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!
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.
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.
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?
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.