Welcome to the Garden Isle
Discover Nawiliwili, Kauai on a Diamond Princess Cruise to Hawaii from California
It was a cold, snowy day in Virginia, when hubby and I sat around the computer, reading about, and booking, the tours for our cruise to Hawaii from California. As first time travelers to the Hawaiian Islands, to us, they were as exotic as any of the other Polynesian islands, dotting the vast Pacific Ocean.
On this first cruise to Hawaii from California, there was so much to explore, we had to make some tough decisions. Black sand beaches, volcanoes, and luaus - these words, so synonymous with the Hawaiian Islands, kept rolling through my mind, like a movie reel, as we plotted our Princess excursions for our cruise to Hawaii from California.
Each of the islands we’d be visiting, on our cruise to Hawaii from California, had their own sort of ‘claim to fame.’ Therefore, we selected tours, which included these popular destinations, feeling they would give us our best introduction to the Hawaiian Islands. Also, along with these ‘claim to fame,’ sites, there were places we knew we had to see, in order to make our cruise to Hawaii from California complete.
With our sailing itinerary laid out in front of us, we went to work. On our cruise to Hawaii from California, we knew we wanted to visit, and pay our respects to, our fallen heroes at the USS Arizona Memorial, in Pearl Harbor, near Honolulu, Oahu. We’d also be visiting the Big Island, making stops in the towns of Kona and Hilo. The Big Island, which is famous for its Volcanoes National Park, would give us our volcano adventure. And our time in the Iao Valley, on Maui, would provide us with that true, lush, tropical feel of a Pacific Island paradise.
Well, we had plans to cover much territory. But one other ‘must see and do’ activity remained, on our cruise to Hawaii from California agenda. We had to attend a luau! What vacation to the Hawaiian Islands would be complete without a luau experience?
Since we had ‘place specific’ stops assigned at each port, Kauai became the logical choice for our luau. Thus, we booked a Princess tour entitled, “Wailua River Cruise, Luau & Romantic Ceremony.”
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.
“The fourth largest island in the Hawaiian group, Kaua'i is known as the "Garden Island." The terrain ranges from the volcanic slopes of Mt. Waialeale and the desert-like beauty of Waimea Canyon to the Wailua River's lush Fern Grotto. Ironically this once isolated island was the site of the first meeting between Europeans and Hawaiians. On January 19, 1778, Captain James Cook anchored his ships off the mouth of the Waimea River, becoming the first in a long line of enthusiastic visitors.
Kaua'i was never conquered by the great warrior King Kamehameha.”
(Quote courtesy of Princess: http://www.princess.com/find/excursion/exlistfordestination.page?portid=LIH&t=H&exType=S)
Let's Discover Kauai!
Smith's Tropical Paradise & Cultural Gardens
The location for our luau was the breathtaking Smith's Tropical Paradise & Cultural Gardens, which is situated on the Wailua River, in the lush Wailua River Valley.
The highlight of this tour was the luau. However, before the luau began, we made time to meander through their spectacular gardens. Like we’d seen at the Maui Tropical Plantation, earlier in our cruise to Hawaii from California, these gardens contained stunning flowers and delicious fruits. And, of course, we’ll never forget the adorable, proud peacocks, who put on their own little show just for us!
However, the pièce de résistance of our day was the luau, which we’d been anticipating throughout our cruise to Hawaii from California.
Our Princess tour brochure described this culinary event as:
“A traditional luau comes complete with imu ceremony as the lava rock-lined imu pit is uncovered to reveal a roasted Kalua pig: a luscious Hawaiian tradition. Enjoy the lomi lomi salmon, teriyaki beef, chicken with long rice, salads, poi, dessert and beverages and the traditional Polynesian songs and dances that follow.”
As a Southern girl, through and through, I love pork, and I love barbecue. You could say, I know my pig!
In all my years of cooking, and eating pork, I have to say that the kalua pig, served at Smith's Tropical Paradise & Cultural Gardens Luau, was delicious, and one of the best I have eaten. And that is saying a lot, since you gotta go a long way to beat good, old fashioned, down-home, Southern barbecue.
As for the lovely dancing and hula performances, we watched? I’d love to say I joined in, especially having taken hula lessons on-board the Diamond Princess, on my cruise to Hawaii from California. But, quite frankly, I was too stuffed to move a muscle! Maybe next time!
Before leaving the luau, to return to our ship, couples were given the opportunity to renew their wedding vows, and share in a special, romantic, Hawaiian music and dance ceremony, featuring the "Hawaiian Wedding Song." Romantic that I am, I would have participated in this segment of the show, but hubby said, “I was lucky to have gotten him to the altar once!” (But, being the romantic I am, what I heard him say was, ‘I did it right the first time, so why do I have to do it again?’)
From what we learned, on our vacation cruise to Hawaii from California, the island of Kauai seems to be one of the less toured of the Hawaiian Islands. But less toured doesn’t mean less beautiful.
On our next cruise to Hawaii from California, we definitely want to see more of the Garden Isle. Waimea Canyon, the NÄ Pali Coast, and Hanalei Valley and Bay, we’ve heard are all awesome sites to see. Princess also offers a tour called, “Hollywood-in-Hawaii - Movies & Waterfalls.” Hubby is a both a movie and a television fan, so this is definitely on our list for our next cruise to Hawaii from California.
My Personal Diary of Our Cruise to Hawaii From California
Princess Cruises Website (www.princess.com)
Smith's Tropical Paradise & Cultural Gardens