March 2019 | Hiking with Friends on Oahu
This month, we had the pleasure of hosting some of our best friends from Arizona, Mitchell and Alex! It had been far too long since we had seen them, and this time catching up with them was exactly what we needed. Throughout our time exploring the island with them, we were reminded of simpler times, of who we were and the life we used to live before the military took control of our lives. We were also reintroduced to ideas and habits that we’d fallen out of, including the giving and receiving of allegations, all the controversies of life, and drinking tea. Throughout their time here, we managed to show off most of the island and do a wide variety of activities, which I’ll break down into 3 posts: the hiking, snorkeling/swimming, and sightseeing. Since hiking is the area in which we have the most expertise, I’ll start with that one.
Koko Head / Hanauma Bay Ridge Hike
On their first morning here, Curtis was standing duty so the guys and I got up early to go for a sunrise hike. Since we had plans to snorkel afterward, we drove to Hanauma Bay and hiked up the paved path overlooking the bay. There wasn’t much of a sunrise this morning as it was overcast with periodic showers, but we managed to stay mostly dry and still could make out Molokai in the distance. Despite being so overcast, the ocean’s color was still bright blue and we had an excellent view of the coral that we would be snorkeling around — more on that later! Other highlights of this hike are the stray cats that are all over at the beginning of the trail, and the interesting cactus plants that somehow made us think of evergreen trees.
Curtis was able to take days 2 and 3 (Thursday and Friday) off of work, so on Thursday we drove to the Leeward side of the island and started the morning by hiking to Kaena Point. We came hoping to see albatross, seals, and hopefully whales, and thankfully all three appeared for us today. We actually spotted the whale spouts on the drive up the coast to the end of the highway, and saw the seal on the rocks on the side of the trail rather than at the end where we usually see them, but these still qualified as sightings. There were less albatross at the end than there were when Curtis and I visited a few weeks prior, and most seemed to be moving/flying around rather than nesting. We ended our time at the point by climbing the steep path up to the pillboxes for a better look around.
Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail
On Friday morning, we were all ready for a longer hike, and Curtis and I were excited to introduce them to the Ko’olau ridge trails. While pillboxes and easy hikes along the coasts are always beautiful, easy, and enjoyable, hiking in the Ko’olaus is something that every experienced hiker should do while visiting Oahu. Since there appeared to be clouds coming in, we decided to go for an easier trail so we wouldn’t risk being caught on a more exposed ridge in case the weather turned. Curtis and I have hiked Kuli’ou’ou Ridge a few times, but hadn’t in a while since it’s usually very popular. However, we found it almost completely empty on this Friday morning, and were in awe of how we were able to enjoy it so much more without the crowds. Not only that, but I was finally able to see the entire view without being obscured by clouds!
One thing I have been wondering since moving here and hiking is how the trails here compare to Arizona, since it’s been a number of years since we’ve hiked there. The guys confirmed that these trails are considerably steeper, and we were quick to let them know that this was considered ‘easy’ by our standards now! Another fun thing was really being able to introduce them to somewhere new, since when we lived in AZ they were usually the ones with more experience!
Koko Crater Botanical Garden
On Sunday morning, we set out to hike to Makapu’u Point, but were turned away by all the crowds. Here we were able to introduce them to our weekly frustration of being surrounded by tourists, and show them how we cope: by visiting the Leonard’s food truck and indulging in malsadas. Our back-up hike, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, almost fell through as well when we first arrived and found the usually empty parking lot completely full with several large vans, but thankfully after getting our malsadas and returning it had cleared out so we were able to enjoy a peaceful walk around.
On their last full day here, the guys and I did a big loop around the North Shore and went for our last hike to Kahuku Point starting from Turtle Bay. Initially the plan was to hit the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western-most hikes (Kaena, Kahuku, Makapu’u, and Diamond Head), but with the crowds on Makapu’u and all the other activities we ran out of time — meaning they’ll have to come back to hit the others. 😉 But at least they were able to do the quieter, more remote hikes along the Western and Northern coast, see wildlife and witness the big North Shore waves. We even saw some more albatross here today flying over us. We walked along the beach on our way to the point, then took the inland trails back to the parking lot afterwards, where the guys learned that it’s important to wear shoes while walking under the ironwood trees.