Hawaii is a chain of eight volcanic islands each with different geographies and climates giving each a character entirely of its own. Most Hawaii cruises will begin at the capital, Honolulu on the island of Oahu which has all of the attractions of a large city as well as the famous Waikiki beach – former playground of the Hawaiian monarchy. Oahu is also the surfing capital of the world with some of the largest waves hitting its Northern shores every winter.
However, Maui and Kauai represent a completely different experience with far less real estate development taking the place of the natural rainforests and waterfalls. These islands are particularly well known for their hiking excursions although they are also home to many white-sand-blue-sea beaches, most of which are far quieter than Waikiki.
There are many cruises which start and end in the port of Honolulu although if you are looking for a longer trip it is also possible to travel there from many ports on the western coast of America, Mexico or Canada. Doing the cruise this way will mean about a week at sea in the Pacific, the desirability of which will depend on the kind of cruise vessel you’re taking.
Top Six Beaches Outside of Waikiki (We Wanted Five But There Are Too Many Good Ones)
Situated on the north shore of the island this is without a doubt the most famous surfing beach in the world. In the summer, however, the waves are a lot smaller making it ideal for anyone to take a paddle in. Sun, sea and white sand are exactly what you get at this beach.
Kaanapali Beach, Maui
An extremely popular beach, lined with luxury resorts and famous for the many scuba and snorkelling schools available in the area. This area is particularly good for families as there are a large number of lifeguards all along the beach as well as plenty of facilities. The waters are generally pretty calm and it rarely gets as crowded as some of the other popular beaches – the happy medium between isolated and popular.
Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Big Island
This is the best place in all of Hawaii for spotting sea turtles and for those who have never been to a black sand beach before, the experience is an unforgettable one. The beach is surrounded by swaying palm trees so it really does look like a beach rather than a volcanic wasteland.
Poipu Beach, Kauai
Excellent for young children, the water is calm and shallow as well as clear enough for inexperienced snorkellers. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful beaches on the islands with a fair range of facilities. As such, it was once voted America’s Best Beach.
A great, fairly secluded beach with a massive lagoon where you can often sea locals diving for crab and octopus. As per the name, you can expect to see an early 20th-century shipwreck here, stuck in a coral reef. The waters here are rough but it’s nevertheless worth coming out for the dramatic scenery and solitude.
A man, a plan, a canal – Panama! This famous canal even has a palindrome dedicated to its honour. Completed in 1914, the purpose of the canal was to allow ships to move between the East coast of the Americas and the West coast without having to sail all the way down to Cape Horn and around.
This cut the time many freight ships took to complete their routes in half and completely changed the shape of modern day America. Furthermore, because of the immense amount of earth that had to be shifted as well as the careful managing of the tidal waters, the canal has been hailed as “one of the seven wonders of the modern world” by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
High season is from October to April but the rainy season ends in November so after November is the most pleasant time to visit. The cruise liner that goes to Panama the most often would be Princess Cruises but most major tour operators will have at least one ship going there in summer.
Cruise Itineraries to Hawaii
In terms of itineraries, the canal itself is only 50 miles long but most cruises to Panama take 14 days and travel from Florida, stopping in the Caribbean, Mexico and other locations. Others, however, can be longer or shorter depending on your taste with anything from 7 to 21 days possible from the bigger cruise lines. As standard, all cruises will depart from Florida (Miami or Fort Lauderdale) and end in L.A (San Diego or San Francisco). Most typical cruises will also stop at Colon, Panama which sits on the Eastern entrance to the canal and Limon, Costa Rica on the Western side.
Some of the most popular excursions are to be found in the area around Puntarenas port, Costa Rica. These include a trip to Tabacon Hot Springs, the luxury resort and spa based around volcanic springs, therapeutic for sore muscles they also form beautiful miniature waterfalls in the river running down to the pools. The Poas Volcano is also an unforgettable sight, as it is filled with an unbelievably bright blue lake.
Meanwhile, an excursion to Villa Blanca will give you the opportunity to walk through an authentic cloud
forest. Or you could go see some of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
If you don’t dock at Puntarenas and would still like a rainforest trip then your best bet is to try out the new aerial tramway in Braulio Carillo National Park, just outside of Limon, Costa Rica. This takes you out, through and sometimes above the forest canopy where you’ll come face to face (literally) with all manner of Central American wildlife.