A first person account of the joy found in cruising Hawaii.
Out on the evening horizon, a fiery orange hue ignites the otherwise cool moonlit coastline of Hawaii’s Big Island as we sail past. Glowing volcanic lava slowly oozes to the surface like thick earthy syrup creating new land before our very eyes. It’s a wondrous show that only nature can present and which, from this vantage point, can only be seen at sea.
It’s hard to imagine anywhere else in the world with a setting quite as lush with tropical flora and fauna, and such dramatic geological activity.As I soon discovered my choice to cruise was one of the most practical and relaxing ways to explore Hawaii’s islands in a single trip.
Onboard there was plenty to keep us entertained as we sailed between islands or a night, from Broadway-style shows and poolside film screenings to simply reading a good book and brushing up on upcoming ports of call. And there were more than enough options to keep us well fed with Norwegian offering several fine dining choices, from mouth-watering steaks to authentic Italian.
But when you’re sailing Hawaii it’s always worth staying out on deck and keeping your eyes peeled for marine life, especially breaching whales on the approach to the islands. If you’re lucky enough to witness them, like I did, they’re simply breathtaking sights that’ll linger long in the memory.
When we arrived at our first port on Maui, tender boats shuttled us in as the town of Lahaina doesn’t have a dock. But I always rather enjoy this process, seeing the ship and destination from a unique waterline perspective as you swiftly make your way towards land. And just as it has in years gone by, Maui celebrated our arrival with locals warmly welcoming us as we stepped ashore.Lahaina was a pleasant area to explore with lots of waterfront shops, resorts, art galleries and restaurants to casually stroll through. The more adventurous, meanwhile, were free to brave the notoriously long and windy Road to Hana with a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Haleakala National Park and the famed Seven Sacred Pools, or alternatively, set out on a helicopter tour offering knockout views of the attraction in just a fraction of the time.
The following day, I was pleasantly surprised by the port of Nawiliwili on Kauai. Although the ship docks at a rather modest looking port, the adjacent bay it navigated through was absolutely pristine, and right on the bay sat the equally impressive Kauai Marriott Resort with its gorgeous grounds and luxurious pool.
Known as the Garden Isle, Kauai might be one of Hawaii’s lesser-visited islands but it’s widely lauded for its striking natural beauty, particularly the vast Waimea Canyon – nicknamed the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’. The sheer scale of the deep valley below and sprawling mountains above is wonderfully cinematic so it was no surprise to learn that the canyon and Kauai in general has been used as a dramatic backdrop for several film shoots over the years, from South Pacific to Pirates of the Caribbean.In fact, a vast collection of films and television shows has been captured all across Hawaii’s islands particularly on Oahu where the likes of Jurassic Park were filmed. For movie fans, myself included, there are several tour options here revisiting prominent shooting locations from past and current productions, so I jumped at the chance to join an excursion covering sites featured on the hit TV show LOST.For even more glimpses of fresh volcanic magma, many of us also took a Blue Hawaiian helicopter ride from Hilo over the Big Island where the scene is downright primeval. The greenery is taken over by a blackened swirl of rugged rock with periodic windows into the earth’s molten red core and, where it all meets the ocean, billowing clouds of steam rise into the sky.Aside from Hawaii’s spectacular nature and other worldly landscapes, the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu was a sobering but must-see attraction, marking the resting place of the sailors and marines killed during the devastating WWII attack. The opportunity to stand over the titular sunken ship was emotional to say the least.Relaxing onboard it was amazing to look back upon everything we were able to see and do in Hawaii, and soon understood why cruising is one of the best ways to experience it.
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