Hawaii's Best Shore Excursions
USS Arizona Memorial & Mighty Mo
This tour hits two of Pearl Harbor's landmark attractions. After a stop in the Visitor's Center, you'll board a boat to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. When the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941, the ship's hull was shattered, and it sank, killing 1,177 crewmen. (1,102 remain entombed in the ship, which lies directly beneath the floating memorial.) Then you'll head to Ford Island, where the USS Missouri (aka Mighty Mo) is now docked. Japanese leaders signed the Formal Instrument of Surrender aboard the Mighty Mo on September 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay, officially ending World War II. The 887-foot battleship's distinguished career spanned five decades, including service in World War II, the Korean War and Operation Desert Storm. Decommissioned and opened as a museum, the mammoth ship now offers fascinating insights into the life of a sailor.
Who Should Go: Families, history buffs and seniors who are ambulatory will benefit from this tour. Exploring the USS Missouri Memorial fully requires extensive climbing up and down ladders and through hatches.
Why It's Extraordinary: The Arizona Memorial is a must for anyone who lived through or is interested in WWII history. On the Mighty Mo, you'll venture into areas of a real U.S. battleship that were seldom seen by anyone besides active-duty crews. Highlights include the Surrender Deck, where the war-ending treaty was signed; Engine Room #4; the brig; the sleeping quarters; the mess deck; and "Broadway," an armored belt running about two-thirds the length of the vessel where you can touch the original analog computers.
The highest point on Maui, Haleakala (meaning "House of the Sun") rises 10,023 feet above sea level. The views at its summit are magnificent; on a clear day, you can even see the peaks of the Big Island's Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes above the clouds. Other intriguing sights include the ahinahina (silver sword) plant, which grows nowhere else in the world, and the endangered nene (Hawaiian goose), Hawaii's state bird. If you're up for thrills, consider taking the tour that includes a bike ride back down the volcano; photographers on overnight stays won't want to miss the sunrise or sunset versions for the best light.
Who Should Go: The scenic driving tour is great for seniors, nature lovers and photo buffs. Those wanting to bike down the volcano should be at least 12 years old and five feet tall. They must be competent riders who are able to negotiate 21 switchbacks as they coast downhill at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour -- though you don't necessarily have to be in the greatest shape, as the ride is all downhill. No pregnant women or people with heart conditions, please.
Why It's Extraordinary: Haleakala last erupted in 1790 and is the world's largest dormant volcano. Its lunar-like crater measures 7.5 miles long, 2.5 miles wide and almost 3,000 feet deep. More than three-quarters of 30,183-acre Haleakala National Park, which encompasses the awesome crater, is designated as wilderness. Its landscape is otherworldly and likely unlike any place you've ever seen before.
Each winter, between 3,500 and 4,500 humpback whales (Hawaii's state mammal) travel 3,000 miles from chilly Alaska to warm island waters to mate and bear their young. Certified marine naturalists lead whale-watching expeditions between December 1 and April 30; the protected channel between Maui, Lanai and Molokai is the best place to see these magnificent animals. The experts provide fascinating information about the whales' behavioral patterns and current whale research, and, if you're lucky, you'll be able to hear haunting whale songs via onboard hydrophones.
Who Should Go: This is a great experience for families, sailors and anyone interested in the ocean and marine biology. Those prone to seasickness should take appropriate precautions.
Why It's Extraordinary: The whales are extraordinary! Weighing up to 40 tons and measuring up to 45 feet long, humpbacks are the fifth-largest of the world's great whales. Their annual return to Hawaii is a much-anticipated event, and thousands head out to sea to observe them. Imagine the thrill of seeing a gigantic whale breach, dive and slap its tail right before your eyes.
|For more information visit http://www.cruisecritic.com/|