Day 13 – Kalaniana’ole Highway

Day 13

Destination: Route 72, the Kalaniana’ole Highway – Kailua through Waimanalo to Hawaii Kai

Focus: Scenic drive

Soundtrack for the drive: Sunday drives call for podcasts and I’ve got a bunch of Radiolab episodes lined up. It’s always a crapshoot with them. I’m often left feeling let down, hoping for more, but when they get it right, boy do they knock my socks off. Fingers crossed today’s shorts don’t disappoint.

Quote of the day: Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm ~ Winston Churchill (Does this mean I can logically consider my seemingly disastrous love life a success?)

My digital camera is on the fritz today and that is a big fat bummer because Route 72 around the southeastern tip of Oahu is about the most gorgeous thing ever. I know I keep saying things like that but come on, I live in Hawaii!

This road is formally named the Kalaniana’ole Highway after Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole. It begins in Kailua and continues down the coast through Waimanalo to its end in Hawaii Kai. Waimanalo means ‘potable water’. The town was named for the ponds in the area that were used for irrigation. The beach here is a three and a half mile stretch of perfect white sand – the longest on Oahu. Stunning beach park to my left… gorgeous lush green cliffs towering to my right.

After passing through town the road climbs to Makapu’u Lookout. Manana Island, also called Rabbit Island, and the smaller islet next to it are both protected bird sanctuaries. This is one of those spots where the ocean seems to go on forever. The azure blue tones are mesmerizing and if it weren’t for the tourists scattered about, I might like to stay here all day. There’s a hiking trail along the point within the Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline. It’s on the schedule for next week.

I managed a few decent pics on my iPhone.

Next down the road is Sandy Beach Park, which has spectacular surfing waves that are often considered dangerous. I’ve read it’s the best place to fly a kite on the island – now there’s something I would try!

There’s one more lookout before Hanauma Bay where you can climb over the rock wall and get close to the cliff edge to look down on Halona Blowhole. (Don’t tell my mom I did so. She’s afraid of heights and still makes that terrified gasping sound because she’s convinced we’ll all fall to our deaths.) The rocks here are smooth and layered. The waves below crash up against the cliffs with enormous roars. To me they’re like guard dogs barking “Stay out of here!” and I’m happy to oblige. In my head the ocean is the most dangerous thing there is. I love the rush of energy that comes from standing above looking down and out, but I have no desire whatsoever to jump in.

After passing Hanauma Bay, the best spot on the island for snorkeling, the Kalaniana’ole Highway makes its way past Koko Crater and down into Hawaii Kai. At Maunalua Bay you can always see folks out on wave runners. Just a little further down the road in Aina Haina Route 72 turns into the H-1 freeway and the scenic drive is over.

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