Monday, August 18, 2008

Relaxing on the North Shore--Waimea Valley Nature Park

How delightful it was to arrive on the North Shore on Friday afternoon! For those of you who are not familiar with Hawaii (I had never been here myself until I was well into my 30s), the North Shore is a distinctly different environment than Honolulu and Waikiki in the south of the island. Honolulu is quite frenetic and busy, as any major city can be, and once you hit the road and go over the mountains, it feels like an entirely different state.

We are staying near Haleiwa, which is nearly as far as you can go on the top of the island. You can reach Haleiwa via two different routes: one cutting through the center of the island, past the Dole Pineapple Plantation, and one a much more scenic and roundabout route. We took the scenic route on the beautiful Pali Highway, which goes past the bedroom community of Kailua, and then the road that wraps around the island to the North. Much of the highway skirts the ocean (several feet away), so it is one of the most gorgeous routes in the United States.

It always slows down near the heavily trafficked beaches, which are very popular in the winter when the surf is much higher in the North. It's not a road to take when you are in a hurry.

Saturday we went to the 1,800-acre Waimea Valley Nature Park near Waimea Bay. I've always wanted to visit it, but I happened to notice in the Honolulu paper that they were having their "Grand Reopening" on Saturday, called "Pulama O Waimea: To Care for and Cherish Waimea." The park has gone through a variety of owners over the year--it used to be an adventure park with cliff diving and ATV riding, etc., which must have been a completely bizarre thing in such an beautiful and historically significant spot. Then it was owned by the Audubon Society for several years, and now it's run by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

I really enjoyed seeing the Hawaiian botany, and we enjoyed some great entertainment on the upper lawn (where Nicholas had a nice nap in the shade). They had some demonstrations of Hawaiian crafts, as well. The least-favorite part was eating our picnic lunch near the entrance area, where we were accosted by female peacocks, and one of them actually grabbed part of Nicholas' lunch out of his hand!! Some of you might be aware that Mike had a nasty peacock incident as a child, when he was pecked in the chest by an aggressive male!

Kieran in the mouth of a shark!

On the 1.5-mile walk to the waterfall


More hula dancers

Kieran in front of the measly waterfall--
very low because of Hawaii's current drought

I had read in our trusty guidebooks that Waimea Falls (at the end of the park) has a lifeguard on duty and facilities to change into we came prepared. However, once we reached the falls we saw the signs warning "slippery rocks," "rocks falling," and "do not enter the water if you have any open sores," because of leptospirosis, a disease spread by rats. Ugh! That's all I need to think about, rats going into a body of water, to keep me out! Apparently an average of 44 people a year contract leptospirosis in Hawaii. It didn't stop tons of people, though, from swimming in the water. Although the lifeguard lectured everyone before they could enter the water, one bozo was trying to climb up the waterfalls anyway. There's one in every crowd!! We sat on the bleachers (which I suspect were erected back in the "cliff diving" days of the adventure park) and watched. Kieran was ready to jump in, but we made the safe choice of keeping out of the water!

This is what the falls are SUPPOSED TO look like...

On the walk back, I tried to capture the beauty of the park in photos, which don't quite do it justice...

Red Ginger

I'm not sure what this tree was called, but it was gorgeous with its red foliage!

I love Banyan trees with their multiple trunks

This tree was blanketed in vines--very interesting!

I'm generally not much of a shrub person,
but I love the Hawaiian shrubs full of flowers!

Bird of Paradise

When we're not on the beach of being tourists, we are glued to the Beijing Olympics! Mike's been very excited to observe Britain earn a record-number of medals this year.

The boys took these photos while they were waiting in the car while I ran into the market!

1 comment:

  1. OMW!!!!! I loved looking through your pics, I felt like i was there with you! Thanks so much for posting those.

    Hehe I especially love the one of your son inside the sharks mouth, that cracked me up!