I need to get away for the last week of Feb. but can't plan. Help!
February 9, 2008 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Best place to go for an emergency de-stressing vacation for the last week of February?

I've been on high pressure double overtime for several months, and I'm looking at a few months of it more coming up. I need to get away and seriously relax before I totally break down. I've arranged to sneak off and disappear for the last week of February. Staying home for a week, although I need the sleep, will do me no good.

I have no time to plan an elaborate life-list trip; and it's only one week and in February, which eliminates a lot. And I don't ski.

So please help with any recommendations for a one-week trip in Feb - I'm leaving from SF CA USA and have a budget of about $2k:
Warm & Sunny (have been cold, damp, and under fluorescent light for too long)
Not too crowded (I'm so stressed out that I could spend the week screaming just to decompress, and I'd prefer not to snap and slaughter a tour group in a fit of rage.)
Has some lovely local nature (I've been to Vegas before, and I might as well have spent the time in a shopping mall in New Jersey. bleh.)
Doesn't take 2 days to get to/from, since I only have 7 days.

If I could go pretend I was on LOST for a few days (hike through jungle to waterfall, shout at trees, go mad), and get a massage and eat well at hotel before and after, that would do me some good I think.

Maybe you've taken an emergency decompression trip yourself, and could give me some tips on that as well.
posted by bartleby to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Hawaii for a weekend ?
posted by iamabot at 11:03 AM on February 9, 2008

I would definitely go to Hawaii if I were you, and incidentally, quite a bit of LOST is actually filmed in Hawaii, and you go visit those places on helicopter tours!

Maui is lovely and full of whales this time of year, while Kuaui stuns with waterfalls and orchids. Or just hang out at the Big Island and take in the volcanoes.
posted by misha at 11:07 AM on February 9, 2008

Oakland to Lihue looks to be either 210 for standards, 400 or so for SWA'/ATAs "business".
posted by iamabot at 11:07 AM on February 9, 2008

Kauai. North Shore. Try a vacation rental like this: http://www.vrbo.com/40110 (I've never stayed there, but I have stayed in a North Shore house, and it was cheaper than a hotel.)

Get breakfast and pizza for dinner from Kilauea Bakery & Pau Hana. Rent a convertible and soak in the warmth and humidity. Hike to Hanakapiai Falls. Snorkel at Hideaways. Take a lazy kayak trip down the Hanalei River.
posted by bisesi at 11:19 AM on February 9, 2008

Sedona, AZ. It's on the 60's there as we speak, but the sun there has a wonderful multiplier effect on the warming, and it shouldn't be damp there at all. You can kick back in town, go hiking, go see the Grand Canyon... oh, and it is beautiful out there.
posted by azpenguin at 11:20 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nthing Hawaii. It's completely easy from California and is the perfect de-stressing vacation. Go to Maui or the Big Island or Kauia. We just went in December and here was our schedule:
-First day - napped. Got room service.
-Every other day:
-Slept in late. Read. Sat by the hotel pool and cruised the internet or read the paper.
-Went to the beach for a couple of hours. Swam a little. Snorkelled a little.
-Went back for an afternoon nap
-Woke up and decided on a place to get a cocktail
-Had a cocktail and some appetizers and watched the sunset

-We did go hiking on the Hilo side (this was on the Big Island). That's probably the most strenous thing we did.

Honestly, it just doesn't get any better than that. And it's so beautiful there, if you don't need to lounge around as much as we apparently needed to, you could hike everyday, take snorkelling trips, whale watching trips, kite boarding lessons, surfing lessons and just be completely active.
posted by gt2 at 11:26 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm going to second Hawaii even though I've never been there. I was going to suggest a place I have been in Asia, but then I realized to decompress you are not going to want to go somewhere that a possible language barrier might be stressful. So my advice is avoid foreign places.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 11:29 AM on February 9, 2008

Do you have a passport? I'm headed to Belize in a week, to the island of Caye Caulker. It's my yearly decompression/what-am-I-doing-with-my-life trip, and you couldn't pick a more perfect spot. Airfare might be around $800 from SFO and you should be able to secure lodging once you get there for $20-30 a night. The island will take care of everything else.

If you do Hawaii, I would recommend Kauai if you want to avoid crowds; Maui is pretty but very full of tourists.
posted by bizwank at 11:36 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ohhhhhh there are cruises that leave from San Diego and LA for under $699, that includes all your meals, and plus you don't have to do anything at all if you don't want to. You only have to unpack ONCE and they pamper you like a baby. Look for deals here: www.vacationstogo.com . I don't know if the trip to those ports would stress you out but it may be worth it to go on a cruise. I, too am in a high stress job (recently had a meltdown from it) and I found that a mindless cruise is just the thing to get me refreshed, tan and healthy. Make sure you choose the right cruise line for activites to match your age and activity level...usually Celebrity is the nicest mid-class (and highest rated for it's class), and Carnival is family oriented with lots of partying. Holland America (I think frankly) is a floating morgue as the average age of the passenger is slightly below death....but I digress....

Good luck!!! And have fun.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 11:54 AM on February 9, 2008

posted by Salvatorparadise at 12:02 PM on February 9, 2008

Esalen. Not far from you and not that warm, but you can take a workshop and sit in the hot springs baths and watch the whales swim by.
posted by richg at 12:18 PM on February 9, 2008

Coworker went to Belize, $400 round trip. Left SF at 1 am, on the beach by noon. Snorkeling and jungles. (He also traveled to Guatemala and Honduras, so some of that was in those countries.)
posted by salvia at 12:23 PM on February 9, 2008

I was going to say Maui but it -- the island itself -- is not the most "natural" place unless you hang out in Hana, which doesn't have tourist support at all.

Kauai is the better bet for nature and "me" time.

If you like driving you could just get in a car and head north on Highway 101/1 until half of your time runs out, then head back. Totally the off season so lodging won't be a problem. Just don't try to explore into the wild areas, to avoid what happened to the Kim family this time last year.
posted by panamax at 12:30 PM on February 9, 2008

I know everybody says Hawaii, but I'll put in a vote for Key West. Sure, it can be a little touristy, but especially if you stay in a private rental (very easy) and don't go during a giant festival, it's surprisingly great. I went in December of '05 when I was just getting over a pretty rough injury recuperation, and I remember waking up after two days thinking, "Oh -- so THIS is what it feels like to be relaxed!"

There's wonderful natural areas in the other Keys, at Ft. Zachary Taylor, and out at Dry Tortugas. Walking among the older areas of town is just delightful. I had such a good time hanging out in condos and house rentals that I swore to never stay in a hotel again if I could help it; there are private rentals with every size and amenity level, including private backyard pools.

Check it out!
posted by Madamina at 2:58 PM on February 9, 2008

Born and raised Hawaii resident here, also recommending Hawaii.

I'd suggest the Big Island, which is where I get away to when I need natural and spiritual peace. A privately owned and managed vacation rental in the Volcano area would do quite nicely, over a hotel. It'll be like staying in someone's house, which it is. Shop locally. Cook for yourself. And save a bundle.

You can spend all your days wandering around inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You could also explore the rest of the island, which offers just about every flavor of natural beauty you can imagine, from desert to rainforest to snow-capped mountain. Beaches and resorts on the Kona side offer the postcard experience, but my preference has always been sleepy and slow.
posted by pzarquon at 7:28 PM on February 9, 2008

Hawaii -- Lanai Kai, which is on the east coast of Oahu. 30 minutes from Honolulu, so everything's easy; you can rent a house (or apartment in a house - which is great) just on the beach for $200/night.

I've done it several times in exactly your situation and it's been magic every time. (I've also spent time on the big island, Maui and Kauai -- and they are all so beautiful. But Oahu is easy and you have access to everything you might want.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:55 PM on February 9, 2008

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