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Go West -- to Kaena Point
Kaena point is the far western tip of Oahu, and it is one of the few truly wild places left on the island. At the very tip lies a wildlife refuge where monk seals relax and albatrosses nest from November through January. You can still see indigenous plants atop the ecosystem and watch the waves erode old lava formations. As you look back towards whence you came, you can view both the Wainaie Coast and the North Shore in the same glance. And you'll be mostly alone. This is even more true for me than normal -- as dogs are not allowed in the protected albatross breeding grounds.
To get there, you have to park your vehicle (make sure you leave NOTHING valuable in it) and walk two miles. This is true whether you start your hike at the end of the Farrington Highway on the Wainaie Coast or the end of the Farrington Highway coming from Haliewa. You can make it to the point from either spot and we've done it both ways.
The Wainaie route is more rugged, with more dramatic peaks and a sharper shore, to include sea arches. THe North Shore route is more beautiful, with a more interesting shore line and an easier walk. Neither side is pristine -- both come littered with garbage until you get to the wildlife refuge an hour into your hike -- and neither side has shade. From either point do the hike early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid becoming a charcoal briquet.
- Hiking and Walking
Oahu Anchialine pools
I first heard of interesting pools of water by overhearing a group of students as they gathered in our hotel lobby getting ready to go on an outing. They were excited and talking about what they thought they might see in these pools. I had never heard of them and asked at the front desk, where I was directed to a brochure on them. I looked over the brochure and, urged along hearing the students enthusiasm, I decided to check them out too.
Anchialine pools are land-locked bodies of salt water that are adjacent to the ocean. These pools have underground connections to the sea, and show tidal fluctuations in their water level. The term "anchialine" is derived from the greek: [anchi] = near, and [halos] = the sea, referring to the proximity of anchialine pools to the ocean.
Five islands have these pools; Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Oahu, and Kaho'olawe. On the island of Hawaii you will find most of the state's anchialine pools (a total of more than 460 pools in about 80 sites have been identified on the ground, and an additional 54 sites (about 170 pools) have been viewed or photographed from the air).This agrees with another published conservative estimate of 600-650 pools for this island. On the other islands, an additional 15 sites have been reported.
I admit I jumped in my rental car and followed the group of students from the hotel and within a half hour was scurrying over smooth rocks with them. They took pictures and water samples, one bent down and lifted out a small, spindly orange starfish, looked at it and carefully put it back. The water in the hole raised every few seconds and then retreated, caused by the ocean waves to which it was connected.
I wasn't a student studying sealife but these pools were unusual and very interesting and I enjoyed them. I also enjoyed the enthusiasm of the teenage students and cheered (silently) with them for each new thing they discovered here.
- Family Travel
Sharks Cove is the best for kids
The handy man at our rental told us about this place. The name is definitely scarier than experience. This is a shallow pool that is filled by waves crashing over the rocks. Be careful on the rocks they are very sharp and you will be cut if you fall on them.
Make sure you have dive boots or aqua socks if you come here. If it is low tide the rocks are just inches under the water. Walking on the rocks is really the only solution if you need to about. There are many small fish, urchins and other aquatic life here. The kids will have a blast snorkeling here.
For more experienced snorkelers the deeper water can be a challenge. The currents are strong near the inlets. This is also where you will find some of the larger fish.
There are restrooms and showers available here but parking is limited. You may need to try a few times before you find a place. Make sure you lock your stuff up. I did see some locals checking out the cars for smash and grabs.
- Family Travel
- Diving and Snorkeling
Electric Beach - Kahe State Park
North West of Honolulu along HWY 93 across the highway from the power plant. There are limited accommodations and the beach is actually fairly small. We did see numerous skin divers, sea turtles and even a seal while we were there. There are dive boats that frequent the area for the underwater adventurer.
The ocean cut a cave into the side of the cliff and there are some amazing rock formations to see inside. Met a local who had the day off and was having a day to connect with the sea. Bring a picnic and plenty of bottled water if you are going to be there for a while. Be respectful too, there are memorials to locals along the cliffs edge. Pay your respects and try to appreciate the beauty of the place.
- Diving and Snorkeling
- National/State Park
Kahuku Beach Beyond Turtle Bay
I heard that there were a limited number of beach passes to the Turtle Bay Resort. I went early enough to receive one. I wasn't interested in the beach at the resort (nice but crowded) and proceeded to travel east along the beach parallel to the golf course. Eventually I passed the resort and found myself on an endless beach with almost no one there. As I walked along for nearly an hour and a half, I saw turtles, various birds, 4 fishermen, a family picnic, and endless sand dunes and beach. The water was pristine and warm as I waded in. I had my picnic and enjoyed a day of laying in the sun. It was hard to believe that I was on the busy island of Oahu.
For a quiet, isolated moment in time, Kahuku Beach was a treasure. July, 2011.
Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau State Monument
This state monument is Hawaii's largest traditional temple. A word of warning there are no signs off the main highway and its hard to find but well worth it.
From the city of Pupukea head through town to the only road that heads up to the surrounding hills, there is a sign from this road that leads to the site.
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
Get away from Waikiki
I truly enjoy being in the Oahu Hawaii. Waikiki can give you a false image as it is city 24/7. I love being able to get away from the noise and crowds.
I visit family. My cousins live all over the island. Yet sitting on my cousin's generous lanai and looking out at the native greenery I could be in the Philippine Islands. The fragrances, the feel of Oahu is hypnotic and refreshing. Relaxation is what it is all about for me.
Making contact with the island satisfies me even while it stimulates the inner Islander that lies dormant when I am at home in Cottage Grove.
Climb Olomana -- Hawaii's Matterhorn
Not only does Mount Olomana look striking as you travel Windward on the H3, but it is an equally inspiring hike. In 3.5 hours, you can bag two peaks, get great 360 view from Makapu to Chinaman's Hat and get great exercise. Not only that, but the climb itself is fun! Climbing over boulders and up rock faces with the aid of ropes! It's one of my favorite hikes on Oahu!
If your interested in more photos and a descreiption from an earlier hike (I've climbed it three times now), check out my Kaila page. Those pictures are from a nicer day!
- Hiking and Walking
Hike Lanikai's Ka'iwa Ridge: Short but Great
One of the best short hikes in the United States is the climb to the World War II-vintage pill boxes on Oahu's Ka'iwa Ridge, right behind Lanikai on the Windward side. While the climb is steep and a bit rugged, you can be at the first overlook in 25 minutes and make the highest point in a half an hour. For all that sweat you'll get great views of the Mokoluas off of Lanikai Beach as well as a panoramic vista that includes Kailua Bay, Kailua Town, Enchanted Lake, Kaneohe Bay and the Koolaus. You can see as far south as Makapu'u Point and as far north as Chinaman's Hat. Bring a beer and enjoy watching the sky turn colors as the sun sets. I've already done this hike so many times I can't count, with everyone from three-year-old Cassie Lopez to my 70-something parents.
The Ridge itself can be hot and dry, so I wouldn't do the hike in mid-day. Start before 10 p.m. or after 4:00 if you want optimal enjoyment. If you're still sweating on the way down, just stroll 2 blocks to Lanikai Beach and cool off! Don't be turned off by the brevity of the hike: the views are spectacular!
- Hiking and Walking
Kahana Valley Offers an Uncrowded Beach
On the northern portion of the windward side of Oahu is a beautiful beach that seems secluded even though it's just off the road and offers convenient parking -- Kahana Velley State Park Beach. Lined with ironwoods and flanked by two verdant ridges, this beach also boast waters calm enough for children to play in. If this beach were close to Honolulu, it would be packed, but even on a beautiful Sunday afternoon its sands are nearly empty. The sand is soft, if littered with a few washed up coconuts and it often gets shady in the afternoon -- great if you've fried your skin somewhere else but still want to enjoy the sand. If you want, do as the locals (what few locals there are here): bring a tent and some food and spend a family day at the beach!
Pu'u Mahuka Heiau -Hill of Escape
Pu'u Mahuka Heiau State Monument is the largest heiau on Oahu. A heiau is a religious site or temple. Thought to have been created in the 1600's this heiau is believed to have played an important role in the political, religious and social system of Waimea Valley. Made up of 3 adjoining enclosures Pu'u Mahuka is located high above Waimea Valley on a pali. The views can be amazing of the valley and the northern shoreline. Unfortunately it was a bit hazy when we were there. Pu'u Mahuku possibly is a heiau where sacrifices were made. There is a raised mound in the center that may have been an alter. The stonework is really well done and commands some respect. Do Not take any of it away with you. This is Kapu (taboo). As is walking on the rocks or walls. Leave it as you found it. This is one of two locations where wives of ancient chiefs gave birth. When we were there someone had built up an alter and left behind what looks to have been a boars head. Rather disgusting but I am sure it made the the person who left it feel as if they had done the right thing. To get here you need to follow Kamehameha Highway to Pupukea Road and follow the signs to the Heiau. The road is rough and there are alot of dismantled auto parts scattered about as you climb up but don't mind them. **Words to the wise if you get up there and do not feel at ease it may be best to leave** After all this is a sacred place and some do not think of it as a place for tourists. Be respectful!!
- Historical Travel
Hike to Maunawili Falls and Cool Off
For an excellent hike that will keep your sunburned skin in the shade and allow you to beat the Hawaiian heat, you should head to Maunawilli Falls on the Windward Side. This is not a strenuous hike in terms of elevation change but it is challenging due to the exposed roots (you can never look up, it seems), frequent stream crossings (I quickly gave up on futile rock hopping and just walked in the water) and mud (everyone slips in it at least once -- this is the wettest inhabited part of Oahu). The falls themselves are beautiful and offer a great place to swim as well as alternative platforms for jumping. While I was there, most people chose the 10-foot jump pictured but a Marine stationed at Kaneohe Bay did the 50-foot leap. Yikes.
Definitely wear hiking boots on this trek and leave your pets and kids at home. Oh, and don't forget the misquito repellant. I won't forget it next time!
- Adventure Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Chinaman's Hat: A Beach with a View
If you decide to take the scenic drive up the windward coast of Oahu, you'll come across pleasant Kualoa Regional Park, with its view of an island called Chinaman's Hat (for obvious reasons). If visitors even make it out here, they just stop, snap a photo and move on, but the park is a great place to linger for a picnic or enjoy the thin sandy beach and the calm surf. It's never crowded here and always beautiful.
Does this look like the hat of a Chinese person to you? Would Mao Zedong wear this? I don't hink so. It looks more like a big thorn to us, but "Pricker of the Ocean" would draw way fewer tourist than "Chinaman's Hat" and there's not too many tourists here already.
Unspoiled coastline - Ka'ena Beach
If you're tired of being packed like a sardine on Waikiki's crowded beaches, head west to Ka'ena point. Miles of white sandy beaches, and no crowds. Surf can get rough so be careful. The lifeguards can tell you which are the safest parts of the beach to swim in.
From Waikiki, take the H1 freeway heading west towards Waianae/Makaha. Ka'ena is past Makaha beach, almost at the end of the road, before it snakes around towards the North Shore. You should pack a cooler with drinks, since it can get pretty hot out there.
Please do yourself a favor if you are ever fortunate enough to fly to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. Get yourself a rental car and see the Island outside of Waikiki Beach.
I can't tell you how many times I hear that Honolulu is just a huge city & that people prefer other Islands. Although the other Hawaiian Islands are also lovely, so is Oahu!
So, get your map out & explore!
Make a stop by Waimanalo Beach. It is a local favorite and for a good reason--great body surfing. If you dont have a board, you just need your body to ride some gentle waves.
It's a great beach!
Here is the general warning from the Waimanalo web site:
Monitor ocean conditions closely. This area is usually calm with a gentle shorebreak. Watch for Portuguese man-of-war, stinging jellyfish. Obey all postings and warning signs/flags. A good sign is the locals--if they are in the water, all should be a-okay!
Oahu Travel Guide
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