Manoa Falls and Haiku Gardens

13 Feb

No trip to Honolulu would be complete with a hike up to Manoa Falls.  It’s definitely one our favorites, not because it’s overly difficult, but because it’s one of the most beautiful experiences of real Hawaii without really leaving the city!  Heck, just from the three hikes I’ve posted this week you can see how varied the outdoor enthusiast’s options are!  Whatever terrain you’re looking for, yep, Oahu’s got you covered! 🙂

The falls are found in a valley at the base of the Koolau Mountains, just a few miles north of Honolulu.  The trail to the top is only about 1.5 miles, but it’s 1.5 miles of the most breathtakingly lush- almost prehistoric- scenery you’ll ever see.  You  hike through tropical rainforest seeing native plants like Taro, giant ferns and a variety of wild gingers growing along the banks of the babbling Aihualama stream. There are Bamboo groves and magnificent towering Banyan trees (my favorite trees on Earth, I might add). The wild guava trees and flowering plants give of a fragrant aroma- and along with the musky, ‘dirt’y smells of a living forest- fill the air with a memorable scent as you make your way up to the waterfall.

Oh, and a neat factoid: this trail and the surrounding rainforest was the main site used in Jurassic Park 🙂

Foot of the Trail...

The trail is plagued with landslides, so they have to put in additional supports at some spots along the way...

This tree didn't make it...but what a cool stump (and you can see the fallen tree in the distance...)

Climbing the tree roots that are bigger than my entire body! Ha!

Can you find the trail??

More of my favorite trees...The 'fluffy' one on the right always reminds me the weed, Queen Anne's Lace...

Through the Banyan trees 🙂

Ta Da! We made it!

Heading back down the mountain...

To rest our tired legs, we decided to log some R-n-R time in the afternoon…meaning that our biggest decision was ‘beach or pool…’  Ha!  Why not both?

Poolside 🙂

John likes the saltwater pool 🙂

'Ol Diamond Head in the distance...

Beachfront 🙂

I know, I know…it’s a tough life, but somebody’s gotta do it!  😉  By late afternoon, we headed to another of our favorite spots, the Gardens in Haiku Valley.

The valley is an amphitheater-shaped area on the windward side of the Koʻolau Range, about 45 minutes northeast of Honolulu. It was the site of a US Navy radio transmitting station (later taken over by the Coast Guard as an OMEGA Navigation System station) and was initially built following the attack on Pearl Harbor as a means of communicating with U.S. Navy ships as far away as Tokyo Bay. The facility had a massive antenna system consisting of six massive cable antennas draped from atop one mountain ridge, and across the mountain valley to the top of the other ridge. The ridges formed a horseshoe shape around the valley. The natural height of the mountain ridges made for an excellent means of having an elevated antenna system. The construction and use of the facility was initially a classified military secret. The walls of the main building were over 5ft. thick and made of concrete, designed to withstand a 500 lb. bomb being dropped on the top of the building, allowing people inside to survive. Cool, huh?

The valley is most noteworthy today for the  Haʻikū Stairs (also known as “Stairway to Heaven”), a foot trail of 3,922 metal stairs that ascends to Puʻu Keahiakahoe, a 2,800-foot peak above the east valley wall. The stairs were originally constructed as a means of reaching the radio antenna attachment points high on the surrounding ridgeline.

So…for the record, nope, we haven’t climbed the steps yet!  Instead, we visited the Gardens en route to dinner in the Valley.  The Gardens are considered a ‘hidden gem-‘ four lush, tropical acres nestled at the base of the Stairway.  In a nutshell, it’s just pretty. 🙂

Heading down into the valley...

Up close and personal with the stargazers...

Walking through the gardens to our dinner restaurant...Yep, that's it in the distance 🙂

Dinner in a torch-lit 'tree house' 🙂

So there you have it, our Saturday in paradise- a wonderful blend of outdoor splendor, if you ask me!  We’re getting a slow start this morning, so no telling what  the day holds just yet.  On that note, I’ll leave you with yet another of my favorite shots of this hot guy I get to live with ;)!

Still taken 🙂

 

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