Scavenger Hunt Answers: Oahu (Part 2)
So I hope you had fun with the first set of places to see while on Oahu in Part 1 of the answers to the Scavenger Hunt. Keep on reading below for the second part of the list of other things to see around the island.
Continuing right where we left off, number eight on the list is Moanalua Gardens. Moanalua Gardens is really amazing and coming here is literally one of the cheapest things you can do. It’s only about $3 for adults. . The entire grounds of Moanalua Gardens are superb. That might be why so many people have weddings there as it’s somewhat picturesque. It is home to The Hitachi Tree and the other trees that have collectively been named the Exceptional Trees. There are also cottages on site that used to belong to King Kamehameha V, so that is also worth a stop.
Speaking of Kamehameha, if you’re traveling up to the north side of the island on Kamehameha (Kam) Highway you’ll pass the Shark’s Cove in Pupukea which is the ninth item on the scavenger hunt. This place is really great to watch little fish that collect in the tide pools without getting sucked out into the turbulent waves of the North Shore. You can also snorkel here if the swell isn’t too bad. I didn’t see any sharks here though and I’m not really sure why it’s named Shark’s Cove. Watch your step if you’re walking through the tide pools because the reef is sharp as it appears to be volcanic rock and there are also spiny sea urchins in the pools that could make for a painful experience.
One of the locals told me that you can see dolphins and turtles and even humpback whales breaching when they come toward Hawaii due to the warmer waters. As you’ll hear throughout your travels around Hawaii, the waters and wildlife of the waters are very important to the Hawaiian people. There is a much deeper connection than just “Oh that’s a pretty fish!” The water is life. There are so many species in the reef that are native to nowhere else except Hawaiian and that’s due to the conservation efforts of almost all who live throughout the islands. So please do your best to read the signs, heed the warnings, and help protect the sanctity of the water and all that is contained within as it is the livelihood of many of the Hawaiian peoples and a special gift to all who come to visit.
If you’re near Manoa Falls, you can stop at Andy’s Sandwiches and Smoothies for a quick and healthy snack. It’s a small quaint “hole-in-the-wall” type joint with just enough seating for the patrons while they wait for their orders to be completed. Everything is handmade and very wholesome from the veggie burgers to the salads and sandwiches. Be sure to try one of the many types of smoothies they have or try three like I did. I just couldn’t help myself! They all looked sooooo yummy. We stopped here because we were looking for vegetarian places to eat on Yelp and this one had the most reviews and the majority, if not all of the, were positive. I can see why! The people that work there are amazingly friendly and are happy to answer any questions you have.
Even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, they have food for meat eaters as well. How can you pass up a delicious wholesome sandwich? It’s just enough to fill you up until your next meal, but you’ve got to stop here in your travels up Manoa Rd.
If you’re in downtown Honolulu near the City Hall, you definitely want to stop at the Iolani Palace. It is the site of a major transition in the history of Hawaii. The palace had the last reigning monarch of Hawaii reside there. If you’re a history buff, this is a perfect place for you. This palace is extremely beautiful and superbly maintained as one would expect if visiting any other palace. You can read more about visiting the palace here so that you can plan your visit as it’s kind of one of the more popular things to do while in Honolulu.
Image above from Aloha on My Mind
There are lots of hikes to do around the island but one of the more popular ones where you can get a gorgeous view of the coastline and see the city of Honolulu almost in its entirety is the hike at Diamond Head State Monument. You literally hike up the side of a crater of a volcano. How cool is that? Like I said, there are a lot of other hikes if you’re the adventurous type but if you’re more of a beginner and want to be able to say you did a hike while on Oahu, I would suggest this one. Although it’s about 2 miles round trip, it’s not to be taken lightly in the summer months. Be sure to take enough water as the air tends to be really dry closer to the parking lot near the lower part of the crater.
Once you get to the top it’s the bee’s knees though. There’s a couple of switchbacks and a narrow tunnel you have to go through that doesn’t appear to be big enough for two people to pass at the same time but like I said it’s pretty easy if you’re an intermediate/expert hiker.
Don’t let this hike scare you though because you really can do it! Take your kids, but no dogs allowed. Again I warn you to take enough water because I can’t tell you how many older folks and even young folks I saw up there complaining of being thirsty. A few of them were wobbling in the knees and one lady even fainted, but it was about 90+ degrees Fahrenheit out as well. Once you’re up at the top, take your time to cool down and if possible and check out the old military batteries that were used as a line of defense along the Oahu coast.
Can we talk about the views though!? It’s almost unbelievable but once you get up here, you really get a chance to see how the whole island is paradise. The whole experience of the hike and the views is available for a measly parking fee of about $5 for parking (as of Aug ’17).
In a way, I’m kind of upset that I haven’t been able to do the next thing on the list which is the Haiku Stairs. I haven’t made it to the stairs as the last time I went the stairs had been devastated by a strong storm that caused a lot of damage to several sections of the stairs. They were off limits and entrance was prohibited for some time. If you all know anything about no trespassing signs, it tends to make people want to trespass even more to get a glimpse of an area that is either taboo or off limits. The popularity of the stairs has grown substantially just like many other previously unknown sites due to the showcasing of such secluded sites on Instagram and other social media. It’s nice that social media allows people to see hard to reach places or secret special spots but it’s getting harder to find places that are rarely touched. Call it curiosity I guess that is killing the cat.
This hike is probably not for a beginner from what I’m told. Not only is it a few hour hike just to get to the trail head, then another few hours to get up the majority of the trail, but then there are about 4,000 stairs to get you up the top on a rickety set of rusty stairs. Yes, almost 4,000 stairs so just about every part of your body will probably be sore when you get back done. Although looking at the stairs from overhead makes it seem like the Great Wall of China, the stairs were built to assist with military operations (U.S. Coast Guard) just like many other sites that are higher up on the islands of Hawaii. It’s a once in a lifetime experience so I’m told but if you go, make sure you save enough energy to make it back down not only the stairs but back to your car wherever it may be. I am not going to encourage you to trespass, just advise you to be safe.
Stop number fourteen was kind of a cheeky one to throw in there. It was a sign outside the men’s room in the Honolulu airport. It was kind of my first welcome to the isle of Oahu and a clear indication that I had made it to Hawaii. At first I thought it was a sticker on the little man that someone had placed with a Hawaiian shirt, but it was actually made like that. Then you see the traditional Hawaiian word for man/male below the English version of the same word below. The little man on the sign seems to say “Aloha” or “Mahalo”. Well maybe that’s just what I heard in my head, so leave me alone. Haha! I thought it was cute.
Lastly, there are some many amazing places to catch the sun setting on Oahu but Ewa Beach was an almost perfect quiet place to just listen to the waves and have an adult beverage and watch the sun set. I say it is almost perfect in that it is a little close to the airport so you can hear the planes flying over. It wasn’t a huge concern to me as I love watching planes take off and lane, but I know that can be a nuisance to some. The second reason it wasn’t exactly perfect, and this might have just been the area that we decided to sit down at, but the beach drops off sharply into the water and the waves are actually quite strong. So if you’re not a good swimmer, I wouldn’t suggest you swim unless you find an area where you can wade gently into the water and not just fall off to your imminent death. These are still minor issues that didn’t completely ruin the experience.
It’s actually the moment that really mattered. I was able to share a peaceful moment after a fun filled day of hiking, eating, and interacting with the locals with my sister who is my travel partner and best friend.
There are so many other things to see on Oahu and I hope this gives you a bit of a start as it will take you all the way around the entire island so that you can say you’ve seen the whole thing. Let me know of some of your places to visit while on Oahu and you may just see them in a post here in the future. Find a cheap ticket to your next destination right…….HERE!