This lush botanical garden that is located between the Ko’olau and Wai’anae mountain ranges offers a quiet relaxing spot to walk around and view many tropical plants and flowers. It has received the nickname “tropical jewel” of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens. This amazing stroll along paved walkways is a shady, cool, getaway from the warmer busier city scene. The 27 acres of land that the gardens currently sit on, was leased from the city by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association in 1920.
It was originally used for experimental tree planting, and most of the large trees that can be found were planted during this original lease. The land was turned back over to the city of Honolulu in 1950, and was opened as a botanical garden in 1957. The majority of the plants in the collection require a nice cool environment in order to thrive, and the emphasis is on native Hawaiian plants. The park is currently opened seven days a week, from 9 am to 4 pm. For anyone who is interested in a beautiful walk in tropical environment this park is a definite must.
This hike isn’t for beginners! But WOW is it BEAUTIFUL! This is for the adventurous, well rounded lovers of the challenge, and people whose bodies are conditioned for many inclines/declines and climbing. If you are as mentioned, you’re going to LOVE this hike! Nestled deep in the Palolo Valley, you’ll find the trail-head, BUT it’s hidden. There’s no sign that says “Trail Head Here”. So how do you get there?
Take Waialae Ave to 10th st, Take 10th st into the valley away from the H1, then make a right onto Waimao Rd. You’ll know you’re going the right way when you pass by the MuRyangSa Buddhist Temple on your right. You can’t miss it. It’s beautiful. Follow Waimao Rd all the way to the end of the pavement. When you reach the end you’ll see a set of mail boxes & a make shift car port on your left, and a gravel area on the right side. If you can, parallel park in the gravel area.
The trail head is behind the mail boxes and it’s almost like entering the dark forest. Haha. As soon as you enter, there’s a rocky climb down with a rope. So you know this trail means business. Follow the pink ribbons. When you get to the top of the 3rd waterfall you’ll see the crater. From here you can head back and feel that you had a great hike or you can continue on for the ridge hike and the summit. NOTE: There is a return trail! Take a left at the top of the waterfalls and after a short distance you’ll see the return trail on your left. If you decide to hike the crater go counterclockwise around the ridge! You’ll have a better day.
Tips: Go earlier in the morning! Easier to park and the hike can range anywhere from 4-6 hours. Don’t go while it’s raining. It hadn’t rained for a while and it was still muddy and wet. We’re avid hikers and we hiked entirely around the crater and the entire hike took us a total of 5 hours.
Distance: Round Trip from the top of the waterfalls – 3.7 miles Round Trip from the Summit of the crater – 5 miles. Hiking entirely around the crater – not positive, approximately 6 (The hike feels longer than the mentioned distance due to the ups and downs as well as the climbing involved)
Elevation: Over 2,000 ft.
What to Expect: Rocky + muddy = slippery areas (You will get muddy) Crossing the stream many times. (You will get wet) Narrow trail areas along steep hills Steep rocky areas where you will need to use the rope provided to climb up/down 3 amazing waterfalls (NOTE: To continue on & get to the top of the 1st you must climb ropes on your left before the short trail that leads you to the base of it. On the 3rd waterfall you will be using a series of ropes to climb up and traverse across it.) One of the best views on the island once you reach the summit of the crater!!
What to Bring: Sunscreen Bug Spray Bathing Suit (if you want to swim in the waterfall pools) Gloves (if you want extra grip) Good hiking shoes (that you don’t mind getting muddy/wet) 2-3 liters of water per person. Pants (if you decide to hike the crater / your legs will get nicely scratched up by the dry brush surrounding the trail)
Looking for that beautiful well manicured trail that’s kid, elderly, and pet friendly? Try the Kanealole & Maunalaha Loop located in the Makiki Valley. Head up Makiki Heights Dr and turn onto the dead end street where the Hawaii Nature Center is located. All along that street is side street parking or, if you can find a spot, there is a small parking lot on the left. After parking, walk to the end of the street, and you’ll see this.
Head to your right and walk past the bathroom area. You’ll see the Kanealole & Maunalaha Loop trail head. When you get to the fork, head left for an easier hike, head right if you want the heavier incline. Keep in mind the loop isn’t difficult. There are some muddy rooted spots especially after rain.
Overall, expect a wide well manicured trail full of scenic rain forest with several bridges over streams and rain run off. You’ll see ginger plants, strawberry guava trees, banana trees, and magnificent Banyan trees. The trail is busy with people and pets, but it’s wide enough so that it doesn’t feel clustered. Definitely a place to take a stroll and calm the senses. If you feel you want some rigorous exercise, it is jog friendly as well, just be careful when it’s gets muddy.
Weighing in at 4.2 miles round trip from the Manoa Falls parking lot, the Aihualama Trail is that tropical trail you’ve always wanted to hike. Full of bamboo forests, extremely large banyon and guava trees, you get your fill of what Oahu is like inland away from the beach. Close to Honolulu, the trek to the falls from the parking lot is pretty simple. At the falls you’ll see a sign on your left pointing to the Aihualama.
As soon as you begin, you’ll realize that the trail is full of rocks, boulders, and muddy areas. So, it would be wise to wear some decent hiking shoes/clothes that you’re not afraid to get mud on. Especially after a rain. Oh, and step wisely on those rocks as they can get slippery!
There is a lot of beauty to be seen as you’re surrounded by tropical vegetation. The highlight for me was spotting guava trees. This tree’s bark is a smooth reddish brown so they can be easily spotted among other trees. From there you will usually see round yellow plum to apple sized fruit on the ground. Safe to eat, make sure they’re not soft or rotted out and you’ll be able to pull them open with your fingers. So good. Just don’t try to eat the green ones as they are not ripe.
After you’ve hiked all the way to the top for scenic views of the valley and made it back to the falls, it wouldn’t hurt to take a dip in the pool under the waterfall. I certainly did and it felt phenomenal! Understand that there are signs warning you that there’s a chance for falling rocks. So enter at your own risk.
One of the most recognizable symbols of Hawaii is the pineapple. While you are visiting our little tropical paradise you have the chance to visit the famous Dole pineapple plantation. The Dole pineapple plantation is located near Wahiawa on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. You can find it on your way to or from the North Shore, and it makes a perfect place to stop and relax while sightseeing. You can visit the country store and perhaps sample some pineapple ice cream, or try your luck in the hedge maze.
James Drummond Dole made his way to Hawaii in 1899 shortly after graduating Harvard with degrees in Agriculture and Business. He purchased 61 acres in 1900 that was located in historic Wahiawa and subsequently established the first plantation of his agricultural empire. James Dole had a unique vision at the time, that there would be a huge market for pineapples outside of Hawaii. The techniques and technology to make that vision a reality had recently been perfected. The ability to can food had been around for decades, but the new methods that were discovered made it the best way to keep it fresh over long distances. The first Dole Cannery was opened in 1901 in Wahiawa, and was later moved to Honolulu in order to be closer to the labor pool, shipping ports and supplies. In order to keep up with the demand for canned pineapples James Dole bought the island of Lana’i and transformed it into the the largest pineapple plantation in the world. The island of Lana’i supplied 75% of the worlds pineapples for almost 70 years.
The Dole plantation in Wahiawa now offers a fully narrated rustic train ride through working agricultural lands and is home to the world’s largest hedge maze. The country store has many souvenirs and sweet treats to take back home with you to your loved ones. This is one spot that everyone should check out while sightseeing in Hawaii.
Just past the snorkeling mecca known as Hanauma Bay from Honolulu is a parking lot for Halona Blow Hole. The blow hole attraction pulls a lot of tourists and the small parking lot located just off of the Kalanianaole highway is basically a quick scenic stop for tour buses. You get a chance to take photos of the amazing views and then head off to see the rest of the island, but if your looking to go swimming, you’re going to want to hike down to Halona Cove.
The parking lot turns quickly, so if you’re willing to wait a couple minutes, parking spots will open up soon. Looking from the lot down to this beach, I was surprised it wasn’t flooded with people! It’s one of the coolest beaches I have ever seen. Since a lot of tourists are on the move, they do not have time to go swimming. This is where renting a car comes in handy!
Bring your snorkeling gear or if you’re certified, your scuba diving gear because just out at the end of the rock are some cool crevices and rock structures full of fish. Other fun parts to this beach are climbing, hiking, and jumping from the surrounding rock. As well as hiking up to the blow hole itself, but be careful not to fall in!
On vacation and feeling guilty because you strayed from the diet plan? Go for a walk or jog around Diamond Head! It’s scenic, it’s close to Waikiki and if you go early enough, you can end with watching the sunrise. Also, there are a few beaches & Kapiolani Regional Park you can check out.
To me, there’s nothing better than an early morning activity. You feel great afterwards. Get the endorphin’s going, you feel productive, you don’t feel guilty downing a two liter of coca-cola when you’re done. Ha-ha! Minus the coca-cola, you feel great. The hardest part is getting up! Just check out this pic in all its glory. This is why you’ll want to turn that early morning frown upside down.
We started jogging at 6:15 am from the corner of Monsarrat Ave & Paki Ave for a 7:00 – 7:15 sunrise. Made our way clockwise around Diamond Head. Monsarrat turns into Diamond Head Rd and you follow all the way around back to Paki Ave. Total length of the loop is 3.9 miles. Although be sure to time everything for the sunrise if that’s what you want. There are look out areas above Diamond Head Beach Park before you get back to Paki Ave where you can sit and enjoy. With jogging/walking, it took us just over 30 minutes in the direction we went to get to the look out area for the sunrise.
And if you want to reward yourself with some delicious breakfast afterwards, check out Bogart’s Espresso & Cafe Bar on Monsarrat & Kanaina Ave. You’ll feel your day is already complete. Insert smiley face here.
Tucked away at the very end of Hau’ula Homestead Rd in Hau’ula, Oahu, HI is Hau’ula Loop Trail. Best place to park for this? Hau’ula Beach Park across the Kam highway. Let’s see how many more times I can use Hau’ula. Haha.
Because it’s off the beaten path, this isn’t a very easy trail to find. You literally walk down Hau’ula Homestead Rd right off the Kam highway to the end. You second guess yourself because you eventually come to a yellow gate with no trail head sign and thick forested driveways on the left and right stating “Do Not Trespass” or “Private Property”. For a split second you think you’re in the movie “Wrong Turn”. Haha! Although, the reality is you’re in paradise and if you walk past the yellow gate and straight ahead you’ll come to a very colorful box with the trail head sign right after. Don’t ignore the colored box as inside there is a register for those that hike on the trail.
The trail itself is approximately a 2.5 loop up & down a mountain and you can either go left or right when you come to the fork. It’s rather easy compared to other trails around the island with many flat areas. Most of the trail is dense woods with some scenic views. There are lots of strawberry guava trees, if you like to eat wild grown fruit. If you haven’t tasted one of these before, do so or the fruit gods will be displeased. It can get muddy and slippery in certain parts, so don’t wear your nice shoes and don’t rush over rocky areas as you can expect to slip. You’ll come to 2 spots where it looks like there could be some cool waterfalls and small pools, but if it hasn’t recently rained they’ll look more like small trickles into uninviting clouded pools.
Bring bug spray & water. Afterwards, go check out North Shore Tacos. The food is really good and they have this pineapple smoothie that’s literally served in a full grown pineapple.
Jellyfish are a potential nuisance when deciding what beach you may want to visit while staying in Hawaii. If you are aware of the potential dates that many jellyfish may arrive it will assist you in making preparations. Most of the beaches affected in Hawaii are the south facing shores, however jellyfish can show up on any beach at anytime. The jellyfish types that are most common here in the islands are the Box, Moon, and many lagoon varieties. While these fascinating creatures pique our curiosity, they do have the ability to hurt you via the tentacles that provide a burning stinging sensation.
Jellyfish generally arrive between 8-12 days after a full moon. On Oahu, the south facing shores that may be affected during this time include; Waikiki, Ala Moana Beach Park, Haunama Bay, and the Waianae Coast. On Kauai warnings can be found posted at Poipu Beach. Maui and Big Island beaches can be affected but generally have fewer issues. Please remember just because these are the most affected areas jellyfish can be at any beach. The box jellyfish and the Portugese Man of War are the most painful stings in Hawaii so please take care.
The Portugese Man of War is identified by its purplish body and is commonly found on the windward sides of the islands. The Box jellyfish is identified by the box shape that it takes. If you happen upon a jellyfish on the beach, do not touch it! Even if it might be dead the tentacles can still provide a very painful sting. Be safe and aware, check with the lifeguard about potential hazards and look on the beach for washed up jellyfish. Remember the timing 8-12 days after a full moon are the most likely times for a jellyfish invasion.
If you do happen to get stung by one of these varieties there are a few simple steps that you can take to help alleviate the pain. First, you will want to carefully remove the jellyfish and tentacles using a towel or napkin or anything other than your fingers. Next you will want to rinse the affected area with water or vinegar. The vinegar works to deactivate the toxins and remove the remaining tentacles. After that you can apply hot water or ice packs in order to reduce the duration and intensity of the pain. If you suffer a serious reaction seek medical attention immediately, in some people jellyfish stings may cause an allergic reaction leading to anaphylactic shock or in rare instances death. Just use these guidelines and remain observant and we can all enjoy the beautiful beaches these magnificent islands provide us with. Aloha!
Are you in search of a unique experience during your vacation here in the Aloha State? If so have I got an idea for you! Spend a little time as a “paniola” or Hawaiian cowboy at the Kualoa Ranch. Kualoa ranch is a working cattle ranch near the North Shore of Oahu, very close to the well known islet of Chinamans Hat. They offer tours of all types for you to enjoy. We traveled out here and made an afternoon out of it and were very impressed by the welcome and the amazing views that we were able to take in.
We ended up choosing the two hour horseback ride, and while we enjoyed it I must say if you are not regularly on a horse riding around, two hours can seem like a very long time to be on one. After a little while we were a little numb from the extended time in saddle. I would also recommend that you make some time in order to get some food and use the restroom before you begin, and you will need to make your way to the stables about thirty minutes before your tour is scheduled to begin. Once you are up in the saddle you will need to be assertive and firm with your horse in order for you to be able to establish a good relationship and remain in control of your horse.
A good application of sunblock is highly recommended as you will be out in the sunlight for the most part of your horseback tour. You will also need to be wearing covered shoes that you do not mind getting a little messy. Kualoa ranch makes safety one of their paramount concerns and has an option for you to have a helmet during your horseback tour. You will want to view the restrictions that they have so you will know whats expected once you have arrived.
The views of both the Ko’olau mountains and the Pacific ocean are magnificent and you will be afforded the opportunity to take some amazing photos. I would highly recommend that you use your mobile phone for the photos, so that you will be able to maintain at least one hand on the reins of your horse. Also, if you have a fish eye lens I would definitely bring it along so that you will be able to capture the entire scene as it is laid out in front of you. During the tour you will be excited as you travel along and visit some amazing movie sets where Hollywood blockbusters and other films and shows were filmed including, Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and You Me and Dupree amongst others. After it is all said and done this was an amazing change of pace from the city and other tourist attractions that are all around the island. I would highly recommend grabbing a half day package from Polynesian Adventure Tours and seeing what it is all about!