Hawaiian Islands on Grand Princess

 

Now that we are back at sea heading to Ensenda, I have a chance to get caught up on my blog again. We had 4 wonderful days in Hawaii, with lots to see and do. This was our third trip to Hawaii and quite frankly we chose this cruise for the ship board experience and Hawaii was a nice destination to throw in.
Our first stop was Hilo. I had planned out an easy excursion for us, a walk into the edge of town, with a trip to the water front “beach” area and a walk around the beautiful Japanese gardens. We had one little hiccup in this plan, rain. However, we decide to go ahead and see the sights in the rain. I was wearing my surf shirt and swim skirt, so I didn’t really get soaked, but my husband was wearing a regular t-shirt and shorts and he pretty much got soaked though with no chance to dry. However, we both had on ball caps which kept our face and head dry so we weren’t completely miserable. We had also planned to rent a kayak or a stand up paddle board. However, the rental shop the shopkeeper said she was going to have to open up late since she had a leak and water was coming in the back of the shop. So we decided against it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to kayak or SUP in the rain anyway. The walk to Coconut Island was beautiful with lots of banyan trees and views of the bay. It looked like Coconut Island used to be the local swimming hole with the remains of a diving platform on which we could walk.. We walk out there and saw some fish and then walked around this lava island. The Japanese gardens and Coconut Island are in the part of town that is vulnerable to tsunamis, and the locals decided to leave it as mostly open space in order to avoid it being destroyed again by another tsunami. We also walked by the little river that opens to the bay and saw a group doing a SUP lesson. After a stop at a little grocery to buy some Diet Pepsi to bring on board, we headed back to the ship and enjoyed lunch and a quiet afternoon on board. We also enjoyed some whale watching. It was hard to get picture because of their distance and the difficulty in timing the shot, but we must have seen 15-20 whales out in the harbor.

We had dinner in the Crown Grill steakhouse this night because the main dining room menu didn’t appeal to my husband. The Crown Grill was every bit worth the $25 pp cover. Excellent food and service. I had surf and turf as a main course and my husband had a filet and veal combination.

The next day was Honolulu. We decided that since the weather was good that it would be a great day for Waikiki Beach. We walked off the ship and found “The Bus”. We didn’t have the exact change, but we got round trip transfers for two for a total of $10. If we had exact change it would have been I think just $5, but not a huge mistake on our part. We took the bus to the area near Hilton Hawaiian Village where we had stayed before. First we visited the little gift shops on property, which are actually pretty good shopping in general. I picked up some t-shirts, shampoo, and some gifts for people back home. Then we sat at our favorite little beachfront café on property and got a few drinks and nachos. Since the weather was good, I decided to do my SUP here in Waikiki. It was really super easy to paddle in the calm waters but I wasn’t allowed to try to go out in the surf. That was more adventure than I wanted any way. I saw some turtles and the view of Diamond Head from the water was spectacular. It was plenty of fun for the day. We took our return passes and headed out to catch the bus back to the ship.
In the evening Princess brought on a hula school to perform for the guests. They did a good job but the show didn’t have much variety and the school’s director talked a little too much. The show we had 10 years ago included both traditional Hawaiian songs and the English language “half Hawaiian” songs, as well as soloists and a young man. This show was good, but a little “one note” in that it didn’t have any soloist, boys, or English language songs.

Kauai was our next stop. For those guests wanting a beach and shopping day, it can all be found with-in walking distance of the ship right at the Marriott resort in Nawiliwili. There was a little strip mall right next to the hotel with gift shops, tour companies, and beach rentals. Right on the beach Local Boys had a surf ship with SUP and Snorkel lessons as well as surf and canoe lessons. I rented a beach chair set, umbrella and snorkel set. I didn’t see a lot of fish, but what we really enjoyed was watching the SUP riders paddle into the surf and catch a short wave. The little lagoon there at the hotel had one little section where the waves broke with the rest of the lagoon fairly calm. This made it really easy for beginning and experienced SUP riders to catch one of the little waves. The canoe riders also got into the act by catching the surf waves too. After watching the show from the beach, we grabbed a quick lunch at Duke’s Barefoot Bar. We did a little shopping at Crazy Shirt and picked up a swim shirt for me and a couple of high quality t’s for my husband then headed back to the ship.

Our last day in Hawaii was a visit to the Island of Maui. We tendered in Lahaina and loved the fact that this was whale watching central, which is much better than whale hunting. They are such beautiful creatures. As we pulled into the bay there were whales everywhere. Many more than we saw 10 years ago when we visited in Nov/Dec. So our original plan was to walk around the village of Lahaina and take in the scenery. I think when my husband realized how small it was and that whale watching was the main thing to do there, he was more agreeable to taking a drive and seeing the interior or something else of the island. We asked the guy at the tourist kiosk and he said if we wanted to do a 2 hour tour in a taxi, he had a friend he could call and he could take us to Iao Valley. He said, otherwise, we might get a driver who doesn’t speak English and can’t really point out the sights. Ironically, his friend was busy and sent another driver. She spoke enough English to communicate, but was not fluent. She was very nice and a hard working lady who works two jobs to make ends meet in the expensive island of Maui. She was of Chinese descent from Vietnam, and she drives a taxi and does nails too. Though her English was not perfect she did a great job showing us around the island.

As we left Lahaina we passed by the county beach park where there must have been 100 surfers and surfing paddle boarders in the water. It was the perfect conditions for beginner surfers. Next we headed up the hill to an overlook stop near the bay between the two mountains of Maui. Just as we got to the overlook a huge pod of whales was swimming right along the shore. I actually got pictures of these guys and will post when back home and the internet is fast enough for pictures. Then we passed through the valley between the two mountains of Muai where we could see the large mountain that has Haleakala Crater on the right and the smaller mountain on the left. We were headed to the Iao Valley which was a sacred sight for ancient Hawaiians and the sight of one the most important battles of King Kamehameha in his quest to unite the islands into one kingdom. The valley was beautiful and we took some nice pictures there of the needle rock formation, the flowers and the lovely foliage. Then we had just enough time to stop at the tropical plantation and take a couple of pictures and then head back to Lahaina. There are so many things to see and do in Maui with or with-out a ship’s tour. In Lahaina they had whale watching zodiac tours for as little as $9 per person. Our private taxi ride was a bit of a splurge at $140 including tip, but worth it to us to be able to set our own pace and to see a bit more the island than just the town of Lahaina. There were helicopter rides and larger boats for whale watching. I heard one lady on our tender say that she was taking a surf lesson guaranteed to get her on a board in two hours or her money back.

Back on the ship we did more top deck whale watching as we prepared to leave for our next stop in Ensenada. The bay in Lahaina is one of the most beautiful places at sunset and we really enjoyed the beautiful view as we sailed away and said good bye to the beautiful islands of Hawaii. We have a few more days at sea and I hope to check in to give a report on Princess during that time.