Diamond Head hike, an old favorite

Yeah, it’s on the tourist selfie map.

It used to be free, and not nearly as crowded.

Kapiolani Park and Waikiki on a pretty clear day.

But the hike to the top of Diamond Head is still a lot of fun if you know what to expect and can deal with it.  The views are awesome, but I really have to be in the mood.

It’s a lot like the Tokyo subway sometimes.
Yeah, it’s that crowded.
Inside the crater.
View from a recent flight.  The peak is on the right side of the crater.
You can just make out the old bunkers at the peak.  Sure miss surfing those waves below!
Koko Head in the distance, from Diamond Head peak.


Diamond Head lighthouse.


Rain creeping down from the Koʻolaus.
Decent map shows you what you’re in for.

Not-so-secret Hamama Falls


Lots of people make the ostensibly forbidden hike up a steady incline into Waiheʻe Valley in Kahaluʻu to see beautiful Hamama Falls.


Lots of nice wild orchids along the way.


At least it says “Aloha.”  That’s what makes Hawaiʻi different.


Nice, clear, cool water in the swimming hole below the old water supply spillway.


Wild Butterfly Pea flowers.



Up, up, up until you’re there.


No place to swim, but it’s great to look at.



Waiheʻe Stream is usually pretty mellow.



Stoner’s paradise?


Not so pretty.  Why do people always toss their junk near trailheads?  At least somebody saved the cylinder head for something.


Raggedy Tree Marigold with a bumblebee visitor.


One more for the road!  Beautiful.

More Ka Iwi Coast wanderings

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The small traditional Hawaiian fishpond near Pele’s Chair functions much like a tidepool, allowing water to come in at high tide and bring fish that are then trapped when the tide recedes.  It’s also a nice safe place for small keiki (kids) to splash around.

There are lots of easy trails through the scrub between the beach and the highway.

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Look closely and you can see where the lava wrinkled as it cooled and hardened while flowing toward the sea after Koko Crater’s last eruption, more than 30,000 years ago.

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The water’s edge is a bit of a mangrove swamp around the small inlets that have carved themselves into parts of the shore.

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A little further inland the soil dries out and you see a few plants that sure look like agave, and make me think of tequila anyway.

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The old Wawamalu Bridge tucked away here once provided a vital link when this narrow road was the only way around the island, back before it was bypassed by the modern Kalanianaole Highway.

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It was built in 1931 and is still standing strong, more or less.

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The new bridge has been tagged pretty hard underneath.  The work is not my favorite, but it does show a certain talent.

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There’s random found art along the shoreline too.

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I wonder what the story is behind this curious rock installation.

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A lone Kolea was out for a stroll.  Probably real tired after the long flight home from the mating grounds in Alaska.  That’s a long way to go for a date!

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The Koko Crater Arch can be seen in the far distance if you look closely.

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You can even glimpse a few hikers climbing the arch.

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Back along the beach a sign warns that an endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal and her pup have decided to sunbathe.  That means everyone else has to stay away so they won’t be disturbed.

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She was sacked out among the rocks and hard to spot at first.

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She never did raise her head, so all we saw was her back and flippers.

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On a clear day, you can look out to sea and spot the silhouettes of Molokai, Lanai, and Maui.

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Overhead, a float plane pilot is living the dream.

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Must be a great view!

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The Ka Iwi Coast is along the shore to the right of Koko Crater and far right of the island.








Hawaii’s beauty and danger

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So many beautiful places in Hawaii can also be very dangerous, and sometimes deadly.

It was only a few weeks ago when I wrote about the recent tragedy at Manoa Falls.  A 19-year-old college freshman fell to her death from the top of the main falls.

So I was a little surprised when I visited the falls again yesterday and saw another young woman about her age perched at the same spot from which the freshman fell.

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But I really shouldn’t have been.  Young folks have been climbing to the top of the falls for many, many years.  I’ve done it myself, but not for a long time.

It’s not easy.  You literally have to scramble straight up the face of large rocks by clinging to banyan tree roots.  Don’t attempt it if you’re not in very good shape, are unfamiliar with the area, or have no experienced companions.  It’s just not worth it.

The attraction at the top of the falls is a small and secluded pool, filled with fresh mountain water that cascades from yet another pool even higher up.

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The “infinity pool,” as it’s called by some, offers a great view of Manoa Valley and some privacy, a welcome respite from parents and the hordes of tourists who visit the main falls below.

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It’s a long way down.  And the water below is very shallow.

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Sometimes, the water flowing into the pool is barely a trickle.  Sometimes it’s quite a shower, and that’s when it’s both most beautiful and most dangerous.  Hawaii’s weather can be very unpredictable, especially in the mountains.  Rains can come quickly and turn dry stream beds into raging rapids within minutes, sweeping along rocks, branches and debris that can make waterfalls and pools very, very dangerous.

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But the current generation of young visitors to the infinity pool is definitely the Facebook and selfie generation.  It seems that taking the perfect selfie at the edge of the pool is now the thing to do.

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I guess I can’t really blame them.  It’s a beautiful spot, and I’m sure this visitor took some great pictures.  But it can be very, very dangerous.

I just hope she also made it home safely, and that any who follow her will too.

Manoa Falls lei


Mauna Lahilahi Hawaiian petroglyphs


It’s a distinct rock feature along the beach (makai) side of Farrington Highway as you travel up the Waianae Coast through Makaha.  Mauna Lahilahi includes fascinating remnants of the early Hawaiian civilization that thrived for centuries before contact with outsiders.


There are numerous old petroglyphs carved into the rocks, apparently by different hands and at different times.  Some have been marred by modern graffiti or chipped away by time, but many are surprisingly intact, and include figures of both humans and dogs.


Sometimes you have to look very closely to spot the images.


Mauna Lahilahi can be climbed relatively easily, but you do have to watch your step, and it’s definitely not for everyone.  The views from the tiny peak are spectacular.  It almost feels like you are on the edge of the world.







Around the base of Mauna Lahilahi are remnants of several old heiau, or traditional Hawaiian temples.  They should not be disturbed.


If you visit Mauna Lahilahi, be aware that there are often several small encampments of homeless people tucked among the rocks and scrub around the base and along the shoreline, and some much larger and unrulier encampments elsewhere along the Waianae Coast.  The campers usually show a reasonable level of respect if you do too, and some individuals are quite friendly.  But there are also some hard-core drug abusers and real trouble-makers who don’t need much provocation to lash out, so it’s best to keep your voice down and not stare or do anything to create conflict.

Gorgeous Manoa Falls

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It’s a pretty easy hike from the back of Manoa Valley to the beautiful falls, with lots of interesting plants and birds encountered along the way.  Sometimes the falls are just a trickle of water, but during or after a heavy rain they can really flow.

Intrepid hikers sometimes scramble up a tangle of banyan tree roots to reach a hidden pool atop the falls.  There have been some injuries, including among people rappelling down the falls on ropes.


But a few days ago a real tragedy struck when a young woman somehow fell to her death from atop the falls.  The story is very, very sad.

Perhaps her spirit will reside there forever amid the beauty.