Travelers planning to be on the island of Hawaii for the total solar eclipse on July 11 -- it will last about six minutes from 7:28 a.m. -- had better act fast before the sun sets completely on accommodations.
Upward of 20,000 visitors are expected on the Big Island for the phenomenon, which will not be visible from the same location for another 360 years. Many more people will settle for the astronomical cheap seats on other Hawaiian islands, which will experience up to a 99 percent eclipse.
American Express, in cooperation with Honolulu's Bishop Museum and Planetarium, has several packages available.
You can choose condominiums either in Kona on the Big Island, or on Oahu or Maui with a Big Island excursion on eclipse day. Big Island and Maui guests will have what an American Express representative described as eclipse-related lectures and cocktail parties.
All packages include eclipse viewing from Waikoloa Village Stables as well as a post-eclipse Champagne breakfast.
Sample prices for, respectively, each of two people in a one-bedroom condo or each of four in a two-bedroom condo: six nights and seven days in Kona, $1,052 and $788; four nights and five days on Maui, $792 and $731; three nights and four days on Oahu, $682 and $622.
Maui and Oahu packages include round-trip transportation and transfers on eclipse day.
The Big Island-based Momentum Travel, reachable at (808) 329-0536 or (800) 346-0276, is offering seven-night packages at hotels ranging from the Keauhou in Kona for $1,475 a person to the opulent Mauna Lani Bay Hotel at $2,875 a person.
Most of its packages include a car; all include air fare from the West Coast. A $300 add-on fare from the East Coast is available, as is a land-only package.
The Bishop Planetarium has considerable eclipse information available, as well as its own Bishop Museum viewing filters, which cost $2. Information: Bishop Museum and Planetarium, 1525 Bernice St., P.O. Box 19000-A, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817; telephone (808) 847-3511.
A tour to the island July 4-14 is being sponsored by a travel agency, ATC Travel, 239 N. Broadway, North Tarrytown, N.Y. 10591; telephone (800) 692-5252. The cost of $2,710 a person, in double occupancy, includes air fare from New York, room at the Ritz Carlton or Royal Waikoloan on Hawaii.