Maybe you’ve seen them: Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts, mass-produced muumuus, plastic tiki torches, campy luau buffets, massive hotel complexes with casts of thousands, beaches too crowded for your towel: the by-products of Hawaiian vacation culture. For well over half a century, Hawaii has been a mecca for honeymooners, girls’ getaway-ers, and classic family vacationers, but do people who vacation in Hawaii ever see the most powerful beauty Hawaii has to offer? Probably not.
I’ve been to Hawaii. I stayed at a tiny ecolodge on the rainy side of the Big Island so I did minimize my encounters with heavy tourist culture. But what if there was a way to see Hawaii that would have you only going to the most deserted beaches, jungles and waterfalls? What if you could have some actual Hawaiian people around to tell you stories from their culture or start an impromptu jam session? What if you could keep a lookout for dolphins and whales, snorkel side by side with a century-old sea turtle, and wake up every day to a new adventure that did not include masses of tourists, and being waitlisted at restaurants?
I’m happy to say there is such a trip and we offer it here at Wild Nectar. The Hawaiian Seascapes: Waterfalls & Lava Fields trip on the lovely 36-passenger expedition ship, the Safari Explorer is an experience so far away from the usual tourist fare in Hawaii that I feel compelled to tell you how extraordinary it truly is. I’ve been an adventure travel planner for 12 years plus I helped design ship expeditions for a famous luxury travel company, and I can tell you there’s no other trip out there like this.
Expedition ships can take you to places you can’t get to by roads or sometimes even by helicopter. What makes this Hawaii expedition different from, say chartering a private yacht to travel these waters, is that you have a group of seasoned professionals onboard including highly-credentialed expert naturalist guides, an expedition leader, captain and crew who know these waters and shores better than occasional visitors, and a planned itinerary that has been tested and refined over several years. Traveling with only 36 passengers, you’ll feel like you're on a private yacht, yet the experiences will be even more rewarding than if the yacht were your own.
The trip begins on Molokai, a remote island inhabited by only 7000 people. In the first couple of days on the ship you’ll make landings to experience “old Hawaii”: no stop lights, no high-rises, just a welcome slower pace in paradise. Maybe you’ll “talk story” with locals and experience their land and traditions as few visitors do. You’ll have a lesson in poi making or hike to a towering waterfall in Halawa’s cathedral valley—one of Molokai Island’s most historic places.
In the days ahead, water sports are always on offer from snorkeling to kayaking to paddleboarding. See the unspoiled coasts of Maui and the Kona Coast in ways you’d never get to from a land trip. Snorkel in marine reserves where the bountiful, wildly-colored corals, sponges, and tropical fish have been preserved in their most pristine state. Head 6,000 feet up the cool and misty slopes of Hualalai Volcano through dryland native forest, past lava tubes, and peer into a pit crater from its edge.
This adventure includes visits to cultural and historical sites as well, yet always with respect for local traditions and points of view. I can’t emphasize strongly enough how unique this experience of Hawaii truly is. If you’ve thought about Hawaii yet have resisted visiting because of the crowded tourist trail, or even if you’ve already been to Hawaii yet suspect there’s a deeper, more authentic way to see it, this voyage would be an outstanding option for you.
The spirit of Aloha is rich and wonderful no matter how or in what form you encounter it yet you will be even more likely to feel the happiness and beauty alive in Hawaii if you can get off the beaten path, meet local people, and see the still-untouched beauty accessible only by expedition ship.
This program offers dates November through May. This would be an unforgettable adventure for multi-generational families, families with kids, couples (traveling perhaps while most kids are in school if you prefer not to travel around children), a group of friends, and even solo travelers as you can make friends on the ship. Rates start at $6,800 per person. Contact us and we’ll help you start planning your one-of-a-kind Hawaii small ship adventure.