Aloha…Ocean…waves…hula dance…surfers…coconuts…orchid garlands…beach…sun are words that cross our mind when thinking about one of the most remote destinations on the planet, Hawaii. Located in the Central Pacific, with a diverse natural scenery, fenced by endless water, tropical foliage, and warm climate the Hawaiian volcanic archipelago remains a perfect travel destination all year around.
Right from the airport you can feel the warmth of the air combined with the forest’ moist and ocean breeze. The open air airport, at least for Alaska Airlines arrivals, allows the tepid wind to invade the building and gently caress your skin while on your way to the baggage claim area. It conveys the impression that it’s the island’s spirit welcoming you to enjoy its amiable company.
Each Hawaiian Island offers a unique experience, but because of our limited time (a vacation is always a little too short 🙂 ) we decided to explore the island of Oahu, otherwise known as “The Gathering Place”. Visited by over 5 million people each year, mainly from American mainland and Japan, Oahu is a destination that surprises its visitors with the contrast of a rain forest and big city life. The island is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands and it hosts the state capital city, Honolulu. Even though it’s not a colossal island, Oahu has many points of interest that would please any kind of voyager. From high-end shopping to hiking, Oahu has something for each and everyone.
We traveled from Alaska, and since it was January I was so happy to feel the sun on my skin. During our stay we enjoyed the Waikiki beach,which faces Diamond Head volcanic cone, Lanikai, and Kailua beach on the windward coast of Oahu. The scenery is stunning all along the island’s shoreline, so be prepared to indulge the crystal clear waters with a deep green-blue color, swaying palms, fine white and rose-golden sand, and majestic green mountains. Also, looking at the never-ending Pacific’s horizons it gives you that state of boundless serenity, blessedness… and then you wish for the moment to last forever.
Diamond Head, or Le’ahi in Hawaiian, is another O’ahu landmark and it is the result of a brief volcanic eruption which occurred about 150.000 years ago. The trail is open to public and it takes about an hour and a half to reach the summit and come back. On the way up there are several stop points where you can take your breath and seize the opportunity to take some photographs. When you are on top of the volcanic cone and looking around, you can see afar the sky merging with the ocean creating the illusion of an immense pool of blue. Also, from there you can watch the Waikiki neighborhood and the island’s verdure.
Everything started with Sacred Falls. We decided to hike the trail, so we drove all the way to the North Shore side of the island. On the road we enjoyed some great landscapes and we got an insight on how Oahu looks like far away from the city’s lights. Once arrived at the point where Google Maps was stating the beginning of the trail we discovered that Sacred Falls State Park is closed to public since 1999 because of a tragedy provoked by a massive landslide. Baam..I guess that’s what you get when you don’t do your homework in advance. Still, while I understood that hiking there is not legal my desire to swim in the waterfall’s pool grew bigger; however, we abstained from unlawful trespassing. Instead, on our way back, I did a thorough internet surf and stumble upon Waimea Valley. The next day, after confirming with the hotel concierge, we headed to discover yet another great location on Oahu. Waimea Valley is a cultural site where you can walk through a botanical garden with gorgeous over-sized tropical plants (including the traveler’s tree) and a courtyard with several historical structures. At the end, the walk leads you to uncover the charm of the only waterfall in Oahu that you can swim. Now, is it greater than Sacred Falls I do not know, but what I do know is that by visiting Waimea Falls I got to fulfill my wish of swimming in the waterfall while avoiding a potential fine, jail, or injury.
I noticed that this post is getting long and by no means I wish to bore you, thus today I will end my story here. But please come back to find out more about Big Kahuna Luau party, Pearl Harbor, and impressions on a very first diving experience. I hope you enjoyed reading this and found the information inspiring enough maybe to plan one for yourself.
Till next time,
P.S. As for me, I was ready to live there and I know that Hawaii is the exotic destination that will always call me back.