The Hawaiian islands are an iconic holiday destination for pretty much everyone on the planet. Beautiful beaches, iconic and active volcanos, Hawaiian luau dancing, tiki skirts and some of the most beautiful snorkelling (turtles!) and mountain terrains I’ve ever seen. Hawaii spans over 8 islands, each island beautiful in different ways. To capture the best of everything, I decided to go on a cruise by Norwegian Cruise Lines, for a 7 day cruise Hawaii. What made this cruise Hawaii great, was seeing a quick snapshot of every island and what it’s best at, and know where to come back to. See the highlights of Hawaii, and return another time to the favourite spots. Cruising Hawaii is a great way to explore for first timers who are unsure what they want to see or do, or are so overwhelmed by choice, that they want a bit of everything.
Honolulu is your typical island city centre. A city built by the sea, with the ocean, tiki skirts and relaxed vibes all a part of what is Honolulu. Within minutes of arriving, you feel like you’ve been on holiday for days already. Waikiki Beach is the mecca of Honolulu, and it’s clear to see why everyone raves about this famous strip, bustling with people and energy. The wide boulevard like pavements, music playing along the street, beach waves and goers everywhere, rollerbladers zooming past, it’s a busy place.
I stayed at Pacific Beach Hotel (since re-furbished and renamed to Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach ). The location of the hotel was spot on, central to everything. The view from the hotel is stunning, completely unobstructed views of the sunset, which night after night proved remarkable.
THINGS TO DO IN HONOLULU
Surfing on Waikiki beach is an experience many people dream about. The waves are gentle, and Waikiki beach gives the perfect platform for learning to surf. The waves start quite far out from the beach, so do require you to swim out a bit, however gives a nice distinction from swimmers and surfers.
There are two fantastic options for shopping in Honolulu. The Ala Moana Centre is your typical American Mall, however open air. You’ll find pretty much all your standard international and American labels here.
If you want to score a bargain, head to the Waikele Premium Outlets. This mall is also open air, and is about 40 minutes bus ride from Waikiki ($15 bus ticket return). You’ll find awesome bargains here from Adidas, Banana Republic, Saks 5th Avenue and Calvin Klein just to name a few. Definitely worth the time taken to get out there.
Hawaiian Luau are a traditional dance and buffet dinner performance. Queue the Lilo and Stitch moment, this lives up to the stereotype. The dances were performed to a tee, and showed both sides for men and women, hula and all! What was a surprise however was the amount of people who attend these performances. The island of Oahu (on which Honolulu lies) run huge Luau’s, approximately 700 people. I would opt for a Luau on a smaller island.
PRIDE OF AMERICA CRUISE SHIP
All year round, Norwegian Cruise Lines cruise Hawaii with their cruise ship Pride of America from Honolulu, sailing for a blissful 7 days around the Hawaiian Islands. The Pride of America has been running their cruise ofHawaii for the more than 10 years. The Pride of America was refurbished in 2016, making for a comfortable and modern stay. You can read my review of the Pride of America here >>
Kahului, Maui (2 days) > Hilo, Hawai’i (1 day) > Kona, Hawai’i (1 day) > Nawiliwili, Kauai (2 days)
I can absolutely recommend cruise Hawaii. You get to see all the Hawaiian islands have to offer at ease, traveling comfortably and efficiently. The 7 days cruise Hawaii is a busy schedule as the cruise ship is in port (on an island) every single day. With each island offering such different things, getting out there and seeing it is the main idea. If you’re looking for a very relaxing holiday, I recommend staying at a resort on one island. A cruise with lots of people and lots going on is quite active.
A cruise Hawaii has great benefits; unpack just once, food and entertainment amply provided every day, and of course transport between each destination. To see all this natural beauty so easily was spectacular. The Pride of America generally only sailed for 6-8 hours each night (apart from Kona > Nawiliwili, which took 12 hours), and the ocean was calm.
I spent 2 days on Maui, exploring Lahaina and a day snorkelling.
On day 2, I booked a tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation for a snorkelling trip to the Molokini Crater, a volcanic crater that is submerged in the ocean and has remarkable corals, fish and turtles.Unfortunately, it was too windy to sail to the Molokini Crater on the day, and an alternative destination had to be used off the coast of Lahaina.
The absolute highlight of the day was swimming with turtles, and not just one or two! More than I could count! These green sea turtles were not afraid of humans, which meant that they swam quite close to you. It was magical! I was also incredibly lucky to encounter a pod of spinner dolphins which are native to Hawaiian waters. On the return journey, we also were greeted by whales! The entire day was filled with marine life! The tour was incredibly well thought out, and had a fantastic focus on eco-friendly tourism, and of course, showing us the incredible waters of Maui!
Next up, we set cruised to Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. Home to the biggest and most active volcano in Hawaii, Kileaeu Volcano was a sight not to be missed. With an adventure (and some cheeky offtrack exploration) through the Volcano National Park, we saw the Halemaumau Crater where lava explosions had occurred hundreds of years ago. Scientists are predicting for an explosion soon, so keep your eyes peeled! We then ventured to the Thurston Lava Tube, which is a fascinating wonder where lava forms a natural tunnel about 2.5m tall, and about 45m in length that can be accessed.
Here we were then taken to an open lava field, where we could explore the area that was once all glowing red! The ground will crunch under your foot, and the texture of dried lava is pretty cool, airy yet solid. After this, we hopped back on the bus, and spent some time at Akaka Falls. There was a peaceful walk around the waterfall through a lush forest.
Next we set sail for Kona, Hawai’i, where I spent the day onboard. Whilst being in port every day is wonderful, I found it really tiring to be constantly getting up at 7am, and just needed a break. Safe to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the sleep-in, and some well deserved time in the sun by the cruise ships pool with a few cocktails!
Kauai was my favourite island. The nature is astonishingly beautiful and there is plenty of fun activities and beaches to see.
There’s something about an engine revving and offroad terrain that lights a fire in most people. NCL’s Mudbug tour in Kauai was truly worth it as it got you out into the wild. This day tour allowed me to see a whole different side of Kauai. Kauai ATV Tours took care of everything. All you need is a swimsuit and runners that can get dirty (trust me, they will get muddy). They supplied me with a t-shirt, shorts, goggles, helmet all to get nice and muddy! I also opted to purchase a bandanna each for $4, which was invaluable as when you are driving through dust, it did become rather difficult to breathe!
I took every opportunity within reason to have as much fun in the mud as possible with the Mudbug Wasp! The journey one way to the waterfall (which is the lunch spot) took around 1.5hrs, with a few stops for scenery and famous movie sites. A unique point was zooming through the islands only tunnel, which is actually a lava tunnel that was dug out by hand in order to connect the islands sugar cane field to the port for easier access. Driving 50mph offroad was so much fun! The waterfall was a really nice lunch spot, although would be more enjoyable on a really hot day. On the return journey, we stopped by the field where Jurassic Park dinosaurs once roamed. Overall, HIGHLY recommended trip, and definitely worth the expense!
Soaring above the majestic pine tree tops, Just Live Zipline tours proved to be an awesome experience. This 3.5hour adventure featured 7 tree top zips, and 4 canopy bridges. I felt incredibly safe the entire time, with every precaution taken. The guides taught me cool stunts to soar through the trees, backwards and superwoman being my favourite.
NA PALI COAST
The Na Pali Coast is one of the most spectacular coastlines that I have ever seen. The Na Pali Coast is where they shot the entrance helicopter scene to Jurassic Park, and it’s clear to see why! I was blissfully unaware of the history and beauty that is this rugged coastline holds. The cruise ship slowed down, and a traditional prayer played over the loud speakers, as grace for entering the area. Just like magic, a few whales decided to say hello and were blowing water and even breaching out of the water! To top it off, a rainbow appeared. We sailed along the coastline for 2 hours, enjoying the various views and mountainous coastline. Definitely highlight of the cruise Hawaii.
Being in Hawaii for 10 days was unbelievable, exceeding my expectations! Doing a cruise Hawaii was the perfect way to see all the islands have to offer. Next time I’ll be heading back to Kauai and Maui!