Discovering Oahu's Hidden Gems Part II

18 December 2013

It wasn't long after lunch that we came to our next site, the Byodo-In temple. Being a Japanese major, I instantly recognized the design of the Buddhist temple to be a replica of the 11th century Phoenix Hall in Kyoto, Japan. Apparently taking History of Japanese Art was useful!

The Byodo-In temple part of the Valley of the Temples, a cemetery where catholic mausoleums and Buddhist shrines blend together, much like the living population of Hawaii. The temple grounds are beautiful and are the epitome of Zen Buddhism. Ring the peace bell, slip off your shoes, and step up to the altar before the Amida Buddha. Incense is offered free of charge for those who wish to pray.

After a meditative moment, it was back on to the bus for a quick jaunt up to the Pali Lookout. This site not only offers a great panoramic of the island's beauty but it is also a significant point of history as well.

It can be said that this lookout signifies the beginning of King Kamehameha's rule. It was here that he drove the forces of the former monarchs to defeat and assumed his role as the first king of all the Hawaiian Islands.

Then it was back to the seashore. First up was Sherwood Forest Beach. Here I swam in the Pacific Ocean for the first time and even learned how to body surf from my guide. It was surprisingly easy to catch on to. Just paddle and catch the wave. Kind of like surfing but cutting out the stand up part.

Around the corner, we visited the Halona Blowhole. In appearance you would think it is a geyser but i's actually not because there are no active volcanoes on Oahu. The geyser like effect is created by high tide and strong winds forcing ocean water up through an ancient lava tube.

I, however, prefer the ancient Hawaiian tale that it is a mo'o that causes the water to spray.

Continuing with natural wonders, we made a stop at Hanauma Bay. This bay was once a volcano but one side gave way to the ocean and now it is one of the best places on the island for snorkeling and viewing tropical fish. I'm definitely returning here soon!

Usually around this time of the year you can do a bit of whale spotting from this vantage point. I didn't see any but I did meet some adorable mongooses!

By this point it was evening and we were nearly back to Honolulu but there was just one more stop; Diamond Head. This inactive volcano provides a nice hiking point but we instead drove up to the peak. The inside of the crater itself is not much of a marvel. Just more tropical forest. The best part of Diamond Head, though, is its view of the city below.

And after that extremely long day I had finally come to the end of my Ultimate Circle Island Oahu Eco-Adventure Tour. "Ultimate" was definitely the perfect word to describe this tour as I discovered every inch of the island and learned so much more about its culture and history.

What would your ultimate Hawaiian tour include?

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  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I've been practicing.

  2. This already looks pretty perfect, I'd pick the exact same tour spots :)

    1. Yeah, it was a super thorough trip. We did the whole eastern coast of the island!

  3. Wow, this temple looks amazing. It's a kind of spiritual and relaxing place I love to visit on my travels!

    1. I know! I wish we'd had more than just 15 minutes there!