Tuesday, March 30

Ko Olina Lagoons

ko-olina-resort-oahu-hawaii We are firm believers in Nature Has The Greatest Playgrounds but we have to give it to the Ko Olina Resort for creating a fantastic playground of it’s own. The resort is the last big resort before the Waianae Coast officially begins, and is almost an entire city all it’s own. It has a harbor with yacht club, townhouses, golf courses and  highrise resort suites. It’s best feature though are the four lagoons they built along the coast by breaking away some of the volcanic rock walls. (stock photo)

We tried to go to the lagoons last month but were turned around at the gate because the parking lots were full, and then tried again the other day just to to make it past the gate but unable to find a parking spot. Luckily we did manage to sneak in sometime between those two.


Lagoon 4 is the farthest one south, and is one of the smaller ones, but has the biggest parking lot and a large grassy area to go with a largish beach. Jonas, Jewel and I really enjoyed the snorkeling here, even with the strong currents. I think I was most surprised because I don’t remember enjoying the snorkeling here before, but then again I was mostly busy keeping an eye on little miss Jewel.

Jewel in Hawaii

She loves the lagoons now and always wants to go back to them, but back when she was three she could have cared less. What she did like was the grass so she didn’t even have to step foot on the sand.


While I liked the snorkeling at Lagoon 4 I didn’t really like the sand. It was course and full of broken shells, so we decided to check out another lagoon, and found parking at Lagoon 2. Ahhhhh! This was more like it, soft sand, thatched beach umbrellas and plenty of space to spread our schtuff.


The snorkeling here wasn’t as good since the currents were even stronger, but also there was less reef. The rocks were just screaming to be climbed though, and the kids were happy to oblige.


There may have been a Keep Off Rocks Sign, but I can’t swear to actually seeing it.

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Ko Olina is definitely a great place to just relax and hang with the kids.Ko Olina 050

Including the one that’s too cool for lazy lagoons.

Monday, March 29


Sometimes we do leave The Westside, not often, but….we do. It’s funny, while we were in Waikiki when we first got here, I was actually thinking that I could live there, amongst the hustle and bustle. Then I woke up on the westside, or leeward side, with it’s more laid back lifestyle. This side is considered the dry side, and I’m sure in the summer it is drier, but for now it’s still bright green and lush, and even greener than it was on the windward side the other day. The windward side is known as the rainy side, and it most definitely is…...and windy. Almost every single time we head to the east or north, we get rained on. We’ve been to Hanauma Bay twice….got rained on both times.

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Hanauma Bay is a reef and fish sanctuary formed from an old volcanic crater, as captured from my cell phone. (I haven’t been using the camera much for fear of it getting wet, sandy, or stolen). It’s a long walk down into the crater, or for a couple bucks you can hop a ride on a bus, and you have to watch a video in a small theatre with a group of other tourists, and then once you get to the beach with your fifty two beach bags, you get to hunt for a space in the sand, which could mean even more walking through sinking hot sand. Snorkeling in the bay is okay. Mostly it seems you’re just inches above the corral and spiky urchins, making it hard to enjoy yourself when you’re worried about getting cut, or it’s not very good visibility. Once you get pass the surf break, it’s much better, but can also be dangerous……the waves could easily smash you into the reef. Jonas went out with me while we followed an underwater pipe as a guide, otherwise we would have lost our tunnel to get back in.  We saw some cool fish, but between the weather and the crowds, overall, I wouldn’t call it great. This day I also forgot to take the underwater camera into the water with me and I got attacked by corral, and Jake had a stomach ache. Enough said.

The windward coast is a beautiful one, though, as well is the drive getting there. (Once we’re out of The City, Honolulu, that is.)


We get to drive through mountains and jungles………. then miles of rocky coastline with loud crashing waves.

Once we get up to the northern coast it’s shallow turquoise water for what seems like half a mile out, then large rolling waves, perfect for surfing. We often drive along this coast dreaming that we lived in one of those houses right on the water, and saying untrue things like, we’d surf that everyday!

We rarely get out and enjoy the beaches for too long on this side, though. We stopped in gorgeous Lanakai the other day and made a mental note to come back after spring break and not on the weekend. After driving and stopping, and driving and looking, one day we did finally find a spot we all liked. It was tucked behind private property (no beach in Hawaii is allowed to be private so there always has to be public beach access openings). Coincidentally, this beach is along the other side of Kaena Point which is where our most commonly used beaches are. We basically are just around the point and down a few miles.


Past the friendly horses.

DSC08639To a big empty sandy beach.

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This beach is right near a small airport so not only did we have the ocean to entertain us, we had dozens of skydivers jumping from planes with the setting sun as their backdrop.

Sometimes I complain that we could waste all the daylight looking for a spot for the day, but in the end we always find something new and unique…..and exactly where we’re supposed to be.

Friday, March 12


  Walking up our outside stairwell in the evenings all we have to do is look towards our porch door lights to see handfuls of these, creepy, almost see-thru lizards. When they’re climbing the off white walls, they are off white, but in Jewel’s hand they start to get some color in them. The first time I saw a five inch lizard run across the floor I immediately thought it was a mouse, but just shrugged my shoulders as soon as I realized it was just a lizard. Why mice are worse, I don’t know…but I don’t mind living with these creatures. 

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Jewel hunts for them. She often finds babies along the edge of the carpet and I’ve even found one on the kitchen counter.

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The best place so far was the one that was hanging in Jewel’s hair, and would not let go. 

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This is what they mean when they say he’s hanging on by the skin of his teeth.

Wednesday, March 10

Kaneana Cave (Makua Cave)

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Along Farrington Highway, the only road on the westside, is a very large hole in the mountain. We’ve gone in this cave several times, but never knew what it is, or was. This simple, yet pretty, stone marker sits in a dirt parking lot overlooking Barking Sands beach, across from the cave entrance, but there’s nothing informing visitors about the cave.

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Turns out this hole was once a giant lava tube that eventually eroded into the sea, leaving behind a hundred foot high, four hundred and fifty foot deep cave.

Hawaiian legend has it that  mankind was born here, “emerging from the womb of the earth goddess. They called the cave Kaneana, after the god of creation, Kane.”

This is a sacred place, man.

The legend goes on to say that Shark-man Nanaue, aka Kaneana, reigned from this cave.

“Born from a Shark father and a human mother, it was only when Nanaue first experienced the taste of meat that his carnivorous heritage led to incontrollable bloodlust. He would assume human form to trick his prey, then drag them back to the cave for dinner. Fortunately, he was eventually chopped up by the Hawaiian people. The cave was also home to both a powerful shark goddess and Madame Pele……..the cave has been the site of magic, ritual and religious ceremonies.”

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“At the back of the cave there is a slimy stone where the shark man was said to leave his victims until he was ready to eat them.”

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I’m kinda glad I didn’t know all this history before we’d ever been in. Kinda creepy. I’m still surprised, though, there’s no mention of this anywhere, but I’m guessing Joey’s always had a sixth sense about this cave because he never goes all the way in and this last time….. stood guard at the entrance.


BONUS TRIVIA! “The Sounding or Barking Sands near the cave make an otherworldly humming sound.”

I did the math and determined we’ve been correct in calling Barking Sands beach that, and I even got to learn why. How’s that for learning something without even trying??

Kaena Point State Park

Yokohama p&s 063 Continuing on up Farrington Highway the next sandy beach after Barking Sands is Kaena Point State Park, or Yokohama Beach or Yokes, as the locals call it. Here we’re at the very start of the Park, looking back south to Barking Sands Beach.  Then North up to Kaena Point.Yokohama p&s 023

This is as far as we can go on the west side of the island. Well, we can park and walk all the way around the point, but there’s no way to drive it. When we want to get to the North Shore we have to drive all the way to the south end of the island before taking another highway up to the north, which is about an hour drive. (It’d only be a few miles if this went all the way around). We hiked it a long time ago, but not yet this trip. The kids are rebelling against me with the hiking lately, so I’m patiently waiting for them to get re-inspired.

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Now you see the reef.

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Now you don’t.

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This beach is another popular family spot, mostly locals, and usually on the weekends. It brings tourists out here that drive up the coast and back, but I rarely see any of them get out and enjoy it.

Maybe a quick snapshot, or two.

Our neighbors like to come out here, saying it’s their favorite spot for collecting shells, but we like it best for the tide pools…especially it’s creatures.

We looked this one up today and learned it’s a Ha’uke’uke or Helmet Urchin.




The reef is always crawling with crabs. Can you spot them in this picture?

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Wherever there’s good reef, there’s usually someone fishing it.

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The pools on this side of  the park are teeming with algae, seaweed, anemone, crabs, helmet urchin, spiky urchin, snails, and countless varieties of fish.



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Farther north up the beach the reef is a lot higher and drier, but we spotted fish jumping from pool to pool, so that was pretty exciting.


road trip 025 This is the end of the road. Literally.


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*aaaand one vintage shot from Yokohama*

(note little Jonas’ “hang loose”)

Tuesday, March 9

Vintage Barking Sands

I had to do it. I found a few old pictures from Barking Sands beach and I just had to do it.April in park & beach 005

Notice Jewel’s hands? She must have gotten sand on them..oh no!

Jacob snorkeling

Jonas snorkeled for the first time using a boogie board with a specially made snorkeling cut out.Joey & Jewel in shades

Notice the practically empty beach? I wonder what Jonas is pondering?

Jonas sitting on rock

He’s probably wondering how I screwed up the sunscreen that day!

Jonas sunburned face

Even his eyeballs looked sunburned.

Maybe that explains why he took his skincare into his own hands!

Vintage Makaha

Seeing that old picture of the kids on the beach got me to reminiscing. Reminiscing got me to shuffle through old CD-R’s. Shuffling through old CD-R’s got me to reminiscing some more.

boys playing frisbee Jonas hitting pinata

We had friends that lived in a house right on Makaha Beach where the boys once threw a Frisbee and hit their very first piƱata. The boys also tried out their first surfboard on Makaha Beach….unconventionally, of course.

 Jonas sand surfing

 footprints in the sand

Jacob was about five here, back when he used to let me give him bowl cuts.

Hang Loose boys

This was one of our favorite Christmas’s. We had just gotten to the island and didn’t have a lot of money so we took the gift money my mom sent us and we decked the kids out in all the must have beach gear we could imagine. We put the presents under our wooden palm tree and were on the beach by ten in the morning.  I stayed on the beach with the kids while Joey and his friend walked into the deep blue for some scuba diving. Makaha Beach has such good surfing because there is a large underwater “wall” out there. The water forces up against it and since it can’t keep going towards shore it forces all the water up, created the large waves. This wall is a popular diving spot usually reached by boat, but the strong (and thrifty) can swim out to it.

  Joey & Fish going out to diveOne of my best days was when we were at our friend’s house on the beach and we spotted a large pod of dolphins. We always carried our snorkeling gear in the beach cruiser and since we had plenty of adult friends around, Joey and I were able to leave the kids and swim out to the dolphins. We swam and swam, even when the other two guys that swam out with us gave up, we swam some more. And just when we gave up on finding them, there they all were…dozens of them…..circling around us! They would never come close enough for us to touch them, they just kept circling around us. It was AMAZING! Then just as fast as they appeared, they were gone.

Jewel @ Makaha beach

Jewel spent her entire time during this stay (five months)….not touching the sand with her hands. She hated the sand. Despised the sand. She wouldn’t go anywhere near the water either. Boy has she changed……..

**All these photos were taken between Dec ‘02 & Apr ‘03 on an old Sony Mavica CD, my very first digital camera that was maybe 4 MP, but I only saved the pictures e-mail size. Yes, I am still kicking myself.**

****I had so much fun going down memory lane! expect more of it!****

Monday, March 8

Barking Sands

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Barking Sands is the only name we know for probably, our favorite, beach. It’s only open on the weekends and you have to be willing to traverse major potholes in order to get to it, but it’s well worth it.

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Barking Sands

IT hasn’t changed A BIT since we were first here about eight years ago.

(Including the treacherous thorny plant that finds my feet every time!)

These little kids sure have, though!


I’m guessing they were about seven, five and three here. Back when Jonas didn’t mind a tan, apparently.

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The inland side is this Army Installation, and it is strictly off limits. Although, I heard some of Jurassic Park was filmed here. I can see it.

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This is a nice beach if you’re looking to stay away from the crowds, which is pretty much tattooed on our backsides. We’ve bonfired out here, fired off homemade (by good friends, Larry and Sally) water bottle rockets, boogie boarded the waves, baked in the sand and snorkeled the reef. The only thing it doesn’t have is a shower, so you even get to take the sand home with you.

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