Discovering Oahu's Hidden Gems Part I16 December 2013
Last weekend I did something I've never done before in my entire life. I went on a guided tour.
Back when I studied abroad in France I traveled quite frequently. With the vast amount of vacation time throughout the school year, I was able to visit 14 European countries. However, not once I did ever take a bus tour on those trips. I did do a couple walking tours but they were quite different and very informal.
I didn't take bus tours for two reasons; One, they seemed expensive and I was cheap. Two, I was a snooty traveler. I thought true travel meant going out on your own and not being a 'tourist'.
Being a bit older now I can see what travel is really about and trying to distinguish myself as a 'traveler' among 'tourists' is just down right stupid. Sometimes it's worth it too invest your money. That's why this passed weekend I did the Ultimate Circle Island Oahu Eco-Adventure Tour with Discover Hawaii Tours. I didn't regret this choice for one moment!
Our tour started out from Honolulu and went up the center of the island, Oahu. Right off the bat, I could see I was getting a great value. My guide explained the island's history as we drove along pineapple plantations, coffee bushes, and mountains. He also noted other points of interest that weren't a part of our tour that I would love to go back and visit sometime. Maybe I'll rent a scooter in the next few weeks and go back to these spots!
Our first stop was Waimea valley. There are many cultural events here such as hula demonstrations and lei making but we were here for another reason. This was an eco tour after all. So we passed the welcome center and headed out into the tropical jungle. The hike itself should have only taken about 20 minutes but I was constantly stopping to take pictures of all the amazing flora and fauna.
After a bit we reached our goal; Waimea Falls. This site was sacred to the ancient Hawaiians and was even used for ritual sacrifices. It was believed that a mo'o (lizard spirit) lived at the bottom of the 30 ft pool.
Undaunted, I waded into the water. It was icy cold and took some courage but eventually I dove in. The cold is shocking at first but after a few moments you become numb to it.
Then my guide asked, "Would you like to stand up under the falls?" How could I say no to that proposition?
Let me tell you, standing up under the waterfall was a struggle. Freezing water was beating down on me and I could hardly hear or see anything. My guide shouting, "Put your hand here for a grip!" but when I opened my eyes all I could see was white water. Eventually I managed to haul my body out of the water and mount the rocks. I stood up proudly under the 45 ft waterfall before jumping back into the pool.
After drying off we hiked back down to the bus and set off again. However, it wasn't long until we pulled over at the Land Farm fruit stand in the city of Kahuku. This ended up being my favorite part of the tour. It was everything I had imagined when thinking of Hawaii. Fresh, tropical fruit from local farmers is a foodie's paradise. I bought a bag of sliced pineapple to munch on while touring the various stalls. Also available were oranges, lychee, coconut, avocado, mango, guava, dragon fruit, and more! I will definitely be coming back here to stock up on fruit.
One thing our guide suggested getting was the apple banana lumpia. This was great in that I got to experience an amazing new food. It was horrible in that you can't buy these in the city! For the rest of the drive I kept thinking about these fried treats. I'm definitely going to have to try to recreate it at home.
We continued driving along the North Shore enjoying the scenery and eventually stopped at La'ie Point. It had been raining on our way up to the point but by the time we got out it had stopped. The sky was still gray but the view was stunning anyways. During the winter, all the large waves hit the North Shore and this was quite evident during this stop. The water churned and crashed violently against the volcanic rocks. I was glad no fool was out there trying to surf it!
Up next we swung by Kaolua Ranch. This backdrop has been used in countless movies including my favorite, Jurassic Park. My inner fan girl tried not to freak out!
However, we were only here for a moment to pick up our lunches before we went over to a private island to eat. This was a nice chance to relax after the go go go pace of the day. Simply chill on the beach and watch the gray clouds roll away. A perfect afternoon.
Can you believe how much I did just by lunch time? Stick around for Part II of this full day tour!