We had six sea days between Mexico and Hawaii. Everyone was kept busy attending lectures on the history, animals, sea life, etc of Hawaii. Also available were lessons on making leis and learning to hula dance.
The days would have been very pleasant except for the gale force winds and rough seas on days 4, 5 and 6. The Captain had warned us of 17 foot sea swells, common in the Pacific Ocean during the winter. It was so windy we could barely get our balcony door open. The rolling of the ship was constant and relentless.
One morning the Cruise Director’s “Coffee Talk” was with the Captain. For thirty minutes he answered questions from the audience. He has a quick wit and is very open with the passengers. They put a box at Guest Services for people to submit additional questions and he promised to answer one or two questions each day during his noon commentary.
When we boarded the ship back in January, Holland America took our passports to hold. We were now required to have a face to face meeting with immigration officials at our first port in Hawaii. This requirement was because we had been out of the country since leaving Fort Lauderdale on January 3rd. We picked up our passports and met with an immigration official at our assigned time. As we filed through the line, the immigration official barely glanced at our passports. Obviously just a formality.
Two of our Hawaiian ports is on The Big Island, with the first being the town of Kona. The Big Island is really an island of contrasts with Kona on one side and Hilo on the other. Kona is a major beach resort area with less than ten inches of rain a year. Hilo is the largest city on the island and tropical with more than 150 inches of rain annually. The total population of the island is around 185,000.
The Big Island is the biggest of all the Hawaiian islands with 4,028 miles, twice the size of all the other islands combined, and most importantly, it is still growing!! It is the youngest of all the islands, estimated to be about 800,000 years old. This is the most volcanic of all the islands, with Kilauea near Hilo being the world’s most active volcano. Kilauea has been sending rivers of lava since January 1983, adding more real estate to the island every day. It is also an island seeped in history. It is the birthplace and deathplace of King Kamehameha, a great king who united all the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. He died in 1819.
British Captain James Cook, after exploring in 1778 the islands of Kauai and Oahu, arrived on the Big Island in 1779. At first, thinking Cook was perhaps a god, the natives welcomed him with great feasts. After discovering he was in fact not a god, they became hostile. Cook and four of his men died on the Big Island during a battle. A small bronze plaque at the north end of Kealakekua Bay marks the spot of his death. Cook’s countrymen erected a 27-foot memorial near the plaque to honor him.
We had spent a week on The Big Island in 2014 so we didn’t feel the need to pay for an excursion. Our plan was to walk around the port area and go to Walmart. Problem was we had forgotten how hilly Kona is and it was a steep uphill walk to Walmart.
On the way back we saw a man with his dog on a surfboard. Really cute.
Kona is a great place to snorkel. Living coral can be found in 57% of the waters surrounding this island.
Also on the Big Island is the South Point, the southernmost point in the United States. (Sorry Key West). This South Point has a latitude 500 miles farther south than Miami. It is believed in 150 A.D. the first Polynesian explorers set foot on the island near this point.
These pictures are from our trip in 2014.
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park is one of the most famous black sand beaches in Hawaii. The black sand is made from basalt created by lava flowing into the ocean which exploded as it reached the ocean and cooled.
As we went through security to get back on the ship, the Hawaiian port authorities had us show both our ship ID and also our driver’s license and each passenger was wanded. Most thorough security since we left Fort Lauderdale.
Shortly after leaving Kona someone reported seeing whales. That caused everyone to scatter to all the decks. We were at the rear of the ship and saw quite a few whales breaching and spouting. It was as if they were putting on a farewell show for us.
Next up: Hilo, Hawaii