Monday, February 22, 2010

Exploring Oahu: Makapu'u

On the easternmost end of Oahu there is a fun, 2-mile hike to the top of Makapu'u point, where there sits a cool little lighthouse that was built in the 1900s. The way is steep at times, but it's nicely paved, and it's an excursion just about anyone can enjoy. Once at the top, you get a stunning view of the windward side of the island. The first time I hiked it, the day was almost perfect. It was stunningly sunny and clear, and the views were truly breathtaking:

But there were two things wrong with an almost-perfect day: first off, it was summer, and one of the main reasons to hike up to the top of Makapu'u point is that during the winter, you can see Humpback Whales. But more importantly, I noticed these amazing looking tide pools below, but my companions refused to climb all the way down to them and back up that day.

Let me explain - I love tide pools. That's probably a big understatement - I really, really love tide pools. I get a little too excited when I see rocky shore formations. But lucky for me, I live on a volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific. Which means, of course, I'm surrounded by tide pools. I vowed to go back, and I did.

This time, there would be no stopping me. To get to the tide pools, you have to veer off of the nice, paved pathway and scramble down 350 - 400 feet on a fairly steep path over loose lava rock. Sturdy shoes are definitely required! As you travel down, you start to notice a set of blowholes off to the left of the pools. The day I went, they were very active, and it didn't take long to see why they are nicknamed "Dragon's Nostrils" :

As cool as they were, though, it was the tide pools I was after. I had brought down some snorkel gear so I could see just what was hiding in these stunning pools. As I got closer, I was amazed to see how deep they were - the pools were definitely over my head in some places. But it wasn't until I got my head in the water that I was truly impressed. As pretty as they had been from above, the pools were even more spectacular once my head was underwater:

Of course, no matter how wonderful it was down at the pools, I had to eventually head home... back up that slippery slope. It was definitely a workout! It took another good half an hour to climb back up. Once at the top, we took a moment to breathe before heading back down the paved trail to our car. Lucky for us, we happened to be scanning the horizon as we rested - and a pod of humpbacks happened to be swimming past. You can see the spout in the distance in this shot:

The best view, though, was when we finally decided to head back. Awaiting us on the last leg of the trail was this stunning view of Koko Head:

A perfect ending to a wonderful day.