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Home > Member Reviews > westcoaster's Port Reviews of Maui, Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai, Pago Pago, Bora Bora

westcoaster's Port Reviews of Maui, Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai, Pago Pago, Bora Bora
Sapphire Princess cruise in October 2011
Member Name: westcoaster
Cruise Date: October 2011
Embarkation: Los Angeles
Destination: South Pacific
Member Review: westcoaster's Sapphire Princess Review
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Lahaina(8 am to 6 pm) - This was a tender port. We thought that with all the Elites on board there things might be slow for us lowly Platinums, but it was relatively quick. We got our tender tickets at 9 am and within 30 minutes we were on the tender. Although pretty touristy, Lahaina is a pretty little town and worth some time to explore. If you do, try the shave ice at Ululani's on Front Street - it was the best we had on this trip - so smooth and delicious! We took the Maui transit bus to Ka'anapali Beach. You can catch the bus at the back side of the Wharf Cinema Center. The #25-Ka'anapali Islander bus leaves every hour on the 0:30 and goes to Whaler's Village at Ka'anapali Beach. It costs $1 and takes about 25 minutes. The beach at Ka'anapali is nice. There's not much shade, so we rented an umbrella for $15. Snorkelling is not bad at the far right side of the beach (Black Rock). We saw a sea turtle there.

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Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Big Island (7 am to 5 pm) - We rented a car here, and it was a very convenient and reasonable way for our group of 4 to sightsee. The rental car shuttles take you from the port to the rental car location by the airport. First we drove to Volcanoes National Park (45 min. drive). There are some great viewpoints along Crater Rim Drive of the Kilauea Volcano and the steam vents. Part of Crater Rim Drive was closed, so we went the other way to walk through the lava tubes - really cool. We went to the lookout for the Kilauea Iki Crater and decided to hike down to the bottom to walk on the lava. The hike wasn't as arduous as we thought it would be, and well worth it to see the surreal landscape down there. The whole hike took less than 90 minutes round trip. After that, we drove back towards Hilo, then out to Akaka Falls (less than 30 min. drive from Hilo). This side of the island is very lush and the loop trail at Akaka Falls goes by an amazing assortment of tropical plants. The falls themselves are also very pretty. On the way to or from Akaka Falls, you go through the old mill town of Honomu, which is worth a stop. We also had a quick look around Hilo. I wish we'd had a bit more time because it looked like a nice little town, and not too touristy.
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Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Oahu (7 am to 11 pm) - we docked beside the Aloha Tower in downtown Honolulu. We've been to Honolulu several times before, so we decided to just have a beach day in Waikiki. We took the city bus. The route B CityExpress bus is the fastest route to Waikiki. It runs every 15 minutes along King St and costs $2.50. You can get it going back on Kuhio. If you have time, stay for the free outdoor hula show by Kuhio Beach at 6:30 pm - I thought it was much more atmospheric than seeing the hula show on the ship!

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Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Nawiliwili(7 am to 4 pm) - We rented a car, and again there was a free shuttle from the port to the rental car location. We drove to Waimea, then up Waimea Canyon Drive to Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park. The scenery is amazing! There are some great viewpoints along the way: be sure to stop at the Waimea Canyon lookout, Pu'u Hinahina lookout (another different view of Waimea Canyon), the Kalalau lookout (great view towards the Napali Coast), and go all the way to the end of the road to the Pu'u o Kila lookout (an even better view towards the Napali Coast). We stopped at Jo Jo's in Waimea for shave ice, since it was recommended. Don't do it - it was very disappointing!

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Pago Pago
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
American Samoa (10 am to 7 pm) - Pago Pago has a beautiful deep harbor surrounded by green forested mountains. We hired a taxi at the port and asked to go to Alega Beach, which is where Tisa's Barefoot Bar is located. The taxi was $20 for 4 of us and it was a pleasant 30 minute drive around the harbor and along the rugged south coast of the island. When we got to the beach, we realized that the driver had actually dropped us off at the adjacent Avaio Beach, but we decided just to stay there. This beach is run by a very friendly family. For $2 each, we had use of shaded tables and chairs, showers, and changing facilities. The beach is nice here and the water is amazingly warm and clear. Unfortunately, it was a little shallow for swimming and snorkelling, though we still did go into the water. Due to the shallow water, it was difficult to swim over the reef, but you could swim along the edges and there were many beautiful fish and corals. Afterwards, we went back to Pago Pago and had a walk around. The town is quite pretty, with several wooden churches and old buildings. The people were also very friendly. If you turn left as you get off the ship and walk for about 10 minutes you will come to Utelei Beach Park, which has a nice calm beach, shade, and facilities. Lots of the ship's crew and passengers were swimming here. On the way back to the ship we noticed hundreds of flying foxes (large bats) up in the trees across from where the ship docks. Later in the evening when we were back on board the ship we could see them flying around - pretty cool.

Apia, Samoa (7 am to 4 pm) - We had arranged a tour in advance with Polynesian Xplorer. Our driver and guide picked us up by the ship at 8:30. We drove along the northeast coast of the island past many beautiful little villages. Most of the houses (falas) are open-air, with just a thatched roof, so people really live out in the open. The houses had beautiful well-tended gardens, and there were many people out working in their yards. Our guide said they have a contest for the cleanest and most well-kept village. There are also many, many churches in Samoa, a legacy of the missionaries. I would have liked to have more time to stop and spend some time in one of these pretty little villages. We went up through the mountains at Le Mafa pass, but it started to rain at this point so we couldn't see much. After about 2 hours of driving we arrived at Lalomanu Beach - a very picturesque South Pacific beach with rows of beach falas. We had a nice swim in the warm, calm water, then continued on our way. We went back along the South Coast past more villages then the Cross Island Road back to Apia.

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Bora Bora
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Bora Bora, French Polynesia (9 am to 10 pm) - It was nice having a later arrival at Bora Bora, so we could go out on deck at 8 am and watch as we sailed into the stunningly beautiful lagoon - don't miss it! This was another tender port, but once again the tender process went very smoothly and there was little or no wait for boats. The tenders go into Vaitape on the west side of the island. On cruise ship days, they have a shuttle bus running between Vaitape and Matira Beach for $5 each way. Matira Beach is the best beach on the island, with white sand and warm, still, turquoise water. There is a big beachfront pavilion for shade, as well as the requisite palm trees. There are also showers and change rooms, as well as some beachfront snack bars. After some swimming and snorkeling, we walked around the waterfront to the famous Bloody Mary's restaurant. It's a very pleasant walk past beaches, tropical gardens, and houses. It's probably about 1-2 km and takes about 15-20 minutes to walk. There's a narrow dock across the road from Bloody Mary's with a fantastic view across the bay the peaks of Bora Bora, so it's worth stopping here even if you don't go to Bloody Mary's. The shuttle back to the ship also stops here, so it was easy to get back. We had a look around Vaitape before going back to the ship - it's not a bad little place with a few shops and restaurants, and a couple of cute little churches. As we were heading back to the ship on the tender, an almost full moon rose above the peaks - beautiful!

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Moorea, French Polynesia (8 am to 5 pm) - We were greeted with more stunning scenery as we sailed into Oponohu Bay, with the sharp peaks of Mt. Rotui rising behind. We rented a small car here. It was more expensive to rent here than in Hawaii, but it was still a great way for our group of 4 to see around the island. We had reserved in advance, so they had the car waiting for us right where the tender came in. The first thing we did was to drive along Oponohu Bay and up to the Belvedere Lookout. It's located in the center of the island and there's a great 360 degree view over Oponohu and Cook's Bay and all the jagged green mountains. After that, we drove back down to the coast and continued around Oponohu and Cook's Bay. We stopped at Plage Temae - a nice white sand beach - for some swimming. It was a bit windier and cooler than the day before in Bora Bora, but still nice. Afterwards, we drove up to the Toatea Overlook, which has a great view over Temae Beach and the overwater bungalows of the Sofitel Hotel. It's definitely worth a stop - the turquoise of the water near the beach is stunning! The ship left at 5 pm, so it was a beautiful sailaway as we sailed by Oponohu Bay and Cook's Bay as the sun began to set. It's a short 2-hour sail to Tahiti, so we stayed out on deck for the whole trip - there was a beautiful sunset over Moorea as it receded in the distance and we approached Tahiti.

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Tahiti (Papeete)
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Papeete, French Polynesia(7 pm to 5 pm) - We arrived at Papeete at 7 pm, a little ahead of schedule. The ship docked right in the main harbor adjacent to downtown. There is a park right beside where the ship docks where they set up numerous roulottes (food trucks) each evening. It's very popular with locals and tourists, and it's a great scene for hanging out and people watching in the evening. The next morning was beautiful and sunny (the clearest day we had on the whole cruise). We first went to the Public Market, which is in a large building a block or two back from where the ship docks. There were lots of colorful tropical fruits and vegetables and interesting fish for sale, as well as handicrafts and souvenirs. We went first thing in the morning, before breakfast, since public markets are often at their liveliest early in the morning. However, we went back to the market later in the day and it was just as lively and interesting then, so no need for an early start if you don't want to! After all the touring on the other islands, we decided just to spend the day exploring Papeete by foot. The waterfront is very nice, lined with walkways and parks, including an area where hundreds of brightly colored canoes are stored on the beach. We walked down as far as the pink Paofai church - the main Protestant church in Papeete. Nearby is the Pearl Museum, which is free and has some interesting displays - the AC is also a nice break from the heat! Bouganville Park, near the central waterfront, is also a nice place to rest in the shade of the trees by the fish ponds. Inland from the park, there are several important buildings, including the Presidential Palace and the Papeete Cathedral. We also walked up a couple of the hills behind the downtown area to some nice leafy residential areas with views over downtown and the harbor.

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