Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cruising to Hawaii and the Port of Kauai

Kauai,  Hawaii’s fourth largest island, is called the “Garden Isle.” That’s some nickname to live up to when you consider that each and every Hawaiian Island is known for its fertile, tropical beauty! Centuries of growth along with water and wind erosion have left the island with lush tropical rainforests, rushing rivers, cascading waterfalls and deep valley gorges. With much splendor to discover, what’s the best way to spend a day in port? These are my favorites, and all can be arranged on your own, or by simply booking the cruise line’s shore excursion.

One of Hawaii’s most amazing natural wonders is Waimea Canyon. Mark Twain dubbed it the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”  The canyon was carved thousands of years ago by numerous floods and rivers flowing down from the summit of Mount Waialeale. The panoply of canyon colors transform with the changing light of the sun making it one of the most gorgeous landscapes you’ll ever set eyes upon! Since the canyon can be viewed from a number of lookouts along Waimea Canyon Drive it’s easy to rent a car and explore it on your own.  Or better yet, relax and leave the driving to someone else by checking out a cruise sponsored shore excursion.

In 1870 a series of ditches, tunnels, and flumes was hand-dug by laborers to deliver water from the rainforest to the Old Lihue Sugar Plantation. It worked well but sugar production on the island ceased in 2000. Today you can observe this engineering feat up close and personal in a new way… by Tubing the Ditch! The two-mile trip has you floating along a fern- and fruit-tree lined tropical rainforest and through five manmade tunnels. It runs through some of the most beautiful land on the island with spectacular views of the ocean, coastline and valleys.  This is a great activity for the entire family, and a “kid favorite.” Please note that there is a lot of time spent in dark tunnels so it may not be appropriate for young children or anyone claustrophobic.

Horseback riding is a great way to explore the different areas of Kauai. Journey into the island’s lush interior or trot along a lovely beach. You can even ride across one of Hawaii's oldest working cattle ranch pastures with breathtaking panoramic views of both the mountains and ocean. Don’t be surprised to find yourself riding through herds of cows, calves and horses! Along the way guides will entertain you with Hawaiian ancient legends and folklore. The horses are gentle so even beginners can enjoy this.

Explore the Na Pali Coast. Inaccessible by car, this area may be viewed by hiking, helicopter or various boat trips, and is well worth the effort!  The fifteen-mile stretch of rugged coastline on the northwest shore of Kauai literally means ""the Cliffs."" Many movies such as “The Thorn Birds” and portions of “South Pacific” have been filmed along this coast using the dramatic background of these steep cliffs.

Anyone for a round of golf?  What a way to spend your day in port! There are 10 different golf courses on Kauai including courses designed by PGA legend Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Planning an outing through the cruise line is probably the easiest way to arrange things.

The above is just a suggestion of what is available to do on your Hawaii cruise in the port of Kauai. For those that prefer to go out on their own, all are easy to do independently.  For those that like the ease and security of a ship sponsored shore excursion, the various cruise lines offer each of these options. To get more information on planning your Hawaii cruise vacation visit HawaiiCruises.travel or call Direct Line Cruises."

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