Kaunolu, Lana’i (2005)

#memoryMonday – Offroading in the quiet little island of Lana’i.

This place was one of King Kamehameha’s fishing spots. On this particular day, I had no luck catching a single fish. But I have yet to replicate the unique experience of being  so remote a place that not a single soul could find you without knowing you were going there. I felt a strange kind of peacefulness, walking on the slippery rocks at the side of the cliffs  and standing at what felt like the edge of the world.

Koko Head Crater Hike, Honolulu


Driving down Kalaniana’ole Highway in the island of O’ahu, you see a distinctive landmark jutting out on the left on your way to Hanauma Bay. It is called Koko Crater, a sight that I passed often while living in Honolulu.

I never thought much about that place until my recent visit. With only a week stay, I wanted to do something new. Most tourists visit Diamond Head for a short and easy hike, which I recommend if you are visiting for the first time. But if you want something more challenging, Koko Head is worth your time.

It was on a whim after snorkeling at Hanauma Bay that I decided to go. Carrying only a tote with a bottle of water, granola bar and camera, I headed to the base of this giant hill. Luckily, I ran into some girls who just finished the hike. They gave me two great advices. 1) Don’t bring a tote bag (if you have to bring a bag, make sure it’s a light backpack complete with only water and camera with maybe an energy bar cuz you’ll need it). 2) Take your time

That second advice was the best one since I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I enjoy occasional hikes, but this was the mother of all. It was all uphill over old railroad tracks which only get steeper as you near the top.

At one point, there are only the tracks over a ravine. I’m slightly afraid of heights, so this was one of the most challenging parts for me, both going up and down.

There were several times I wanted to give up. At one point, I would do three steps and find myself resting another 2 minutes before continuing. However, I knew I’d be very disappointed with myself if I didn’t bother finishing because of something that was “too hard”. It became like a metaphor to what is coming ahead of me in life: grad school. Additionally, looking back was just as scary as the steep climb ahead, so it really didn’t matter which direction I went.

In the end, it was worth the effort and the mental struggle. The view was spectacular. The wind was deliciously refreshing (don’t try hiking close to noon like I did). I felt so accomplished and on top of the world! =)

If you’re looking for the trail, it starts at Koko Head Regional Park. Park your car at the last lot. There is a sign that says vehicles can go through. You can follow that paved path to the start of the hike or take a shortcut up the hill and grass by the baseball field.  There is a metal rod without a sign on your right. It will lead you to the tracks. Good luck!

‘Alewa Heights, Honolulu

My favorite view of Honolulu at night is from the top of ‘Alewa Heights. You don’t run into tourists there since it is a quiet, residential zone. But a friend of mine took me there the first week after I moved to O’ahu. We took my uncle’s rickety, old van up the mountain (which was an adventure in itself). The roads are steep and only worsen as you climb higher. 

Once there, you are treated to an unobstructed view of Honolulu. At night, it is breathtaking! The sight of the lights twinkling below had me falling in love with the island instantaneously. My eyes only strayed to make sure the van hadn’t rolled down the mountain!  Scary as the incline may be, I envy the lucky bums who live up there. =)

Sadly, I don’t have exact direction on how to get there since I always went with my friend as navigator. We usually first enter Houghtailing St. off of School street, right on Hillcrest, left Skyline Drive, right on Puna, left on Aulii which becomes Alewa Drive and just follow that street up. There are curves and turns that may be confusing. If you look at a map, you can probably figure out your way to the top. I would recommend driving a sturdier vehicle with good brakes, if you decide to go.

If you actually decide to go, be careful driving. And if you go at night, be mindful of the residents.  They will not be happy if noisy tourists start disrespecting their neighborhood.