Walking through paradise in Hawaii

Shuffling bare feet on the sands of Waikiki Beach and eating Polynesian food at luaus was fine relaxation for a day or two, but it wasn’t long before my husband and I needed to challenge our bodies a little more—not to mention escape ever-present crowds around popular attractions.

Walking through the rainforest on Oahu

Trekking through the rainforest on Oahu

Fortunately, the weather is perfect most days year round, and hiking trails are abundant on Oahu. Near Honolulu, we trekked to Makapuu Point to photograph the lighthouse that guides ships from the western United States into Honolulu.  Its 115,000 candlepower lamp can be spotted 28 miles out to sea. Gorgeous ocean views spread out from all directions on the point, which can be reached on a relatively easy path.

Another day we walked through the morning mist to the top of Diamond Head, Oahu’s famous dormant volcano. The crater, roughly 175 acres, is a lasting reminder of explosions that scientists say occurred 300,000 years ago. From the top we looked out over a ribbon of sandy beaches, offshore islands, and postcard panoramas of Oahu’s shoreline.

But it wasn’t until we hiked a portion of the majestic Ko-olau Mountains—one of two major ranges on Oahu—that I walked through paradise.  For three hours we trekked through a verdant tropical rainforest covered with towering bamboo, mountain apples, ginger plants, strawberry guavas and other exotic fruits. Ti plants grow up to 10 feet high with leaves two feet long in the dense, damp environment. In early Hawaii, the ti leaf was considered sacred, and when wrapped around money, it was said to bring good fortune.

Waterfall in the mountains of Oahu

Waterfall in the mountains of Oahu

Thick bamboo stands shielded us only slightly from frequent showers, as we squished along the muddy trails.  After about an hour, the sound of rushing water led us to a clearing, where a 300- foot waterfall crashed and splashed into a rocky freshwater pool. We came prepared to dip into the pool—not realizing that the water was bone-chilling cold.

But I hadn’t hiked two miles to stand on the edge.  Quickly I stripped off clothing over my bathing suit and scrambled down several large boulders, thinking a toe touch might be enough.  I slid gingerly off a rock, submerging my body into the pool–and gasped as the icy emerald water swirled around me.  The exhilaration lasted a few breath-taking moments, long enough for photos proving  my bravery.

Photos by Larry Burmeier

Read more of Beverly’s travel stories at Going on Adventures and Austin Adventure Travel

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