Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tourist Tuesday: Ulupo Heiau, Kawai Nui Marsh, He'eia State Park, Kualoa Regional Park

Both my hiking partners were unavailable  for a Tuesday Trail, so we (Zach and I) made the most of our free day together and adopted the Tourist Tuesday theme instead. We hit up four windward O'ahu spots and of course made a pitstop for some yummy grub.

First stop on Tourist Tuesday, Ulupo Heiau which is nestled in a quiet Kailua neighborhood and adjacent to a local chapter of the YMCA. It is the second largest Heiau on O'ahu and is commonly associated with menehune legends. 

We made sure to respect the sacred land of the ancient Hawaiians by not disturbing, touching, or walking on the rocks that made up the remainder of the Heiau from hundreds of years ago. 

Beyond the rocks of the Heiau were several small gardens that field workers were tending to during our visit. We saw Lauhala trees, taro patches, papaya trees, and gardenia flowers to name a few. 

This was our first visit here and I soon realized that the backside of the Heiau was part of a favorite walking spot, Kawai Nui Marsh trail...so I snuck in some hiking/walking after all. 

A five minute drive to the parking for Kawai Nui Marsh, a few sips of water, and a handful of crackers for the five year old, and we hit the trail that wanders beside marshland containing birds, ducks, fish, and sweeping views of the Ko'olau Mountains. 

Our "hike" didn't last long as the sounds of my five year olds belly rumblings became cause for us to turn around about halfway through and head for the car and an early lunch.

When in Kailua, you can't pass up delicious homemade food from Over Easy. Zach decided on Custard French Toast (his diet seems to consist solely of breakfast foods). I went for a savory choice and enjoyed every last bite of my Kalua Pig Hash. 

Now that we had successfully negated any walking we accomplished earlier in the morning, we headed out for the second half of Tourist Tuesday.

From Kailua to Kane'ohe, our third stop (unless you count food as a stop) was He'eia State Park. We peeked in at the gift shop (not anything to write home about), we walked the short path around the main building, and we ooohed over the Marines giant airplane flying what seemed like only a few yards above our heads. I discovered this is the place to come for booking a wedding, snorkeling, kayaking, and taking a ride on a glass bottom boat (to be investigated further in the near future). 

Continuing on our tour of parks, a drive along this coast of O'ahu would not be complete without stopping at Kualoa Park or as it is lovingly referred to here: Chinaman's Hat (Mokoli'i). 

Although I truly think hiking is therapy in more ways than one, Tourist Tuesday was a fun and welcome change from Tuesday Trails. Exploring O'ahu through the eyes of my kid(s) or as someone who doesn't live here, is a really great way to appreciate this island life.




Monday, April 17, 2017

Honolulu Exploration: Lili'uokalani Botanical Gardens

Ever drive past somewhere so many times and think to yourself, "I should stop here sometime...", but you never do it? That is what I have thought every time I've driven past Lili'uokalani Gardens. 

Located in the city, this small oasis is green, beautiful, clean, and has a significant sized waterfall. There are picnic tables for snacking or lunching. There are bathrooms on site and a parking lot at the top end of this park. 

We ended up here last week because I had been holed up inside the house with under the weather thirteen and five year olds. By day two, we were feeling stir crazy and I figured some fresh air could do us all some good. 

I didn't want to overexert anyone so strolling along the path after the bridge from the waterfall and back down again was the perfect amount to get our blood pumping and our feet moving. 

I was so pleasantly surprised to see this waterfall tucked away in this town neighborhood...especially after a recent hike to Manoa Falls only to be rewarded with ZERO water flowing from the falls. 

This waterfall seemed like Niagra in comparison. Even though the water looked clear and delightful, we did not take a dip as there was a big Leptospirosis Warning sign at the base of the falls. 

If you are looking for a nice retreat into nature without having to exert too much time, money, or energy, Lili'uokalani Gardens is the spot. 

Thank goodness for friends who had been here previously to remind us to take a moment, stop in, and enjoy what this park has to offer. 

And if you are lucky, you can enjoy a special treat with your favorite little monkey afterwards...



Thursday, April 6, 2017

Westside Exploration: Upper Makua Cave

Last Thursday we climbed the side of a mountain. It sounds crazy. But it was fun, less dangerous than I expected, and those views!

With my five year old and my hiking buddy, I led the charge through tall, overgrown grass uphill...and to the wrong part of the trail.  Oops!

After taking a few photos (because even a wrong turn can yield amazing views), we backtracked a little, found a new trail, and were back to trekking up the mountain in search of the famed Makua Cave. 

A few more minutes of bugs flying by our heads and we reached a part of the trail that was less overgrown and more of a rocky, dusty trail. 

Rounding one last corner and then...

...magic! The phrase "the westside is the best side" is something I have often heard living on O'ahu. This trail proves that sentiment. These views will be etched in my mind for years to come. 

This hike was not very long, but it was mostly uphill on uneven terrain...and in an unexploded ordinance area. So, there are risks. We took our time and we were happy to see a handful of other hikers both going up and down the trail. 

If you have shoes with good traction and find yourself on "the best side", I highly recommend exploring your way to the cave in the middle of the mountain. The experience was one of the best of all my adventures here on O'ahu. 

Counting down the days until I can experience this trail again.