A lava tube, a monk seal, and a badly sprained ankle

The day had arrived!  It was the day that I would find the walk through lava tube that I have been searching for.  On 3 different occasions over the past couple months I have researched online and wandered around the cliffs near Halona Blowhole trying to find this elusive lava tube.  And yes I mean elusive, that thing has been downright hiding from me!

No one I asked seemed to know where it was, the online articles gave minimal directions, and no matter where we explored it was no where to be found.  But today, now today would be different, I just knew it.

After our 3 failed attempts the kids decided they no longer had any interest in finding the lava tube and would rather not search in vain again.  They love Sandy beach and I do not so I compromised with Dylan and my nephew and dropped them at Sandy's while I ventured out to have 1 final look.

If you are headed towards Halona Blowhole from Waikiki, pull over in the first lookout on the right just after Hanauma Bay.  This is where I parked and it turned out to be the closest possible spot.  I hopped over the stone wall, yes the one that says not to, so I could try and locate the lava tube from the ocean side.  I had read and seen photos so I knew it was in this general area and that it opened out to the ocean.

I walked around taking photos of the beautiful coastline for a bit and when I ventured down closer to the water and peered around the corner I saw it..the lava tube!  Finally!  But then I noticed a problem.  The climb down would be nearly impossible for me and as I watched the waves crash around I realized quickly I needed a plan B!

ROGUE WAVES ARE A VERY REAL ISSUE!  If you go down to the waters edge be very careful and consider using reef shoes as it is all rocks!  That is my public service announcement and why I decided to not mess with the waves and instead climb up back to the road so I could enter the lava tube the right way.

Starting from the same parking lot and facing across the road turn right and walk along the highway (careful of the cars and blind corners).  When you see the first bit of guard rail across the street cross there and hop the guard rail.  You will see an arrow on the ground and a sign for scenic point facing the opposite direction from they way you drove in.

You will see a pseudo path and won't have to go more than 100 feet to see the lava tube opening on your left.  It was dark inside so a flashlight would be great.  I used my camera and wore good shoes so it was no problem.  I would say the walk through tunnel is around 20 feet long and brings you out to some of the most beautiful coastline on Oahu.

Perhaps the best part of the day was when I peeked through the lava tube and saw a small monk seal lazing on the rocks.  From what I have read they are not to be messed with and can be quite aggressive at times so I moved a bit closer but kept my distance.  Two men approached the seal and got quite close so I figured I could do the same.

The seal seemed quite un phased by us so we moved closer, sat down and just watched and chatted.  There is just something so magical about being around wildlife.  It sparked such a deep happiness in me that I stayed nearly 2 hours watching and snapping shots.  I left feeling a bit sad to go but I knew the boys were most likely done with the beach and anxious to see me return.

I climbed back up the rocks, through the lava tube, up to the highway and over to the parking lot.  As I grabbed Dylan and my nephew I could hardly wait to brag that I finally found it.  After showing them some pics we decided to head back there on our way home and take a look together.

Mistake #1  Changing out of my good walking shoes and into flip flops.

As I strode over to the now familiar spot I felt really proud that I persevered and made sure that I led the way.  A couple came up behind us and I hurried a bit as I didn't want to hold them up and I was excited to show off what I had discovered.

Mistake #2   Going too fast and using a camera for light.

The combination of flip flops, no light, a downward slope, and sand on rock was enough to send me slipping.  As my right foot slid on the sand my left foot twisted grotesquely behind me.  I sat almost in shock as the boys rushed over to me.  I calmly let the couple behind us pass and grudgingly looked down at my leg.  My ankle was already huge and blood dripped down from several cuts and scrapes along my leg.  I tried to contain my embarrassment!

My thoughts went immediately to my camera.  Dylan checked it out and all was well thank goodness.  As that relief washed over me the pain started.  I think I actually asked if my bone was sticking out.  Thankfully the answer was no, the thought of the boys seeing that made me nauseated.  I was relieved, but as I rose and realized I could not put any weight on my leg worry flooded over me knowing how far from the car, and from the house we were.

The boys were amazing both physically and emotionally.  They helped me out of the tunnel, up the cliff side, over the guardrail, and down the highway to the car.  At that point I felt devastated, embarrassed, and I was in a lot of pain.  The boys kept me calm and reassured me that all would be fine but my ego took a hit almost as badly as my ankle.  I decided to drive home and made it back with out a problem after several deep breathing sessions.

It is now nearly a week later and I discovered that it is a bad sprain and have been hobbling around on crutches.  The pain is awful at times but nothing compared to my bruised ego, my realization that I am getting old, and the humbling experience of relying on others to do even the most menial task.  Injury has a way of bringing a great deal of perspective.

I am enjoying that perspective as well as the victory in finding the lava tube, remembering the joy of spending the afternoon with a beautiful monk seal, and attempting to stay positive. At least it isn't broken I keep telling myself and I know where that lava tube is so we can head back once I am healed and off crutches.

When I am completely healed, I intend to head back. I'm shopping for a headlamp, so I can keep my hands free and I'll be sure to wear hiking shoes through the tube! 

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  1. Sorry to learn about your ankle. Did you have cell phone service where you were if you hadn't been able to drive? In any case, those are wonderful photos of the seal. I suspect that the ones who frequent that particular rock are habituated to nice humans.

    1. Yes there is cell phone service nearly everywhere here. Luckily I was not alone and my nephew could ahve driven if we needed it. I don't know how the seal would have moved at all, it was such rough rock. He was adorable!