The rest of the garden at Lyon Arboretum leading from the Buddha was more semi wild rainforest. Still manicured, yet compared to the actual manicured part it was wilder, more forest. I’d got to the point I couldn’t and didn’t want to take any more photos, yet every twist and turn of the path was something I wanted to photo knowing I’m probably never returning again. Trees were more than just trees. They were cities in themselves with ivy, moss and host of other plants growing on them who in return housed hundreds of bugs, insects and animals. The big tropical leaves growing free competing for the sunlight. Leaves as big as umbrellas.
I only realised editing these photos I never changed the ISO. In my defence I wasn’t using or understanding how to use ISO 2 years ago. Yes, it’s been 2 years and I’m only just sharing the photos! This part the island has its own climate (The Hawaiian Islands have 10 of the 14 climates in the world!). Sunny skies accept for the Manoa Valley that day. It’s crazy how for such a small island in the middle of Pacific ocean different locations on the island have different climates and weather all in one day. It freaked me out almost daily when I was there that I was on a tiny volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean which is huge and deep, feeling open and exposed. I live by the Mediterranean Sea with a huge continent behind me with one fault line running in the middle of the med sea. I feel safe as there’s lot of space. Even in the UK an island itself where I grew up I never thought I was on an island. It’s what you’re used to. None of this however excuses my lack of using ISO.
Just like how plants grow in cracks in walls!
Canopy tops like coral fans looking up matched each other like jigsaw puzzles for light. Neither one bumping into each other leaving a little breathing room between them.
Deviating from the path at the end of Manoa Falls trail back the carpark, enticed by pink flowers and thick tree truck bases you could camp in we stumbled across Lyon Arboretum.
Lyon Arboretum’s a botanical garden run by the University of Hawaii set in 194 acres conserving native Hawaiian plants and their relationship and role in Hawaiian culture. Entry is free, although you’re encouraged to make donation of I think $10 person which I’d happily pay again as it’s perhaps the most magnificent, magical botanical I’ve been too. Yes, there’s a manicured lawn of which the main path of stone and wood stepping stones, takes you around detailing plants in Hawaiian culture, as all botanical gardens have a manicured lawn somewhere. In addition to native Hawaiian plants they also have many other non native plants such as ornamental tropical and temperate plants. More gems I think are hidden in the many trails up into the rainforest. Sadly we got there about 45 minutes before closing (coming from Europe or rather Spain, the early closing of many places was a shock). That was just enough time to walk around the main trail. I’m sure trails off the main path leading up into the rainforest are way less quieter than Manoa Falls trail next door. That trail’s way too busy! I didn’t see the gardens advertised much, so I think it’s a if you know it, you know it garden which is great if you want to escape the escape the hustle and bustle of the tourists while being tourist. And yes, I took way too many photos. Editing them for here was so hard.
Aside from the security guard chickens in the carpark and wild birds near the sea and at Diamond Head monument I didn’t see much wildlife on Oahu. I did have moment with this guy. We watched each other for a few minutes.
I have a confession, I didn’t know what arboretum meant when I saw it. It is a botanical garden devoted to trees for science and educational purposes. If I had used my Spanish I would have guessed it. Only looking it up I saw the root (hehehe) arbor. Tree in Spanish is arbol. The science and educational bit makes sense too as to why it’s run by the University of Hawaii. Duh Nat.
One of the best things about Manoa Falls are the parking security guards. Semi wild chickens who have the run of the car park!
Nestled in the Manoa Valley mountains, the Na Ala Hele (trail for walking) Manoa Falls Trail is a 2.6km/1.6mi hike up into the mountains. Starting at the car park the trail takes you into the rainforest. I think admission was about $5 if arriving by car otherwise it’s free. Trees start out tall with canopies reaching fanning out to the sky. Looking up they gently give each other breathing space while almost matching each others outline just like looking at world maps seeing where continents once connected, like a jigsaw puzzle or tropical coral fanning out. As you get higher up the path becomes narrower, steeper. Plants you don’t notice unless you use a branch to help you up. Tree trunks become skinner, the leaves become bigger as they compete for light, the forest becomes more dense, the path narrower and rockier. When we went it had been raining earlier so the path was muddy. Muddy! If you do this hike, wear something more than sandals as several people met the mud in style. Also do the hike earlier in the day if you want to avoid people. The hike takes around 1-2 hours there and back. No photos I’m sure it can be done in just over an hour. I think the trial during the initial covid-19 lockdowns was closed for maintenance to widen the path and make it more user friendly. It’s since reopened however I’m so grateful I got to visit before the covid-19 pandemic took hold. I’d love one day to go back to explore more trails that connect to it and those from the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum located near the start of the trail. This girl can visit in her dreams!
The path ends at Manoa Falls, a beautiful waterfall that I swear has ledges cut out each side for shampoo. Only joking, the ledges are filled with plants, but maybe just maybe shampoo. I wanted to get closer but the good positions were taken up with selfies. Take 100, delete all, take another 100 selfies. Another reason to get there early. I felt for the people that hiked up with 2 people with loudspeakers. Why? The epic soundtrack. In a city I get it, but in nature, please leave the music behind if anything to let others who for many it’s once in a lifetime experience to enjoy it. Man, I sound so old! Looking back I didn’t hear many birds. Maybe they avoid the area due to people. There were moments on the path to myself which was cool against the day’s heat.
After a quick stop at Lania Lookout we headed to a sunset spot Spitting Caves, also known as China Walls. Caves in the cliff spit out the water as the waves crash into them. It’s literally a run down path between two houses that looks like it’s probably a pee alley. You go down a steepish dirt path that opens out onto amazing ocean views and rocks. It was already getting busy with sunset watchers and whale watchers when we got there. P later commented that in the USA people actually stop to watch the sunset. This was more so along the Big Sur, but then you have to stop and watch the sunset along the Big Sur. If I can I like to watch the sunrise to sunsets.
I was more incited by the rocks and the water hitting and swirling around the rock face. So many red layers that contrasted with the blues. I didn’t notice until looking at the photos there’s a rope ladder and a rope to get down to the rocks. Or for after Google images, climbing back up after cliff diving. I didn’t know at the time it was Spitting Cave. Now it clicks the beautiful swirling sea ocean patterns. I can never get used to call it the ocean. I’m used to sea.
As I wanted some p&q I sat away from the main crowd on naturally worn away stone that was like a seat. Filled with warmth from the day and for stone comfy to sit on. It was an in memory of seat. I can see why they came to watch the ocean and light. Or perhaps he was a cliff diver who lost his life living it full cliff diving. There was also a rescue ring with Lei so I’m hoping this place has some good juju! Flowers are normally placed where people died or they are in Europe along roads. Or maybe it was an ocean offering.
The houses were amazing. They must cost a bomb to run and fed up with tourists tramping everywhere for the views, but amazing nonetheless. And sh*t in a storm so close to the water. I’m sure Hawaii like everywhere else has it’s problems, high rent, high living costs, dependency on tourism (which shows in a pandemic like now), unemployment, gentrification, at times limited to what you can do but an upside must be the being on a beautiful island that has a bit of everything: wilderness, city, being able to be in the water all year round.
On the way to catch the sunset after Kailua Beach we stopped off at Lanai Lookout which has amazing views the rocks and ocean. Where the ocean hit the rocks and swirls it produced were mesmerising.
The hill behind you can see the lava flows now taken over by nature. These lava flows continue to the rock in less quicker flowing layers. More like the end of the flow when it speed slowed down the lava spread out to be curved edges or perhaps it’s more where the ocean and wind has shaped the rocks. Signs are up saying no crossing beyond this point, but who obeys signs when the views are something else?