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Honolulu, Hawaii: Tour of 4 Hawaiian Islands by Cruise Ship (Part 2)
Posted On 03/20/2019 16:58:27
Trip Date 05/02/2010
Destinations | Cruises | Hawaii | Golden Princess | Oahu | Honolulu | Self-Guided Hawaii Travel | DIY Travel | Honolulu Road Trip
On our cruise aboard the Golden Princess, we traveled from California to Hawaii and back with
members of both of our families. The cruise was a dream cruise for Stacy's mom, and we therefore
chose it to celebrate her 75th birthday. As Stacy and I had previously been to Hawaii, we decided to
do self-guided island tours where we would act as "tour guides".
If you are considering visiting the Hawaiian islands by cruise ship, this is the second of four posts that
will help you make an excellent plan for touring the island on your own. There are so many places to
see on each of the Hawaiian islands that it can be overwhelming to plan, and often hard to choose
which sites to see. Our second port was at Honolulu on the island of Oahu. If you
have a full day and evening at port like we did, there's a lot that you'll have time to see ... and the
planning is already done for you!
Port of Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
After our departure from Hilo, we sailed to Honolulu where we again rented a car for our quick
drive about the island. Just as in Hilo, our go to rental car agency was Discount Hawaii Car Rental. With great prices and super convenient locations for cruise ship
passengers in the Hawaiian Islands, we highly recommend checking them out. No matter if you are a
party of two or six, they'll have a good option for you if you reserve your car before all of your fellow
passengers. Once at the cruise port, just disembark your ship and follow the instructions given to
their pick-up area. After signing your paperwork and checking out the car, you'll be off to start
exploring. (Make sure that you also understand the return policy hours - especially if you plan to keep
your car out later than normal business hours.)
One of the most moving places to visit in the United States is Pearl Harbor. The good news for those arriving
in Honolulu via cruise ship is that the memorial is very near the cruise port. It would be very easy to
spend a half-day or more seeing all that there is to see in this complex. In addition to being the
home to the USS Arizona Memorial, there are numerous programs and exhibits, a
documentary, memorials and monuments all dedicated to helping visitors understand the December 7,
1941 attack. Partner sites to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center include:
Battleship Missouri Memorial
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park and
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor.
Reading Markers at Pearl Harbor
The Battleship Missouri allows you to step onto what was once one of the most powerful warships in
the United States Navy. Now a floating museum docked on Fort Island at Pearl Harbor, the
ship is being meticulously restored by the USS Missouri Memorial Association to highlight the
different eras in which the ship served.
Although at the time that this article is being published, the USS Arizona Memorial is closed for repairs
due to damage to the visitor loading ramp, it is one of the most visited tourist spots in Hawaii. A time
commitment of 75 minutes is required to fully experience the memorial and pay tribute to our nation's
fallen heroes. The visit includes an introduction, documentary and shuttle boat ride courtesy of the
U.S. Navy to and from the memorial.
USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
With the limited amount of time that cruise ship passengers have on the island, each must decide
what the "must visit" sites include and the amount of time to devote to each. Our group decided that,
for this visit, everyone wanted a taste of several places on the island which meant that we had to limit
our time at the memorial site. If you decide to devote the additional time to really experience this
site, there are several ways to get tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial including making 60 day in advance or next day reservations or day of visit walk-up tickets.
Iolani Palace, the last official residence of the kings
and queens who ruled Hawaii, is the only true royal palace in the United States. King Kalakaua and
Queen Kapiolani completed the palace in 1882. The design of the palace was influenced by King
Kalakaua's world travels and was one of the first royal palaces worldwide to be equipped with
telephones and electric lights.
After serving as the monarch residence, it served as the Capitol first for the Territory and then for
the State. After the new State Capitol was built in 1969, the palace was restored to its former royal
grandeur. The palace grounds include the Iolani Barracks, Royal Tomb,
Coronation Pavilion and gift shop. Tickets are available for both self-guided and docent led
tours and visitors can wander through the grounds and see the exterior of the building with no
Located on Ala Moana Blvd., Hilo Hattie has
Hawaii's largest selection of Hawaiian fashions, gifts, souvenirs, t-shirts, home & beach accessories,
beauty products, gourmet foods and stunning island jewelry. The company guarantees shoppers the
best value, largest selection of Made in Hawaii gifts and a 100% quality guarantee on
thousands of Hawaiian products. Hilo Hattie has grown into Hawaii's largest retailer, manufacturer and
wholesaler of Hawaiian fashions and gifts.
Hilo Hattie's on Oahu
Waikiki and Waikiki Beach
The world-famous city of Waikiki was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. Known in
Hawaiian as "spouting waters", Waikiki is still a gathering place for people from all around the world.
Along the main strip of Kalakaua Avenue, you'll find plenty of retail stores, restaurants and
At the legendary Waikiki Beach, a statue of Hawaiian hero Duke Kahanamoku welcomes visitors to the city with open
arms. Duke grew up and surfed in Waikiki during the turn of the century and today he is regarded as
the "father of modern surfing". The city continues to evolve, but always seems to express the ancient
spirit of aloha.
Waikiki's famous "Duke"
Waikiki is a great place to spend a little time for drinks and a snack, and of course to take some
photos. Parking in this area can often be hard to find. We found that parking at the Sheraton
Princess Kaiulani Hotel (120 Kaiulani Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815) was reasonably priced and only
a few blocks away from the beach.
Diamond Head State Monument
Probably the most famous volcanic crater in the world, Diamond Head State Monument is located at the end of Waikiki on the southeast coast of Oahu. Although you can
see the famous mountain in the distance from Waikiki, we recommend that you drive the short
distance and pay the $5.00 per carload fee (cash only) to enter the park. The mountain is 760 feet
tall and the crater measures 3,520 feet in diameter. Although you probably will not have enough time
to do the 0.8 mile one-way hike to the summit, you should have time to drive inside Diamond
Head Crater, around Diamond Head Road as well as drive to the Diamond Head
Diamond Head State Monument
The "curved" Hanauma Bay was declared a
protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. With its large rich coral reef
and diverse population of marine life, the bay is the absolute best protected cove for anyone who is
new to scuba diving or snorkeling. The bay floor is actually the crater of an ancient volcano that
flooded when the exterior wall collapsed and the ocean rushed in.
The entrance fee to Hanauma Bay is $7.50 per person age 12 and over (plus $1.00 fee per car for
parking). If you don't have time to swim, it's still a great place to stop to view the bay from the
overlook and grab some great photos.
Built in 1948, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is located in the Pu'owaina Crater ("Punchbowl"). Formerly known as the
"Hill of Sacrifice", the cemetery is a memorial to the men and women who defended our country in
World War II. It was dedicated in 1949 and the first buried here were casualties from the attack on
In addition to paying your respects to those who have fought for our freedom, you'll have an awesome
view of the southern coast of Oahu.
A favorite tourist stop with panoramic views of Oahu's windward coast, the Pali Lookout is located on the Pali Highway. Although the lookout is well known,
most visitors don't seem to know that there is a trail at the lower end of the lookout. By following the
trail along the route of the Old Pali Highway, you'll get a different perspective plus see a wide
variety of native plants.
Since it is hard to know whether or not there will be clouds high on the mountain which will detract
from your view, the drive is only five miles so it's worth a try. Unfortunately on the day of our most
recent visit, the sky was fogged in with clouds. When there is no cloud cover, Pali Lookout is a
Paradise Cove Luau
Most cruises to the islands have at least one evening where the ship departs late at night allowing
passengers to experience an evening event. No visit to Hawaii is complete without attending a luau.
If your "late night" is in Honolulu as ours was, we recommend that you don't miss out on this, often
once in a lifetime, opportunity.
Words can hardly describe the experience at Paradise Cover Luau. It is, hands down, the best luau on the island of Oahu. A tropical Mai
Tai greeting combined with live Hawaiian music set the mood for the luau. Guests have so many
options to fill their time in the Hawaiian Village before their dinner including learning island arts and
crafts or playing (and testing skills) at Hawaiian games. Finally, don't miss out on watching the
Hukilau and Imu Ceremony which both provide insights into ancient Hawaiian
The dinner feast includes traditional and current Hawaiian dishes along with some "continental" dishes
for those less willing to try new flavors. Just as you begin to notice the awesome sunset, singers and
dancers will begin dazzling you with an unforgettable evening of entertainment.
Reservations are required for the luau and should be made well in advance by either calling (808) 842-
5911 or making online reservations. Be aware that saturated ground at the Ko Olina Resort from heavy rainfall
during the day could cause the luau to be cancelled. Unfortunately, that's what happened when we
reserved our second Paradise Cove Luau. We were hungry and eagerly anticipating our dinner, drinks
and show. We drove out to the resort from across the island and it was there that we learned that the
evening performance was cancelled due to rain. Based on our experience, we do recommend calling
on the day of your luau reservation just to confirm that there have been no changes. Because this
was our only late night while on the islands, we requested a refund and scrambled to use that money
to reserve a last minute indoor luau. Although we all got fed, the luau experience was quite
disappointing and definitely not the same as the Paradise Cove Luau that we had previously enjoyed.
Port of Honolulu
As with any do-it-yourself shore excursion, make sure that you closely monitor your timing so that you
don't miss your all aboard time. With so much to see and do in Oahu, you really have to watch the
amount of time spent at each site or plan to eliminate some. It goes without saying to make sure to
allow enough time to fill your tank with fuel, check-in your car (there may be a line of others on the
same schedule) and make your way back on foot to the ship. (Of course, if your ship is not departing
from Port of Honolulu until late in the evening, make sure to follow the instructions from your rental
car agency for after-hour returns.)
If you haven't already, make sure to take a look at our recommended DIY excursion on the beautiful
garden island of Kauai. In Lihue, Kauai: Tour of 4 Hawaiian Islands by Cruise Ship (Part 3)
, you'll have access to a driving route that will take you to some of the islands best sites that can
be seen in your limited port hours.
If you have been lucky enough to attend more than one luau while traveling in Hawaii, which was your
favorite, where is it located and what made you like it more than others?
Created On 03/13/2019 23:59:13
Updated On 03/22/2019 22:39:02
Scheduled On 03/19/2019 17:58:27
Posted On 03/20/2019 16:58:27
Last Editor Stacy
Location Port of Honolulu