Go Mauka: 5 Peaceful Mountainside Adventures for Land Lovers on Oahu
Beaches are great, but some weekends you just have to head for the hills. Here are a few of our favorite land-based adventures.
Photo: David Chatsuthiphan
1. Peaceful in Palolo
Mu Ryang Sa Temple in Pālolo Valley is the largest Korean Buddhist temple outside of Korea, boasting beautiful outdoor art, a serene atmosphere and stellar ocean views. Four colorful and gigantic kings stand guard over the main entrance to the temple, and the Peace Pagoda, at the center of the main lawn, is a replica of a historic pagoda from the Silla Dynasty. Mini disciple figures—1,080 of them—sit on a staircase overlooked by statues of bodhisattvas. Much of the art on the temple grounds is hidden in nooks or between the halls. Visitors are welcome, but since meditation is often in progress, be mindful and quiet.
Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, 2420 Halelaau Place, 735-7858, muryangsatemple.com.
2. Jungle Fun
VOLUNTEERING IN A LOI LETS YOU PLAY DIRTY FOR A GOOD CAUSE.
PHOTO: OLIVIER KONING
Think Kualoa Ranch is a tourist-only stop? Offering stunning views of Kāne‘ohe Bay and O‘ahu’s eastern coastline, Kualoa’s Jungle Expedition Tour winds through bumpy Hakipu‘u Valley with a military-grade, six-wheel-drive Swiss Pinzauer. Along the way you’ll catch a glimpse of Mōli‘i fishpond, a restored lo‘i patch, and even a protected habitat hosting the Punalu‘u cyanea, a plant thought to be extinct until Kualoa Ranch discovered it on the property and began to propagate it, says Valerie King, director of marketing. The final leg of the trip involves a 10-minute mini hike up the ridge (the trail was cut by the crew of Lost) to a scenic lookout.
49-560 Kamehameha Highway, 237-7321, kualoa.com.
3. Malama the ‘Aina
Here’s a uniquely Hawai‘i way to get outside: work in a lo‘i. Taro is sacred and central to the Native Hawaiian creation story. It also needs a lot of help from us to grow and thrive. Every second Saturday of the month, from 8 a.m. to noon, Kāko‘o ‘Ōiwi offers a community workday in He‘eia in Kāne‘ohe. You’ll help with clearing out invasive plants, digging new patches and possibly harvesting taro. Get ready to get dirty—very dirty.
Photo: David Chatsuthiphan
4. Puka with a View
We’d be remiss if we didn’t give options to take in a panoramic view of O‘ahu’s beauty. Nu‘uanu Pali Puka has the biggest payoff for minimum exertion, great for those among us who aren’t into the drenched-in-sweat, struggling-to-make-it type hikes. Park at the Pali Lookout parking lot and enter through the opening in the crumbling rock wall. In 20 minutes or less you’ll be gazing out at the Windward side through a puka (hence the hike’s name) in the ridge. Don’t get blown away by the high winds. And bring a camera—you’ll want to take copious selfies.
Nuuanu Pali State Park, off Pali Highway.
5. Take a Peek at O‘ahu’s Piko
At the north end of Wahiawā just past Lake Wilson sits Kukaniloko, the ancient birth site for Hawaiian ali‘i. Akin to Hawai‘i’s Stonehenge, this sacred spot consists of two rows of 18 birthing stones for the 36 chiefs. Sitting at the center of the island, Hawaiians considered the spot O‘ahu’s piko, and they held elaborate rituals at the site and the nearby Ho‘olonopahu Heiau, which no longer exists. Today, you’ll encounter a vast empty field with a view of Central O‘ahu and a grove of lovely trees overlooking the stones.
Off Kamehameha Highway at the Intersection of Kamehameha Highway and Whitmore Village.
Want more outdoor adventure ideas? Check out our full list of 23 Outdoor Adventures to Enjoy Now.