Ahhh can I tell you how easy a cruise is. I know some people are super big fans, but for the 5 month pregnant lady, this was bliss. No planning, no arranging – everything was all taken care of. One warning if you ever book a cruise while pregnant though, almost all cruise lines only allow pregnant women to cruise BEFORE they turn 24 weeks, which is honestly still super early in a pregnancy and kind of discriminating. This was one of the big reasons as to why we ended up booking the cruise so quickly – we had limited time that I’d still be allowed to go. In fact, I turned 24 weeks the day after I was off the cruise ship.
Anyway, in case you missed Day 1 & 2, catch up on our first days here: Oahu, Hawaii – Babymoon Part 1.
We boarded the cruise the afternoon of Oahu. We went with Norwegian Cruise Lines because they were the only cruise line that went to the four big islands leaving directly from Hawaii instead of from the US/International. That means that all 8 days were spent docked on one of the Hawaii islands instead of “days at sea”. We cruised at night and woke up in new ports each morning.
Boarding was super easy. Since we booked last minute, we booked an interior cabin but it was upgraded to a room with a window (with a partially obstructed view). For us it was great, the window was huge so we could still see outside and it was great to have sunlight in the room. Although the window was fine for us, my parents are cruise lovers and I would definitely recommend to them to get a balcony since the views are absolutely stunning and 1000% worth a private space to sit in the morning and drink coffee/relax.
Day 3: Road to Hana
We had docked in Maui by the time we woke up the next morning. We opted to rent cars on each of the islands instead of book organized excursions. Two reasons for this: 1. Sean and I typically like to do our own thing exploring – I’ll research a general idea of what to do and we always end up finding things along the way to make it an adventure. And 2. Most importantly the whole pregnancy thing. Although I’m feeling pretty good in these middle months, I didn’t want to risk not getting car sick on a 50 passenger coach bus or not feeling well being shuffled around in a crowd of people.
My 1000% recommendation to people traveling to any of the islands on Hawaii – RENT A CAR. We ended up finding this app called GyPSy which are guided driving tours for each of the islands. It uses your GPS location to know what route you are taking and then gives you recommendations on where to stop, history about the places you are driving by etc. It’s like having your own personal tour guide with you.
We rented a jeep, mostly to fulfill Sean’s little dream of driving a Jeep in Hawaii. Plus, it didn’t hurt that we were also doing more of an “off-roading” kind of drive that day.
We set off for the town of Hana, which is a famous drive called the “Road to Hana”. It was only about 40-50 miles from where our cruise ship was docked in Kahului, but those miles were full of hairpin which followed the coast / mountainous terrain.
The drive took about 6.5 hours round trip and there were something like 600+ road curves (many being super sharp) and 59 bridges (most being one lane). It sounds long but the trip was 100% worth it. The views and small waterfalls that popped up along the way were amazing. You could go from driving along the ocean to driving through open valley to being in a the jungle in minutes- especially being in the Jeep it felt like something out of Jurassic Park (which make sense since it was filmed on one of the other islands). You can’t tell from the map I’m attaching of our drive and I didn’t do a great job capturing it in photos but google it and you’ll be able to really get a feeling of some of the roads and turns we encountered.
You will notice that along the shore, most of the coast is mad of up black volcanic rock. And of course, we ad to made a stop at one of the famous banana bread stands (however, to be honest although it was good – I think my mom makes a better banana bread).
You may notice that in some of the photos it looks beautiful and sunny while some look a bit cloudy/rainy. The Hawaiian islands have 11 of the worlds 13 climate zones. One side of an island can be arid, dry and sunny, while the other side is considered one of the 10 wettest places on earth. Hana averages about 79 inches of rain per year.
The small “towns” that popped up along the drive were definitely more rural. Many didn’t have any services – gas stations, stores etc. It seemed the majority of people still living along this side of the island still work in farming, mainly taro which is used to make the famous Hawaiian poi.
We stopped for lunch at a BBQ place along the road to get a Kalua pork taco, which was actually suggested by the GyPSy app we were listening to. These little side of the road lunch stands are quite common.
Lots of pictures, I know! But we made a lot of stops during the drive. 🙂
Day 4: Wailea, Makena & Paia
We were spending 2 days docked in the Kahului port, so for Day 4 we decided to rent a car again, but drive the other direction to do a beach day.
I had brought snorkel gear for Sean & I with us from home since I knew that Hawaii has amazing snorkeling and we would be adventuring on our own most of the time. We drove across the island to Wailea-Makena area, which is completely different than the north/eastern side of the island we experienced driving to Hana the day before. We could tell from the drive that this side is much drier – definitely not as green. When we got to the Wailea, we noticed it was much more of a resort area of the island, which you could tell by the well maintained resort lawns and flowered tree lined streets.
We found a little “off the main path” beach that we read was good to go to for seeing sea turtles and pink dolphins. There were only about 20ish people on the beach which was great. We saw a lot of fish snorkeling but didn’t see any turtles or dolphins. There wasn’t too much shade on the beach when it hit noon and the sun was starting to get hot, but fear not – I married an engineer! Sean spent 30 minutes building and perfecting a little shade hut from huge palm leafs he found on the beach.
On the way back to the boat, since we still had a few hours before the ship was leaving, we stopped in Paia, which was actually one of the small towns that we first drove through the day before. It was the last town that had gas before we drove to Hana and it had a bunch of small art galleries, beach shops and cafes. If you are in Maui and have some free time, it was a great town to explore.
Back on the ship – Day 5 we were sailing to the Big Island, Hawaii.