Island Hopping: 5 Reasons a Cruise is the Best Way to See Hawaii

Hannah Hinson



Almost everyone dreams of visiting Hawaii, where spectacular beaches, tropical weather and a unique culture combine to make it a paradise by any sense of the word. But when travelers want to spend time in this bucket-list destination, they often wonder where to start. Which island should they visit: The famed beaches of Maui? The legendary surf of Oahu? The natural wonders of Kauai? The volcanoes of the Big Island? 

Travelers hoping to see all of them on their own may face significant expenses and logistical planning. The simplest solution to this challenge is an island-hopping Hawaii cruise. Starting from Honolulu, your floating resort ferries you to multiple islands. Many cruises include stops in Maui, Kauai, and both sides of the Big Island. It’s the most efficient and inclusive way to experience everything these islands have to offer.

Here are five reasons a cruise has become a preferred introduction to Hawaii.

#1 Visit the most locations.

Green mountain cliffs and clear blue water of Napali Coast on Kauai island, Hawaii Napali Coast on Kauai island, Hawaii

Any non-cruise itinerary that attempts to experience multiple Hawaiian islands will require three or four hotels, multiple modes of transportation, and hours spent waiting on intra-island flight departures, luggage lines and security queues. You’ll pack and unpack your suitcase multiple times and have to juggle a lot of details.

Or you can simply cruise between the islands, which means you’ll just unpack once as your floating resort travels with you. Most cruise ships—including one of our favorites, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America—visit the four main islands of the archipelago. Passengers will have nearly a full day to explore each of them on a typical itinerary.

#2 Simplify the choices.

Young child in a snorkeling mask, swimming underwater and reaching for a tropical fish Young child snorkeling and reaching for a tropical fish

Cruises offer a comprehensive slate of shore excursions so travelers can make the most of their time in ports like Hilo, Kona or Kahului on Maui. You’ll want your time in Hawaii to be filled with iconic experiences, whether that’s a traditional Hawaiian luau, surfing lessons, waterfall hikes or a majestic volcano tour.

You won’t have to spend hours researching the best-reviewed guides or safest tour companies. Cruise lines do it for you! Official excursion operators have been fully vetted and work closely with each ship to keep passengers engaged and on-schedule with their pre-planned activities. It’s the most worry-free way to plan your Hawaiian adventures.

#3 Experience more.

Rainbow over the Hawaii skyline Stunning view of rainbow over Hawaii skyline

If you travel to a single Hawaiian island, you might participate in one or two exciting activities. Most visitors to Oahu have Waikiki Beach or Pearl Harbor on their radar, but obviously won’t get to see Waimea Canyon (“The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”) on Kauai. Likewise, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the islands’ most popular tourist attractions, but you can’t go there if you’re staying on Oahu or Maui.

That’s where an island-hopping cruise gives you the most options, especially if your time in Hawaii is truly a once-in-a-lifetime trip. There’s simply no other way to experience all the highlights of Hilo, Kona, Oahu, Maui and Kauai over a matter of days.

#4 Save money.

Lounging chairs overlooking Hanalei Bay and the Na Pali coast Princeville Kauai Hawaii USA in the late afternoon sun Lounging chairs overlooking Hanalei Bay in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii

Did you know cruise visitors to Hawaii almost always spend less per day than “land” visitors? Hawaii has a reputation for being an expensive vacation destination, but a cruise combines meals, transportation, lodging and entertainment into one very reasonable price. You won’t be subject to pricey restaurant meals or wade through Trip Advisor reviews to figure out what’s for dinner. You can just head to the complimentary restaurant on your ship before embarking on your next adventure!

Meanwhile, you also won’t have to rent cars, book expensive inter-island flights or be surprised by hidden resort fees. The all-in-one package details of an island-hopping cruise make your trip incredibly cost-efficient.

#5 Enjoy world-class entertainment.

Our passengers love the world-class entertainment options provided by our cruise partners, but Christian travel with Inspiration means even more exclusive entertainment options. In fact, on our itineraries, you’ll hear from some of the top Christian authors, speakers and musicians in the world.

Large crowd of people at a MercyMe concert MercyMe concert on their Caribbean cruise with Inspiration

For example, our upcoming Gospel Music Celebration cruise in Hawaii doesn’t feature just one or two incredible musical acts, but a full roster of award-winning gospel artists including the Booth Brothers, The Hoppers, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, Triumphant Quartet and many others. You’ll explore the beauty of a new Hawaiian island each day and tap your toes to some of the world’s best gospel music every evening, back on board the ship.

Even better, cruising Hawaii with Inspiration means you’ll be surrounded by like-minded believers, giving you built-in opportunities to make new friends and refresh your faith while seeing one of the most gorgeous corners of God’s Creation. You’ll finish the trip inspired by the songs and messages of your favorite artists and energized by the new experiences. If Hawaii is at the top of your bucket list, a cruise is the broadest, easiest and most accessible way to encounter as much of this paradise as possible.