Hawaii is one of our favourite holiday destinations, and travelling with a cruise offers a more intimate experience of the paradise islands, without the hassle of flying. Cruises visit up to 6 islands on a wide range of itineraries designed to appeal to every traveller. Create your dream vacation and relax on the beach, witness volcanic lava flows firsthand or explore the underwater landscape at world-class dive sites.
A truly cosmopolitan region, Hawaii's fusion of Polynesian, American and European influences is reflected in its unique cuisine and culture. Even with the huge number of holidaymakers visiting the islands all year round, the 50th state has retained its laid-back atmosphere.
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Hawaii became an American territory in 1900 and part of the United States in 1959. This means visitors can look forward to a United States standard of health care and other services, while still experiencing the exotic flavours of a Pacific destination.
- Currency - being part of the United States, Hawaii uses the US dollar, which can be withdrawn from ATMs using international credit or debit cards. Tourism is the region's biggest industry and as such, traveller's cheques and credit card payments are also widely accepted. 1 dollar is made up of 100 cents, however they are often known by their colloquial title. Coins come in 1 cent (penny), 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), 50 cents (half dollar) and 1 dollar. Notes come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars.
- Population - around 1.4 million people call Hawaii their home, including descendants of the islands' original settlers, descendants of immigrant workers and retirees from all over the world. The vast majority of islanders live in and around Honolulu.
- Language - Hawaii has its own historic Polynesian language, which is recognised as one of the state's official languages alongside English. In practice however, visitors and residents only need English to get around.
- Time Zone - the Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone is UTC-10:00, the westernmost time zone in the United States. Daylight saving time is not observed.
- Weather - Hawaii's year-round sun is one of its most appealing features for many travellers, and sunscreen and protective clothing are on sale everywhere. If your cruise program involves visiting volcanoes at higher altitudes, warm clothing may be needed.
Who goes there?
Most Hawaii cruises are either circuits of the islands beginning and ending at Honolulu, round-trip cruises from the American mainland, or repositioning cruises such as from Sydney to Honolulu. Norwegian Cruise Line offers 1-week cruises of 4 of Hawaii's major islands for fly-in passengers, as well as 2-week round trips from the west coast of the United States and Canada.
For an upscale cruise experience, Princess Cruises operates round trips from California, while Carnival Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises travel to Hawaii from Los Angeles and Mexico, as well as from Alaska in the summer months. Holland America Line offers 14-day round trips and the option to extend the cruise to Mexico, Peru and Tahiti.
Best time to go?
Hawaii is an all-year cruise destination, with average temperatures ranging from 24 degrees Celsius in the winter to 29.5 degrees Celsius in the summer. The best time to cruise largely depends on the type of activities you are planning to get involved in. Whale watching cruises operate from December to May and the best surfing conditions are between November and February.
Things to See and Do
- Honolulu - landing in the bustling port, you may feel that Honolulu is a far cry from the popular image of Hawaii – but leave the CBD behind and you'll find the city follows the same relaxed approach to life. Head west of Downtown to find the state's premier cultural and historical attractions, including the vast Bishop Museum and memorials at Pearl Harbour.
- Waikiki - Waikiki is Hawaii's tourist hotspot, and its beaches offer something for everyone, whether you just want to lie in the sun or to take part in exhilarating water sports such as canoeing, surfing and body boarding. Hike to the top of Diamond Head crater for the best views over the city.
- Maui - nature lovers flock to Maui from all over the world between December and April in the hope of spotting magnificent humpback whales on their annual migration. The island is also one of the most celebrated diving and snorkelling destinations in Hawaii for its undersea volcanic landscape.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - if you haven't had enough volcanoes, this sprawling national park on Hawaii island (commonly known as 'Big Island' to avoid confusion) offers enough peaks and calderas to fill several days. Popular activities include the drive around Crater Rim, the lava flows of Kilauea volcano and journeying inside Thurston Lava Tube.