Passport Control

Our adventures began when Diana noticed her passport was missing. Turns out it fell out of her bag on the plane. Getting it back was fairly easy, but it wouldn't be a real trip unless one of us had an issue with their passport.

Monday Night

We didn't have much time to do stuff Monday, but we did get some delicious sushi and thai tea smoothies for dinner. We walked to the beach to eat and ended up sneaking into a closed-down part of a shopping mall to get a good view of the setting sun. Then we bought some groceries, drove to the start of the Stairway to Heaven and went to bed. Turns out minivans are a great place to sleep if you fold all the other seats into the floor.

Stairway To Heaven

The Stairway to Heaven (aka Haiku Stairs) is one of the best hikes in Hawaii. It's so good, it's actually illegal to do it and there's a guard posted to keep people away. So you have to show up at 3am and sneak through some hidden forest paths in order to do this hike. I think that makes it even better.

The hike itself is pretty tough. The goal of the hike is an old World War 2 satelite dish outpost. To get there, you have to climb a 4000-stair ladder over some really scary-looking ridges. This should give you a sense of what it's like. In addition, the path is muddy at times and the stairs are slick from the mist.

We woke up at 2:30am to get started before the guard shows up. Following the instructions on Yelp (thanks Jeffrey C), we snuck up a muddy forest path and reached the bottom of the stairs by 3:20. From there, it was a straight climb to the top. We reached the peak at 5:30am and settled in and meditated while waiting for the sunrise.

The night was clear and the moon set just as we summitted. The stars were many and beautiful. I'd never seen the Southern Cross before. You could also see the lights at Kaneohe and Honolulu.

By the time the sun started to rise, there were about 10 people there. The views were gorgeous and ever-changing. Diana took a bunch of panoramas and I snapped some photos with my phone as well.

haiku at night

us at haiku stairs after sunrise

By 7, the first bits of sun were visible and by 7:30 the sun was up and it was time to head down. The descent was way easier than the climb (sounds obvious, but I expected it to be way harder than it was). We stopped a few times to take some great photos of the landscape and a few to emphasize how crazy the climb was.

Haiku Stairs descent 1

Haiku Stairs descent 2

By 8:40, we were back at the car and ready to hit the road.

My tips:

  • Bring a warm jacket and pants for the top. I hiked the whole thing in shorts and a shirt, but was glad for my sweatpants and an insulated jacket at the top.
  • FiveFingers are great for traction, but shitty for climbing up thin metal stairs. The steps dug into my foot got really annoying. I recommend something with a harder sole.
  • If you're gonna bring a headlamp, get one with a red filter. It won't kill your night vision when you use it. But if the night is clear, you won't even need one.

P.S. obligatory handstand pic

haiku stairs handstand

The Rest of Tuesday

When it's only 9am and you've already done an intense hike, everything else feels like a bonus.

We visited the nearby Valley of the Temples and checked out the Byodo-In Temple. It was a great spot - serene and full of animals. They have a koi pond with hundreds of colorful fish and two black swans. The temple itself is fairly simple, but it was still cool. Diana and I meditated a bit in a corner gazebo. I avoided ringing the giant bell.

Byodo-in Temple

After the temple, we hit up Kailua Beach for some relaxation. I napped for an hour while Diana studied. Then we threw a disc, swam in the warm turquoise ocean and walked around some.

Kailua Beach

After that we visited the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens and stopped by their nice lookout.

Look out!

Finally, we headed to our AirBnB home for a well-deserved rest (and picked up sushi on the way).