Lanikai Pillbox Hike, Oahu

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.

2nd Pillbox. Chinaman’s hat in the distance

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!

Path to 2nd Pillbox
Chinaman’s Hat in the distance

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. 

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Sunset At Sausalito

After hiking around Muir Woods and visiting my first Californian beach, Muir Beach, Sausalito was next before it got dark.

We got there just after everywhere had closed and perhaps had this was a good thing. We got the bay lit up pink in a reverse sunset. We stopped for photos before heading to Mission Cliffs Climbing (I did want to go to Dogpatch Boulders however they were closed on a Sunday. The following day we were heading to Oahu! Mission Cliff was the only place open) for some indoor bouldering. I wanted to keep my training up while away and try out different route setting. The grades got me as I’m used to French and Fontainebleau grades as opposed to V grades. It took me a while to get used to their style and had to drop a few grades, but that’s okay. It’s good not to get used to the setting where I go gym climbing. Makes my brain think. 

Famous for its old wooden fishing houses, ceramics, boat houses (Ottis Reading wrote Sitting in the Dock of Bay in one) and ship building history Sausalito overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Sausalito’s name comes from the Spanish settlers sauzalito for small willow grove (plot twist, an English sailor and Mexican citizen, William Richardson submitted a claim for area to be called Rancho Sausalito and also set up the village street plan of Yerba Buena now modern Day San Fransisco. Wikipedia’s great!). It’s such a cool name to say. Any name with ito/a: really small, young or to show affection in Spanish added to a word is fun to say. Sausalito!

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Muir Beach

We stopped by after visiting Muir Woods National Monument earlier this year on our holiday vaccay to Northern California and Hawaii, Muir Beach. A cove, lagoon and beach that’s nestled along the coast by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Mount Tamalpais State Park. Though it was January it was still busy when we got there near sunset with a switch from the day beach goers to the dusk beach goers. 

We didn’t stop long, only exploring the beach not the beach overlook as we wanted to look around Sausalito before it got dark. It was enough time for me to understand the magic of California beaches. All beaches have their charm. Maybe it’s the hype, maybe it’s because California is known for its beach life, maybe because it was my first California beach, maybe it was the mid winter light. Either way I can see why California beaches and the sea ocean draw people under their spell. 

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San Francisco Botanical Gardens 

9,000 different plants from all over the world at San Francisco Botanical Gardens take you on a journey across the globe. You can’t just look in one direction ahead! Looking up magnolias, redwoods, looking down camellias, herbs, moss. Each twist and turn of the paths takes you almost if there’s no one around a secret garden on the other side of the world. Or down the road in the California garden!

We had enough of the city, wanting some fresh air when we visited San Francisco earlier this year. The botanical gardens and Japanese Tea Garden were a few places on our list of places to go thinking they’re in the same garden. The Japanese Tea Garden is in the same park, Golden Gate Park but not in the same garden if that makes sense. Golden Gate Park while it looks close to the centre or downtown San Francisco isn’t. For some reason looking at the map of San Fransisco bay area I thought it was like a European town with everything more of less in walking or a metro distance. Err, no! You need a car to get around, unless you want to do multiple buses, taxis or Uber. A car worked out cheaper than Uber. We stayed just outside San Francisco in Belmont, Redwood Shores and I think the garden was a 40 minute drive away. We’d thought we’d have enough time to do both however the botanical gardens were bigger than we’d expected. By the time we’d left (after a who’s right which way back to the entrance! I think we both compromised and worked it out) it was 16.30 winter closing hours.

Bamboo gardenDSCF0072Puffer fish!

We could have easily have spent more time in the gardens. It’s split into Californian indigenous plants within their own geographic location and into South America, Asia Africa and Europe. The Mediterranean Garden features native Californian plants along side plants from South-western Australia, Chile and South Africa all grouped within their own geographical location. The Mild Temperate Climate features plants from Eastern Australia, New Zealand and a Japanese Moon Continue reading “San Francisco Botanical Gardens “

San Francisco: Downtown and Chinatown

Our first day of our California, Oahu holiday vacay was spent in San Francisco! We stayed outside of San Francisco at the Hyatt House Belmont/Redwood Shores residential hotel in Belmont purely for the reason they had a gym and kitchen. We tend to stay if possible self catering as it saves money, allows more time to explore not being tied to finding vegan restaurants, check out supermarkets and we get to have breakfast of our choice. The gym because P knew I’d go crazy if I just did hotel room workouts for 2 weeks. His ears would hurt.

Another reason why we stayed outside was after calculating Uber costs it was cheaper to hire a car which worked in our favour over the next few days. P reserved parking ahead and there was a little culture shock driving to the parking. He picked one of cheaper carparks which was I think in the one of the roughest inner city neighbourhoods. He didn’t know! Neither of us did! $25 all day parking. Others were $35 plus. Lots of homeless people (there are homeless people in Barcelona but not to the extent of San Francisco. This was a whole other level of homelessness) lining the sidewalks, a lot high. I think it was the open drug use and it’s affect that was the eye opener. It was hard not to stare which I knew was the one thing I shouldn’t be doing. While I was curious how they ended up homeless, I got a feeling most were looking out for each other as tents lined the sidewalks. Yes, it made me uncomfortable and at the same time I felt safe. There I said it. The parking turned out to be only a few blocks away from the centre or downtown San Fransisco. Google Maps you know everything!

Driving into San FranciscoDowntown posh part

Okay. I got photosnappy. The chances of visiting San Francisco again are low to never, so I snapped away. It took awhile Continue reading “San Francisco: Downtown and Chinatown”