Sunday, July 28, 2013

Aloha to Koko Crater, Fishing Shrine, and Halona Beach

Five days and counting 'til we fly away from Paradise.  With Tropical Storm Flossie churning towards Hawaii, my kids and I piled into the car for one last coastal drive around the Gathering Place.  

First stop - Koko Crater Trail.  From Discover Hawaii Tours (link),

A relatively short hike, the Koko Crater Trail is only about 1.5 miles (from parking lot to the summit), but increases in elevation by 1,200 feet! This hike is challenging due to the sharp incline, but the views at the top are well worth the effort; you’ll get a breathtaking 360 degree view of east O’ahu. 

The railroad ties that make up the stairs for the trail were once part of an incline tram system during World War II, which was used to haul military personnel and supplies to the top of Koko Crater. This area was a part of the Koko Crater Air Force Station. 

We hiked half a mile, took this picture of the Pacific Ocean, and walked down.  It was steeper than it looked and hotter than expected. 

Other hikers had fun with their worn out shoes!

Koko Crater generated the lava to create Koko Head ....

... home of Hanauma Bay (link) where tourists flock to snorkel over the coral reef.   The parking lot was full ... so we continued along the coastal road.

Next stop - the Japanese fishing shrine overlooking Halona Beach.

Locals use the shrine to bless their fishing on the lava shelf below ... 

The lava shelf wraps around the coastal cliff, leading to Halona Beach .... 

... made famous by Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.

Beyond the beach is the Halona Blowhole with its own overlook.  Oh, I will miss these sights!


Kim in Hawaii

View of Diamond Head from the Koko Crater Trail

Monday, July 22, 2013

Aloha to Ka'ena Point - All the way to the end!

We rented a Jeep 4WD to visit Ka'ena Point - the western tip of Oahu.  Inbound airplanes fly the length of the South Shore, turn around at Ka'ena Point, and begin their descent over Pearl Harbor into the International Airport.

From Hawaii State Parks (link),

The trail to Ka‘ena Point follows an old railroad bed and former dirt road that ran along the westernmost point of O‘ahu. The trail leads to Ka‘ena Point Natural Area Reserve, a remote and scenic protected area harboring some of the last vestiges of coastal sand dune habitat on the island, and home to native plants and seabirds. Whales frequent this shoreline during the winter months.

First stop - Hidden Beach.  It truly is a hidden gem ... 

... that this dog is enjoying!

I love the variety of colors - black lava rock, green naupaka plant, and white virgin sand.

Kama'aina (local) wades out to the lava shelf.

From the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resource (link),

Within the reserve is leina ka `uhane (Spirit Leap), which is considered to be a wahi pana, a celebrated legendary place. 

Another view of Leina ka 'Uhane ...

... which brings us to Ka'ena Point.

We continued to the tip, where we found WWII pillbox with an intriguing mural.

As I looked to the offshore lava rocks ... 

... I spotted a Hawaiian monk seal in the tidal pool.

I could spend hours watching the kai (sea).

The tip slopes into the kai ... 

... leading to another hidden beach!

The naukapa is a unique plant that is found near the kai and atop the moana (mountain).  It blooms a half flower.

Check out this link for the legend and the chant.


Walking back, we noticed the clouds move over Yokohama Bay on the South Shore ... 

... and kama'aina fishing from the lava shelf from the North Shore!  


Kim in Hawaii

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Aloha to the Waimea Valley

The Waimea Valley is a gem hidden along the North Shore.   From its website (link),

During the 12th century A.D., a great spiritual leader named Pa‘ao arrived in Hawai‘i He introduced the use of stone terraces and walls for heiau, or temples, and also installed a priesthood that endured for centuries. It is believed that the Hale O Lono Heiau near the entrance to Waimea Valley, along with the two other heiau flanking the cliffs above the valley, bear witness to the religious changes brought by Pa‘ao. In fact, Waimea Valley and the adjacent ridge of Pupukea remained important centers of religion and spirituality until 1819, presided over through the centuries by kāhuna nui who were direct descendants of Pa‘ao.

Above is the women's hut - they slept apart from the men.   Below are the Pohaku 'Aumakua - guardian spirit rocks

He ali'i ka 'aina; he kauwu ke kanaka.
The land is chief; man it its servant.

The walking path offers tranquil streams ...

... beautiful flora ....

... and the famous waterfall.

All swimmers are required to wear lifevests as the natural pool drops off to 30 feet in front of the waterfall.

Even in a swimming pond, Hawaiian lifeguards use surfboards! 

I treated my kids to Shave Ice for the hot day.

Walking back, we spotted the ginger plant in pink! 

Every stone has a purpose.  Above is the Ku'ula, a fishing shrine.  

We couldn't resist the local soda!


Kim in Hawaii 

Hale O Lono Heiau - House of Lono Temple. 
Lono is the god of fertility, agriculture, rainfall, and music.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Aloha to Diamond Head State Monument

The state of Hawaii recently improved Diamond Head.  So we rose early on Saturday morning to hike the icon one more time!

From its website (link),

This broad, saucer-shaped crater was formed about 300,000 years ago during a single, explosive eruption that sent ash and fine particles in the air. As these materials settled, they cemented together into a rock called tuff, creating the crater, and which is visible from the trail in the park. 

The trail to the summit of Le'ahi was built in 1908 as part of O'ahu's coastal defense system.   The walk is a glimpse into the geological and military history of Diamond Head.   The ascent continues up steep stairs and through a lighted 225-foot tunnel to enter the Fire Control Station completed in 1911.   

At the summit, you'll see bunkers and a huge navigational lighthouse built in 1917. The postcard view of the shoreline from Koko Head to Wai'anae is stunning, and during winter, may include passing humpback whales.

I was not brave enough to venture onto this overlook.  Notice the winch to bring up supplies for the military bunkers.

Here's the last of the switchbacks before the dreaded stairs. 

77 stairs (above) brings hikers to the cave like tunnel (below) ... 

... to the next set of 99 stairs, emptying into the lower level of the fire control station.  Hikers climb three more levels via spiral staircases, with traffic both ways (up and down) to the exit onto the volcano tuff.

We opted for the new exterior pathway over the crater wall.

The state also added a lower observation deck directly above the historic Coast Guard lighthouse.

All paths lead to the observation deck atop the fire control station ... 

 ... that offers unparalleled views, including ...

... the crater ...

... abandoned bunker ...

... Waikiki landscape ... 

... and lighthouse.

Here's the entrance to the fire control station, leading to the spiral staircases.   Alas, we retreated down the exterior path to soak up the sun.


Kim in Hawaii