Showing posts with label beach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beach. Show all posts

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Koko Crater Arch Hike + Eternity Beach

One of the things I love about living on Oahu is the hiking. We don't hike as often as I would like, but when we do it is never a disappointment.

The Koko Crater Arch trail is located in East Honolulu, near Hawaii Kai. We picked this one because it isn't far from our neighborhood and is rated as moderate in the All Trails app. Plus, I love hikes that have an interesting feature. In this case, the arch.

Even though we did this hike on a beautiful Saturday morning, we had no trouble finding a parking spot at the Halona Blowhole parking lot. All Trails did not have trailhead information, but I found a couple blog posts that did and it seemed pretty easy and straightforward. We just had to walk along a narrow busy road about 100 feet to mile marker 15, cross the road and start climbing. 

So we walked, first past the beach we would go to later, and then the Japanese Fishing Shrine. I admit that I'm a terrible judge of distance, but it felt like more than 100 feet and we didn't see a mile marker. 

After crossing the road and walking back and forth, we found the broken mile marker. Thanks Hawaii DOT. We also found two was on the All Trails map and the other looked easier. We went with easy.

We had to climb up some rocks to get to the trail, but then it was pretty easy walking across the lava rock. It was very windy, but we didn't mind and the views were spectacular. Soon enough we saw the trail we were supposed to be on when some hikers started making their way down. We weren't too far off, but we had a steep climb and some brush to get through until we were able to merge.

Looking up to the arch and beyond to the ridge

Once we were on the main trail, we took our time, carefully making our way up the steeper and steeper trail until we were eventually standing below the arch. As mrC said, we're not billy goats, so we opted to climb off to the left and go under rather than over the arch.

Loose gravel combined with the steepness and the wind made this the hardest part of the hike, but it was worth it. It was awesome to sit under the arch and take in the ocean views. 

More adventurous hikers continued past the arch and up to the ridge, but we had a beach to get to (and we are happy to stick with moderate climbs). To get back down to the trail, we had to scoot on our bums or fear slipping on the gravel, but then we just took our time going down the lava rock trail.

We stayed on the proper trail on the way down. The alternate entrance we took at the start was pretty easy for climbing up, but super steep to go down. When we got to the end of the trail, we had to climb down a much bigger section of rocks. Only one slip on the gravel (me!) and now I can say I've had lava burn.

mrC got us safely back to the car, where we grabbed our beach bag and hiked down to Halona Cove Beach, aka Eternity Beach. If you’ve seen the movie From Here to Eternity, this is where they filmed the beach kissing scene.

People more courageous than us were jumping off the rocks into the water, but we were quite happy to sit on our towel and watch. We respect the water and have no intention of needing a rescue (and for the record, this beach has no lifeguards and is technically off limits).

The cool thing about this beach, is that you can't see it from the road when you're driving past. I guess that's why it is also called Secret Beach!

We counted this hike as our leg day, although I think we could've done our regular workout, too. We didn't beat ourselves up over it though.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

5 Days in Phuket, Thailand

Warning: many pictures in this post!!

Thailand is officially the 12th country I've visited and the 9th in just a year and a half. mrC and I took advantage of his days off and headed to the beach. There's just something awesome about being able to stay in your flip flops all day in December!

We spent most of our days at Karon Beach, right across from our hotel. Karon was perfect for us. It was beautiful and relaxing. The beach is about 5K long, so it feels less crowded than places like Patong. The sand was clean and the water was clear. Funny thing about the sand ---> it squeaked when we walked barefoot. I've never had that happen before!

On our last day, the red flags were up because the surf was rough. I loved playing in the waves that day. The waves kicked up a lot of sand, so I ended up with sand everywhere but it was worth it.

There were probably four boats picking up people all day long to go parasailing. It was crazy watching the "monkey man" accompany the customer. He climbed right up on the ropes WITHOUT a harness line and guided the parasail.

Locals came around selling all kinds of things: sunglasses, elephant carvings, paintings. I found this cute bikini! There were also many shops and restaurants within walking distance of the resort ---> I found a cute cover-up and those snazzy flip flops at the beginning of this post.

I never get tired of sunsets on the beach. 

One day we went on a half day city tour to some popular tourist stops in Phuket. We were picked up at our hotel and traveled around by van with 10 others in our group. We were first taken to Kata Viewpoint for some great views of Kata and Karon (the beach farther away in the photo below).

Our next stop was to Phuket Safari (which our tour guide kept calling saf-a-ri and confusing all nationalities in the van, haha!). We were allowed to feed a baby elephant (who gave thank you kisses), we walked through a small mini orchid farm, and went elephant trekking. Our elephant was Lucky and she loves Lady Gaga music. We also saw some monkeys and a parrot. If you can't tell by the smile, I had a lot of fun.

Next we went to see the Big Buddha which you can see from a great distance as it is 45 meters tall and sits on top of a hill. The Big Buddha is made of concrete layered with Burmese jade that shines in the sun making it a symbol of hope. The views of Phuket from the top were amazing.

We made stops at a souvenir shop (really a high end jewelry store) and a cashew nut factory. Cashew nuts are native to Thailand. We learned a little about the processing of cashew nuts at the factory tour. Cashews are manually opened one by one and it’s no easy task, that’s why they’re more expensive than peanuts and (sometimes) almonds. Aside from the fact that each cashew apple only bears one nut.

Our last stop was to see Chalong Temple. There are 29 temples in Phuket, all beautiful and all welcoming to visitors. I was wearing a tank top and shorts, so I couldn't go inside but I heard it was beautiful.

We saved our full day trip for a June Bahtra cruise. This trip was recommended by a friend in Shenzhen and cruising on a Chinese junk boat sounded fun. After about an hour ride to a marina, we set "sail" up Phang Nga Bay (the boat had an engine). We spent most of our time relaxing on the cushions in the front of the boat and watching the beautiful scenery.

When it was time to go island hopping, we switched to a long-tail boat so that we could get up close to the land.

One visit was to Khao Phing Kan, the island made famous by the James Bond movie, Man with A Golden Gun, filmed there. James Bond Island is not a big island - mostly some caves, the beach where the famous duel scene took place, and a bunch of souvenirs stands. It was fun to walk around, but we stayed out of the muddy water at the suggestion of our tour guide.

Our next visit was to Panyee Village, a fishing village built on stilts. Many people in the village now also work in the tourism business: on the boats, selling souvenirs, at the restaurants. We saw children in their classrooms and visited a small museum before ending up on the other side of the village.

After returning to the June Bahtra, the crew served a delicious Thai buffet lunch of fresh fish and chicken with rice and vegetables.

On the way back to the marina, we stopped for some swimming. mrC and a couple other people jumped in, but the rest of us had seen the VERY LARGE jelly fish and stayed safely onboard. All of the swimmers were just fine and obviously braver than me!

We stayed at the Hilton Phuket Resort in Karon Beach and loved it. Every morning we had breakfast at the Sails restaurant with a view of one of the three pools and a waterfall. The buffet breakfast had everything you could want.

When we had enough sun at the beach, we found lounge chairs in the shade at another pool on the resort. From here we could still see the beach but enjoy the breezes under the umbrellas while sipping on smoothies.

One afternoon we went to the spa for a couples massage. They gave us refreshing lychee tea, and soothing foot scrub, and then a lovely hour long massage.

The only way to get around the resort was on foot (much like here in Discovery Bay) or use the shuttle to get to the Welcome Lobby where public transportation was arranged. The only other cars in the resort were the airport transport.

We had our choice of five restaurants in the resort plus some cafes and room service. Our favorite was Thai Thai Restaurant. mrC loved the phad thai and I loved the sweet and spicy pineapple shrimp.

You would think I'd have tried fresh coconut water by now especially after living more than a year in China, but I actually had my first taste poolside. I wanted to like it (because of all the benefits), but I just didn't.

This was one of those vacations that you just want to continue indefinitely. I loved hanging out in the clear blue water and playing in the waves at the beach.

Have you ever made sand squeak?
Do you like coconut water?
Ever been to Thailand?