The Hawaiian people are excited to share their equally diverse history and culture with travelers who come to the islands. Hawaii consists of eight main islands in one of the most remote places in the world that has been continuously populated for centuries.
A cruise is a fantastic way to explore this destination. Each island offers something unique. Oahu has epic surf areas like the North Shore and attractions like the capital of Honolulu — with Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor. The Big Island of Hawaii is known for its volcanic activity and lava desert climate. Kauai is the state’s “Garden Island” because of its lush tropical rainforest and thoroughly undeveloped and wild feel.
Maui has wonderful beaches and is a haven for nature lovers.
Big cruise ships can get you to many of these islands and attractions, but to get a more authentic Hawaii experience, a small expedition cruise – like those offered by UnCruise Adventures – is the optimal way to explore this paradise. An expedition ship takes you to places other ships can’t go and gives you a real sense of the idyllic feel of old Hawaii.
UnCruise Adventures sails weeklong voyages in Hawaii between Molokai and Hawaii (The Big Island) on its 36-passenger ship Safari Explorer. Here are six reasons why a cruise on Safari Explorer is the best way to see Hawaii.
Molokai has just 7,500 residents and is also a natural beauty with the laid-back feel of “Old Hawaii.” UnCruise is the only cruise line to visit the island, and weeklong cruises either begin on Molokai or end there throughout the entire year. UnCruise has developed a special relationship with the community and is able to take passengers on special trips and hikes to visit the Halawa Valley and the family that owns the longest continuous legacy of living in the place where the first settlers came to Hawaii.
The valley’s elder is Uncle Pilipo Solatorio, and he and his son Greg welcome UnCruise guests to their home and give a talk and demonstrations about traditional Hawaiian language and culture. They cover aspects like the traditional “Hawaiian handshake” the honi — an intimate greeting during which you press together your noses and inhale — and how to prepare fresh poi.
On Molokai, you also will get to experience a traditional feast called a pa’ina (tourists have come to know this as a luau).
The UnCruise Adventures’ itineraries in Hawaii are truly off the beaten path. Sailing with a maximum of 36 passengers and usually just about two dozen, the ship is never crowded. You also go to quiet and secluded places with your group, so you will infrequently be mingling with others who aren’t your shipmates — and never with hordes of other cruisers or tourists.
Cultural Enrichment and Interaction
The visit to the Halawa Valley and other spots along the way, as well as the traditional pa’ina offers chances to meet hula masters, dancers and musicians and to learn about the language and history of Hawaii and the importance of deities, spirits, gods and goddesses that shape the beliefs and practices of indigenous Hawaiians. Throughout the expedition, UnCruise expedition leaders give onboard enrichment talks about conservation and the reef systems and animals that call Hawaii home.
It’s all about the water on this cruise. You are either in it or on it for most of the journey. This means chances to kayak, swim, stand-up paddle, canoe paddle and take skiff tours. Snorkel adventures (there is also a cool night-snorkel outing to see manta rays) take you to pristine bays and reef systems to see Hawaiian green sea turtles, whitetip reef sharks, octopus and an amazing array of colorful tropical fish, of course.
You also can expect to enjoy plenty of whale and dolphin spotting chances from the bow or bridge of Safari Explorer as the captain navigates around the islands.
On shore, you will take a few hikes and get to spend time in places like Kona and Lahaina on Maui for a chances to do a little shopping, explore the banyan trees, try gourmet coffee and cool off with a Mai Tai or flavored shave ice.
This is the ultimate trip for the light-packer. You’ll only need a swimsuit, a few pair of shorts and athletic T-shirts or casual short-sleeve shirts, plus comfy footwear (sandals and something good for an easy hike). The dress code is uber-casual, and many passengers ditch their shoes while walking around the decks of the ship.
Dinner is open seating, and you make friends easily with your fellow adventure-minded cruisers. Your cruise fare includes drinks, and onboard entertainment consists of chatting with your new friends, playing games available in the library or watching a DVD (the ship has a large library of titles) in your cabin after dinner.
Fresh-Made and Local Cuisine
The food onboard Safari Explorer is made-to-order from scratch for each meal using locally sourced ingredients. So, you can expect a lot of fresh Hawaiian seafood. A pastry chef also bakes breads and pastries onboard, and each afternoon puts out a fresh plate of cookies in the lounge for the line’s famous “Cookie Hour.”
The food is delicious, and the staff are especially accommodating to meet the needs of any cruisers with allergies, preferences or dietary restrictions.
John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel, highlighting how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences.