We were very disappointed that no pre-cruise excursions were offered here. We caught a free hotel shuttle to town on the morning of our departure, and the market place was a lot of fun. It would have been nice to see more of the area.
It was unfortunate that the timing of the cruise landed us in Papeete on a Sunday, when everything including transportation is closed down. The market place is said to be open on Sunday, but the cost of a taxi (the only available transportation) was higher than what we would have spent at the market. The sunset was gorgeous as was our hotel's black sand beach.
The Island Drive, Kia Ora & Belvedere, was nice, as was walking from the pier. However, the tour bus was NOT air conditioned. We found a fairly secluded shoreline where we could wade amongst tropical fish. There were also a few shops.
It was very rainy in Bora Bora, so the Island Drive, Anau Lookout & Bloody Mary's, was not as fun as it might have been. There are also a lot of potholes, making the bus feel like a jeep ride. Bloody Mary's was overly crowded due to the wesather. It was difficult getting the attention of the employees. We stopped at a nice place where pareus are made, modelled, and sold. Poverty in the area is evident, as is damage from past hurricanes. The natural scenery is otherwise great. The afternoon glass bottom boat ride had to be cancelled due to weather.
This was the Akaka Falls, Macadamia Nut Farm, and Tropical Gardens tour. It was difficult to find the meeting place. However, the tour took us to many unexpected places in addition to those mentioned. We also saw Rainbow Falls, the Rain forest Zoo, Wailoa River State Park, a black sand beach, etc. We got back an hour later than planned, but luckily we had no other tour booked. It was a great tour. Later we took a free shuttle to Hilo Hattie's to do some shopping.
We saw moms with calves, males fighting, and lots of whale action. The boat was crowded, so it was impossible to move away from an area where a fellow passenger had gotten seasick. (We could no longer hold onto the railing, etc.)
The tour operator was grumpy. He was blaming the passengers for his own lack of assistance and guidance. He was nowhere around when we were all directed onto his bus. This made him mad! He made sure that we all knew that he is 75 years old. We had to sit for a long time on the stationery bus, and later, we had to sit for a long time on the tethered river barge. We were all initially directed to the wrong barge. The river was ok, a bit boring. There were entertainers to help with that but they were only visible by those in the middle. We stopped at the Fern Grotto where the entertainers again performed. It was crowded; there were other boatloads there. It was difficult to get photos with so many people.
Princess was disappointing, not planning any excursions until the day before disembarkation. So we had already rented a car since we had 13 hours before our flight. The rental was cheap but the Thrifty car was a mess of dents and scratches! We wasted a lot of time recording them before we could move. A second car offered was no better. Waikiki is a big disappointment; the beachside bars are noisy, and there is nothing romantic about it any longer. The Dole Plantation was fairly fun, shopping (too expensive), the train ride, and eating (very good). Waimea Waterfall Park was lovely, with a nice hike, ancient sites, plants, birds, and a place where people could swim. Laniakea Beach was absolutely wonderful with big green sea turtles sunbathing (while being protected by conservation volunteers.)