Since we didnt purchase any of the excursions from NCL (way too expensive) we found a private tour right at the pier for a very reasonable price. We had a wonderful 4 and hour tour of the area and were taken to the lava fields at Kalapana (site of the last lava flow in 2010 amazing); the black sand beach at Kaimu; Rainbow Falls and other points of interest around Hilo. This tour was perfect for my mom who has difficulty walking long distances.
We had a great time on this island. We were docked here for two days, but unfortunately the second day was a short day and we had to be back on ship by 1:30 pm. (We took a rest day the day before which was the long day should have reversed it.) There is free transport from the port to the little town of Lihue. The trolley lets you off at a small mall which has some nice little shops and places to eat including a Mexican Food restaurant which supposedly has great Margaritas - didn't get to try it. Facing the main street, there is a guy at a table selling tours at very reasonable prices. This is the place to do zip lines, snorkeling, helicopter tours and kayaking. NCLs excursions are very expensive so you should to find local companies who will give you a good tour for less.
We took a two hour tour that cost $140 for up to 6 people!! Had a really nice tour of Lihue and the area surrounding area. We saw, Wailua Falls and the Muanakapu mountains and river - beautiful!! Opaekaa Falls and the Alekoko Menehune fishpond were also lovely. Definitely go ashore on the first day and not the second day.
Kona was a tender port which means they use the life boats to take you from the ship to the landing, very cool. What wasnt cool was the weather very hot and muggy here and no breeze. We took the free shuttle to Hilo Hatties (there is one at every port so if you miss one, dont worry there will be another) then walked down to the Kona Brewery. This is a very popular place very close to the pier. There was a line and it took us about 30 minutes to get a table. There is no air-conditioning, only fans, but the food is good and according to my son, sister and niece, the beer was very good and it is reasonable. Unfortunately it was so hot and muggy; we stopped at the ABC Store on the way back to the pier and got back on the boat to get cool. I rated this port a 4 but mostly because of the muggy.
Maui was great and was one of the places we wish we had had one more day - we lost one day due to Tropical Storm Flossie. We took public transportation to Lahaina and enjoyed a 45 minute trip through the center of the island. Lahaina was a lovely little town with lots of shops and historical places to see.