Tag Archives: Hawaii

The Crouching Lion, Hidden Hike

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

There aren’t any sign posts that point towards it.

You wouldn’t even know the name for it unless you looked it up. The unofficial start of the trail was hidden somewhere near a “Do Not Pass” road post on the eastern coast of Oahu. I’ve read about it and I’ve seen some amazing pictures from the top and I wanted to see it for myself. Crouching Lion is its name and it was my mission to find it.

We have just completed Event #6 (which I’ll talk about in moment) and now we have a full unplanned day to do whatever we wanted in Oahu. I mentioned to the others that there was a special hike I wanted to find that we all should consider doing. They were all down. It’s called Crouching Lion and it earned that name for the “crouching lion” shape the mountain resembles. I didn’t see it. There aren’t any road marks or sign posts for this hike, you just have to find it. But thanks to other bloggers who have found the trail and left a comprehensive guide for others to follow suit, most of the hard work was already done for us. We just had to find a place to park and luckily there was access to a small parking structure on the side of the road to where we needed to be.

Twelve years ago, I came to Oahu. We parked our minivan on the side of the road for a jungle trek and came back a couple hours later to find our van’s windows busted and several of our valuables stolen. I’ve been cautious ever since. This time, I had full coverage on our SUV and no valuables inside, just in case bandits were to try again. At the least, none of our valuables would be taken. We kept them in our day bag for the trek up Crouching Lion, which began just after the “Do Not Pass” sign, just as I have read about prior.

Crouching Lion Oahu
The trail begins just after the “Do Not Pass” sign on the east side of the road.

After finding the sign and entering the trail, we immediately came to a few battered trees to our left which we had to climb over and under to continue.

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

The ascent up itself was steep, but not difficult. It also wasn’t very long. Probably took about 30-40 minutes to get to the trail that lined the top of the mountain. Even so, we were already rewarded with a spectacular view of a large lake that barely reaches the east shore.

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

Once on the mountain top trail, the path splits into a fork: left or right. We chose left as it was the easiest. I’ve read that the other trail leads to some dangerous ventures that I wasn’t ready to risk with a few friends who rarely hike at my side. But the left path still took us to another apex where we could see a part of residential Oahu meet the Pacific.

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

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Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

If you’re keen on doing a hike that only lasts a few hours round trip, but not looking for anything too strenuous, I highly recommend Crouching Lion. Relatively easy to find, requires a low level of physical assertion, and is super rewarding. And if you have any questions about how to find the trail exactly and where to park, just shoot me a message!


Now let’s backtrack a bit into Event #6…

Now the reason I began talking about Crouching Lion instead of Event #6, which happened the night before Crouching Lion, is purely personal reasoning. Basically, I’m not a fan of leading a post about drinking and drunken antics unless it’s something like a wine tour in a new country, Oktoberfest, or something purely unavoidable that I MUST blog about like a completely unexpected Sunday Funday pool crawl in Nicaragua. I don’t personally like opening a post about a semi-sloppy drunken mess, case in point, like what Event #6 turned into…

Event #6 of 8 – Honolulu Peddle Bar

I typically have control over the turnouts of each of the events, but not this one. It comes with the territory though. Getting hammered on a giant cart powered by 12 bike peddlers comes with just rewards and drunken consequences if one isn’t careful. Regardless of the fact, we all had a great time!

This event was catered specifically for Veronica. After torturing her with physical outdoorsy events, I thought she’d appreciate something a little more up her alley. Thus, a peddle bike bar crawl though Honolulu was born!

Honolulu peddle bike oahu

The idea was intriguing. About twelve ready-to-get-their-drink-on strangers get together and power peddle a large cart to three bars in Honolulu, guided by a man who steered as we all gladly slaved away. We weren’t allowed to have any actual drinks on the cart but were prompted to drink up at each of the bars we stopped at, which came very easy to all five of us.

By the end of the third bar, we were all feeling it. We had a pretty good group on our cart and wanted to keep the action going, so we decided (or actually one of the ladies in our group suggested) we all go to a bar about a kilometer away called Duck Butt. We graciously straggled our way there and suddenly entered Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Duck Butt was a Vietnamese karaoke bar! The staff, the atmosphere, the k-pop music videos on the tv screens, the waitresses who pretended to understand what we were trying to order; I felt like I was back in Ho Chi Minh again!


We all squeezed into a small room with a couch that wrapped along the walls. We all made cozy, ordered drinks, and sang some songs. Well I didn’t. I was busy wondering what the heck was happening. Veronica became Vanessa who couldn’t read Chinese. Drinks were spilled all over the table, we thought we were eating chicken but it turned out to be goose or something, and lots of talk of the difference between queefs and fanny farts among the Americans and the Australians in our group. Before anyone forgot, I paid for the tab before the waitress told me that someone from our group ordered another round!

“Who the heck ordered more beer??” I thought. We certainly didn’t need anymore, but hey… we were at a place called Duck Butt!

We took a couple of ubers back to our house later that evening and on the way I mentally decided that if I were to ever do another League of Eight Extraordinary Events (which I definitely plan on doing), I won’t make any of the events based on getting drunk, unless it’s something iconic like an Oktoberfest for example. Bottom line, we all enjoyed ourselves and that’s what mattered the most.

On to Event# 7! My favorite event thus far!


Exploration: North Shore Oahu, Hawaii!

The island of Oahu, part of The Hawaiian Island archipelago, is home to one of the most popular surfing hot spots in the world: The North Shore. It’s here where you’ll find crisp turquoise waves in the summer, practically made for surfing, that attracts surfers from all over the globe. The pristine coastline introduces the tropics of the island north, where jungles climb mountains and food trucks rally along Kamehameha Highway that steers along the island coast. We had all day to explore the northern stretch of Oahu that would eventually lead us to the mysterious Event #5. I know what Event#5 is but I’m not exactly sure what it is.

After a wild morning with Galapagos Sharks, our plan was to coast the North Shore, visiting as many beaches and food trucks as possible. We didn’t know which beaches or places to hit, so we just stopped at whichever one caught our eyes. This was ‘winging it’ in every sense of the word and it was exactly what we wanted. We drove by a site called Waimea Valley where a short and easy stroll through a heritage jungle will lead you to a waterfall you could freely swim in. We went there first.

Waimea Waterfalls

Waimea Waterfalls

I was at this spot 12 years ago and before we weren’t required to wear life jackets (I could be mistaken though, my memory is horrible). Fast forward to the present, life jackets were required by everyone. I didn’t understand why until we tried to swim towards the waterfall. The force was strong!

Waimea Waterfalls
Katelin, Chris, Veronica, and Sean.

The beaches on the North Shore were the best. We went to about three or four different ones and spent a good chunk of time at each of them. The first one was at Sharks Cove where I tried out a travel hammock I received as a gift from a friend, just before I left on this worldly conquest. While the others went to explore the coves, I took a much-needed nap in that super comfortable hammock.

Sharks Cove Beach

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The next beach? Turtle Bay. In order to get there, we drove through a hotel resort and walked right up to the waters filled with tourists, but still oh so nice.

Turtle Bay

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Another beach? Why not? This time we drove just a few kilometers east to Sunset Beach. The name was fitting as we did not a single thing but rest our eyes and relax on the sand and hammock. It was absolutely perfect.

Sunset Beach

The majority of the day was spent beach side and searching for food trucks. My favorite beach of the bunch? Shark’s Cove. I didn’t even get into the water for that one. The hammock sold me. Truly being lazy. But, the laziness was about to end–we still had Event #5 which took place during the night hours. What could we possibly be doing at night? I knew the answer (for the most part) but I kept the others in the dark until we arrived at our destination.

Event #5 of 8 – Lunar Legends SUP

Stand up paddle boarding? I never tried it, let alone in the dark. I found a place that has standup paddle boards with colorful lights attached underneath where you can cruise through a Polynesian jungle using the moon as your guide. Sounds amazing right? It takes place at the Polynesian Cultural Center, just a few kilometers east of the beaches we visited.

Courtesy of Google Maps
Courtesy of Google Maps

As neat as it sounded, I wasn’t sure exactly how it would turn out. Would there be a lot of people doing it? Was standup paddle boarding going to be easy or difficult? What’s the actual jungle like? The website said there was some surprise at the end of the tour. What was the surprise?! I had many questions that were answered that night, thanks to our humble guide that would lead the four of us along with about six others along a man-made river through the Polynesian Cultural Center. The river was only three feet deep. So if you fall in, it wouldn’t be so horrendous.

We each were given a life vest and chose a board to stand on. We first had to kneel on it and then use the single paddle we had to hoist ourselves up. It wasn’t as difficult as I’ve heard it could be but then again, this river was the calmest imaginable.



By the way, night shots are difficult for me, especially while trying to keep my balance on a wobbly board so sorry for the grainy images. This is what I’m working with!

Lunar Legends SUP

The lights under our board complimented an already unique environment as we peacefully coasted (and purposely rammed into each other) along the river. Once I got the hang of things, my new goal was to knock the others into the water by bashing my board into theirs. We paddled towards small waterfalls we could go under by choice. No one wanted to get wet, but it was my mission to shove someone’s board underneath a fall and with success I was able to get Katelin. Karma hit me instantly when Sean shoved my board and instead of keeping balance, I fell into the river. Thankfully it was on the warmer side.



The tour lasted for about an hour. As for that “special surprise” at the end…there wasn’t one. It was probably those waterfalls. The tour ended with another woman falling into the river when she couldn’t find her balance on the board. I wasn’t the only one to fall!

The Lunar Legends was nice, but I would have enjoyed it more if it was just my group. A few of the other paddlers in our group slowed us down and hampered the whole “Polynesian” part of the experience because one of the ladies had difficulty even standing in the beginning. This also was my first time with a stand up paddle board and personally for me it was meh…

The others enjoyed it though and that’s what really mattered. Five of the Eight Extraordinary Events down, three more to go!


Close Encounters of the Shark Kind: Shark Cage Diving In Oahu

Shark Cage Dving Oahu

What better way to kick off a trip in Hawaii than going shark cage diving in Oahu?

Everyone’s all settled in and still not over the fact that less than 24 hours ago, we were just in Alaska. But no time for rest. I made it known to them that bright and early tomorrow morning, we have to head towards the North Shore for Event #4. I didn’t tell them anything about the event, except to wear swim gear and bring waterproof cameras if they had them. We packed the rental car and took off early in the morning to the North Shore of Oahu. Our destination? Haleiwa, HI.

Haleiwa, Hawaii, the location of Event #4.
Haleiwa, Hawaii, the location of Event #4.

Event #4 of 5 – Shark Cage Diving Oahu

Before we left, I woke up Veronica around 6am to take a couple motion sickness tablets. She gets as sick as I do so we both took them early in preparation. She didn’t know yet why she needed them, but she didn’t hesitate to take them. Once we pulled into the Haleiwa park and saw the sign for “Hawaii Shark Encounters” she then knew exactly why she needed the tablets. “We’re going shark cage diving!”

Courtesy of Chris O'Sullivan
Courtesy of Chris O’Sullivan
The boat for our dive came about 15 minutes after we arrived and we got on board with seven other divers along with two instructors. One of the instructors let us know that the type of sharks we would be seeing were Galapagos sharks, which can grow up to 3.3 meters (11 feet) in length.



We rode the boat about 20 minutes out into the sea where we found our cage attached to a buoy. Thankfully, the weather was especially welcoming and the waters were of a comfortable temperature, unlike my previous shark cage diving experience in South Africa. Already we could see sharks swimming below our boat, much to the elation of everyone. Once anchored, we put on our wet suits and snorkels masks and climbed down into the cage which was now securely attached to the boat.

Galapagos Sharks

I was feeling a tad sick from the boat ride–just a tad, but going underwater made it feel a little better. Just in time, as I was able to concentrate and focus on capturing awesome footage with my GoPro.

Shark Cage Diving Oahu

Shark Cage Diving Oahu

The Galapagos sharks look vicious, but are actually mild in comparison to Great Whites. These sharks aren’t fond of humans as a meal, but instead will let you swim freely around them once they grow comfortable and realize that you are not a threat. If I’d known that this was a thing, I would of had all of us free dive with them instead of cage dive, but baby steps. I wasn’t sure how Veronica, Katelin, and Sean would fare but they ended up loving it! As far as Chris goes, per usual, he is game for literally anything at anytime.


The cage was big enough to fit six people comfortably, but still we would bump into each other. No one paid mind though. The sharks captured all of our attention as the crew members baited them and we watched them chomp all around us. They swam so close to our cage that you could touch them. In fact, I think my GoPro caressed one as it swam by with little reaction from the shark. Without notice, my camera-free arm and feet would dangle outside of the cage at times. That’s how comfortable I was in that cage and how comfortable I was with those sharks, to not mind my limbs dangling freely (sometimes). Now if these were Great Whites, that would be another story.

Oahu Shark Cage Diving

Galapagos Sharks

After awhile of nonstop shark action, I began to feel nauseous again. I felt like I could vomit in the coming moments, so I exited the cage early. But just a couple minutes after I climbed out, the crew decided that we were in long enough anyways and they had everyone climb out.

“Look out into the horizon,” said one of the crew members to me, knowing that I was feeling sick. “You’ll start to feel better.”

And so I did. I’m not sure if it was just a mind game or what but I actually did begin to feel better by just staring out into the distant shore of Haleiwa. Veronica was feeling sick to so I told her to look out into the horizon as well.

On the way back to the dock, a pod of dolphins swam in sync to the waves our boats’ engine created behind us. This is the first time I’ve seen dolphins in the wild and so many of them at the same time! The cherry on top of this neat excursion.

Dolphins in Oahu

That’s half of The League of Eight Extraordinary Events down, another four to go!

What next could I possibly have in store for my crew of clueless globetrotters?

Shark Cage Diving Oahu


The Opposite of Alaska is Hawaii

The League of Eight Extraordinary Events

The road rally wasn’t the only thing I was lying about…

Yes, the League of Eight Extraordinary Events takes place in Alaska. That is true. But what I haven’t told my friends was that it doesn’t take place only in Alaska.

This is what I told them:

“So you guys know the capital of Alaska is Juneau right?” I asked them. They nodded and responded with a yes. “Well, Event #4 takes place in Juneau but it’s impossible to drive there from here. We have to fly.”

That part is also true, you cannot drive all the way from Anchorage to Juneau without taking a ferry. However the part about actually going to Juneau was a sham. Still, they believed me and were all excited about going to a completely different part of the last frontier, especially Chris.

We packed our bags and headed back to the Anchorage International Airport, where I was able to return my rental. I wasn’t sure how I was going to reveal to them that we were flying to Honolulu, Hawaii instead of Juneau, Alaska. I didn’t plan this part out. But yes you read that right, I decided to go to a place completely opposite of Alaska, and what state is more opposite than Hawaii?

The flight to Juneau was at 12:30pm (12:30) but our actual flight to Honolulu was at 2:30pm (14:30). Just in case one of them checked for Juneau flights online, I made sure we arrived to the airport early, so they wouldn’t question it. Legit, they were convinced we were headed to Juneau. But how and when was I going to reveal it to them?

My unsuspecting crew thinking we were going to Juneau, Alaska...
My unsuspecting crew thinking we were going to Juneau, Alaska…

Since we were early, I had everyone sit down and told them I had to use the restroom and that I would print out our boarding passes. About 15 minutes later, I had all of our boarding passes in hand with the plan to hand it to them and let them see for themselves. I captured their reactions on video. Once they saw me recording, they knew something wasn’t quite right.

Here’s how it went down:


Shave your legs Veronica! You’re going to Honolulu!

From the video you may have noticed a few things which I’ll get to explaining. Firstly, Veronica was completely shocked (which I knew she would be) and had no idea that we were actually leaving Alaska and headed to Hawaii. Secondly, Chris didn’t seem as surprised as he suspected something was up the moment he saw me recording everyone. Also, I detected a hint of disappointment. Chris assured me that he was ecstatic about going to Hawaii but at the same time disappointed that he wasn’t going to Juneau. We all loved Alaska but Chris loved it more than any of us. If it weren’t for his keen eye, we wouldn’t have seen a single moose or a bear at all.


There’s no doubt we will have a blast in Hawaii but going to Alaska was something he always wanted to do and to have it end unexpectedly, I can understand his reaction. Lastly, as for Katelin…you may have noticed her reaction wasn’t very genuine either, but there is a very good reason for that.
There was one more thing I’ve been fibbing about. All this planning for the fake road rally and the League of Eight Extraordinary Events in Alaska and Hawaii was a complete surprise to everyone, except for Katelin. She’s been in on the whole thing for months now. She initially wasn’t part of the league when I told her all about it months ago, but after I told her the secret, we both thought it would be great for her to join in and she could help sell my story to the others. Up until now, she’s been a great actress, going with the flow, pretending to be clueless about everything…well mostly everything. I left her in the dark about what the actual events are. Also, we both worked out a way for her boyfriend, Sean, to join us in Hawaii too.
Now that more truths were revealed, we just had to wait for our single flight from Anchorage to Honolulu. Once we arrived, I picked up a rental car and the four of us drove to our new accommodation about 20 minutes away. It’s another AirBnB with a kitchen, bathroom, a big bed and a pull out sofa bed. It was a little smaller but perfect for us.

Image courtesy of Chris O'Sullivan. Our view from our studio in Honolulu.
Image courtesy of Chris O’Sullivan. Our view from our studio in Honolulu.

Immediately after dropping everyone off, Katelin and I went back to the airport to pick up Sean who arrived a couple hours after we did. Sean would be joining us for the remaining events, but just like the others, he also has no idea of what the events are.
“Event #4 begins in the morning. Everyone wear your swim suits. We’re getting wet!”