I won't be going through all the days, but the cruise went around to the different islands, and there was a little bit of information for all of them.
On days 3 and 4, we were in Maui. Maui was the most "developed" of all the islands and our experience was the most commercial. We kind of reserved Maui for taking it easy. The kids and Jeff played on the boat, and I went ashore with my mom.
There is this particular business in Hawaii that you hear about all over. It is called "Hilo Hattie's." And it is okay as far as things go, definitely worth checking out. My mom and I took the chartered bus to Hilo Hatties mostly because it was in a shopping center of other things. But I tried on a dress there and there were some cool souvenirs.
There also is a pearl jewelry stand there. And here, you have to beware. When you go in the door, you get a coupon. Amazingly, this coupon tells you that you won a free chance to open up an oyster. So they lead you over to the jewelry stand, and show you the oysters and explain that the best pearls are in the ugliest oysters. So you pick one and open it up. Lo and behold, there is a beautiful pearl inside...and it is yours. But a beautiful pearl of course needs a beautiful setting. And they do have some beautiful settings. Expensive settings. (the plumeria ones are the prettiest). And if you get one setting, you are entitled to .....(drum roll please) ANOTHER FREE OYSTER.... The coupon that originally brought you to the door also had a percentage discount on purchases...And so they ring a bell and proclaim loudly "A LOOOO HA" as you pick another one, and they start to drool. The fine print on those coupons is that it doesn't apply to the settings (though I have no idea what it would apply to, since that is ALL they have). And they will tell you that once the pearl is set in the jewelry that is NOT discounted, you have to pay. You don't.
So after our foray at Hilo Hatties, we went to Starbucks and Jamba Juice (oh, Jamba Juice how I miss you), and to the grocery, where my mom picked up a twelve-pack of Diet Pepsi, since the cruise ship charged $50 for a card for unlimited soft drinks...and that was the only way to get soft drinks from them (well, you could buy them from the bar). My mom chose to find alternate means. I used it as a means to FINALLY break my addiction to soft drinks (7 months without now...and don't miss it at all). After we got that and ate, we went out to wait for the bus when the monsoon hit. In a matter of a minute or two, that soda box was soaked. It really is amazing that it made it all the way home.
The public bus showed up and the driver wanted to pick us up on the return trip but we assured him we had no problem with riding the bus around the loop. It dropped us off at the mall, and then we took a cab the 1/2 mile from the mall to the dock.
We also celebrated New Years Eve in Maui on the boat. The kids loved the Kids Club that was there and partied there with face painting, music, and games. We got to watch all the fireworks that were being launched from the shore. Apparently it is a big tradition for everybody to launch fireworks for New Years there. You could see them sparkling and exploding all along the mountain sides from people's houses.
On Day 4, we rented cars and as a family, we all went to Lahaina, which was beautiful. You could see Molokai off the coast (which really just looks like this little atoll. ) The whale watching boats all said that there were whales in the harbor, but we couldn't seem to glance them. Lahaina really is beautiful. A bit commercialized. Lots of typical restaurants like Bubba Gumps, art galleries, souvenir shops, and whale watching ventures.
There was a commemoration to the missionaries who came to Hawaii there. It was nice to see such a positive portrayal of the missionaries. I can't remember the name, but there was a Hawaiian prince who went to Harvard University. There, he told people about his homeland and earnestly desired to return home to continue Christianizing his people and educating them. Only 14 days before he was to depart, though, he caught a disease and died. His Congregationalist colleagues and friends though organized a missionary effort to Hawaii both to spread the Gospel and to teach literacy. Hawaii became one of the most literate cultures in the world. The missionaries were determined to educate the Hawaiians because they knew that the rest of the world would no longer leave them alone and they needed to know how to become a part of it.
Yes, Christian missionaries did not always act with cultural sensitivity toward Hawaiians, and there were many injustices that were perpretrated against Hawaii by Americans in the name of Manifest Destiny, including the forced abdication of Queen Lileokelani. Even our President condemned the action. But at the same time, it was good to see a positive portrayal of how Christianity helped to improve society. So often now, that is overlooked.
Lahaina has a beautiful park with this amazing tree. The root system for this tree took up the whole park, and occasionally, trunk and branches would shoot up out of the ground here and there, maybe 50 feet away from each other, but it was still the same tree.
After Lahaina, we drove around the north shore of Maui into some more sheltered areas. We saw some beautiful coastline with some amazing swells coming in. But we didn't go all the way, because the rent-a-car company kind of recommends that you stay off certain roads, and if something happens, they can't come and get you on dirt roads.
I'd really wanted to see Kona, but all in all, this was a beautiful time, and it was the main time we all went out together all of us as a family. That was the best part.