Opaekaa and Wailua Waterfalls in Kauai

If waterfalls are your thing, you would have a great time in Hawaii! In Kailua itself, we saw a couple of them – Opaekaa and the more popular Wailua falls, both easily accessible (just off the road with no hiking required).

Opaekaa being close to our hotel, we first went to see it in the morning. You just have to turn up Kuamoo Road (580) from highway 56, and the falls are a few steps from the parking lot (on the right-hand side).opaekaa fallsIf you go across the road, you are treated to the majestic views of the Wailua River Valley. We saw a few people Kayaking out there.wailua river valley.jpgbest views in hawaii.jpgYou wouldn’t need more than 15 minutes to cover these falls from the parking area. So, we headed to the more popular Wailua Falls (double-tiered falls), which were about 20-minute drive from this location. Just head north from Lihue on Highway 56 and take a left on Maalo Road in Hanamaulu. The falls are at the dead-end.
wailua falls.jpgwaterfalls in hawaiiI especially loved the mist created off of the falls. We’ve had times when the mist hit us in the face at a couple of places on our earlier trips – and the feeling was just enthralling.mist from waterfallIf you are running short of time, try to cover the Wailua Falls at least…they are one of the best attractions in Kauai.

The first look of Nā Pali Coast, Kauai

As we made our way further up from the Waimea Canyon lookout, we were soon greeted by the best attraction I have seen till date – Na Pali Coast! We had entered the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, known for its unparalleled beauty – rugged, deep, and narrow valleys, numerous waterfalls cutting across the steep slopes, clouds making their way through these landscapes often, and views of the stunningly blue water. The towering cliffs rise as high as 4,000 ft above the Pacific Ocean.

We were at the most famous and photographed lookout of the valley – Pu’u O Kila Lookout. The views were just jaw-dropping!napali coast kauaiThe lookout gives a glimpse into the heart of the Kalalau Valley. The valley and the coast as such served as the backdrop of numerous films, including the Jurassic Park. You can even get to the beach and into the valley by following an 11-mile grueling trail (mind you, it is not for everybody).

You will more-often-than-not see clouds floating around…we waited an hour or so for them to pass by for a clear view the second time.best view of napali coast.jpgSome people could even see whales from the lookout – the width of the valley at the lookout is at its maximum at two miles. Looking at the whole setting, one can easily make out why it is one of the greatest sights in all of Hawaii!best attraction in hawaiiWe had a boat tour reserved for the coast the very next day, so just being able to see what we could look forward to created so much excitement in us.

Notes:

  1. How to reach the lookout – Since the only way to reach there is by car, the GPS should pick up the name of the lookout.
  2. You can also turn right on Waimea Canyon Road after Mile Marker 23. The lookout is near the end of the road at Marker 19.
  3. Just a mile before this lookout, you will see another lookout at marker 18 – Kalalau. You should stop there as well.
  4. There is enough (free) parking at the lookouts, and restrooms too.

 

The world-famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu

If beaches are your thing (as are mine), you would love being at the Waikiki Beach. Also called just Waikiki, it lies on the south shore of the island of Oahu in Hawaii and is a world-famous attraction. We had seen a glimpse of the beach from a long distance when we hiked up the Diamond Head crater. However, our accommodation was just about 4 kilometers from the beach!beachfront honolulubest beach in hawaiiWe decided to give the beach a visit when we had some time left in the day. I spent a long time walking across it in the night as well (and will cover separately, for its beauty was just unparalleled then). What gives this 2-mile-long beach high rating is that its white sand and calm turquoise blue ocean water is fringed by towering high-rises and boutique resorts. You name a luxury brand, and it would be there! No wonder, the area was a playground for the Hawaiian royalty in the 1800s.shops at waikiki beachwaikiki beach market.jpgMy only regret is that the day we visited the beach was pretty dull, so the pictures can’t do justice to the stunning beauty of the area. You never know when it would rain in Hawaii!nature photography.jpgParking is definitely an issue there. But if you are staying in one of the numerous hotels/resorts around, you can just walk over. I chose to go further up the Kalakaua Avenue and park in the large parking area just opposite Starbucks. The benefit was that is it free and the beach is also pretty close, but the most happening area is about a kilometer away.

An early morning hike to the summit of Diamond Head

Imagine waking up at 4 am, getting ready and then driving half-hour only to be in the queue of vehicles for gates to open at 6 am, and then hiking to the edge of a 300,000-year old crater – all before Sunrise! Yeah, we did that on the second day of our stay in Oahu.

We wanted to have a different experience of Sunrise than the one from the previous day (Sandy Beach Park), and Diamond Head State Monument is a perfect place for that – it is famous for its breathtaking views overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu.

As soon as the gates opened up, we made our way to the parking lot. There is a fee of $5/car or $1/pedestrian. After that, you take the trail, which is not so long, but is steep at quite a few places (especially the 99 steps towards the end) – it takes about 20-25 minutes to cover the distance. hiking diamond headdoamond head crater oahubest views of honoluluBut the thrill of all you’ve gone through reaches another high once you reach the summit. You are looking at the entire rim of a volcanic crater (of extinct volcano Diamond Head)…actually, you are standing on it!diamond head volcano craterpacific ocean hawaiiDepending on which way you look, the summit provides you with majestic views. The city of Honolulu looks quite a spectacle. If you look closely, you can see a section of the world-famous Waikiki beach.honolulu photographyIt was so amazing being out there that I couldn’t control myself from taking a selfie 🙂best selphieThe views looking from the other sides were no less. I especially loved this one…best picture of hawaiiLooking at the Pacific ocean was mesmerizing in its own right. A bonus was this Diamond Head Lighthouse built in 1899 (not open to the public). It spreads light nearly 18 miles out into the ocean and its Fresnel lens burns at 60,000 candlepower.diamond head lighthouse oahulighthouse hawaiiI would rate it as one of the best attractions in entire Hawaii, one you should not miss if you are in Oahu. No wonder, I was not intent on leaving it even after spending more than a couple of hours up there!ocean views honolulu

The Volcanic Landscapes of Oahu, Hawaii

We were mesmerized by the beauty in Hawaii – no wonder it is called the Tropical Paradise!

During our road trips across the four islands we visited, we witnessed numerous stunning landscapes. I must say the often changing weather conditions there plays a major role in keeping one asking for more.hawaii road tripJust imagine that all these views were created off of volcanic eruptions over millions of years. Even today, the Big Island (the one we covered last) is still adding more space to it because of active volcanic eruptions.
best weather in oahuThe land all through Hawaii is also amazingly fertile – the famous plantations of Coconuts, Pineapples, Lychee, Bananas, and many others are a testimony to that. We loved having smoothies, shave ice, and fresh juices almost every day!
volcanic landscapes of hawaiiI am a fan of stopping every few minutes, and I have never regretted spending time at the places I’ve admired. Why else would one take a road trip otherwise?
islands in hawaiiThe last one is my favorite, and it was not even an attraction we were chasing – we were on an afternoon drive further up along the highway from Sandy Beach park we covered the very first morning in Hawaii.
what to see in hawaiiMy two cents based on my experiences – don’t just go to famous places. You would be amazed to explore the beauty at offbeat sites. Most of my fabulous clicks are from places you would’ve never heard of, and they are not even mentioned anywhere on the Internet.

13 days sightseeing and island-hopping in Hawaii

I’ve always wanted to visit the islands of Hawaii and Seychelles (technically, both of them are archipelagos). Ever since we got the US Tourist Visa last year, I was thinking of making a trip to Hawaii. The only problem – Hawaii is super-expensive!

Since we are still living close to the US and I saved-up enough by not taking too many vacations last year, we finally picked-up Hawaii as our next Travel destination, and started planning for it in January this year. We did some homework on which all islands to visit, and eventually zeroed-in on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island – in that order. In terms of timing, we didn’t want to visit during the peak summer months of Jun-Aug, and with my job restrictions, March-end sounded just about right (btw, any month is a good month to visit Hawaii – as experts say). I also got a fair deal with the Toronto to Honolulu and return flight (CAD545 per person), with a short halt in Los Angeles (both ways).

The hotel bookings have cost me a fortune, though – averaging a tad below USD200 per night (we are not budget travelers; not luxury, either)! Add to it the inter-island flights (the most effective way for island-hopping) and renting a car on each island (you would know I love road-trips?), we probably could have covered 2 countries in this budget. But then Hawaii is a different world altogether or so I have heard! We are about to find out as we have just landed in Honolulu.

In terms of the number of days we would spend across those islands, after the vacation to India in September and then to the US on New Year, I just had a few vacation days left. So, we could only cough-up 13 days in total (includes 2 weekends and a holiday on Good Friday). Based on what Saru and I wanted to see, we decided to split our time equally across the islands – 2.5 days, with half-a-day reserved for island hopping. I am fully aware those will not be sufficient, especially for the biggest of them all, the Big Island.

Details on what exactly we covered on each island would come after we are back. For now, let me soak in the Hawaiian bliss 🙂Napali Coast HawaiiFor my record, it was my 59th flight today.

Image sourced from Hawaii Tourism Authority website