Welcome to The Valley Isle!
Discover Lahaina and Maui on a Diamond Princess Cruise to Hawaii From California
Our four days sailing, on our Princess cruise to Hawaii from California, had been magnificent in everyway. The culture and history we’d learned, while on-board our Diamond Princess cruise to Hawaii from California, would now be put to excellent use, as we explored our first Hawaiian port.
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.
“Maui has always occupied a special place in the hearts of Hawaiians. The great warrior King Kamehameha, who united the islands under his rule, chose to make Lahaina his capital and Ka'anapali was once the favorite playground of Hawaiian royalty. And no wonder - Maui boasts stunning landscapes and superb beaches. Mt. Haleakala, a dormant volcano, rises 10,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Once hailed as "The Valley of the Kings," Maui's Iao Valley is a tropical paradise dominated by the Needle, a volcanic monolith towering over the valley floor. Then there is Lahaina, once home to a royal court and a raucous port-of-call enjoyed by 19th-century Yankee whalers.
Haleakala means "The House of the Sun." To the Hawaiians, it appeared that the sun both rose from and set in the depths of its massive crater. Today, the centerpiece of Haleakala National Park, it is one of Maui's major attractions.”
(Quote courtesy of Princess: http://www.princess.com/find/excursion/exlistfordestination.page?portid=JHM&t=H&exType=S)
Let’s Discover Maui!
Nicknamed ‘The Valley Isle,’ this Hawaiian island is second in size to the Big Island, home of the towns of Kona and Hilo, which were later stops on our vacation cruise to Hawaii from California. Also, on our cruise to Hawaii from California, we visited Nawiliwili, Kauai and Honolulu, Oahu.
Far from being first time cruisers, our cruise to Hawaii from California was our first time traveling to this enchanted Polynesian land. And because we were Hawaiian newbies, we decided to take Princess sponsored excursions in each port. Our tour, “Iao Valley & Maui Tropical Plantation” was meeting along the historic, and quaint, Front Street, in Lahaina. Lahaina looked so relaxing and inviting; we’d have to explore this cute seaside town later.
Iao Valley State Park and the Iao Needle
Millions and millions of years ago (Long before my cruise to Hawaii from California!), volcanoes arose from the Pacific Ocean, creating and forming the Hawaiian Islands. Volcanoes so massive, they extend far down into the depths of this vast Pacific Ocean – the biggest of the oceans on our planet.
The two volcanoes, which gave birth to Maui, are the East Maui Volcano (a.k.a. Haleakala) and the West Maui Volcano (a.k.a. West Maui Mountains). Haleakala, while not currently erupting, she possesses the potential to do so, again, one day.
Back before this island was the travelers’ paradise it is today - like hundreds of thousands of years back - West Maui Volcano became dormant. And over much time, erosion ate away at its caldera, leaving Pu‘u Kukui, the tallest pinnacle of the West Maui Volcano, and carved out the Iao Valley. Yes, in effect, the Iao Valley is the direct result of this evolved, eroded geological landscape that is the West Maui Volcano, which is now extinct.
And still, this isn’t a ‘tiny’ volcano; not by any means. Its immense slopes extend out, all around, stretching all the way to the coast. In fact, Lahaina was built on its southwestern slope.
Nestled in this Iao Valley, you will find the Iao Needle. The quote from the ‘Princess Cruise to Hawaii from California Guidebook,’ above, describes the Needle best, “a volcanic monolith towering over the valley floor.” At an elevation of 2250 feet, she’s an amazing site. When visiting her, on your cruise to Hawaii from California, please bring your camera, as she’s an awe-inspiring natural wonder to photograph.
If visiting an exotic rainforest is on your list of ‘must see things,’ on your cruise to Hawaii from California, then you’ll find a quintessential one in Iao Valley. Actually, this expanse is nothing but a perfect rainforest, complete with lush, tropical plant life, flowers, the Iao Stream, and the sweetly scented, humid air that, when it caresses your skin, you’ll feel and breathe in this paradise that’s all around you. So moist is this region, that it’s considered the second wettest place in the Hawaiian Islands. So, when you cruise to Hawaii from California, make sure that a visit to this verdant landscape is on your ‘must see’ list.The volcanic and geological history of this area is only rivaled by its cultural history and significance. The Iao Valley was once a great battlefield of warring Hawaiian Kings. It was here, in 1790, where Kamehameha I, defeated the Maui King, in his fight to unite all the Hawaiian Islands into one single kingdom. Our guide explained that the battle was so bloody, that the Iao Stream was clogged with causalities.
Hawaiians have a unique way of blending facets of their ancient, Polynesian beliefs into their modern, Christian beliefs. And according to our guide, they believe the ‘earth is a living, breathing organism.’
Come, and literally absorb, this majestic, romantic, and haunting place for yourself, by taking a cruise to Hawaii from California. You’ll never regret it!Maui Tropical Plantation
Our second tour stop, on our cruise to Hawaii from California sailing, was a real, live working farm. But you don’t need to grab your ‘ten gallon’ cowboy hat, jeans, and cowboy boots to visit this farm. No sir! All you need is some Hawaiian attire and a sense of fun and adventure.
The Maui Tropical Plantation, located near the Iao Valley, is a living museum dedicated to showing and teaching about many varieties of tropical plants, both flowers and edible species of vegetation. Your guide will give you a tour of this working farm from a comfortable, open-air tram.
Gorgeous varieties of hibiscus, (A personal favorite of mine, and growing in my own Virginia yard!), Vanda orchids, coffee, sugar cane, pineapple, guava, taro, macadamia, numerous flowering trees, and lots of palm trees, all grow in this paradise. Those listed, and many more tropical plants, await you on this visually stimulating ‘garden tour.’ Yes, this is just a ‘tad bigger’ than your average ‘suburban’ garden tour!
Before leaving, browse the “Made in Maui” store for unique Hawaiian souvenirs and gifts. I collect Santa Clauses, so I was delighted when I discovered an adorable St. Nick, all decked out for the warmer climate! (Hey, everyone deserves a vacation…even Santa Claus!)
After our tour, we wandered the charming streets of Lahaina, and we walked under the famous banyan tree. This grand tree covers over half an acre. And since no cruise to Hawaii from California would be complete without a stop at a Hilo Hattie Shop, we found one on Front Street. Remember that Hawaiian attire I just mentioned you needed? Well, you’ll find that, and more of ‘everything that’s Hawaiian,’ at Hilo Hattie. So of course, our arms were full of goodies, as we headed back to our ship!
On our next cruise to Hawaii from California, we'd like to take a ride on the famous 'Hana Highway.' And, we'd love to see the sunrise over Haleakala, and I'm sure there's more to see in Lahaina.... Did I happen to mention, I really loved that little town, Lahaina! It was just too cute for words! Already, I can think of enough things to do that would require, yet, another cruise to Hawaii from California - we just can't get enough of those Hawaiian Islands.
My Personal Diary of Our Cruise to Hawaii From California
Princess Cruises Website (www.princess.com)
Iao Valley State Park