We took very active shore excursions. We loved all of the ones we did. Here they are:
Circle Island in Papeete. I don't normally like bus trips but this full day trip was beautiful. We stopped at a French Polynesian Museum and the Gaughin Museum (only 2 original drawings of his). The scenery is extraordinary and we got a lesson in how they govern the many diverse island groups that make up French Polynesia.
On Moorea we took the motorized canoe trip. This is a 9am-3pm beach party. It was a blast. They take about 25 passengers per canoe for a 20-minute ride to a motu (deserted reef island). The food was great. Fresh barbequed mahi-mahi, pork chops, hot dogs, fresh pineapple, fresh coconut plus a few other things. The snorkeling was unbelievable. The beach surrounded a lagoon of about 3 square miles. It was full of fish and the water was very warm. It felt like being in a warm water aquarium. It's hard to believe that the fish are real. Also, 5 small sting rays came up for pets. They are so playful and friendly. Unfortunately, due to the length of the beach party we didn't get to see any of the island!
Bora Bora was a blast. We took a 4-wheel drive trip in the morning. It was VERY bumpy, but very fun. And we got to see ALL of Bora Bora. They lead you up hills you don't think you can make . Also included is a stop on guns left behind after World War II. Bora Bora is absolutely beautiful.
In the afternoon we took an introductory scuba lesson. I had scuba'd before but my husband hadn't. They even take non-swimmers. You get a life vest with air. They leave you floating on the surface with your tanks until they are ready to take 2 people at a time per diver. Then they let the air out of your vest and descend slowly to about 12-18 feet. I highly recommend this trip. You're only under water about 30-45 minutes and there is nothing like swimming freely under water and seeing the fish.
Christmas Island has no organized Princess shore excursions. In fact, they give a talk that discourages you from even wanting to go ashore.
We loved it!!! What an adventure. We were greeted by a wonderful group of singers and dancers who performed the whole day. The people were friendly but I have to admit there wasn't a lot to do. We took a short trip to a bird sanctuary motu tabu(small forbidden island). There were thousands and thousands of birds on an island about 2-3 square miles. We were lucky to have a guide that spoke a little English. He pointed out nests, eggs and recently hatched chicks.
After we returned to the main island we went to the Ace Pub. The photo on my home page showed their complete selection: Jack Daniels, Island Cola (bottled in Seattle), (Australian) VB Beer and some 7-up like soda. A picture of cats playing poker were the only adornments on the wall.
There is also a circle island tour. I would have like to have taken that tour but it was late, we were hungry and it was recommended to avoid the food and water on the island. Plus, it was just above the equator and bloody hot. I would definitely not miss Christmas Island. It's just necessary to go with an open mind.
Next was Kona. Our next door neighbors arranged for a horseback ride and said it was definitely the best ride they had ever been on. I believe it was Paniola Stables. They rode for most of the day over well-manicured grass on the Parker Ranch. We shopped in the morning (shopping tip: coffee and macadamia nuts at Country Samurai Coffee Co., in a little shopping area to the right of where the ship docks. GREAT coffee and macadia nuts.)
In the afternoon we took Captain Zodiac's snorkeling trip. There IS A REASON that the logo contains a skull and crossbones . This trip was on zodiac rafts that go 20-30 mph. As you hit waves the raft drops, and then...just to liven things up they will bank sharply. The first half of the ride you are hanging on for dear life. On the return, most of the people realized that you weren't going to go flying out of the raft and stopped clutching the railings. Depending on how much clutching you are doing you could come back bruised from this one. They take you 15 miles of the coast to Kealekekua Beach for snorkeling.
On Maui we did another all day party trip. This one was spent on a boat to Molokini Island. They cook lunch on the boat and you have a couple of hours to snorkel. This is a great snorkel trip, with lots of beautiful fish. On they way back we saw a whale (in the distance) and some turtles. This was a very fun trip. The boat had 2 decks, one in the sun and one above. The lunch was excellent. There was hamburgers, hot dogs, barbequed chicken, chips, fresh pineapple, sliced oranges and plenty of soda. There was also a bar that opened after lunch. It was requested that anybody snorkeling wait until the return trip to imbibe.
I took a cab to Whaler's Village to shop. It was much less crowded than the area around the dock. Also, much more upscale. Many of the shops were more expensive but there were also some very unusual galleries like an antique map store. Watch for the Classie Taxis. I rode back in a 33 Rolls...I felt so pampered. And the ride was no more expensive than a regular taxi!
On Kauai we took an all-day (9am-4pm) circle island trip. This trip drove modified 14-passenger vans that could 4-wheel drive (not quite as adventurous as the 8-passenger jeeps on Bora Bora). These vans drove dirt roads that were in pretty good shape. We covered about 1/2 the island, including Poipu, Waimea Canyon, and a lookout over the Na Pali cliffs. They warned us that the fog and mist may not clear to actually see Na Pali. When we arrived it was totally socked in. But the mist kept shifting and we actually got to see most of the cliffs and the sea. What a sight!!!! We made a couple of different stops along the west side of Waimea Canyon. It was beautiful. It rivals the Grand Canyon in Arizona in beauty, although it is a bit smaller. It does exhibit a lot more greenery than the Arizona Grand Canyon.
Tip: Don't miss the local ice cream. I don't remember the brand name but they have a cocunut macadamia nut fudge that is out of this world.