29 Nov – 4 Dec 2014. Driving the Pali Highway out of Honolulu through the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve we are surrounded by spectacular volcanic mountains covered in lush tropical growth, vines as tall as trees, trees rooted by sweeping buttresses, coconut palms and banana palms, green grasses, bright flowers, a luxuriant and insistent covering of every last craggy peak.

Taking the Kahekili Highway further north we arrive at the Byodo-In Temple, a non-practicing Buddhist temple established in 1968 to commemorate the one hundred year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.


We are completely charmed by this place, by the traditional Japanese building, by the giant gold Buddha inside the pavilion, by the beautiful koi pond, by the swarming hungry koi, by the swans and zebra doves and other birds, by the beautiful gardens, and by the garden artist carefully raking the gravel into perfect submission in traditional Japanese style.






One of a pair of black swans donated by Australia


A row of zebra doves


The ubiquitous hibiscus


Travelling on we find another shrimp truck. Not as good as Giovanni’s, but good enough for a plate of ahi tuna with rice and salad. And cattle egrets in the grass.




Heading southeast from Byodo-In Temple we come to the coast at Kailua Bay and Kailua Beach Park where we see red-crested cardinals in the grass, and Japanese girls in chiffon skirts, kiteboarders, and surfers on the beach.





After just five days in Hawaii we continued our trans-Pacific journey, not having done the best things to do on Oahu. The days seemed to drift by in a kind of hazy laziness and suddenly it was time to go. So we’re saving the best ‘til last. On our return to Oahu in May we will hike to the highest part of the rim of Diamond Head, go to Hanauma Bay which is apparently one of the best places in Hawaii for snorkelling, also go snorkelling at a largely unknown lagoon at Ko Olina where there are likely to be turtles, and seek out some Hawaiian music and dancing.

In the meantime we’ve been to Samoa. That woke us up!

Next post: The magical islands of Samoa, definitely one of the less travelled Polynesian islands and thoroughly delightful.

All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.