Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My college roommate's visit: Waimea Valley

I got very busy in December and didn't write very many blog posts, so the fact that my college roommate came to visit me in Honolulu was pretty glossed over. But she was here for five fun-filled days the week before Christmas. We hit up all my favorite restaurants (e.g. Spices, Shokudo, Legend Seafood, Kua 'Aina burgers, Kaka'ako Kitchen) and dessert spots (Waiola Shave Ice, Bubbies Ice Cream, and Dole Whip from Dole Plantation). And we went to many of the major Oahu tourist spots, as it was her first time in Hawaii.

We spent one day touring the North Shore, visiting Haleiwa, Turtle Bay, Waimea Valley, famous surf spots Pipeline, Sunset Beach, and Waimea Bay, and of course stopping at Dole Plantation for Dole Whip on the way home. The whole day was cloudy and most of it was rainy, but we made the most of it. My beach photos from that day were pretty drab (I have better photos of the same spots here, here, and here), but Waimea Valley, with its botanical gardens and waterfall, was still lovely in gray.

They had many varieties of hibiscus in the gardens. The dim light made most of my garden photos come out blurry, but this one managed to be clear, which made me really happy.

I don't remember what these flowers are called, but they're really cool. Soft, red, and about the size of a golf ball (maybe a little bigger? well the small ones were golf ball sized).

There's the waterfall up in the valley, going at full capacity. We'd had a LOT of rain recently (just the day prior, we got about 5 inches), so there was a lot of water flowing in that river with a lot of sediment, making the water brown.

In spite of the pool being small, it drops very quickly to 30 feet deep. There are lifeguards stationed there, offering free rentals of various flotation devices. We passed on the floaties and headed in, my camera strapped securely to my wrist (and clenched in my fist, just to be doubly safe, since I didn't have my floating wrist strap with me). The water was cold (by Hawaii standards...maybe 70F?), and the current was very strong due to the high volume flow. We had to work hard to swim to the waterfall--normal swimming only kept you in place!

But we fought the current and made it to the waterfall. We didn't go right underneath the waterfall, since we didn't quite feel like taking that kind of a pounding. But we did get underneath the fringes of the fall. It was very loud, which you just can't capture in a photo, and unfortunately I didn't think to take video at the time.

Admission to Waimea Valley is $13 for non-locals, $8 for locals, but I think it's worth it for the variety of interesting and beautiful plants and the well-maintained pool and waterfall. Maybe more worth it on a nice, sunny day, when the water isn't so brown and the current so strong. But we were still glad we went.

Tomorrow, see my beach photos from Waikiki and Ala Moana!

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