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Trip List by ockerman

Spring Break 2007 - Hawaii by Big Boat

6 Apr 2007  Avid travelers, ages 48, 44, 16, 12 return to a place they all love - Hawaii!
4.0 of 5 stars based on 12 votes

Three action packed days on Oahu followed by seven days on the Pride of Hawaii = fun for the whole family.

  • 1. Oahu
    Oahu, Hawaii

    Waikiki has a great vibe and though we don't usually head straight for the metropolitan centers it was a fun place to start out trip. We stayed at the Waikiki Circle for $105 (Entertainment Book Coupon) + parking and were able to see evening entertainment at the beach from our balcony. The room was fine, not as small as some reviews led us to expect. It was great to have a fridge but the bathroom shower was subpar - very small, plastic curtain. A nice bonus was beach chairs, boogie boards etc available for guests to use. There was an ABC store and a McDonald's right next door. Walked through the crowds to an uncrowded Chinese dinner at Legend Seafood - delicious!

  • 2. Hawaii Shark Encounters on Oahu
    http://www.hawaiisharkencounters.com/

    Father and son started the day with the sharks (outstanding! friendly and knowledgeable crew - son got seasick and got lots of care and a sharktooth necklace - constant shark viewing) while Mom and daughter braved the waves at Waimea Beach. After shave ice at Matsumoto's in Hale'iwa we cruised up the North Shore and hit Romy's Kahuku Shrimp Hut (if a limo is parked here it must be good) for lunch - sweet and spicy was our favorite.

  • 3. Polynesian Cultural Center
    Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, Oahu

    We had the Ambassador package (Entertainment book has a $40 coupon) which meant that a guide (charming Robert from New Zealand) spent the day leading us and 6 others through the park. We felt odd about this at first, but he was so welcoming and the other folks were great so we just relaxed and let him handle everything - got us to the shows on time, found us seats and ran to the snack bar if we needed it. The park was beautiful, the shows were well-done (especially Tonga and Samoa) but Robert was one of the things we'll remember most fondly about our visit. The luau food was so-so (we enjoyed the Kauai Hyatt more) and we didn't stay for the final evening performance - we were getting tired and had quite a drive home. We gave our tickets away so another family benifitted from some great seats.

  • 4. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
    Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Honolulu, Oahu

    At 8:15 am there's plenty of room at this popular snorkel spot ($1parking + $5/adult). We parked our stuff under a sea grape tree and spent a couple hours snorkeling - it was good but no better than many other spots off shore. When the crowds started to roll in we headed out and up the coast. We took a walk to the Makapu'u lighthouse - great views but hot under the midday sun. Time for lunch and we scored at a great little place in Kailua. Zia's is off the beaten path and the only view is the road but the food was great - my daughter had a Tuscan chicken salad, a mediterranian feast, and my shrimp sandwich (never had such a thing before) with a creamy sun-dried tomato sauce was fabulous. And afterwards, the beach - we saw several novice kiteboarders lose their sails - this beach was windy!

  • 5. Byodo-In Temple
    Byodo-In Temple, Kaneohe, Oahu

    We finished the day at the temple at closing (very cool, be sure and ring the bell) and took the H3 home. Pretty highway in parts but not as great as the guidebook (Oahu Revealed) led us to believe.

  • 6. Parasail and Surf Lessons
    http://www.xtremeparasail.com/

    Father and daughter went off for the most extreme sail on the island (1200 feet out! - coupons in give-away magazines at the airport) while Mom took son to a surf lesson right across from the hotel at the Waikiki Beach Center. For $35 Daniel worked with 2 kids for an hour and they caught plenty of waves. He did a lot of work pulling the boards and clearing space for these beginners. A photographer offers photos for sale afterwards - well worth it if you want to show off your mad skills to the folks back home.

  • 7. Pride of Hawaii
    http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/home.html

    After dropping off the rental car the Thrifty van delivered us to the port of embarkation (only after 3 circles to pick up more folks - taxi would have been quicker.) At the port itself it took an hour to get through the lines and board only to be told that the Freestyle dinner reservations were closed - probably the low point of the trip. We hit the buffet for lunch and explored the boat ($1976 for the 4 of us in an inside cabin) - we enjoyed the bright decor and were pleased with the size and cleanliness of our stateroom. Our attitude improved with drinks in the Medusa Lounge (we were the only ones there?) where we booked a private karaoke room and sang for 2 hours. Dinner in the Grand Pacific at 8:30 - no waiting, wonderful service and great ceviche. So far, so good on the floating city. Amazingly, we didn't even hear folks in the adjoining cabins.

  • 8. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
    Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Island of Hawaii

    We picked up a jeep and a picnic lunch from Island Naturals, turned on some local music and made it to the visitor center for the 10:00 show. We all loved the walk through the Sulphur Banks(just us) and the sights along the Crater Rim trail but there were so many folks at the Thurston Lava Tube that we skipped it and headed to Puna. Took a great walk at Lava Tree Monument (nearly empty) and were going to stop at Kehena Beach until we saw that it was clothing optional :) We stopped along the Red Dirt Road to watch the waves, as well as a turtle. A cool thing about the boat - about 9:30 it cruises by the lava and when they turn off all the decklights it is amazing.

  • 9. Iao Valley State Park
    Iao Valley State Monument, Wailuku, Maui

    First Maui morning found us at this small beautiful park. We drove to Lahaina for some shopping (confiscatory shave ice prices!) and picked up lunch for Ka'anapali Beach. No surf to speak of but good swimming and exceptional snorkeling around Black Rock - as good as many off-shore sights. When we were done we drove north to the Dragon's Teeth lava formations at Kapalua and then took a scenic drive to the Nakalele blowhole. It wasn't blowing much so we felt safe going up close. At this point we had to choose between a sketchy but short road onward or retracing our steps. We chose to retrace our steps which took over an hour with rush hour traffic - wish we had taken the road less traveled. Mother and daughter had dinner onboard at Le Bistro -veddy French - escargot, vichissoise (sp?) etc for 5 courses - pretty good for $15 each. Not crowded since a bunch of folks were on land at a luau.

  • 10. Hana
    Hana, Maui

    Day 2 in Maui found us on the road to Hana - it's about the journey, not the destination. After some wonderful roadside views we hiked the stream boulders to Punalau Falls and had it to ourselves - for awhile :) Liked the lava at Ke'anae and picnicked watching whales off Nahiku (BTW we figured out that you could order room service sandwiches - free- on the boat, keep them in your fridge and then pack them in a cooler with muffins and fruit from the breakfast buffet for a great lunch at no cost.) We tagged the sign at Hana Bay but drove back to beautiful Wai'anapanapa park to swim at its black sand beach (awesome!) and explore some sea caves. Wish we could have done the loop but the south Maui road was closed due to last year's earthquake. Saw a pod of whales (including a little one) and a beautiful sunset as we sailed away.

  • 11. Mookini Heiau
    Mookini Heiau, Island of Hawaii, Hawaii

    Back on the Big Island, we took our jeep up, up, up through Parker Ranch land (about 3500ft) and visited the beautiful Pololu Valley Lookout. Noone felt like hiking down to the beach but after a peek at the Kamehameha statue in Kapa'au they were ready to eat delicious Tropical Dreams ice cream (Tahitian vanilla, kona coffee with Mac Nut, Dragonfruit sorbet, and the finest - coconut with strawberry, num!) and great shopping in Hawi. On to the deserted heiau, whales so close to shore, and yeah - a jeep really helps out here. We had it mostly to ourselves as well as a stop at Kamehameha's birthplace. Road was closed so we had to backtrack. It was hot and time for the beach so we went to Kauna'oa Bay and played in the waves - not too crowded since the Mauna Kea Resort was closed for renovations. Ran into Kona traffic and just made it to the tender in time.

  • 12. Ke'e Beach
    Ke'e Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

    We spent 11 magical days on Kauai in 2005 so we knew where we wanted to spend our brief time here. Stopped at the great Kilauea Lighthouse to watch the birds and then drove to the end of the road. Parked at Ke'e, found a spot under the pine roots and spent the day walking, including part of the Kalalau, swimming and snorkeling. This beach does get a bit crowded but it's still one of our favorites. On the way out a local guided us through the muddy parking pond. Drove into Hanalei to Wishing Well shave ice (so far no one beats JoJo's) and wandered into the gallery next door which beats any of the art available on the boat. Bought "Mystic Mountain" the ultimate souvenier:) Timed a visit to Queen Emma's Bath with high tide - as the surf rushes in to the lava pool you know what laundry feels like :) Saw a turtle playing in the surf - love this place, can't recommend it enough. Back at the boat we had dinner at Jasmine Gardens which took a while (Rez at 8:30, first course served at 9:05) but tasted wonderful, we can recommend all of the soups and appetizers and the sea bass in soy wasabi was great, only disappointment was the fried rice.

  • 13. Na Pali Coast
    Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

    We spent the day chilling on the boat. If you're feeling adventurous our favorite hikes to explore this coast are the Kalalau and the Nu'alolo trail in Waimea Canyon. If you're here in the summer, kayaks might be the way to go. We grabbed some deck chairs and bloody marys and a good book. The sail past the cliffs was beautiful. Nothing else one can say. Dinner at the Grand Pacific was good - dessert starred, pineapple souffle with Kona coffee ice cream, triple chocolate mousse.

  • 14. Pearl Harbor
    Pearl Harbor / WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Honolulu, Oahu

    Disembarking was simple if you were willing to carry your own bags. Thrifty picked us up and we drove to Pearl Harbor. There was a bit of a crowd but the audio tour was excellent and the site itself is beautiful. Very touching to look down at the battleship and think of the young soldiers on that fateful day. Did some shopping at Hilo Hattie's (Thrifty had coupons) though ABC and Wal-Mart had the best souvenir prices. Had lunch at Sam Choy's - fun, generous portions but I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. To wrap up our trip we played a wonderful IZ CD drove the wonderful loop up Round Top to Tantalus. Of course, it's Hawaii and the road was closed the last few miles so it wasn't a loop and we had to backtrack - more pretty views for us.
    The trip was a good mixture of adventure with relaxation. The boat was an economical way to explore different islands but you need to be organized to make the most of your visits. We had cars booked ahead of time, Thrifty Blue Chip for quick service, and had guide books with maps for each island. As novice cruisers (we'd only traveled on private boats and windjammers) we were somewhat apprehensive about the big boat experience but, like so many other travel experiences, it is what you make of it. And for a 12 year old being able to order room service pizza for breakfast is amazing :)