I’m about to set foot in Hawaii for the last time on this cruise contract, and with that has come the realization that I haven’t yet shared my photos from the last time we were there! Naughty me. So here’s what my Christmas was like in the islands a few weeks ago.
First we were in Hilo on the Big Island again, where I didn’t do anything more exciting than shop. Oh, and see STAR WARS, which was awesome. Funnily enough, the shopping was also exciting, given that as I left the ship that morning, I jokingly said, “Dear God, it’d be lovely to find an emerald green dress for the Christmas show tonight.” (I was singing a solo arrangement of “My Favorite Things” from my husband’s and my Christmas album, as well as the duet “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” but I needed my own costume.) Well, there was nothing in the department stores in the (only) mall, but I was directed to try the wedding store at the other end of the mall. Would you believe that there were two dresses in my size, one of which was perfect for the Christmas show – and was emerald green? It was meant to be.
The next day, Christmas Eve, we were in Honolulu once more. Some of the cast and I rented a car (which I got to drive all day!!!) and headed out for a full day of Oahu. First, we drove up to the Dole pineapple plantation, which my husband told me had the best pineapple soft serve ice cream of all time. He was so completely right – it was amazing, especially when covered with small bits of fresh pineapple. Totally worth the massive detour.
Then we drove back to the east side of the island, to a place called Kualoa Ranch. This is a real, working ranch that has diversified its income stream very creatively, including offering a number of tours. You see, a number of movies have filmed in its backyard, so to speak, in a gorgeous valley on the back of the ranch property, and so we took a Hollywood movie tour of Kualoa Ranch.
It was really breathtaking at times. I loved George of the Jungle, and I remember thinking at one particular moment when George rides in among these gorgeous mountains, “How amazing it must have been to travel out to Africa to film this!” So how exhilarating to look up and realize that I was staring at the exact mountains. Africa, my foot! They simply went to Hawaii – to Kualoa Ranch, in fact.
Several other movies and TV shows have filmed there, from Lost to Jurassic World to 50 First Dates to WWII movies like Windtalkers. If you are heading to Honolulu, it’s an amazing place to spend the day, especially since the views of the beaches and the mountains on all sides are just stunning.
The next day was Christmas, which we spent in Maui. It was a very laidback, sunny day, and I confess it hardly felt like Christmas at all. A group of us went to breakfast at a café on the water in Lahaina, during which we all Skyped our various families. Then we slowly meandered through town (I love art galleries, and Lahaina had some great ones!) towards the beach, spending the rest of the day lying lazily on the sand and watching the occasional cloud pass by overhead. Mele Kalikimaka, indeed!
Admittedly, it was a little strange feeling so disconnected from my family on one of my favorite holidays. Perhaps it was because I had a bad connection when I Skyped, perhaps it was because I had no tree, no present exchange with my family, no stockings, and no cool weather, or perhaps it was just because I was homesick, but I really felt like I was on another planet, one in which Christmas was a whiff of memory. It wasn’t bad, just a little surreal.
Our final day was in Kauai. A month previously, I had tried to rent one of the ship’s bikes and head out to find some local trails or beaches or something, but they had run out of bikes that day, so I opted for a simple beach day instead. This time, I got up extra early and, with a couple of dancers, got my bike! In fact, we were the only ones to rent bikes that day…perhaps because the forecast was rather rainy?
Well, I’ll cut to the chase and say, we certainly did get wet. It was only some light misty sprinkles on the way to the beach park, but it was actually rather refreshing, given the shock to my system of trying to push myself and a bike up several mean hills. On the way back, however, the heavens opened up, and we got completely, utterly soaked. But biking in the rain is much more enjoyable than walking in the rain. We kept laughing at how fun it was, the kind of giggling that happens when you just can’t control something and it gets worse and worse. You know how that goes? At any rate, it was probably one of my favorite moments of this contract.
The beach we ended up at, Lyndgate State Park, was beautiful. It had a lovely 2.5-mile bike path, pristine brown sand, and some epic waves. We didn’t spend too much time there, because it was mostly overcast and the waves were really intimidating, but while we were there, an older gentlemen cornered us and good-naturedly extolled to us the values of running on the sand for about twenty minutes, the kind of interesting encounter that I thought only happened in New York City. One thing he said I know I won’t ever forget: “If you don’t run on the sand [though I think any sort of consistent physical exercise will do, hehe], when you reach my age, you’ll say two things: ‘I used to’ and ‘garage sale.’” Wise words indeed.
By that point, we were starving, so we biked a little further and stumbled upon a couple of delicious bakeries on the side of the road. One marinated chicken sandwich and lilikoi cheesecake later (guys, I’m OBSESSED with lilikoi, otherwise known as passionfruit), we got back on our bikes and headed back to the ship.
Not gonna lie, our “seat” muscles, shall we say, were quite sore from such a sudden and sustained encounter with a bike seat. But it was an awesome day, and a perfect finish to our Christmas Hawaii, and I think the soreness had passed in a couple days.
The only thing at this point that I haven’t seen in Hawaii is a volcano, but I think we’re going to try to hit one this time around. I’ll let you know soon, with plenty of pictures!
Though I am an employee of Princess Cruise Lines, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.