First off, I have to say that I am not sure that a cruise ship is the best way to see the Hawaiian islands. Not to say I did not enjoy it, but it is a bit limiting and quite frankly a bit expensive to experience the islands from a cruise ship. We stopped at Hilo, Kona, Lahaina, and finally Honolulu with the cruise ship before renting a car and spending the last three days on the north shore of Oahu at a place called Turtle Bay. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Hilo, on the island of Hawaii was my most anticipated stop. As my mother and myself were booked in for a hike around and through a volcanic crater. Our guide, Leo, was excellent and provided a non-stop flow of information. The day was perfect for a hike and we had a lovely time.
At the end of the hike we had a chance to explore a lava tube which was cool and provided me with the perfect excuse to haul out my tripod that I had been carrying all around the volcano. On the return to the ship we also did the obligatory side trip to the macadamia nut plant and gift shop. There is one place I wish I had shares in. I’m fairly sure everyone on every tour is delivered to this destination. They are delicious nuts though.
A couple of the more exciting points during our stops are where we had to take tenders from the ship to shore. Boarding these tenders in the harbour is a piece of cake, however, embarking and disembarking from the ship to the tender was a whole different story. If you happen to be changing vessels at the right time you would wonder what all the excitement was about. But if you were in transit as even light swells were going through it was like a ride at the Stampede (Calgary Stampede reference for you non Calgarians). The height difference between the two decks would go from zero to a metre (3 feet) with very little warning. The crew members were fantastic in working to keep passengers safe, however the Darwinian urges of some of the passengers helped me understand how people could get hurt during these operations.
In Kona, Karen and I took the opportunity to head out with a small group to do some scuba diving at a couple of sites just off shore. Big Island Water Sports are a small outfit who provide great service. We were fortunate that the group of six were all competent divers and needed a minimum of guidance, which makes for a more relaxed outing and plenty of time to explore.
The small reef fish were plentiful and beautifully coloured. The coral growing over the volcanic rock made for a stunning backdrop for the fish. It was the first chance I had to use my new underwater light so the colours were even brighter than I expected. At the second dive sight we were treated to an absolute mobbing of dolphins as we approached the site but unfortunately they all went elsewhere by the time we got in the water. Great day of diving though.
As we returned to the ship after diving I was able to get a reverse shoot of our cabin from water level. Circling this ship in a little tender certainly brings home the size of these vessels.
Our stop in Lahaina marked a milestone. It was my sister’s first Lu’au and first proper Hawaiian Lei. Everyone had a great time at the Old Lahaina Lu’au. The food was excellent and the entertainment non stop.
Our last port of call with the ship was Honolulu. This worked exceptionally well as we were on the ship for two nights here, giving us a whole day to explore Honolulu before departing northbound. We did a bunch of walking before getting tickets for the Waikiki Trolley Tour. It is a hop on hop off kind of set up, but quite frankly I was fine with just hopping on and enjoying views and commentary.
The trolley did a trip out to Diamond Head which afforded beautiful views of the shore and the surrounding hills and volcanoes.
From Honolulu we rented a Jeep to drive north to Turtle Bay along the north shore. Unfortunately the weather was a bit overcast and rainy, but still a wonderful area with great beaches and facilities along the roads.
Hawaii is a wonderful holiday destination and a great place to enjoy sun and sand. However, I must be truthful and admit it was tainted a bit by the sad farewells and ‘see you laters’ with my Mom and sister. As well as the mystery and draw of what awaited us in the southern hemisphere. Life is not always filled with easy choices.