Last week I asked: What is an Un-Cruise?
It’s a cruise for people who think they don’t like cruise ships.
When John and I were in Hawaii we wanted to see as many of the islands as possible and we found the perfect way to do it on the Un-Cruise Safari Explorer.
Un-Cruise allowed us to visit four islands and all the tours were included.
It was a luxury cruise without the glitz.
Shorts, swimsuits and T-shirts were the preferred attire.
The Safari Explorer can accommodate 36 passengers but there were only 23 on our seven-night cruise which made the experience more desirable.
Our room had a queen size bed, A/C, and ensuite bathroom plus sliding glass doors with a great view of the sea and islands.
The crew was a fountain of information about the history of the islands and the denizens of the sea plus they used local people to add to our understanding of the island and sea creatures.
One evening Katie, from Kona Diving Company, came aboard and gave an informative presentation on manta rays.
They have no teeth, but funnel food into their mouth using the two large flap-like lobes.
After the presentation it was time to shimmy into our wetsuits for an exciting night snorkel with the mantas.
Watching these huge rays doing belly rolls was like being part of a National Geographic special.
I saw slate pencil sea urchins (first time) along with Yellow Tang, Achilles Tang, Banner fish, Pink Tail Trigger fish, Orangeband Surgeon Fish, Butterfly Fish, Sergeant Major fish, humu-humu-nuku-nuku-a’pua’a – Hawaii’s state fish also known as the Picasso Triggerfish.
When we returned mango margaritas where waiting.
Another day, we headed out on the skiff with our group and went snorkeling above the sea turtle’s “cleaning stations” where the surgeon fish were cleaning the algae off the turtles.
The guide put a microphone in the water to listen to whales but mostly we heard the crunching sound of the parrot fish gnawing on the coral and then expelling sand.
Nearly every day we saw dolphins and humpback whales.
Watching whales breach is awe inspiring.
A few had their newborns with them.
Most days included a shore tour.
In Lahaina on Maui there was the weekly handicraft market under the 100-year-old spreading banyan tree.
I visited the Cultural Heritage Center and learned more about the local culture.
One of my favorite shore trips was to the island of Molokai.
The island is a step back into the 1950s with no fast food joints, no stoplights and virtually no people.
Our tour took us to Halawa Valley where we met Anakala Pilipo who invited us into the valley with a “honi,” the traditional greeting of touching noses and foreheads.
Pilipo’s family has been living in the valley for 50 generations, the longest continuous civilization known in Hawaii.
All meals were gourmet and Chef Nate prepared fish that I loved which is saying something because I seldom eat fish.
The day was packed with so many great activities that I didn’t have time to enjoy the alfresco hot tub or teak chaises on the bridge deck; but it was a favorite place to enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunset.
I confess I did not get up in the morning for the yoga class and didn’t have time for my free spa treatment.
Some of my fellow passengers had taken the Un-Cruise Alaskan Adventure and others signed up for future cruises.
I’d like to do the Baja Peninsula cruise someday.
Trivia Tease™: Where was Hawaii’s famous leper colony? Look for the answer next week.
Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!