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Your Ultimate Guide to the Ports of Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most beautiful and coveted vacation destinations in the world. Remote, wild, and lush, there’s a reason they’re considered a paragon of paradise. Each island offers different adventures and experiences, so what better way to visit Hawaii than by cruise ship?

Taking a Hawaiian cruise means not having to choose which island to explore. Keep reading to learn more about the incredible activities awaiting you in each of the islands’ fabulous ports of call.

Hilo, Hawaii

Any Hawaii cruise makes two stops in Hawaii – also known as “The Big Island.” One of these stops is sure to be Hilo, the starting point for anyone looking to visit the world’s most active volcano, Kīlauea. If you’re lucky, your ship might sail past the active lava flow at night.

No trip to Hilo is really complete without a trek to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Here, you can visit the Jagger Museum to learn how volcanoes work, hike through the sulfur fields or along the rim of Kīlauea Iki, and take a walk through the Thurston Lava Tube. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, helicopter tours are available to take you for a flight over the fiery landscape.

Hilo is on the rainy side of Hawai’i and boasts an impressive complement of waterfalls, like Rainbow Falls. The falls are a short Hoppa-On Hoppa-Off ride from downtown Hilo, home to the famous Suisan Fish Market, the perfect place to sit down for an authentic bowl of poke. Also nearby are the beautiful Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens and Richardson Ocean Park, a favorite hangout for sea turtles.

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Your second stop on The Big Island will be beautiful Kailua-Kona. While most ships have to tender as the pier here is not deep enough to support an alongside docking, the tenders drop guests off conveniently in the middle of Ali’i Drive.

Makati City Pabakuna

Start off your day at the Daylight Mind Coffee Company for a cup of renowned Kona coffee or a delicious tropical smoothie with great views of the ocean, then stop at the Kona Canoe Club for a great menu of contemporary Hawaiian fare. A short walk up the hill is the Kona Brewing Company Brewpub, with stone-fired pizza and tacos, as well as the full complement of Kona Brewing beers on tap. Before hopping back on the tender, make sure to get some of the islands’ best shaved ice from Scandinavian Shave Ice, conveniently located a short walk from the pier.

Lahaina, Maui

Lahaina is home to historic architecture, great shopping, and a launching point for adventures further into Maui. Take a stroll through the town to view its famous giant Banyan Tree, which takes up almost an entire city block. Enjoy a delicious oceanside brunch and tropical fruit mimosas at Mala Ocean Tavern, check out Mick Fleetwood’s restaurant, or rent a car and take the whimsical drive down the Road to Hana, a road trip that really is more about the journey than the destination.

Lahaina is also home to many beautiful sandy beaches, some busy, others secluded and peaceful. During the right season, this is the perfect place to watch humpback whales between Maui and Lanai.

Honolulu, Oahu

The islands’ largest city and Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu is a bustling metropolis. If you’re looking to do some luxury shopping, make a trip to the massive Ala Moana Center, where you’ll find everything from Montblanc to Chanel. Honolulu is also where you’ll find Waikiki, arguably the world’s most famous beach area. History buffs can visit the Iolani Palace, the final residence of the Hawaiian Royal Family before they were overthrown by the U.S. government, or the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour.

If you’re looking for a unique experience, check out Honolulu’s expansive Chinatown. For the best meal on the island, visit Lucky Belly and try one of their amazing bento box meals. More delicious meals are available in the Kaka’ako neighborhood.

A cruise to the Hawaiian Islands is the trip of a lifetime, with something to offer for everyone. Make the most of your escape to these magical islands and make memories you’ll cherish for years to come.