Exploring Hilo, Honolulu And Kona, Hawaii

Hawaii - Honolulu - Diamond Head View

After leaving Long Beach, California, the MS Volendam spent four days at sea before arriving in Hawaii. There were three ports of call in Hawaii, including Hilo, Honolulu and Kona. The three stops each had an island feel, but also a different feel to each other.

Hilo, Hawaii

The first port of call in Hawaii is Hilo, located on the western side of the Big Island. As the ship was docking the skies were grey and overcast, with some rain as we were disembarking. The rain did hang around for most of the day but thankfully was not too heavy to impact today’s tour.

I chose a shore excursion, to visit three waterfalls, that kind of turned out to be a little disappointing. The tour was named Waterfall Spectacular, and to be honest, I found the tour quite lacking in the description. We visited three waterfalls, and there was only one that was flowing.


Akaka Falls at over 440feet high was the first waterfall we visited. It is also the only waterfall that we had a good vantage point to see.

Hawaii - Hilo - Akaka Falls

The second waterfall was a short walk from Akaka Falls. Unfortunately, the view of Kahuna Falls is all but entirely obstructed from the viewpoint that was available. I am not sure that there is a good accessible point to see it either.

Finally, the third waterfall was a short drive from the other two. Rainbow Falls, from most accounts, is supposed to be rather beautiful when water is flowing. However, due to a hydroelectric project the water just does not make it to the waterfall. It is disappointing because I can imagine how it would look with a good amount of water flowing.

Hawaii - Hilo - Rainbow Falls

After the tour, I took the free shuttle from the cruise terminal to visit a couple of places in town. The first was Big Island Candies, where they make a range of chocolates, cookies and shortbread. I did not end up buying anything here, but there were some delicious looking treats.

The second stop was at Hilo Hattie’s, which is a big souvenir store. They give free shell necklaces here, and I did end up buying a couple of little things. There are free shuttle busses, but the wait can be a little bit much and can leave you standing around waiting. Of course, this leaves you without much time to do much else.

Honolulu, Hawaii

A day later and small move from Hilo to Honolulu. However, you would have been forgiven for thinking it was worlds apart, as the weather was the total opposite. The first thing as you dock in Hawaii is Aloha Tower, on the dock nearby, a real Hawaiian greeting.

The best part of where the ship docks in Honolulu is how close it is to many things. A very short walk and you are in Downtown, with shopping and some other attractions. The only thing that is not immediately nearby is the beach.

Hawaii - Honolulu - Aloha Tower

Diamond Head Crater

To maximise my time in Honolulu, I opted for a shore excursion today. Diamond Head Crater is the remnant of an extinct undersea volcano. The peak of the crater towers above the southern coastline of O’ahu at 762 feet.

The tour takes a relatively direct route from the cruise ship to Diamond Head Crater by bus. There were a couple of highlights pointed out along the way. But the main part of the tour is to hike from inside the crater to the top. A hike of some 1.5 miles (2.2km) with the greatly varying terrain, from flat and gradual to some very steep stairs. The set of stairs below is around half of 200+ stairs that are part of the hike.

Hawaii - Honolulu - Diamond Head Stairs

The views from the top of Diamond Head Crater, definitely make it worth the short walk. I can tell you I have walked much further for significantly less inspiring views.

To the south, you can see the Pacific Ocean Stretching to the horizon. While to the west is the rugged coastline and beaches of O’ahu. With views to the lush green mountains that form the Honolulu Watershed Forrest Reserve. Finally, to the east, the sprawling city of Honolulu stretches away with the beaches of Waikiki in the front.

Hawaii - Honolulu - Diamond Head View

Exploring Honolulu

Even with the tour being a significant hike for many passengers that took part, it still completed by lunch time. Leaving plenty of time to do a little more exploring of Hawaii in the afternoon. A walk through Downtown taking some time to do some shopping. I managed to find a couple of new shirts and a new pair of shoes. There were a couple of sights that I came across the pictures below as well as finding a little cafe to catch up on email.

Hawaii - Honolulu - Iolani State Palace Hawaii - Honolulu - Statue of King Kamehameha 1


Kona is the last stop in Hawaii for the cruise and the first port to require the use of tenders to get ashore. There were not tours that inspired me here and decided just to explore the area. While tenders have their downfalls, the ship being at anchor provided an excellent opportunity for a good photo of the ship.

Hawaii - Kona - MS Volendam

Tendering in port can take away a lot of time when you are in port. The ship was at anchor from around 8 am, but the group I was with did not get to shore until around 10.30am. Part of the reason is the tour groups get first preference on the tenders. But a port like Kona everyone wants to go ashore and explore as well.

Myself and a few others I have met on the cruise went ashore together. We spent an hour or so wandering the main street and a market that was on. Before finding our way to the Kona Island Brewing Company, for lunch and some local beer. It was a great spot to take a break and enjoy the area before heading back to the ship.

Hawaii - Kona - Kona Brewing Co.

Farewell Hawaii

Although the weather in Hilo was a little disappointing, I have enjoyed my time in Hawaii. It is a place that I will be looking to return for a longer stay to explore deeper. Without a limited number of hours and need to go back to a ship at the end of the day.

From Hawaii, the ship will head south with the next stop Pago Pago in America Samoa. However, there are a full five days at sea before arriving in America Samoa. So definitely some more time to explore what the ship has to offer.

You Might Also Like

    Pin It on Pinterest

    Share This