Oahu - Turtles and Hikers Paradise

Oahu - Turtles and Hikers Paradise

By Micha and Markus on Monday, May 18, 2020 - 04:16

The main title picture are the famous Haiku Stairs on Oahu Island. Follow the link to the Haiku Stairs for all insights about this once in a lifetime trail. 

We were so glad to see the sun again after we escaped the “VOG” on Big Island. Although the higher elevations on Oahu were covered in clouds, the sun was shining again, and we drove to our first stay on the north shore cross the island. Here it was almost impossible to get affordable accommodation. Camping in Hawaii is not “save”, the only option left was Airbnb. We stayed in a tiny room with no access to the kitchen and the rest of the house. Nevertheless, it was a perfect starting point to access the beaches on the north shore without traveling too much.

We had planned to get into the water as often as possible. From Big Island, we knew that we could not expect much from the hard-coral reefs, but we know that we will find some exciting fish and maybe turtles again. Laniakea Beach is well known to be one of the turtle hotspots, but at our first stop in the afternoon at the beach, which is directly nearby the coastal road, we had no luck. Next morning, we drove up to Sharks Cove which is one of the trendy snorkeling areas. Therefore, it was clear that we could not expect to have the ocean for us alone. Beside some seldom fish, we swam must of the time in other snorkelers.

Around midday the cove became very busy, many snorkelers and even dive classes in the water made the decision easy to leave this part. We spend the afternoon at Laniakea Beach were Micha could spot the first sea turtles in the water.

This was promising for the next day as we had planned to show up early at Laniakea Beach. The water temperature was much colder this morning, and the visibility was poor. Anyhow, I spotted two sea turtles close to the beach in the water while snorkeling around.

It was Saturday, and late morning the beach filled up with weekend visitors. As we already were on our way to the car several turtles swam close to the beach. Immediately some volunteers tried to move, the crowds away from the turtles to give them space. Laniakea Beach is the only place in the world where sea turtles come to land to bask in the sun. Usually, they undertake this exhausting visit on beaches only to lay their eggs, but here they changed their behavior since the 90s. After another hour the water at the beachfront looked like a sea turtle invasion. We counted as many as 12 turtles either feeding on the seagrass or on their way to the beach.

For the second half of our stay, we had selected another Airbnb accommodation in Honolulu. It was an ideal starting point to visit Manoa Falls, Makapuu Point Lighthouse, and the Diamond Crater which we had spotted already during our flight to Oahu. All three were exciting but somehow very touristic attractions. The path was mainly paved, and we run into plenty of visitors. So, we had to look for a different challenge. One afternoon we drove up to the Koko Head trail which leads up to the Koko Head Crater Rim. The trail was not a usual one, and although we met many people here as well, most came here to exercise. We had to walk up the steep track on more than 1200 old railroad ties to climb from 60 meters above sea level to 386 meters.

The rails were used during the world war to supply material to the station on the top of the rim. Meanwhile, the railroad ties were broken at many places or just missing. It took us almost one hour to reach the top, but here we were rewarded with a spectacular view. Now we became addicted to such a steep climb, and we looked for another opportunity, maybe even more challenging. After a short research, we found the Haiku Stairs. Here 3992 steps lead from the ground to one of the rims on the northern part of the island. Unfortunately, the stairs are on governmental land, and the access is officially closed. We found reports that many people climb them anyhow and if the police caught them, they had to pay a fine of $1000. We had to search for an alternative. What we found was one of our best hikes we ever did. We identified a legal way to reach the summit of the stairs from the other side of the valley. The only drawback for the Moanalua Valley Trail was its lengths and difficulty. To master this muddy and slippery steep climb we bought “Mini Crampons” the other day. They are a must-have, and we highly recommend to get them. 

Early morning at 7 we arrived at the trailhead in the Moanalua Valley. The first 4 km was easy the next 3.5 km had been very demanding. The path on the rim was muddy, exposed, steep and very windy. Sometimes we could use existing ropes but, in many cases, we just crawled along the rim to bee not blown away by the wind. In the last part I turned my ankle, and as we arrived on the top, it was clear we could not use the same way down again. It would have been too dangerous and we had no intention to risk our lives on the last day on Hawaii. But of course, we knew that going down the Haiku Stars put us on risk to get caught by the police.

Also, we had to find a way to get back to our car which was parked on the other side of the island. By accident, we met a Canadian on the way down. We chatted a while and he was so kind to offer us a ride to our car. We met his girlfriend down at the beginning of the stairs and luckily, they had investigated upfront how to avoid a ticket best. Although we used a hidden path through a bamboo forest, we had to walk a while on a private road. Just shortly before we reached a gate, a large black truck turned into a street. We looked at each other and thought we were caught but the car didn’t stop and we rushed out of the private area quickly. That took us a load of our mind. On the way to our car, we shared with the Canadian couple our experience with Big Island and Kauai which they will visit next and left them our hiking sticks.

Although this was our last day in Hawaii, it was one of our best. There were so many more hikes in Oahu that we already consider to come back once. Now we had to pack our stuff the last time to return “home” after 166 days of fantastic, impressive mind-blowing travel around the world.