Fort DeRussy Beach Park Video


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

Fort DeRussy is a beach-front military reservation in the Waikiki area. The beach stretches between Kahanamoku Beach and the Outrigger Hotel. While it is under the jurisdiction of the US Army, most of the park, including the beach, is open to the public. You can see my original post on Fort DeRussy here.


When going through my camera roll, I found a video clip I’d forgotten to include in the original post, so here it is. Enjoy!

Location: 2055 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

Designation: Military Reservation

Date established/designated: circa 1904

Date of my visit: April 2019

Iolani Palace National Historic Landmark


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Iolani palace is the only royal palace on US soil. The palace grounds date back to the ancient Hawaiians where a heiau (temple) once stood. King Kamehameha III built his home here in 1845.


The Kamehameha dynasty came to an end and King Kalākaua replaced Kamehameha’s residence with the larger and more elaborate Iolani Palace in 1882. Kalākaua was the first of Hawaii’s kings to travel extensively. He was influenced by Victorian England and other European monarchies in his plans for Iolani Palace.


The lavish architectural style is considered American Florentine. The palace cost $340,000 to build…a huge sum at the time.


As we toured the rooms with our guide Isaac, he pointed out the extensive woodwork using Koa…a native, and pricey, hardwood. He told us that the palace had electricity…the first building in Hawaii to have it. There was also indoor plumbing, a telephone and a European style throne room.


A few months after the palace was completed, an official coronation ceremony was held for the king and his wife, even though Kalākaua had already been the ruling monarch for nine years. The pavilion where the coronation took place is still on the grounds and is now used for the inauguration of Hawaii’s governors.


Isaac told us, while we toured the royal bedrooms upstairs, that the royal family didn’t live here full time. If they weren’t receiving guests or entertaining foreign dignitaries, they stayed in a more modest house across the street.


Queen Liliʻuokalani  succeeded her brother after his death in 1891. In 1893, the monarchy was overthrown. After a failed attempt to restore Queen Liliʻuokalani, she was tried, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment and hard labor.


Her sentence was reduced to house arrest and she spent eight months locked in one room of the palace with nothing to do but make a quilt from scraps of fabric smuggled in. That room is kept empty as it was during her imprisonment and the quilt she made is on display there.


The Provisional Government took over Iolani Palace for its offices. It was then used as the capitol building once Hawaii was annexed by the United States. In 1969, it was vacated by the government.


The Friends of Iolani group, founded by descendants of the royals, reclaimed the palace and began the long painstaking process of restoring Iolani to its former grandeur. The exterior had been altered by the government over the years and those changes had to be undone. The original furnishings were auctioned off after the overthrow, but the Friends located many of the items and reacquired them.


Iolani Palace opened to the public in 1978 and the restoration is an ongoing process. There is a museum in the basement with many of the royal artifacts on display. Throughout the rooms on the guided tour, many of the gowns worn by Queen Liliʻuokalani are featured.


Oahu Posts:


Location: 364 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date established/designated: December 29, 1962

Date of my visit: April 13, 2019


Wailua Falls

IMG_5226Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

Our tour guide picked us up at the pier right after our cruise ship pulled into port in Kauai. We had reservations to go tubing with Kauai Back Country, but Dennis said we needed to see Wailua Falls first. It was just up the road from where we needed to go.20190418_072704

Wailua Falls is behind the Kalepa Mountain Forest Reserve, which was established in 1944 when erosion on the ridge necessitated reforestation. In the midst of the lush regrowth, Wailua Falls was featured in the open credits of Fantasy Island.


Visiting the falls is easy. It can be viewed from a small parking lot with an overlook. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can hike the steep trail down to the bottom and swim in the pool. The lot does fill up, so best to get there early.


Ancient Hawaiian men sometimes jumped from the 173-foot waterfall as a rite of passage. Dennis told us that some crazy guy had jumped from the falls a few years ago and knocked himself out on the way down. He was saved from drowning by a swimmer in the pool.


Kauai Posts:

  • Wailua Falls
  • Lihue Plantation Hanama‘ulu Ditch
  • ʻŌpaekaʻa Falls
  • Wailua River State Park
  • Mount Waiʻaleʻale
  • Fuji Beach
  • Moloa’a Beach
  • Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
  • Kīlauea Lighthouse
  • Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge
  • Wai’oli Hui’ia Church
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Red Dirt Falls
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Waimea Canyon Lookout
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Waipo’o Falls
  • Kōkeʻe State Park: Kalalau Lookout
  • Kōkeʻe State Park: Pu’u O Kila Lookout
  • Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park
  • Hanapepe Swinging Bridge
  • Spouting Horn
  • Koloa Heritage Trail: Spouting Horn
  • Koloa Heritage Trail: Keoneloa Bay
  • Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

Location: Ma’alo Rd Hwy 583, Lihue, HI 96766

Designation: State Forest Reserve

Date designated or established: 1944

Date of my visit: 4/18/2019


Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park: Steam Vents


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


After visiting Volcano House and the park’s visitor center in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, our tour continued on to the Steam Vents parking lot. We walked through a grassy meadow to the caldera’s edge.


From this paved path, we could see steam billowing out of the earth in places.  A few feet down, the ground is so hot that trees can’t take root here, but the tall grasses thrive.


The steam vents are caused by groundwater seeping through to the hot volcanic rock below. When it makes contact with the hot rocks, it is expelled back up through fractures in the earth as steam.


At Steaming Bluff, a cliff overlooking the caldera, we paused for some photos of the crater. Then we walked a short way on the trail leading away from the overlook along the rim.


You can’t go very far on the rim trail because the 2018 eruption destabilized parts of it. The Jaggar museum still sits on this trail, a little further down, but it is no longer structurally sound and so is closed to visitors.


After we’d seen our fill of smoldering fields, we headed back to the bus for our next destination in the park.


Hilo Posts:

  • Volcano House
  • Steam Vents
  •  Kīlauea Iki (Coming Soon)
  • Chain of Craters Road (Coming Soon)
  • Big Island Candies (Coming Soon)
  • Rainbow Falls (Coming Soon)
  • Richardson’s Black Sand Beach (Coming Soon)
  • Mokuola (Coming Soon)


Location: 1 Crater Rim Drive, Volcano, HI 96718

Designation: National Park

Date established/designated: August 1, 1916

Date of my visit: April 16, 2019


Diamond Head National Natural Landmark


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


Diamond Head is a dormant volcano crater. It provides the iconic backdrop to Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu.


Hawaiians called the crater ‘Le’ahi’ (Tuna Ridge, because it resembles the fin of a tuna.) Western explorers thought they saw diamonds sparkling on the crater walls as they approached from the sea which is how it got the name Diamond Head. There were no diamonds.


The military built the trail to the top in 1908 and defensive bunkers were built at the summit during World War II. There are still antennae up there in use by the government.


The hike to the summit is the most popular trail on the island, so we Ubered over to the trail head at the crack of dawn. The car dropped us off in the parking lot where there is a small visitors center kiosk and some restrooms.


The trail head begins from the parking lot, which is already halfway up the crater. It starts out as a steep sidewalk and then gives way to rocky, slippery switchbacks.


Near the end of the switchbacks is a side trail leading to an overlook. This is a good pace to take some photos, catch your breath and drink some water.


The trail is only 1.8 miles round trip, but it’s steep.


Further up the trail, the switchbacks lead to an even steeper staircase. After climbing the stairs, you get to huff and puff your way through a narrow tunnel blasted through the rock.


Once through the tunnel, there are more stairs to the bunkers on top. We climbed up there for breathtaking views of Honolulu, the Pacific and Diamond Head Lighthouse down below.


Once we got back down to the trail head, we continued walking past the park’s entrance to the farmer’s market, about a 1/2 mile down the road. There are dozens of food stalls with fresh fruit and specialties from many different countries. We snacked our way around the world and then were off to our next stop.


Oahu Posts:


Location: Diamond Head, Honolulu, HI 96815

Designation: National Natural Landmark, State Monument

Date established/designated: 1968

Date of my visit: April 13, 2019


Haleakalā National Park


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


Haleakalā is Hawaiian for ‘House of the Sun.’ The demigod Maui is said to have imprisoned the sun here to lengthen the day. And so we took an afternoon excursion to the summit to watch the sun set from above the clouds.


Haleakalā was originally part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, along with the two volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii, designated in 1916. In 1961, Haleakalā was broken out into a separate National Park.


First we stopped at the Park Headquarters at 7000 feet. Our guide pointed out some ʻāhinahina (a type of Silversword plant found only on Haleakalā.) There was also a Nēnē crossing sign in front of the center…these Hawaiian geese had died out in the park, but were reintroduced by Boy Scouts in 1946.


Our next stop was the Haleakalā Visitor Center at 9700 feet. This was a far as the tour bus could go and we would watch the sunset from here. The visitor center itself was closed as it is opens at dawn for the bigger sunrise crowd.


We could see the observatory at the 10k ft summit. We walked towards it a bit while waiting for sunset and saw some birds running around in the lava fields.


At first we thought they were the Nēnē we’d heard so much about, but upon closer inspection, they turned out to be Chukar. This is a type of pheasant, originally introduced into Hawaii for hunting. It has adapted well to the cold climate of the volcano’s summit.


Before the sun set, there was mist rolling through the Haleakalā Crater. The crater is seven miles across and 2600 feet deep. We could only see part of it.


Finally the sun began to set and paint the sky in rapidly changing hues. The fog rolled in and obscured it one moment and rolled out the next to reveal a diffused alien-looking sky.


Maui Posts:
  • Kahului Harbor
  • Haleakalā National Park
  • ʻĪao Valley State Monument
  • Maui Tropical Plantation
  • Maui Ocean Center


Location: 30000 Haleakala Hwy, Kula, HI 96790

Designation: National Park 

Date established/designated: July 1, 1961

Date of my visit: April 14, 2019



The Aloha Tower – NRHP


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


The Aloha Tower is a lighthouse on Pier 9 of Honolulu Harbor. When it opened in September 1926 it was the tallest structure in Hawaii at 10 stories. It cost $160k to build, a huge sum at the time.

Like the Hawaiian Statue of Liberty, the Aloha Tower welcomed immigrants for decades. During WWII, it was painted camouflage. Today, it has an observation deck on the 10th floor, is surrounded by the Aloha Tower Marketplace (part of Hawai‘i Pacific University,) and welcomes cruise ship tourists to the port of Honolulu.


Oahu Posts:

Location: 155 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96813

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date established/designated: May 13, 1976

Date of my visit: April 13, 2019