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Looking for something fun and cheap? Try hiking.

by Brian Mercy ‘02


Living in Hawai‘i affords many experiences unmatched anywhere in the world: surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, enjoying beautiful beaches and the exciting nightlife of Waikiki, to name a few. Some of these, however, can require a lofty investment in equipment and training, which may not be within a student’s budget or time.

One experience that is cheap, yet priceless, is hiking. While tending to

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your studies should be first priority, you should make time for play, too.If you’re from the mainland, and feel the need to set the books aside one weekend, hiking will make a perfect escape.

First, you’ll want to select a comfortable, dispensable pair of shoes with good tracking. An old pair of tennis shoes from the back of your closet will do nicely.

Take the same approach in selecting attire. Look for loose, comfortable clothing that you don’t care about damaging. Light colored clothes are ideal, since they reflect heat, while dark clothes absorb it.

Next, pick up some sunscreen and mosquito repellent. The sun here in Hawai‘i is very intense, so you should look for a strong sunscreen, at least a 40 spf. Apply the lotion generously to your neck, face, arms, legs, and any other areas that will be exposed to sunlight.

Find an empty plastic bottle, fill it with water, and stick it in the refrigerator the night before your hike. It is very important to drink plenty of water when hiking to prevent dehydration and overheating.

A first aid kit is not necessary, but why not be safe and spend an extra few bucks? Look for a comprehensive kit to be better prepared in the event of an accident. It would also be wise to carry a cell phone with you.

If you don’t own a cell phone, bring someone along who does. If that is not possible, hike only easy, well-known trails and do not deviate from the main path. You should also let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to return.

Familiarize yourself with the hike. Ask people who have done it how long it will take and what the conditions are like. It may even be useful to buy a map. And if you really want to be safe, there are some companies that offer guided tours at a reasonable price.

Now that you’ve taken steps to prepare, you’re ready to embark. Diamond Head, Maunawili and Waimea Falls, and Lanikai, are hikes that Kalamalama staff have done. Note that Waimea Falls has a fee of $20 for kama‘ainas, and that Diamond Head will cost you $1.

Each location is unique and beautiful in its own way, so which one you decide to do first is up to you. Where you live, your willingness to travel, time available, and stamina are all factors to consider. Lanikai is the most difficult, then Diamond Head, Maunawili Falls, and Waimea Falls.

The trail is steep and not well paved, but you’re in for a treat once you reach the top of Lanikai ridge; the view is awesome. You’ll see two pillboxes near the top that were once a part of Oahu’s defense network during World War II. Not much to see inside of them except rubbish and broken glass, but don’t be afraid to plop your ‘okole on top of the roofs. They make a great spot for observation or for a picnic lunch.

Diamond Head Crater is a steep hike, but unlike Lanikai, the trail is well paved. You should muster a lot of energy for this one. The average time it takes to travel to the top is one hour, but it’s well worth the panoramic view of Honolulu. Be sure to bring your camera!

A roundtrip Maunawili Falls hike will take you about two hours. The trail is known to harbor many mosquitoes if wet, so you may want to avoid going during such times or wear mosquito repellent. It also is well paved, but some parts are steep. Many large trees shade the path, and at the end, a beautiful 20-foot waterfall flows into a small pond. You may be tempted to cool off by taking a dip, but be careful. Contrary to popular belief, swimming in these ponds is not entirely safe. Leptospirosis (see sidebar), a bacterial disease that causes flu-like symptoms, may be present in the water.

A tropical rainforest that abounds lush greenery, colorful flowers and exotic birds are part of Hawai‘i’s image. Waimea Falls is all that. Concession stands are set up along the path in case you get hungry or thirsty. If you find yourself too lazy to walk, don’t worry, the park has a trolley-assisted tour. Also, hula and music performances take place at various spots and times on the hike. At the falls, you’ll enjoy a diving show with a grand finale dive from atop the 50-foot waterfall. The park even provides wedding services for a fee. Call 638-8511 for more details.










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