Cruise Diary: Island Hopping in Hawaii

Cruise Diary: Island Hopping in Hawaii

Imagine calling at lush, tropical islands, isolated beaches and bustling fruit markets as you cruise across the Pacific Ocean. Bloggers Adam Hammond Marta Balcewicz of the website Portsie recently cruised from Sydney, Australia, to Vancouver, Canada, and chronicled their journey.

The author put aside his envy for his transatlantic crossing literary heroes and crossed an ocean of his own — along the way he shared the experience of a 29-day transpacific cruise onboard Holland America Line’s ms Oosterdam. Read on for a snapshot of Oosterdam’s three Hawaiian calls: Honolulu, Lahaina and Nawiliwili.

Trans-Pacific in 29, Day 19: Honolulu

For those like me who have only been to Hawaii in their dreams, the idea of visiting Honolulu holds particular allure. The state capital is the ms Oosterdam’s first of three Hawaiian stops. On deck, there is a felt excitement as US passengers prepare to be reunited with cell phone reception and data. There is shopping, too. Everyone is talking about the big mall (it’s called Ala Moana Center) where supplies from Macy’s and J Crew, in high demand after 20 days at sea, can be replenished.

Honolulu was the first of Oosterdam's three calls at the Hawaiian islands.

Honolulu was the first of Oosterdam’s three calls at the Hawaiian islands.

A couple of families with cameras slung on their necks appear around a cluster of historical buildings in the area known as capitol district. There is the Iolani Palace (“the only royal palace in the U.S.A”). Not far from the Palace sits the Hawai’i State Art Museum, exhibiting Hawaiian art housed in a former Armed Forces YMCA building (look out for old photos of boys having fun). My favourite area is the historic Chinatown; a nice place for spotting great old signage and flower stores where elderly ladies sit weaving leis before sticking them in a refrigerator.

I return to the ship where we’re entertained by local dancers. There are grass skirts and the audience seems happy.

The volcanic mountains of Lahaina, Hawaii, are a spectacular sight.

The volcanic mountains of Lahaina, Hawaii, are a spectacular sight.

Trans-Pacific in 29, Day 20: Lahaina, Maui, Hawai’i

Lahaina is a busy little town that resembles a ski village. The shops are tiny and sweet, beckoning to tourists. The harbourfront is lined with booths selling the ultimate sport-fishing, whale-watching, or deep-diving adventure; they promise “dolphin often and the seasonal whale.” Even the chain fast food joints are housed in cutsey historic buildings…we zoom out and away from it all in a rented car. Our first destination is Maluaka Beach in the south of Maui. It’s known as a place where sea turtles hang out and that’s more than enough to get us excited as we speed down the coastal highway. The journey is well worth it. The lovely, unassuming giants swim about, not at all weary of their human doggie-paddling companions, rubbing themselves against coral, eating, and doing what sea turtles do. Everyone’s at a loss for adjectives as we dry ourselves off with our towels.

After Maluaka, we drive back towards the northwest of Maui, in the direction of Lahaina, to visit Iao Valley State Park and its famous Iao Needle (or, Kuka’emoku), a 2,250-foot peak. The weather changes with lightening speed as we enter the elevated regions of the park (admission, $5). As we scramble for makeshift umbrellas, the park ranger tells us it’s best to visit when it’s raining and points to two ribbon-like waterfalls falling from mountains that appear higher than any skyscraper I’ve seen. We climb up a path to the Iao Needle lookout point and take portraits with the distant, slightly lumpish peak.

Our travels across Maui leave little time before everyone’s due on board. We’ve missed the dolphin tours, but a whale manages to make it to our departure, bidding adieu with its tail as Oosterdam chugs along to the next Hawaiian stop.

Waimea Canyon was coined the "Grand Canyon of Hawaii" by Mark Twain.

Waimea Canyon was coined the “Grand Canyon of Hawaii” by Mark Twain.

Trans-Pacific in 29, Day 21: Nawiliwili, Kauai, Hawai’i

Oosterdam’s last Hawaiian stop is the eastern island of Kauai, home of the so-called Grand Canyon of the Pacific — so christened by Mark Twain. While most passengers trudge off of the ship and to the nearby beach, we once again zoom off in our rented wheels. The canyon, whose legal name is Waimea Canyon, requires a drive up the beautiful winding roads of Waimea Canyon State Park. The lookout point provides a magnificent view that makes you feel very small and your camera lens inadequate. Alas, there is posing for the requisite canyon shots—selfies, group photos—and we move on, hoping to do the impossible, namely, making it to the other side of the island and back in time for ship’s departure.

Because the northwest part of Kauai (the Na Pali coast) does not have a highway, we must backtrack and go around the island in the opposite direction. Our destination is Hanalei Bay and its famous surfing beach (see: Andy Irons; see: Soul Surfer). The beach, with its welcoming soft sandy bottom — so appreciated after weeks of reefy beaches and cut feet — is filled with locals and Andy Irons memorials. We bodysurf on the friendly Hanalei waves and rush off, wet, hurried, happy, to reach the ship before it sails towards the continent and away from its last Pacific stop.

Are you interested in a Pacific ocean-crossing journey? The next voyage is Sept. 24, 2014 on ms Volendam and cruises west from Vancouver, British Columbia. Visit www.hollandamerica.com for more info.

Literary heroes inspired the Portsie writers to travel. Who is your travel inspiration. Let us know in the comments below!


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