The Mauna Kea, a Hawaiian volcano on Big Island, is 4,207 meters high. The Haleakala on Maui is over 3,000 meters high. The media spoke about Kilauea for months now, and it’s known for its frequent eruptions. Do not visit Hawaii only for its beautiful beaches, but also to walk on the solidified lava flow, to listen to the volcano forecast of the day on the radio, to climb high mountains and see sunsets above the clouds.
Great prices for the Hawaiian Islands are common on Flytrippers’ cheap flight deals page. For only $400 to $500 (depending on your city), it’s often possible to visit these beautiful islands. It’s worth it! Hawaii is full of breathtaking natural beauty!
A few months ago, I had the chance to take advantage of one of these deals. Without hesitation, I went on the road in Oahu, Maui, and Big Island.
I am a passionate hiker. As soon as I landed in Honolulu, my first thought was to find hiking trails and mountains to climb (mostly volcanoes there). I wasn’t disappointed! Hiking in Hawaii looks nothing like hiking on our beautiful marked trails in Canada. I was lucky to have a phone with GPS; otherwise, I would have been declared lost several times!
Most of the time, it’s easy to find the trail entrance or the directions to the top of the volcanoes. I used apps for hikers, like All Trails, to locate them. However, in Hawaii, most of the time, the path is not entirely predictable, even if your app indicates a straight line and the distance!
To start hiking volcanoes, it’s better first to try on Oahu. Most trails have been created for tourists.
Upon landing in Honolulu, I could see Diamond Head from my plane window. A huge crater overlooking the city, it’s a real eye-catcher! Visiting Diamond Head is a must, especially if you don’t want to get out of Honolulu.
The trail is easy, well-marked. There are stairs, ramps, and all the stuff you need to facilitate the climb. In short, you can do it in flipflops and a summer dress! At the top, the view of the city and the sea is totally incredible!
Also, there are old military installations and hidden bunkers in the mountains. I am still amazed by the fact that they are invisible from the outside and was surprised to discover their size underground.
I was sweaty once back down, but the pina colada stand, made with fresh pineapple and coconut juice, quickly made me forget it.
Lulumahu Falls Trail
The adventurer in me wanted to take out her hiking boots, so I found a less crowded trail. I took the car and headed north to the mountains.
The landscape around Honolulu is magical. The different suburban areas form staircases in the valley, sometimes disappearing under the mist and the drizzle, and reappearing under the sun a little further.
The more I climbed, the denser the jungle became, to create a tunnel of vegetation above the road and completely hide the sky. Chickens on the streets, wild pigs here, little birds there, I made at least ten stops to take pictures.
The trail entrance to Lulumahu Falls is well marked, and there is a vast muddy parking lot available.
Once the car is parked in the less muddy section, the “no trespassing” sign is ignored, and the labyrinth of the bamboo forest is crossed, the hike is fascinating. Small rivers to cross, stone walls to bypass and different types of vegetations to observe.
At some point, I don’t know when or how far, I discovered a huge waterfall in the heart of the jungle. A little clearing allows the sunshine through all this density! My reflex: let’s freshen up in the waterfall!
Who doesn’t dream of swimming in a heavenly waterfall in the middle of the jungle?!
At that moment, I didn’t know that it was only a first experience among many others!
Not just swimming in the waterfall, but also those redundant feelings of:
- “Is there something to see at the end of this path?”
- “It said 2 km, and we walked 3.5 km, did we go too far?”
- “There is another path there, which one do we take?”
- “Should we cross the river, the trail stops here?”
- “I hope there are no poisonous bugs or plants because I can’t see my feet anymore.”
Long live the adventure!
We then made our way to the island of Maui.
Bamboo Forest Waterfalls – Road to Hana
Aaaaawwwwhhhh! The road to Hana! Who hasn’t heard about the famous road to Hana? I’m sure every person who planned a trip to Maui heard: “You absolutely have to take the road to Hana!”
Yes, I confirm. It’s beautiful. But you must have a strong stomach and a taste for adventure to enjoy it!
First, the road to Hana, it’s crooked … it turns … it goes up … it goes down … it turns on the other side … it borders a cliff on one side, the sea on the other … it’s in the heart of the jungle and good luck to find a restaurant or a toilet! Otherwise, it is indeed magic!
When it rains (which is often because it’s hot and humid there), water flows from the cliff directly onto the street creating spontaneous waterfalls. You must drive close to the fall or under it with the car.
The stops are somewhat improvised! Nothing but dozens of cars parked on the side of the road indicates the attractions. It’s in the middle of nowhere! The dozens of bridges to cross are older than your grandmother. There are thousands of birds to watch (and chicken to avoid on the way too!)
The place that impressed me the most was certainly the Bamboo Forest Waterfall. First, walking in a bamboo forest is so pleasant! The noise of the bamboo swinging in the wind is amazing. The leaves form tunnels; the trunks define different corridors as an infinite labyrinth. Also, it’s cool under bamboo on hot days!
The Bamboo Forest Waterfall Trail isn’t easy. There is mud everywhere, and there are many people who lose their sandals in the river or turn back without crossing it. I did like in the Olympic Games; I did some pole vaulting on the rocks with bamboo!
Once you cross the river, the trail becomes easier. This is where I found the most beautiful swimming spot in the Maui jungle! I went to the fall basin and swam freely under the waterfalls.
I felt the stream carry me away, the strength of the river, the smell of Hawaiian flora, I heard the song of the falls and pure nature all around me. That one trail totally activated my sense of adventure-notouristsplease-nolifejacket-greatstorytotell!
Haleakala National Park
On the Hawaiian islands, it’s possible to sleep on the beach, go for dinner at 3,000 meters of altitude and return to the beach in the evening. The mountainous volcanic terrain makes fro very intense elevation changes on a short distance. You can access several summits in only a couple of hours.
On Maui, the best volcano to climb is Haleakala. I really enjoyed ascending to the top. It begins in the mist and clouds, but I pierced through it at the entrance of the park at around 2,000 meters.
The road zigzags from the bottom to the summit, offering different views and a multitude of landscapes to take pictures. The vegetation changes from luxurious to a lunar landscape in minutes; the temperature from iwearmybikini to givememytoque.
I walked 2 km at the top, just to explore the craters surrounding me. The level of difficulty at this altitude is harder, due to the lack of oxygen. There are also warning signs to advise visitors to take the stairs slowly. Obviously, my boyfriend tried to run!
The landscapes are completely deserted at this altitude. Red, black or gray soil consists entirely of volcanic stones, and some rare native silver plants grow. I spent an hour just watching the clouds move between craters and the colors change as the sun came down.
This is the first sunset I have seen from above the clouds. The sun doesn’t disappear in the sea or behind a mountain or trees; it just disappears in the clouds! With a multitude of amazing colors, of course!
Lastly, the island of Hawaii.
Captain Cook Monument Trail
Hiking apps announce a difficult hike of approximately 5.8 km with 380 meters drop. Bah! Easy! I did Mount Washington (12.7 km, 1,271 m) in a few hours!
But the apps don’t explain that it’s 5.8 km going downhill and 5.8 km back uphill non-stop! You walk on a black lava flow that accumulates the sun’s heat, without trees, without shade and without places to rest.
I won’t lie to you, Captain Cook ‘Monument Trail is painful! I’ve never gotten so overheated in my life! I’ve never wanted to drink an entire Gatorade case like that! Why am I sharing this path then?
Captain Cook Monument Trail is located in a small historic national park. The protected area is famous for snorkeling. Its reputation isn’t overrated! The bay is beautiful, busy (hard to believe with this miserable path!) and filled with thousands of fish of all kinds.
Swimming in the sea is so refreshing that I almost forgot the torture of the trail (and almost didn’t regret the climb to return). It’s the most beautiful snorkeling experience I had in any of my various trips. This is where I saw the greatest variety of fish. So happy that I had brought my snorkeling kit!
Volcanoes National Park: Kilauea
When I started planning my trip to Hawaii, I had noticed that the Volcanoes National Park was partly closed due to the Kilauea being active. Like any naive tourist, I hoped it would reopen for my trip, to get the chance to see “live” lava flow.
Surprise! While I was on Oahu, my first stop in Hawaii, Kilauea appeared on TV screens around the world, because a fissure appeared in a small village, forcing more than 1,700 people to leave their home.
I checked: no flights canceled, no casualties. So I could continue my trip and go to Big Island a few days later. Meanwhile, I also answered dozens of texts from my family and friends who thought I was trapped under the lava (even if I was on another island!).
A little bit worried, I contacted the host of the Airbnb I had booked to know if my future bed was burned. I had rented a cabin in the jungle in Keaau, which is less than 30 km from the evacuated village. 30 km from a volcano doesn’t seem to be much! She immediately reassured me and confirmed that there was no danger in Keaau.
Indeed, at our arrival, nothing was noticeable. No smoke, no smell of sulfur, no people running around like in Dante’s Peak. So I settled into my cozy house in the heart of the jungle. The whole evening, I listened to the ambient noise, animals calls, insects, and songs of nocturnal birds.
In the middle of the night, I woke up because I heard the thunder. I stayed in bed with my boyfriend, just saying to myself that it will rain later. But the rain never came. The noise wasn’t moving closer or further as it usually does. It remained constant, rumbling again and again. After waking up 2 or 3 times, I woke up my boyfriend!
It wasn’t thunder! I noticed that with each thunderclap, a barely perceptible vibration shook the bed. It was the volcano! The volcano was rumbling, generating small earthquakes that were shaking us! Oh, well! Another very special experience!
The next morning, my Airbnb host arrived so excited and invited us to go near the volcano. During the night, the crater had collapsed and let out a chimney of smoke for several hours! Well, we shouldn’t miss that!
We took the road and stopped 2 km from the volcano and saw the dense cloud of smoke. I heard the rumble more clearly, and I was impressed!
So, the next day, I found a helicopter tour to see it more closely. The crater had stopped smoking, but we couldn’t see the bottom!
The fissure stretched for miles and let out a very dense smoke. I wouldn’t have built my house there!
For Hawaiians, it’s normal to live on a volcano. Even if for us, it seems completely insane! They manage it like a snowstorm. In the morning, the news talks about closed roads, evacuated areas, and (lava) removal operations. In short, Hawaii is much more than beautiful beaches and surfing. Go walk on the volcanoes; you won’t be disappointed!
Have you ever been to Hawaii? What are your must-sees? Share it with us in the comments below!
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Featured image: Haleakala Summit in Maui, Hawaii (photo credit: Nancy, guest-blogger)
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