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Aloha for the Soul: Hiking in Oʻahu with Hiking Hawaii

Hiking in Oʻahu is a priceless experience.

There are more hiking trails on Oʻahu than you could ever imagine. From breathtaking vistas, lush, tropical rainforests and steep, perilous climbs, to ancient relics of the past and cascading waterfalls, the Island has it all.

Mānoa Falls, located at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains, is the most popular hike on Oʻahu, especially when it comes to the amount of tourists being led up the muddy, uneven trail wearing their flip-flops and carrying bulky wooden walking sticks. But Mānoa Falls is also a favored spot with the locals, as there are many other exciting (though dangerous) trails, such as ‘Aihualama, Kōnāhuanui or Pauoa Flats, and secret falls hidden from plain view within the greater Mānoa Valley.

Whether you’re a professional adventurist, passionate hiker or someone that has never seen a trailhead in your entire life, going on a guided hike or tour with Hiking Hawaii will show you the breathtaking beauty of Oʻahu. Unlike other tours that simply throw a walking stick at you and make you pay just to stop at every tree or plant and talk about it, this company brings along enough aloha spirit to make even the simplest hike both fun and educational. They give you a moment to take it all in for yourself, to truly be captivated by Mother Nature’s magnificence.

When Michelle Hee, an Account Coordinator for Stryker, Weiner & Yokota, and I hiked the trail, we had Alysia Tengan as our hiking guide. And let me tell you: She is the person you want narrating any journey you have on the Island. She’s passionate about what she’s doing, knowledgeable, professional and all-around good vibes. During our hike to the falls, she led us into a small bamboo forest, pointed out picturesque streams, taught us about the culture and wildlife, and even foraged us some lemon guava to eat!

“Back in May, I started working with the company and I couldn’t be happier. Hiking Hawaii tends to attract people that are very positive minded, that love to experience the beautiful gifts that Hawaii has to offer,” Tengan explains. “I’ve met nothing but great people working with this company. The owner, Crystal Evans, is an inspiration for me because she’s such an entrepreneur, a mother with three amazing daughters. I believe it’s amazing that she’s created this mecca for people to go as a resource to get information about hiking — nobody did that before. Their motto, aloha for the soul, really resonates with me, as I’m sure it does with others.”

If you just stick to exploring Mānoa Falls, it is a fairly short hike, with a trail that’s relatively simple to follow; that is, unless it just rained. Then, you’ll be left trudging through heavy mud and loose slippery gravel. On average, I was told that this particular path could be completed within 40 to 45 minutes, depending how often you stopped to admire the unique and fragile ecosystem, listen to the song of the white-rumped shama thrush or contemplate the legend of the Night Marchers, which are said to be the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors.

In time-honored Hawaiian belief, the Night Marchers, also known as huaka‘i po (huaka‘i, procession; po, night), have always been associated with Mānoa Falls. At the trailhead, there is a banyan tree that some say is the path they often walk. Other accounts from people while traveling through this beautiful valley tell of hearing spirits moving about or a banshee screaming. According to legend, if you happen to be walking on this trail and come into contact with one of the Night Marchers during their procession, it is paramount that you lay low to the ground on your stomach and avoid making eye contact with them at all costs.

Once you reach the 150-foot waterfall, you’ll also be greeted with a small pool, but while it may look inviting there is a chain and rock fall warnings surrounding the perimeter. Back in 2002, there was a major landslide that caused 30 tons of rock to fall below. You certainly would not want to be inside that pool if something like that were to occur, again. As you can imagine, as adventurous as I am, I did not cool off in the shallow pool — it’s a beautiful sight just to admire from a safe distance.

“The best aspect of this job is all of the positivity that has surrounded my life since I’ve been living my authentic self and being a part of this wonderful company,” Tengan went on to say. “The trails are never the same; it’s different every time because the vegetation grows so quickly. What has hit me hard is the people and the connections I’ve made with travelers from around the world. I still stay in touch with so many of them and they come back, or at least plan to. They can feel the aloha, and I think that’s what brings them back, that’s what makes things happen.”

It only took us about an hour and a half to complete the hike, and no, we didn’t encounter any Night Marchers, though we did keep one ear to the wind just in case.

If you plan on visiting this glorious Island, allow Hiking Hawaii to guide you while you discover the spectacular scenery and the spirit of Oʻahu. If there’s any company out there capable of showcasing the essence that attracted people here in the first place, they are definitely it.

A healthy body is a happy body, even when you’re on vacation. So, it’s important to get moving! Not only that, but getting outside and exploring Oʻahu’s amazing diversity will give you a newfound appreciation for the land.

Suggested items to bring on this hike: water, sunscreen, hat, bug spray (the mosquitoes will eat you, trust me!) and a camera.

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