Category Cruises & Ports of Call

Oahu

Oahu is a relatively small island, measuring 26 miles long and some 44 miles across at its widest, totaling 597 square miles of land, with 112 miles of coastline. Everyone ventures to Oahu seeking a different experience. Some talk about wanting to find the “real” Hawaii, some are looking for heart-pounding adventure, some yearn for the relaxing and healing powers of the islands, and others are drawn by Hawaii’s aloha spirit, where kindness and friendliness prevail.

All kinds of memorable experiences can be yours here. Imagine yourself sitting in a kayak watching the brilliant colors of dawn etched across the sky; sipping a mai tai while taking in sweeping views of the south shore and the Waianae Mountains; bat­tling a magnificent game fish on a high-tech sport-fishing boat; or listening to melodic voices chant the stories of a proud people and a proud culture that was overthrown lit­tle more than a century ago. By far the most social of the islands, Oahu has some of the best shopping and most fashionable promenade strips, as well as beautiful beaches with all the classic ingredients: tall palms, white sand, gentle surf, and plenty of sun­shine. Waikiki Beach offers the best of both worlds. Its trendy eateries, high-end hotels, and ritzy shops collide with a stunning beachfront. It’s like Rodeo Drive meets South Beach, only better.

COMING ASHORE Ships dock at the Port of Honolulu, Pier 10, alongside the festive, well-appointed Aloha Tower Marketplace in Honolulu. Half shopping cen­ter, half cruise pier and promenade, this waterfront two-level mall centers around a five-story tower built in the 1920s. It’s a landmark focal point that can easily be spot­ted around town. The pier can accommodate two ships. At press time, a new $25-mil­lion cruise terminal was in the planning stages, slated for the former industrial Pier 2 nearby. This pier will accommodate an additional cruise ship, bringing the total capac­ity in Honolulu to three.

GETTING AROUND Aloha Tower is a convenient jumping-off point for walking tours of the downtown historic sites, and it’s just a short taxi ride to nearby beaches, shopping, and museums. Taxis queue up at the information booth near the adjacent parking area; a ride to Ala Moana Beach costs about $10 for up to five people. If you miss out, call City Taxi (& 808/524-2121) or hop on the San Francisco-style open – air trolley called Waikiki Trolley (& 800/824-8804

trolley. com), which runs to Ala Moana shopping center, Ala Moana Beach, and down­town. TheBus (& 808/848-5555; www. thebus. org) leaves every 30 minutes or so from in front of the Maritime Center and stops at several locations. You can also pick up a rental car at the nearby airport, but with so many other transportation options, it’s unnecessary (and the one-way road system can be confusing).

BEST CRUISE LINE SHORE EXCURSIONS

Pearl Harbor and USS Missouri ($72 adults, $60 children, 6V2 hr.): For those old enough to remember World War II and those who can’t forget 9/11, a tour of Pearl Harbor and the USS Missouri is a deeply moving experience.

Grand Circle Island Tour ($99 adults, $79 children, 7 hr.): Given the island’s immense natural beauty, a drive around Oahu is time well spent (make sure to bring your camera with you on the bus!). Views from inside Diamond Head Crater, an extinct volcano, rival those of the breathtaking carved shoreline at Hanauma Bay or the sweeping coastal vistas from Pali Lookout. Lunch is included.

The Hawaiian Islands

ON YOUR OWN: WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE

Right next to the pier is the Hawaii Maritime Center (& 808/536-6373; www. bishop museum. org/exhibits/hmc/hmc. html), where you can learn about Hawaii’s maritime history and view artifacts from the days of sailing, whaling, yachting, and Matson Line cruising. Admission is $8.50 for adults, $7 seniors, $5.50 for children (ages 4-12), and free for kids 3 and under.

A short walk up Richards Street, across Nimitz Highway, brings you into down­town Honolulu. If you go right on South King Street, you’ll come to a statue of King Kamehameha I, the famed Hawaiian ruler. Across the street, at the corner of South King and Richards streets, stands Iolani Palace (& 808/522-0832; www. iolani palace. org), America’s only royal residence, where Hawaii’s last monarch ruled until 1893. The building of this Italian Renaissance palace, which had electricity before both the White House and Buckingham Palace, nearly bankrupted the kingdom. Admission is for the self-guided gallery tours is $6 adults and $3 for children ages 5 to 12; if you would like the 45-minute audio tours (a self-guided tour with a prere­corded audio hookup), the fee is $13 adults and $5 children ages 5 to 12. We recom­mend the docent-guided tour, which takes places 9am to 11:15am and costs $20 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 12 (kids 4 and under admitted only in the gallery). The palace is open Tuesday through Saturday. One block up King Street, Kawaiahao Church, 957 Punchbowl St. (& 808/522-1333), was the first stone church built on Oahu and is home to a royal burial ground. If you’re lucky enough to be there on Sun­day, there’s a service in Hawaiian (with divine singing) at 9am. Admission is free (though donations are happily accepted). Next door is the Mission House Museum, 553 S. King St. (& 808/531-0481; www. missionhouses. org), a cute old mission house open for tours Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $10 adults, $8 seniors, $6 kids (6 years to college-age), free for kids 5 and under; tickets must be purchased in advance. Guided tours take place at 11am, 1pm, and 2:45pm.

Walk 5 blocks west from the museum along South King Street and you’ll come to America’s oldest Chinatown. Selling everything from flower leis to exotic fruits and vegetables, this crowded market area is a haggler’s dream.

ON YOUR OWN: BEYOND THE PORT AREA

Just north of Lunalilo Freeway at the end of Puowaina Drive is Punchbowl Crater, which houses the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (& 808/532-3720;

www. interment. net/data/us/hi/oahu/natmem/index. htm). This natural landscape fea­ture, called “hill of sacrifice” by early Hawaiians, now serves as a burial ground for 3,500 victims of war. Admission is free.

To really learn about the history of Hawaii and its people, drop in at the Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St. (& 808/847-3511; www. bishopmuseum. org). Created in 1889, and now the State Museum of Natural and Cultural History, this Victorian building houses an extensive collection of artifacts from ancient Polynesians, Hawai­ian royalty, turn-of-the-20th-century immigrants, and more. Daily cultural shows and tours enrich the experience. It’s well worth it to make time for the Na Mea Makamae Tour (the story of the creation of the museum and the treasures of the Hawaiian cul­ture) at 10am and 12:30pm; the Na Hulu Alii tour (tour of the elaborate feather art­work of ancient Hawaiians) at 10:30am and 1:30pm; the Plants of Paradise Garden Tour at 11:30am; and Meet Me at the Hot Spot—Lava Melting Demo at noon and 2pm. Don’t miss the daily shows in the museum’s planetarium: The Sky Tonight at 11:30am; Explorers of Mauna Kea at 3:30pm; and (our favorite) Explorers of

Polynesia at 1:30pm. Admission to the Bishop Museum is $16 adults, $13 seniors and kids ages 4 to 12.

At Pearl Harbor (& 808/422-0561), you can’t miss the USS Arizona Memorial (& 808/422-2771 for recorded info or 808/422-2771; www. nps. gov/usar), built right above the shallow water where the ship was sunk on December 7, 1941, or the battleship USS Missouri (& 877/MIGHTYMO [644-4896] or 808/423-2263; www. ussmissouri. com), on the decks of which Japan surrendered to the Allies on Septem­ber 2, 1945. Admission to the Arizona is free. Tickets for the Missouri are $16 for adults, $8 for children ages 4 to 12, plus additional fees for guided tours. What you may not notice, but should, is the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park (& 808/423-1341; www. bowfin. org). This National Historic Landmark provides a rare glimpse into the thrill and danger of life aboard a submarine. The self-guided audio tour is narrated by the vessel’s last captain, who takes you through the cramped quarters where men slept nose to nose with torpedoes, bathed in miniscule showers, and took turns dining in the tiny galley. This tour is not recommended for people with claustrophobia or those who have difficulty going up or down ladders. Admis­sion is $10 adults, $7 seniors, $4 kids ages 4 to 12.

BEACHES

Nearby Ala Moana Beach Park, on Ala Moana Park Drive, has white sand and calm warm water—it’s perfect for families. Like most beaches in Hawaii, it’s free and uncrowded, especially on weekdays. It has a paved walkway and grassy areas where you can lounge or picnic under a tree. A taxi ride to here costs about $10 from the port, or you can catch a bus from the Maritime Center for $2 or so (at press time, Hon­olulu was considering raising fare to $2.25). For more information call & 808/848- 5555 or log on to www. thebus. org. Buses also allow access to all the beaches below.

A few miles south is the famous Waikiki Beach. One-way taxi fare will run about $18. This beach is popular with locals, who will often occupy the cement picnic tables under open-air shelters and play chess or just watch the action. While surprisingly small, it is favored for surfing, suntanning, or just people-watching. Restrooms, show­ers, and beach rentals are all to be had at the far end near Kapiolani Park.

Sandy Beach, on the eastern tip of the island, is a favorite spot for boogie board­ing. While the white crashing surf may look appealing, take a moment to read the numerous warning signs, and exercise great care—lifeguards do more beach rescues here than anywhere else. If a red flag is flying, it means the surf is too dangerous to enter. A taxi will cost between $50 and $70 each way; keep in mind that many taxis can accommodate six or eight passengers, so the fare can be shared.

Another popular beach is Hanauma Bay, nestled in a volcanic crater just before Sandy Beach. Depending on where your ship docks, taxi fare to Hanauma Bay can cost about $45 to $50. You approach the beach from above and pass through the Marine Education Center, which also provides a motorized tram that takes you down the steep road to the beach and back for $1 round-trip. There’s a $5 entrance fee; the beach is closed Tuesday. There is also a shuttle ($2 or $2.25 each way) from Waikiki to Hanauma Bay, which runs every half-hour between 9am and 1pm, with stops at city bus stops and several hotels.

SHOPPING

The majority of stores in Aloha Tower cater to tourists and sell uniquely Hawaiian wares. Some fine carved wood and bark cloth can be found at a few shops on the

If You’re Embarking in Honolulu…

WHERE TO STAY In the minds of many, Oahu and its most famous city, Hono­lulu, are synonymous. Honolulu’s best-known neighborhood, Waikiki, is actually pretty small, but its spectacular beach and array of resort hotels are the attractions that originally put Hawaii on the tourist map. The choices for accommodations are nearly limitless, ranging from budget to ultraluxury.

For families watching their wallets, there are nearly a dozen Outrigger and Ohana Hotels that offer clean and affordable lodging in Waikiki, including Ohana Waikiki West, 2330 Kuhio Ave. (& 808/922-5022; www. ohanahotels. com), 2 blocks from Waikiki Beach. Downside? It’s on a very busy part of Kuhio Avenue. But rooms can go as low as $89 per night in the off season. To escape the hustle and bustle, head over to the Hawaiiana Hotel, 260 Beachwalk (& 808/923-3811; www. hawaiianahotelatwaikiki. com), or next door to the Breakers, 250 Beachwalk (& 808/923-3181). Both properties have spacious motel-style rooms that surround a tranquil pool and garden; rates start at about $125 double at the Hawaiian and $130 at the Breakers.

Trendy visitors should check into the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, 2570 Kalakaua Ave. (& 866/77-HAWAII [774-2924]; www. astonhotels. com), where New York City chic meets Miami cool. Check out the surfboards adorning the walls of the lobby. Rates for a standard room start as low as $140 double. If it’s a Victorian setting you crave, don’t miss the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, 2365 Kalakaua Ave. (& 808/922-3111; www. moana-surfrider. com). Lovingly referred to as the first lady of Waikiki, this grand hotel debuted in 1901 as the first true resort on the island and

second level. For those who like to indulge in serious window-shopping, head to Kalakaua Avenue at Waikiki Beach, where you can find everything from Coach bags to board shorts, all on a bustling strip complete with statues, reflecting pools, street per­formers, and, at dusk, flaming tiki torches and alfresco dining. To see some of the island’s handmade artwork, drop into the Nohea Gallery, in the lobby of the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, 2365 Kalakaua Ave. (& 808/922-3111; www. moana-surf rider. com).

2 The Hudson River, Erie Canal & Great Lakes

Inland cruises in the U. S. Northeast sail waterways such as the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Great Lakes, mixing and matching among these waterways to create itineraries of a week to 12 days. Most ships sail from New York City.

UP THE HUDSON

The navigable portion of the Hudson River (www. hudsonriver. com) extends through New York for about 150 miles, from Manhattan to Albany and Troy. The river is considered to be an estuary, as tidal effects reach the base of the canal locks above Albany, and saltwater content extends about 60 miles northward from Manhattan and even farther during long periods of dry weather. On a cruise, one gets superb water – level views of the Hudson Valley, the towering New Jersey Palisades, the rugged Hud­son Highlands, sprawling country estates, and the mighty fortress at West Point.

Leaving from Manhattan’s west side, ships skirt the majestic skyline and pass under the two-level George Washington Bridge. Rising on the New Jersey side is Palisades Interstate Park (www. njpalisades. org), an especially beautiful scene during fall foliage season. Fishermen will be out in force on weekends, as it’s once again safe to eat the catch (though everyday consumption is not recommended). After passing Yonkers, the Hudson widens into the Tappan Zee, passing under the Tappan Zee Bridge carrying the New York State Thruway north to Albany and west to Buffalo.

Looking carefully, one may glimpse Washington Irving’s house in the Hudson Valley town of Sunnyside; Tarrytown’s Victorian Gothic Lyndhurst Castle, owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and Philipsburg Manor, a 17th-century Dutch farming complex in the town of Sleepy Hollow. From the decks, you get a long-range view north to the Hudson Highlands, and at Ossining, the stone walls of Sing Sing Prison parallel the river. Information on all these attractions can be found online at www. hudsonvalley. org.

As your ship approaches Bear Mountain State Park on the left and the Bear Moun­tain Bridge, a flag rises above the trees marking the rustic Bear Mountain Inn (www. visitbearmountain. com), built in 1915. The river becomes noticeably narrower, and the channel under the Bear Mountain suspension bridge deepens dramatically to over 300 feet as the surrounding land rises steeply.

On the cliff tops opposite, the grounds of the United States Military Academy at West Point (www. usma. edu) begin, marked first by officers’ houses, then the Hotel Thayer, and finally the gray-stone fortress-style buildings. At the base of the cliff, a launch docked near West Shore Line station brings cadets and officers across the Hud­son to Garrison station for trains to New York. The colorful cluster of wooden Victo­rian buildings across the street from the Garrison depot served as the setting for Dolly’s return to Yonkers in the film Hello Dolly. Most cruises stop at West Point for tours of the academy and historic Hudson Valley homes.

Rising beside the river are the grassy grounds and yellow Federal-style buildings of Boscobel (www. boscobel. org), a museum of early American furniture and decorative arts. Nearby, the 18th – and 19th-century river town of Cold Spring is full of restau­rants (including the Hudson House Inn; www. hudsonhouseinn. com), antiques shops, and collectibles stores. If you come back on your own, it also makes a good base for hiking the Hudson Highlands.

North of Cold Spring is Bannerman’s Island (www. bannermancastle. org), on which you’ll find a mock 19th-century Scottish-style castle and estate built as a muni­tions warehouse and country retreat. They were destroyed in a huge fire in 1974, leav­ing behind the stabilized ruins one sees today.

At Poughkeepsie, nearby sites include Franklin Roosevelt’s Hyde Park house (www. nps. gov/hofr/hofrhome. html), with Eleanor’s cottage a short distance away; and the Culinary Institute of America (www. ciachef. edu), one of the leading U. S. cook­ing schools.

The Hudson passes numerous lighthouses and small river towns en route to Albany, the New York state capital, dominated by Nelson Rockefeller’s 98-acre,

Internationalist-style Empire State Plaza, with its glass-and-marble office towers; reflecting pools; and huge, egg-shaped arts and conference center known as “The Egg” (www. theegg. org). Not all cruises come this far, and those that do (the ACCL ships) simply pass by to begin their trek through the Erie Canal.

INTO THE ERIE CANAL

The Erie’s highlights are the Waterford Flight of five locks (which lift ships a total of 150 ft.), old factory towns such as Amsterdam and Little Falls, and the 22-mile Oneida Lake crossing. From Syracuse to Buffalo, ships pass through Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge (www. fws. gov/r5mnwr) for possible sightings of bald eagles and Canada geese, past restored canal towns such as Fairport and Pittsford, and through the original canal’s small locks and stone-arched aqueducts. These last structures were built by Frederick Law Olmsted, whose most famous work is New York’s Central Park. Turning into the Oswego Canal, the vast expanse of Lake Ontario is ahead, and soon one is threading among the beautiful Thousand Islands (www. thousandislands. com). Stops are made at Clayton’s Antique Boat Museum (www. abm. org) and Upper Canada Village (www. uppercanadavillage. com), whose houses, churches, and public and farm buildings span 100 years of Canadian architecture and small-town life. Small ships share the St. Lawrence Seaway with huge lake carriers and pass through locks to Montreal for a stop and a landing at Bay of Eternity in the dramatic Saguenay fjord. From here, your ship typically returns upriver to debark at Quebec City (see chapter 15).

THE GREAT LAKES

Until the mid-1960s, the Great Lakes were popular summer cruising grounds for Canadian and U. S.-flag ships, some of which dated from before World War I. When these ships went out of service, the industry died until American Canadian Caribbean Line started offering cruises here again in the late 1990s. A great idea, but the lakes are large bodies of water, and small, shallow-draft coastal cruisers like these can get bounced around during summer storms. In the last few years, German line Hapag – Lloyd (www. hl-cruises. com) has begun offering cruises aboard the 14,903-ton, 420- passenger C. Columbus, a more stable oceangoing cruise ship. While she caters mainly to German-speaking passengers, her Great Lakes cruises, offered in September and October, are bilingual, with announcements, menus, programs, and shore excursions provided in English.

Great Lakes itineraries are varied and may begin in any number of ports, such as Toronto, Windsor/Detroit, or Chicago. The following ports-of-call sampling will give you some idea of what there is to be seen.

Cruises originating at Toronto will pass from Lake Ontario through the Welland Canal locks to Lake Erie, and an excursion will run to Niagara Falls (www. tourism niagara. com), including a wet boat trip on the Maid of the Mist to the base of the falls.

As you pass into Lake Huron, you’ll see Tobermory (www. tobermory. org), a fish­ing port settled by Scots in the early 19th century and the center for a resort region in the beautiful island-studded Georgian Bay. Michigan’s Mackinac Island (www. mackinacisland. org) is entirely car-free and a popular summer resort. Its centerpiece, the venerable Grand Hotel (www. grandhotel. com), is one of the great hotels of North America, built in the 1890s and still maintaining its high standards. Sault Ste. Marie, strategically placed between lakes Huron and Superior, is the site for the Soo Locks, transited on some cruises that sail into the largest of the lakes. The scenic Algoma

Central rail excursion (www. agawacanyontourtrain. com) from the Soo into the North Country’s Agawa Canyon is highly recommended.

Large cities featured on all cruises in this region include Detroit for the incredible Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (www. thehenryford. org); Milwaukee for its German heritage and art museum; and Chicago for its outstanding architec­ture, lakefront skyline, museums, neighborhoods, and the Chicago River.

LINES SAILING THESE ROUTES American Cruise Lines (p. 318) and Cruise West (p. 325) offer Hudson River cruises that sail round-trip from New York City. American Canadian Caribbean Line (p. 317) uses the Hudson to reach the Erie Canal for the passage across New York State to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Val­ley. It also provides Great Lakes cruises from Chicago.

Kauai

Kauai ranks right up there with Bora Bora, Huahine, and Rarotonga on any list of the world’s most spectacular islands. All the elements are here: moody rainforests, majes­tic cliffs, jagged peaks, emerald valleys, palm trees swaying in the breeze, daily rain­bows, and some of the most spectacular beaches you’ll find anywhere. Soft tropical air, sunrise bird song, essences of ginger and plumeria, golden sunsets, sparkling water – falls—you don’t just go to Kauai, you absorb it with all of your senses. It may get more than its fair share of tropical downpours, but that’s what makes it so lush and green— and creates an abundance of rainbows.

still retains the same elegance and charm it started with 100 years ago. Rates for a standard city-view room start at $430 double.

WHERE TO DINE On the second floor of the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, Tiki’s Grill and Bar, 2570 Kalakaua Ave. (& 808/923-TIKI [923-8454]; www. tikisgrill. com), is a restaurant and open-air tiki bar that overlooks the prom­enade and beach. The live music plays second fiddle to the sunset views and trendy crowd. The cuisine is good ol’ American with a touch of Pacific Rim, apparent in all the fish dishes. Tiki’s signature dish is king salmon glazed with lemon grass beurre blanc. Main courses at lunch run $12 to $20 and at dinner $26 to $39.

Surprisingly popular is the Cheesecake Factory, the Royal Hawaiian Shop­ping Center (& 808/924-5001). Serving its standard plethora of trendy dishes in heaping portions, the alfresco dining and central location mean there’s usually a wait for a table. Main courses cost $16 to $32.

With an equally long wait, but lower price tag, Cheeseburger in Paradise, 2500 Kalakaua Ave. (& 808/923-3731), delivers exactly that. Served in a bas­ket, with a side of fries, the burgers come in nearly every incarnation, including chili, guacamole, bacon, and "Island Style," with a slice of grilled Maui pineapple. There are also tasty salads and veggie or tofu burgers, with or without cheese. Main courses average $9 to $15.

For a serene outdoor dining experience, try dinner on the Banyan Veranda, at the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa (see "Where to Stay," above). Dinner is available nightly from 5:30 to 9pm. Afternoon tea is served Monday through Saturday from 1 to 4pm and Sunday from 3 to 4pm.

Kauai is essentially a single large shield volcano that rises 3 miles above the sea floor. The island lies 90 miles across the open ocean from Oahu, but it seems at least a half­century removed in time. It’s often called “the separate kingdom” because it stood alone and resisted King Kamehameha’s efforts to unite Hawaii. In the end, a royal kid­napping was required to take the Garden Isle: After King Kamehameha died, his son, Liholiho, ascended the throne. He gained control of Kauai by luring Kauai’s king, Kaumualii, aboard the royal yacht and then sailing to Oahu; once there, Kaumualii was forced to marry Kaahumanu, Kamehameha’s widow, thereby uniting the islands.

A Kauai rule is that no building may exceed the height of a coconut tree—between three and four stories. As a result, the island itself, not its palatial beach hotels, is the attention grabber. There are no opulent shopping malls here, but what Kauai lacks in glitz, it more than makes up for in sheer natural splendor, with verdant jungles, the endless succession of spectacular beaches, the grandeur of Waimea Canyon, and the drama of the Napali Coast. Many Hollywood movies were filmed here, including Raiders of the Lost Ark; Six Days, Seven Nights; and parts of all three Jurassic Park films. COMING ASHORE About the only fun thing to do at Nawiliwili Harbor is pro­nounce the name (nah-willy-willy). The port can accommodate two ships at a time: one at a pier, and one anchored with a short tender ride. Some of the small local malls have free shuttle buses, but the real attraction is the phenomenal beach that is tucked quietly behind the Anchor Cove shopping mall, less than a mile from the pier.

GETTING AROUND Taxis from the Kauai Taxi Company (& 808/246-9554)

and other companies typically meet cruise ships at the pier. Rates are $2.50 for the first /з mile, plus $2.40 for each additional mile.

BEST CRUISE LINE SHORE EXCURSIONS

Jungle Mountain Trek, Wagon & Zip Line Adventure ($153 adults, $120 children, 7 hr.): Paddle a kayak through a mangrove forest, soar across a jungle stream on a high-wire zipline, swing from a rope swing, leap off a waterfall, and more on this action-packed all-day adventure. This excursion takes you along jungle trails to some of the most scenic waterfalls and ponds in the area. The beauty of the surrounding mountains is sublime, and the guides do a colorful retelling of ancient folklore while you ride in a tractor-pulled wagon through a green valley surrounded by ridges and peaks that served as inspiration for the folklore. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes; bring a swimsuit and a towel, too. Lunch is served on a treehouse platform near a waterfall.

Waimea River & Fern Grotto ($55 adults, $45 children, ЗТг hr.): This excursion takes you to some of the most breathtaking and contrasting natural wonders of Kauai. First, visit the jagged red-earth cliffs and canyons of Waimea, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” whose depth measures 2,537 feet. Once you’ve had enough time to mar­vel at the view (don’t forget a camera!), you’re off via riverboat to explore the verdant green valley of Fern Grotto. Break in your shoes before you take this excursion. Lunch is included.

Tubing the Ditch ($135, 3 hr.): Travel to a former sugar cane plantation in Kauai’s interior and the headwaters of the Hanamaulu Ditch system, a series of open ditches, tunnels, and flumes that once provided irrigation for the farmlands. There you’ll get an inner tube, be outfitted with helmet lamps, and begin your float trip through the tunnels. Not for the claustrophobic!

ON YOUR OWN: WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE

A few shopping malls are a short walk from the pier (see “Shopping,” below) and a sunny beach is even closer still (see “Beaches,” below). Otherwise, you’ll need wheels of one sort or another.

ON YOUR OWN: BEYOND THE PORT AREA

To understand life in a small town built around a sugar plantation, head to Old Koloa Town. This tiny collection of small wooden buildings, now turned into shops and restaurants, was the new home for waves of immigrants who came to work on the sugar plantations. In the center of town is a small history center that houses a few arti­facts from the turn of the 20th century. Plaques on each building describe the origi­nal purpose and history. It’s about an hour’s drive from the harbor, so this is a good bet only for those who’ve rented wheels.

A visit to the Allerton and McBryde Gardens of the National Tropical Botani­cal Garden, Lawai Road, across the street from Spouting Horn, Poipu (& 808/ 742-2623; www. ntbg. org), will leave you breathless as you wander amid the intoxi­cating array of tropical flowers and fragrances. Take a self-guided tour of McBryde Garden Monday through Saturday 9am to 4pm ($20 adults, $10 kids 6-12), or better yet, the guided tour of Allerton Garden Monday through Saturday at 9 and 10am, and 1 and 2pm ($45 adults, $20 children 10-12), to learn about the many use­ful and culturally significant plants growing in this green oasis. Trams run Monday through Saturday from 9:30am to 2:30pm.

BEACHES

Nestled just behind the Anchor Cove shopping center, less than a mile from the pier, is Kalapaki Beach. Used by locals and tourists, this strip of natural beauty seems out of place next to the parking lot and strip mall. Protected by a jetty and patrolled by lifeguards, the beach is safe for swimming and ideal for families with children. Restrooms are available at the nearby restaurants, where you can also change and grab a snack.

Beautiful Poipu Beach can be reached by heading south from the port along Hwy. 50 for about 15 miles. This romantic spot has crystal-blue water, pure white sand, palm trees, and even a patch of grass big enough for a game of Frisbee. At the eastern end is a small beach with lava rocks and moderate surf, while to the west, you’ll see a string of small crescent beaches. Watch for rare and endangered Hawaiian monk seals that occasionally haul out and lounge on the sand. While seemingly tame, they are dangerous to approach and protected by law. In addition to lifeguards, there are show­ers, restrooms, and covered picnic areas. A taxi here costs about $38 each way.

Heading north on Hwy. 56, up the Coconut Coast to the North Shore is Kee Beach, a favorite among locals. At the northern tip is a deep but calm swimming area in summer, though just off to the left (when facing the sea) are some dangerous and very sharp rocks just beyond the surf, so take care before you rush in. There are no lifeguards, so stay in the same swimming area as everyone else. If no one is in the water, it is usually for good reason. A taxi runs about $130 each way; but many cars can carry up to six passengers, so you can share the cost with some of your shipmates.

SHOPPING

At the Anchor Cove shopping center, you can purchase some of the most breathtak­ing pearl jewelry this side of Asia. South Pacific Gallery stocks a wide variety of locally crafted jewelry and art. For spectacular artwork made out of glass, go north on Kuhio Highway and stop in at Kela’s Glass Gallery, 4-1354 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa (& 888/255-3527 or 808/822-4527). Along the Coconut Coast is the Yellowfish Trading Company, in the town of Hanalei (& 808/826-1227), where kitschy Hawaiiana hearkens back to the 1950s. Also in Hanalei are Lotus Gallery (& 808/ 828-9898), a showstopper for lovers of antiques and designer jewelry, and Ola’s, by the Hanalei River on the Kuhio Highway (Hwy. 560) after the bridge and before the main part of Hanalei town (& 808/826-6937), where you will find an unique selec­tion of island crafts from one-of-a-kind furniture (they’ll ship it home for you) to hand-blown glass, exquisite jewelry, and many other fine works.

Maui

Maui, also called the Valley Isle, is just a small dot in the vast Pacific Ocean, but it has the potential to allow visitors unforgettable experiences: floating weightless through rainbows of tropical fish, standing atop a 10,000-foot volcano and watching the sun­rise color the sky, listening to the raindrops in a bamboo forest, and sunning on idyl­lic beaches. The island is also packed with interesting cultural sights and colorful history. Here, you can set foot on the spot where ancient Hawaiian royalty and priests once walked, gathered, and worshipped. Later, at the turn of the 20th century, it became a bustling home to native Hawaiians, immigrants, and missionaries. Cruise ships call on two ports, Kahului and Lahaina.

KAHULUI

COMING ASHORE Coming ashore at the Port of Kahului, an industrial port that can accommodate one cruise ship at a time, may leave you less than inspired. Don’t bother braving the maze of roads that weave around containers and ware­houses—all that lies beyond in the immediate vicinity are strip malls and roads. It’s best to hop in a taxi to explore the island or sign up for one of the shore excursions.

GETTING AROUND Taxis, as well as shuttle buses, line up in an orderly fash­ion under large, well-marked signs at the pier. If for some reason you don’t see one, try Sunshine Cabs of Maui (& 800/922-8294 or 808/879-2220) or Islandwide Taxi and Tours (& 808/874-TAXI [874-8294]). Rates are $3.50 for the first 28 mile, plus $3 for each additional mile.

BEST CRUISE LINE SHORE EXCURSIONS

Haleakala Crater at Sunrise ($75, 6 hr.): Don’t miss this chance to experience the dramatic landscape of a dormant volcano. Haleakala, whose vast crater measures 7/4 by 21/2 miles and is 3,000 feet deep, last erupted in 1790. As you ascend, the terrain changes from forest to scrub to a seemingly barren wasteland near the top. Surpris­ingly, it is here among the lava rocks and chilly slopes that some of Hawaii’s most rare and endangered species of plants and animals can be found. Bring a sweater, as tem­peratures at the top can sink as low as 40°F (4°C).

Ocean Center & Iao Valley ($53 adults, $45 children, 3% hr.): This tour combines a visit to a modern interactive aquarium that displays Hawaii’s indigenous marine life with a visit to Iao Valley, a lush state park and sacred site of religious and cultural sig­nificance for ancient Hawaiians.

Maui Whale-Watch ($78 adults, $55 children, 3 hr.): Some things have to be seen in person, and a breaching whale is one of them. The beauty and grace of these behe­moths as they glide between our world and theirs is not to be missed. And, with such an abundance of whales here (about a third of all Pacific whales migrate here for the winter), your chances of seeing one are good (though not absolute). A guide from the Pacific Whale Foundation shares insights into the animals’ behavior as you “listen in” to the mammals’ conversation via underwater hydrophones. Note: This tour is usually offered from mid-December to April only.

ON YOUR OWN: WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE

The Kahului harbor functions as a working cargo port in addition to serving cruise ships, and the area around the dock is the residential center of the island—lots of sub­divisions, a few shopping centers, and not much else. For the most part, you’ll need to take a taxi to see the sights, or take a shore excursion. The exception to that rule is the Kanaha Wildlife Sanctuary, Haleakala Highway Extension and Hana Highway (& 808/984-8100), situated within walking distance of the dock, next to Maui’s busiest intersection and across from Costco and Kmart in Kahului’s new business park. Look for the parking area off Haleakala Highway Extension (behind the mall, across the Hana Hwy. from Cutter Automotive), and you’ll find a 50-foot trail that meanders along the shore to a shade shelter and lookout. Look for the sign proclaim­ing this the permanent home of the endangered black-neck Hawaiian stilt, whose population is now down to about 1,000. Naturalists say this is also a good place to see endangered Hawaiian Koloa ducks, stilts, coots, and other migrating shorebirds.

ON YOUR OWN: BEYOND THE PORT AREA

Next door to the town of Kahului is Wailuku, the county seat, worth a visit for a lit­tle antiquing and a visit to the Bailey House Museum, 2375-A Main St. (& 808/244- 3326; www. mauimuseum. org). Missionary and sugar planter Edward Bailey’s 1833 home, an architectural hybrid of stones laid by Hawaiian craftsmen and timbers joined in a display of Yankee ingenuity, is a treasure trove of Hawaiiana. Inside, you’ll find an eclectic collection, from precontact artifacts like scary temple images, dog­tooth necklaces, and a rare lei made of tree-snail shells to latter-day relics like Duke Kahanamoku’s 1919 redwood surfboard and a koa-wood table given to President Ulysses S. Grant, who refused it because he couldn’t accept gifts from foreign coun­tries. There’s also a gallery devoted to a few of Bailey’s landscapes, painted from 1866 to 1896, which capture on canvas a Maui we can only imagine today. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $2 for children 7 to 12; closed Sunday.

A couple of miles north of Wailuku, where the little plantation houses stop and the road climbs ever higher, Maui’s true nature is revealed. The transition from suburban sprawl to raw nature is so abrupt that most people who drive up into the valley don’t realize they’re suddenly in a rainforest. The moist, cool air and the shade are a wel­come comfort after the hot tropic sun. This is Iao Valley, a 6V4-acre state park whose nature, history, and beauty have been enjoyed by millions of people from around the world for more than a century. Iao (“Supreme Light”) Valley, 10 miles long and encompassing 4,000 acres, is the eroded volcanic caldera of the West Maui Moun­tains. The head of the valley is a broad circular amphitheater where four major streams converge into Iao Stream. At the back of the amphitheater is rain-drenched Puu Kukui, the West Maui Mountains’ highest point. No other Hawaiian valley lets you go from seacoast to rainforest so easily. This peaceful valley, full of tropical plants, rain­bows, waterfalls, swimming holes, and hiking trails, is a place of solitude, reflection, and escape for residents and visitors alike.

The main attraction is the feature known as Iao Needle, an erosional remnant con­sisting of basalt dikes. This phallic rock juts an impressive 2,250 feet above sea level. Youngsters play in Iao Stream, a peaceful brook that belies its bloody history. In 1790, King Kamehameha the Great and his men engaged in the battle of Iao Valley to gain control of Maui. When the battle ended, so many bodies blocked Iao Stream that the battle site was named Kepaniwai, or “damming of the waters.” An architectural heri­tage park of Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and New England-style houses stands in harmony by Iao Stream at Kepaniwai Heritage Garden. This is a good pic­nic spot, with plenty of tables and benches. You can see ferns, banana trees, and other native and exotic plants in the Iao Valley Botanic Garden along the stream.

About 3 miles south of Wailuku lies the tiny, one-street village of Waikapu, which has two attractions that are worth a peek. Relive Maui’s past by taking a 40-minute narrated tram ride around fields of pineapple, sugar cane, and papaya trees at Maui Tropical Plantation, 1670 Honoapiilani Hwy. (& 800/451-6805 or 808/244-7643; www. mauitropicalplantation. com), a real working plantation that’s open daily. A shop sells fresh and dried fruit, and a restaurant serves lunch. Admission is free; the tram tours, which start at 10am and leave about every 45 minutes, are $14 for adults, $5 for kids 3 to 12.

BEACHES

About 2 miles from the pier is the long and wide Kanaha Beach Park. Because there are no lifeguards here, swimming is at your own risk, though the white sand and sweeping vista make lounging on the sand and dabbling your toes in the water enough of a reward. Kanaha has restrooms, showers, a picnic area, picnic tables, a campsite, and parking. Head up to Hookipa Beach to relax and watch windsurfers from around the world sail the waves. While not always safe for swimming, this is the best free windsurf stunt show in town. The beach has restrooms, showers, picnic tables, barbe­cue pits, and parking.

SHOPPING

A stroll along Wailuku’s Main and Market streets presents a mixed shopping bag, but usually turns up a treasure or two. For made-in-Hawaii items, you can’t beat the Bai­ley House Museum Shop, 2375-A Main St. (& 808/244-3326), which has a remarkable selection of gift items, from Hawaiian music and books to exquisite woods, traditional Hawaiian games, pareu (a colorful wrap worn by Polynesian men and women), and prints by the legendary Hawaii artist Madge Tennent.

LAHAINA

COMING ASHORE One ship at a time can anchor offshore at the Port of Lahaina. A 10-minute tender ride takes passengers across the small harbor and along­side a pier right in the middle of town.

GETTING AROUND Just about everything you might want to do—from sight­seeing to shopping, beaching, and diving—can be done within walking distance of the pier. If you want to venture farther, taxis are usually waiting at the pier; if not, call Alii Taxi (& 808/661-3688) or Sunshine Cabs of Maui (& 800/922-8294 or

808/879-2220). Rates are $3.50 a mile.

BEST CRUISE LINE SHORE EXCURSIONS

Maui Tropical Plantation & Iao Gardens ($62, 3% hrs.): A narrated 40-minute tram tour takes you around the beautiful Maui Tropical Plantation. From there, the tour continues on to Maui’s most well-known and beautiful valley gorge.

Ulalena, Myth & Magic ($59, 3 hr.): This evening tour takes in a theatrical presen­tation about the mythic creation of the islands and the voyagers who have found their way here, from the first Polynesians to Captain Cook and on to the present day.

Atlantis Submarine Adventure ($99 adults, $69 children, 5 hr.): If you don’t scuba dive, this 65-foot, air-conditioned submarine is the perfect way to view the spectacle of marine life nearly 150 feet below the surface.

ON YOUR OWN: WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE

Lahaina (& 808/667-9193; www. visitlahaina. com) is one of the most vibrant yet historic towns in Hawaii. It’s rich in history, plus loaded with great shops, watersports facilities, and restaurants. Stop by the centrally located Courthouse to browse the two art galleries, grab a self-guided walking-tour pamphlet, or check out the historical exhibits at the newly opened (and free) Lahaina Heritage Museum (& 808/661- 1959), on the second floor. Just outside the Courthouse, artists are camped under a great banyan tree, the largest you’ll likely ever see.

As you meander among the shops and sights, clearly numbered plaques correspond to the walking tour. Head for the two-story Pioneer Inn, 658 Wharf St. (& 808/ 661-3636), which was Maui’s first hotel; the bar remains a favorite watering hole. Then check out the nearby Baldwin Home Museum, 120 Dickenson St. (& 808/ 661-3262; www. lahainarestoration. org), where a local missionary and medical doctor, Dwight Baldwin, single-handedly vaccinated and saved almost the entire town from a deadly smallpox outbreak in the mid-19th century. Admission is $3. Stroll farther down Front Street, heading west, and drop in at the Wo Hing Museum (& 808/ 661-5553), once an ancient Chinese fraternal society. Admission is $1. While the museum merits only a quick tour, don’t miss the film loop playing in the adjacent cook­house—you can view footage of Hawaii shot by Thomas Edison nearly 100 years ago.

ON YOUR OWN: BEYOND THE PORT AREA

In the Lahaina area, for a unique eating experience, try some local fare at Aloha Mixed Plate, 1285 Front St. (& 808/661-3322). Nowhere else short of a luau can you try the local favorites such as kailua roast pork (a full pig wrapped in palm leaves and cooked in a fire pit with lava rocks for 12 hr.), lomi lomi salmon (fresh salmon minced with raw tomatoes and spices), lau lau (pork cooked with taro leaves that taste like fresh spinach), and, of course, the Hawaiian staple, poi (a locally beloved but fla­vorless goo made from taro root). The cultural experience is well worth the short taxi ride from nearby Lahaina. Main courses cost $5 to $14.

The Maui Ocean Center, 192 Ma’alaea Rd., in Maalaea, about 12 miles southeast of Lahaina (& 808/270-7000; www. mauioceancenter. com), invites you to explore Hawaii’s native marine life in a safe and enjoyable setting. This modern family – friendly facility is the largest tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. It has both indoor and outdoor exhibits where you can go nose to nose with an octopus, watch a turtle swim, and even touch a squishy sea cucumber. Admission costs $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, and $18 for children 3 to 12.

To learn everything you ever wanted to know about whaling, head to the Whaling Museum in Whalers Village, 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy., Kaanapali (& 808/661-5992; www. whalersvillage. com). This compact museum houses a prized collection of scrimshaw and lets you step into the world of whaling through an innovative, self – guided audio tour. Admission is free; open daily from 9am to 10pm. Kaanapali is the resort area just north of Lahaina, about 2 minutes away by taxi.

BEACHES

The beach at Lahaina is calm, clean, and a great place to watch new surfers take their first lessons on the baby waves. Located between a stone breakwater and the shops at 505 Front St., this beach is known by locals as either “505” or “the break wall.” There are restrooms, shops, and restaurants nearby. Kaanapali Beach, directly behind Whalers Village (see above), is a safe and popular beach stretching about a mile past several resorts. Beach chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, boogie boards, and other rentals are available at Snorkel Bob’s, 180 Dickenson St., #116 (& 808/661-4421; www. snorkel bob. com), which also operates several other locations around the island.

SHOPPING

Front Street in Lahaina is a shopper’s mecca, with clothing boutiques full of aloha (aka Hawaiian) shirts, jewelry stores selling pearls and tourmaline, and the usual assortment of galleries. The best art can be found at the Lahaina Arts Society galleries inside the Courthouse, 648 Wharf St. (& 808/661-0111). Not far away on

Honoapi’ilani Highway is the Lahaina Cannery Mall (& 808/661-5304; www. lahainacannery. com), which used to be a huge pineapple cannery; it now houses lots of shops carrying locally made handicrafts. Whalers Village, 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy. (& 808/661-4567; www. whalersvillage. com) and Shops at Wailea, 3750 Wailea Alanui Dr. (& 808/891-6770; www. shopsatwailea. com) are both shopping centers featuring upscale classics (Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co.), as well as more affordable standards, a la Tommy Bahama. They are also home to a number of restaurants.

King’s Wharf

Now Bermuda’s main port, historic King’s Wharf in the West End is the only one of the country’s three ports with the facilities to handle today’s megaships (such as Royal Caribbean’s 3,114-passenger Voyager-class vessels). It’s located in the extreme north­west of Bermuda on Ireland Island in Sandys Parish, one of Bermuda’s six main islands. The wharf is part of the historic Royal Naval Dockyard fortress complex, built by the British in the early 1800s as protection from potential attacks by Amer­ica.

COMING ASHORE Ships tie up at docks within walking distance of the Bermuda Maritime Museum (see below). At press time, a new pier was scheduled to open at King’s Wharf in late 2009, enabling two or three megaships to dock there at one time.

GETTING AROUND You can walk to the main attraction here, the Royal Naval Dockyard military fortress and its Maritime Museum (see below), or if you’re beach – bound or heading for a day of golf, taxis line up at the docks and a ferry terminal nearby. (See section 1, “Attractions Around Bermuda,” above.)

ON YOUR OWN: WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE

Just steps from the ships is the Royal Naval Dockyard, a sprawling, 6-acre 19th-cen­tury fortress constructed with convict labor. It was used by the British Navy until 1951 as a strategic dockyard. Today, it’s a major tourist attraction whose centerpiece is the Bermuda Maritime Museum (& 441/234-1418; www. bmm. bm), the most important and extensive museum on the island. Exhibits are housed in six large halls within the complex, and the displays all relate to Bermuda’s long connection with the sea, from Spanish exploration to 20th-century ocean liners. You can have a look at maps, ship models, and such artifacts as gold bars, pottery, jewelry, and silver coins recovered from 16th – and 17th-century shipwrecks such as the Sea Venture. Open daily from 9:30am to 5pm (last admission at 4pm); admission is $10 adults, $5 kids. The Royal Naval Dockyard complex also includes restaurants, shops, an art gallery, and a crafts market. Nearby is a marina where you can sign up for parasailing or rent a boat.

The Big Island

Big surprise—the Big Island is the largest island in the Hawaiian chain (4,028 sq. miles—about the size of Connecticut), the youngest (800,000 years), and the least populated (with 30 people per sq. mile). It has an unmatched diversity of terrain and climate: fiery volcanoes and sparkling waterfalls, black-lava deserts and snowcapped mountain peaks, tropical rainforests and alpine meadows, a glacial lake, and miles of golden, black, and green (!) sand beaches. A 50-mile drive will take you from snowy winter to sultry summer, passing through spring or fall along the way. The island looks like the inside of a barbecue pit on one side, and a lush jungle on the other. In a word, it’s bizarre, and takes some people aback because it doesn’t fit the tropical stereotype.

Five volcanoes—one still erupting—have created this island, which is growing big­ger every day. At its heart is snowcapped Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain (measured from the ocean floor), complete with its own glacial lake. Mauna Kea’s nearest neighbor is Mauna Loa (“Long Mountain”), creator of one-sixth of the island; it’s the largest volcano on earth, rising 30,000 feet out of the ocean floor (of course, you can see only the 13,677 ft. that are above sea level). Erupting Kilauea makes the Big Island bigger every day—and, if you’re lucky and your timing is good, you can stand just a few feet away and watch it do its work. In just a week, the Kilauea vol­cano can produce enough lava to fill the Houston Astrodome.

HILO

COMING ASHORE Up to two cruise ships can pull alongside the docks at the Port of Hilo, which is not much more than an industrial port, so don’t plan on walk­ing into town. An organized shore excursion is your best bet here.

GETTING AROUND In the unlikely event there are no taxis waiting at the pier, you can call Ace-1 (& 808/935-8303). Note that because the island is so big, taxi rides can be quite expensive. Taxis are metered and start at $3; the first mile costs $5.60 and each subsequent Vs mile is 304.

BEST CRUISE LINE SHORE EXCURSIONS

If the weather’s good, you can’t go wrong with a scenic helicopter tour over Kilauea volcano; there is also a variety of golf excursions offered on the Big Island. Otherwise, here are some of our favorite options.

Kilauea Volcano ($52 adults, $31 children, 43/4 hr.): Volcanoes National Park is, by far, Hawaii’s premier tourist destination and well worth a visit. On your excursion, you’ll get a look at the still-active Kilauea (5,000 ft.), walk the extinct Thurston Lava Tube, and check out the exhibits at the National Volcano Observatory. There’s no need to worry about dramatic eruptions; for the most part, Hawaii’s volcanoes are quite tame.

Kilauea Lava Viewing Hike ($119 adults, $109 children, 6 hr.): Drive 51 miles, climb 4,000 feet up Kilauea, and then descend to sea level to watch lava flowing into the sea. The land here is some of the newest on earth, formed by the cooling lava sometimes only hours before you arrive. It’s often so hot that it’ll melt the soles of your sneakers if you don’t keep moving. This is one hike that’s only for the really fit, requir­ing a 2- to 6-mile trek on rough surfaces. Many folks who start out don’t make it and have to head back to the van without seeing what they came to see.

Waipi’o Valley Waterfall, Hike & Swim ($126, 7 hr.): There is no better way to appreciate the natural beauty of this sacred “Valley of the Kings” than by hiking all the way through it to the spectacular waterfall.

ON YOUR OWN: BEYOND THE PORT AREA

To enjoy the beauty of a formal Japanese garden, head down Banyan Drive to Queen Liliuokalani Gardens, right near Coconut Island. This picturesque 30-acre park has many bonsai trees, as well as carp ponds, pagodas, and an arched bridge. To truly understand the power and fury of the Pacific Ocean, visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum, 130 Kamehameha Ave. (& 808/935-0926; www. tsunami. org). Be sure to speak with the volunteers on hand, many of whom have lived through the “walls of water” that hit Hilo in 1946 and 1960.

To learn more about Hawaii’s marine ecosystems, visit the Mokupapapa Discov­ery Center, 308 Kamehameha Ave., Ste. 109, in the South Hata Building (& 808/ 933-8195; www. hawaiireef. noaa. gov). This education facility opened in 2003 and is run by the National Marine Sanctuaries and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Exhibits include a 2,500-gallon saltwater aquarium, a number of photographs and murals, and several interactive research stations. Admission is free; open Tuesday through Saturday 9am to 4pm.

BEACHES

At the start of Banyan Drive (about 2 miles from the cruise dock) is Reeds Bay Park, a small beach popular with locals. While there are no lifeguards or facilities here, the shallow water is well protected from waves and jagged rocks, making it ideal for swim­ming.

Near the other end of Banyan Drive is Moku Ola, or Coconut Island. Accessible by a walking bridge, this serene destination is also popular with locals who want to stroll the shady perimeter, bathe in the rocky pools, or swim off the small grassy beaches.

About 3 miles from the pier on Kalanianaole Avenue is Leleiwi Beach Park. Not a traditional white-sand beach, this one has black-lava rocks that form small tide pools, ideal for snorkeling. Keep an eye out for endangered sea turtles that are attracted to this spot. There are lifeguards here, and facilities include showers, rest­rooms, and a small marine police station.

SHOPPING

The best shopping in Hilo can be found along Kamehameha Avenue in the heart of downtown. Stop by Sig Zane Designs, 122 Kamehameha Ave. (& 808/935-7077; www. sigzane. com), for the best in Hawaiian wear; Basically Books, 160 Kame­hameha Ave. (& 808/961-0144; www. basicallybooks. com), a sanctuary for lovers of books, maps, and Hawaii-themed gift items; and Dragon Mama, 266 Kamehameha Ave. (& 808/934-9081; www. dragonmama. com), for unique comforters, cushions, futons, meditation pillows, hemp yarns and shirts, antique kimonos and obi, tatami mats sold by the panel, and all manner of comforts in the elegantly spare Japanese esthetic.

KAILUA-KONA

COMING ASHORE Two cruise ships anchor offshore here; a 10-minute tender ride takes passengers to the sleepy pier in Kailua-Kona. There’s plenty to do within steps of this modest pier, including beach-hopping, shopping, and more. Taxis line up at the dock to whisk you away, but with so much going on at the pier, there is little reason to leave.

GETTING AROUND As at the other ports in Hawaii, taxis await the arrival of cruise ship passengers, in this case lining up in front of the King Kamehameha Hotel. If you need to call for one, try AAA-1 TAXI (& 808/325-3818); keep in mind, though, that because the island is so big, long-distance trips can be very pricey. Only two car-rental agencies send vans to pick up passengers at the pier. To book a car, con­tact (& 800/GO-ALAMO [462-5266]; www. alamo. com) or Enterprise (& 800/ 736-8222; www. enterprise. com) and someone will pick you up at the pier. To cruise the waterfront and around town, rent a bike for $20 a day at Hawaiian Pedals (& 808/329-2294), in the Kona Inn Shopping Village about half a mile down on Alii Drive.

BEST CRUISE LINE SHORE EXCURSIONS

Catamaran Sail & Snorkel ($89 adults, $69 children, 4 hr.): Head out on a catamaran to Pawai Bay and enjoy a morning of cruising, music, snacking, and snorkeling. The bay is loaded with multicolored fish, rays, and lava-encrusted coral reefs. In winter, there’s a great chance you’ll see whales or spinner dolphins breaching and cavorting.

Big Island Helicopter Spectacular ($429, 422 hr.): There is no better way to see the Big Island’s beauty and volcanic fury than from a helicopter. On this journey, you soar over the tropical valleys and waterfalls of the Kohala Mountains, the rainforest of the Hamakua Coast, and the spectacular lava flows of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

ON YOUR OWN: WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE

There is plenty to see and do right near the pier. Just head down the seawall and enjoy the breathtaking ocean view on one side, and the endless stream of shops and galleries along the opposite side of the street. Be sure to stop in at Hulihee Palace, 75-5718 Alii Dr. (& 808/329-1877; www. huliheepalace. org), a two-story New England-style palace. Built in 1838 as a summer residence for Hawaii’s royalty, it was, at the time, the largest and most elegant home on the island. Today, it’s a well-run and well-pre­served museum. Admission is $6. Across the street is Mokuaikaua Church (& 808/ 329-1589), the oldest Christian church in Hawaii (free admission; daily).

ON YOUR OWN: BEYOND THE PORT AREA

St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, on Hwy. 19 (® 808/328-2227), is more commonly known as the Painted Church because of the colorful murals and frescoes that cover its walls and ceilings. It was painted by Father John Velge, the church’s first priest, in an attempt to enlighten and educate his congregation, who were predominantly illit­erate. Admission is free.

Ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs can be seen near the Kings’ Shops at the Waikoloa Beach Resort, just off Waikoloa Beach Drive about 30 miles north on Hwy. 19 (& 808/886-8811). Free tours meet at the food court in the Kings’ Shops Sundays at 10:30am (you must register in advance). You can also tour the ancient markings on your own at any time. Follow the signs to the petroglyphs; then take the small path that leads to a craggy trail through a lava field once used by Hawaiian travelers.

Nonguests are welcome to visit Hilton Waikoloa Village, 425 Waikoloa Beach Dr. (& 808/886-1234; www. hiltonwaikoloavillage. com), and enjoy its spectacularly landscaped grounds and walkways that meander past enormous statues, dramatic waterfalls, sweeping coastal vistas, and $7 million worth of artwork. If you like Atlantis on Paradise Island in The Bahamas, you’ll love this resort. Enjoy any of the nine restaurants, all reached via air-conditioned tram or open-air mahogany boats that run from one end of the property to the other. For a steep $80, families can use the pools and man-made beach as well (call first to make sure of availability on the day you’re in port).

BEACHES

At the Kailua-Kona pier, you’re practically standing on the beach at the King Kame – hameha Hotel. Because all beaches are public in Hawaii, this small and sweet water­front resort is yours to enjoy. For a fee, you can rent watersports gear, a lounge chair, or an umbrella. For those who prefer to swim without all the trappings, there is a miniscule scrap of beach just on the other side of the parking lot. Here, the calm water makes for great paddling, swimming laps, or just floating your cares away.

The best beach for snorkeling (especially for beginners) is Kahaluu Beach Park, about 5 miles down Alii Drive from the pier. The salt-and-pepper-colored beach is convenient to restrooms, a snack truck, and sheltered picnic tables. Although shallow, the water can become rough in the winter.

Beautiful Hapuna Beach State Park, past the Hilton Waikoloa Village and Mauna Lani Resort, is about 35 miles up the Kohala Coast from the pier. Follow the highway signs and turn left toward the ocean off Hwy. 19. You’ll be greeted by a large white – sand beach. The area is serene and well maintained, and has a food pavilion, rest­rooms, and showers.

SHOPPING

There is ample shopping on Alii Drive, which starts at the Kailua Pier and extends southward along a nearly endless strip of small shopping galleries with similar names and equally similar wares. Kailua Village Artists Gallery, a co-op of four dozen island artists and a few guest artists, displays watercolors, paintings, prints, hand-blown and blasted glass, and photography at two locations close to the pier: at King Kame – hameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, 75-5660 Palani Rd. (& 808/329-6653), and at 78-6740 Alii Dr. (& 808/324-7060). Books, pottery, and an attractive assortment of greeting cards are among the lower-priced items. Other places to browse close to the pier are Eclectic Craftsman in the Kona Marketplace, 75-5729 Alii Dr. (& 808/334-0562), for beautifully carved wood. Farther down, inside Waterfront Row, marvel at the marine-life sculptures made from wood, stone, and metal at Wyland Gallery, 75-5770 Alii Dr. (& 808/334-0037)

Hamilton

Hamilton was once known as the “Show Window of the British Empire.” It has been the capital of Bermuda since 1815, when it replaced St. George’s. Today, it’s the eco­nomic hub of the island.

COMING ASHORE Only medium and small ships (such as Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator) dock in Hamilton. Ships tie up at piers smack-dab in the middle of town. The terminal funnels guests into the main shopping drag on Front Street.

GETTING AROUND You can walk to all of the shops and department stores in town, or take a walking tour for a more historic perspective. Walking-tour maps are available in the terminal. If you’re beach-bound or heading for a day of golf or some other attraction, there are taxis lined up outside the terminal. For old-timey town tours, horse-drawn carriages wait outside the terminal.

ON YOUR OWN: WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE

A walking tour is a great option. Pick up a map in the cruise terminal and you’re on your leisurely way to visiting sights that range from a 200-year-old post office to exhibits in the Bermuda Historical Society Museum. If a relaxing lunch on the water­front sounds appealing, stroll on over to the waterside Poinciana Terrace at the Waterloo House, on Pitts Bay Road (& 441/295-4480; www. waterloohouse. com), an elegant property within walking distance of the ship docks. Lunch is served on the outdoor patio overlooking the colorful and idyllic harbor, and many snazzy-looking businesspeople dine here (so dress the part, which means T-shirts and flip-flops will look out of place). If it’s on the menu, the fish chowder, laced with rum and sherry peppers, is a local favorite and a great choice. Lunch costs around $30.

Consider a visit to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (& 441/

292- 7219; www. buei. org); it’s adjacent to the Hamilton docks near the roundabout on East Broadway. There are two floors of interactive exhibits about the ocean, plus the highlight: a capsule that simulates a 3,600m (11,800-ft.) dive below the ocean’s surface (it accommodates 21 people at a time). Open 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday, 10am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday (last admission is 3pm); admission is $11 for adults and $5.50 for kids 7 to 16.