Ka’ena Point

I first did this hike in the winter when it was slippery and muddy. It’s not as beautiful in the summer, but it certainly is easier and drier.

There is no way to drive to Ka’ena Point. You can access the point from the North Shore side, or from the Waianae Side. To get there from the North Shore, take the H2 over the mountains and then follow the Farrington Highway to the end. To get there from the other side, just take the H1 until it becomes the 93 as it goes through Waianae, and follow it all the way to the end.

large_oahu

From the North Shore side, you can follow a road or a path along the coast. The coastal path is more beautiful, but it zigzags up to meet the road several times, so you end up walking a lot more than the three miles it is point-to-point.

From the Waianae Side, you follow a path that is raised up on a cliff. I like this side better because it has the little blowhole and striking views. However, it’s a splash zone in the winter and the spring, and it’s definitely more dangerous.

Once you reach the point, you open a gate and go into the wildlife preserve. Please remember not to let any animals in here, including dogs and cats. The birds that nest at Ka’ena Point build their nests in the sand, so they could be threatened by any animal that gets in, including a mongoose (who would eat their eggs.) Also please remember not to feed anything or touch anything, because we need to respect nature if we want it to continue to exist.

Inside the preserve, there are several trails that you can follow. The state of Hawaii has provided lots of helpful signs to tell you about the plants and animals that live in the sanctuary, so stop and read about the many things you might see.

At the very tip of the sanctuary you can walk down a sandy hill and get to the point. It’s comprised of a combination of lava rock and coral chunks that have washed up, so the land is a striking contrast of black and white. Hawaiian monk seals love to come up on the rocks to rest and catch from sun. Please remember that they are an endangered species, and they are best viewed through binoculars or through the telephoto lens of your DSLR. Don’t get close to the seals, because you may startle them and force them back into the water before they have rested. This could lead to them getting eaten by a shark, and no one wants that!

This is one of my favorite places on Oahu because it’s typically very peaceful, and it offers so much beauty. However, even in the winter this hike can be hot and dry. You want to bring at least a gallon of water per person, and I’d recommend some snacks as well. Suncreen is a must, and long-sleeves and a hat would be smart. Also, it’s very windy at the point. Be prepared to hold on tight to everything that you have with you! I’ve absolutely had to chase my hat when it blew off, because the wind didn’t care about the strap that is supposed to keep it on my head.

Although the internet says that it’s three miles from either side to the point, I’d argue that the North Shore side is longer and offers a wider variety of terrain to navigate. Either way, it’s a six mile round trip at least. We started at 7am and finished at 11am last time, with lots of stops to admire wildlife and enjoy the views. You could probably do it in two hours if you were in a hurry, but you wouldn’t see nearly as much.

This is my favorite. Two albatrosses dance with each other to celebrate their chick (which is in the picture too, but well hidden.)

Remember: Last time I was there I was tourists collecting shells. I know the urge to collect souvenirs can be strong, but if everyone did this then our island would be destroyed. Please take only photos and memories, and leave nothing behind.

Catarina and Chaos

Catarina before she could walk

In October of 2019, Rich rescued a malnourished Muscovy duckling from a feed store here on Oahu. The duckling could not stand or walk, which is common when they don’t get enough nutrients as they grow. We didn’t know if they were a boy or a girl; only that we had to save them.

It took her weeks to learn to walk and run

By December, we had determined that the duckling was a girl, and we had named her Catarina. She turned things around for herself by eating all the food we gave her and working very hard to learn to walk.

Catarina once her feathers came in

We decided not to clip her wings when her feathers came in. She still trips over her feet, so I don’t see her evading any predators on foot.

However, we learned that ducks get very lonely on their own. They need the company of other ducks in order to be happy. That is why, on December 9th, we brought home a week-old duckling to join Catarina.

Chaos Duck sitting in his food

Of course, the second duckling wasn’t malnourished at all. It was healthy! We’d never cared for a healthy duck before, and we soon found out that it wasn’t easy. There was a lot of jumping, loud peeping, and general chaos.

Chaos Duck started out so tiny!

So, we named the second duckling Chaos Duck.

Can you tell that we got Chaos Duck in December?

It turned out that Chaos Duck was a boy. So, we have found ourselves with a pair of Muscovy ducks.

They got a photo with Santa

People often ask about the quacking, but Muscovy ducks don’t quack. They’re very quiet, and mostly only make quiet hissing noises.

We built a sand man instead of a snow man

This is because Muscovy ducks are descended from Geese, rather than from Mallards (like most ducks.)

Chaos Duck grew so fast!

Muscovy ducks are not Native to the Hawaiian islands. They came here with the Spanish and the Portuguese several hundred years ago, and those that escaped were able to flourish because Hawaii is a fairly pleasant environment most of the time.

Rich and Chaos Duck

It’s actually not very different here from the Muscovy duck’s Native land, which is South America. Yes, South America.

At the North Shore

You’d think they’d be from Russia because of the name. However, they just got that from being sold to Europeans first by Russian traders. They’re Native land is the mangroves of South America, where they live in brackish water and dive for fish.

At the black sand beach where the mangroves grow

Catarina and Chaos Duck love to swim. However, they do have the trait that most Muscovy ducks have under-performing oil glands. This means that they don’t love to swim for more than 30 to 45 minutes. After a while they start to get waterlogged, because they’re just not very water-proof.

We took them kayaking

They are loving ducks who beg at our feet just like dogs when we eat dinner, and who love to snuggle and play with toys. We even taught Catarina to play ball, although Chaos Duck never quite caught on.

At Likeke Falls

Right now, we live in a house with a very small back yard. Since they don’t have a big yard to play in, we try to take them on as many adventures as we can.

In an orchid tree by the house

We’ve taken them hiking, kayaking, and swimming. They love adventure, and are generally excited to get in the car. I am not sure I would recommend ducks as pets. They are a lot more work than a dog, because they poop a lot more than a dog. But, we love them.

One of the swings on the North Shore

Diamond Head State Monument

sunrise

Most of the hikes on Oahu are a bit off the beaten path, but Diamond Head hike is not. It’s located in Honolulu, and it looks out over the resorts and the downtown area.

You drive up and pay $5 per car to park. You’ll get a ticket to put on your dashboard and a map of the park.

pineapple shop

At the entrance, there are bathrooms, a gift shop, and a pineapple stand (where you can get those fancy drinks in pineapples that everyone always has pictures of.)

Then, you start up the trail. It’s a brutal hike in the summer because it’s very steep and crowded. However, it’s not as difficult in the winter. I still recommend bringing water and sunscreen, though.

stairs

The trail wraps up along the wall of the crater, and takes you through a very narrow tunnel.

At a lookout halfway up, you can choose to continue back into the tunnel and do a spiral staircase to the top, or take metal stairs that are outside.

I recommend the metal stairs because being crammed into dark and narrow tunnels with lots of people isn’t my idea of a good time.

better tunnel shot

From the top, you can see Diamond head lighthouse directly below, as well as Honolulu on one side and Koko head on the other side.

view of city

The sweeping views are pretty amazing for what is a fairly short hike. I did it at sunrise, and it only took me about half an hour.

looking towards kokohead

In spite of the crowds, it’s a nice little hike. I recommend everyone do it once.

lighthouse

The Esmeralda of Chile

better whole ship

One morning not long ago, a sailing ship called The Esmeralda made it’s way into Pearl Harbor.

Most of the ships that come here are on very serious military missions, and as such, they’re not meant to be photographed or toured.

In general, you’re never meant to take photos in Pearl Harbor.

chilean sailors

However, The Esmeralda was visiting from Chile.

Their mission was to improve diplomatic relations with the people of the United States. And as such, several very patient sailors did their absolute best to give tours.

We met on the dock, and were given a walk through of all the unclassified parts of this tiny ship.

ladders

Most sailing ships are fairly old. However, The Esmeralda was actually not commissioned into the official Armada of Chile until 1954.

It is a more modern ship in that regard, and so it possesses engines that can be used when they are becalmed.

It also has more undated features for the crew, such as modern cooking equipment in the mess.

little boats

My tour guide did his very best to converse only in English (as he had been ordered to,) which meant that I wasn’t able to ask a lot of questions.

Thankfully, I was given a helpful brochure on the tour that told me everything I wanted to know.

The ship’s maximum speed with sails is 21 knots. It’s engines are much slower, and can only move it at 13 knots. That means that it takes a long time to get places.

guns

On the specific tour they were on, they’d gone from Chile to New Zealand, then to Australia, then to Bali and Indonesia, then to Singapore, China, South Korea, and Tokyo.

We were their second to last stop here in Hawaii, on their way to French Polynesia and then home.

wooden seal

Unfortunately, boats can only come into the harbor being pulled by tugboats. Therefore no one here was lucky enough to see The Esmeralda under full sail.

My tour guide assures me that it’s just like flying to be up on one of the masts when the sails are down. He actually got pretty sentimental about it when I asked.

victory or death

A few facts that I found truly charming:

The National Bird of Chile is a chicken, and The Esmeralda has one on the bow of the ship.

The motto of the Chilean Armada is “victory or death.”

Also, it’s a training ship, as as part of their training the left the new sailors in the middle of the ocean in life boats for a day and just sailed away.

And finally, the guns work, but they are antiquated and my tour guide assured me “they’ve never been used on anything living.”

Very classy, Chile. Very classy.

Jenifer DeLemont

Aloun Farm

pumpkins on truck

I should disclose that my husband and I do not have kids. This is releveant because I think Aloun Farms is probably a great way to spend a day if you do have kids. They had so many games and rides set up that it was like being at a State Fair. I imagine children would find Aloun Farms to be a paradise.

However, for myself personally, I did not enjoy it as much as Waimanalo Country Farm.

extreme fun

First, it’s on the leeward side of the island where it’s always a few degrees hotter. That made it less pleasant than Waimanalo Farm. Also, the unpaved road is longer and rougher, and the parking lot is muddier.

Second, it was loud. They had a stage where a DJ was blasting seemingly random music out of enormous speaker stacks, and it was actually hard to hear my husband talking to me.

 

ponies

And third, the petting zoo and pony rides are really sad. Like, the animals didn’t look happy or well taken-care-of. I grew up on a farm, so I’m perhaps a little oversensitive about unhappy animals, since I bonded to so many chickens and horses and cows and a youngster. Someone else might not have noticed, but for me, I found it sad.

The pumpkins come in on pallets. I think they’re from off island. So, there’s no wandering around a patch looking for the perfect one. I guess you could consider that to be an advantage if you’re in a hurry, but the prices were pretty high.

 

stunning views

The sunflower field does have more variety. There were some very striking reds and jeweled mixes. However, it’s less impressive because the mountains behind it are not as stunning, and it’s under the light rail tracks.

 

red sunflowers

All that said, this is the farm you want to go to in October if you have children. It’s loud and full of shiny things, which is everything kids love. And, you can easily grab your pumpkins on the way out from the giant cartons that they’re shipped in. There are bathrooms and food options available, as well.

jeweled mix

Again, bring sunscreen and a hat. Admission was $5 per person, but if you have kids, you’ll need to bring cash for the rides and games.

pumkins by exit

Waimanalo Country Farm

scare crows and pumpkins

Near Makapu’u, there is a little farm named Waimanalo Country Farm.

It’s only open to the public on specific dates in the summer and the fall. However, it’s worth it to go out there when you can.

turkey

The parking area is dirt, and it’s pretty rough. I recommend taking a car or truck that won’t mind a less improved road.

After you park, you walk in and see a ticket booth. I paid $17 for access to all parts of the farm, which is the best deal.

sunflower feild is awesome

There is a hayride around the perimeter of the farm, a sunflower field, a pumpkin canon, a pumpkin patch, and a petting zoo. The petting zoo is actually quite good, and has a lot of animals. We saw ducklings, turtles, a cow, several types of goats, an alpaca, and a llama. You can buy food for a few dollars extra so all the animals will be very excited to see you.

If you’re allergic to bees, bring your epinephrine, because they are everywhere.

bring your epie pin

As for the rest of the farm, it’s definitely a photo opportunity. A lot of people do their wedding photos, Christmas cards, and other pictures there.

This is because the sunflower field is positively magical, and it’s set in front of some of the most striking mountains on Oahu; making for truly spectacular photos.

Jenifer DeLemont

There isn’t much in the way of things to do other than take photos and pet animals. I would allow for one hour, or two at most if you have kids.

There is food and drinks available, but nothing spectacular.

goats

The important thing to remember is that it’s hot in the Hawaiian sun, so wear a hat and put on plenty of sunscreen.

As we were walking up, I observed several people leaving with glowing red sunburns, and you don’t want that to be you.

turtle

They do sell pumpkins there, and they’re a little more expensive than what you’d get at Costco or Lowe’s.

However, I think it’s good to buy from local vendors, so I encourage you to pick out your pumpkins for Halloween here.

pumpkin line

Also, they make and sell local honey products, and you’ll want to get some of those too.

For a family of hour, I’d plan to spend about $150 between admission, pumpkins, and local honey. It’s well worth the trip!

local honey

Waimea Valley

hawaiian ruins recreated

If you’re looking for a nice way to spend a morning on Oahu, Waimea Valley is lovely. I originally went because I had heard that you could see a waterfall. However, I soon discovered that there is a lot more to see and do in Waimea Valley.

Upon arrival, I parked in the lot in front of the park. Thankfully I arrived early (at 9am,) so there was parking available. Later in the day, you may have to wait until a spot opens up.

I paid my $12 (price for anyone with a Hawaii state ID or military ID.) The clerk gave me a map and a bird identification guide; as the garden is visited by many types of birds. Full price would have been $18, in case you are visiting as a tourist.

I opted not to spend the extra $15 for the shuttle, as they said it wasn’t a long walk. Now, “long walk” is a relative term. Folks with heat sensitivity, chronic illnesses, children, or elderly people should definitely consider the shuttle. It’s hot and humid in the valley, and there are several steep hills.

However, if you are young and healthy, then I would agree with the park staff that it is a short walk.

ginger

I had no idea that in addition to have a waterfall, Waimea Valley is also a botanical garden. The park features plants from all over the Pacific, and even has some plants from Guam!

There is a main path to the waterfall which is clearly marked with signs, and most people opt to take that path straight to the waterfall. However, there is also an upper terrace with even more plants, and a walkway through a wetter area by a stream that is filled with ginger.

If you have time, it’s worth the detours to see all the tropical plants. The garden possesses labels for common plants (in green) and detailed descriptions for some (in blue.) There are also some plants which are critically endangered (labeled with red.)

sign for waterfall

Since the garden has so many rare plants, they do not allow smoking in the park. They also discourage feeding the animals, since many of the birds that are attracted to the garden are also threatened or endangered.

As always, stay on the path. So many tourists want to get a picture in that special spot in the jungle, but this can damage the plants that you must step on to do so. Be a good steward of the Earth, and only go where permitted.

square picture of orchid

As for Waimea Waterfall, it is sacred to the Hawaiian people, and it is said to have very special qualities. Hawaiians believe that soaking in the pool below the fall can cure ailments and promote good health.

As such, you can expect the pond to be full of people throughout the day.

A changing facility is provided, as well as lockers. It’s required that you wear life jackets in order to swim, but you may check them out from a stand next to the falls. There is also a sitting area to rest and wait, in case some of your party do not wish to swim.

sign about falls

I didn’t go when the park was closed or get special access. I just Photoshopped the people out of this picture (below,) so you can see the waterfall in its natural glory. You should be aware that, unlike my pictures of Guam, none of my Oahu pictures ever start out without people in them.

This is a very crowded little island.

When I moved here, I debated keeping the people in the pictures, but I decided to remove them for two reasons:

First, I don’t have their permission to post them on the internet, so I don’t think I should.

Second, it’s nice to see these places as they would look without people. If you want to see how they look when they are crowded, all you need to do is go there yourself.

the waterfall

I think it’s wise to set aside an entire morning for Waimea Valley. There is a lot to see. One of the things I always have to remind people to do is to look up. Any time you’re in a jungle, you’re likely to see just as many amazing things above you as you will see in front of you.

Along the main part of the path, the trees that grow there exhibit a phenomenon called “crown shyness.” This means that the leaves will grow right up to each other, while leaving a space between them.

Scientists are not sure why trees do this, but it makes for some pretty amazing pictures.

tree tops

Another thing you should always keep in mind in the jungle is to look down. This (below) is a bean slug. They are unfortunately not very common, as many people use pesticides to kill them. They are voracious eaters, and can consume your garden plants in short order.

In spite of their designation as a pest, Hawaiian slugs are pretty neat. Many of them possess a hard exterior than other slugs, and flatten themselves out in a way that I haven’t observed elsewhere.

So, remember to look on the ground and in the leaves. You never know what you’ll see in the jungle if you look closely.

weird flat slug

One last thing to keep your eyes out for as you make your way through Waimea Valley: This fabulous joke (below.)

As I’ve mentioned, there are signs all along your way to tell you about the many amazing plants that you can find in the valley. However, I also came across this sign, labeling a wild value. I had a good chuckle about it when I spotted it, and hopefully you will too.

Two inch valve

Finally, Waimea Valley does living culture exhibits, and has ancient ruins as well. If you wanted to learn a little about ancient Hawaiian culture, this would be a good place to do it. After all, it’s far more affordable than the Polynesia Cultural Center, and there are lots of cool things to read about.

If you take the side tour into the area with ancient Hawaiian dwellings, a series of plaques will tell you all about how the ancient Hawaiians used to live, and how their culture was structured.

If you’re visiting our island, this little gem might not make your list. However, if you live here, you should absolutely make time to visit.

The many ponds and water features do ensure a humid experience, but it’s still worth going in the summer when all the food trees are laden with wax apples, star fruits, and other island favorites.

There are many daily activities available, so call ahead if you want to get involved in lei making, hula, ukulele, cultural and botanical tours, Hawaiian games, or crafts.

ancient fishing shrine