I was just wondering if anyone has some recommendations and tips on what to book for excursions at our ports of call. Also what to or where to go in Honolulu.
We are renting a car in Honolulu for 2 days.
Is it worth getting the most expensive tickets to the Polynesian Cultural Center?
I'll be in Honolulu for two days in October. Having never been there, I'm planning to spend one day at Waikiki and the other day at Pearl Harbor. Then again, I had a very authentic encounter with Polynesian culture on a cruise to "French Polynesia and Samoa" a few years ago so another encounter with Polynesian culture would be third on my list. Your mileage may vary.
Wed - Thurs 6/7 - 6/8 in Kahului, Maui 8am - until 6pm next day
I had to go to a technical conference at Wailea (Maui) a couple years ago to present a paper, so I decided to stay and see some of the island. Since lodging in Wailea was pretty expensive and lodging in Lahaina was considerably more affordable, I decided to relocate when the conference ended. I actually did get to see much of the island. Kahului is the island's commercial hub so it has a good shopping center, a couple hotels, an airport, and a few restaurants, but you won't find much else there. Here's my take as to good options.
>> 1. If you take the ride to the top of Haleakala (over 10,000 feet), you'll get good view of the crater and, on a clear day, the cost of Maui's "South Shore" region. If it's a cloudy day, you'll get a nice view of the tops of the clouds. The astronomical observatories at the summit are fascinating, but they are "off limits" to the public. The road to the summit is very windy, so the trek to the summit from Lahaina will pretty much kill the day.
>> 2. Tedeschi Vineyards, located at the base of Haleakala on the southwest side, produces a very interesting selection of wines. Their "Maui Blanc" is a white wine made from pineapple, but most of their wines are made from grapes. Champagne lovers should sample their "Maui Brut." If one is driving, the country store across the street is a great lunch stop. The farm that operates the winery is also a working ranch. Unfortunately, a segment of the Pi'ilani Highway (route 31) between Wailea and Tedeschi Vineyards is closed so one has to to all the way north to Kahului, then turn south on the parallel road to combine this trip with a visit to Wailea.
>> 3. The best accessible scenery is the drive along the north coast between Kahului and Lahaina, but one needs to allow plenty of time for this drive. A major segment of this road is single lane and very winding, with many hairpin turns, and you WILL meet vehicles going in the opposite direction. (Fortunately, there are plenty of places to pull off and let them by), so allow about three hours for this drive. The return trip, by the more southern route, will take only an hour.
>> 4. Lahaina, the island's historic whaling town and the state's former capital, has some worthwhile attractions of historic significance including the Best Western Pioneer Inn, a historic hotel that still serves that function located right next to a park with a huge banyan tree in the center of town. Lahaina's downtown shopping, aimed mostly at the tourist market, is pretty honky-tonk, but a relatively new mall seems to be trying to attract a better class of stores. For good shopping, to the mall in Kahului (mainsteam) or to The Shops at Wailea (upscale).
5. Wailea, on the island's "South Coast," has some of the most spectacular resorts in the islands. The Marriot Resort is the least most affordable. The Grand Wailea Resort is the most impressive and most expensive. There are three resorts in between that are pretty competitive, including a Four Seasons property. The Shops at Wailea offer the most "upscale" shopping on the island, but they also have some very good -- and reasonably priced -- restaurants for lunch.
You won't have enough time to do the drive to Hana, on the east side of the island, because the road is too long and winding. You also won't have enough time to take either of the ferries from Lahaina to the islands of Molokai, site of a historic leper colony, or Lanai.
Fri 6/9 in Kona 7am - 6pm
I have heard from several sources that the excursion to Volcano National Park is a "must see" trip, so I'm planning to check it out in October.
I don't have suggestions for the other ports of call, than that the guide books indicate that there are also good beaches along the Kona Coast of Hawai'i.
Have a great cruise!