Hawaii Travelog Archive

Below is a list of the various places I visited during multiple trips to the beautiful islands of Hawaii.  The Hawaiian Islands rank as my favorite place in the world and my wife and I try to make a visit there every year.  This archive will be an ongoing series of postings as I make return visits to see more of these beautiful islands.

Hawaii

Kauai

Oahu

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On Walkabout: Aerial Pictures of Hawaii

I often travel to Hawaii and on my last flight to the islands I was fortunate enough to have a window seat plus clear weather to take some fantastic shots of my favorite place on Earth:

If you look at the center of the above picture the island of Molokai is visible.  Just above Molokai is the small island of Lanai which is where Bill Gates rented out every hotel room on the island to ensure his privacy during his wedding on the island.  To the left of Molokai the volcanic mountains on Maui are visible.  Off in the distance on the far upper left of the photo the summits of the two shield volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii are visible.  It was truly an awesome experience to get such a clear view of the islands from this high up in altitude from a commercial airplane.  Even the pilot said over the intercom that this is one of the clearest views of the islands he has seen.

Then as the plane descended for its final destination on the northernmost island of Kauai, it flew right over the most populated island in Hawaii, Oahu:

It was great to have such a vantage point over Oahu where I could easily make out major landmarks such as Pearl Harbor:

I also had some great views of the Koolau Mountains and Oahu’s famed North Shore:

You can read much more about Oahu at my prior postings about this wonderful island.

After a short while the plane began to descend towards Kauai:

I have been to Kauai many times and the island was as green and beautiful as always:

Finally here is a picture as the plane I was on was being taxied at the Lihue Airport:

Over the next month I plan on publishing a number of postings about this beautiful island that I hope inspires others to travel to this gem of a location in the Pacific.

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On Walkabout Recommendation: The Hilton Hawaiian Village

The hotel I stay at whenever I am on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu is the expansive Hilton Hawaiian Village located along the world famous Waikiki Beach:


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The Hilton Hawaiian Village is an older hotel since it was built in 1957, however despite its age it is still the largest hotel in the Hilton chain since it houses 3,386 rooms.  The hotel also has everything you would expect from a tourist resort such as a spa, great restaurants, pools, beaches, etc.

Picture from the Hilton Hawaiian Village

Picture from the Hilton Hawaiian Village

I stay here because I have a lot of Hilton Honors points first and foremost, but I like the central location of the resort, the friendly service, and the clean and spacious rooms.  Here is a look at a standard hotel room:

Picture from the Hilton Hawaiian Village

The bed was very comfortable and the room had a refrigerator and coffee maker:

Picture from the Hilton Hawaiian Village

Here is the restroom:

Picture from the Hilton Hawaiian Village

Here is the view from my room looking across the hotel complex:

Picture from the Hilton Hawaiian Village

The grounds of the hotel has a very Japanese flavor to it and considering the amount of Japanese tourists that stay here it is easy to understand why:

Picture from the Hilton Hawaiian Village

The Japanese village has a number of shops that are actually fun to look around, but be warned everything is overpriced compared to what you can find in other shops in Waikiki:

Picture from the Hilton Hawaiian Village

Picture from the Hilton Hawaiian Village

One of the downsides of the resort is that it is pretty isolated from the rest of Waikiki meaning it is a long walk to check out restaurants other than the ones on the resort’s property.  Even if you have a car it is still better to walk to another restaurant because of the parking situation in Waikiki.  There is nothing wrong with the restaurants on the hotel’s property other than how expensive they are.  In fact the Japanese restaurant, Benihana of Tokyo is quite good:

Picture from the Hilton Hawaiian Village

However, expect to pay $30 or more a person if eating there.  You can find comparable or even better food in Waikiki for much less if you are willing to walk.  At night though the Hilton is well known in Waikiki for its Hawaiian music concerts:

Pictures from Honolulu, Hawaii

The concert is really quite good and we both enjoyed it, much like our stay at the Hilton itself.

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On Walkabout On: The Leeward Coast of Oahu

The very last part of Oahu that my wife and I checked out was the Leeward Coast of Oahu.  This area is on the western side of the island centered around the city of Waianae:


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I have heard a lot of bad things about this side of the island because the locals are supposedly unfriendly to haole coming to this side of the island.  My wife and I experienced the local hospitality when we ate lunch at a Waianae Pizza Hut and the service was horrible and unfriendly and the food took for ever to come out.  It was lunch time and there was almost nobody else in the Pizza Hut but us; you would think the waitress would be happy to have a customer, but we discovered otherwise.

Despite this unfortunate encounter with local hospitality my wife and I drove the extent of the Leeward Coast.  Like the rest of the island the west coast of the island is quite spectacular as well.  This is considered the dry side of the island and compared to the Windward Coast it was much drier:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

There was some pretty nice beaches on the west coast that some decent size waves:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

With such waves that meant of course there was people trying to surf them:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

Something else that really turned off my wife and I about this side of the island was how the beaches were filled with squatters that trashed the beautiful beaches:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

They even had junked cars sitting on the beach:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

It seemed to me that the Oahu authorities just gave up this side of the island to the beach bums in order to keep them consolidated in one area and away from the major tourist beaches:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

Anyway all along the Leeward Coast the Waianae Mountains, the highest mountains on Oahu, provides a lush green backdrop to the dry coastal lands:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

Much of the land composing these mountains is actually part of the US Army’s Schofield Barracks training area:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

My wife and I next stopped to check out this plaque pointing out the Kaneana cave:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

Across the street from the plaque is the Kaneana cave:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

The ancient Hawaiians named this cave after Kane the God of Creation because the deepness of the cave reminded them of a woman’s womb.

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

Once inside the cave it is easy to understand why they gave this cave such a name:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

In ancient times entrance to this cave was considered “kapu” or taboo because it was supposedly home to Nanaue’ the Shark Man. Fortunately I didn’t run into a Shark Man when visiting the cave though it was so dark maybe I missed him.

Here was the view from Kaneana looking south along the stretch of coast we just drove across:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

Here is the view looking north towards the island’s northern most area, Kaena Point:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

Below is a picture of the junky Dodge Avenger that we rented.  The car had just over 10,000 miles on it and it was making strange rattling noises and the radio stopped working after only two days.  Is it any wonder Chrysler needed to be bought out by the government when they are producing junk cars like this?:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

The beach located at the end of Highway 93 that spans nearly the entire west side of the island was pretty much deserted when my wife and I arrived there:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

There is supposedly some dangerous rip currents here which may explain why we didn’t see anybody trying to surf or bodyboard at this beach:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

Up above the beach we noticed this radar dome:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

We also noticed what appeared to be a residence or maybe a facility for the radar operators?

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

From the beach this is where hikers can walk to the very northwest end of Oahu that follows this large ridgeline that points like a finger at the neighboring island of Kauai:

Picture from Waianae, Oahu

All in all as nice as the scenery is on the Leeward Coast of Oahu it is really a location that should be last on anyone’s Oahu itinerary.  If you have time it is worth taking a drive over there, but if you don’t have time to check out this side of the island, don’t worry you are not missing much and the locals won’t miss seeing you either.

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Picture of the Day: Koko Crater, Oahu

Here is a picture of Koko Crater on the Windward Coast of Oahu:

Koko Crater, Oahu

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On Walkabout At: The Dole Pineapple Plantation

Another highlight of the visit my wife and I made to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu was when we stopped by the Dole Pineapple Plantation:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

The plantation is located towards the center of the island on a broad plain of farm land that is also home to the US Amry’s Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield:


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We didn’t really have high expectation for visiting the plantation; it was basically just something we saw on our way back from visiting the North Shore and decided to check out.  As it turned out this was actually an interesting and fun place to visit.  I didn’t know anything about pineapples until I visited this place and right away I learned more than I ever knew before about this fruit:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Here is a brief history of pineapples in Hawaii from the Dole website:

THE HISTORY OF THE PINEAPPLE

The pineapple—fierce on the outside, sweet on the inside—was given its English name for its resemblance to a pine cone. Christopher Columbus brought this native of South America back to Europe as one of the exotic prizes of the New World. In later centuries, sailors brought the pineapple home to New England, where a fresh pineapple displayed on the porch meant that the sailor was home from foreign ports and ready to welcome visitors. Pineapples were the crowning glory of lavish American banquets, and were considered the height of extravagant hospitality. Even George Washington grew them in his Mount Vernon hothouse.

No one knows when the first pineapple (“halakahiki,” or foreign fruit, in Hawaiian) arrived in Hawai‘i. Francisco de Paula Marin, a Spanish adventurer who became a trusted advisor to King Kamehameha the Great, successfully raised pineapples in the early 1800s. A sailor, Captain John Kidwell, is credited with founding Hawaii’s pineapple industry, importing and testing a number of varieties in the 1800s for commercial crop potential. But it wasn’t until James Drummond Dole arrived in the islands that the pineapple was transformed from an American symbol of friendship and exotic locales into an American household staple.

Here is what the pineapples look like when they are growing:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Here is another brief history from the Dole website that explains how James Dole revolutionized the pineapple business in Hawaii:

JAMES DRUMMOND DOLE
The Story of the Pineapple King

James Drummond Dole arrived in Hawai‘i in 1899, holding newly minted Harvard degrees in business and agriculture, and eager to prove that Hawai‘i could take part in the boom times for farming that were sweeping across America. The following year, he bought a 61-acre tract of land here in Wahiawa, where he established the first plantation of what would in later years become an agricultural empire that reached around the world. Dole wasn’t the first person to grow pineapple in Hawai`i, but he was the first to realize its tremendous potential—and he eventually became known across America as the Pineapple King.

Dole knew that there could be an enormous market for pineapple outside of Hawai‘i, and the technology to distribute it had finally arrived. The then-high-tech process of canning food to preserve it had been around for decades, but had only been perfected in recent years. Packing and sealing pineapple in a hard-traveling can was the perfect way to keep it fresh over long distances—and thus Dole’s first pineapple cannery was born in Wahiawa in 1901. Several years later, the cannery was moved to Honolulu Harbor to be closer to the labor pool, shipping ports, and supplies. The Honolulu site, at one time the world’s largest cannery, remained in operation until 1991, its landmark pineapple-shaped water tower visible from every part of the city.

In many ways, building the cannery was the easy part. Although the pineapple was considered a desirable exotic fruit and had appeared for centuries in the arts and crafts of New England and Europe, very few Westerners actually knew what to do with one. Dole joined forces with Hawaii’s other pineapple distributors and set out to create a national market for the tropical fruit by showing the world how sweet a pineapple could be. Nationally distributed advertising campaigns featured recipes for pineapple pie and pineapple salad and taught readers how to choose and use different grades of fruit. In 1925, the classic American recipe for pineapple upside-down cake was popularized during a pineapple recipe contest sponsored by Dole. The contest drew 60,000 entries. Canned pineapple had secured a place in the American pantry.

As the demand for pineapple grew, so did the need for more land. In 1922, Dole bought the Hawaiian Island of Lana`i and transformed it into the largest pineapple plantation in the world, with 20,000 farmed acres and a planned plantation village to house more than a thousand workers and their families. For nearly 70 years, Lana`i supplied more than 75% of the world’s pineapple, becoming widely known as the “Pineapple Island.”

By the 1930s, Hawai`i was famous as the pineapple capital of the world. The Hawaiian Pineapple Company James Dole had founded was now processing over 200,000 tons of pineapple a year, helping to make pineapple Hawaii’s second largest industry. By the 1940s, eight pineapple companies operated in Hawai`i. By far the largest was James Dole’s Hawaiian Pineapple Company (often shortened to HAPCO), with vast plantations on Oahu and Lana`i and a cannery in Honolulu, employing about 3,000 permanent and 4,000 seasonal employees.

James Drummond Dole passed away in 1958 at the age of 80. The Hawaiian Pineapple Company he founded is now known the world over as Dole Food Company, one of the most recognized brands in the world today.

The grounds around the visitor center are landscaped with the various varieties of pineapples that are grown for visitors to check out:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Like other popular tourist sites on Oahu, visitors from around the world could be seen touring the Dole Pineapple Plantation:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Something my wife and I really enjoyed was taking a ride through the Dole Plantation via the Pineapple Express train:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

The train takes visitors on a 2 mile loop tour of the plantation:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

The tour is fully narrated and takes about 20 minutes to complete the loop route.  What I found really interesting is that the plantation grows much more than just pineapples.  That have various tropical crops from around the world planted here:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

One of the crops being grown is the only crop that was ever bigger than pineapples and that is sugarcane:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

The train went right by a grove of banana trees as well:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Here is a close up of the bananas growing on the tree:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Of course pineapples makes of the vast majority of the crops planted on the plantation:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Interestingly I did learn that this plantation and Hawaii in general exports very little pineapples now.  The vast majority of pineapples in the US are imported from foreign countries:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Approximately 75% of the world’s pineapple supply originates from one of the following countries: Thailand, Philippines, Brazil, China, India, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Kenya, Mexico and Indonesia:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

At the very edge of the plantation there is a large lake that the train zooms around that I figure is probably the main water source for the plantation’s crops:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

From the lake there was a beautiful view of the Waianae Mountains on the island’s west coast:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

From the lake the train than headed back towards the visitor center.  My wife and I really enjoyed the train ride.  Here is ticket prices for those interested in riding the Pineapple Express:

Adults $8.00
Children (4-12) $6.00
Kama’aina/Military – $7.25
Children under 4 are free when accompanied by an adult.

From the train we then decided to check out the botanical garden near the visitor center.  This gum tree was quite a striking site due to its rainbow colors:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

This tree is supposedly native to the Philippines before being brought over to Hawaii.  The bananas when they are first sprouting I found to be quite striking as well:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

This Bird of Paradise flower also known as a strelitzia we found to be quite beautiful:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

This flower is native to South Africa before being brought over to the Hawaiian Islands:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Of course this garden had the flower that most people associate with Hawaii, the hibiscus:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

The yellow hibiscus known in Hawaiian as the ma?o hau hele is the state flower of Hawaii:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

There are hibiscus that are native to Hawaii like the yellow hibiscus pictured above, but most the variety of hibiscus grown on Hawaii are in fact from various countries in Asia:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Here is another example of the Walking Tree that my wife and I first saw in the Waimea Valley:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Here is a close up look at some more sugarcane:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Something else they have for visitors to do at the plantation is to pay to walk through this maze.  My wife and I just didn’t feel like we should pay to walk in a maze and declined to check it out:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Besides having pineapples and gardens to check out outside the visitor center there is plenty of vendors selling soveneirs as well:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Inside the visitor center there are more people selling things such as the jeweler that makes necklaces and earrings from oysters that are opened right there on the spot:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Inside the visitor center there is also of course every type of pineapple related product you can think of for sale:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

I did buy some pineapple hard candy which lasted me for quite and while and was quite good:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

We also bought some fresh pineapple to eat as well.  It is amazing how much better fresh pineapple from Hawaii is compared to canned or imported pineapples:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

Of course there is pineapple ice cream and milkshakes as well.  My wife and I tried one of the milkshakes and it was incredibly good:

Picture from the Dole Pineapple Plantation

All in all the Dole Pineapple Plantation is a massive tourist trap, however it is still a fun place to spend a couple of hours checking out.  I highly recommend taking a ride on the train and enjoying the scenery and fresh air.  If you have kids they will definitely love riding on the train.

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On Walkabout On: The North Shore of Oahu

The North Shore of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu is one of the most iconic areas in all of Hawaii:

It is here that surfers find some of the biggest waves to surf in all of the world in what is known as the” Banzai Pipeline“:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

The biggest waves arrive in the winter time so unfortunately since I visited Oahu in the spring I didn’t get to see these monster waves.  That didn’t stop people from still having fun out on the waves that were available:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

Besides surfing on the North Shore I also saw plenty of people out on various rock outcroppings fishing:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

The North Shore also is home to one of the best walks on Oahu at the beautiful Waimea Valley:

Picture of Waimea Waterfall

The main town on the North Shore is Hale’iwa, which is small village that caters to large beach going population that visits the North Shore.  The economy in this area wasn’t always tourism.  The remains from an old sugar mill can still be seen near the town and fans of the TV series LOST may recognize this plantation as being a movie set for some of the scenes representing Nigeria in the series:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

On the far northwestern portion of the North Shore I was able to have some nice views of the area’s rich farm land that was backdropped by the beautiful Waianae Mountains:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

While driving down Highway 930 that traverses northwestern Oahu I happened to pass by this grove of coconut trees which I also recognized as another set from used in the series LOST:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

The Mokuleia Beach further down the highway is where the passengers in LOST were stranded on after their plane crashed:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

While walking on the beach it was very easy to recognize this place as where so much of the LOST series was filmed:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

Despite its LOST fame this beach is not a popular location for people to come to because of its reputation of being a beach with unpredictable waves and a vicious rip current.  However, this reputation didn’t stop this guy from parasurfing:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

It was actually pretty interesting to watch this guy because he was catching huge air whenever he jumped off of a wave:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

Literally right behind the beach is Dillingham Airfield that was used to store a lot of the props such as the airplane wreckage from LOST:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

The cliffs that ran from Dillingham Airfield to the end of the highway were quite impressive:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

Here was the view from the very end of the Highway 930:

Picture from Oahu's North Shore

From here there is a trail that visitors can take to reach Kaena Point which is the most northwestern part of Oahu that is almost like a finger pointing towards the neighboring island of Kaua’i.  All in all we had a very scenic drive along the North Shore and fun checking out the various beaches, hiking up Waimea Valley, and seeing the various LOST sets.  If you have rented a car while visiting the island the North Shore really is worth checking out.

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On Walkabout At: Waimea Valley, Hawaii

Basic Trail Information

  • Name: Waimea Valley Trail
  • Where: Oah’u, Hawaii
  • Distance: 1.5 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: easy (no elevation gain)
  • Time: 1.5 hours round-trip
  • More Info: Waimea Valley website

USGS Map of the Trail:

Narrative

Another great walk on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu that my wife and I undertook besides walking up to the Makapu’u Lighthouse was our hike up the Waimea Valley.  This valley is located on Oahu’s famous North Shore and is a very popular tourist site. The trail takes visitors up a lush valley filled with ancient Hawaiian ruins and lush native plant life that ends at the scenic Waimea Waterfall:

This valley is believed to have first become a settlement in 1090 AD when the King of Oahu gave the land to the K?huna Nui who was a powerful priest.  More priests eventually set up shop in the valley to the point that Waimea became known as the Valley of the Priests. This valley remained a settlement for the Kahuna and his followers until 1819 when it was abandoned.  By then much had changed in Hawaii with the arrival of Western missionaries and traders that led to a collapse of the Hawaiian culture.

The trail to explore this valley starts at a visitor center that of course has an area to buy souvenirs and food.  What I found most interesting about the visitor center was the birds that were walking around inside:

Picture from Waimea Valley

The trail through Waimea Valley isn’t like a trail in a national or state park land.  It is more like walking through a well cared for garden of not only native Hawaiian plants but other plants from Polynesia as well:

Picture from Waimea Valley

At the start of the trail is a lagoon with various plants growing in it:

Picture from Waimea Valley

Besides the plants the lagoon was home to some native ducks as well that visitors are encouraged to not disturb:

Picture from Waimea Valley

The first Hawaiian ruin along the trail is the Ku’ula Fishing Shrine:

Picture from Waimea Valley

The large stone on top is supposed to represent Kamoho’alii or the King of Sharks.  The smaller stone represents the freshwater fish O’opu.  The eight other stones represent the seas surrounding the 8 islands of Hawaii where the shark ruled the oceans. Before heading to the ocean to fish the native Hawaiians that once lived in this village made offerings at this shrine at the head of valley for protection against the dangers of the sea.

As my wife and I continued up the valley we crossed over this small creek:

Picture from Waimea Valley

We then camp upon a large rock that was significant to the ancient Hawaiians:

Picture from Waimea Valley

This stone was discovered by archaeologists in 1976 and believed to be either a marker or a roadside shrine where visitors to the valley could leave an offering to either the Gods or the village chief.

As we continued up the trail this was about the greatest increase in elevation we experienced:

Picture from Waimea Valley

This trail is very easy to complete and an alternative route even makes it wheelchair accessible all the way to the waterfall.  As we walked up the stairs we noticed what is known as a “Walking Tree” because the trees roots grow outside the tree and is able to grow towards where water is at and over time this causes the tree to move:

Picture from Waimea Valley

Next we came to a replica of an old hut that the ancient Hawaiians would have used to eat in:

Picture from Waimea Valley

These huts are really simple because of how nice the environment is in Hawaii.  There was no need for the ancient Hawaiians to create huge homes to stockpile food in and keep warm during the winter.  These simple grass shacks were sufficient enough to provide protection from the rain since cold is not a factor in Hawaii.

Near the home was the remains of what was believed to be animal pens for pigs and dogs:

Picture from Waimea Valley

Interestingly enough we learned that the Hawaiians considered young dogs to be a delicacy.  We also learned that only men could eat pork, bananas, coconuts, red fish, grey shark, and sea turtles.  These were all reserved for men to eat.  The women could eat dogs, chicken, non-red fish and shellfish.  Food scraps of chicken, pig, fish, and shells were used to feed the animals in the pens.

These ruins pictured below are of cookhouse with a stone fireplace that male Hawaiians would use to cook their food in during bad weather:

Picture from Waimea Valley

During good weather they would prefer to cook outside.

This next ruin was a family shrine that represented the deceased ancestors of the family who they held in high regard and made offerings to:

Picture from Waimea Valley

This small cave was used an area to keep pigs and dogs in during inclement weather:

Picture from Waimea Valley

As we continued up the valley we were impressed by the curly branches on these trees:

Picture from Waimea Valley

Then we came upon another ruin with this one being a family sleeping house:

Picture from Waimea Valley

This is where the Hawaiian family could congregate to talk and play games before going to sleep.  They slept on a raised floor on mats.  This was pretty much the last of the ruins as the trail now came to a large grassy park like area:

Picture from Waimea Valley

Picture from Waimea Valley

The in plaque describing this piece of wood said that it is a piece of wood from a rare tree found on a small Japanese island called Ogasawara:

Picture from Waimea Valley

As we continued up the trail we saw plenty of more plant life:

Picture from Waimea Valley

Picture from Waimea Valley

Picture from Waimea Valley

The foliage eventually opened up a bit and then we saw a small waterfall out in the distance:

Picture from Waimea Valley

Here is a closer look at the waterfall:

Picture from Waimea Valley

As we walked towards the waterfall here is what the end of the trail looks like which has restroom facilities for those visiting the falls:

Picture from Waimea Valley

As far as waterfalls go, Waimea Waterfall is not big at all, but still it is still a nice reward for walking to the end of the valley.  The waterfall also flows into a small lagoon which is a popular location for people to go swimming in:

Picture from Waimea Valley

There are certain days that they don’t allow visitors to swim in the lagoon and the day we visited just happened to be one of those days.  However, my wife and I enjoyed just walking around the lagoon and admiring the various colorful flowers:

Picture from Waimea Valley

Picture from Waimea Valley

From the lagoon it was just a simple walk back to the visitor center.  In total we spent about an hour and a half at Waimea Valley but we could have easily spent more time here if we would have stayed to go swim in the lagoon or happened to have visited on a day when the park gives special guided hikes to remote areas of the valley.  There are also a number of special events that happens at Waimea Valley, which makes checking out the park’s website a good thing to do before visiting the valley.  So all in all I definitely recommend anyone visiting to Oahu to stop by Waimea Valley to learn more about Hawaiian history, culture, native plant life and maybe even get a swim in at the end of the day.

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On Walkabout At: Makapu’u Lighthouse, Hawaii

Basic Trail Information

  • Name: MakaPu’u Lighthouse Trail
  • Where: Oah’u, Hawaii
  • Distance: 2.0 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate (500 feet gain in altitude)
  • Time: 1.5 hours round-trip
  • More Info: Hawaii State Parks Website for Makapu’u

USGS Map of the Trail:

Narrative

A walk I highly recommend to anyone visiting the Windward Coast of Oahu is to take a couple of hours and visit the Makapu’u Point State Wayside and walk up the park’s hill to its lighthouse.  This state park is located on the southeastern shores of the island and just a short drive up the Kalanianaole Highway (Hwy. 72) from Honolulu.  From the state park’s parking area there is a paved trail that leads up to the summit of a craggy seaside cliff that provides one of the best views on all of Oahu:

Unfortunately for me the day I visited the park it was raining heavily at the start of my hike.  Understanding that this is after all Hawaii and rain can disappear just as quickly as it appeared I proceeded up the mountain anyway.  Despite the rain I was rewarded with this beautiful view of a rainbow that stretched across the valley in front of me:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

As I continued up the trail suddenly the clouds parted, the rainbow was gone, and I had a beautiful view of Koko Head Crater and the southeastern shore of Oahu in front of me:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

Down below me traffic zoomed down the Kalanianaole Highway made famous in the television series Magnum P.I.:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

The highway crosses the entire southeastern section of this Hawaiian Island and is really quite a beautiful drive:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

As I continued up the trail it was quite obvious how popular this trail is because there was quite a few people hiking up the trail ahead me despite all the rain that was falling earlier:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

It was a bit interesting as I reached the high portion of the hill to see that cactus had taken root all along the ocean side of the hill:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

Eventually the Makapu’u Lighthouse came into view:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

This lighthouse was first built in 1909 to warn approaching boats of the treacherous cliffs on this side of the island.  Up until 1974 when the lighthouse was automated it had to be manned at night by an operator.  The trail doesn’t actually end at the lighthouse since it is off limits, but on a bluff above it:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

What was interesting about the bluff was that it had a number of bunkers and anti-aircraft artillery positions used historically to protect the island from air attack:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

The bluff offered absolutely beautiful views of this section of Oahu.  For example directly in front of the bluff was Manana Island, the largest, and Kaohikaipu Island that are protected bird sanctuaries:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

 

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

Looking towards the North I could see a little bit of the Windward Coast but unfortunately most of it was obscured in clouds, I am sure the view would probably be tremendous on a clear day.  From the bluff I did have a clear view of the lighthouse below me:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

The red roof of the lighthouse in contrast to the deep blue ocean makes for some great pictures:

Picture of Makapuu Lighthouse.

The bluff is supposed to also provide views of passing whales but unfortunately I did not see any when I visited.  The bluff on a clear day is even supposed to provide a distant view of the neighboring island of Molokai.  Unfortunately the clouds obscured any view of Molokai.  However, I was more than enough pleased with the views I did get and the next time I am on Oahu I will have to hike this trail again on a clearer day to see everything I missed.

 

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On Walkabout On: The Windward Coast of Oahu

On the Hawaiian Island of Oahu the eastern side of the island is known as the Windward Coast due to the trade winds that frequently blow and bring a lot of moisture to this side of the island.  All that moisture has helped to shape the most spectacular scenery on Oahu:


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The easiest way to see the spectacular sites on the Windward Coast is to rent a car and drive the length of highway that spans Oahu’s east coast.  The first site to be seen on the far southeastern tip of Oahu is Koko Head Crater:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

Just like its nearby neighbor Diamond Head, Koko Head Crater is quite a site to behold.  Looking at the crater today it was easy to imagine the lava that once flowed out of this volcano and down into the ocean.   At the base of the crater there is a pull out for people to park their cars and walk down towards the ocean.  The day I visited the waves were crashing hard against the rocks:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

This rocky coast may not be suitable for swimming but there was plenty of people who were sitting out on the rocks and fishing though:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

I walked down the rocks to take a look into Hanauma State Park which is a submerged crater that is famous for its snorkeling:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

My wife and I wanted to go snorkeling but unfortunately the park was closed the day we tried to go.  So this was all I was able to see of Hanauma:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

Here is an aerial view of the crater and Hanauma Bay:

From Koko Head when continued north on Highway 72 that hugs the southeastern coast of the island.  All this scenery was instantly familiar from all my days of watching Magnum PI driving his red Ferrari on this same road:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

The road then next comes to Kaupo Beach Park:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

Across from this scenic beach is Manana Island which is also known as “Rabbit Island” due to the rabbit colony that was once established on the small islet.  The rabbits have since been exterminated to protect the breeding grounds of the birds that call the islet home.

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

As Highway 72 continues north it travels through the city of Kaneohe and intersects with Highway 83 which is known as the Kamehameha Highway.  Highway 83 continues north through the Kaneohe area that I had spectacular views of from my prior visit to the Pali Lookout:

Picture from Nuuanu State Park

From Kaneohe we continued north on Highway 83 and were impressed by the many beautiful peaks of the Koolau Mountains;

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

Just outside of Kaneohe is the beautiful Byodo-in Temple:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

The island of Oahu has a deep connection to Japan due to its large number of Japanese immigrants that began arriving in Hawaii in the 1800?s to work in the sugar plantations.  No where on the island is this connection to Japan more evident then at the beautiful Byodo-in Temple that has been featured on many television shows such as LOST and Magnum PI.  You can read more about visit to Byodo-in Temple here.

The drive north from Byodo-in Temple was pleasant as we passed rural homes:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

As well as rural villages that were all backdropped by the steep and rugged peaks of the Koolau Mountains:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

Off in the distance this dramatic peak that I easily recognized from the TV show LOST could be seen for many miles:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

At the base of this mountain is the Kualoa Regional Park.  This park was really beautiful beach that had very few people on it compared to the always packed Waikiki Beach:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

Just off shore from the beach was another little volcanic island called Mokolui:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

Directly behind the beach is Ka?a?awa Valley that has been featured in many movies and TV shows that were filmed on Oahu:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

This valley is owned by the Kualoa Ranch:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

The Kualoa Ranch has a visitor center where they take tourists on to their property to check out the various film sets.  They also do horseback riding and hiking tours on their property as well:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to do any of these activities and just simply stopped to check out the visitor center.  Just up the road from Kualoa is the Kahana Bay Beach Park:

Picture From Oahu's Windward Coast

There was literally no one else at this beach.  My wife and I had the whole beach to ourselves as we stopped here to eat lunch.  This is definitely a place to go to escape the crowds if that is what you are looking for.  After finishing up our lunch we then continued on up the highway to Oahu’s famous North Shore to see the sights that is had to offer.

Next Posting: Oahu’s North Shore

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