We’re flying to Hawaii today for our slightly delayed honeymoon! We’ll be spending sometime with family and friends on Oahu and then flying to the Big Island for a few days. Neither of us have ever been to Hawaii before and we’re excited for some new adventuring.

I really really want to go to the top of Mauna Kea so hopefully there won’t be any snow or anything to interfere. I also would like to want to check out Pearl Harbor. Any must sees for an adventurous couple on either island?


First Day in Hawaii

We spent our first few days in Hawaii with Shel and Zeppelin (unfortunately Evan was in Washington for work). Shel kindly lent us her car and we headed to the North Shore to check it out. The first day, we had loco moco breakfast in Haleiwa before going to Sunset Beach to watch some of the World Cup of Surfing. As we passed through Kahuku, I tried pani popo (a sweet bun soaked in coconut milk) from a street vendor, it was delicious.

At Kahana Bay, we got off the highway and hiked the Nakoa Trail. It was pretty buggy in spots and didn’t have and views so we left feeling a little bit disappointed although it felt pretty cool to be hiking through the jungle.

We also stopped to visit a macadamia nut farm and picked up some kalua pork and laulau for lunch. We ate our lunch on Hie’ea Pier, stopped at Waimanalo Beach for some ocean time, and then finished looping around the eastern side of the island.


Kahekili-Manamana Loop

After our buggy first hike, we decided that we would go back to the same spot—but that this time the adventure would be up on the ridgetop. The hike for the day would be the Kahekili-Manamana loop. From the pictures we saw on Unreal Hawaii, it appeared we’d get some great views of the island as reward for the climb.

The views were as incredible as promised and there were even some opportunities for a little bit of scrambling. The mosquitoes were much less of a problem on this hike except for at the creek crossing (the waterfall was dry so we didn’t mind hurrying out of this area).

Knife’s edge hiking
Ocean views
Monkey boy
Dry waterfall
Summit views
Little used trail
Trail goes up there
Knife’s edge descent


Kulana’ahane Trail

Since Evan was away on business when we were staying with Shel, we decided we should go for a hike together while we were in town. He asked if we were up for a long hike and we certainly were! It was another ridgetop hike that lead us to the summits of the Ko’olau Range where we could see both the leeward and windward sides of the island.

Monalua Valley
Going up!
The objective is in sight
Loving the views!

In World War II, the Haiku Stairs were constructed to construct and service communication wires strung across this valley:

Haiku Valley
On the summit
Hiking with my cousin.

Haiku Ladder History

Oahu’s Haiku Stairs (or Haiku Ladder or Stairway to Heaven, depending on your preference) reach above Kanohe on the island’s northeastern side. These steep stairs are officially off-limits to the public, however they are often climbed by people looking for an amazing view of both the leeward and windward sides of the island. Although the stairs themselves are an attraction, they have a very interesting history. (We hiked to the top via the leeward side.)

During World War II, the Navy decided they needed a long range communication system to facilitate pan-Pacific operations. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported that “Authorities decided that a sending system must be built of such a magnitude that it would reach to the waters of Australia and India and even to Allied submarines near Tokyo bay.” (October 25, 1946.)

To avoid building a tower tall enough to carry the antennae needed the cables were instead draped over Haiku Valley. Before the construction of the current ladder, in 1942, Bill Adams and Louis Otto (both men had worked on Hoover Dam) scaled the valley walls by driving steel spikes into the wall. The spikes were slowly replaced by wooden ladders and steps and the metal steps were finished in 1953.

Omega station conceptual drawing

The communication station was powered by a 200,000 watt Alexander alternator. It powered the station from its commission in 1943 until it was transferred from the Navy to the Coast Guard in 1973. Under the Coast Guard, the station became part of the Omega Aid to Navigation system. The Omega system was operational until 1997 when it was replaced by the VLF network. The Hawaiian component of the network is now located in Lualualei (on Oahu’s leeward side) and its antennae are comprised of two 1503′ guyed masts.

Emergency generator
Top of the stairs

Today, the Haiku Ladder, although technically off limits to the public, can be used to attain the 2,800 foot mountaintop of Puu Keahiakahoe. You can also see the CCL (continuous communication link) building that was installed by the Coast Guard when the Omega equipment was installed.

CCL Station
Haiku Stairs today (unrealhawaii.com)

Stairway to Heaven, Oahu Island News, January 2004.
David Jessup’s Haiku Valley history.


Ohana: Missing This Dude

“Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind.” -Lilo & Stitch

Unfortunately, due to airplanes and Hawaii’s rabies quarantine rules, Sprocket did have to get left behind this time but tonight we hop a red-eye back to the mainland to pick up the 4-legged child. We can’t wait to be reunited with him.

I’m also a little vansick. It’s been a good trip but we’re ready for the comforts of home.

Big Island: Mauna Kea

We landed on a new tropical island and within an hour we were standing at the top of a really really big mountain: Mauna Kea—13,796′ above sea level!

Mauna Kea from Saddle Road
Mauna Kea from Saddle Road

Going to the summit was one of my goals for our trip to Hawaii so we’d done a fair amount of research about the road to the summit. Most of the guides said that it was a very rough 4-wheel drive road however we found both Saddle Road and the Mauna Kea Access Road to be in very good condition.  The Access Road is about 15 miles long and all but about 5 miles are paved. This road is easily driven by any vehicle, not just 4-wheel drives. There were little rental cars all over it.

4-wheel drive is *not* necessary.
4-wheel drive is *not* necessary.
Winding road to the summit of Mauna Kea.
Winding road to the summit of Mauna Kea.
Mauna Kea observatories
Mauna Kea observatories

At the top of the mountain, there is a short path to the summit high point. There isn’t much of a view because the mountain is so broad and vog often blocks views to the south towards Mauna Loa and Hilo.

It’s a pretty crazy feeling to leave the lush vegetation around Hilo and drive up into the empty cinder landscape. Getting in to the car the air was sticky and warm but up on the summit was windy and 50 degrees!

13,796 feet above sea level
13,796 feet above sea level
Benchmark Love
Benchmark Love
Summit views
Summit views