Hawaii Cruise Information

Cruise Ship near Kailua-Kona

Cruise Ship near Kailua-Kona

The Big Island of Hawaii is a popular cruise destination, serviced by the major cruise lines including Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Check out our latest deals on Hawaiian Cruises.

Most of these cruise ships will make several port calls including Lahaina Maui, Kahului Maui, Nawiliwili Kauai, Kailua-Kona Hawaii, Hilo Hawaii, and Honolulu Oahu. It is a wonderful opportunity to see several cities on several Hawaiian Islands - and still give you plenty of time on shore for activities, tours, and exploring.

For those of you new to the Big Island of Hawaii, check out our recommended packing list.  Also, if you are planning to visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park while on your Port Call in Hilo, check out our Volcano Gear Guide with recommended gear and clothing for your visit to the Volcano.

Rental Cars

Rental cars are conveniently available at both Ports of Call on the Big Island. In Hilo, several rental car companies offer courtesy shuttle bus pick-up from the pier - the shuttle bus takes you 1/2 mile to the airport where the rental cars are located. In Kona, Dollar Rental Car will drop off vehicles at the King Kamehameha Hotel, located adjacent the Kailua-Kona pier (enter location KOAN02 at Dollar.com and save 5%, enter Promo code LNKSH.) All major rental car companies are available at the Kona Keahole Airport, but it is about a 30-minute drive from the pier to the airport with no shuttle bus support.

Port of Hilo

Hilo is a deep-water harbor protected by a man-made breakwater, and the cruise ships will park alongside the pier.  The Hilo-area beaches are just down the road from the pier, but a little too far to walk.  Take the opportunity to check out the black sand beach at Richardson Ocean Park, located about 2.5 miles to the east on Kanalianaole St.  About 1 mile to the west of the pier is Banyan Drive and Queen Liliuokalani Gardens.  Most cruise passengers will opt for a guided tour of this side of the Big Island.  There is a lot to see in and around Hilo town, including the impressive Volcanoes National Park, Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens.  As you leave Hilo Bay in the evening, your cruise ship will likely turn south paralleling the coast of the Kilauea Volcano.  Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983 and you should be able to see the spectacular lava flows right from your cruise ship as you sail south.

In Hilo, a cruise ship pulling into port means good business.  Often, there will be a free Hawaiian music and traditional dancing exhibition in front of the Wal-Mart in town - the show put on specifically for cruise passengers.  Don’t forget to buy souvenirs - Hilo Hattie has free shuttle buses in both Hilo and Kailua-Kona that take you to and from the store.  You can also find taxis conveniently right at the pier.  For more information check out our Hilo section with details and photos about Hilo area attractions.

Kailua Pier

Kailua Bay is a shallow-water bay and as such, the cruise ship will need to anchor out in deeper water.  Transportation to and from shore is provided by small ferry boat that shuttles passengers between the ship and Kailua Pier.  The pier is located at the corner of Alii Drive, near the heart of Kailua-Kona, within easy walking distance of most attractions.  Ali’i Drive is surrounded by many shops and restaurants, offering ample opportunities to buy some souvenirs and get a bite to eat.  With plenty of sunshine and crystal-clear waters, most visitors will engage in some of the Big Island Activities and Tours that are offered in Kona.  Explore the ocean, visit pristine beaches, and enjoy the view and famous sunsets.

If you are looking for beaches or snorkeling, you will most likely need to rent a car.  Other than the Kamakahonu Beach, most are too far to walk to.  You can rent a car, motor scooter, or take a taxi.

Another way to travel around Alii Drive and Kailua town is by shuttle bus.  The Alii Shuttle (tel. 808/938-1112) travels up and down Alii Drive (the coastal road) and Palani Road (the main entrance to Kailua-Kona) from the Lanihau Shopping Center to Ohana Keauhou Bay Resort, stopping just about anywhere you want on Palai Road or Alii Drive (just flag the bus down). The buses run about every hour and a half. The cost is $2 one-way; the current hours of operation (subject to change, so call to check) are from 8:30am (leaving Keauhou Bay heading north to Kailua Village) to 7pm. No buses on Sunday.  This shuttle is convenient for cruise ship passengers because the Kailua Pier is located on Alii Drive, along the bus route.  For more details on how to get around, check out our Big Island Transportation article.

Hawaiian cruise packages include shipboard accommodations, ocean transportation, fabulous entertainment and daily activities, on-board meals and some beverages, port charges and more. It does not include shore excursions, personal expenses, gratuities, or alcoholic beverages.  Looking for a bargain?  Check out our Online Cruise Finder for the best cruise bargains.

Cruise ship at Kailua Pier

Cruise ship at Kailua Pier


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