Diving Boynton Beach

This past Saturday I went diving down in Boynton Beach with the great guys at American Divers. I just got a new camera and couldn’t wait to try it out underwater! We did a three-tank dive at a few reefs, and actually ended up doing somewhat of a reverse dive profile with a really short dive first, with a longer second and third dive (depths for all were around 45-50 ft). But it worked out well, since the best reef by far was the last – with a lot of cool wildlife! Saw 3-4 turtles, a couple of rays, and a good number of bugs (lobster). Even saw my first eel! All in all it was a reminder of why I love diving so much – and a reminder that I really should get my nitrox cert…

My Top 10 Tips for your trip to Hawaii

1. Rent a car –  Seriously, there is so much stuff to see and do on Oahu that you will need to be able to get around. And driving the beautiful roads is itself an experience – especially if you are like me, and live in a really flat part of the world! Being able to get around yourself is key to getting the most out of your Hawaii experience. There are enough tourists in shuttle buses to make you sick – don’t be one of them! (unless that is what you really want – having someone else tell you what to do and when you can or can’t do it) One note though, since many of the hikes start just off the road or in somewhat secluded areas, be sure to never leave anything valuable in your car while you are away. There are signs reminding you of this all over the place, and while we never had any problems, better safe than sorry.

2. Sleep outside Honolulu – This, along with #1, take care of one of the biggest problems I saw while on Oahu – most people travel all the way to Hawaii then never leave Honolulu/Waikiki. There are a ton of hotels NOT in Honolulu, as well as lots of people that run bed & breakfasts. If you are with a group and staying a few weeks, you can even look into renting a house. Ko Olina, the resort we snorkeled at, rents villas by the month, and split between a few people would be a great deal. Plus, this way you get a better feel of the people of Hawaii, which is really cool.
Continue reading My Top 10 Tips for your trip to Hawaii

Hawaii Trip, Day 10: Honolulu Sights, Manoa Falls

Today we went into Honolulu to see some of the sights downtown. We went to a number of palaces downtown, such as King Kamehameha’s palace. We also found a really cool banyan tree to swing on!. But mostly, it was your basic sightseeing. Nothing super amazing – but it was neat to learn some more about Hawaii’s history. From Honolulu we drove over to Manoa Falls.

Manoa Falls is the second most popular hike on Oahu, after Diamond Head. This hike will take you through some intense jungle, which at times will make you think you are in Jurassic Park, or maybe Lost (which makes sense, since both were/are filmed in Hawaii). At least that is  how we felt – we kept jokingly warning everyone around: “don’t go into the tall grass!”. The falls itself – eh, it was okay. In 2002 there was a large rock slide that brought 30 tons of rocks down from 600 feet up the mountain, and the base of the falls is now littered with that rubble. When we were there, the waterfall itself was barely more than a trickle, leisurely coming down the cliff face. This waterfall is very tall – we figured it had to be at least 70-80 feet. Swimming is “prohibited”, which basically means that most people do it anyways, but you may get fined if caught. Also, not a place to jump into the water, since the pool is very shallow, and you can’t see the bottom. Also there really isn’t anywhere to jump from. Since we did this hike at the very end of the trip, and had seen so much cool stuff, we were not really “wowed” by this hike or the falls, but it was a nice easy trek (we all did it in sandals).

Hawaii Trip, Day 9: Hanauma Bay Snorkeling, Waikiki Night

Hanauma Bay is the defacto spot for snorkeling on Oahu. It is a designated nature preserve, and is nestled in a volcanic crater on the southeast coast. It is an incredibly popular tourist destination, and as a result is always extremely crowded. As a result, there is unfortunately a lot of misuse and damage done to the coral by the millions of people that visit each year. When you first arrive, you are froced to watch a short video describing the bay and outlining a number of things you shouldn’t do – such as standing on the coral, feeding the fish, etc. The video was really cheesy, but informative – with most of the information conveyed in song (“I’m a fish and live in the sea – please don’t feed me”). Having grown up in Florida, and with what I feel to be a pretty good respect for the water and marine life, this was all old news to me, but it amazed me how many people still ignored the video and what it said. Continue reading Hawaii Trip, Day 9: Hanauma Bay Snorkeling, Waikiki Night

Hawaii Trip, Day 8: Ridge Hike, Lost Musings, and Pearl Harbor

Today everyone went on the Olomai Ridges Hike, which goes along a ridge between the mountains and the west coast. My legs were killing me from days of nonstop hiking (so it seemed to me), plus I wanted to just relax on the beach – I needed a one day vacation from my vacation! So the other guys, along with Daniel’s dad (who took they day off from work), went on the hike. The hike itself goes to three “peaks” along the ridge, and is very challenging. The first peak is the tallest of the three, but also the easiest to reach. The second and third are much more difficult, and there are many stories of people falling to their death while attempting it (seriously, apparently someone died the day before they went). They ended up doing just the first peak, and they had a lot of fun, and got some really great pictures. Continue reading Hawaii Trip, Day 8: Ridge Hike, Lost Musings, and Pearl Harbor

Hawaii Trip, Day 7: Rock Jumping at Waimea and Dole Plantation

For another excursion to the North Shore, we stopped at famous Waimea beach for some quality beach time. There is a large rock pillar thing that juts out from the beach into the water, and is a popular place for people to climb up and jump into the waves below. So of course everyone had to do that. I didn’t do it myself, but I had to get pictures and video of the others. On our way back south again from the North Shore, we stopped by the Dole Plantation, which is basically a tourist center for all things pineapple. Even though there are no longer pineapples grown on the island (Dole pulled out in the last few years and moved most of the growing to the Philippines), there is still this tourist spot to celebrate the now-former pineapple business in Hawaii. For the most part I would say it is a tourist trap, with overpriced souvenirs, a train ride through some staged pineapple fields (or something) and a huge garden maze in the shape of a pineapple. But since you will likely find yourself driving near the plantation (it is right off Kamehamea Hwy heading south from the north shore) , I suggest stopping at least once and getting “Dole Whip” – a pineapple soft-serve frozen dessert, that when covered in crushed pineapple, is sooo delicious after a day of hiking (or even lounging on the beach).

Hawaii Trip, Day 7: Rock Jumping at Waimea and Dole Plantation

For another excursion to the North Shore, we stopped at famous Waimea beach for some quality beach time. There is a large rock pillar thing that juts out from the beach into the water, and is a popular place for people to climb up and jump into the waves below. So of course everyone had to do that. I didn’t do it myself, but I had to get pictures and video of the others. On our way back south again from the North Shore, we stopped by the Dole Plantation, which is basically a tourist center for all things pineapple. Even though there are no longer pineapples grown on the island (Dole pulled out in the last few years and moved most of the growing to the Philippines), there is still this tourist spot to celebrate the now-former pineapple business in Hawaii. For the most part I would say it is a tourist trap, with overpriced souvenirs, a train ride through some staged pineapple fields (or something) and a huge garden maze in the shape of a pineapple. But since you will likely find yourself driving near the plantation (it is right off Kamehamea Hwy heading south from the north shore) , I suggest stopping at least once and getting “Dole Whip” – a pineapple soft-serve frozen dessert, that when covered in crushed pineapple, is sooo delicious after a day of hiking (or even lounging on the beach).

Hawaii Trip, Day 6: Makapu’u Lighthouse/Dragon’s Nostrils Hike, Bellows AFS

Our first stop of the day was the Makapu’u Lighthouse hike, which is at the island’s most eastern point. The hike itself follows a paved road that leads from the highway to the lighthouse. Parking was at the beginning of the road right off the highway. The basic hike itself is very easy, simply follow the mile or two of paved road to the lighthouse and enjoy the view. However, the true adventure of the hike is for the more adventurous. A little more than halfway up the road to the lighthouse, there is a lookout with a sign talking about humpback whales and a small trail that leads down to the ocean and the “Dragon’s Nostrils” – an outcrop of rock that is covered in tidepools with two large holes in the middle that roar and shoot water spray as the waves come in below the rocks. You will likely see people swimming the tidepools, just be careful and watch out for urchins! There is quite a scramble from the trail to the bottom, but it was worth it. This hike is a great opportunity to watch for humpback whales in the winter months.

On they way home, we stopped at Bellows Air Force Station to hang out at that beach. Bellows is a military station just north of Waimanalo on the eastern coast of Oahu, which acts as a vacation destination for military families. Since Daniel’s dad has a military ID, he was able to get us onto the base to check out their beaches. Being right on Waimanalo Bay, the beach was very nice (if not as nice as Kailua!). We bodysurfed for a bit – and I was definitley the best at it in our group! Even though the waves were pretty small, I would consistently ride a wave all the way into shore, leaving everyone else behind. Fun times.