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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in Hawaii
Sights to see & things to do

Hawaii, The Big Island--Hilo

Hilo’s misty climate makes it a natural tropical greenhouse. Ferns, orchids, and distinctive anthuriums thrive amid annual rainfall of up to 150 inches. There’s a lot to see and do amid brief, warm afternoon showers that are always followed by a showy rainbow so grab an umbrella and head out.


Ships dock at Hawaii’s second busiest port and are met by shore excursion buses and vans. Automobile rentals are also available and independent tours can be arranged in advance. If you head out on a walking tour along the bay, follow Banyan Drive where it curves along the waterfront and passes Liliuokalani Gardens, the largest Japanese formal garden outside Tokyo.

In town, the Lyman Museum & Mission House is the oldest wood framed home on the island. A conglomeration of a typical New England house with a Hawaiian style thatched roof, it depicts missionary life in the islands and contains furniture and clothing belonging to the Lymans, a missionary couple who arrived in Hilo in 1832.

For fun, the Maunaloa Macadamia Nut Factory is just the place to take the kids. Learn how the buttery nuts are grown and processed and sample some following the tour.

Eight miles north of Hilo, natural wonders abound. The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden contains more than 1,800 species of plants on 40 acres bounded by a waterfall and breathtaking views of the Ononea Bay. Not far from the gardens, Akaka Falls is one of Hawaii’s most scenic waterfalls.

Only thirty minutes southeast of Hilo is one of the world’s most legendary and spectacular sites, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. According to myth, Pele, the goddess of fire, is responsible for the growth of the islands so it stands to reason she is behind the continuous eruption of Kilauea Volcano since 1983. A drive through the park produces surprises around every bend, including lava flows that have destroyed the roads over the years. Cool off in the Thurston Lava Tube and take a hike on Devastation Trail, which for all intents and purposes could be on the moon and improbably leads to a lush rain forest. The pièce de résistance is viewing Kilauea’s flow of destruction and the best way to see it is from your ship, cruising off the darkened night coast.


Abundant shopping is available throughout the city and its environs. Kaiko’o Mall, Prince Kuhio Shopping Plaza, and Waiakea Plaza contain a variety of department stores and nationwide chain stores as well as smaller shops and specialty boutiques. Hip new shops have found a home in Hilo’s Bayfront area, occupying the historic buildings along Kamehameha Avenue. Shop there for tasteful Hawaiian art and authentic Hawaiian wear.

A special shopping treat is the East Hawaii Cultural Center on Kalakaua Street. Operated by volunteers from the visual and performing arts communities, it contains an array of authentic high quality Hawaiian gifts and souvenirs such as locally made cards, jewelry, books, sculptures, and wood objects.


The Big Island’s beaches are not stereotypical and palm-fringed stretches of white sand just weren’t in the cards for this part of the island. However, Leleiwi Beach Park is a delightful palm-fringed black lava tide pool. With no crashing waves and current, the shallow pools are perfect for swimming and snorkeling is excellent. Facilities include showers, rest rooms, lifeguards, a picnic pavilion, and a marine-life facility.

Back to Hawaii Ports of Call

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