While I didn't have to worry about the weather, I did have concerns about where I'd park. With car thieves running rampant here, one of my major considerations when and where I decide to go hiking is how safe I think my vehicle will be while I'm off tramping about in the hills. I knew for sure that the parking lot at Hanauma Bay, aside from usually being packed, is a juicy target for those backward-baseball-cap-wearing car ripoff gangs. Ditto for the Lanai Lookout lot.
After a bit of thought, I decided to park at the Koko Head Rifle Range. In a way, parking there made sense. After all, probably everyone who had a vehicle parked there was packing a weapon of some sort (and from the booms that echoed in that crater, some of those guns were cannon-like), so any thief with half-a-noodle should have second thoughts about hitting cars there.
So I parked there, fairly confident that my vehicle wouldn't be tampered with. I made the short walk up the access road, crossed Kalanianaole Highway, and hopped over the guard rail and began contouring along the rocky cliffs toward Hanauma Bay [GIF Image]. The terrain along that stretch was mostly ancient layered pahoehoe lava flows. In some places, shattered bottles littered the area. In one cove I passed above, an automobile skeleton lay scattered on the rocks. A hundred feet below, deep blue waters churned and rolled. On clear days, Molokai, Lanai and sometimes even Maui are visible across the channel. Such was not so on this hazy-skied day.
In about 15 minutes, I approached Palea Point on the northern (Sandy Beach) side of Hanauma Bay. Previous visitors to the spot had left rock piles (ahu) on a large pohaku that jutted out there. The waters of the bay were a lighter hue of blue compared to the deeper shade of the ocean further from shore. Heading inland along the rim of the bay, I passed above the place called "Toilet Bowl," a circular pit in the rocks where water flushes in and out, alternately filling and draining as swells roll into the narrow cove there. A half dozen pink-skinned tourist types, all males, treaded water in the bowl while at least a dozen others watched from the rocky shelf adjacent to it. Toilet Bowl can be quite hazardous when the surf is up. However, the waves today were gentle.
I continued along the rim until I found a place where I could descend to the natural rocky walkway near the water's edge that Bay-goers use to access the Toilet Bowl. While more than safe today, that rocky path has been deadly in the past when folks traversing it were swept into the bay by large waves. Signs are posted warning folks of the possible hazard.
I continued on and soon found myself among throngs of the sun tan lotion crowd. It had been many years since I had been to the beach along the bay and it was much more crowded than I recall from my last visit. A hundred of so folks splashed about in the nearshore waters, most donning goggles and snorkels to check out the protected-by-law ocean life.
For those interested, here's a nice page about the bay.
My goal was to check out the upper rim of the south side of the bay, so I strided along through the ever-thinning crowd. Soon I was puffing up a red-tinted escarpment, leaving the cool waters of the bay and the smell of coconut oil behind me. In about 10 minutes, I had reached the upper rim where I stopped to admire the beauty below. Swimmers explored the bay's famous "keyhole;" a solo kayaker sat motionless near the middle of the bay; a mile or more out to sea, a barge plowed bravely across the channel toward Molokai.
I continued exploring the area and trudged along the rims of two small craters--Nonoula and Ihiihilauakea, places I never knew existed prior to my visit. The terrain was mostly crumbly rock with sparse thickets of haole koa, kiawe, and cactus here and there.
I descended to Kalanianaole via a narrow, paved access road used to access a communications installation or some sort at the top of the ridge. After passing the entrance to the Bay parking lot, I continued down the highway to the Rifle Range, where my car, unmolested, sat waiting for my return.