Hilo Hawaii on the eastern side of the big Island is a popular cruise ship destination.
The frugal cruiser will avoid the expensive cruise ship shore excursions and see the island on your own... the easiest way to do this is by Rent-A-Car.
Admittedly a DIY approach is not for everyone... some took the shore excursions... some walked into town.... some took advantage of the free shuttle buses from Walmart or Hilo Hattie's...it is your choice.
Knowing that we were visiting four islands, I made rental car reservations for all four islands before we left on the cruise.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and I would've been better off, waiting until the day of arrival and using Priceline's name your own price option to get the best deal.
However if there happens to be more than one cruiseship in port at the same time the competition for rental cars is greater and the likelihood of saving anything at all with Priceline is less.
The worst-case scenario, would be to have no reservation and have no cars available... this didn't happen but you need to be aware that this could happen.
Depending upon the time that you In Hilo you are usually restricted to going south or north...south will take you to the Kilauea Volcano national Park, over 62 you qualify for a lifetime pass to the national parks for 10 bucks here's the official government site.
We also took a free hour and a half guided tour with a park ranger that was extremely interesting... our only expense was the car and the gas... much cheaper than any shore excursion.
If you choose to go north, you can visit the tropical botanical Gardens, The Waip'o Valley or the Akaka Falls...we will save that for next time.
While we were there, the volcano was nice enough to be erupting and for the first time in several years it flowed all the way to the ocean... Hawaii just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
I don't think Will Rogers was thinking of how a volcano can create land when he stated..." Buy land they're not making any more"
For the fellow adventurers among you you can take advantage of the various shuttle buses that are free from the pier...among them is Hilo Hattie's, they have shops on every island... but something tells me from the name that it started in Hilo.
There are also free shuttle buses for Walmart, that will get you close enough to town to walk around, get a little local flavor with some exercise thrown in... you will find these free shuttles in most of the ports... the crewmembers run out of shaving cream, and other essentials just like anyone else, and the stores will make it as convenient as possible for their customers.
I am a big fan of cruising as a way of taking cheap vacations...a 14 day round-trip cruise from Los Angeles, we drove six hours from Phoenix, ended up costing us slightly less than $100 a day per couple.
Compare that to an airline flight, a rental car, hotel and your food expenses...you will find that cruising is the way to go, look at it like this...your hotel floats, you only have to unpack once, and dining and entertainment is included on a cruise ship.
So Hilo, you will see us again... next time we will head north to see the sights...we cannot wait.
Thanks for reading frugal Hilo.