Five Simple Adventures

My adventure goal for 2017 was to do 40 hikes – the added challenge was no repeats of trails already successfully completed. Unfortunately, there is one day left in the year and Iʻve only completed 38 hikes (no repeats) but 52 in total (counting repeats) – so goal reached (sort of). The point, however, is that my entire life I’ve lived on this island and there were at least 29 places I had never ventured to before. Adventure isn’t far, you just need to go explore. This will be a multi-part series to help anyone looking for adventure if Hawaiʻi is their backyard.

One of my adventure partners of 2017 was my 4-year-old godson. He basically did these hikes in its entirety on his own with no assistance (other than transportation there, of course, haha). My thoughts are, if a 4-year-old can do it, we definitely can.

Here are five totally doable hikes for anyone looking for some adventure:


1. “The Quickie” – Puʻu Pia, Mānoa 


Although it is located in a residential neighborhood, I think this hike is an ideal short adventure. The 2-mile trail has a moderate gain in elevation and ends on one of the lower ridges overlooking Mānoa valley. Another plus to this hike is that every time I’ve been to this trail (at least 5 times in 2017) there have been few or no other hikers, making it perfect for taking my trusty sidekick, Kahi.


  • Go before 11am and be ready to find parking on a one way in, one way out street
  • Bring bug spray and water
  • The better view is slightly before the end (pictured above) the seat at the “end” is blocked by brush


2. “The Nature Trip” – ‘Aiea Loop Trail, ‘Aiea 


This moderately trafficked loop trail featured a gorgeous array of ferns (I’m a huge lover of ferns) and had quite a few areas that were very picturesque. The middle of the hike is where you will see the view of our gorgeous highway that connects the southern part of the island to the north that sits in the middle of one of the most beautiful valleys. If I were to do this trail again, I’d probably only do the first half (starting clockwise) because I felt like the second half was just not worth the effort and there was nothing really worthwhile in comparison.


  • Go earlier in the day as there are parts where you’re very exposed
  • Bring bug spray and water
  • Be careful and never hike alone. Three days after we did this hike, an older woman that went hiking later in the afternoon got mugged. Not cool.



3. “Unassuming Trail” – Friendship Gardens, Kāneʻohe 


This trail was surprisingly wonderful. Based off of its name, you expect it to be a leisurely stroll but in actuality, there is a moderate yet slow gain in elevation and a great view on an off-shoot at the top (depicted above). Getting to the view does require some effort but I think it was totally worth it. For a trail that is less than a mile long, I found that I got everything and then some on this unassumingly gorgeous trail.


  • Parking is in a residential area, be ready to walk as the entrance isnʻt close to any good parking
  • Bring bug spray and water



4. “Nature Shower” – Lyon Arboretum


This trail is everything you expect it to be as it is an Arboretum. There are tons of native plants that are conveniently identified with signs featuring their scientific name. The great part of the arboretum is that there are tons of offshoots for you to explore and it woulndnʻt be a surprise if you spent the entire day there. One of my favorite offshoots of this trail is Aihualama Falls.


  • If you go into the main office, you can get a map that shows all of the different areas and offshoots
  • Technically there is a $5 donation to enter the grounds – $5 to go towards the upkeep of a magical place tucked in the back of Mānoa? Why not?
  • Coat on the bug spray especially if you’re going to venture on any of the offshoots
  • be prepared for passing showers



5. “The Begining of a Great Adventure” – Kamananui Valley Trail, Moanalua 


This hike is more of a long nature walk, however, Iʻve listed it because not only is it rich with culture, but it can be used as the beginning to the backside of Haiku Stairs (also known as Stairway to Heaven). This “trail” is an old carriage road, so along the way, you will run into several old bridges and worn stone roadways.


  • Bring bug spray and water
  • Parking is in a park at the back of the valley – donʻt leave any valuables visible in your vehicle as you will be gone for quite some time (it’s a 6-mile hike)



Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail + Kawelikoa Bay Extension

The Mahaʻulepu Heritage Trail goes from Shipwreck Beach by the Hyatt Regency Kauai to Punahoa Point (3.7 mi.) but being that I was nearing the end of 2017, I was trying to choose trails that connected to other trails so that I could add more hikes to my 2017 40 hike goal list. I ended up adding the trail to Makauwahi Cave and connecting it to the trail to Kawelikoa Bay for a grand total of 6.1 miles (according to my AllTrails App).


Let me just put this out there and say that this trail was breathtaking. I’ve been to Kauai at least 40 times in the last 5 years, and this by far was my best adventure yet. The trail starts off at Shipwreck beach where there is tons of parking that goes with tons of tourists. I was a bit weary for the first mile because of the amount people on the trail, but afterward, there were fewer people willing to venture beyond.


Essentially, you follow the coastline until the end but you do need to walk through the Poipu Golf course and a heiau (not my favorite part – honestly, I sprinted through). If I could’ve I would have added an extra hour just to take pictures, but we were racing against the weather (in true Kauaʻi fashion).


  • Wear comfortable shoes – the foundation varies from sand to lava rock, Kauaʻi red dirt to coral
  • Bring a rain jacket – on Kauaʻi, it rains one minute and then it’s bright and sunny the next
  • Take the trail between the shoreline and the farm as you get closer to Kawelikoa so that you avoid walking on the beach for a mile


Kaʻau Crater

For a trail that’s only 4.7 miles, it was one hell of an experience. It was most definitely challenging, but well worth the hike. I was lucky enough to have a friend that had done it several times and he knew the area well. Being that there are several offshoots and ways that things can go wrong, its a better idea to go with someone that is knowledgeable.

Kaʻau Crater features three waterfalls and breathtaking views of Honolulu and Diamond head on the south side, and Kāneʻohe and Kailua on the North Side (to my local people – its small kine hard to use Mauka vs. Makai on this one since you’re on a ridge). The hike doesn’t get too difficult until after the first waterfall. Up until that point its just tedious, muddy, and overgrown (which is beautiful in its own way, yet difficult at times to navigate through).


After that point, you’ll find yourself amidst more foliage, and then a second waterfall.


After the second waterfall, you have to climb alongside it, go through more foliage, and then you’ll have reach the third waterfall (which is actually a series of waterfalls) in which you have to scale. Yes, scale. It most definitely wasn’t the most ideal because I’m not a fan of heights, but it challenged me to do something that I’m not comfortable with (which I like). If I could do this trail again, Id probably bring more rope because the rope that is there is slowly wearing away and the logical part of me was definitely saying it wasn’t a good idea.


Essentially you keep going because the only way to go is up (until there is no more up to go). Unfortunately, it was a bit windy for some of the people in our group, so we didn’t go to the summit. The view is still breathtaking from the south side looking at Palolo Valley.


The trail connects from the summit area to another offshoot and we took the offshoot, passing the summit. I’m completely bummed about not going to the summit, but I consider this to be a completed hike being that we still completed the loop. There’s most definitely an asterisk next to this one for me, but that’s for 2018 me to re-do.


  • Wear shoes appropriate for mud and climbing
  • Bring a rain jacket
  • Bring more water than you think you need as well as some snacks if you feel like you’ll take a while
  • Have a bag to put your shoes in post-hike (I’m aware that every hiker knows that, but I’m just reiterating that this is a seriously muddy hike)
  • Bring the bug spray or get attacked by mosquitoes
  • Check the wind conditions being that you’ll be on a ridge
  • research this hike before even considering going on it (another obvious tip, but its worth repeating)