Tag: Oahu

Camping on Oahu’s North Shore

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The author and her beau enjoyed luscious shoreline views during a recent camping trip.

A weekend getaway is much-needed when you live and work somewhere like “town.” Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital and largest city bustles day in and day out with traffic and congestion, making a chance to get out to the country feel like a staycation.

Recently, my boyfriend and I had the chance to get away, for one night only, to go camping on Oahu’s north east shore in Kuhuku. We chose a private campground, Malaekahana, for its serenity, privacy, and safety. We had to book early, and spots are usually taken.

We chose a tent site near the end of the park so as to enjoy a little peace and quiet. We were lucky to make camp next to gentle, kind, and, considerate families looking for some similar rest and relaxation from their everyday grind.

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Our lovely home for the evening.

After setting up our tent, which we borrowed from a generous friend, we were able to sit back, relax, and listen to the sound of the Pacific Ocean crashing against the shore underneath the palms.

Before making dinner, we opted for a walk on the beach. On the far end, the beach was deserted and we enjoyed some private time with beautiful shoreline views.

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Loving our time away from the city.

Before long, the sun began hanging low in the sky. We fired up our camping grill, which had a hard time staying lit due to the high winds. After sheltering the grill from the direct wind, we were able to prepare a delicious dinner of homemade hamburgers, fire-roasted hot dogs, grilled veggies, and potato salad.

The best part of the evening was building a campfire from kiawe wood that we picked up at nearby Ace Hardware. Making bonfires on beaches in Hawaii is illegal, but Malaekahana allows for campfires in contained fire pits. We burned a fire for a few hours, talking story, watching the stars, and of course, roasting marshmallows for ‘Smores.

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The author enjoying her freshly roasted marshmallow.

An evening in the tent was a windy and noisy affair. I was happy to have brought along earplugs and a sleeping mask. My companion didn’t fare as well, but was finally able to catch some rest on our luxurious inflatable mattress. I guess you could say we went “glamping!”

Sunrise woke me around 7 a.m. I was treated to an epic sunrise and enjoyed a solo sunrise walk on the beach. It felt like heaven on earth, and it was surely a welcome moment of solitude.

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I enjoyed waking up to this view.

Happily, checkout wasn’t until noon, so we had plenty of time to build a yummy hot breakfast of potatoes, Portuguese sausage, scrambled eggs and fresh fruit before packing up and heading back to life in the big city.

A day at the Waikiki Aquarium

When one comes to visit Hawai’i, the last thing on their mind is visiting an aquarium. “Why would I visit the aquarium when I could just jump in the ocean and see a living aquarium?” Great question, but let me answer you this way. The Waikiki Aquarium showcases dozens of coral species and fish, crustaceans, sea horses, sea dragons, pipefish, predators, and ocean life from the Northwestern Hawaiian islands you just can’t see on the main islands.

The most impressive spread were the variety of colorful living corals. All the corals are thriving under conditions simulated to be the ocean in its most pristine, healthy state. The key takeaway for me was that I have never seen such beautiful, developed, colorful and healthy coral in the wild. It was amazing to see what coral could look like in the more remote reefs and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It was equally amazing to imagine what our reefs on O’ahu can and will look like when we are ready to transplant species back to where they belong.

Here are some photos I took at the aquarium. I would highly recommend this visit for any visitor to Hawai’i, especially before jumping into the ocean. It’s great to learn about the underwater world and its fragile ecosystem before diving in.

The Waikiki Aquarium is the 2nd oldest public aquarium in the country
The Waikiki Aquarium is the 2nd oldest public aquarium in the country
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An angelfish indigenous only to the Hawaiian islands swims by a colorful reef
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Sea anemone attract clown fish and other species of fish to its predatory confines
Hawaiian island reef life
Hawaiian island reef life
South Pacific reef life
South Pacific reef life

Yellow striped pipefish
Yellow striped pipe fish
Jellyfish in the "drifters" exhibit
Jellyfish in the “drifters” exhibit
Beautiful coral exhibits
Beautiful coral exhibits
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A sampling of the vibrant underwater world you can experience through thriving coral reefs
This Hawaiian Monk Seal has been at the aquarium for 31 years!
This Hawaiian Monk Seal has been at the aquarium for 31 years!

Next time you have a rainy day in Hawaii, or are just looking for a getaway to see something beautiful, check out the Waikiki Aquarium. You won’t be disappointed! They also have a predator exhibit with sharks and a vast educational/conservation exhibit, as well.

Hiking the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail

Hiking the

Sometimes, I get overly ambitious.  This morning and I woke up and said I wanted to go for a hike. Leave it to my boyfriend (and Hawaii local) Jonathan to take that sentiment to a whole new level and bring me to the Wa’ahila State Recreation Area to the Ridge Trail.

I knew it was going to be a somewhat difficult hike from the beginning, as to get to the trail head, we had to drive up and up Saint Louis Heights, a notoriously steep neighborhood. Tucked in the back of Ruth Street was the trail head.

Ridge

Legend has it that the Wa’ahila Ridge trail is home to the sleeping giant of Manoa, Chief Kauhi. Because of a lover’s spat between the beautiful princess Manoa, the gods eternally condemned Kauhi to spend the rest of his days contemplating aloha (grace) and pono (righteousness) along the top of Wa’ahila Ridge.

The trail is easy to follow with pink ribbons delineating your course. The entirety of the trail to the summit Mt. Olympus will take about 4 hours, but a great 2 hour (4 mile round trip) hike offers sweeping views of Honolulu.

The landscapes of Hawaii always surprise me. One minute you’re sweating as if in a desert, the next you’re in a breezy pine forest. This is where your hike begins.

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About a half-mile incline later, you’re in the middle of the valley face-to-face with some up and downhill boulder climbing. You certainly won’t need rappelling equipment, but there is some real rock climbing involved in this trail. I would never attempt this hike in the rain or right after it rains, as the ridge can be slippery and one false move will plummet you over the cliff.

Going down!
Going down!

Luckily after the boulder climbing ends, the trial evens out and twists and turns through some of the densest strawberry guava tree forests I’ve ever seen. None of the trees were fruiting at the moment, but I’ll be sure to come back when I can get my fill of those sweet tropical fruits!

Through the thicket, onward and upward
Through the thicket, onward and upward

Next you’ll be snaking your way up the mountain, taking the trail marked on the left through some more pines and visible roots. The good news is that the hardest part of the hike is over. Ready yourself for some fun and funky landscapes and amazing views.

Me and my pup Pono goofing around
Me and my pup Pono goofing around

After taking a water break and posing in this cave, it was up we went. Just a mile further will lead you to a grassy clearing where you can bask in the glory of a hard-earned view of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean.

I think I see my house! Just kidding, it's behind that crater on the left.
I think I see my house! Just kidding, it’s behind that crater on the left.

This is where we stopped, 2 miles up. You can keep trekking onward to Mt. Olympus for stunning views of the windward side. It’s so steep, you have to climb a rope to get up!

For this hike, I would definitely recommend going when it’s dry and not too rainy. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and save energy for the hike down. Boulder climbing going down isn’t always easy on the quads and knees.

O’ahu pleases once again with a hike that was challenging enough to get me out of my head and into a space to enjoy nature.

How to drink like a local in Honolulu, Hawaii

*SPOILER ALERT* This is not a post for the best place to drink a tasty, yet over-priced Mai Tai while fighting for a table at Duke’s in Waikiki. While there is a time, place and clientele for that, I’m gonna spill my ultimate itinerary of a perfect night out with the locals.

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You’re going to need fuel for the night ahead, so start at Yakitori Glad (766 Kapahulu Avenue), a popular Japanese tapas restaurant. Everything, and I mean everything, on the menu is $3.90! Pro tip: Order the large Kirin draft, as the small Kirin draft is also $3.90, just smaller.

What could be better than cold beer and grilled meat?
What could be better than cold beer and grilled meat?

Make sure you order the salt and pepper chicken kabobs, the shrimp, the ahi poke (diced, marinated raw Ahi Tuna), the chicken stuffed mushrooms, stuffed green chili peppers and the wasabi beef skewer.

Now that you’re fueled up and ready to go, head over to Honolulu’s industrial district to Honolulu Beer Works (328 Cooke Street) for a hip, warehouse watering hole serving their own small-batch brewed beer. Pints will run you $6.75, but the beer is great quality, the community seating and ambiance is great and the service is top-notch. Go for a pint of the Sheltered Bay IPA or the whimsically named Animal Farmhouse Ale.

Bottom's up!
Bottom’s up!

If for some reason you didn’t fill up at Yakitori Glad, Honolulu Beer Works has a small, but ono selection of local kine grinds (delicious food).

No need to get back into your car for the next stop. Walk over to Bevy (661 Auahi Street), an eclectic, artsy hand-crafted cocktail place. Pro tip: Make sure you come during happy hour which runs Mon-Sat 4-7 p.m. Here’s why: You can get local beer for $3 a pop, or just start living the high life like I did. I had a $5 glass of champagne and Jonathan had a $5 gin champagne cocktail. Top it all off with $1.50 oysters on the half-shell and you should start feeling mighty fine.

Start snapchatting your friends how hard your life is.
Start snapchatting your friends how hard your life is.

You have to be loosened up by now, but it’s not time to call it a night yet. Next stop? Brew’d Craft Pub (9th and Waialae) is a cool neighborhood spot with a beer selection that rivals many good craft beer bars on the mainland. Pair awesome beer with upbeat funk music and you have a recipe for a fun night. Choose from 20 rotating taps and over 200 bottled beer. We shared a 22 oz.  Big Island Holy Humulus IPA and couldn’t resist an order of their bacon fat fries with homemade ketchup. Round two was some other delicious IPA whose name I can’t recall. Maybe it was time to pack it in.

NAH! The last stop on your itinerary is Karaoke Hut Sports Bar & Grill (909 Kapahulu Avenue). I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t divey, but at this point in the night, this is exactly what you need – trust me. After a few cocktails, nothing is more fun than passing around the microphone to belt out “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” You can rent a private room for $30 an hour or just sing out in the bar space. The beer selection is meh, but at this point, you should gladly switch to Pabst Blue Ribbon and Coors Light anyway.

Pass around the mic!
Pass around the mic!

And there you have it. Make sure to take an Uber home and call it a night…Or just do like the locals and keep drinking once you get home!

The Colors of Hawaii

It’s hard to pinpoint one thing I love the most about living in Hawaii, but one thing’s for sure: the colors here top the list. I never knew life could be so vibrant, beautiful and colorful. Here are some photos that I’ve taken in the past few months that show just how diverse and the color spectrum is here on a daily basis:

KohalaThis photo was just a typical sunset at Kohala Beach on O’ahu, but I love the orange and black contrast.

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Hiking the Kuliouo Ridge Trail

There’s so much greenery in Hawaii all times of year. This was taken in February. The reason why we get so many rainbows is because it rains nearly every day and it’s sunny a lot, too. In order to get that lush green tropical rain forest, we have to endure our share of rain storms.

View from the top at Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail
View from the top at Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail

Sometimes cloudy days lend themselves to great shots. Here’s the payoff view from the top of Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail on the east side of O’ahu. I think the most stunning colors are the water and greenery.

Ahi Sashimi Salad at Kona Brewing Company
Ahi Sashimi Salad at Kona Brewing Company

I hate to tell you, but if your Ahi Tuna isn’t that color, you’re just not living. This Ahi Tuna salad at Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii Kai was worth every penny of its $22 price tag. I love the various colors. It’s truly a work of art!

Waikiki Sunset
Waikiki Sunset

Before moving to Hawaii, I felt amazed and jealous of all those sunset shots I’d see floating around Instagram. Then one day while casually walking down the street in Waikiki, I looked to my left and saw that it was so easy to capture the beauty that is Hawaii. The shadows and natural back lighting make photographing beautiful sunsets a no-brainer. I love the clouds’ indigo/deep purple hues in the background.

Diamond Head View
Diamond Head View

It’s almost hard to accept how beautiful the colors in this moment were. I was treated to a spectacular sunset this evening and the cotton candy sky against verdant green Diamond Head were nearly enough to make me weep.

My absolute favorite
My absolute favorite at Waikiki Beach

Here’s a rule of thumb: when the sun dips into the sky, wait around 10 or 15 minutes and see what happens. Patience was a virtue this night as I captured the most ethereal, stunning color spectrum I’ve ever seen. I still can’t believe it’s real.

sistersAt the Kaneohe Sand Bar, the contrast of light blue and dark blue ocean waters against the dramatic backdrop of the Ko’olau Mountain Range is something to behold.

Koko Marina
Koko Marina

Like I mentioned before, sometimes cloudy skies give way to amazing shots. I just adore the color of the water, the white boat and the ominous clouds over the mountains. Paradise.

Rainbow from home
Rainbow from home

No Hawaiian photo shoot is complete without at least one photo of a rainbow. When you least expect it, you look up into the ordinary sky (well, ordinary by Hawaii’s standards) and see a vibrant rainbow. There’s a reason why the rainbow is on the Hawaii license plate. No matter how commonplace rainbows might be, I’m still thrilled to see one and I’m often taken aback at how colorful and peaceful they make the atmosphere.