The Islands of Love
Princess Cruises ships sail to the Hawaiian Islands to give you a ‘taster’ of this volcanic, archipelago set in the Pacific Ocean. I say ‘taster’ because that is what it is, a day on four islands just to give you a brief look at ‘paradise’.
Hawaii is a state of the United States of America and has over 137 islands spread over 1,500 miles. The image of palm trees and white sandy beaches can be found, but many of the islands are busy and cosmopolitan with the rich and famous coming to live on these remote Pacific islands.
Hawaii – also known as the Big Island
This was our first stop on our Princess Cruise. On arrival at the port of Hilo many of our fellow passengers went off on tours around the island to visit the picturesque bays and to see the Green Turtles that bask in the sun on Black Beach.
Glyn’s Tip: On the shore there are lots of independent tours available if you don’t wish to go on a ship’s tour.
Hilo has the Banyan Drive through the Liliuokalani Gardens which are the largest Japanese-style gardens outside of Asia. See the statue of King Kamehameha, an ancient ruler overlooking Hilo Bay.
Go ‘nuts’ at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm, where you can see the work being done to process the nuts from viewing areas and then go into the shop to buy nuts, chocolates or ice cream all made from the Macadamia nuts.
There are lots of interesting tours to give you a ‘taste’ of Hawaii. Visit Rainbow Falls or Mauna Kea the site of some of the world’s most important ground-based astronomical observatories. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a favourite with many visitors where you can see dormant lava rock flows, sulphur banks and lava beds
Pearl Harbour and the Arizona Memorial is for many people the main reason for visiting the Hawaiian Islands and it certainly is well worth it to understand how and why the Japanese attacked on the 7 December 1941.
Glyn’s Tip: Honolulu, the capital of the U.S. state of Hawaii, is a busy cosmopolitan city and a pre-booked tour is advisable, but if you want to go it alone or share with friends then I suggest a taxi from the cruise ship to the Pearl Harbour site and the entrance to the museum and the visit to the Arizona Memorial is free. Yes, free, the only charge is for your bags. Large bags are not allowed on the site and it costs $5 to store each bag.
The memorial site is very impressive and very emotional as you are shown pictures and films of the surprise Japanese attack on that sunny Sunday morning in December, when many American lives were lost.
A short boat ride takes you across the harbour to the Arizona Memorial. Visitors pay their respects to the sailors that died on the ship and 900 people are still buried in the Arizona and oil still leaks from her bow. These leaks are named the ‘black tears’ of the crew who lie in their watery grave.
Waikiki Beach sounds romantic and fun – well it is fun but not very romantic as you are surrounded by high rise hotels, lots of shops and busy roadways.
The public transport to the Waikiki Beach area is very good and at $5 per day it is an inexpensive way to see this fascinating area. You can shop until you drop at the many Malls around the area or just swim in the Pacific Ocean.
If your cruise time allows, stay until sunset and watch the Hula Band and Dancers perform by the large Banyan Tree on the beach side. Torch Lights flicker in the evening sun and the dancers put on a lovely performance in such a beautiful setting.
We had to tender (small shuttle boat) to the island of Maui as the harbour is too shallow and the pier too small for the large ships to dock. As you step on shore you are greeted by smiling faces and Hawaiian music and a small orchid was given to visitors to the island as a welcome.
Maui is a called the Valley Isle because of the lush, natural beauty that covers it. The rich green forests surround Mt Haleakala, a dormant volcano which rises 10,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean.
Whale watching tours are very popular and really exciting, so book on the cruise if you wish or go on shore and check out the boats that work from the shore. Humpback whales migrate from Alaska to mate from December to May in the warm waters off the Hawaiian Islands. Maui is the best place to witness this.
The busy Lahaina Port is full of shops and bars for you to wander around but try the ‘hop on hop off’ bus and go to the Black Rock Beach and swim with the turtles or just enjoy the warm blue sea.
Being of a certain age(!), we found an amazing shop, bar and restaurant owned by Mick Fleetwood of the Fleetwood Mac band and looking at all the photographs, records and memorabilia was a down memory lane experience and the Happy Hour cocktails went down a treat.
I left my heart in Maui, but not my wallet as it is a very expensive place to live and stay. Hotel rooms at some hotels average $650 per night.
Sadly because of the weather we did not land on the island of Kauai, so another sea day was planned. It is rather sad as you sail around the island not being able to land but safety comes first, and the ship’s captain said it would be dangerous.
The Hawaiian Islands experience is one I won’t forget. It was on my ‘bucket list’ and as my bucket is getting fuller and I am getting older I may never return. But I would love to go back and enjoy the wonder and magic of the Hawaiian Islands and next time not have a ‘taster’ but time to see and experience the sights and sounds of this beautiful part of the world.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Princess Cruises.