Sunday, September 27, 2015

Kaua'i's Moloa'a rhymes with Ahhhhhhhh

Kauai's northeast coast has a wealth of wild beaches, so pleasure seekers may not find Moloa'a (mo-lo-ah-ah) Bay on the first visit, or even the second. The big curve of sand cleaved by a fresh stream is two lush miles down a rural road, a couple turns off a country highway. In the past, "no parking" signs near beach homes dissuaded visitors, but those days are gone and the vibe is total aloha. At the far end of this beach, a trail leads up a bluff into a bird sanctuary with views of the deep blue sea.

Few people head the other way around the bay, a beachcomer's stroll along a reefy shore break. At the far end of the bay are the Moloa'a Baths—pools and channels in an onshore coral reef that are favored by reef fishermen and snorkelers. As is the case with all beaches, be cautious when the surf is up, since high surf equals stronger rip current.

Don't forget to nose around the backshore (while avoiding people's yards), where gardens and torpical orchards add some soothing green to a day a the beach. Kaua'i Trailblazer has the deets on this sweet bay, as well as more than a dozen wild beaches along this 20-mile-long adverturer's paradise.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Big Island's Waipio Valley: A short walk to a world apart

On the lush north nub of the Big Island of Hawaii, Waipio Valley is an adventure into the past, where young Kamehamea spent his youth surfing a wild beach and roaming one of the richest agricultural terraces in the Islands. Lush in Hawaii means 'wet,' so plan on getting your feet wet.

As seen from a lookout at road's end, Waipio appears as a faraway land, its beach cleaved by a swift-flowing stream. At the cliff at the far end of the beach, the Muliwai Trail begins its switchbacking ascent into the roadless north coast, where wilderness is wild for real.

The road down requires 4WD vehicles or a ride with a one of the local tour companies. On the other hand, you can just walk down: it's only 500-feet down over 1.5 miles, not bad considering the destination.

A hidden hike in Waipio leads to the taro fields that have been cultivated for many generations, often by the same families. The trail is sort of hard to find, since you begin by walking a  water-washed road the looks like a streambead.

Waterfalls, including twin ribbons of Hi'ilawae Falls, accent cliff walls that hem Waipio in on three sides. The road down crosses over the top of Kaluahine Falls. Once at the beach, you can rock-hop to the right to get a point-blank look from the bottom (although standing at the bottom of waterfalls is not a good idea in Hawaii, since rocks and debris sometimes fall with the water).

Hawaii the Big Island Trailbazer has more details, beginning on page 31.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cruising the Kapa'a Coastal Bike Path

Pedaling the Coconut Coast of Kauai (the east shore) has quietly become one of the top attractions in the state. Decades in the making, the Ke Ala Hel Makalae ("path that goes by the coast") swerves a dreamy dozen-or-so miles, from the wild beaches in Ahahola to the north, through the beach cottages of funky Kapa'a Town, and ending (for now) at the huge family fantasyland of Lydgate Beach Park.

The heart of the path, in Kapa'a passes several beaches, including Pono Kai Beach, so bring your snorkel and fins along for the ride.

Intrepretive signs accent the route, telling of the town's past lives as a pineapple center and sugar cane grower. A half-dozen new, Decco footbridges cross canals, streams and ravines—including the slick new bike lane across the wide Wailua River from Kapa'a to Lydgate, which used to be a major pain for cyclists at this busy T-intersection. 

There are plenty of places to hit the brakes for eats and beverages, both in Kapa'a and at the Coconut Marketplace.

Beach cruiser bikes may be rented at several places in and around Kapa'a. A good choice is Coconut Coasters, centrally located and right on the path. They offer a range of wheels, including three-speeds with nice cushy seats.

Although the official path doesn't go much farther north of Donkey Beach, adventure seekers can continue on old cane roads and paths past cute House Beach, and all the way to Anahola. On the south end, you can ride beyond Lydgate on a sandy side road several more miles to Kauai Beach.

Kauai Trailblazer has all the details on the Kapa'a Coastal Bike Path, as well as many other rides on the Garden Island—by far the best cycling island in Hawaii, and one of the top spots in the world for mountain bikers.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Hiking on the Hana Highway

A conga line of rental cars forms at midday on Maui, as tourists line up to twist and turn for 40 miles of one-lane bridges and waterfalls along the way to the quiet town of Hana. Driving isn't the only attraction. The Hana Highway presents many opportunites to wander into the rainforest, but you have to know where to look. Wahinepe'e Falls, for instance, is hiding in plain site up and behind a  well-signed botanical garden.

The Waikamoi Nature Trail is also easy to find (though parking can be a pinch) but not many visitors know about Kolea Road, which branches off the main trail to make a loop through a bamboo forest.

Many of the trails in the Ko'olau Forest Reserve, which borders the highway for about 10 miles, have limited access, but there are enough options to satisfy the advenurous visitor. Maui Trailblazer has all the details to find the hidden spots—and not just the 'hidden spots' that everyone knows about.