My wife Nancy and I went for a seven-day cruise in Hawaii in the United States some time back. We had arrived a day early so we took the time to explore Honolulu on the island of Oahu on our own.
We rented a car at US$26 (RM114) a day, though the insurance was higher at US$48 (RM212) a day! We drove along the eastern coast to see the Diamond Head, a volcanic cone. Later, we walked along the famous Waikiki beach nearby, which looked just like an ordinary beach, to be honest.
We then drove to Pearl Harbour, the site of the tragic bombing. Admission was free but we still needed passes to enter the area and had to queue up for them. We paid US$7.50 (RM33) for the audio headphones with commentary by actress Jamie Lee Curtis, and survivors of the Pearl Harbour bombing.
From the tour, we also learned that the USS Arizona sank into the sea with 1,177 sailors, who died within minutes. There were 39 survivors from that incident and when they died later, their ashes were also placed in the sunken ship.
Later, we went to the North Shore, a beach popular with surfers. We also visited the Polynesian Cultural Village, which was run by Mormons who started the church here 100 years ago. Most of the staff were students from the Brigham Young University.
There were various pavilions showcasing cultures from Polynesia including Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji and Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand). We were also taught how to correctly pronounce the word “ukulele” – “oo koo lay lay”.
Apparently, the grass skirts and coconut bras were originally from Tahiti, while the actual Hawaiian dress is a muumuu, a loose-fitting, colourful long dress.
Our tickets to the cultural village included a buffet dinner and a show called HA! The Breath Of Life. It told of the life story of a Hawaiian man. There was a wedding scene as well as some battle scenes that featured an exciting fire dance.
The next day, we finally got on our cruise. As the ship sailed fully in US waters, there was no casino and no duty-free shopping either, which are the normal fixtures at most cruises. The ship only sailed at night so passengers could spend the whole day sightseeing.
In the morning, we had a full American breakfast in a Cadillac-shaped restaurant. On the wall was a poster with the words “No matter how bad the food, try a little; no matter how good the food, not too much”.
We then took part in some activities on board the ship, and had a “formal dinner” that night.
The next morning, we arrived in Maui island. We drove in a rented car to a volcano called Haleakala but it was very misty, so we decided to turn back and drove to Lahaina, a historical whaling town, on the west coast instead.
This was also where the early missionaries who came to the island, introduced the Roman alphabet to locals.
At night, the ship had its Polynesian-themed cabaret event, featuring ladies clad coconut bras and grass skirts, who entertained guests with dances and singing.
The next day, the ship docked at Hilo on the east coast of the Big Island. Here, we learned that in the past, Hawaiians believed in Pele the goddess of fire and Nunu the God of peace. We were also taught some Hawaiian words: kane (man), wahine (woman), old (tutu), ohana (family), mahalo (thank you) and aloha (hello and goodbye).
We then drove to the Volcano National Park. It is the largest active volcano in the world, and its crater spouted smoke and steam. We walked through a lava tube formed by molten lava. That night from the ship, we watched as the glowing molten lava flowed into the sea.
In the morning, we woke up in Kona. We walked to the supermarket and used the free shuttle service to go to Walmart. We went to a hotel which had some pictures and also stories of Hawaii’s kings on display in the lobby.
The following day we arrived at the northern island of Kauai. We drove to Waimea Canyon where we visited a coffee plantation and learned about coffee growing and roasting. We then went to the Popuia beaches, and to Kaapa to watch the sunset.
At night, the ship cruised by the Napalli coast cliffs and we saw several humpback whales in a distance.
The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.