Lē’ahi, Diamond Head Monument, Oahu, Hawaii

Lē’ahi, the summit that resembles the forehead/lae of the ‘ahi fish as named by Hi’iaka the sister of the fire goddess Pele. Another Lē’ahi meaning is ‘fire headland’ from fires lit high on the summit to guide canoes safely back. The Western name, Diamond Head comes Western explorers thinking the calcite crystals found on the slopes were diamonds. Perfect names for a volcano on an island born of volcanic fire.

If I wasn’t feeling already a little uneasy that I was on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean without any more solid mainland behind me, walking around a now extinct volcanic crater may have added to a little more freak out if I gave it more thought. Lē’ahi/ Diamond Head Monument’s crater is believed to have been created from a single eruption 300,000 years ago. The highest ledge along the south-western side was created as the wind blew the ash at the time of eruption making it look like the now ‘ahi fish forehead. The seaward slopes are protected by a coral reef, which is why coral reefs are so important. Aside from the marine life they shelter they also protect land from coastal storms. Another thing cool thing about the crater is in winter, rainwater collects in mini lake in the centre! Most of the plants and animals along paths were introduced in the 1800’s. There’s one native plant still standing, ‘ilima!

Only some of the path is paved and flat. The rest is cut from rock so it’s uneven most of the way with some steep parts
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Manoa Falls Trail , Oahu, Hawaii

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 security guards. Don’t mess with them

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.

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Spitting Caves, Oahu, Hawaii

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.

Lumahai Street
Path down
The view that greets you

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. 

The rocks and cliff face

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Lanai Lookout, Oahu, Hawaii (I Think)

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?

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Kailua Beach, Oahu

We didn’t stop long at Kailua Beach as there was a sunset to catch later. The silky soft gets everywhere sandy beach. Sunny skies when we got there after hiking the Pillbox Hike. Clouds came later. Well, they appeared as soon as we found spot. That’s how the island went. Sunny mornings with few clouds, afternoons cloudy depending on what part of the island you were on.

Sun out of the clouds warm, behind the clouds a little chilly, but you know beach equals sunbathing if it’s 25C plus. The water was so warm. Bathwater water warm which meant I didn’t want to get out. Perfect with chilly thermal layer bits. I think it was quite shallow too. The bit we chose was close to a river mouth. People kayaking up to chill at the beach and an after school sailing club on outriggers. 

While tomando sol a little french bulldog got lost. S/He jumped over P to sit right by my head waiting for their human. I wasn’t bothered (well kinda as I had my bikini straps down and didn’t want to fall out if I sat up in that particular bikini). I was honoured they choose me to wait until reunited with their human. It’s human didn’t take long, about 30 seconds to find him/her again before being off again for daily adventures. Maybe I smelt safe for the lost minute. 

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