Friday, March 3, 2023

Three great short hikes and one great adventure on Oahu Jan 28 - Feb 4 2023

Well, I have been blogging a lot over the last few weeks but I promise that this is the last one.  It is pretty hard to have such great experiences on such a great island and not want to share them with everyone!


We took three great short hikes while on the island of Oahu.

Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail: Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail is a 2 mile out and back hike to none other than...the Makapu'u Lighthouse.  Makapu'u Point is the easternmost point of the island of Oahu so the drive to get out there takes a while past Hanauma Bay, the Lanai Lookout, and the Halona Blowhole.  Parking is free and is a piece of cake, ya just pull in off the Kalaniana'ole Hwy.  The path is busy, so if you cannot find parking immediately, someone is bound to arrive at their car shortly.  Be forewarned, there are no restrooms at the trailhead.

Sooo, the trail is not actually a trail, it is a service road, and it is paved all the way.  It is not at all difficult, just a gradual incline of about 520 feet.  The lighthouse is cute but not accessible.  The views from the top are quite sweeping, and you can see both sides of the point from this spot.

Anyway, its a good quick hike to a great viewpoint.  Incidentally, this is supposedly a good spot for whale watching during the winter months, but though I watched and watched, no whales appeared.  There are a few little concrete buildings up here, evidence of how the point was put to use during World War II.

I might add that we had pelting sideways rain while on this trail and it really made me want to cry.  Don't avoid this trail because of my experience with bad weather.  I would do it again.  Just for your planning, we did this the same day we did Hanuama Bay, the Halona Blowhole, and the Lanai Lookout.

Lovely view of windward Oahu from Makapu'u Pt.

The Makapu'u Lighthouse

Manoa Falls Trail:  The Manoa Falls Trail is a 2 mile trail out and back trail to none otherthan...Manoa Falls!  The beauty (or one of the many beauties of this trail) is the ease of accessibility from the Honolulu area--up through the upscale University of Hawaii, Manoa neighborhood and there you are.  It costs $7 to park--quite frankly a little steep considering the hike will take less than one hour.  Anyway, the parking lot is abutted by a building, the purpose of which I never did ascertain, but there are CLEAN bathrooms (certainly for a trail head!), a few vending machines, and a hose for spraying off muddy shoes.  The guy at the booth sells snacks, mosquito repellent, and sunscreen.

Anyway, it's about a mile each way and about an 800 foot gain.  We are quick and we did this in about 20 minutes (to the falls).  Water shoes were advised (and this is what we hiked in) but the trail was not muddy.  Mosquito repellent was also advised but we did not see any mosquitos.  

The trail, for being so close to civilization is lush and beautiful.  The reward at the end is a 160 foot waterfall dropping into a small pool below. Now there are people in the pool below, climbing over the warning sign and taking a dip.  It did not look particularly inviting, and the thought of a rock dropping 160 feet onto my head was not at all appealing.

The Manoa Falls Trail branches out to the entire Tantalus Trail System as per the map above.

We got to this trailhead I would say about 3ish and we were done less than an hour later. We did this trail after our day at Pearl Harbor followed by a delicious lunch at Ono Seafood in Waikiki/Honolulu.

And finally, Manoa Falls!

Diamond Head:  Now THIS is the crown jewel mac daddy of short hikes on the island of Oahu, and everyone knows it too.  A hike to the top of Diamond Head is pretty much imperative when visiting Oahu.  Diamond Head, like the two other hikes we took, is a 2 mile out and back trail.  The trailhead is accessed south of Waikiki at the Diamond Head State Monument.  There are restrooms at the bottom of the trail at the visitor center.  Anyway, the trail is narrow, and like I said, because hiking Diamond Head is a necessity, everyone is on it, so we found ourselves having to overtake the advanced in years (good for them, by the way), families with children, and those who had failed to exercise a single day in their lives and now were taking this not to be missed hike, with some frequency.  The trail gains about 560 feet over one mile and the views come about quite quickly.  There are some stairs to negotiate and a portion of narrow dark tunnel.  On the way down there is a spiral staircase and more stairs.  We completed the ascent in about 25 minutes and found it to be easy.  

There are a lot of people at the top, and there is some jockeying to get the perfect selfie with the incredible views of Waikiki and Honolulu in the background.  The day was very clear when we went, and the views breathtaking!  Well worth it!

Well, here is the rub.  As of May 2022, you need a reservation to hike Diamond Head.  We arrived at the entrance at about 8:30am without one.  A timed reservation needs to be made through the Hawaii Department of State Parks at The park is open daily at 6am with the last entry at 4pm with the gates closing at 6pm.  It costs $5 for each person to hike and another $10 to park your car.

Well, we quickly pulled into an available parking spot, outside the main parking lot before the tunnel, but still reasonably close, and looked at what our options were.  The only time available with parking was at 2pm, which was going to mess up our entire day's plan.  We did however notice that we could get entrance to the hike without parking quite a bit earlier at 10. Since we were already occupying a parking space, we took this reservation and decided to wait it out.  Then someone had the idea to just march on down there and see if they would let us in early.  They did, a full 45 minutes early.  

I highly recommend a stop by Leonard's Malasadas following your semi-strenuous hike up Diamond Head

Jockeying for that perfect selfie!

Beautiful views of Waikiki from the top!


On the windward side of the island, north of Kane'ohe, there is a over touristed stop at the base of the Ko'olau Mountain Range known as Kualoa Ranch.  This place offers a wide variety of tours ranging from horse back riding to movie tours to ATV's to trips to their "Secret Beach."  Tours can satisfy people of all ages and relative desire for adventure, as the movie tour has you in an open jeep with no physical exertion required.  People came in skirts/white pants/flip flops and others were dressed more like, well, we were.  What tour did we choose?  The experienced (as opposed to novice) 2 hours E-bike tour--the most active tour offered by Kualoa Ranch.  We had considered the ATV tour, but it was more expensive and only one person could drive the ATV, so the E-Bike tour it was.

Though I signed up for the experienced tour, I had never ridden an e bike.  None of us had.  It rained the entire way to the ranch, and the tour made no mention of cancelling because of weather.  My daughter was not warmly dressed and it was on the cold side.  I started to get a bit nervous- saw a lot of visions of slick mud, cliffs, and narrow steep paths--i.e. one of us plunging to our deaths.  Our guide, Christian, however, set our minds at ease.  We equipped my daughter with a $2 poncho and her dad's extra sweater, and off we went.

About to set out!
Besides the four of us, there was only one other couple on the tour, so with the guide there were seven of us.  Except for some very rare and light rain, it did not rain during our tour.

Now the e bike is pretty cool.  There are four settings which basically give you a boost as you ride.  Wanting to actually get some exercise, I kept mine in the lowest assist mode almost the entire time, but the lazy a men in our family kept their bikes in "turbo" mode.  Pretty much as soon as you start to pedal you can feel the power kick in, and it's pretty cool.  On an uphill climb you can pretty much turn your bicycle into a motorcycle.

Anyway, what an experience!  The tour winds through 12 miles of rolling single track and some more open dirt roads.  The scenery becomes outstanding really quickly.  The tour leads you by several deserted movie sets, including Jurassic World, King Kong, and Jurassic Park.  It is a good workout, but not really that hard.  We finished the tour early because we were all good riders so we got to see some additional stuff, including going into an old WWII bunker.  Our guide was really awesome and made sure that we were all ok.  At one point the chain on my bike broke.  He immediately gave me his back and within minutes a bike had been delivered to us by another staff member.

Still clean...

Can you see the dinosaurs running behind us?

Ok so why was this an adventure really?  Sounds just like a bike ride so far, right?  Ok, the one thing we did not expect was how dirty we were going to get on account of the muddy conditions.  Every muddy puddle or stretch of wet dirt road you cycled through flew right off your bike tire and up your entire back, as far as your hair.  Now the mud was one thing, but you had to make darn sure you did not ride through any rain drenched fresh cowshit, of which there was much.  The thought of this stuff flying up onto my back made me literally nauseous, so I was really attentive as to where my tires were going, and I made sure my family did the same!

Anyway, this was the dirtiest I had been in my entire life.  People from other tours gawked at us in disbelief.  After the ride was over, there was a hose to wash your legs and water shoes, but hosing down the rest of your clothes and your backpacks was not really an option.  We pulled some used ponchos out of a garbage can and gingerly changed into some swim suits, the only other clothes we had, and wrapped our defiled clothing into one large muddy ball.  We had plans to go out to eat in Honolulu-nope, no way.  We weren't fit to even grocery shop.  When we got home I spent 30 full minutes in the shower scrubbing mud out of everything.  THEN we threw it all in the washing machine.  OMG.

you've got to scroll in to see how dirty he was..
I am on the left with the hose, trying to un-mud..

and now from the front!

But it was fun and I would recommend it, but I did tell them in a review that they should let people know about the dirt factor.  

Thank you for reading this post!!  No travel for a while but I am planning a Greek Odyssey in July!  I will let you know how that is going!!

Oh yeah, baby--Lunch at Ono Seafood

Aim for this sign after your 
Diamond Head Hike

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