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NCL Cruise: Hawaii Ports {Kona & Kauai}

I’m back with more on our NCL cruise from Hawaii to Alaska. Since this cruise was so long (16 days), I took hundreds of pictures and I want to save these memories for us as well as share with you, so I’m sharing all the best pictures, as well as breaking the posts up into segments sharing what we saw and did. This one will cover Kailua-Kona, which is on the Big Island of Hawaii, as well as the island of Kauai. Once we left Honolulu on our cruise, the first stop was Kona and the next stop the second day was Kauai. We had 4 port stops in the Hawaii islands before we headed to sea for 5 days and then on to Alaska. What a trip it was! We loved it and are so glad we got the opportunity to go on this magnificent trip.

The good and bad of a cruise is that you get to see a lot of different ports and destinations, but there’s limited time to see all there is to see at each stop, so we tried to make the best of our short time in each. Most port stops were about 8 hours, which isn’t that long to see a whole island. I’ll tell you more about what we did in each stop to get around.

As I mentioned, Mark’s oldest daughter, Lyndsey, lives in Hilo on the Big Island and her family moved there almost 2 years ago for work opportunities. They have enjoyed living there and I think plan to stay indefinitely. They are enjoying the laid back island lifestyle. They have 4 children, 11 and 9 and the younger ones are 3 and 2. Of course, before we left, we let her know when we would be there, so the plan was she would pick us up in Kona and also in Hilo when we landed there on Friday of that week. Kona was our first stop which is about 1.5 hours from her and she and the kids came and met us. We had such a great day!

We had to use tender boats getting off the ship in Kona, but it was an easy thing to do.

We walked around the Kailua Village before she got there and we meandered up the street to a meeting place.

The ship was anchored out in the water and we had lots of photo opps with the ship.

It’s a pretty little village right on the water with these views. Our first visit to Hawaii and so interesting to see everything that I’ve heard about for years.

We walked past this pretty house, which I found out was Hulihee Palace, a former royal vacation home from 1838.

We enjoyed strolling in this cute little town.

The trees of Hawaii were so fascinating to me and I kept taking pictures of the trunks. They were works of art.

Another shot of our cruise ship, the NCL Spirit, anchored out from shore.

Lyndsey met up with  us and we all piled in and headed to her favorite spot in Kona, a lava beach park. I didn’t get the name of this beach park, but the first thing I noticed was all the black lava.

We found a spot to land and the kids and Mark got in the water. I waded up to my knees and looked at the tidepools.

This was our first experience at a Hawaiian beach and it was pretty stunning. We had no idea now much more beauty was in store for us on each island.

I loved all the tropical vegetation on the islands. Lyndsey told us that Kona was more desert and hotter with less rainfall and the other side of the island in Hilo, where they live is much more rainy and more green and lush.

It was still really pretty to see.

Her little ones love the water and beg to go swimming and as you can imagine, Pop was so happy to see them all. We had a great visit that day and after the beach, we went for Hawaiian shave ice, which we already knew about.

I got a good snapshot of Mark, Lyndsey and the kids. They are growing up so fast and we had a really good visit with them.

The rugged beach is pretty and picturesque.

I loved how clear the water was.

After lunch in town, we got Hawaiian shave ice. We are fortunate to have a wonderful shave ice place in our little town of Acworth, so if you haven’t been, definitely stop by and tell Vincent we sent you. We’ve gotten to know the owner, a native of Hawaii and he has brought a taste of Hawaii to Acworth. These were delicious too, but it’s more expensive in Hawaii!

That night it was back to the ship and dinner on board. We had a great day in Kona with the family!

This cruise business is so much fun.

We sailed away that night and the next morning, this scene greeted us as we arrived early for sunrise in Kauai. We had no idea what a treat that would be too.

It was so fun to walk out early on the balcony and watch the sun light up the morning sky.

This lush green island if Kauai was right outside.

The balcony was a great place to take it all in.

We didn’t have an excursion booked for Kauai, so we decided to just wing it and see what came our way. We got on the free shuttle that took us to the little town nearby and looked for some land tours. We were told booking a taxi might be our best bet and another couple that was doing the same thing we were overheard us talking about it. We introduced ourselves and that’s how we met Rob and Samantha from Canada. We ended up booking a taxi together and splitting the cost for the 4 hour excursion and we settled in for a fun ride around the island. We told the taxi driver that we wanted to see the best sights and we had heard that Waimea Canyon was a top spot to see.

Just for reference, we paid $170 per couple for the taxi excursion. Not cheap, but we got to see a lot, I think.

The great thing about booking a taxi with only 4 people is that we could stop along the way and easily get out and take pics of the beautiful scenery. As I mentioned, you can’t see a whole island in one day, but we made the best of it and saw what we could and we were very satisfied with our day.

The overlooks were just stunning with green vegetation all around. It sure is different than anything I’ve seen before.


It was amazing to me that so much of the islands is just lush and tropical without a lot of development. That seems to be the case on many of the islands with towns and villages and lots of tropical mountains and canyons.

This was such a far distance to view and such beautiful scenery.

Of course, we had to take advantage of the scenery and get pics with the stunning backdrops.


Note all the different colors in the landscape.

This was a different kind of waterfall than the norm. The red is basalt, a type of lava.

We wound our way up a mountain to the top and finally got to Waimea Canyon Lookout. It’s said to be the Grand Canyon of Hawaii and it did not disappoint.

It was hard to capture all the beauty and how deep this canyon was from the lookout point, but it was breathtaking.

All the colors were just stunning and so different from anything I’ve seen before.

Reds and greens and colors in between.

It was definitely a must stop on Kauai.

A closer stop to see that waterfall we saw from a distance.

The driver took us to all the favorite spots, like Hanapepe swinging bridge.

The bridge spans a little river and is very narrow so it was hard to pass without sucking it in. We waited for a whole bus load of people to come back across and then we went up on the bridge.

He took us by Kauai Coffee Company where we saw a real live coffee plantation.

The trees love this tropical climate.

I had never seen coffee beans growing before, so this was a first.

Next stop was Spouting Horn and it was a really nice surprise. It’s a spot where the water comes in and out and blows a spout of water up high in the air. It looks even better on video, but you get the idea.

It was such a picturesque spot too.

I tried to capture the high spouts and this was a good one. We had a great day on Kauai and really enjoyed our shared taxi with the couple we met. We ended up meeting up with them for dinner a few times and and running into them outside on the ship and that made our trip even more enjoyable, having conversations and sharing what we all saw and did that day.

We got back on the ship later afternoon and had time to rest before dinner, so that was nice. I finished one book and read another book during the cruise, mostly on the days at sea. We loved not being gone all day, but having time to rest a bit.

Getting dressed for dinner was fun and we were color coordinated again this night. Next, I’ll share our other 2 ports in Hawaii, Maui and Hilo. Those were both fun stops too, all different, but so much beauty to see.

If you missed my packing for a 16 day cruise post, be sure and see that if you’re going on a cruise yourself. I ended  up wearing all the shoes I took and most of the clothes, so I did pretty well at packing.

I also shared a post already about NCL Spirit, the ship itself and gave a tour of the ship and amenities, so check it out as well.

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