Before moving away to Minnesota I thoroughly enjoyed hiking. What started off as a more “mission oriented” form of exercise became a hobby. I progressed from the most mild state-maintained trails to eventually hiking some of the most dangerous hikes on Oahu. Sadly, living in a state where winter lasts for a solid 4-5 months severely lowered my outdoor activity. Now that I’ve been back for a couple of months, it was high time to get started out on the trails once again, starting with the Hanauma Bay Rock Bridge.
After parking on a quiet side street just off Kalanianaole Highway on the approach to the Hanauma Bay parking pot, we made a quick jaunt up the side of the hill to a service road. The service road incline is gradual and opens up to amazing views of the bay, Koko Head Crater, and Hawaii Kai in short order.
With the aid of a little telephoto zoom lens I was able to snag shots of the beach down in Hanauma Bay, which was surprisingly empty. The hikes continues along the service road. At a point near the top of the first hill you have a choice to continue on the service road, or veer off the paved path onto a side trail that takes you down a steeper approach toward the ocean.
Eventually the trek takes you up another hill, which then drops you down toward the ocean and the rock bridge. The approach is easy in terms of footing, although I made it harder on myself by stubbornly insisting on holding my camera the whole way in. The land directly facing the ocean is weathered and riddled with little drops in the rock face. Not a lot of danger here but a little meandering is needed to find the easiest way down to the shore.
This is the “rock bridge” that many of you may have seem in so many Facebook and Instagram posts. The sea was a little rough when we arrived so the bridge was half drenched. Not being as sure footed as I once was I did not dare to venture out on to the bridge, for a fall would have meant a world of hurt (or worse). A few more daring youngsters arrived shortly after we did. They decided to not only stand on the bridge (which is starting to crack), but one also dangled from the edge as the waves crashed over him. I’m a big advocate of safe hiking, so I would never recommend even going out on this bridge. All it takes is a rogue wave to end this badly. The reward of the stunning ocean view and the smell of the ocean air is enough.
On the other side of the little land area where you can see the bridge is this cave, which represents the western bend of the land that makes up Hanauma Bay. Koko Head can be seen in the distance as well.
Since we set out on the trail at 8AM by the time we were heading back in the sun had fully risen. The waters of the bay were a beautiful gradient of blue. This is what I missed about hiking in Hawaii! I am embarrassed to admit that I had underestimated my out-of-shapeness. Even this mild hike proved to be difficult for me. Fortunately I was with a few hikers who were gracious and indulged my need for a few extra breaks on the hike back to the car. Despite a bit of heavy breathing and some sore thigh muscles, the amazing view and sensation of being back out on the trail motivates me to continue working to get back into hiking shape!