Hamoa Beach Sunrise, Maui

sunrise hamoa beach hana, maui
Hamoa Beach, a beautiful sunrise location
Headed back to Maui for a second visit, I hoped to see some new things.  Previously during my visit to Hana I enjoy the sunrise and Black Sand beach, Koki beach and Red Sand beach.  Because there are not very many beaches in this area, I had seen everything except for Hamoa beach.  All of these other locations are outstanding at sunrise.  I hope that Hamoa beach would be equally good and rewarding.

Previous day it had rained a lot.  Clouds were just starting to clear through the night.  When I arrived at the beach, everything was very overcast and the sunrise really didn't happen all at once.  Instead, the sun would peek through the clouds here and there in the clouds themselves dynamically changed from moment to moment.

A wonderful thing about this beach is the different viewpoints.  Getting down in the sand near the water yields fantastic photos.  Likewise, it is an easy walk to the south side where I captured a view above the water, looking down on the beach.

I must also report that when I returned to this beach a few hours later with my family, it made for wonderful swimming.

Please visit my Maui gallery to see more photos from this awesome island!
hamoa beach hana maui landscape
Hamoa beach golden sand
hamoa beach waves and sand are the best of maui
Wave and Beach meet at Hamoa Beach, south of Hana

Trail Report: Hike to Hi'ilawe Waterfall in Waipio Valley

Hiking to Hi'ilawe waterfall big island
Hi'ilawe Waterfall in Waipio Valley as seen from the bottom of the road
This describes my hike to the base of Hi'ilawe Waterfall in Waipio Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii.  The trail goes up the stream for a little more than a mile before reaching the highest waterfall I've personally ever visited.

The Big Island of Hawaii has a reputation for being more rugged, rural and raw.  Every guidebook indicates that the Waipio Valley is the place to go for unsurpassed beauty unspoiled nature.

I would like to describe my experience in 2015 to clarify reality.  I hiked to the base of the valley hoping to reach the waterfall itself.  As I wandered along the road going into the valley, several trucks filled with tourists passed me.  Many of these were parked at the stream, the trailhead.  At the trailhead many folks walked upstream, staying in the water all the way.

I started walking up the stream with my 2 hiking companions. The scenery was immediately quite beautiful.

After hiking upstream about half of the distance, several people passed us hiking back.  We also came across another man contemplating whether he wanted to swim/wade across a deep pool in order to continue on the trail.  This trail requires you to get wet at some places and in one particular location, you must wait up to your chest in order to advance.  This is all part of the adventure.

The trail is not particularly difficult.  It simply takes time:  over an hour going up although quicker coming back.  After the deep waiting, the waterfall comes into view.  It seems to take a long time to reach the waterfall even though you can see it, hear it and almost taste it.
Big Island Waipio Valley Waterfall trail
Hi'ilawe Stream and Waterfall
Finally reaching the base of the waterfall, I set up my camera and took several pictures.  The size of the waterfall, over 1000 feet, cannot be encompassed in one photograph from the base.  I tried to compose some pictures of the water and the boulders.  Several other people hiked up and swam in the pool at the waterfall base.  I took a picture of one woman sitting on a boulder underneath the waterfall which I like.
Naked woman under hi'ilawe waterfall
Some people swim under the falls

There is some danger at the base of the waterfall.  My brother went to the far side of the waterfall and several large rocks (about the size of suitcases) fell without warning, landing about 30 feet from where he was.  He moved away from that location fairly quickly.  I have heard of incidents where falling rocks have killed people.  These rocks fell so quickly, there would be no way to escape if you happen to be in an unlucky location.  Please beware.
Hi'ilawe waterfall in Waipio Valley
Hi'ilawe Waterfall and Boulder

Our group spent about an hour enjoying the scenery, taking pictures and dodging falling rocks before deciding to leave.  As we were leaving, 3 other groups of people passed us in quick succession.  This hike was clearly not a secret nor was it forbidden.  I warned those who followed me about the falling rocks and wished them good luck.

Looking back, I took several other photographs.  I used a very wide lens for some photos and also switch to a telephoto lens in order to capture a single tree with the waterfall behind it.  There are many creative possibilities here.
reaching the base of hi'ilawe waterfall by hiking
Approaching the Hi'ilawe Waterfall
Waipio valley tree and waterfall Big Island Hawaii
Hi'ilawe Waterfall and Tree
Hiking back went twice as fast as hiking upstream.  We stayed on the more established trail on the right side of the stream.  My brother was not prepared with very good shoes and he had a bleeding heel wear his shoes had been rubbing and cutting into his foot.  Because of this, we were not anxious to climb the enormous hill to get back to the top of Waipio Valley.
Evan and his dog drove us back to the top for $20
This is where an unplanned adventure took place.  There was a man in a truck with a dog who offered us a ride.  His name is Evan and we decided to pay is $10 fee per person and he drove us all away to the top.  We made it safely but I do not recommend anyone else catch a ride with Evan because he immediately pulled out his large liquor bottle after we reach the top and drank the very last of it.  He had probably been drinking the rest of it earlier in the day and was not entirely sober.  Nevertheless he was extremely friendly and I will always have a friend on the Big Island in him.

My conclusions about this hike? 
1.  It is an incredible adventure.
2.  The trail is open and used frequently.
3.  The views are spectacular.  Photography possibilities are manifold.
4.  Falling boulders are a true danger.
5.  Don't ride to the top in Evan's car.  Say hello to his dog instead.  The dog is very friendly.

Please visit my Big Island of Hawaii gallery to see more photos from this awesome place!

Gordon's hike rating:
Hike Difficulty:                   ★★★★ Strenuous with Class 3 Scrambling
Trail Condition:                   ★ Poor:  Good route-finding and common sense is necessary
Trail Hazards:                      ★★★★ Many: slippery rocks, swimming, falling rock + natives
Trailhead:                             Drive to stream in Waipio Valley
Time Required:                     Half day hike,
Distance round trip:              2 miles
Off the Beaten Path:             ★★★★ Yes, 4 Stars
Scenery:                                ★★★★★ Spectacular, 5 Stars
Photographic Potential:        ★★★★ Great, 4 Stars

Trail Report: Akaka Falls State Park

akaka falls hawaii tall big beautiful waterfall
Akaka Falls in the Afternoon Sunshine
I can say from experience that hiking in the jungle is difficult, messy, bloody and muddy.  It doesn't have to be this way if you visit Akaka Falls state park.  This compact state park is not very far off the main road.  For a nominal fee you can see the dropdead gorgeous Akaka waterfall.  That view is worth the entire detour.  For some, they see the waterfall and go home.  The waterfall can be reached with minimal effort by climbing down the stairs and taking the left paved trail.  Within 5 minutes, you are rewarded with this lovely view.

The trail makes a circuit which I highly recommend.  It is not long nor difficult but he has beautiful views into the jungle.  Here are a few other photos I took on my brief visit.  I found quite a bit variety within the park with views into the deep jungle interior, beautiful jungle trees as well as flowers and other growth.

Please visit my Big Island of Hawaii gallery to see more photos from this awesome place!
akaka jungle trail big island hawaii
Jungle views from trail
single tree branch against cloudy blue skies
Stretching above the canopy into sunlight
akaka state park jungle vine trail
Staring into the heart of the tangled jungle

Gordon's hike rating:
Hike Difficulty:                   ★★★ Moderate
Trail Condition:                   ★★★ Moderate but paved
Trail Hazards:                      ★★ Mild:  stairs and steep inclines
Trailhead:                              Akaka State Park parking lot
Time Required:                     1 - 2 hours
Distance round trip:              1 - 2 miles
Off the Beaten Path:             ★★ No, 5 Stars
Scenery:                                ★★★ Good, 3 Stars
Photographic Potential:        ★★★ Good, 3 Stars

Kohala Mountain Road Scenery

Big island kohala mountain road tree
Green Pastures of the Big Island
Beautiful green meadows are about the last thing expected on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Beaches, waterfalls, jungle and even volcanos are more characteristic of this rugged land.  Nevertheless, on my drive back from Pololu Overlook I witnessed some beautiful scenery of a different sort with green rolling hills and occasional solitary trees.  In the distance you can see the ocean far below.  This particular tree maybe stop and pull over:  the verdant and fertile scene along with the solitary tree make a great photo!
green meadow with a lovely tree
A wider view of the meadow