Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Why Waikiki? It's Hawaii to Da Max

Most people's image of Waikiki Beach on Oahu is summarized by a thousand words in the photo above: lot's of tender flesh elbow to jowl on a strip of artificial sand backed by square blocks of high-rise resorts, designer shops, eateries, and weirdness run amok. And that image is pretty much true. (And what's wrong with that?)

But the roots of Hawaii literally run through the place, on the Waikiki Historic Trail. You can bus in from the airport and spend a vacation on foot and riding trolleys.

Not far away is Diamond Head, Waikiki's world-famous landmark, which is actually a crater. A quirky walk through tunnels and up stairs leads to the viewing area.

With so many nooks and crannies, places to call your own are easy to find. You can wander the two-mile run of beach many times and never take the same route.

Kapiolani Park, a huge greenspace dedicated to the people by Hawaii's last king, is adjacent to the hubbub. Sans Souci and Queen's beaches offer excellent swimming.

Surfers rule at Waikiki, but other action is in the offing.

Not a big deal to book a cruise. Just step out onto the sand and hop on. Night time sails are surreal, with the wall of lights rising above the shore.

Magic hour. Never miss it. Prince Kuhio Beach Park is in the dead center of things, and offers a free hula show every night. 

Oahu Trailblazer has all the details on visiting this famous beach—as well as nearby downtown Honolulu, one of the world's best walking towns. And then there's the North Shore ... Oahu has the most undeveloped beaches of any island, except Kauai.

Friday, April 12, 2019

What Lava? The Big Island's Hamakua Coast is One Big Waterfall

Akaka Falls State Park

Rivers of flowing lava met the ocean on the Big Island's Puna (southeast) Coast in 2018, adding hundreds of new acres. But you'd never guess of these fiery origins on the Hamakua (northeast) Coast, where dozens of cascades create a seaside botanical garden. A footbridge Akaka Falls State Park (above) gets you into the center of the show.

Akaka Falls

Water from Mauna Kea's slopes thunders over a 500-foot  precipice at Akaka.

Big Island Hawaii

You can take sections of the Old Mamalahoa Highway to get off the tourist track on this coast and see a number of other whitewater streams and falls.

In the north, Kalopa State Recreation Area has a network of trails into some of the greenery birthed by all this water.

Rainbow Falls Hilo

Rainbow Falls, down south above Hilo, hides a cave that is mentioned several times in ancient Hawaiian mythology.

Peepee Falls

The Wailuku River is downright majestic—flowing into Hilo from the saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, the island's twin 13,000-foot peaks. Pe'epe'e Falls is a baby Niagra. 

Boiling Pots Hilo Hawaii

You don't want to think about dipping a toe at Boiling Pots, a violent swirl that is a ways below the falls. 

Umauma Falls Big Island Hawaii

The queen among Hamakua's waterfalls may be Umauma Falls, sheer perfection as it tumbles over three nicely spaced terraces. The overlook is perfectly situated. 

Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer has many other places to pull in and explore along the Hamakua Coast. This place is an island unto itself and doesn't see a ton of visitors.