Sunday, 9 December 2012

More Hawaii - On The Big Island

Continuing our grand Hawaiian journey with Norwegian Cruise Line and Virgin Holidays, aboard the only year-round ship to sail purely in Hawaii, Pride of America…

The Big Island - Pt 2

Having had a full day to explore the volcanic side of the Big Island from Hilo, our next visit brought us to the city of Kona, and the heart of Coffee Country on Hawaii's biggest island. The weather wasn't quite as bright today (it stayed heavily overcast with a mixture of cloud and 'vog,' the local term for the volcanic haze resulting from Kilauea), but it didn;t curtail any of our activities. 

With Kona coffee world-renowned for its quality, we had the chance to join another Roberts Hawaii excursion to see the historic side of this part of the island, starting with the Royal Kona Coffee company (overlooking superb Kealakekua Bay).

Here, in the heart of Kona's coffee-growing region (where Hawaii is the only US state to grow coffee), we were able to sample the many varieties coming straight from their own production process - and then buy some to take home!

In reality, we could probably have done with a bit longer here but Dean, our driver was once again a great source of info (and jokes!) as we headed to the historic royal site of Pu'uhonau o Honaunau National Park, where Hawaiian royalty lived and law-breakers who transgressed the all-powerful Kapu (the king's sacred laws) could try to save themselves at the pu'uhonau, or place of refuge.

It provided a fascinating look at the island's heritage and culture and showed yet another facet of this amazing region, as well as offering a chance to see the island's wonderful sea turtles, who crawl up on the beaches here - but most not be approached within 20ft.

That was followed by a trip to the Painted Church of St Benedict's, built in 1899 and still a minor marvel to this day, set as it is among some beautiful tropical plants and foliage.

Once again, the tour underlined the immense variety (and friendliness) of Hawaii and, having a full day in port (albeit with a tender ride into the harbour) again ensured we got full value for our visit here.

With NCL's unique role among the islands, it definitely felt like we were getting under the skin of the destination, which is a rarity with modern cruising.

And it was only going to get better...

Next up - Amazing Kauai