Totally nice gentleman and a regular guy met us at the pier in his own vehicle, and he was ours for 6 hours - to do or see anything. PERFECT!! Took us directly where we wanted to go, told us about Hawaii as a local and as a tour guide, ansered all our questions 1 on 1, was charming, informative, funny, positive, supportive, just ... perfect! We toured the Volcanoes National Park and a little around Hilo.
Honolulu - stayed in the city on this stop because you cannot see the island in one day!! We will visit the island and tour the whole thing for a couple weeks at a later date, so we focused on the city and Waikiki. City is crowded, traffic, must see includes the International Market and Duke's restuarant right on Waikiki Beach - make reservations (name on their list) when you arrive, it will be over an hour - so walk around the market across the street. Dinner at sunset - PERFECT! FIREWORKS on Friday nights on the beach! Just like you imagine it is, but more crowded that you might anticipate.
Kauai = not listed as a port choice = not developed much, tours to see the sights available, breath taking as you would expect, but ... not developed. Keep expectations in check and look at this island!
Maui = not listed as a port choice = developed some, hotels, and breath taking island locations and interesting things to see and do - more than one has time for. Whales = Dec-April
The local tour vehicles start the day with round-the-island tours, and in the afternoon run point to point shuttles - FYI. We were late getting off the ship but grabbed a local tour guy and grabbed other people from the ship to do an island tour in the afternoon - they can be bought, lol. Happy, informative, positive, funny, pleasant, a typical island guy who is happy to help the tourists and tell of his island. They like the US and not the French all that much. Many hotels with the water huts are wrecked from a typhoon, not repaired. Hurting business, so they like ALL visitors! Beautiful Island - BEST BEST of the 3 French Polynesian ports. Didn't have tome to snorkel, but we were told it was outstanding! Bloody Mary from South Pacific is based on a real person who opened a restaurant here, and the island looks like the inspiration for the movie back drop, but the movie was shot in Kauai, Hawaii, with a painted mountain for Bali Hai. Spoiler, "Bali Hai" is the name of a tribe in Figi, they just used the name in the movie for the ficticious island.
Bus was crowded, trip was "fast", pointed out lots of churches and not so much on culture or the island. WAY too much enphasis on religion!! Very interesting island, breath taking views and mountains, and quiet inlets! Some traffic. A big island to see in a few hours - you really need a couple days. Outstanding snorkeling we were told again. This island is just 8 miles from Tahiti, the main French Polynesian Island. Small townlets on the island. VIDEO the island's girl dancers - they are incredible!
Tahiti is the biggest and main island of French Polynesia, it is French so THAT was depressing. The port is in a small city with traffic and a blend of nice people and ... French - they have attitudes. Prices were notably high for the tourists, roads were busy (traffic) even well outside the city, and the city is depressing. Island scenery is as beautiful as you'd expect, many roads not maintained, locals appear to be trashing the place - poor and associated issues. It is NOT the tropical paradise you expect ... go to Bora Bora for that. It is where past explorers landed including the Bounty, which is why it is famous. Beautiful people and hospitality of the past is ... history. People work and tourists are to be exploited. Still, it IS a famous place to say you've been to ... but visit Bora Bora, THAT is what you are looking for.