So far, we had spent Tuesday and Wednesday away from our resorts. I knew there was a good chance I would become AJ's least favorite uncle if I kept him away from the pool and the beach another day. Therefore, my intentions when planning our sightseeing itinerary was to leave Thursday as a resort day. However, after our trek to the top of Diamond Head on Tuesday, I mentioned there was another popular trail on Oahu about which I had read called the Manoa Falls Trail. The description sounded really cool and Traci said she really wanted to see it. Since the trail was located about 45 minutes from our resort, the plan for Traci and me was to get there early in the morning and then return to our resort to join Audie, Sugar, and AJ on the beach in the afternoon. Traci and I ended up getting a much later start to the day than we had planned; therefore, we told our travel companions we would catch up with them at dinner instead of at the beach.
I stopped by the concierge desk of our resort to ask for directions for getting to the Manoa Falls Trail since I had no address to enter into the Navi. It was a good thing I stopped by the desk because I found out from the information sheet I was given that it was highly recommended that we apply mosquito repellent. Traci and I made a stop at the store to purchase a bottle before making the drive to the trail.
To get to the Manoa Falls Trail, we had to drive past downtown Honolulu and to the end of a residential neighborhood. It was a $5 fee to park in the parking lot of the Paradise Park Snack Shop. From there, it was a short walk up the road to a chain-linked fence denoting the start of the trail.
"Wow! Check this out!" is what I remember saying to Traci as I stepped through the fence entrance. It was like we had been transported back to a prehistoric jungle. There were gigantic trees, bamboo shoots, vines, ferns, and more. As we walked along the path of this beautiful rain forest, we heard the constant sound of the nearby stream and the chirping of birds. Fortunately, we did not see many insects. Maybe this was an indication that the insect repellent we were wearing was working.
Unlike the hike we did at Diamond Head, this trail was totally shaded thanks to all the trees and overgrown vegetation. We did not have to deal with the intense sunlight. On the other hand, there was no escaping the humidity. Another benefit of the Manoa Falls Trail is that there are no steep inclines or long stairways like there are on Diamond Head.
The only hazard of Manoa is that the trail is muddy. After all, we were in a rain forest. Fortunately, it did not rain on the day of our visit. Nonetheless, we had to be very careful when stepping on rocks or some of the makeshift steps because the mud made them very slippery.
It took Traci and me about 50 minutes to reach the end of the 0.8-mile trail. There we were rewarded with the sight of the 150-foot Manoa Falls. The water of this beautiful tropical oasis streams down the rock and collects in a pool that feeds the stream we heard throughout our trek. As beautiful as this scene is, there are signs and ropes intended to keep people from going near the waterfall and from going into the water. There is the danger of landslides and the potential for exposure to the leptospirosis bacteria found in some fresh water streams in Hawaii. Despite the warnings, we saw a whole family swimming in the pool below the falls. Well, they can't say they weren't warned of the dangers.
Before long, Traci and I began our return trek through the jungle. There were people of all ages enjoying the walk that day. We even encountered a tour group. As Traci and I stepped aside to let them pass, we could hear their guide dropping some serious knowledge about the ecosystem. It seemed like a great way to experience the trail.
By the time we exited the forest, our shoes were atrocious. I used a nearby hose to remove some of the mud before getting into the car. Despite the mud, the Manoa Falls Trail definitely gets two thumbs up from Traci and me. In fact, Traci later mentioned to me that the Manoa Falls Trail was her favorite experience of our Hawaiian vacation.
Leading up to our vacation, I came across a trip report on the web in which the author raved about a restaurant called Roy's. Award-winning chef Roy Yamaguchi opened his first Roy's in Honolulu in 1988 but since then has opened more of his restaurants throughout Hawaii and the mainland U.S.. It just so happened that one of his restaurants was located within walking distance from our resorts. Traci and I got cleaned up from our hike and hurried to meet Sugar, Audie, and AJ there for dinner. At last, a meal that knocked our socks off. Roy's was by far the best meal we ate in Hawaii. Audie said his butter fish was the best piece of fish he has ever had. I had the salmon, shrimp, and baby back ribs entree. Not only was it delicious but it was more than I could eat. All of us thoroughly enjoyed every bite of our dinner. All this good eating came at a price, however. Our entrees were, on average, $40 per plate.
Friday, check-out day, had arrived way too soon. Traci surprised me by suggesting we have breakfast at the buffet at Aulani even though she doesn't care for buffets due to a bad experience at one in Atlantic City. I guess she was tired of listening to me go on and on all week about wanting pineapple syrup with my pancakes. The buffet had several syrups but no pineapple syrup. I asked one of the workers if they had any but she had never heard of it. In fact, she told me I was the first person she's encountered that made such an "odd request". I was beginning to wonder if maybe I had some other type of syrup when we visited Hawaii 16 years ago.
We were all checked out of our resorts by noon. We made a stop at the Island Country Market across the street to buy souvenirs. Traci bought some of the sea salts we had with our dinner rolls at the 'Ama 'Ama restaurant. Sugar and I bought several packages of Hawaiian pancake mixes with flavors such as coconut, macadamia nut, and guava. I also picked up a bottle of coconut syrup but unfortunately, there was no pineapple syrup to be found.
Our flight home was not scheduled to depart until 8:05 that evening; therefore, we still had a considerable amount of time on our hands. We drove out to the Dole Plantation. It was one of the pineapple plantations of James Dole who became very successful in the early to mid-1900's for canning pineapples and selling them around the world. I'm sure most of us have had a can of Dole fruits or fruit drinks at some point in our lives - I certainly have.
These days, the Dole Plantation is mainly for tourism. And although popular, I don't consider it to be a must-see attraction in Hawaii. To me, it is more of a place you visit on the way to somewhere else. Since we had a lot of time to kill before our flight, we saw no harm in making the 25-minute drive out to see it. James Dole's pineapple plantation is still there but the main focus seems to be the large souvenir shop with relatively expensive Hawaiian products for sale. You can buy all types of pineapple products, macadamia nut products, candy, t-shirts, mugs, etc... Spam (the canned meat – not unwanted email) is popular in Hawaii and you can even buy Spam-flavored macadamia nuts - ewww! And then... "Mike, come here.", I heard Sugar call from the next isle. I went over to find her holding a bottle of pineapple syrup - yesss! Finally, my hunt for this elusive breakfast condiment was over. Show me the way to the check-out counter.
There are other things to keep you occupied at the Dole Plantation such as the Pineapple Express train tour of the plantation, the world's largest pineapple maze, a fish feeding pond, and a botanical garden. I had picked up a brochure from our resort that contained a discount coupon for the Pineapple Express train tour. The brochure is also available on the Dole Plantation website. Sugar, Traci, AJ, and I did the 20-minute train ride around the plantation as we listened to the recording about the process of harvesting pineapples and about the life of James Dole. As we exited the train, we were each given a piece of fresh, sweet pineapple to enjoy.
There is a snack shop at the Dole Plantation. One of the popular items is the pineapple whip. It is a pineapple sherbet. Traci and I each got one and enjoyed them. AJ tasted but did not care for it.
Pineapple Express train tour
Pineapple Express train tour
We left the Dole Plantation and made the drive to Honolulu. We still had some time before we needed to be at the airport so we made a detour to check out the Nuuanu Pali Lookout. It is located on the windward coast of the island. I was interested in visiting not for the view but because I read that the wind is sometimes so strong there that you can lean into it. It wasn't that windy on the day of our visit so we just enjoyed the view for a few minutes and then inched our way through the rush hour traffic to get to the airport.
Nuuanu Pali Lookout
Things did not start off so well at the airport. There were problems with the printers that printed boarding passes and luggage tags. Traci and I waited at the check-in counter for 15 minutes while as many as four agents tried to rectify the problem. They eventually got one of the printers to work. By the time we got through that ordeal and made it through security we only had a few minutes before boarding began. I did manage to pick-up a meal from Burger King on our way to the gate.
The flight home was much better than our flight to Hawaii. Because of Traci's Premier status on United, she and I were upgraded to Economy Plus. The complimentary blankets were clean and wrapped in plastic. The temperature on the plane was comfortable. I fell asleep during the 9-hour flight and when I awoke, we were coming in for our landing at Washington Dulles Airport.
It was not long before our wonderful Hawaiian vacation was just a memory. At work the following week, I had a bad case of This time last week... as in "This time last week, we were climbing Diamond Head." or "This time last week, we were sitting on the beach talking about our future dream vacations."
The following weekend, I decided to commemorate our vacation by making a nice pancake breakfast using some of the Hawaiian pancake mixes we bought as souvenirs. Of course I had my coconut syrup and pineapple syrup on the table. What a great breakfast! But you know what? I think I like coconut syrup more than pineapple syrup. Main Page...
Magnet Purchased on this Trip: (click to enlarge)Entire fridge magnet collection...