A Day at Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Hanauma Bay, Oahu, HawaiiGuest Post by: HNLhulagirl

This stunning bay on the island of Oahu was once a quiet little fishing spot where one needed to park along side the road on top and hike down the service road to fish, swim and enjoy the clear waters and white sand beach. In the old days, the reef was always a popular spot for island residents to catch small fish like aholehole, aweoweo or wekeula or o’io to take home and fry for family evening meal. It was a favorite spot of younger, stronger fishermen since the hike into and out of the crater was strenuous, especially with wet nets and a day’s catch. Eventually, it became a place where the young and lively set would gather to socialize, swim surf and sun.

Today Hanauma Bay is a bustling water sports and snorkeling paradise. The fish still thrive in the clear, warm waters, protected by government regulation and carefully monitored to preserve the natural experience of one of the most beautiful coves in the world.

The bay opens early in the morning, just after sunrise everyday except Tuesdays. City personnel prepare the bay for the continuous showings of the ocean awareness video program.  Lifeguards check their radios and safety gear and assess the ocean conditions for the day. The snorkel rental stand opens for business with buckets filled with fins and snorkels of all sizes. The concession stand brews fresh coffee and cooks rice for plate lunch specials. By this time, the ticket booth is already the scene of a short admission line for those who want first choice of the perfect spot to launch their day with the fish. The bay is best in the morning. Water is clearest and calmest, mynah birds are heard squawking in recesses of the kiawe trees, and the bay seems as peaceful and pristine as ever, at least, for the moment.

The crowds from slowly in the morning. It seems like no one wants to rise early on a Hawaii vacation even for the fish. However, gradually rental cars begin to arrive filled with sun-screened tourists with towels and beach gear in hand. The first of many #22 city buses opens doors on squashed-in tourists who have boarded along Kuhio Avenue and paid a mere pittance for a one way trip to an experience of a lifetime. There is also a parade of various tour vans that bring divers that range from the novice to the ultra-certified. Underwater masks, tanks, wet suits, fins, gauges and other gear make their way to the shoreline with the help of a barrage of tour personnel.

Cliffs at Hanauma Bay, Oahu Hawaii

There are several ways to visit Hanauma Bay. The simplest although not necessarily the easiest is to drive. This way is best for those who have kids or a large family or who are planning a visit as a part of a day exploring the Kaiwi coastline and Windward areas of the island. The parking lot at Hanauma has been expanded several times, but it never ever seems to be large enough for all who want a space. It’s best to arrive near 9:30 a.m. or the parking lot wait will cut seriously into sun and snorkeling time. One of the ways not to visit Hanauma is by getting in any taxi cab that approaches at a bus stop or anywhere else for that matter. Crafty taxi drivers love to make a quick buck by gathering the bay-bound into a cab along the bus routes in Waikiki. Cruising for fares or hailing cabs along the curb in Hawaii is illegal.  If a cab is required for a day at the bay, get one from one from a hotel rank at anyone of the large hotels.

Once on the beach, visitors will make their way into the bunkers and hallways and homes of a myriad of colorful fish. The aholehole, aweoweo or wekeula and o’io that were easy pickings of a devoted fisherman have now become the stars of the show. There are other fish like manini and kole that are not as tasty but are a joy to see swimming in abundance and unencumbered by aquarium glass. There are a few eerie creatures, too. Moray eels, squid are now once again commonplace. It is a sign that the bay is as healthy as ever.

The Hanauma Bay experience will be an experience of a lifetime for about 3,500 people on any given day. Yes, crowded it is, but it is certainly still worth the effort. However, regardless of how crowded it is, remember, don’t stand or walk on the reef, ever.


Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

7455 Kalanianaole Hwy

Honolulu HI 96825

Visitor Informaiton Line: 808-396-4229

Hours:  6a-7p summer 6a-6p winter. Closed Tuesdays

Non- Resident Admission: 13 years and over – $7.50, children under 12 – free

Parking: $1 per car

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Oahu Hawaii’s Diamond Head Trail

Guest Post by: HNLhulagirl

kaimana hila, Diamond Head Oahu, HawaiiOfficially called the Diamond Head Summit Trail, this 1.6 mile roundtrip trail offers a bit of history, a bit of exercise and a huge panoramic payoff at the end of the trail. Unlike most trails in Hawaii, this one is dry, paved in spots and crowded at times. For the mere $5 car entrance fee or the $1 pedestrian entrance fee, Diamond Head offers a hiking experience like no other. Recent park and trail improvements have refreshed and revitalized this important Hawaii icon.

The gates are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday, including holidays. Access to the trail head is easiest by rental car or by public transit.

By bus, board the #58 or #22 Hawaii Kai-Sea Life Park anywhere along the mauka or mountainside of Kuhio Avenue. Walk up the crater road through the tunnel into the crater. To return, stand on Diamond Head Road and wait for the #58 Waikiki-Ala Moana or #22 Waikiki Beach and Hotels bus. Buses run about 30 minutes apart.

By car, follow Monsarrat Avenue from the Honolulu Zoo. Monsarrat becomes Diamond Head Road, and the well marked crater access road will be on the right. Continue through the tunnel, into the crater and park in the parking lot.  Remember to lock your car and DO NOT LEAVE ANY VALUABLES in it. Furthermore, remember that any cars remaining in the parking lot after 7 p.m. will be towed away.

It is 0.7 miles, or about an hour to the summit and about a half-hour for the return. The trail climbs along the interior slope of the volcano steadily for about .6 miles, then steeply upward through a series of stairs and tunnels. The first staircase has 79 stairs, and the last has 99.

The crater has a long and revered history. Aside from being one of the largest dormant volcanoes in the islands, it holds a sacred place in Hawaiian history and a heralded military past.

Diamond Head Crater HawaiiHawaiians believe that the volcano was originally named Leahi by the goddess Hiiaka. The volcano was used as a navigational guide in ancient times. Torches were positioned along the ridges to guide canoes along the shoreline. Hawaiians also built temples at the summit to appease wind gods and lessen the strong updrafts that frequently extinguished the many torches.

The trail was originally built in 1908 as a part of the US Coastal Artillery defense system and fortification of the landmark. Today there are several artillery batteries still visible along the trail.

Once at the summit the views include the entire southern shore of Oahu, and on clear days, one can see the neighboring islands of Molokai, Lanai and Maui.

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The Beaches of Waikiki

Guest Post by: HNLhulagirl

Lifeguard Tower Waikiki Beaches, Oahu HawaiiWaikiki, dreams are made of the beach. The sandy shoreline and the cerulean hues waters are world famous. The beach attracts many from all over the world to the shores where surfing was born and beach boys reign. The resort area of Waikiki is barely seven blocks wide and 2 miles long and packed into this collection of luxury resorts, shops and restaurants is actually a collection of beaches. Each beach is filled with history and a unique personality. Waikiki along with all beaches in Hawaii are public property and access to the beach is mandated and required by law. Here are a few of the more notable beaches in Waikiki:

Duke Kahanamoku Beach and Lagoon
Fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village, this beach and lagoon has always been a popular spot for locals and hotel guests who enjoy the wide sandy beach the soft gentle waves and the shade from several palm trees. The lagoon was recently renovated where the ocean water is re-circulated keeping the ocean water cool and clear.

Fort DeRussy Beach Park
Located adjacent to Duke Kahanamoku Beach and Lagoons, this beach park is known as the widest stretch of sand in Waikiki. Adjacent to the Hale Koa Hotel, this park offers more than sun and surf, there are volleyball and handball courts, showers and more.

Grays’ Beach
Proceeding toward Diamond Head, this beach is one of the more historic in Waikiki. Fronting the luxurious Halekulani Hotel. The area was originally the home of King Kamehameha V whose home sat amidst coconut tree groves and taro patches. Today the sandy channel off the white sand beach is popular with swimmers.

Royal-Moana Beach
This beach stretches from the Sheraton Waikiki to the Moana-Surfrider hotel. This area of Waikiki is the traditional heart of Waikiki Beach. The shoreline offers soft sand and a gentle sloping bottom that gracefully edges into deeper water. This beach is also the site of a couple of Waikiki’s famous surf breaks. One is popular with outrigge4r canoes and the other is a great break for beginner surfers.

Waikiki Beach Oahu HawaiiWaikiki Beach Center
It is the portion of Waikiki Beach that is the sandiest and safest. The area offers immediate access to the refreshment stand, beach services, lifeguards and police. The beach is very popular and is congested at times.

Kuhio Beach Park
Stretching between the Banyan tree and the Kapahulu Groin, this stretch of beach is by far the best for children. The sea wall keeps the water quieter than most areas of Waikiki and gentle for young children. The area was once called Pualeilani, home of Price Kuhio and Princess Kahanu. The area was given to the city in 1922 and dedicated to the beloved Prince.

Waikiki is a magical place that is beloved by many. In earlier days, it was a collection of royal residences, taco patches, fresh water streams and shady coconut groves. Today it is a collection of resorts and excellent beaches full of beauty excitement and recreation for visitors all across the world.

For more information on Waikiki and the island of Oahu, check out Beachcomber Pete Travel Adventure guides on Hawaii.

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Winter Waves at Waimea

Guest Post by: HNLhulagirl

It can start as early as a week before. Local television meteorologists track the Pacific buoys located as far as 120 miles northwest of Kauai various internet sites post the latest updates. As the day approaches, text alerts to cell phones fly across the island and web cams give a glimpse of what will come.

Winter Waves at Waimea, HawaiiIt’s another north shore winter swell on approach to the Hawaiian Islands. The surf makes the north shore communities buzz with excitement. Local surfers haul out their long boards and come alive waiting to challenge Waimea yet again. Those in the islands for the winter are anxious to experience the most awesome waves in the world. Local eateries and merchants stock up on supplies and merchandise and the tourists load up for the trek to the country with cameras charged-up.

The Oahu winter waves bring a force to the North Shore that wakens the sleepy towns between Waialua and Kahuku. One can hear the newest surf slang area bars and eateries. The experienced and not so experienced surfers throw around words like “epic,” “stick,” and “sets”. Speaking of sets, waves are measured not only and feet, but these days those in the know need to clarify Hawaiian or California style because size does matter when it comes to waves. Hawaiian style measures from the back while California style measures the face of a breaking wave.

On the morning of the expected swell, crowds begin to gather from as far away Waikiki to be immersed in the world’s best wave show. Lifeguards post high surf warning signs along the beach and constantly patrol to ensure that innocent bystanders are not swept away in the rip tide. Expert surfers arrive at Waimea knowing that if other surf spots like Pipeline and Sunset close out, Waimea will most likely remain ride-able all day. Surfers who know Waimea favor the huge break off Waimea point where their skills are flaunted and tested with each ride.

By mid-morning the traffic begins to slow to a crawl. Parking lots from Ali’i to Sunset beaches begin to fill and overflow onto the shoulder of Kamehameha Highway. Rental cars everywhere and outnumber private cars. Professional photographers with telephoto lenses stand in ranks with their equipment along the Waimea Valley hillside to catch those perfect shots.

Everyone gets their fill of the sun and scenery. Many will “ooh” and “aah” at the tremendous force of these waves and all will appreciate the talents of those who dare to challenge Waimea. As the shadows begin to lengthen, most will make their way back to Haleiwa for a meal or at least a shave-ice at Matsumoto’s before heading back into Waikiki. The locals will head for various post surf session gatherings at friends homes, and nearby bars. Merchants and restaurateurs will close for the evening happy and exhausted.

It is another great winter day on Oahu’s North Shore and another great day of he’e nalu or wave riding Waimea style.


Discovering Hawaii’s North Kohala

Guest Post by: HNLhulagirl

North Kohala,HawaiiWhile the mega resorts are clustered near beaches of the South Kohala coastline where the dark lava flows and straw colored brush contrast with the gorgeous cerulean waters of the Pacific and the white sands of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. As gorgeous as it all is, there is more to Kohala, Hawaii, lots more. Divided into two parts, South Kohala has the beautiful beaches, Hawaii’s North Kohala is untouched and scenic. Both have enormous historic importance.

A 4WD is not necessary, a convertible would certainly be nice, but a small SUV or compact car will do just fine. Allow an afternoon or a morning, no less than 3 hours from Waikoloa and 4.5 from Kailua-Kona to insure enough time to wander, picture take, soak up the fresh air and vistas. Combine it with a visit to Spencer Beach for a full day of Big Island fun.

Kohala HawaiiBegin by taking the Queen Kaahumau Highway north, turn right at Kawaihae and head to Waimea then left onto Kohala Mountain Road to Kapaau then right and onward to the end of the road.

To return, head back to Kapaau and continue onward along Akoni Pule Highway to Kawaihae and south toward Queen Kaahumanu Highway. The drive is scenic and easy. Be on the lookout for wild goats and turkeys along the road. Views of the summit of Haleakala on Maui and whales along the coastline in the winter are abundant.

Here are some points of interest along the way:

Pololu Valley
End of Akoni Pule Highway
Niulii HI
Wonderful vistas, optional steep and strenuous hiking trail, small free parking lot.

Statue of King Kamehameha the Great, HawaiiStatue of King Kamehameha the Great
54-3900 Akoni Pule Highway
Kapa’au HI 96755
Quick stop for photos at this iconic statue. This statue is the original, copies are located on Oahu and in Hilo.

Bond Memorial Public Library
54-3903 Akoni Pule Highway
Kapa’au HI 96755
Located across the street from the statue, the books were moved to the new library down the street in late 2010, but the building still retains charm and interest.

Located just 3 miles from Kapaau, this former plantation town is now a collection of galleries, boutiques and eateries. It’s a great place to have lunch, browse the shops and stretch.

Puukohola Heiau
The largest archeological site in Hawaii, this historic site was the war temple of King Kamehameha the Great. A visit is a wonderful experience in ancient Hawaiian culture and history. Not to be missed.

Spencer Beach
Located next door to the Puukohola Heiau, this beach is one of the more popular spots to swim and sun. Bring lots of sunscreen and water.

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