On Tuesday, we moved to Oponohu Bay, adding variety to our vista and situating ourselves near the road to the Belvedere scenic view point. Wednesday morning, we set out under partly cloudy skies to undertake the five kilometer hike up the mountain.
The road was well maintained and the vertical climbing was mild until we reached switchbacks during the last kilometer. We were hiking through a region reserved for agricultural use, and there was lots to see—shrimp farms and ponies, swamp harriers and banyan trees. Belvedere is a common stop on the tourist map, but we were the only two making the pilgrimage on foot. The road was full of ATVs, dune buggies, rental cars, scooters and two brave bicyclists. We were surprised to pass a grove of conifer trees among the jungle foliage (are they indigenous? an introduced species? being grown for a commercial end? so many questions for when next we have internet!).
We made it to the top, walking the leisurely pace of two bird nerds with their camera out, in about 90 minutes. The view from the top was well worth the climb. We could see both bays and a soaring pinnacle in between. In the picture, I’m pointing to our fair Helios, anchored serenely in Oponohu. We took pictures and enjoyed the view for about an hour, befriending a Kiwi father-son duo escaping winter in New Zealand, and an American couple on an indefinite adventure financed by capitalizing on credit card reward offers (“is that an American accent I hear?” is becoming our new favorite pick up line).
The walk down was equally lovely. We strolled through the spectacular grounds of the local agricultural high school. We enjoyed the sorbets they sold—coconut, papaya, passion fruit—and their gardenia ice cream. We admired the view from their pineapple groves. There was one group of teenagers being shuttled from activity to activity, but it didn’t seem like school was actually in session, the classrooms being well maintained but dark.
We got back to the boat feeling well exercised—10 kilometers round trip is the longest hike we’ve done so far—and relaxed as we watched another pink sunset fade to twilight.