Tour of Oahu

Malaikahana Recreation Area, on the north shore of Oahu

V’s idea today was to give us a tour of the island and give us a sense of where we are on Oahu and the setup of the island. It was a very good idea. His condo is smack in the middle of Honolulu, and so we headed north-east-ish out the Pali Highway and began our counterclockwise loop of the island.

The Pali Highway (Hwy 61) on Oahu
ginger flower

Right away we were in the jungle forests I recall from my one other visit to this archipelago state. V chose the winding roads vs. highways when possible. In between drooping dripping vines, we spotted fog-topped peaks in the distance. The scenes kept reminding me of the movie King Kong. Ha ha! One constant delight through the day was the scent of ginger blossoms. We saw golden and white ginger, each with different but intoxicating aromas.

wild chickens

We stopped for a grand vista at the Pali lookout. In the parking lot we were delighted to find wild chickens pecking through the grass. I assume they were domestic birds at some point in their heritage, now the hens clucked to their chicks to keep out of the way of tourist children. The view from the Pali lookout was pretty awesome, and very windy. This was the site of a significant battle in Hawaiian history, in 1795.

View from Pali Lookout
At the Pali Lookout. It was windy!
Chinaman’s Hat

Our next stop was at the Kualoa Regional Park. The park sloped gracefully onto a wide empty beach and then opened up into a vast expanse of brilliant sun and sea. Not too far off shore is an island V calls Chinaman’s Hat, whose name is also Mokolii. Tara and I were equally eager to spend time walking this beach, splashing through the water, picking up broken pieces of coral for souvenirs. We eventually left the beach and walked to a nearby ruins of the Kualoa Sugar Mill, the first sugar mill built on Oahu. It was closed in 1871 when owners realized there was not enough rain in that spot to grow cane for sugar.

V and T on the beach at Kualoa Point
ruins of sugar mill

We drove through Kaaawa, and I was delighted to hear that one pronounces all three of those a’s in the name. After that we found our favourite beach of all on the north shore (photo at the top). We loved the Malaikahana Recreation Area beach so much we decided then and there to make it an actual destination on Friday, and spend hours there. The appeal of this beach is that it has all the stunning scenery and almost NO people! We walked a long way down the beach and spotted three people lying on towels, and one person in a vehicle parked for the view. Other than that, it was our beach. V said usually he didn’t see anyone at all there. It is truly mystifying to me that people are thrilled to be shoulder-to-shoulder on the popular beaches, yet leave this equally stunning beach to the sand crabs. Since we didn’t surf Monday, we made plans to try to surf here on Friday (which might also give our sunburns time to heal).

red-crested cardinal

We stopped for a great meal near the beach in Laie and I had fish and a banana daiquiri, in keeping with the vacation/island theme. Then we moved on to continue our tour. We came back through an island valley again, and the highway rises overlooked Pearl Harbor for a brief time, long enough to spot an aircraft carrier and several Navy ships docked. They looked so impressive. I wanted to take a look, but on the highway we were removed from the shore and traffic was a mess, so we drifted past. V took us up into the hills in hopes of a good view of Pearl Harbor itself, but houses understandably crowded the slopes, leaving no good views for us tourists.

crepuscular rays over Honolulu
Sunset over Waikiki

Our final stop of the day was on Round Top, which V had been lauding since even before we made the trip. A Must-See View! So we made our way up there, growing weary from our long day but still ready for continued adventure. The late day approach turned out to be a boon, since we hit the overview point right at sunset, and captured some truly stunning photos all along the shore: of Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Waikiki, and Diamond Head.

Diamond Head made golden by light
Another sunset photo from Round Top showing a plane leaving the Honolulu airport (sorry for all the sunset pics, but they were just so awesome!)

2 thoughts on “Tour of Oahu

  1. Hey there — not sure if you’re still in Hawaii or not, but I’m going to share some bits of advice from my 10 years of living there.

    Do NOT, under any circumstances, take bits of lava rock away from the Island. Pele does NOT like it when Her lava is taken away and will curse the shit out of you for doing so. Even if you’ve spent the better part of your life there and have nothing but respect for Her — I still need to find my bits of lava and bring em back so the bad stuff in my life will stop happening.

    A lot of mainlanders think this is a silly superstition. It’s not. Mom bought a lava glass vase when she was there on one of our trips there when I was very young. Shortly afterwards she broke her leg, my dad went insane and the divorce happened, and her back broke from complications of the leg breaking years before (she needed to get a disc removed). We moved to Hawaii then and brought back any lava we had and life improved.

    Then I moved back here and I’m pretty sure I still have lava pieces SOMEwhere, because the bad luck started again.

    Anyway. That’s the warning. Please heed it. Pele is very, very powerful and you do not want to tempt Her wrath.

    There is a legend behind Chinaman’s Hat. Years and years ago a young boy lived in China and wanted to impress a female friend of his. But he was small and scrawny, and felt he could not measure up to the bigger boys in his age group. He went to a herbalist to get a medicine that would make him big. He was warned to only drink a little of the potion, but he did not listen and drank it all. He grew so big that he feared hurting those he loved, and fled to the ocean. He swam and swam and swam, and eventually ended up on an island in the Pacific, covered in greenery. The natives there welcomed him with open arms, and he asked them to make him a hat like the one he had worn when he was smaller, that did not fit anymore. The entire village set to the task and when the hat was completed, he decided to take a nap in the ocean, leaning against underwater mountains. Years passed, and eventually plants grew on his hat. Soon no one remembered the giant from China, but the name Chinaman’s Hat remained.

    Not sure if anyone told you that one. What’s above is my very bad paraphrase of it. There’s a book about it, actually; I have a copy somewhere but I can’t find it.

    Also, I suggest heading over to Maui at some point if you didn’t already plan to. It’s far less touristy than Oahu and there are some really great spots you can find: Hana (if you do the road to Hana tape tour, don’t turn around and go back the way you came at the end, like they suggest. Go around the other side of the mountain — worth it!), Hosmer’s Grove, Gardens of Eden — actually, just ALL of Upcountry is awesome. Lahaina is pretty cool too, though a bit more touristy.

    Have fun on your vacation!

    1. Thanks for your comments, J. We did not bring back any lava, but then… we did not come across much. We spent one week on Oahu and did not visit the other islands (I’m tardy in updating my blog). We did bring back small pieces of coral that had washed up on shore, and the bits of Hawai’i that clung to our sandals, but that’s all. So far, my bad luck shows up when I bring it: by too much submission to negative energy. I certainly don’t need any assistance from Pele! Here’s hoping you find a way to appease all the powers in your life. ❤

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