"ALOHA." A warm and welcome "Hello" from Hawaii.
Hawaii is made up of several tropical islands. Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii are the most visited islands.
Which island will you choose? Or, will you choose to visit more than one island on your first trip to Hawaii? There are approximately five-and-a-half hours flying time from the West Coast of the United States.
Are you a honeymooner looking for the most secluded island, an anniversary couple wishing to renew your vows or a golfer looking for the best courses? Hawaii offers a variety of vacation options. There are family-friendly resorts, great spas, condominium and hotel packages, escorted island-hopping tours and luxurious cruises. Short excursions to the neighboring island can be arranged for the independent traveler wishing to island hop; however, stay in one location. Meals can be expensive on Hawaii. Dare I say, you can still find some of those fast food restaurants we all know about!
Choosing to cruise the islands gives you all of the above and more: luxurious accommodations, gourmet meals, entertainment, inter-island transportation, family-friendly activities, water sports, adventurous island excursions, golf packages, historical memorials and scenic adventures. There are elegant courtyard villas aboard ship, which can accommodate families or someone needing more space. Many amenities are available with this kind of accommodation. If price is not an issue, balconies are a must for this trip with a special meaning.
Planning a wedding? A pre-cruise Hawaiian Aisles Wedding can be arranged through the cruise ship's wedding coordinator. Celebrate the moment on one of the many romantic island locations offered by the cruise lines. Exotic leis for the bride and groom, romantic recorded Hawaiian music, the wedding officiant, a bottle of sparkling wine, topped off with a wedding cake decorated with the lavish fresh flowers of Hawaii. A dream wedding come true. The price depends on the wedding package you choose. There are also honeymoon, birthday and anniversary packages to add ambiance to your dream vacation.
If cruising is your choice, a two-night pre-cruise hotel stay on Waikiki Beach is highly recommended. It will give you a chance to catch up with that side of the world and give you an opportunity to visit Honolulu on the island of Oahu. The price of your package will depend on the hotel you choose. There are several excursions available, most importantly, Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona, USS Battleship Missouri Memorial and the National Memorial Cemetery. The Dole Plantation, Polynesian Cultural Center and the famed Diamond Head can all be seen on Oahu. Your airport transfers are included.
One of the most spectacular sights on your cruise is the evening sail by Mount Kilauea, still sputting its fiery lava, thus witnessing the continued birth of the Big Island of Hawaii. There are actually two ports visited on the Big Island, Kona and Hilo. A popular shore excursion takes you 33,000 feet up on to the Mauna Kea Summit, home of some of the most sophisticated telescopes in the world and home of examples of most of the planet's ecosystems. (A note of caution, always check with your doctor when traveling to places of high altitude).
This port offers an abundance of excursions, including horseback riding, sport fishing, lava viewing, golfing, ranching and more. Legend has it, Madam Pele, Hawaii's goddess of fire, still resides in the Volcanoes National Park. The scenic roads of Waipio's Valley are filled with exotic flowers, waterfalls, panoramic views and wild horses. ATV four-wheelers are available for rent to explore on your own.
One of the most romantic islands in the world is Maui. Orchids and Hibiscus and other exotic tropical plants grow wild through the island. There, you can find the sacred IAO Valley, rich in exotic plants, clear natural pools and easy hiking trails. Lahaina was historically an old whaler's seaport. This quaint village is filled with art galleries, historic museums, and wonderful restaurants.
The Maui Ocean Center provides for spectacular live coral displays and an understanding of Hawaii's marine life. One-third of the North Pacific whales migrate to Hawaii from Alaska. Tours are available with a certified marine naturalist as your guide.
What would Hawaii be without a luau on the island of Maui - a tradition of authentic Polynesian music, dancing and Hawaiian cuisine?
Our avid golfers are able to golf with ocean and mountain views on nearly every hole. The Wailea Emerald and Wailea Gold, home of Wendy's Champions Skins Game are two extraordinary courses available for your pleasure, but do present a challenge. If you enjoy snorkeling, you will really enjoy Molokini Crater, a half-submerged extinct volcanic crater that is a sanctuary for rare and exciting tropical marine life.
A true spirit of Hawaii can be found on the island of Kauai. It is known as the Garden Isle, where rare plants and wildlife flourish because of its abundance of rainfall. Here, you can find the Fern Grotto, with its lush waterfalls and natural acoustics, a favorite spot for weddings. Whether visiting an ancient fishing village on the Na Pali Coastline, floating down the waterway through an old Lihue's sugarcane plantation or visiting the Allerton Gardens, the experience will be breathtaking.
This brings us to the end of our seven-day cruise. There are longer cruises available. The time of year will depend on the cost of your cruise or island packages. On this particular cruise, passports are not required. Proof of U.S. citizenship, such as your birth certificate and a picture I.D. are required. The ship is registered in the United States with an American crew. There is no gambling aboard these inter-island cruises; however, the ships will have plenty of entertainment for your enjoyment.
Although we have beautiful beaches at home, Hawaii offers you more than just beaches. The mountainous terrain, volcanic excitement and beautiful exotic foliage are captivating. Visit your local travel professional for brochures on escorted, independent tours and cruises to the beautiful islands of Hawaii.
Pat Kelley is owner of Port Orange Travel. She can be reached at (386) 788-3990 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.