Editor’s Note: Today’s blog comes from our friend Louise who recently visited Aulani in Hawaii and participated in several excursions. Here is her review of one. Follow our blog for more reviews from Louise!
We met in the lobby of Aulani for our air conditioned bus ride. Matthew, our Adventure by Disney guide, gave us background during the half hour ride. We rode past Pearl Harbor, the airport, and the outskirts of Honolulu. He related how the west side of the island of Oahu was arid as there were cacti growing along the highways. The east side of the island and around the mountains receives over 200 inches of rainfall a year. Therefore the mountainous areas are mostly covered in rainforest.
It was only through mutual agreement between the private land owners and a tour company that allows groups onto this private property. The tour company provides the guide who leads the way and Matthew brought up the rear. Both of them provided interesting details to the trek along the way. Adventures by Disney currently has it on their schedule for Sundays. The excursion is limited to approximately 20 individuals to go onto this particular trail in order to see the 200 foot tall waterfalls. The trail was on private property, but I believe the falls are on public property. Previously this property was a tropical nursery that the owners just got too old to run and their children did not want to continue the business.
The day we went was sunny, but it either rained that morning, or the day before. Because the humidity was so high, it made the temperature seem even hotter. They said it was supposed to be about 88 degrees out, but it seemed much warmer. There were times the mud was so deep, it almost sucked your shoes right off your feet! They did supply bug spray, bottled water, snacks and mud boots. The mud boots looked very uncomfortable, so we decided to just go in our sneakers. I just knew that the sneakers were going to have to go into a laundry load by themselves.
The trek up the mountain took about an hour with short breaks in between for photos. We were told about some of the trees as we went along. Every few weeks they have to chop the foliage out so they can keep the path open to reach the falls. Matthew assured us that there were no snakes, poison ivy, or poison oak and encouraged us to hold onto trees or vines as we did our hike. We needed to do that, because the trek was very slippery. I found myself looking at the feet of the person in front of me, so I could decide where a good place would be for me to take my next step. We had to navigate through very uneven terrain, slippery and loose rocks, and gnarly roots and cross water filled creeks that could trip you up along the way. And then there was the very slick mud…
When we came to Manoa Falls we stopped and took time out for water, snacks, photos and reapplying bug spray. It was a beautiful valley of lush rainforest. It is difficult to imagine that ferns grow 8-10 feet tall! The flowers and trees are exotic and only see them in pictures. We were lucky to get so many gorgeous photos of some of the plants as it would be difficult if you were hiking in a downpour. We were very lucky that it did not rain during our hike. The paperwork encouraged people to bring their own rain ponchos, and I recommend making sure you brought one along.
It also took about an hour to hike down the bamboo forest trail. I use the word “trail” loosely here. We literally had to hold onto bamboo trees in order to keep our footing. It almost was like we were using two walking sticks, but every step you had to grab two new sticks. It was around noon as we were descending the mountain, but it was so thick with bamboo, it almost looked as though we were walking at dusk! At one point I looked just a few feet away from me to the right, and realized we were walking on the sheer edge of the mountain!
I felt it was well worth the money for this tour. It was definitely for more adventurous people that don’t seem to mind heat and humidity. If you think you won’t get muddy, or can avoid it, you are wrong. I tried to keep from getting muddy and I had spots of mud up past my knees. Two people slipped and fell onto their backsides, but were not injured. This trek is definitely not for people with bad asthma, bad knees or poor stamina. But it was very cool to see exotic plants growing in the most perfect conditions for them where they could grow as huge as they possibly could. I will do this again if we go back to Aulani.