Manoa Neighborhood and the University of Hawai’i

ManoaHidden just a bit off the beaten path from most visitors is the Manoa Neighborhood which houses such treasures as Manoa Falls, the Manoa Heritage Center, Lyon Arboretum, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The neighborhood itself has a small shopping center which hosts a weekly farmers market as well as a handful of restaurants, coffee shops, and businesses that serve local residents.

Manoa – which means ‘thickness’ in Hawaiian language –  is a valley that sits about three miles east of the downtown historic district of Honolulu and about a mile inland from Waikiki. Like many Oahu neighborhoods, Manoa fills a valley and gets more rain than the beach areas and thus has more rainbows. On the back side of the valley is Manoa Falls and moving forward, it widens out until you reach the University of Hawaii at Manoa and then the Punahou School, the expensive private school (formerly the Missionary Children’s School) which President Obama attended.

Manoa

Manoa Stream carves it’s way from the waterfall, past the cultural restorations of the Hawaiian Studies buildings of the University of Hawaii – which include some traditional wetland agriculture – kalo ponds, called lo’i in Hawaiian language – and then into the Manoa-Palolo drainage canal and onwards to the Ala Wai Canal. The Manoa Valley was an important agricultural area in ancient Hawaii and later housed the first western style plantations in Hawaii with both coffee and sugarcane being grown there from 1825 onward.

Manoa

In 1907, the University of Hawaii at Manoa was established as the College of Hawaii. The school includes the John A Burns School of Medicine, the William S. Richardson School of Law, the Shidler Business College, and the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. It also houses the East-West Center, the Korean Studies Center, the Hawaiian Studies Center and the Japanese Tea Garden and Koi Pond.  It has an enrollement of about 20,000 students and a beautiful campus of more than 320 acres. It is an NCAA school and part of the Big West Conference.

In the back of the Manoa Valley, the University of Hawaii administers the Lyon Arboretum, one of the most respected tropical botanical gardens in the United States. In addition, there are nice parks, a public swimming pool, and some hidden gem hikes for those willing to get off the beaten path and do a little research.

Manoa

 

10 Free Things to do in Honolulu

While I love being a world traveler, most of the time, I’m just happy to live in Hawaii and do the amazing things you can do for free here. Honolulu, the capital city, offers tons of free things to do. Here are my top 10 things to do for free in Honolulu

1) Hike to Manoa Falls and enjoy the tropical rainforest
2) Go to Ala Moana Beach Park for surfing, snorkeling, and sunbathing
3) Free night movies on the beach in Waikiki
4) Free Hula and Torchlighting every night in Waikiki
5) Walk through the historic district of Honolulu
6) Once a month First Friday Gallery Walk in Chinatown and Arts District
7) Eating a picnic lunch on the Iolani Palace grounds
8) Watching tourists hang leis on the statue of Duke Kahanamoku
9) Sunsets from Magic Island with a perfect view of surfers
10) Sledding down the big grass hills with local kids on cardboard boxes at Kaka’ako Beach Park

Honolulu is probably one of the greatest cities in the world for incredible free activities. I could list hundreds, but these are the ten that make me smile at the moment.

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