We finally made it to Hawaii

We finally made it to Hawaii, our first sight of land after seven days at sea. Our arrival here meant Steve had now been to all fifty states in the United States. Google told me the average number of states visited is 17. I’m way ahead of 17, but I still have about five to see.

Our cruise ship had one-day port stops in Honolulu, Kona, Hilo, and Maui – not a long time to explore. We did not make detailed plans or reserve a single shore excursion. We chose to see where each day took us, a non-plan that worked well for us.


Pearl Harbor

Our only pre-booked event was at our first port stop in Honolulu. We purchased a $1 timeslot reservation to visit the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. What a sight to see. I was astonished to discover what an emotional and moving experience this was; I still get goosebumps thinking about that day!

We finally made it to Hawaii

It is amusing (now) that our one single “plan” did not work out, but that is what happened. Delayed disembarkation was our first issue, and although we quickly got an Uber to the car rental center at the airport, we waited for our car for a very long time.

We finally arrived at Pearl Harbor in the rental car at 11:30 exactly – too late to make our scheduled appointment to visit the USS Arizona. We wanted to see this memorial, so we chose to stand in the walk-in ticket line in the hot sun – for over two hours!

No complaints – worth the wait, and we both highly recommend this experience. There are much worse places in the world to stand in line in the hot sun than the tropical island of Honolulu.

Visiting family

After leaving Pearl Harbor, we searched for beaches and admired the beautiful scenery. We ended up at the small Maunalua Bay Beach Park, where Steve talked to local fishermen about the bait they were catching for their planned fishing trips.

The biggest and best highlight of all our days in Hawaii was meeting my cousin Jay, his beautiful wife Cathy, and their fabulous teenage daughter and son. We had planned for many months to visit Jay’s mom, my first cousin Cindy, but sadly she passed away before we left for our cruise.

We finally made it to Hawaii

Jay was a small boy the last time I’d seen him, and we had a wonderful time reminiscing and telling family stories. My sisters and I have a sketchy trip in the works to go to Honolulu soon to visit this remarkable family.

We enjoyed a special dinner at Likos Tap & Table, a fantastic restaurant where Jay is the chef. Likos is a popular restaurant in Honolulu and, of course, has waterfront dining. After dinner, we returned to the ship and prepared for our next port stop.


The following day we woke up with our ship approaching Kona, the Big Island. The ship could not dock in Kailhua, so we were required to take tender boats from the ship, a few miles from shore, to the dock. This was our first experience with lifeboats being used as tenders to take us to shore.

We finally made it to Hawaii

We had no problems getting on or off the tender, but large swells at the ship made the transfer from the ship to the tender boat a little scary and difficult for some. The ship Captain stopped the tender operations for a brief period because of high swells.

For that reason, some guests had extremely long wait times to get to shore. There were some very unhappy cruisers that day.

Once on shore, we wandered through shops at the dock, enjoyed one of Hawaii’s famous shave ices, and grabbed the Hop-on-Hop-off-bus. We rode through its entire route, which was not very long, and got off the bus halfway back to the dock.

Hulihe’e Palace. Not open for tours, so just photos here.

We wandered through shops along our walk and stopped at the Kona Inn for a tasty lunch and a beautiful view of our ship just off the shore. Kailua on the island of Kona is a beautiful community – I could live here! I was amazed at how quickly our day came to an end.

We finally made it to Hawaii


No tender here. We walked off the ship, hopped in a taxi with four random cruisers we met while waiting in the taxi line, and headed two miles to the center of town. The driver dropped us directly across the street from a magnificent farmer’s market.

We finally made it to Hawaii

I so wanted to buy some fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take them back to the ship, so we had to be satisfied with just looking. We walked through town, stopping in several shops along the main street. We had a great time picking out a few souvenirs.

I suppose the only plan we’d made in Hilo was to visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum. This fascinating and well-laid-out museum contains many sobering and thoughtfully presented exhibits. I now have a healthy respect for this frightening weather phenomenon.

We finally made it to Hawaii

A 35-foot-high tsunami in 1960 killed 61 people and destroyed 540 businesses and homes in Hilo. We watched videos and read written recollections from people in Hilo who were victims of this dreadful event. What heroic stories! A 9.5 magnitude earthquake as far away as Chile created this tsunami.

Tsunami is the Japanese word for harbor wave. Sometimes these events are called tidal waves, but earthquakes, not the tides, create them. I cannot imagine the fear of seeing one barreling toward you as you watched helplessly onshore.

We finally made it to Hawaii

We continued our walk through town and found ourselves at the trendy restaurant name Pineapples. We waited about 45 minutes for a table before deciding to sit at a bar table rather than wait longer for a table in the restaurant. What a busy place for a Wednesday!

The food here is excellent, but the big attraction is the pineapple drinks! Very sweet, very alcoholic, but very tasty. Steve and I shared one, which was quite enough for the middle of a weekday afternoon.

We were ready to return to the ship after our filling lunch and pineapple treat, so we made our way to where we needed to catch a cab ride back. Our morning cab driver had given us his card and told us he’d pick us up when we were ready to return to the ship.

A very long line was waiting for a taxi, so we did take advantage of our driver’s kindness and called him to pick us up. Again, we shared our cab with four other guests from the ship.

Our day in Hilo was very relaxed, a great learning experience about tsunamis, and full of good conversations with locals – our kind of day.


Bailey House Museum

Our final port day in Hawaii already! We docked at Kahului on the island of Maui, rented a car at the nearby airport, picked it up quickly, and began exploring. Our first stop was the nearby Bailey House Museum.

We finally made it to Hawaii

Edward Bailey was a missionary, teacher, businessman, naturalist, and painter living in Maui during the mid-1800s. We discovered many artworks and artifacts from Hawaii’s pre-western contact era on display here, including an over 100-year-old fishing canoe dug out of a loa log.

We most enjoyed our time visiting with one of the docents as she showed us around the gardens. She was very enthusiastic, and we had fun talking with her.

We finally made it to Hawaii

The open-air restaurant at Maui Ocen Center

We then drove to the Maui Ocean Center, where we enjoyed a great lunch at an open-air restaurant overlooking the water. A beach was nearby (of course), and we spent some time there.

We finally made it to Hawaii

View of the island from the ship

Drive to Lahaina

We rented a car to drive to Lahaina, about 45 minutes from Kahului. It was a significant whaling town in the 1800s and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Lahaina is a trendy destination in Maui, full of unique shops and fun restaurants.

We finally made it to Hawaii

The most striking thing we saw in Lahaina was the gigantic and probably oldest banyan tree. The tree has one central trunk and 16 additional trunks; it is enormous. It is spread all through the park in the center of town. A town Sheriff planted the tree in 1873.

We finally made it to Hawaii

Lahaina was very crowded and busy on the day of our visit and had tourist town written all over it. Lahaina was also very charming and historic in appearance. I would love another opportunity to visit here.

Puupiha Cemetery

As you may know, we enjoy wandering through cemeteries as we travel and were delighted to come across this one – right on the beach! It is near Lahaina and also across the road from the Jodo Mission, which we did not visit. I had never seen a cemetery on a beach in the sand before.

We finally made it to Hawaii

Our time in Hawaii flew by; we will have to return and spend more time here, but we have had a terrific time visiting these unique islands. Fiji is next on our horizon – check back to read about these adventures.

We finally made it to HawaiiWe finally made it to Hawaii

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