Hawaii Travel Stories

Fire in the mountains of Mauna Loa
Aloha! Welcome to the Hawaii Travel Stories. Within these pages, you can read selected stories and musings about our waterfall-themed adventures in the Hawaiian Islands. Hopefully, you'll find these stories entertaining and educational. Perhaps you might get a good laugh at our expense, or you might find some nuggets that you can apply to your own travels.

Thumb through the travel stories below. They are arranged chronologically with the most recent escapade at the top. Enjoy :)

Pu'u O'o Vent contributing to vog (22-February 2008 to 24-February 2008)
Vog Heaven
: Julie had booked an 8am chopper flight with Paradise so we had to get up at 5:30am to ensure we'd check in on time. Knowing that the weather wouldn't be as much of an issue as the last four failed attempts at helicoptering, there was a part of me that couldn't believe that today's tour was actually going to happen. I echoed my sentiments to Julie as we drove towards the heliport at the Kona Airport. "Don't count your chickens before they hatch," Julie warned. [read more]

The angry Rainbow Falls (1-February 2008 to 3-February 2008)
Super Bowl Sogginess
: We continued to slowly find our way towards the Inn at Kulaniapia Falls - our accommodation for this evening. Driving through large pools of water and trying not to get caught in any newly formed potholes kept our pace slow but sure. The skies were getting darker as night time was closing in, but darkness came quickly as the menacing rain clouds continued to dump its load. Sudden flashes of lightning interrupted the looming darkness. I kept trying to tell myself that this rain must be good for waterfalling (in constrast to last year's drought), but if there ever was a such thing as having way too much rain to go waterfalling, this was it! Little did I know just exactly how socked in we were... [read more]

The coastline at the foot of Waipi'o Valley (11-March 2007)
Go Waipi'o!
: After the disappointment at Hi'ilawe Falls and Kaluahine Falls, I was determined to see Waiulili Falls to salvage at least one waterfall out of our excursion to Waipi'o Valley. I was a bit dumbfounded as to how these seemingly "major" waterfalls could be so lackluster in the midst of their wet season. Having been on Maui under very wet conditions nearly two weeks ago, I was certain there would be some decent volume to the waterfalls on the windward Big Island - in spite the unusual lack of trade wind rains of the past several days. Anyhow, I continued past the Kaluahine Falls and continued rock scrambling along the coast. The pounding waves to the left were always threatening to pluck me from the coastal rocks and out into sea. And at the same time, the rugged cliffs that produced these coastal rocks also threatened to shed some of their wall and cause rockfalls on top of me. Julie was nervous about proceeding and I started to express some doubt about whether I'd make it too... [read more]

Lava flow originally from the currently erupting Pu'u O'o Vent (10-March 2007)
Madame Pele's Afterglow
: It was only 200 yards from the junction, and it wasn't long before we got there, but we were quite disappointed with the view as it was way too distant. All you could see was just the steam from the hot lava cooling off immediately from the violently pounding surf. So we were faced with the decision of whether to do the difficult trek right up to the lava flow or returning to the car wondering what if. It was now 5:30pm and the daylight was fading fast... [read more]

Red globe sunset on Waikiki Beach (7-March 2007 to 8-March 2007)
Unfinished Business on O'ahu
: The relentless climb up the trail seemed like it was never ending. I was starting to get worried that I might not find the waterfall as it had started to reach the two-hour point from when I first started on the trail. The trail description in the book said to look for a path to the right so I faithfully kept pressing forward always looking for this path... [read more]

Entering a mean-looking squall on Moloka'i's North Shore (25-February 2007 to 26-February 2007)
A BLUE Hawaiian Helicopter Experience
: Trying to kill time for the next flight I saw a picture book about the Big Island, which was the last major Hawaiian Island we had yet to visit. While I was busy flipping through the pages, one of the Blue Hawaiian clerks came up to me and said, "I just got a call from the previous tour saying that the clouds are rolling in fast towards Hana..." [read more]

Gushing ocean-facing waterfall at the Blue Pool (24-February 2007)
Almost on the Wrong End of a Flash Flood
: When I caught up to Julie, I had noticed that she stopped immediately before the stream we had just crossed just a few minutes ago. This time however, the submerged rocks weren't visible. I thought this was kind of strange and it immediately became apparent to me that the wide stream had risen. So I took a couple of steps to survey the scene, and on the second step, my feet were momentarily off the ground as only my head was above water... [read more]

Turbulent waters at the Seven Pools (23-February 2007)
Raging Waters in East Maui
: Having been to the 'Ohe'o Gulch (or the so-called Seven Sacred Pools) nearly four years ago, it was strange seeing the churning, brownish raging whitewater at the popular Lower Pools. Both Julie and I remembered how busy it was that late summer day in early September 2003. But on this day, there was hardly a soul here, signposts and barricades prevented access to the pools, and all you could hear was the loud constant clatter of rushing water interspersed with the thunderous swooshing of the violent ocean waves behind us... [read more]

Byodo-in Temple (20-January 2007 to 22-January 2007)
Surprise Down the Pipeline
: We had our fill watching the guys surf at the Bonzai Pipeline and it was time to go. Julie decided for us to take the stairs right behind us and onto a back street instead of walking a ways down the sandy beach back to the car park. And as we walked closer to the car park, an SUV passed by us as I was looking down to make sure no sand had gotten into the camera bag. Apparently Julie was paying attention because she immediately said, "Honey, that was Cameron Diaz!" [read more]

Sweeping view of Halawa Valley (19-January 2007)
"A'ole La'au"
: We returned to the car and headed back to the town of Kaunakakai. While we were there, we picked up some smoothies and pastries before filling up on gas for our drive back to the Ho'olehua Airport. On the way out of the Chevron, a Hawaiian girl flagged us down as we were about to turn right onto Hwy 450... [read more]

The Cathedrals behind Kalalau Beach on the Na Pali Coast (27-December 2006 to 28-December 2006)
As Different As Night And Day
: I was already appreciating this pilot and the experience here was as different as night and day. This just reaffirmed my hunch that it's the helicopter pilot that makes all the difference in the world. Sure the different companies might present the tour differently and a rainy tour would certainly make for an unforgettable waterfall-laden experience, but ultimately it comes down to how good the pilot is. I guess I really lucked out this time... [read more]

The Na Pali Coast as seen along the Kalalau Trail (24-December 2006 to 25-December 2006)
A Nearly Black Christmas Day
: At this point, my mind was on how good Lilikoi would taste right at this moment. I totally looked forward to Christmas dinner with Julie, but I was starting to have doubts about whether I'd make it. Heck, I was even desperate enough to drink from any stream I saw along the way - full of bacteria or not. Fortunately, there weren't any flowing streams during this two mile stretch... [read more]

Opaeka'a Falls (23-December 2006)
A Risk Not Worth Taking
: Julie was already against the idea of doing this and the steepness of the gorge before us simply made it a rather unlikely proposition. She recalled the helicopter pilot telling us about having to retrieve two dead females near this waterfall just a few days ago. Obviously it was fresh in her mind and she didn't want the same fate to befall me... [read more]

Losing the hood at Kipu Falls (22-December 2006)
Strange Day in Kauai
: As a matter of fact, today ended up being a rather strange day. I mean, that waterfall tour seemed strangely subpar and not as memorable as I had expected (especially for the money we paid). Then, I had lost my lens hood at Kipu Falls. Julie got frustrated when all the lunch spots she wanted to try out were closed. And now the possibility of something bad happening in this rather unwelcome-feeling spot was palpable... [read more]

Sunrise over the clouds atop Haleakala (1-September 2003, 4-September 2003, and 5-September 2003)
Third Time's A Charm for a Haleakala Sunrise
: Julie and I had grown tired of getting up at 3am. Julie was especially miffed as she had been under the weather since the first attempt to see the Haleakala sunrise. Now it was the day we were flying back home to LA (fortunately in the afternoon) and so I figured this was our last shot at seeing the sunrise. If it didn't happen, then I guess it wasn't meant to be. So Julie and I checked out early from Lahaina and headed for Haleakala's summit for the third time this week... [read more]

The crater in Molokai (4-September 2003)
Airsick on a West Maui/Molokai Helicopter Flight
: I knew the lady trying to sell us the chopper ride was lying to us when she tried to convince us that the Wall of Tears was the same thing as Honokohau Falls. But despite the fact that she BS'ed us, she managed to do her job successfully because we ended up booking a helicopter flight with her company in our haste to fit a chopper flight in this afternoon, which was available for us... [read more]

The Infiniti Pool above Makahiku Falls (1-September 2003 to 3-September 2003)
Double Dose of Hana
: Being the waterfall lovers that we were, Hana Highway was the main reason why we chose to visit Maui. So we made sure we tried to see as many of its waterfalls as possible during this week - and it required two takes... [read more]

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