Hawaii cruising: Where the wild things are
From fascinating sea creatures to fiery volcanoes, Hawaii is a hot spot for fabulous scenery. One of the best ways to see Hawaii is on a cruise so you can island-hop easily. This will save you from paying for several inter-island flights or taking time-consuming ferries.
My visit started off with meeting sea creatures. While snorkeling off a beach in Maui, I saw what looked like a volleyball stuck between two lava rocks. I reached out to get it – but a long tentacle stopped me. It wasn’t a ball. It was an octopus. We blinked at each other as if to say hello and he slowly swam away uninterested in playing.
I could hardly believe that for the cost of a snorkel set from the local KMart, I got up close and personal with an octopus in waist-deep water. There’s no need to go to the expense of scuba diving here. The sea creatures come to you.
The next day in Kona, Hawaii, while sunbathing on a beach, people around me started grabbing their cameras and pointing at the water. Huge whales were waving their tails at us from the distance. These happy humpbacks usually hang out in Alaska, but from November to May, they vacation in Hawaii too.
If the marine life isn’t enough to impress you, the volcanoes will. When I returned to our cruise ship, the Norwegian Pride of America, which is the only ship that sails these islands year-round, we cruised past Kilauea, the most active volcano in the world. Bright red streams of lava flowed into the ocean while sparks of fire lit up the night sky. It’s a dramatic sight.
Kauai is the emerald jewel of the Hawaiian chain, thanks to being born over a plume of hot magma a million years ago. While driving through the jungle, a huge, hairy wild boar shot out of the bushes and ran across the road. It was like seeing Pumba from the “Lion King” come to life.
However it’s Kauai’s Na Pali coastline that really steals the show. Its green velvet valleys and razor-sharp, red-earth ridges made it perfect for the movie Jurassic Park. The mystical region is mostly inaccessible by land, except by hiking a rugged 18-kilometre path.
So the best way to appreciate the dramatic 900-metre cliffs is by ship or helicopter.
Natural wonders never cease in Hawaii. Even on our last day, when we had a few hours to fill before our flight, we visited the cosmopolitan city of Waikiki. We walked along the beach to take a photo of the iconic Diamond Head.
While sitting on the pier sipping our drinks, sea turtles the size of coffee tables slowly swam by. My son shook his head and summed up Hawaii in one sentence. “This place is wild,” he said.
Norwegian Cruise Line is the only line to sail Hawaii year-round on seven-day voyages. Visit www.ncl.comor call 866-234-7350.
Carnival, Princess, Celebrity and Holland America offer seasonal Hawaii cruises from various ports in California and Mexico, as well as Vancouver. Royal Caribbean offers occasional cruises and several luxury lines call on the islands during longer Pacific crossings or world cruises.
Diane Tierney is FYI's chief cruising correspondent. To follow Diane on her voyages, click HERE.
See Diane's previous blogs for FYI:
Small ship cruising reaches hidden gems