Our Experience in Hawaii
There is a free shuttle or if you want to get your steps in, a 20-minute leisurely walk will get you to the shopping area, the beach, and the restaurants. Optional excursions would be helicopter rides around the island or the Wailua Fern Grotto tour. The kayak tour company nearby where the ship docks provide guided tours along the coastline, however, it has been closed since the start of pandemic. Lilikoi Restaurant is a local spot that offers authentic Hawaiian cuisines. Iced tea or soda drinks was $5 and a burger/Loco Moco was between $19-$22 each. I did see some food trucks nearby the Harbor Mall. Duke's Restaurant was another popular spot on the island nearby the ocean. By late afternoon, the clouds were coming in and it's time to head back to port. Unfortunately, we missed the shuttle at Harbor Mall and so began our trek back which turned out pleasantly nice. We got a glimpse into how the locals lived allowing us to fully embrace and enjoy the Hawaiian culture.
Hilo, Big Island
As soon as you exit the Hilo cruise terminal, all the shuttles are waiting for you. There is no mall or center you can go shopping within walking distance. You'll want to go with an organized tour with Princess or rent a car on your own. All of the tours on Princess were sold out for at least 2 months. Don't wait till the last minute.
Decided to take a Viator private tour of Hilo to see different highlights. The tour was long but amazing.
Drive By Liluoklani Botanical Gardens - Trees planted by famous Celebrities- Amelia Earhart, Babe Ruth, and others in 1930s and 1940s.
Kaumana Caves Park - The lava caves were steep to get to and hard to navigate without the propers shoes. I got part way in, and it started to get eerie and pitch black so back I go.
Rainbow Falls- Great Kodak moment for some gushing water and nice place to eat luch.
Pohoiki Bay- Created by Kilauea's lava, ocean has started to breakdown the lava chunks into gorgeous black sand. Don't forget your Dramamine especially on the windy and bumpy road to the black sand beach.
I also decided to treat the hubby and 15-year-old son to a historical tour as they are fascinated World War II history. So off they went and had a fantastic time and you know how I know, it was the topic of conversation until the next day. The only thing they mentioned was they missed going to the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Private or Princess Tours to Pearl Harbor Museum, there is one thing to note: NO BAG POLICY.
While boys were on a historical tour, the girls went shopping at the Ala Moana outdoor designer shopping mall. We took the free shuttle to Hilo Hattie's tour. This mall was the equivalent of Los Angeles Rodeo Drive- Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu, Prada, Valentino, Balenciaga, and Tesla, to name a few. If you can't buy, you can certainly do some window shopping. The outdoor shopping is wonderfully clean and airy with a koi pond water running.
TIP: Don't forget to look at the offers! If you are an active Military and veterans, you will be honored here with 10-20% savings at the shops and at the food court.
We shopped at a place call Uniqlo - soft clothing and warm clothing and Zara with 60% off! How could I not? The checkout process at Uniqlo is so futuristic. You put your items in a hole and it calculates it out. You pay and then you are ready to bag and go. After shopping, our grumbling stomachs refused to allow us to continue our shopping spree and before we knew it, down the escalator we went to where the food court was to replenish and refuel. The food court was filled with many popular venues like Raising Canes, Jollibee, Kamukura, and Charleys Philly Steaks but also unknown brands, but there was certainly something for someone.
The port of Kahului was fenced off and you had to walk about 5 minutes to get out of the port. It was fenced off at Wharf Street which did not allow shuttle rides, taxis, or car rental companies to station near the port. Most of the Uber taxi rides were meeting at the Whole Foods parking lot which was across from the port.
Of all the islands in Hawaii, we had the most family fun in Maui - a day at Mount Haleakala (House of the Sun). We rented a car with Enterprise which was a 10-minute walk to get to Hana Highway and Kaahumanu Avenue. I would recommend starting Mount Haleakala in the morning rather than in the afternoon, because once the clouds come rolling through visibility will become limited and you'll miss out on the dormant volcano's natural beauty, the bustling city life, and the rocky coastline. Even if you do get caught up in the clouds, don't despair. The pillowy clouds will create a new world where you'll feel as though you're floating in the clouds. This was about an hour's drive even with 30 miles slow driving up the switchbacks and sheer cliff. There are a couple of trails you can hike on. The shortest trail will take about 2 hours round-trip. There is a $30 entrance fee for private vehicles. If you are an active military member, you can get your annual pass prior to your trip to receive access. Keep in mind that you will be at 10,023 feet above sea level where the air is really thin up there, so walk around slowly on the trail and be mindful as to not disturb the endangered habitat.
Below is a panoramic view of the summit.
We stopped at a restaurant, Kula Lodge Restaurant on the way which had a view of the ocean.