TGIF, loves and happy February! Our Hawaiian cruise was so packed that I had to spread it across two posts. You can catch the first half of our trip HERE and today I am going to break down everything we did in Maui, Kona, Hilo, and Kauai! So grab a coffee, take a break from this chilly Winter, and follow along as I share the hits and misses of our Norwegian Pride of America cruise.
Swimsuit: Solid & Striped
Day 5: Maui
Paia & Baldwin Beach Park: After spending a short amount of time in Paia the day prior, our group decided to park it there for a more chill day. We hopped in a cab and got him to drop us off in downtown Paia (about a ten minute drive from the port) to do a little shopping, have a couple drinks at Rock & Brews Brewery and then walked over to Baldwin Beach Park (behind the basketball courts). The beach itself is stunning! Even in January, I got dominated by the sun and the water temperature was quite pleasant. We laid our towels out and decided to take a walk before swimming. Unbeknownst to us, we stumbled onto a nude public beach! And people were not shy about their nudity. They were doing yoga and shit!
When we (quickly) ventured back to Baldwin Beach Park, we noticed sea turtles swimming around the jetty just off shore. Being careful not to get too close and spook them, we waded around with them which was so frickin’ exciting! I was laying out afterwards and one shimmied out of the ocean and came to take a nap near me too… scary and amazing all rolled into one! After all the fun, sun, and beer, I needed an espresso martini to make it to dinner and a show on the cruise!
Day 6: Hilo
This may be common knowledge to most, but to a Hawaii newbie like me, I didn’t realize that the two sides of The Big Island (Hilo and Kona) are dramatically different. The Pride of America spends one day at each so if water activities are your thing, be sure to save those for Kona because Hilo is notoriously rainy.
Hilo made major news in May of last year when the Kilauea Volcano erupted, destroying homes and forcing evacuations. While there is no longer flowing magma anywhere on the island, we definitely wanted to check out Volcanos National Park and see the steam vents and caldera created by the eruption.
We disembarked the ship and hopped on an unscheduled tour that was offered from the port; basically just a dude holding a sign. For about $90/person, a tour guide drove us to all of the popular tourist destinations, providing us with however much time we wanted to spend at each. Teddy, the guide, brought us first to Rainbow Falls which was stunning enough for me to hop over the guard rail in order to get the shot 😉
Volcanoes National Park: After a few quick stops, we made it up the mountain to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Entrance was free thanks to the government shutdown, but unfortunately half the park was closed due to recent earthquakes. Regardless, the park is such a unique experience! You can walk around the steam vents and alongside the crater and learn about how dramatically the topography has changed over the last year. The photos don’t do any justice for how expanse the caldera is and how fascinating it is to walk on one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
Before heading back to the ship, our guide took us by the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut farm and factory and hell yes, we stocked up on both the cookies and cream and garlic onion flavored nuts!
Day 7: Kona
Captain Cook Monument Snorkel: Kona was such a sunny and warm surprise after a day of overcast in Hilo. There is a beautiful beach and town walking distance from the port, but we were set on some epic snorkeling. Unfortunately, we did happen to make a rookie mistake while in Kona. And while we had a great day sans the hiccups, I wanted to share our experience so y’all can make the most of your time on this gorgeous island. In an effort to save a little money, we decided to bypass the cruise excursions and book our own snorkel at the Captain Cook Monument. We took an Uber to Kealakekua Bay and met up with our guide who led us kayaking across the bay to the monument. This area is famous for dolphin sightings and amazing snorkeling and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve never seen so many colorful, beautiful fish in my life!
The issue arose once we returned to the bay and realized that the beautiful valley that had been the backdrop to our day was also blocking any and all cellphone reception. To make matters worse, the last tender was departing the port for the cruise ship within the hour. By the grace of God, an off-duty Uber driver saw us in the beginning stage of panic and offered to hop on the clock and bring us back, We made it back to the boat with minutes to spare!
Moral of the story… you NEED to snorkel Captain Cook Monument, but do yourself a favor and book the excursion through the ship.
Sweater: Free People (Similar HERE) | Necklace: Shop I Love Jewelry (15% off with code cortney15) | Shorts: AGolde
Day 8: Kauai
Doors-Off Helicopter Tour: Easily one of our favorite activities was an hour-long doors-off helicopter tour of Kauai. Though pricy, it’s the BEST way to see the jungle island because much of Kauai is impossible to get to by car or hike. We booked our flight through Jack Harter Helicopters and the whole process was so quick and easy! Jack Harter sent a van to pick us up from the port and brought us to an orientation before heading to the airport. Four of us, plus the pilot, squeezed into a tiny helicopter and we took off! Our pilot was so informative, pointing out breaching whales, stunning waterfalls, and explaining the history of the island. This is a must-do in Hawaii and Kauai is THE island to do it on!
Luau Kalamaku: Since we had passed out early on our Maui overnight, Kauai was our last chance to see a luau. While we would have preferred a more traditional, beach-side luau like those offered in Maui, the Luau Kalamaku was delicious and entertaining. You have time to drink and explore the plantation grounds before being seated for dinner. The show was impressive and interactive and the people working there were so sweet and personable. Fire dancers were definitely the peak of the night!
Bar Hopping in Kauai: Though I could easily go to sleep after all the food and drinks at the luau, I had to man up for our only night of partying off the ship. The port is an easy 10-minute walk to Duke’s, Portofinos, and more that all fill up come 11 P.M. with locals and Norwegian employees. We bopped around until the bar close at 1 and hit up the cruise diner for munchies.
Day 9: Cruising Na Pali Coast
We woke up to a rainy Kauai on the final day of our cruise, so I took the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep. The Pride of America sets sail around 2 P.M. and by 4:30 P.M. the upper decks are packed with passengers catching jaw-dropping views of the Na Pali Coast. Norwegian narrates the tour – which is such a fabulous addition – but our crew was making the most of our final day of the unlimited drink package and popping in and out of the hot tub.
Phew! That’s a wrap on our Hawaiian vacation! We crammed so much into nine days, but still only scratched the surface of what these beautiful islands have to offer. Let me know in the comments what your favorite thing to do on Hawaii is!