Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail

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This is an easy hike. The park and trailhead are located off of the Kalanianaole Highway (Hwy. 72) on Oahu. From Honolulu, drive on H1 freeway east until it becomes Highway 72. Follow the road beyond Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach Park until you reach the park area adjacent to the highway on the right.

From the windward side, drive on Kalanianaole Highway (Hwy. 72) southeast beyond Kailua, and Sea Life Park, after which the road climbs up toward Makapu‘u Head. The park will be on the left side of the highway.

Makapuu Lighthouse is a wonderful family hike that can accommodate mothers with babies in strollers. It can get hot so wearing a hat, sunscreen and bring plenty of water will help you. Enjoy the hike and happy trails!

Pu’u Pia Trail

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Driving Directions: Take E. Manoa Road in Manoa Valley, toward the mountain, past Manoa Marketplace to the intersection of Alani Dr. Turn left, and continue for about 0.75 mi. to where Alani Dr. takes a sharp right, and Alani Lane continues straight ahead. Park along Alani Dr. in the neighborhood outside Alani Ln. Do not continue down Alani Ln. with your vehicle. Walk down Alani Ln. (it will look like a driveway), past the houses, and through the cable gate. Beyond the gate, continue on the dirt road until you get to the Forestry and Wildlife picnic shelter. Pu`u Pia Trail is to the left of the shelter. Camping allowed at the shelter.

Bus Directions: Take the #6 Woodlawn Drive bus from Ala Moana into Manoa. Ask the bus driver to drop you off at the stop BEFORE Alani Dr. Then walk to Alani drive.

What to Bring: Water, mosquito repellent and hiking shoes. Pack out the trash that you bring in. Leave nothing but footprints. Happy Trails!

Aihualama Trail

Aihualama Trail is one of my favorites because of the variations of folage and birds. Its difficult to pick my favorite photo because its such a beautiful place. Be prepared to be attacked by mosquitos though. Aihualama is a jungle!

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There are many ways to get to Aihualama Trail. That is one thing I love about Oahu forests. There is no set trail. There are many ways to get to the same place. In my previous blog I discussed directions for Pauoa Flats. If you are in for a serious adventure then at the Pauoa Flats intersection turn left and walk straight until you hit the Aihualama trail. It will take you 5 minutes to reach Aihualama Trail. Be sure to bring water because from Judd Trail to Manoa Falls its about 7 miles total and you will get thirsty.

If 7 miles isn’t your thing then hike up the Manoa Trail (1 mile) and next to the falls is Aihualama Trail. Hike up Aihualama for a mile and a half. Don’t mind the bizarre screeches and screams. Those are just Cockatoos in the trees. If you reach the top of Aihualama you will see another trail on the right. This small trail is the Pauoa Flats lookout. So there are two ways to reach the Pauoa Flats lookout mentioned in the last blog post. You can either go up Judd-> Nuuanu-> Pauoa Flats OR Manoa Falls ->Aihualama -> Pauoa lookout.

The photos were taken on the hike from Manoa Falls to Aihualama. This is not the crossover hike.

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There is yet another way to access Aihualama Trail. Its a bit of cheat trail. You can bypass Manoa Falls trail and run straight up to Aihualama in 10 minutes. However, its more like a pig hunter trail and it you get lost up here no one will be able to locate you because its not a state trail. I have rescued a few stranded hikers on this trail before. Its best to stick to the original Oahu Na Hele Trails rather than wander around on pig hunter trails. If you vaguely know what I’m talking about and ever find yourself lost here: Don’t panic. If you keep walking to the right through all of the psychotic bamboo you will eventually hit Manoa Trail.

I prefer walking to the left though because you will eventually hit Lyon’s Arboretum. I have gotten myself lost back here while documenting native bird nests. I was chasing birds and before I knew it…I was lost. I recommend walking to the left because you will get out of the forest within a matter of 5 minutes. You just will piss of Lyon’s Arboretum though. Certain sections of their gardens are off limits because of liability concerns.

Anyways, walk left for 5 minutes and cross one or two streams. Ignore the wild boar. They won’t hurt you. You will end up climbing up through a bunch of crazy looking ginger, heliconia and there will be geckos in your hair. But after 5 minutes you will find the Lyon’s Arboretum Trail. Notice that to your right is the mountain. If you are lost and dehydrated you do not want to go to the mountain. Turn left and follow Lyon’s Arboretum Trail all the way down. There is a bathroom and visitor’s center at the end of the trail where you can buy water and cry.

I will be showing a few photos of the pig hunter trail and then show photos of the real Oahu Na Hele Trail. I am not giving directions to the pig hunter trail because I don’t want to fish you out of the jungle.

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One bad thing about this pig hunter trail is that giant trees fall within a moment’s notice. On this particular hike there was a 50 foot banyan tree that looked totally normal on a summer’s day. I came back down the same trail and found that it had fallen down in the middle of the trail. You just can’t tell which trees are termite infested until they fall and smoosh you. Which is all the more reason to stick with state Oahu Na Hele Trail. But I was looking for birds and didn’t care at this moment.

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Very beautiful! Lots of boar tracks. There are pig hunters that come this way. Try not to disturb them. They do us a service by making sure there are no 5 foot tall boar wandering around in the forest. There are smaller pigs on the main Aihualama state trail.

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I just love the trees! As you can tell, the trail is not evident here. So I just walked around in circles and enjoyed myself.

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Found the trail! Hooray!

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I don’t know this loaded sideways but its still beautiful.

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I love trees

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The bamboo section of the cheat trail to Aihualama is a tricky one. If you feel lost or confused in here its best to keep on the main trail. If you attempt to wander to the left it will take you 30 minutes to get to Aihualama waterfall and you will be a hot mess. (I have done it before)  If you try to find Manoa Trail you will most likely get seriously lost and have to spend a night in the forest.

So if you are disoriented around the palm tree section then just walk left and follow the trail into Lyon’s Arboretum and out to the main trail. However, once you hit the bamboo section then just keep on following the trail. The forest will get dark but don’t let that or the crazy Cockatoos scare you. You are 7 minutes away from Aihualama Trail at this point. One confusing section of the cheat trail is where is leads to the old foundations of a house. Just backtrack your way 4 or 5 steps and look up and to your right for the trail continuing up to Aihualama. Keep to the trail at this point once you are in the bamboo forest.

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Its beautiful and yet creepy…

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Yes, that’s the trail…

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Then I crawled out of the forest and onto the Aihualama Trail. To the right will be Manoa Falls. To the left will be more Aihualama adventure. I turned left onto the state approve Na Hele Aihualama Trail.

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I love this leaf because is has a velvety sheen on it.

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When you reach this point of the trail you are 10 minutes from the top. You then enter another bamboo section and when you come out there will be another trail on your right. This is the Pauoa Flats lookout. If you continue straight on Pauoa Flats the next right hand turn will be to Nuuanu Switchbacks trail and it’s lookout. Be sure to retrace your steps so that you don’t get lost.

There are no housekeepers that pick up trash on any of these trail. State workers only cut down fallen trees that block trails. Bring out your trash. Leave nothing but footprints and smiles. Happy Trails!



Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls is an easy trail in Manoa Valley. Bring good footwear because it is muddy and slippery. Its one mile to the waterfall. You may want to bring mosquito repellent.

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I love how this tree looks like a giant lady holding up branches into the air.

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First glimpse of the waterfall.

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This type of flower comes from an invasive ginger called “Green Grenade”. Its beautiful but its a weed. I took this flower home and a week later 1000 seeds came bursting from the flower. Not to mention that it spreads like wildfire from the rhizome (root) system. The original collection is at Lyon’s Arboretum but it somehow hopped its way through the Manoa Forest and near to the waterfall. So I beheaded it because it had such a lovely face. Then I took its photo.

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FYI: This not a Hawaiian tradition. Many visitors from the mainland have come and set up these little rock cairns that look like rock people. They look cute so I took their photos. However, many of my Hawaiian friends and family are offended because it is not a Hawaiian tradition.

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The Rock person is enjoying the waterfall.

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You can never have enough pictures of Manoa Falls.

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Rainbow in the falls!

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I was back floating in the pool and saw the falls from this perspective.

Just was a word of warning: The state does not want people swimming in the pool because of the fear or rock slides and lawsuits. You swim at your own risk. These funny buggers below illustrated the point. Now they will be famous.

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They are pretending to be unconscious from a falling rock. Anyways, so much for silliness.

Take out your lunch trash. There are no state housekeepers paid to pick up after you. Bring out what you bring in. Leave nothing but footprints and smiles. Happy Trails!

Manoa Falls Directions: Going East bound on H1: Take the Punahou Exit 23 then See below directions. Going West bound on H1: Take the Wilder Exit 24, continue on Wilder to the third light take a right on Punahou. See below directions. Continue up Punahou, heading towards the mountains. Punahou turns in Manoa road by staying left at the fork in the road. You will soon come to a five way intersection. Stay on Manoa road. Manoa Road continues into the back of Manoa Valley and ends at Paradise Park. Due to a high amount of hiker car theft the Manoa Falls parking lot has been unfortunately closed. Therefore, hikers have two choices. 1) Parking in the Paradise Park lot for a fee of $5.00 or 2) Park in the lower neighborhood for free. There is absolutely no parking on the fire lane beyond the Paradise parking lot and before the Lyon Arboretum entrance. After parking continue up the fire lane to the entrance of Lyon Arboretum. You will see straight ahead the old Manoa Falls parking lot gate and fence. Continue through the fence to the Manoa Falls trailhead. DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN YOUR VEHICLE.


Pauoa Flats

Pauoa Flats can be reached many ways. I am going to list one way that I reached this trail. Its a nice, shady, muddy trail filled with gigantic trees and kahili ginger. Driving directions are posted at the end of this blog.

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I walked the Judd Trail which connected to the Nuuanu Switchback Trail. I hiked up the Nuuanu Switchback trail and I reached the lookout. There is a trail after the bench which marks the end of the Nuuanu Switchback trail. I followed the trail back into the woods.

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I walked down this trail from Nuuanu lookout to an intersection in the trail. This is Pauoa Flats Trail. It connects with Nuuanu Switchback Trail here. I decided to turn right on Pauoa Flats and see where it takes me.

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It lead me to a log walkway surrounded by Kahili Ginger.

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I didn’t go to the end of Pauoa Flats trail but I walked as far as Kalawahine Trail. Pauoa Flats trail is simple and easy like Judd Trail. However I was too worn out from the switchbacks to want to finish this trail. If I had walked all the way down then I would have reached the Manoa Cliff Forest Restoration Project. This is project helps grow endemic and endangered Hawaiian plants.

So once again, to reach this garden you will -> Walk the Judd Trail -> Hike up the Nuuanu Switchback Trail -> Walk beyond the bench -> Reach the forest intersection of Pauoa Flats -> Turn RIGHT and walk all the way down. When you are finished viewing the garden then retrace your steps. Be sure to take notice of the signs that you only go back down Nuuanu Switchbacks trail and you don’t go down Kalawahine.

In this particular adventure I also wanted to go to Pauoa Flats look out too. There are many turn offs on the Pauoa Flats Trail. Take your time and watch the trail signs so that you don’t get lost.

To reach the Pauoa Flats lookout you will: Walk the Judd Trail -> Hike up Nuuanu Switchbacks Trail -> Walk beyond the bench -> Reach the forest intersection of Pauoa Flats -> And turn LEFT. -> Then keep your eye on the forest on the left because after a few feet you will encounter the small trail that leads to the Pauoa Flats lookout.

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It looks something like this ^^^

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The view is well worth the pain and hysteria you may have encountered trying to hike up Nuuanu Switchbacks trail. In this picture you are looking at Nuuanu Water Reservior and the forest. There is also the Pali Highway tucked away in the forest but you can’t see it from here.

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Close up of the reservoir.

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The trippy part of this trail is that because of the elevation you can see Kaneohe from this trail located in Honolulu city.

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Close up of the ocean and Kaneohe city.

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To the right of Pauoa Flats lookout is yet…ANOTHER TRAIL! The trails are everywhere! This trail leads to upper Lulumahu Waterfall. Its similar to a death march so I advise that only advanced hikers travel to this waterfall. I have not been on the death march to upper Lulumahu Waterfalls because I am not strong or crazy enough.

However, this brave hiker went in a flashflood. Which is more like a death wish. Keep in mind this particular skilled hiker is advanced and can hike steep ridges.

Keep in mind that Upper Lulumahu Waterfalls is classified as unsanctioned and therefore not legal. I am not giving out the name of the hiker.😉 However his blog is just as neato as mine.



Drive from Honolulu City towards the Pali Lookout but make a right hand turn at Nuuanu Pali Drive -> Drive a couple of minutes keeping your eyes on the right -> You will come across the Judd Trail -> Park and secure your car. If you drive passed the Department of Water Building on the left then you have gone to far.

Bring plenty of water, mosquito repellent, lunch, a camera and a phone. Since this type of trail is a little strenuous I also recommend an emergency kit. In this emergency kit include first aid, a knife or cutters and a space blanket. These things are only necessary in case of an emergency but its also best to be prepared. Pack out all of your lunch trash. There are no housekeepers assigned to this trail. Pack out what you pack in. Leave nothing but footprints and a smile! Happy Trails!


Nuuanu Switchbacks

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Nuuanu Switchbacks is an intermediate trail.  I am advising visitors that this trail is an intermediate trail because of the two rock outcroppings that you must climb over halfway up. I once saw 4 little old ladies dressed in all white from Massachusetts who advised me that they can hike anything. I saw them 30 minutes later covered in mud. Their shoes were inappropriate for the trail and they fell a few times going up. They never made it to the halfway point where the rock outcroppings were located.

I also suggest that you bring mosquito spray or completely cover yourself with a long sleeve shirt. Bring water, lunch and maybe a power bar. You will need it. This trail is not recommended for children. However, if you want to punish your ornery teenager then this is the perfect trail to take them on. Just watch them while they cross the rock outcroppings. There is rope at the first one but no rope (the last time I was there) on the second one.

The trail rewards you with awesome views at the top. I personally like the trail myself because it’s murky and spooky like all of the forest trails seen in the Hobbit. You can hear crickets and birds up the entire trail and the trees smell beautiful. The forest canopy is so thick that the rain doesn’t penetrate through it. I think its trippy how you can hike through a thick forest and not get wet from the rain.

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This is a view of Nuuanu and parts of Honolulu. In the distance you can see the airport and Pearl City.

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Honolulu always looks better from a distance. (Sorry, I’m not a city kind of girl.)

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Pearl City

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The native Ie’Ie blooms at the lookout. You can take this opportunity to also admire the native Lehua trees as well. For all botanists and biologists reading this blog: I know “native” is not the correct word to describe these plants. However, most readers don’t understand the word “endemic”. So bare with me. (Especially if you are my old boss.)

Vocab lesson:

Endemic = Plant or animal species that originates from a certain location and is only found at that location.

Native = Same thing as endemic but meant for people.

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More beautiful views

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You can never have enough Ie’Ie photos.

After you collapse from the climb up this hill be sure to eat lunch by the bench, listen to the birds and admire the views. The Nuuanu Switchbacks trail stops at the bench. However, the trail continues onward towards another adventure and another blog post.


Drive from Honolulu City to Nuuanu Pali Drive -> turn right -> After 2 minutes of driving you will come across the Judd Trail on the right -> Park somewhere and secure the car -> Follow the screams of the children to find the stream -> cross the stream -> You are now at Judd Trail. -> Walk straight into the forest. Do not walk on the trails to the left or right. Just walk straight -> In 10 minutes (I am slow) you will reach the Nuuanu Switchback Trail of pain and glory on the left-> Enjoy!


Judd Trail

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The Judd Trail is easily accessible but parking is limited. Directions are at the bottom of this blog.

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You must walk a 30 steps to the stream in order to find the trail. The trail starts across from the stream. You can walk either straight ahead or you can walk to the right and follow the stream. There is a trail to the left but I don’t recommend that trail because its not part of the Judd Trail.

The Judd Trail is a one mile circle trail. You can’t get lost unless you accidently meander up to Nuuanu Switchbacks. (Nuuanu Switchbacks Trail is also clearly marked.)   This trail can get muddy, and slippery. The tree roots make the trail an easy one to twist an ankle. Be careful while walking. Children will love this trail since half way around the circle there is a small swimming hole surrounded by Yellow Butterfly Ginger. You may want to wear mosquito repellent. Do not drink the stream water. It has buggies in it that can make you sick.

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I went straight ahead instead of turning right. I wanted to walk the full circle.

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The Cook Pines are huge and smell wonderful.

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These pines have been long before I was born.

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Some of the Cook Pines dance hula.

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After 10 minutes of walk you will come across a muddy trail on the left that goes up. This is the Nuuanu Switchback Trail. In my opinion this is an intermediate trail because you have to cross to major rock out croppings. Nuuanu Switchback trail is not suggested for young children. (However, if you wanted to punish your rebellious teenager then…go for it!)


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I continued on the Judd Trail and it gradually bent right through the woods. Then I came across Jackass Ginger Pools. I hate the name because it implies that that its ugly. Or at least the name Jackass sounds ugly. Its a beautiful rock pool surrounded by succulent yellow butterfly ginger. Please pack out what you pack in. If you bring lunch, take your napkins, soda cans and other junk with you. There are no house keepers assigned to these woods. Therefore you are responsible for keeping it clean.

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I continued on the trail going right and found myself back where I started.

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Be careful where you step and how you play among the trees. There are a few native species on the trail. You don’t want to squish them accidently.


Drive from Honolulu City toward the Pali -> But before you hit the Pali on the right you will come across Nuuanu Pali Dr -> Take a right at Nuuanu Pali Drive -> You drive for a couple of minutes and come to a trail on the right with bamboo hiking sticks, cars and screaming children. This is it! Enjoy! If you drive past the water facility on the left then you have gone too far. Turn back and look again.


Hummingbird Moths at Lyon’s Arboretum

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There is a secret in Lyon’s Arboretum bromeliad garden.

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When I walked down the path I felt something wurrrrrrrrrrrrrr right next to my ear. At first I felt irritated thinking that I was under attack by a monster mosquito. However, I saw the blur of brown twirl around these purple mounds of flowers sprouting from the center of the bromeliads. To my surprise I discovered that resembled baby hummingbirds without feet.

It looks like it’s half hummingbird and half moth!  The hummingbird moths are insects that love all sorts of flowers. Today I found them at Lyon’s Arboretum drinking nectar from the brilliant bromeliad blooms. They use their tongue to lick up the nectar like icecream. I have to admit that the bromeliad blooms look tasty. (The reality is that they are unedible even though they look like candy.)


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They were hard to photograph because they were terribly fast.

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They came out close to dusk at Lyon’s Arboretum. For directions read: