Lace up the mud shoes at a trailhead in a suburban neighborhood near Kailua on Oahu's Windward Coast and spend a half day on a jungle outing to a swimming hole with a waterfall. Maunawili Falls is pocketed into the east side of the Ko'olau Mountains, only three miles, round-trip, but wth a healthy 425 feet of up-and-down. About four stream crossings are required. The footing is dicey over rocks and roots, and flora makes a tunnel out of portions of the trail. The route has a junction with the 10-mile Maunawili Trail—a ragged contour route along the base of the Ko'olaus—providing an opportunity for a longer trek. Pleasant weekend days attract lots of hikers, so you may seek an alternative if solitude is high on the agenda. Oahu Trailblazer has several nearby options.
After shelling out a couple grand for a Hawaii vacation, visitors want to get their money's worth and are therefore eager consumers of top-ten lists that cover everything from shave-ice joints to sky-diving instructions. No one wants to feel like they missed out.
But sober words of caution are in order: First, one person's oh-wow is another person's ewwwwwww. There's just no accounting for different tastes. Second, no matter what the attraction, beach, or trail, you need to pick the right day to see it at its best. And, third (here's the country-song-sad part,) some places have become so popular that the experience is no longer sure to be "the best."
Let's stick to beginner snorkeling. Here are popular places on each island that have been killed by kindness; followed by suggestions to nearby alternatives that are relatively free of crowds and high on scenic value.
Popular: Hanauma Bay. The bay can be a zoo, featurng a full-parking lot, irksome (if necessary) regulations, and dead-looking coral where white hairy legs seem more plentiful than fish. Check out the dreamy view from the free gardenscaped grounds above the bay, and move on.
Alternative: Bactrack toward Kahala to Cromwell's Cove-Ka'alwai Beach, or continue past Hanauma to Makai Research Pier on the southern end of the Windward Cost. Cromwell's is a local's hangout on weekends, and Makai Pier, though hardly a secret, is no fuss.
Popular: Tunnels Beach, with the Bali Hai (Makena) Ridge lofted above, is a Hollywood fantasy of tropical snorkeling. But with limited parking, the fantasy turns to a b-movie. Same goes for awesome Ke'e Beach, at road's end. Too much of a scene at peak times.
Alternative: Backtrack to Princeville and take a short steep walk down to Hideaways or Kenomene Beach. Princeville is a resort area, but these beaches are fairly wild. Or go farther down the coast and check out hike-to Papa'a Bay. There's a movie director's mansion at the backshore of Papa'a, but the bay is postcard pristine.
Popular: Monkey-see-monkey-do tourists would hobble over piles of jagged lava to get to Kalaeloa Cove (the Aquarium) in the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve south of Wailea. Due to adverse impacts, the government boys have shut this place down for a rest, and the crowds gather at nearby Dumps and Ahihi Cove, at the other end of the reserve.
Alternative: Not far away on this same coast are Oneuli (Black Sand) Beach and Chang's Landing, a.k.a. Turtle Town. Snorkeling tour companines bring boats from Kihei to these spots, which can be accessed from the shore. Oneuli has a sandy entry, while Chang's requires a nimble entry at a reef.
Popular: At the south end of Ali'i Drive in Kona, Kahalu'u Beach Park can seem more like Coney Island. Just too much flesh and hubbub.
Alternative: Head a tad farther south on Ali'i Drive to Keauhou Bay and the Keauhou Sundeck. Keauhou has tour boat launches and locals in kayaks and outrigger canoes, but relatively few swimmers. Or go just north of Kona to Old Airport Beach and make your way to Kaiwi Point, an excellent choice when surf is low.
These are just a few of many places that can be "best" for snorkelers on a given day. Bottom line: check out the Trailblazer guide for the islands which has all the spots described, and make the call for yourself.
The gigantic cloud of noxious gas in 1924 billowed from a "dazzlng lava lake" in Halemaumau Crater, which is within the larger Kilauea Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Since first seen by Westerners in 1823, some two-dozen eruptions have taken place at this home of the volcano goddess Pele. In 1974, a blazing curtain of lava burst hundreds of feet and covered Crater Rim Drive. Pele was quiet for a few decades after that, until 3 a.m. March 9, 2008, when the tourist's viewing platform was blown to smithereens and several acres were covered with debris. (A daytime eruption would have been catastrophic.)
Crater Rim Drive in the park, as well as several trails, have been closed since then. Visitors can view Halemaumau from the nearby Jaggar Museum, where scientists keep watch over the volcano. On certain days, the volcanic plume increases in volume, causing more extreme closures in the park. BTW: The Halemaumau eruption is separate and several miles away from the Pu'u O'o eruption on the east rift that has been sending a lava river into the ocean since 1983--destroying dozens of homes.
On the most eastern land in the Hawaiian archipelago, Cape Kumukahi ("First Beginnings" in Hawaiian) are clues left by people who pre-dated the earliest Polynesians in the second century. Small stone monuments found by archeologists in the 1800s are of unknown origin--lending support in some circles as evidence of the defunct (think Atlantis) Lost Continent of Mu.
You can check it out for yourself by strolling the sylvan acres of Green Lakes, which charges a modest ($5) fee to explore. (Other popular sites in the Islands on private land have shut down trails that were popular among visitors. Thanks to Smiley Burrows, the woman who runs the show, the property has solved an illegal camping problem, and created some really cool recreational space, including gardens.)
East of Green Lake--at road's end at the cape itself--are more recent monuments, the King's Pillars. These stacks of rough a'a lava were used as beacons by the the crews of King Pi'lani in the 1500s when navigating canoes from Maui.
Cape Kumukahi is now the site of many acres of the Big Island's most recent lands, thanks to an enormous eruption in 1960. At the top of a green hillock sticking up through the lava slag heaps about a mile inland is the site of the Kukui Heiau. Chief Umi in the 1400s used the rock structure as an astronomy observatory.
All these places are 'out-there' in Puna, seen by relatively few visitors. Those who do come to the cape are hell bent on getting to a nearby tepid-water sea pool, known as Champagne Pool.
If Oahu is your only Hawaiian destination and you've booked a room in Waikiki, be sure to catch the hula event at sunset. The show opens with the traditional conch blower and center stage lights up with professional dancers, musicians and story telling. Get there early for a good seat on the lawn. Place is the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound near the Duke Kahanamoku statue, Tuesday through Saturday, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. weather permitting. It's free.
"Hidden" and "oasis" is often brochure-hype, but not in the case of the Queen's Bath on the backshore of the beach at the world-class Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island. The description is literal The mortored saline bath, which dates from the 1800s when the ali'i (royalty) among Hawaiians would dip in saline ponds along coast, is not easy to spot—even though some modern condos are perched on the volcanic cliffs right above it.
To get there you need to take a side trip from a path that winds from Beach Club Beach among several large anchialine ponds (these lakelets are where freshwater and seawater surface via underground channels). In the old days, a fish gate at the shoreline made sure the ponds were full of fat mullet for the king and his retinue. Also hidden various trees of the oasis (nearby, the land is covered with sun-sorched lava) are the remains of Kalihuipua'a Village. Among the treasures are petroglyphs and decrepit rock structures.
Sunset surfers ride the eternal wave machine right off Kuhio Beach Park in the hubbub of Waikiki. Then many store their boards like so many locked-up bicycles at the Waikiki Beach Center and ride a bus home. It's not unusual to see a sandy-footed wave rider striding up Kalakaua Avenue (WKK's main drag) with board in hand, weaving through a throng of duded-up tourists past designer shops and restaurant bars aglow from freshly lit tiki torches.
For sure, Waikiki is a high-rise tourist amusement park, but Old Hawaii manages to surface through the pavement.
Excerpted from No Worries Hawaii: A Vacation Planning guide for Kaua'i, Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island.
You can find white-sand beaches, aquamarine pools and swaying palms at many wonderful places on this big blue orb. But aside from being the tropical fantasy, what makes Hawaii unequaled, no ifs ands or buts? Here are Ten Big Truths that apply to Hawaii. Can you spot the exaggeration?
1. THE LAST LOST WORLD
Human beings had inhabited virtually the entire world before migrating to Hawaii. The earliest known footprints were made about 200 AD by sailing canoe voyagers from the Marquesas, coming some 2,400 miles from the south. A second wave of voyagers, from Tahiti, arrived around 1200 AD. These Polynesians--the Hawaiians--made back-and-forth migrations for several centuries, until the late 1400s, when they were isolated on their Pacific homeland.
2. THE NEWEST NEW WORLD
The Western World, in the form of British Captain James Cook (who was looking for the Northwest Passage) found Hawaii only recently--in 1778. These islands in the Pacific became crucial to expanding trans-Pacific trade.
3. THE WORLD'S HOTTEST HOT SPOT
The Hawaiian Islands are volcanoes. Although the northernmost main island, Kaua'i, is more than 5 million years old, parts of the Big Island are as fresh as a newborn babe. That's because the earth's crust is slowly moving northward over a "hot spot" of copiously flowing magma, like the shell of an egg rotating around its yoke. New lava piles up and forms islands, and then the islands move north. Loihi, the newest would-be island, is now underwater about 20 miles offshore the Big Island.
4. NOW YOU SEE 'EM, NOW YOU DON'T
As the islands move forward on the geologic conveyor belt, they are eroded by rain, wind, and waves. The Hawaiian Islands include more than 100 tiny islands and sea-washed atolls north of Kaua'i. Kaua'i is headed for submersion, to be followed by the other islands.
5. THE WORLD'S TALLEST MOUNTAINS
True, the Big Island's volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, are just under 14,000 feet in elevation. But if you measure from their peaks to the base on the seafloor, they are well over 40,000 feet--easily the earth's tallest.
6. BIGGEST STATE IN THE UNION
That's right Texas, you're number three. The Hawaiian Archipelago extends for about 1,600 miles and contains some 123 islands, all comprising the State of Hawaii. If territorial waters are included in area, the total is more than twice the size of Alaska.
7. FARTHEST GETAWAY IN THE WORLD
The eight major Hawaiian Islands are in the middle of the Pacific, surrounded by 65-million square miles of open water and at least 2,000 miles from other islands or continents. It's easily the world's most isolated landmass.
8. THE ORIGIN OF SPAM
Sure, everybody with email knows about spam now. But Spam is all about Hawaii, where record amounts are enjoyed each year per person. The craze began when Hawaiian warriors in ancient times sailed north into the Pacific, harboring pigs in open canoes. Reaching the Mainland, they then paddled up the Colorado River, scaled the Grand Canyon, crossed the Great Plains, and reached the frozen tundra of Austin, Minnesota. The pigs could go no farther. Absent ti leaves for a luau, the Hawaiians concocted a way to jellify the pork into square cans. During WWII, Hormel Foods started shipping the stuff back to Hawaii.
9. THE ORIGIN OF NEW LIFE FORMS
Some 6,000 insects, birds, and plants are native to the Hawaiian Islands, having evolved from about 120 seeds that washed up or were flown here in bird stomachs. Hawaii became rich with endangered and rare species, many of which are now extinct. An isolated Eden, a planet in the Pacific, Hawaii is where new earth rises from the sea and new life forms evolve.
10. WETTEST SPOT ON EARTH
Mount Waialeale on Kaua'i gets some 40 feet of rainfall per yeare. Rainfall is not normally a selling point for vacation destinations. But all that rain translates to resplendent greenery and waterfalls. Most of the rain takes place at the highest elevations inland. The leeward sides of the islands are desertlike, complete with cacti, receiving around 10 inches of rain reach year.
11. ALOHA LIVES
Led by transplanted Americans, a rebellion of business interests overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893, later imprisoning Queen Liliuokalani in her own palace. President Grover Cleveland at the time ruled the overthrow illegal and that the monarchy be restored. But his ruling was ignored, and when McKinley took office in 1898, the islands were annexed as a U.S. territory. Since Queen Liliuokalani chose to combat the overthrow in the courts rather than on the battlefield, the legal issue of Hawaii's sovereignty remains an open question. The U.S. formally apologized for the overthrow in 1993. The unmet promise of the Hawaiian Kingdom remains an open issue and aloha--Hawaii's export to a world in need--remains a hope unfulfilled. If you look, you will see the spirit of aloha, not preserved for tourists, but rather living and breathing in the people and traditions of Hawaii.
A walk around the lush 2,400 acres of the ‘Iole stream valley on the north Kohala coast on the Big Island—apart from being a fantastic way to spend a day—is also a stroll that connects centuries of Hawaiian history. In the offing are miles of trails through tropical gardenscapes and an organic macadamia-nut orchard; a tour of a historic homestead, church, and school (the second-oldest buildings on the island); and an oh-wow zipline that is arguably the best in the state. All the activities are managed the by nonprofit 'Iole ("ee-oh-lay") Foundation. For a summary, check out ‘Iole Hawaii. All visitors need to check in at the office-visitors center and sign-up for a free permit to explore grounds.
During the times of Kamehameha the Great (born a few miles from here in 1758), ‘Iole was the horn ‘o plenty for the king’s armies and retinue, supplying taro, bananas, breadfruit, sweet potatoes, and other Polynesian staples. Called an ahupua’a (“a-hoo-poo-ah-ah”), this traditional division of land had become overgrown over the decades, but this year a group of young men cleared the stream and planted taro and other crops in the manner of their Hawaiian ancestors. The group (‘Ōhua O Nā Kia‘i No Nā Keiki O Ka Āina; The Protectors for the Children of the Land) teaches the traditions to school children, who are a part of another community group, Ocean Warriors, formed by Elizabeth (Buffy) Pickett.
Close to the new garden terraces, a traditional canoe hale ("hah-lay," an A-frame) has been constructed, using time-honored methods employed by a group of Hawaiian men who have built similar structures throughout the islands.
Set 1,500 feet above the coastline, the land in 1841 became the homestead for Protestant Congregationalist missionary Elias Bond and his wife Ellen Mariner Howell. “Father and Mother” Bond dedicated Kalahikiola Church in 1855 (faithfully restored in 2010 after damages caused by an earthquake in 2006) and Kohala Girls School in 1874 (which is being restored to be turned into a conference center). Guided walking tours, available by reservation, really do bring history to life.
Ziplines have sprung up all over Hawaii, but few if any can match the startling scenery of this one operated by Big Island Eco Adventures, which crosses the jungled stream gulch in breathtaking lifts that drop about 1,000 feet overall. The beginning of the adventure is a 200-foot-long suspension bridge that crosses a waterfall. What also makes this ride the best, however, are the safety features and skilled guides who take all the work and worry out of the experience for participants. Another unique feature are the interpretive displays at each station that feature the artwork of John D. Dawson and insightful monographs on local culture and natural history written by Kerry Balaam.
Takeaway: ‘Iole is a model of aloha and community synergy. The grounds (on the way to Pololu Valley past Hawi) are a must-stop for anyone who loves Hawaii.
Open daily 8:00am – 4:00pm.
53-496 ‘Iole Road, Kapa’au, HI 96755
Based on 2012 fare records, the best time to buy a ticket (non-holiday) is 49 days prior to your departure for Hawaii. Buying a ticket 200 days ahead is as costly as last minute fares. Christmas, Thanksgiving and high season (winter) expect to pay more so start shopping early. Want to know which day to buy your ticket: Tuesday afternoon since domestic sales launch late Monday and are then matched by rivals. We like Kayak.com for their comparison and trend data and Hawaiian Airlines aloha spirit, always a happy ride across the Pacific. For more tips on packing and getting ready for your Hawaii trip, read the No Worries Hawaii planning guide.
Never pay full price for fabulous. Money saving tips when booking an accommodation in Hawaii:
1. Travel during non-peak seasons, which are Fall and Spring (after Spring break).
2. Book 6 to 8 months in advance---or book at the last minute. Resorts don't want to see rooms go vacant.
3. Get a room with a kitchenette and eat fewer meals in restaurants. Apply the money you save to your room.
4. Get a room with a garden or mountain view, rather than ocean (for extreme skimpers only).
5. If you have friends or relatives you can stand, book a place together. Half the cost of a larger unit will be far cheaper than all the cost of a smaller.
6. The longer you stay, the less you pay. For this to work, you need to stay three weeks or longer.
7. Once you make a booking, don't confirm for a day or so, long enough to see if changing the dates a day or two either way will save money on airline reservations.
8. Without being rude, ask if you are getting the lowest rate ("is this the best you can do?"), or if there are any lower rates available - hotel/corporate club rewards points, bankcard/AmEx/airline rewards, etc. Compare rates offered on Hotels.com and let them know you found a lower rate. Can they beat or match it?
This isn't really a money-saving tip, but it is always a good idea to call the resort that you plan to visit beforehand to check out the "aloha factor" over the phone. If you get a harried customer service rep on the Mainland or India, you may not be in for the best experience in Hawaii. On the other hand, talking to a person in Hawaii will let you know much about the warm welcome you will receive as a guest. Normally, desk people in Hawaii are very friendly and are happy to answer questions. If you get a room in Hawaii that is dissappointing to you, feel free to politely inform the desk. They will take care of you in almost all cases. For more island insider info, read the No Worries Hawaii planning guide.
The Banzai Pipeline (Pipeline, or just plain Pipe) is a long barrel breaking on a shallow near-shore reef at Ehukai Beach Park on the North Shore of Oahu. An inspiration for Surfer-Joe songs and movies of the 1960s, the picture-perfect curl is on the circuit among the big-boy breaks of the world professional surfing tours.
In 2006, the wahines arrived, holding the first ever professional event on the women's tour at Pipeline—and they've been rolling with the wave ever since. Pipe breaks both left and right (the back door) and produces those triumphant moments when surfers, hidden in the barrel for a moment, spit out in the spray and slice toward shore. Or not. The curl routinely claims even the best and is a notorious board-breaker.
The Pipeline Women's Pro 2013 is hitting again now through March 22. The event will feature an Open division, as well as a Bodyboard, Longboard, Junior Pro Women and Men categories. Some surfers will be competing in all divisions and the best athlete wins the gold ring. Defending champion Bianca Valiente will try to reconquer the title.
For all the action on North Shore Oahu, consult your Oahu Trailblazer guidebook.
Cole Figeuria, a trainer at Dolphin Quest with a degree in psychology, didn't realize he'd be making waves when Keo gave birth to a new calf, Lehua, last September right in front of him. Lehua's birth went on YouTube, which went viral, and then did a cannonball when it aired on the edgy TV comedy, Tosh.0. (Dophin Quest globally has had nearly 30 dolphin born in their care, and 3 alone last year at Dolphin Quest Hawaii.)
Life is pretty much back to "normal," for Cole and fellow staff, including Cole's wife Alex, and a host of other dedicated young people with degrees in marine biology and other disciplines. Of course a normal day at Dolphin Quest is fantasy island for most people. Set amid the Disneyesque grounds, the swimming mammals' home is a palmy ocean pool, where visitors can sit on a shaded lawn to watch the splash-filled encounters and also look in on day-to-day family stuff, like feeding time. Several times each day, human families and kids get in the pool with their personal trainer and have face time with dolphins---an encounter usually lasting 45 minutes, but participants report memories that last a lifetime and a new connection with the natural world.
Dolphin Quest also has a facility at the Kahala Resort on Oahu, and in Bermuda. The dolphins don't slap beach balls around or do “tricks”, but rather exhibit interactive behaviors that showcase their natural abilities. DQ is known for participating in a variety of research projects that range from newborn dolphin development and growth, sample collection, and funding research grants for universities and affiliated organizations involving marine mammals in the wild.
Cole is currently training one of the older females (Iwa, 42) who sporadically shows signs of vision loss. As a preventative measure, he is teaching a new protocol that would help staff to maintain her high level of health care if she were to lose her vision. The new program involves Iwa responding exclusively to touch commands on her body so that she will be able to communicate and work with the trainer. The pink cup on Cole's shoulder is used to temporarily block vision in Iwa's good eye to simulate blindness and condition her to respond to the new tactile stimuli.
It's tempting to adopt a "Free Willy" attitude and lament that DQ's mammals are not frolicking in the open sea. Cole and others completed an expansion to their saltwater pools. But when they opened the gate, none of the mammals wanted to go through, and days of reinforced trials were needed to get a few to move to the new world. The casual observer might be entertained by the big "fish" swimming with people, but a closer look reveals a lot of love among fellow mammals going on below the surface.
Many visitors head up Saddle Road in the middle of the Big Island of Hawaii and then farther still to see the celestial observatories atop Mauna Kea; a four-wheel drive is highly recommended. But sitting unnoticed across the Saddle is the 17-mile drive to Mauna Loa, the world's second highest peak (measured from its underwater base, it is 56,000 feet tall, only about 100 feet shorter than Mauna Kea). The newly paved one-lane road swerves and undulates through an apocalyptic battlefield of a half-dozen different eruptions that have take place during the last 150 years: smooth (pahoehoe) lava, jagged piles of a'a lava, some of it dusty with age and some acres still oily black and fresh; and with a range of colors including grey, chalk, chocolate cake, and dark brick red.
Tip: The first quarter mile of the road was left unpaved and is full of potholes, but the remainder is smooth.
At the long curved top of Mauna Loa are the assemblage of weather stations and astrophysical monitoring devices that keep a watch on global climate change, among other events.
The paved road to these structures is now gated, but you can arrange for a tour by calling 808-933-6965. Parking at the top is also for the trail that leads to the peak: 6 miles, one way, with a gain of 2,500 feet. Not bad, but altitude is an issue, since you begin at over 11,000 feet. The mountain's slopes, created by zillions of tons of lava piling up are not steep, averaging about a 12 percent grade. This big dome effect makes Mauna Loa easily the world's most massive peak, with 100 times more cubic feet than Mainland volcanoes like Rainier and St. Helen's (even before it blew its cork). Complete driving directions can be found to Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea peaks in your Hawaii Big Island Trailblazer guide.
The Big Island isn't known for surfing, but when an east swell rolls into Isaac Hale Beach Park in Puna, the waves get covered with shortboards. The break is mostly left, off the breakwater that creates a boat ramp into little Pohoiki Bay. The concrete-and-rip-rap structure is also the spot to sunbathe an spectate. You get a view right down the barrels.
The beach park is also known for a small natural warm pool that lies at the backshore in the middle of the bay. Surfers also like the reefy break called Bowls, which is off the park's picnic tables. The scene really amps up on weekends at Isaac Hale (HA-lay), when teens and families come down from all over Puna (the east quadrant of the Big Island) and Hilo. About a mile away is Ahalanui Pond, a county park with a huge man-enhanced seaside pool that features water geothermally heated to 90-degrees-plus.
BTW: Pohoiki Boat ramp is where people leave for lava-viewing boat tours these days, since the viewing site shifted a couple years back from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, to Kalapana Bay in Puna. You can also walk to the lava flows; Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer has details.
The Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by 2,500 mies of open sea--the world's most isolated landmass. Until now, there was no refuge for birds who became sick or distressed, mainly due to man's handiwork, such as oil spills and plastic flotsam. Opening this spring, on the green nub that is the north tip of the Big Island near the town of Hawi, is the Hawaii Wildlife Center, a treatment center for birds of the sea, shore, and forest.
Our flying friends can thank the center's founder, Linda Elliott, who synergized a years-long effort to bring the vision into being. Using all private funds from private donors, Elliott led a team of volunteers ranging from architects to gardeners to create a state-of-the art facility. She has worked throughout the world rescuing and returning to the wild thousands of birds. The gleaming new wildlife center is easy on the eye, but also is testament to form following function, with areas that allow for all the steps in caring for a variety of birds and ailments.
Hawaii Wildlife Center is not a zoo with animals on display, but visitors are welcomed. A native plant garden surrounds an outside interpretive area that will feature many educational displays, as well as real-time video feeds of the indoor activity. Proceeds from a retail store will be tilled back into keeping the center functioning. Surrounded by lush greenery on Lighthouse Road, the HWC is also a pleasant refuge for visitors touring the Big Island, not only for its tranquility but also for the sense of community spirt that it imparts.
Hawaii Wildlife Center
53-324 Lighthouse Road, Kapa‘au, HI 96755
At popular Mainland parks, hikers are advised to stay on trails to avoid destroying a fragile ecosystem. In Hawaii, the tables are turned and the smart money is on the flora to take its toll on hikers foolhardy enough to venture off trails. Dense snarls of greenery make it impossible to find your way back to a trails after straying only a short distance. Throw in a little rain or fog and you can become rapidly, hopelessly lost. Forget about GPS. Steep topography won't let you find a route, even if the direction is clear. To complete the horror show, add the hidden promise of earth cracks and lava tubes that will mail you to nowheresville.
Pololu Valley, Hawaii Big Island
Here are a few tips to stay safe.
1. Stay on the trail. People have been walking these islands for centuries and if there isn't already a trail, forget about getting there. If you lose the trail, or it becomes difficult to follow, backtrack immediately.
2. On ridge and mountain trails, don't step to the side even to take a picture unless you are careful. The margins of a trail are often just ferns and grasses that disguise a free-fall.
3. Many less popular trails are unsigned. As you proceed, look back occasionally to memorize your return route. Use sticks or rocks as marker arrows (and scatter the markers upon your return).
4. Note your departure time for a hike, and make sure to begin your return when you have used up less than half the remaining daylight. Bring a flashlight.
5. When hiking in groups, stay together.
6. Always bring an equipped pack, with food, water, and extra clothing.
Located next to the old-timey tourist attraction of Maui Tropical Plantation just south of Wailuku on Maui, Kumu Farms is a leap to a healthy future, when organic fruits and veggies come straight from the garden and into your hands. This is no roadside fruit stand. Kumu is certified for a long list of organic crops (with differing harvest times): apple bananas, arugula, awa, basil, beans, beets, cabbage, carrot, chard, cilantro, coffee, cucumber, dill, eggplant, fennel, kale, leeks, lemongrass, lettuce, mixed salad greens, onion, oregano, papaya, parsley, pepper, radish, rosemary, sage, savory, spearmint, squash, taro leaf, thyme, tomato and turnip. Much of the produce comes from the adjacent 20-acre garden.
Manu Vinciguerra (pictured) is the market's marketing manager, overseeing the operation, which is just three months old on Maui, but carrying on a 30-year history of success from its 120-farm on Molokai. Some 20,000 pounds of papaya are harvested weekly on Molokai——they are the Mainland's biggest supplier of this orgainic fruit. Kumu Farms has received raves from Edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine and was recognized by Maui County as an exceptional small business. Produce not sold is delivered to local food banks.
Kumu Farms also supplies herbs to celebrity chefs throughout the Mainland, and delivers products to health food stores on Maui. The farms are a trendsetter for supplying sustainable healthy foods to consumers through a variety of channels. But the key to their success is as old as the hills: they produce superior products at a competitive price. The farms themselves, extending below the palm-studded green fields of the West Maui Mountians, are also a relaxing stop for tourists and locals alike.
Having braved the 60-plus one lane bridges and serpentine jungle turns to get to the Pools of Oheo (the lower section of Haleakala National Park that is about 10 miles past Hana), visitors may well just keep on truckin' in a clockwise direction past Kipahulu and Kaupo, rather than reverse course on the Hana Highway.
Highway 360 becomes Highway 31 (Pi'ilani Highway), which covers some wild-and-scenic coastline that is on the south side of Haleakala---the big volcano rises to 10,000 feet, this side marked by the Kaupo Gap and deeply fissured gulches and mini-canyons. Although you won't find sandy beaches, coastal access is frequent, at Nu'u Bay (petroglyphs, old landing with snorkeling) and other rock-pocked shores (including one with a sea arch).
This "backdoor" route is actually an easier and faster drive, but that is only "easier" relative to the demanding Hana Highway. The first four miles after Kipahulu can be hairy, with one-lane stretches and dirt sections. Never take this route during or right after heavy rains and watch out for rocks and debris in the roadway. After four miles the road becomes paved-potholed for about 8 miles past funky-iconic Kaupo Store and beautiful Huialoha and St. Joseph's churches. Highway 31 is then smooth asphalt, undulating with blue-water views all the way to Tedeschi Winery, and back around to the Hana Highway.