The North Shore is totally different, less developed, more original, more character and far more laid back. It looks and feels more Polynesian and is full of trendy coffee shops full of surfers waiting for the right conditions, or it has big waves and they are out surfing. The area was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty in the 1800s who enjoyed surfing there on early forms of longboards. You can also canoe the inlets. This is a totally different view of the island. It is easy to get to the North Shore by public bus. The 52 goes straight there, the 55 goes round the coast to it; go one way come back the other. The bus stop is outside the cruise terminal and the drivers will help you but the bus you might want to take could be a couple of blocks away. Use google transit to plan your route. The public buses cost just a couple of dollars and you can get on and off once within a few hours, so you could go round the whole island for $2!
There is nothing much to see on the 52 bus up the middle of the island other than a banana plantation, but you have time to stop there. Most cruisers will have seen a banana plantation, we show one on our film of St Lucia Volcano. You could take the 52 up the middle of the island straight to North Shore, then get the 55 back round the west coast. That would be our tip. The 55 will roll you round the North shore and various surf beaches, the Turtle Bay Golf and Action Centre, then markets and food stalls as it turns back down the coast an hour from ship. It then passes the Polynesian Cultural Centre and then passes Kualoa Ranch; you could spend a day at either. Then back to, the 55 stops at the cruise terminal before going into Honolulu. Check the routes incase they change, but for a few dollars you can do the whole island.
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