13 May A Local’s Hawaii (plus Aina Haina Hike) – Oahu
Hawaii is one of those places where visitors have one of two experiences: an authentic experience of Hawaii’s beauty, local culture, and society or the canned, touristy version. Without a local connection to bring you in, Hawaii culture can be a hard egg to crack for outsiders. Sure, you can enjoy the beach without help. But do you see the real Hawaii? Do you get a sense of what it’s really like to live there? Are you visiting places that aren’t over-run with tourists?
That’s why we’re working on an e-book called “A Local’s Guide to Oahu on a Budget,” for folks who don’t have a friend or family member who can share their insider knowledge. Jedd grew up in Honolulu and we return frequently (in fact, we’ll be back for the third time this year for graduations in June). We’re writing this guide about all the places our family and friends would take you if you were coming to visit Oahu with us.
We’ve already started a collection of blog posts of hikes we’ve done on Oahu:
- Lulumahu Falls Hike
- Makapu’u Lighthouse and Tidepools hike
- Wa’ahila Ridge Hike
- Lanikai Pillbox Hike
- Wilhelmina Rise Mau’umae Trail Hike
- Aiea Loop Trail
- Ko’olau Golf Course to Pali Look-out
- Maunawili Falls
- Kamanui Valley Road
- Kulio’ou’ou Ridge
- Mariner’s Ridge (now only accessible with Sierra Club)
Aina Haina Hike
This is one of those hikes you may not want to attempt without someone who is familiar with it. As a tourist, it’s so far off the beaten path, you could visit Oahu every year and never know neighborhood hikes like these existed.
As you head west away from Honolulu on the H1/Kalanianaole Highway, you’ll pass a series of valleys and ridges to your left. Tucked in the valleys and sitting atop the ridges are neighborhoods back up against the mountains until the terrain becomes uninhabitable (or the land is protected). What few visitors realize is that at the back of just about every ridge and valley, you’ll find some kind of trail head. Some are official, maintained trails while others are not. Apparently, many of the trails connect to each other, too – you can start in the valley of one, head up the mountain, and return on the ridge line of another trail.
The hike starting from the back of the Aina Haina neighborhood, where Hao Street dead ends, is one that we found through word of mouth. It’s part of the longer Wailupe Loop, but we do a shorter out-and-back that’s not too strenuous.
I highly recommend looking up more specific instructions for this hike as there are a few junctions that can be confusing. Be wise when it comes to unfamiliar territory! There are pink ribbons no matter what trail you take, so following the ribbons doesn’t necessarily work. Somehow we always end up at the same destination without necessarily remembering the exact path, though.
One of the best parts of these kinds of hikes is the changes of scenery. Starting in a neighborhood, you proceed down a dusty dirt road which leads into a hallway of arching trees. Eventually you pass through a bamboo forest, cross a dried up river bed, and come up through another forest of interesting pine-like trees.
We’ve found a lot of hikes on Oahu have a section of bamboo forest, which is always fun. When there’s a breeze, they make ominous creaking sounds. It’s a great place to find a walking stick, if you need one.
Toward the end of the hike, after we’ve passed the creek bed, we make the climb up to this open, pine forest where there’s a make-shift campfire spot and a view of the ocean through the trees. We’ve explored beyond that area, and have even followed some trails, but we’ve never discovered a better “ending point.”
Free: Where to Stay on Oahu Guide
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