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?
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.
First Hawaiian Hike! For once we got out fairly earlyish but still late as we’d been travelling the day before and spent the afternoon exploring Honolulu’s main shopping street. Although we had more fun finding Farmland Farm in Ala Moana Mall, one of Oahu’s supermarket chains in the evening, getting back late and eating late which was the theme of the whole Oahu and Northern Californian trip earlier this year.
Farmland Farm was also the best recuerdos or souvenirs. All gifts are local to Oahu or the islands, supporting small businesses. I got some great flour sack print towels I’ll never use as they’re too nice! I want to frame them instead. Sadly researching the printer they’re no longer printing. Farmland Farm also has a great organic section mixed in with non organic foods (which I like, as you get more options) and sold many Hawaiian brands. It was a little expensive factoring in most other items are shipped in however we found everything we needed. During the whole trip we only ate out 3 times, none of which were in Oahu. 2 times were great, the other a disappointment. We prefer to stay apartment hotels or airbnb to keep costs lower by making own meals. We get back late when most places have closed the kitchens so it makes more sense. Being vegans, it makes everything easier to make own meals too.
Anyways, The Lanikai Pill Box hike is in Lanikai, Kailua along Kaiwa mountain range I think the posher part of the Island. All the houses looked kinda immaculate driving through the neighbourhood and looking down from the hike the lawns looked manicured. We parked near the golf course, so it’s in a posher area for sure.
We found out about the hike from watching a few YouTube videos before and online I think Trip Advisor. The start of the hike is a blink and you’ll miss it. It’s just a road construction sign with directions. Some comments said it can be muddy and thankfully it was dry. We only took our workout trainers as who needs hiking boots in Oahu?! Maybe shoulda took them. I felt for girls in sandals, cute IG outfits for the pictures awaiting ahead struggling on the path. The trail is ranked intermediate as it gets rocky and steep in places with parts of the trial nothing to grab hold onto. Being British we find the term hiking a little weird. Even saying the word hike is weird. For us it’s a walk. Hiking is what takes you all day or a few days in remoteness in the mountains and even then we probably wouldn’t use the word hike. Anything less is a walk regardless of the terrain with trails being paths. The hike takes about an hour’s loop to the first pillbox.
As usual I’m a shit editor with photos. I cut out a lot. A lot!
The views at the top are 100% worth hiking up for. If you want no humans, Instagrammers taking all day to get the shot go early. It’s a popular trail, everybody wants a photo of them there. I did too but I gave up waiting my turn or any vista with few humans. We hiked onto the 2nd pillbox with less people and then onto the 3rd which is now just it’s base. So much quieter and got to walk through shaded wooded bit. We didn’t see anybody past the 2nd pillbox. The hike went on over the range top however as it was getting late in the afternoon, there was a beach to hit and more importantly the water.