Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Aloha Cruise - More Kauai

Continuing our journey around Hawaii with Norwegian Cruise Line and Virgin Holidays, we have more time on the Garden Island...

Destination Hawaii - Kauai Pt 2

With Norwegian's wonderful Hawaii itinerary allowing for an overnight on Kauai (as we did on Maui), we were able to spend the night at my cousin's and enjoy the amazing peace and views of this part of the island in the morning.

OK, so the birds do make a bit of a racket at 5am, but it is a tropical racket and still quite fun!

After a nominal breakfast of fresh fruit straight from their garden (pure bliss), we were taken down into the town of Kapaa for another look round and a full (or second!) breakfast at Ono Family Restaurant, a typical Hawaiian/Asian choice that is one of the busiest hereabouts.

We're not usually ones to indulge in a big first meal of the day but, at Dave's recommendation, we waded into a Lindsey Special (fried rice topped with eggs, spam and Portuguese sausage), a Local Boy omelette (sausage, kim chee and cheese) and a truly gorgeous side order of the Tropical Stack pancakes (with macadamia nuts, bananas and other fruit). It would be enough to keep us going for most of the day but again served to underline why dining out here is such a pleasure.

After breakfast there was still time to go out to Kilauea Point Wildlife Refuge, where the stunning promontory location is topped off by an eye-catching lighthouse - and great colonies of Laysan Albatross, Nene Geese, Shearwaters, red-Footed Boobies and Frigate Birds. Quite stunning to see them in such profusion (especially the nest-burrowing Shearwaters). There are often whale sightings here, too, but we weren't lucky enough to see any.

The Aleko Menehune Fishponds were our final stop of the day before we had to head back to the ship, the traditional Hawaiian royalty fish stocks, and one of the finest examples of this type of ancient Hawaiian aquaculture. We'd already heard the tradition of the little 'Menehune' people on the islands but this looked like a particularly amazing example of their 'work' at 900ft long!

The Pride of America was due to sail at 2pm, hence we had to be back aboard at 1.30, and we said a very reluctant goodbye to Dave and Bill. Although we had been given a genuinely amazing 'insider's' view of the island, we could tell there was still a lot more to see and do here and I think it will be top of our list to re-visit if we are able to get back out this way. *Sigh!*

Luckily, we had a special invitation to take up back on the ship, with suite guests being invited to a unique sailaway occasion on Deck 7, forward, effectively the bow of the vessel. With champagne and hosting by the Hotel Director, Cruise Director and their staffs, it was a memorable occasion as we said farewell top Kauai for our return to Oahu.

There was still more to enjoy, though, as Captain Kjell Nesheim set a course for the Na'Pali Coast and the chance to view this amazingly steep and ravine-linked section of shoreline. We were greeted by playful Spinner Dolphins playing in the bow-wave and, at 5pm, the sighting of humpback whales!  Several pods were clearly in view and one surfaced barely a stone's throw from the bow for a truly breathtaking moment at sea (too quick for the camera but an indeligible image in the memory).

Our final night we had chosen to spend in Little Italy, the specialist Italian bistro up on Deck 12, next to the Aloha Cafe. This proved to be a great, romantic, dinner-for-two venue, with fabulous food and a wonderful ambience.

The morning dawned suitably bright (and early!) and, back in Honolulu, we were due to disembark. Thankfully, due to the help of Virgin Holidays and two local resorts, we still had three nights to enjoy before our flight home. And we intended to make the most of them!

Next up - Oahu and Pearl Harbor.