Monday, October 10, 2011

My Favorite Maui Shore Excursions

Hopefully you’ve had some time to check out our new website,, and now you see how affordable a Hawaii cruise vacation can be.  With that concern out of the way, take some time to review the different cruise lines and their itineraries and book the one that’s perfect for you. On to some excursion planning! Today I’d like to share with you my favorite picks for Maui.  All are easy to arrange on your own, but for those that want to leave the planning to the professionals, they are also available through the cruise line’s shore excursion department.

The Road to Hana is one of those trips that is all about the journey, not final destination.  And what a journey it is! 52 miles of undeveloped road, 56 one-lane bridges and 617 curves!  Yikes! You will pass by the most breath-taking scenery on the face of the earth. Pick up a map with mile marker descriptions that includes the best waterfalls, scenic views, beaches and hikes.  Be sure to look for the truck on the side of the road that sells shaved ice is flavors like guava, coconut cream, or green apple. Delicious! Rent a car to do this on your own.  The cruise lines offer both private van and small bus tours.

Haleakala National Park is home to Maui's highest peak rising 10,023 feet above sea level.  Seeing the sunrise from the summit is a life changing experience and one of the most popular things to do while in Maui.  Sit amid the clouds while the sun comes up and the sky goes from the blackest black to beautiful shades of pink, purple and blue. Wear the warmest clothes you have because it’s quite chilly up there!   Daredevils can choose to bike down the 28 miles from the 6500' elevation, descending to historic Paia at sea level. Adrenaline junkies will appreciate maneuvering the hairpin turns while admiring the extraordinary landscape! Both experiences are offered as shore excursions and that’s the best way to do either.

A thousand years ago Hawaiians gathered at the Iao Valley to celebrate and honor the bounty of Lono, god of agriculture, during the annual makahiki festival. Today the valley remains a beautiful, lush, peaceful area, which doesn’t take long to explore. Don’t plan to spend the day; a couple of hours will do.  Gorgeous photo-ops! The shorter trails are paved making it very accessible, but the longer, unpaved trails are more like a walk through the jungle. ( Fun note: just before you reach the parking lot look out for a sign indicating a rock formation in the shape of JFK's profile.  It really looks like him!). The cruise lines often include this valley in a multi-stop excursion or you can add it to your day of exploration of the island.

Humpback Whales begin arriving to the islands in November and head back to Alaska in late May (peak season is February and March). If you have planned a Hawaii cruise during this time, you should have no problem spotting whales from the deck of your ship! For more intimate viewing, book one of the many whale-watching tours available. Not only will you be in the whale’s environment, but because humpback whales are curious creatures, they will sometimes approach your boat! This is a great excursion for the kids.

Book an “eco-hiking” tour to see Hawaii like it was before the influx of tourists like you and me!  Hike through stands of bamboo, follow trails past thickets of rose apple, guava, ginger, kukui nut and Java plum trees.  Cool down under majestic waterfalls 50 feet high, and swim in the big clear pools under each. Experienced guides enthusiastically share information about the geology, archaeology, mythology and the history of Hawaii. Arrange this on your own if you want to personalize it or have special needs. Otherwise, a ship excursion is a fine way to do this.

This is just a handful of suggestions of what you can do on your port days in Maui. There is no bad choice, since the island’s beauty will surround you, no matter what you do! Still unsure of which Hawaii cruise to book?  Call the Hawaii cruise specialists at Direct Line Cruises or visit for more information."

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