Welcome to Hawai'i Island a.k.a. Island of Hawaii a.k.a. Big Island

Carved Wooden Statue at The Place of RefugeCredit: Southerngirl09

Discover Kona on a Diamond Princess Cruise to Hawaii From California

My husband and I visited the Hawaiian Islands, for the first time, on a roundtrip, Princess cruise to Hawaii from California. Since this was our first Hawaiian adventure, we felt that a Princess sponsored tour was the best way to see Kona. We’d cruised with Princess before, to the Mexican Riviera, and we knew the high quality of their motor coach tours. Before our vacation cruise to Hawaii from California began, they’d mailed us tour literature for each of the five Hawaiian ports we’d be visiting, and we made our selections. We’d decided to take the “Kona Highlights Tour” which included significant points of interests located in and around this area of the Big Island.

Generally called the Big Island, it get its nickname due to the fact that it’s the largest of the islands in the chain that comprise the Hawaiian Islands archipelago. And due to lava flow, from current volcanic activity, the Big Island only keeps getting bigger and bigger!

The following information, in the Princess Cruise’s Guidebook, was a big help to us as we selected excursions for our cruise to Hawaii from California.

Welcome to the Big Island of Hawaii and to Kona. The Kona Coast is a land of infinite variety, ranging from pristine beaches to rolling uplands that are home to coffee plantations, macadamia groves and the largest privately owned cattle ranch in the United States. To the southeast lies Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. And offshore lies a fisherman's paradise. Kona is hailed as "The Billfish Capital of the World," and the town hosts the annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament.” (Quote courtesy of Princess:  http://www.princess.com/find/excursion/exlistfordestination.page?t=P&portid=KOA&exType=S)

Let’s Discover Kona!

Pu`uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

Inside the Pu`uhonua O Honaunau National Historical ParkCredit: Southerngirl09

This name translates to ‘Place of Refuge.’ Before 1819, and the reign of Kamehameha II, was the time of kapu (laws), Ali‘I (ruling priests), and the Polynesian influenced caste system under which all Hawaiians lived.

‘Place of Refuge’ was an ancient religious site, containing ‘royal grounds,’ an area dedicated exclusively for the ruling priests. And for those ruling priests who’d passed, there existed a burial area entirely for them.

For Hawaiians who broke kapu, if they successfully swam through water, which was shark infested, to this ‘Place of Refuge,’ the kahuna (religious priests), were honor bound to pardon their sins. This, in turn, became their place of ‘sanctuary.’

Turtle Resting on a Rock at The Place of RefugeCredit: Southerngirl09

Our experience with guides on this cruise to Hawaii from California had been very favorable, and this excursion proved no different than the others. To paraphrase our knowledgeable guide, she explained, “that if a person could make it (swimming), to the ‘Place of Refuge,’ then they were free.”

You will be awed at the strength, and the fortitude, that went into building the rock walls and fascinated by the restored temples. But before you depart this ‘Place of Refuge,’ check out the green sea turtles. Lying on the beach, or on a rock, working on their tans, they’re always ready for a photo op!

The Painted Church (St. Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church)

Altar and Paintings in The Painted Church in KonaCredit: Southerngirl09

After 1819, and during the rule of Kamehameha II, Christian missionaries from the United States, England, and Europe immigrated to the Islands. From the US and England, Protestant missionaries arrived, and from European countries, Catholic priests came.

The Painted Church has its roots with the Belgian Catholic priest, Father John Berchmans Velghe, who was a member of the Sacred Hearts Devotion.


Biblical Mural at St. Benedict’s Roman Catholic ChurchCredit: Southerngirl09

In order to help his newly converted parishioners to better understand and interpret the love of God, he painted Biblical scenes on the interior walls of his small church.

A historic, as well as a currently functioning Catholic parish, this church is beautiful, inside and out. You don’t have to be a Catholic, to appreciate and adore Father Velghe’s beautiful religious murals.


Royal Kona Coffee Store

Courtesy Bar at the Royal Kona Coffee StoreCredit: Southerngirl09

At  Royal Kona Coffee Store, you can get your ‘java fix.’ And I’m not talking about the watered down stuff from the communal pot in the office break room! No, I’m talking about robust, real coffee, grown on the lush, volcanic slopes of the Big Island.

Visiting the Royal Kona Coffee Store, you can sample coffee, purchase it, and also, experience one of the sweetest delights I’ve ever tried! By ‘sweetest delights I’ve ever tried,’ I mean sampling coffee beans covered in chocolate. Okay - coffee and chocolate, paired together - does life get any sweeter! Don’t forget to purchase some for your coffee addicted friends and family members, since it makes an awesome gift.

Before leaving, tear yourself away from the goodies (I know it’s difficult to do!), and step out onto the back deck, which overlooks Kealakekua Bay. There, you can spot the memorial to Captain James Cook, the famous seafaring British explorer. While our cruise to Hawaii from California was far more luxurious, and romantic, than Captain Cook’s ship, one thing we have in common is a love of exploring.

In Closing

On a Princess cruise to Hawaii from California vacation, you will have many exciting tours from which to choose. In the end, we were satisfied that we had chosen the best Hawaiian Islands excursion for our fourth port of call on our cruise to Hawaii from California. One excursion isn’t better than another. Make your decision based on your own interests. Since my husband and I were on our first cruise to Hawaii from California, we wanted an overview of each port of call. Our awesome adventure on Kona gave us that, and more!

On our cruise to Hawaii from California, our itinerary included another stop on the Big Island, at Hilo. The itinerary also included a stop on the islands of Maui, Kauai, and Oahu. Our fifteen-day adventure, on our Diamond Princess cruise to Hawaii from California, was more magnificent than we’d ever dreamed!

My husband and I would’ve loved to have sailed longer, on the exquisite Diamond Princess, just floating around and among the beautiful Hawaiian islands, while embarking on many more exotic and fun adventures. But, alas, it was time to go home, and dream of our next cruise to Hawaii from California.


My Personal Diary

Princess Cruises Website (www.princess.com)

Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org)

Pu`uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park


The Painted Church (St. Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church)