This would be our final port day and we wanted to make the most of our last day in Maui.
We made plans to meet the kids in Lahaina around 10:00am and we took some time to stroll through the downtown, do a little souvenir shopping and check emails at a coffee shop with internet access.
While we were wandering around we came across a surf shop – Outrageous Surf. Laura had expressed interest in Kona about surfing so after talking with the owner, we booked the kids for a 2-hour surf lesson.
Once they arrived and found out the news they were surprised we weren’t also participating. One thing led to another and the next thing we knew we were all suiting up for some time in the water.
We had a quick lesson on land before hitting the waves. The instructor was patient (thank goodness) as it took Denis and I many tries before we were able to get up on the waves and then actually stay up on the board. The kids got it quite quickly and before long we were all riding the waves on the coast of Maui! I was surprised at just how difficult it is to stand up on the board and then stay balanced while maneuvering the roll of the water. The surfers you see on the big waves make it look so easy. But it most certainly is not!
After the 2 hours, we were sore and thoroughly exhausted (well the adults were...) so we packed up the boards, got changed and headed up to Napili beach on recommendation of our instructor. It was a long, sandy beach with beautiful, blue water. Perfect for our last day in Hawaii.
We first had lunch at the Sea House restaurant overlooking the beach and then spent the remainder of the afternoon lounging on the beach and playing in the waves. There were big, wonderful waves that we let drag us back and forth across the shore. What a fun time! We waited until the last possible minute before dragging ourselves out of the water and heading back to the airport to return the rental car.
We were quiet as we took the tender back to the ship and waved goodbye to Lahaina – the last land we would see now for 5 more days.
Our evening dinner in the dining room was chicken cordon bleu and shell pasta with tomato sauce.
Afterwards we first enjoyed karaoke followed by the Headliner show – ventriloquist Kevin Johnson. He was very talented and also quite funny. The act included various puppets and they sang and interacted with the audience quite a bit. During part of the show we were wondering how he was actually doing some of the bits. It was one of the best shows that we saw on the ship.
We headed off to bed knowing that tomorrow would be a day to sleep in and all we had planned was a lazy day at sea.
Continue to Day 8 - click here
Our next port was Lahaina in Maui. This was another port with an overnight stay and we planned to make the most of our time while there. Since we had the evening in Maui, we planned our drive to Hana for the first day in case we ran late. The port of Lahaina requires a tender so again we rose early to have breakfast and then board one of the first boats to the main land. The boats did not start as early as we had hoped but the ride was quick and we were in Lahaina by 8:00am.
The rental car situation in Lahaina is not very organized. We found the pick-up area and saw there was a bus loading for Budget but it was close to full and the driver said another would be by very shortly. Well the wait was over 45 minutes before the next shuttle bus came by and the driver told us at that time they would only pick up the driver. This meant that the kids and I would have to wait while Denis was taken to the airport, did the paperwork and then circled back around to get us at the port. By the time he arrived back it was close to 10:00am. This was not an ideal situation but we decided to head off to Hana anyway.
The first part of the drive to the start of the Road to Hana is quite easy. We navigated using a map since the power outlet in the car wasn’t working rendering our GPS unusable. Our first stop was in the town of Paia at the Hana Picnic Lunch Company. Here we picked up boxed lunches with huge sandwiches, chips and a cookie, as well as some drinks for the road. The next part of the drive is only 72 kms but it becomes trickier as you get further along.
Before leaving home, I had purchased the Gypsy Guide app that provides a colourful commentary while driving to Hana. This app is designed to give you tips about interesting places to visit along the route and provide background facts about what we were seeing. The app also advised you whether to make a stop based on the time of the day and how much time you had for the journey. It was a great little purchase.
Our first location was Twin Falls. This was a lovely area where we walked down to see some waterfalls. It was peaceful and the falls were easily accessible from the road. Some people were even swimming in the lower pools – enjoying the gorgeous surroundings.
Along the route were many spots to pull over and take in the views. Sometimes it was a valley or a waterfall or even just fascinating trees. There was so much to look at we stopped frequently. The drive became slower the further we went due to the hundreds of hairpin turns and one lane bridges (59 in total). There was also a large construction project that held us up for over an hour while the crews were blasting the overhanging rock.
One of the main highlights was Wai’anapanapa State Park. This area was stunningly beautiful with black beaches, a massive blow hole, caves and an incredible sea arch. We spent a considerable amount of time here exploring the beauty. Just as we arrived it started to rain so we took cover in one of the caves and waited it out until the shower passed. But once the rain had moved through it seemed even more vibrant and fresh. I think we all agreed that this was the favourite place for the day.
Another beautiful waterfall was Wailua Falls. The falls are over 80 feet high and spill down into a gorgeous pond of crystal blue-green water. We couldn’t believe there were so many lovely places within such a short distance of each other.
We eventually came to the actual town of Hana but decided to bypass it in hopes of reaching the Ohe’o Gulch also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. This section of the road is particularly winding and by this time it had started to rain. When we reached the park entrance we were disappointed to find that the pools were not open for swimming. This had been one of the main reasons for making our way to this area so we could swim and cool off before starting the drive back to the ship.
At this point it was getting later in the afternoon so we turned back to start the long drive in the opposite direction.
By the time we found parking in Lahaina, walked back to tender and made it onto the ship it was close to 8:00pm.
We went to the dining room to see if we could find a table for the late seating and were sat with two nice couples. It was a great evening of relaxed dining and easy conversation. Our dinner included scampi and lasagna.
This evening we enjoyed watching the Friendly Feud game show in the Colony Club.
Continue to Day 7 - click here
We wanted to take full advantage of being in port early from our overnight stay so Denis and I rose early in order to take him to Puakea Golf Course for his 7:30am tee time. We walked to the shopping mall to pick up the car and navigated our way to the golf course. It was only about 15 minutes from the pier and an easy drive through the downtown of Lihue.
Once I dropped him off I headed back to the ship to get Ian and Laura going. After reading some blogs about swimming in waterfalls, we decided we were going to visit Wailua Falls (otherwise known as the Fantasy Island falls from the popular TV show) and see if we could find a way down to swim in the pool at the bottom.
We arrived at the falls and had a great view from the top (over 100 feet down) but could not see an easy way to navigate to the pool. Ian spoke to a local lady and while she wouldn’t tell him exactly where there was a path, she did point him in the general direction. We eventually came across a portion of the fence that had been cut and could see somewhat of a path leading down the cliff into the forested area. We met up with a woman and her two daughters who were contemplating the trek so we watched them begin their descent at which point Ian had decided he was also going to go. The girls then informed us there were ropes along the path that you could use to keep yourself from sliding down the side of the cliff so I decided I would also go. Laura opted to stay at the top rather than plummet to her death (her words).
The downward climb was tricky and required carefully picking your way through the trees, brush, rocks and mud. However, after about 20 minutes of walking/sliding, we made it to the bottom. The pool was cool and refreshing and swimming so close to the waterfall was truly fantastic. It was another wonderful experience and I was glad we had chosen to attempt the walk.
Climbing up was a little harder only because more people were starting to come down and the path was becoming more slippery. But we made it back up – sweaty and full of mud.
At this point it was approaching lunch time so we stopped at McDonald’s and picked up some lunch and then went to the golf course to pick up Denis. He had a terrific round playing with a man who lived in Kauai but was originally from California. The golf course was very different from the ocean coarse he played in Kona. The Puakea Golf Course consists of pristine fairways, groomed sand bunkers and rolling hills surrounded by vistas of the surrounding mountains. The mountain views change as you make your way around the course and add to the challenge and experience of playing this course.
We had decided that we would spend the afternoon at the beach and drove to the southern part of the island to Poipu beach. The first section we set up at was a very sandy beach but when you went in the water it was quite shallow and not really great for swimming. The area underwater on this part of the beach was made up of black lava rock making it quite tricky to walk.
We spent some time lying on the beach and then I walked around to the other end of the point only to find a second beach with huge crashing waves. We moved our things to this side and spent the next hour and a half playing in the cresting waves. It was so much fun and when we finally dragged ourselves out of the water, we were sufficiently exhausted.
On our way back to the car we stopped to get some Hawaiian shaved ice. This is a specialty of the Hawaiian islands and is a cool treat. You receive a cup filled with ice and then you choose the specific flavour of concentrated syrup you would like – there are many tropical options including coconut, pineapple, strawberry, passionfruit, etc. You can also choose more than one flavour and have a multilayered ice. It was a good treat after our extended swimming session.
At this point it was getting later in the day and we decided to start heading back to Lihue. We had heard about the gardens that were located at the Kauai Marriott back in town so we decided to visit and see what the property was like. In the centre courtyard is a huge open-air garden with water features, bridges and tropical plants. It was a beautiful spot to walk around and essentially no one was there. We walked through the hotel to the onsite beach and saw a really beautiful spot that we would love to come back and stay at one time. Always good to be planning ahead for a future vacation.
Denis and I dropped the kids at the cruise terminal and headed back to the airport to return the car. We caught a shuttle back to the ship and came onboard just as they were beginning to close down the security lines. We had loved every moment spent in Kauai and vowed we would be back again.
Our dinner this evening was a tasty calamari salad, tenderloin and a tomato pasta dish.
This evening we watched the Headliner Show – Piano Man in the Aurora Theatre. The show included a choreographed show with music and dancers highlighting music from Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Barry Manilow. It was entertaining.
Continue to Day 6 - click here
After a few busy days, the kids opted to stay on the ship for the morning when we had arrived at the port of Nawiliwili in Kauai. Denis and I had breakfast and then Ian came down with us to the terminal so we could determine a location for meeting later. We were looking forward to this overnight stop so we could enjoy the island of Kauai during the evening.
The line up for the shuttle buses was very long and it seemed that the buses weren’t picking up very often so we went over to where the taxi line up was located. It was very frustrating since many of the taxis were only willing to pick up people wanting a tour, not for a single destination ride. They also wanted a minimum number of people so it made getting a driver difficult. After talking to some people in the line up we found 2 people who were also going to the Lihue airport to get a car rental and 2 others that were going to a golf course that was in the same general direction. We decided to take the taxi together so we could get going. After a quick 10 minute ride, we arrived at the airport rental depot. The wait at (Dollar Rental Car) was pretty long but eventually we were on our way.
Our destination was the Waimea Canyon State Park. The ride took us about 1 hour. We knew that Kauai was the rainforest island but we weren’t really prepared for exactly how mountainous and green it would be. There was intermittent rain but for the most part the dark clouds seemed to stay ahead of us. We drove along the main road that took us through small towns spread out along the way but more of the drive was through green, lush hills. Once we started up towards the Canyon, the views were spectacular. The scenery started to look similar to the Grand Canyon but was far more colourful.
We stopped a few times to take photos but the road became more twisty and there weren’t many pull offs as we ascended higher. When we entered the park, there was a large parking area where you could leave the car and walk out to the edge of the look out. Immediately after exiting the car we were greeted by many roosters. We had seen them all along the road but here they were very interested in the loads of tourists coming to see the canyon. The rooster is a signature of the island of Kauai as we would come to learn – they are absolutely everywhere.
The views of the Canyon were incredible. Shades of green, orange and red were breathtaking even with clouds looming over the peaks. We walked around taking both photos and video to try to capture the beauty around us.
Back in the parking lot was a booth where a local man was selling Hawaiian treats. We purchased some fresh pineapple and fried banana fritters that his mother had made that morning. He told us about even more views of the Napali Cliffs if we continued driving up the road about 30 minutes.
We decided to drive the extra distance as this would be the only way for us to see Napali since the only other option is by boat. It was a windy road and was slow going. And as we went higher in altitude, it became even more cloudy and rainy. Unfortunately by the time we got to the viewing area it was a blanket of fog. You couldn’t see anything! This was of course disappointing but you never know what the weather will do when in the rainforest.
It was getting quite late for us so we started to head back down to the ship to get the kids. They met us in the terminal and we were off to explore the eastern side of the Island.
Our first stop was Opaekaa waterfall – the name means rolling shrimp. This is a very tall waterfall (150 feet) located back from the road in a forested area. The falls cascade into a pool that you cannot see due to the numerous trees. Again, the views were gorgeous with most including a look at the Wailua river.
We had a reservation for 3:30pm to go take a river cruise on the Wailua river to see the Fern Grotto. The company we chose is the Smith Family who have been offering tours for many years. It was a delightful ride down the river where they described the area, vegetation and animals. They also played Hawaiian music and attempted to teach us how to do the hula. We were pretty uncoordinated but it was fun to try. The professional dancer on the ship was graceful and made it look so simple!
Upon our arrival at the Fern Grotto it started raining but we proceeded with the walk on a path bordered by plants and flowers and were kept relatively dry under a canopy of trees. The base is a lava cave and covered in ferns that grow upside down from the roof. The grotto was formed millions of years ago and was so pretty. Once we got to the Grotto, the family played music that sounded fantastic due to the incredible acoustics of the area. In the past many people have chosen this spot for their wedding ceremonies.
After our tour, we boarded the river boat once again and were serenaded by the band with beautiful Hawaiian music all the way back to the pier. Thankfully by the time we arrived back it had stopped raining.
Our last activity for the day was a planned Luau at the Smith’s Tropical Paradise. We were there right when the doors opened at 5:00pm so we had plenty of time to wander the spectacular grounds. The 30-acre botanical garden with bamboo forests, tropical birds, bridges and statuary made for a stunning place to experience this Hawaiian tradition. After receiving our shell lei, we started with a ride on the tram where the driver pointed out the plants that were from all over the world. Following the ride, we walked around on our own looking at all the lovely flowers and taking photos of the surrounding beauty.
The Luau dinner is set up under a covered area with long family style tables. We chose our seats and then went to the imu ceremony. This is a special Hawaiian underground cooking process where the pig is roasted in an earthen imu oven for the entire day. There is quite a lengthy process involving chants and singing as the pig is raised from the ground. We were excited to try it for our dinner.
The Luau included all the drinks as well as the meals and entertainment so we leisurely made our way back to the table with mai tai drinks to start. We met a very nice couple from California who was just finishing up a 2-week vacation on the Island. They were fun and interesting to talk with during the evening.
The buffet dinner was expansive with traditional Hawaiian dishes such as kalua pork, beef teriyaki, chicken adobo, sweet & sour mahi mahi, lomi salmon, fresh poi, namasu salad and tropical desserts including fruit, rice pudding and pastries. There was so much food, it was incredible. Everything was very tasty and it was great to try some local dishes from the region.
The highlight of the evening was of course the Rhythm of Aloha Show. Everyone moved to find seats in the wonderful open-air lagoon amphitheatre that was lit by torches. The show highlighted the numerous dances within the region since Hawaii has so many different nationalities that have influenced the culture over the years. We watched traditional dances from Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Philippines, New Zealand, China and Japan. All were unique in their own way. The costumes, music and stage production was top notch. They even had lasers and an erupting volcano – it kept us entertained the entire time.
After an exhilarating evening, we drive back down to the pier and found a local shopping plaza (Anchor Cove Mall) that offered overnight parking for $20.00. From there it was about a 10-minute walk back to the ship.
It had been a fantastic day & evening and we were all ready for bed!
Continue to Day 5 - click here
Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.