Information About Hawaii
Unspoiled Hawaii Beckons Just a Short Drive From Waikiki
Psychiatric News
Volume 46 Number 4 page 26-42

Honolulu may be Hawaii's capital and largest city, but the beaches and mountains on the rest of the island of Oahu offer a dramatic change of scenery.

Before or after the APA meeting, visitors would be wise to take a few days and explore the island by car or bus or on foot. Distances are short. The island is only 45 miles long. Dozens of marked hiking trails beckon the adventurous. Roads skirt the beaches around most of the island, cut through the broad valley between the Ko'olau and Wai'anae mountain ranges, and cross the Ko'olau range in several places above Honolulu.

For anyone wanting a short break from the daily grind of the annual meeting, 18 trails, most less than a mile long, curl around in the hills above Waikiki and the rest of Honolulu.

The 2.4 mile-long Wa'ahila Ridge Trail begins not far from the University of Hawaii campus and climbs high enough for good views of Honolulu and Diamond Head, said University of Hawaii psychiatry resident Allison Garrett, M.D. Many plants native and unique to Hawaii grow along the trail.

If a little more time is available, the Kuliouou Trail begins just above the town of the same name, only five miles east of Waikiki. The five-mile-long trail follows a ridge to the top of the Koolau mountain range. Hiking time is 2.5 to 3 hours.

"I recommend going in the morning, starting around 8 a.m., since it gets hot around 11," said Helenna Nakama, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Hawaii, who was born on Oahu. "There are awesome views of both sides of the island and lots of beautiful foliage."

A bit farther along the coast is the start of the Mariner's Ridge Trail, with similar vistas.

Nakama also suggests an early-morning jaunt to nearby Hanauma Bay. The beach parking lot fills quickly, so drivers should get an early start or take the #22 bus from Waikiki.

Protected by two coral reefs, the waters of Hanauma Bay are filled with fish and are a perfect place for snorkeling. If you get tired of watching fish, you can always watch people. Hanauma's 2,000-foot-long sandy beach is generally packed with humans too. Anyone who feels guilty about merely lolling on the beach can visit the Marine Education Center there. The beach is part of Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, which is closed on Tuesdays.

When it's time to really hit the road, travelers can follow Routes 72 and 83 around the eastern and northern sides of the island.

A few miles beyond Hanauma Bay stands the old Makapuu lighthouse, about a two-mile hike uphill from the highway on a paved road, with a "stunning" view to reward the hiker (see photo).

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

The Nuuanu Pali Lookout, along the Pali Highway on Oahu, gives a magnificent view over the island's windward coast and small nearby islands nestled in the Pacific Ocean. 

Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Chuck Painter

Cutting directly over the Ko'olau range from Honolulu to Kailua on the Pali Highway (Route 61), locals and tourists alike stop at the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, which offers spectacular views over the windward coast, the sea, and small nearby islands.

The lookout is also the site of the climactic Battle of Nuuanu in 1795, when King Kamehameha I conquered Oahu on his way to uniting the island chain. Kamehameha steadily pushed his enemies back into the mountains until hundreds of soldiers either jumped or were forced off the sheer cliffs.

The beaches that ring Oahu have their charms, some of them rather idiosyncratic. The safety and swimability of Hawaiian beaches varies with the season. Winter is the time of pounding, monstrous waves beloved by surfers at places like Ehukai Beach, Sunset Beach, and Waimea Bay on the north shore. In summer, though, the waves calm down, and many beaches become more child friendly.

Sandy Beach and Makapuu Beach, on the windward (eastern) coast at the southeast corner of the island, are considered dangerous because of the pounding waves. But those waves also lure body surfers for the same reason.

A few miles away, quiet Lanikai Beach is like Waikiki without the high rises, said Garrett. "You might even be swimming with sea turtles," she said.

Garret's other favorite beach spots are Waimea Beach and Pupukea Beach on Oahu's north shore. Most Sundays, Garrett and some of her fellow residents head off to one or the other of these beaches just to sit on the sand and watch the sun set.

Once they've checked off that task, they head for Cholo's Restaurant in Haleiwa to enjoy a Li Hing Mui margarita and plates of carne asada with lime slices, she said.

In fact, Haleiwa—€”a former sugar-plantation town that has been designated a scenic and historic district—€”is home to a number of small, inexpensive restaurants. Landmarks also include Aoki's and Matsumoto's Shave Ice, serving cups of Hawaii's signature dessert—€”finely shaved (not crushed) ice plopped over a scoop of ice cream and flavored with one or more flavors of syrup.

The way back to Honolulu from the north shore cuts through Oahu's central valley, also known as the Ewa Plain. The road passes Schofield Barracks, the U.S. Army base bombed by Japanese planes on their way to Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and later made famous in James Jones' novel From Here to Eternity and the Oscar-winning film of the same name. The barracks are off limits to the public now, but the Tropic Lightning Museum presents the barracks' history.

The University of Hawaii Department of Psychiatry is setting up a link to places to visit on the island at <www2.jabsom.hawaii.edu/dop>. Information on Oahu beaches is posted at <www.gohawaii.com/oahu/guidebook/topics/beaches-of-oahu>. Hiking-trail information is posted at <https://hawaiitrails.ehawaii.gov/island.php?island=Oahu>.26_2.inline-graphic-1.gif

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

The Nuuanu Pali Lookout, along the Pali Highway on Oahu, gives a magnificent view over the island's windward coast and small nearby islands nestled in the Pacific Ocean. 

Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Chuck Painter

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