The answer is simple - explore multiple islands on a cruise. Whether this is your first visit or your tenth, cruising is a relaxing way to see the islands. Enjoy a week or more island hopping, visiting top ports and small bays, exploring national parks, experiencing local culture. Unpack once, no airport hassles - you know, just old fashioned down time.
A city of just under 1 million residents, Honolulu is Hawaii's largest city - a large urban center, like many others, except that it sits on one of the most beautiful and famous beaches around - Waikiki Beach. The cruise port is right downtown, which makes it easy to explore the area, and shop. Waikiki Beach is about two miles from the port - an easy walk for those so inclined or one can hop on a city bus, shuttle or cab. Diamondhead National Park is a 20 minute ride from the port, past Waikiki - a great place for those who would like to hike to the top for a fantastic view of the city and Waikiki. The USS Arizona Memorial is approximately 20 minute from the port, in the opposite direction from Waikiki. For those who want to venture out of town a bit, go to the North Shore to watch the surfers or visit the Polynesian Cultural Center. Keep in mind that it takes a little over an hour to reach the North Shore, but it is well worth the trip. Oahu offers a wide range of experiences, in Honolulu and beyond - enough to keep you busy for several weeks.
Maui is consistently rated as Hawaii's best island, as rated by the readers of Conde Naste. Personally, I agree. Maui is my favorite island too. Most cruises stop in the historic whaling town of Lahaina, charming albeit a bit touristy. Maui though offers so many different things to see and do. When time allows, Haleakala National Park is by far my favorite. The volcano's peak is just over 10,000 feet high, and while the drive takes a bit of time, you won't be sorry. You start off in lush tropical landscape and end up at the summit, overlooking a vast desert and the world's largest dormant volcano. Absolutely amazing. Be sure to take a light jacket or sweater - it can get quite cold. Closer to town, you can choose to explore the beautiful resorts in Kaanapali, walk the beautiful beaches, take a boat tour to snorkel (with lots of opportunities to see turtles) or maybe even take in a round of golf in Kapalua. The Iao Valley with its iconic Iao Needle landmark and multiple tropical gardens lush is another beautiful park area worth seeing.
Kauai is called the Garden Island for good reason. Did you know that Jurassic Park was filmed here? I'm sure you are familiar with the setting - green and lush, from the mountains on down to the ocean. Kauai is best known for Waimea Canyon, a deep canyon with dramatic and stunning views, called the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" for its steep cliffs and beautiful colors. The Napali Coast also offers stunning scenery of awe inspiring cliffs, best seen from a ship, flightseeing or kayaking along the coast.
Hawaii is the youngest of all the islands in the chain, and home to one of the most active volcanoes (Kilauea) in the world as well as the tallest sea mountain in the world -Mauna Kea, which is 33,000 feet high. Cruise ships stop in Hilo, Kona or both. Hilo is the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which may provide a great show from the unpredictable Kilauea. As I sailed away from the island on my last visit, Kilauea was quite active. Seeing the lava moving at night was a spectacular site. Kona is where most visitors fly in/out from. It is a major resort destination, where the Ironman World Championship starts and ends (in October), and home to the Kona Brewing Company.
The itinerary also includes the Big Island (adding in Honomalino Bay and a night dive with manta rays) and Maui, but replaces Oahu and Kauai with visits to Lanai and Molokai. Both Lanai and Molokai are laid back with a lot fewer visitors than the other islands. Molokai has no traffic (or even a traffic light!), and offers the opportunity to meet and interact with the locals and learn about traditions that few visitors get to experience.
Need help determining which cruise line and itinerary is for you? Let me help you! Call 602.540.7338 or email. Let's get started! Mahalo!