Hawaiian Islands Tour NCL Pride of America – part 1

The goal of our Hawaii trip was not typical. Usually Scott and I like to kick back and relax, and while this trip didn’t exclude that notion, we really wanted to see as much of the islands as we could in one fell swoop. So we chose to see HI via Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America. (see a different post for my review of that ship).

Included in our Hawaiian Islands tour goal: Hike, Kayak, Snorkel, Surf, and via Scott, visit BJ Penn’s training center if possible. (it wasn’t)

Here is an overview of the activities we chose, and what we thought of ’em.

Sunday: Hilo from 8 am – 6 pm Hilo is the ‘rainy’ side of the Big Island, with Kona on the other side. We had a rental car through Norwegian, but it was canceled due to over booking because of the Ironman happening in Kona. Happily we were able to snag a rental as we disembarked — a very cool looking truck with a roll rack on top. So we set out to hike in Volcano National Park. Amazing! We did the 4 mile Kilauea iki trail — lava, steam vents, absolutely beautiful terrain. Not a super easy hike, but do-able for most ages. Glad the kids weren’t with us. This took up most of our day, but we did have time to squeeze in a visit to the Akaka Falls State Park. Although I was stressing about getting back to the ship in time, this was definitely a highlight of the trip for Scott. The waterfall was brilliant — huge and deafening, and yes we made it back. Without elaborating I will say this is one of the few negatives about cruising, if you don’t get back to the ship on time they’ll leave you! (what a place to be stuck though!)IMG_0086

Monday: Maui 8 am with an overnight. For day one we rented a jeep, and after a quick disembarking we walked right out to the waiting rental agency shuttles. They run pretty much all day, last one back to ship usually by 8:30 pm. If you keep the car overnight, there is portside parking for an additional fee. So we obtained our car and headed straight up to Haleakala National Forest. This was absolutely my favorite day. The view from the top of the crater (you get to 12000 feet above sea level) had us speechless, we had to stop and admire the view repeatedly on the way up. Oh, and admire the absolute insanity of a man we saw skateboarding back down. At the top we were literally above the cloudline, and we could view the big island off in the distance.


Above the clouds in Maui

Next we headed down toward Waimea beach. First we stopped off at a deserted beach (these are all over the islands) and rested. Little sand crabs were scurrying everywhere! Next we drove over toward the resort area where the famous Waimea beach is, and were able to find public parking. We swam in the perfect water, with sea turtles! until we were hungry. We decided to use our handy GPS to find a fish taco dive, and we weren’t disappointed when we ended up at JAWZ fish tacos. Full salsa bar, cheap beers, and huge fish tacos with all the trimmings.

Finally, we headed back to the beach to catch the sunset — we were surprised to see so many other people heading out to the beach at the same time to see mother nature’s show! It was spectacular.

Maui Day 2

We did our first ship excursion on day two in Maui, and it was my favorite of the 3 we did. Awesome staff on the katamaran that took us snorkeling off of the Molokini crater (in Maui’s bay). We saw an amazing array of tropical fish and even a Moray Eel. The water is so deep here, as these are volcanic islands, that its truly blue. We saw dolphins, sea turtles, no whales, but plenty of birds. After a bit too much of the comp rum punch, we were ready to head back to our ship for a nice nap!!

tune in tomorrow for part 2!

For questions or help with your travel planning contact Amy at

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