Manoa Falls Trail

Manoa Falls2

Whenever we have a long weekend, I always feel like I should use one of those days to get out in nature. I’m not sure what compels me, but it just seems right. Manoa Falls is beautiful, and it’s so easy to find.

Manoa Falls1

When people come to visit my island, Oahu, they usually only think about our beautiful beaches. A lot of people never even make it out of Waikiki. But if you just turn your back on the ocean for a moment (not while you’re standing too close, obviously) you can look up and see that we also have some pretty spectacular mountains. I never get tired of looking at them. Every day, it surprises me how beautiful they are.

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Pretty much straight up from Waikiki is the Manoa Valley, and a short hike that leads to a beautiful waterfall. Depending on conditions, this trail is quite easy. It’s not too steep, and it’s plenty wide. No scrambling over boulders or anything. Just a lovely walk through an amazing jungle. However, if it’s been raining, and up in the mountains, there’s a good chance that it has, the trail can become very slippery. This complicates things a bit. 

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I recommend wearing trainers or hiking shoes. This is not the time for sandals. Your shoes will get muddy. Also, probably not the best time to wear that pretty white linen skirt. I’d also probably not bring your baby. I’ve seen people do it, and I’m sure everything was fine. But I’ve also seen people slip and fall. It just makes me nervous. Use your brain. You know what to do.

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If you’re here on vacation, you’ll see people in Waikiki trying to sell you commercial tours to Manoa Falls. If you like throwing your money away, be my guest. But if you’ve rented a car, or moped, it’s very easy to drive to. If you park on the street just below the entrance, you don’t even have to pay the five dollars to park. If you don’t have your own wheels, just take the bus. It goes right up near the trail head, and a bus ride is $2.50. It’s much better than sitting on a stuffy tour bus.

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As for the experience itself, if you’ve never been in a proper jungle, you’re going to love this. There are the most wonderful plants and trees. You’ll want to stop and take photos about every thirty seconds. Or I did. Maybe I’m just weird. When you reach the falls at the end, you’ll see signs telling you not to climb out onto the rocks. I urge you to obey, even though you’ll likely see plenty of people who don’t. There have been rock falls in this area, and the more times people head off the trail, the more erosion is caused. Also, there is likely leptosperosis in the water. It can be nasty.

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If you’re an uberhiker, you can continue up another trail once you reach the falls. It keeps winding back into the mountains. I’m usually too hungry at this point to keep going, but I’ve always wanted to check it out. 

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One more tip. Remember those commercial tours I told you about? They’re only allowed on weekdays. It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s probably quieter on the weekends. Oh, and don’t forget your bug spray!

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Manoa Falls is the perfect opportunity to see the other side of Oahu. The beach is fun, but the mountains are just breathtaking. It’s a relatively simple hike that’s easily accessible. It’s a great place to start for exploring. Be respectful of the aina, or land, and enjoy it’s beauty.

Makapu'u Tide Pools

Makapu’u Tide Pools

Makapu'u Tide Pools

Living on a beautiful tropical island sometimes has its trade offs. Everything is so expensive. Living from paycheck to paycheck often leaves practically nothing leftover for entertainment. Especially when you love to eat as much as I do. 

The bright side is that this island is full of unbelievable natural beauty, most of which you can explore for free. Recently, we visited the tide pools at Makapu’u, and they took my breath away.

Makapu'u Trail

The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is on the windward side of Oahu near Sea Life Park. There’s an easy but steep trail that leads to a lighthouse with stunning, expansive ocean views. It’s a great spot for whale watching in the winter months. You can also veer off to the right, if the beach is more you style. On this day, however, we were headed for the tide pools.

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About halfway up the trail there’s a sign about whale watching. This is where you leave the nice wide paved path and hike down the side of a lava rock cliff. It’s a bit challenging, especially if you’re out of shape like me. There are loose rocks and several places where you have to jump down to the next level. Proper footwear is a definite bonus. I wouldn’t recommend this trail for small children.

Blow hole near tide pools

Also be sure to check the surf report before going out. Large waves can rush over the rocks into the tide pools creating dangerous conditions. Even strong swimmers can get swept away. I’m not saying you have to be a scaredy baby, just respect the ocean. It’s a powerful force.

Once you make it down, you’ll see several pools with clear water and adorable colorful fish. You can wade right in with the fish, but remember, you’re in their home. If you have an underwater camera, this would be a fantastic time to use it. The fish will swim right past you.

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The ocean was putting on a pretty great show for us when we were out there. The waves crashing against the rocks, and the sound of the ocean churning beneath the blow holes and in the lava tubes is powerful. Just be careful and don’t turn your back on it.

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Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and water. There’s no shade down there, and once you hike down, you have to get back up. There are chalk arrows on the rocks to guide you on the safest path. There are also no restrooms out here, so…. Well, just be prepared.

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I love the opportunity to explore new and beautiful places so near my home. A sandwich, some water, and a camera are all you really need to enjoy an awesome day in the natural world.

Spam Mac and Cheese & Spam Jam Waikiki

Spam Mac and Cheese

On Saturday evening, we went to the Spam Jam in Waikiki. The what? Yes, Spam Jam. It’s a huge annual street festival on Kalakaua in the heart of Waikiki. Tents stretch for blocks with vendors selling their best recipes featuring Spam. I heard there were 25,000 people there. It was packed. Hawaiians love their Spam. I mean, you can get Spam, eggs, and rice for breakfast at McDonald’s.

This event also benefits the Hawaii Foodbank, an organization that is dear to me. I urge you to consider donating or volunteering with your local foodbank. Their work is absolutely vital to the community.

Twisted Spam Mac and Cheese from The Hard Rock Cafe

We decided to try the Hard Rock Cafe tent. I had the Spam mac and cheese, and Geoff had the Spam taco. When mine arrived, I was a bit… disappointed. It was not what I was expecting. This was my first time to try Spam, so when I had a huge scoop of ground Spam that looked and smelled like cat food on top of my mac, I was put off. I scooted most of it off to the side and just mixed a bit of the salty Spam into the mac. It was good enough, but I knew I could do better.

Spam mac and cheese

I switched out that soggy mess for crispy salty bits of Spam joy. It was a million times better. I also mixed the Spam throughout instead of just putting it on top. A hit of cayenne and garlic adds a lot of interest to the flavor. Spam is not a go to ingredient for me, and I’m not sure I’d work with it again, even if it is cheap. Yet I was pleasantly surprised that eating this Spam mac and cheese made me ridiculously happy. In fact, I ate it twice in one day. It was definitely awesome.

Spam mac

Spam Mac and Cheese
Serves 2
Salty crispy ham enhances a delicious and simple mac and cheese
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 oz macaroni
  2. 1/2 cup Spam, diced to small cubes
  3. 1 egg
  4. 6 ounces evaporated milk
  5. 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  6. 1/4 tsp cayenne
  7. pinch of salt (go easy, Spam is really salty)
  8. 4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 475
  2. In a medium pan, put your water on to boil. Add salt and macaroni to boiling water and cook for 6 minutes. Drain.
  3. In the meantime, cook your tiny Spam cubes in a small skillet over medium high heat. Once they are nice and crispy, they will start to jump and attempt to escape the pan. Transfer Spam cubes to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  4. Beat the egg and evaporated milk together, then add the seasonings, followed by the cheese and most of the Spam. Finally fold in the cooked pasta.
  5. Spoon your mixture into two greased ramekins which are resting on a baking sheet to catch any possible drips. Sprinkle the last of your Spam on top.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for at least ten minutes to avoid burning your face off.
  7. Dig in and learn to love the Spam.
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
http://awesomeon20.com/

 

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