Waimea Valley Audubon Park

Location: Hawaii, island of Oahu, north shore
Access: Take the Kamehamea Hwy about 2 miles west from Sunset Beach to a bend in the road at Waimea Bay. Entrance is signed, and obvious.
Map: Itís all paved, no map is needed. Still, for the geographically-curious: USGS 1:24K Waimea. Google Earth has a fantastic overhead view of Waimea Falls. 
Fees: There is a daily fee of about $6, I canít recall exactly what it was.

October 8, 2007
After spending a fantastic morning snorkeling with Matt and Susan at Sharkís Cove, I struck out solo into the nearby Waimea Valley Audubon Center, a kind of cultural/botanical park with archeological ruins and thousands of plant taxa from around the worldís tropical latitudes. After paying my entrance fee at a small guardhouse, I walked along the paved walkway under towering trees, and across a small bridge over Waimea Creek. Birds chippered all around, and the wonderful smell of growing plants filled the air. Itís a pretty nice place to stroll around and take in some very interesting plants. The straight shot to Waimea Falls is only about ¾ of a mile, but much like a good museum, there are tons of short side routes that can fill a long afternoon with browsing the plants and reading their identification tags. Why is it so interesting to know the name of something? I canít remember Latin names after one reading, and I donít need to know it to appreciate it. Why is it then that every time I passed a plant with a name tag, I had to stop and tilt my head to read it?

As I made my way south towards the falls, the sky clouded over and people seemed to thin out dramatically. I felt pretty much alone on the paved walkway, and enjoyed the solitude and peacefulness. I passed by native archeological ruins and interpretive signs, which made for interesting reading. The plants in the park seem to be divided up by region of origin, which was pretty neat. Also neat: wild chickens stalking the park. You donít see that just anywhere.

When I reached the falls there were a few other people there. I snapped a few photos right before a couple of men jumped in and swam around in the waterhole. The water was ruddy brown and did not look inviting. I have a real hard time getting into water I canít see through. I know there arenít any big giant man-eating fish in there, but all the same, I canít bring myself to hop in. 

I made my way slowly back towards the entrance, and found when I got there that the park had closed. It was still bright and sunny out, but it was a Sunday, and they close pretty early on Sundays. I tarried at Sharkís Cove and Sunset Beach for quite some time, hoping for a nice sunset. I was rewarded with a nice golden glow as the sun sank into the clouds beyond Kaena Point. Very nice end to a great day.

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