With the government open, at least temporarily, we are looking at some spots on Hawaii’s two most visited islands: Oahu and Maui. National parks have reopened, some worse for wear and some with disgruntled rangers. But, while there may be some problems with the parks, it’s a relief to know that people can visit them again knowing that they are officially open and that employees are there to help visitors.
As brutal weather attacks parts of the country, we thought it would be nice to see some spots in a warm place, in both national parks and public land that are accessible to all who visit.
Oahu is the most visited of Hawaii’s islands. A fantastic climate, less expensive accommodations and gorgeous beaches make it an excellent destination. With about 4.5 million visitors a year, you might think the place would be spoiled. But, despite the presence of Pearl Harbor and the state’s capital, Honolulu, the island still has rugged beauty.
Interestingly, the famous and historical surfboarding spot, Waikiki Beach is almost entirely man-made. That’s not necessarily a bad thing getting out into the world is good for you as it boosts happiness and relaxation. So, if you’re a beach person, Waikiki is a great spot — manufactured or not.
Diamond Head State Park
If you want a spot more natural, head to Diamond Head State Park. Walking the Diamond Head State Park path isn’t difficult as the path is very well-maintained. However, there are 99 steps near the top, making it inaccessible to wheelchairs. And, without shade, this 1.6-mile walk can be hot. With an elevation change of 521 feet, people walk up the inside of a crater to an incredible view of Honolulu. The park says it takes one and a half to two hours, we say slow down and enjoy the views!
The second largest Hawaiian island is the second most visited. With two million visitors per year, Maui has a higher price tag than Oahu for accommodations and shopping. The beaches, including the black sand beaches, have been voted the best in the world for their snorkeling, windsurfing, surfing kiteboarding and kitesurfing. But sometimes, you want to get away from tanning and go for a great walk.
Iao Needle Trail
The Iao Needle Trail is a .4-mile loop in the Iao Valley State Park. The scenery has been described as “Very Jurassic Park,” by visitors. The park itself if 4,000-acres of lush sightseeing with a nature center and home to the iconic 1,200 foot Iao Needle. This marks the spot where, in 1790, King Kamehameha I beat Maui’s army in a battle that shaped the future of Hawaii.
Nakalele Blowhole Trail
A short .8-mile out and back trail can take you to see two excellent sights. While Maui is a laid-back place, this is one place you don’t want to be in flip-flops, as the path is quite steep down to the Nakalele Blowhole. This natural feature is a hole in a lava flow where seawater under great pressure creates a geyser. The rocks around the geyser are slippery, and warnings are posted to stay on dry rocks and not go near the geyser itself. People have drowned, slipping and falling into the hole. If you turn your back on the Nakalele Blowhole, you will see the other attraction that draws a crowd. There is a hole shaped just like a heart. This hole has become an internet darling with images of it posted everywhere.
We hope you have enjoyed this virtual trip to Hawaii. If you can, take a nice walk outside. But, if you are in one of the many places struck by brutal cold where people are being urged to stay inside, explore more digital walks here.