There are several top-notch bed-and-breakfasts, including Greenleaf Inn (888-950-7724, www.greenleafinn.com) and Topside Inn (877-486-7466, www.topsideinn.com). If you'd prefer a larger resort, try Spruce Point Inn (207-633-4152, www.sprucepointinn.com). Cabbage Island Clambakes (207-633-7200, www.cabbageislandclambakes.com) organizes a daily boat trip in summer from Boothbay Harbor to Cabbage Island for a traditional clambake that includes steamed clams, lobsters and all the fixin's; cost is $44.95 per adult.
Contact Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce (800-266-8422, www.booth bayharbor.com) or Maine Office of Tourism (888-624-6345, www.visitmaine.com).
Noel Smith of Oakton recommends Bicycle Adventures (800-443-6060, www.bicycleadventures.com) for the single rider looking for bicycle tour operators (Travel Q&A, May 30). "Their trips are purposely kept small so as to provide excellent service and their guides are exceptionally well trained and knowledgeable," Smith said. "I recently completed a camping, biking, kayaking, whale-watching trip in the San Juan Islands [Wash.] with Bicycle Adventures and felt that it was one of the best vacations I've had."
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