Friday, May 24, 2019

Away from the beach--Hawaii's other amazing sights

Sun and surf.
That’s what many people go to Hawaii for. Not a bad idea, as the islands have some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. But there is so much more to discover about the beauty of this state. Here is a quick sample:

Waimea Canyon is a sightseer’s paradise—a mile wide, 10 miles long, and more than 3,500 feet deep. Rust-colored rock formations punctuated by patches of deep green make this one of Kauai’s most impressive landscapes. In fact, it is often called the Grand Canyon of Hawaii since it is the largest canyon in the Pacific.
Canyon walls sculpted centuries ago by rivers and floods and layered in different shades of red often hide waterfalls spouting from the jagged cliffs. Hike into the crater or take a picnic lunch to enjoy at the top in Koke’e State Park. There, Kalalau Lookout and other points provide stunning views of the crimson walls and once-cultivated valley of this canyon that extends to the Pacific Ocean.


It’s easy to spend the day discovering the riches of Maui, a shimmering green island with scenic emerald peaks and flowing waterfalls. Being adventurous—and not intimidated by deep curves and hilly terrain—we decided to drive the Road to Hanna. Our plan was to stop at Wai’anapanapa State Park to see the sparkling black pebble beach set against contrasting blue ocean waters. Although we missed it at mile 32 we eventually back-tracked and enjoyed a pleasant picnic lunch amid the park’s rugged coastline, lush greenery, and piles of black lava rocks.
Following lunch, we tramped over the shoreline rocks that have been polished to a shine and are more than finely ground than sand. You can take a dip in the turquoise water or spend time exploring caves and a lava tube--marvels of this park.

Big Island
Easy blowing trade winds often bring clouds and rain to the east side where Hilo is the main city. That makes it lush and green--in contrast with the leeward western side (Kona is the main city) which is much dryer and tends to be sunnier and warm. Both are worth exploring.
Leave the splendor of Maui behind and hop over to the Big Island, a land of contrasts.

One of the most spectacular adventures you can have is a helicopter ride over one of Hawaii’s live volcanoes hissing with steam and spitting fiery lava. It’s a sight you won’t soon forget. After visiting Volcanoes National Park, find different views of the island at stunning Akaka Falls State Park and rugged Laupahoehoe Point Park. Remote Waipi’o Vallley is brimming with history and untouched natural beauty including cascading waterfalls, verdant valleys, and dramatic black sand beaches, much of which can be seen from Waipi’o Lookout.


When you've had enough beach time, walk through paradise as you take a guided nature hike into a thick rainforest. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about Oahu’s botanical delights, as well as geology, history, and mythology. 

For three hours we trekked through a tropical rainforest while listening to our guide’s knowledgeable commentary about every plant, large and small, and exotic fruits like mountain apples and strawberry guavas.  We learned that Ti plants, whose leaves, when wrapped around money, are said to bring good fortune.  Thick bamboo stands shielded us only slightly from frequent showers—this was the rainforest, after all--as we squished along now-muddy trails. 

After about an hour, the sound of rushing water led us to a clearing, where 300-foot waterfalls crashed and splashed into a rocky freshwater pool.  Ignoring the bone-chilling temperature of the water, I slid gingerly off a small boulder--and gasped as the icy water swirled around me.  The exhilaration lasted a few breath-taking moments, enough for my husband to snap photos proving my bravery.  

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier





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