Many states have mountains, but none are like those found in Hawaii. Rather than rising in layers, Hawaii’s mountains have ridges that seem both fluid and sharp.

The Hawaiian islands were formed as the result of volcanic activity. Their mountains have ridges that look as sharp as the edge of a knife, and yet green vegetation flourishes on such a sheer face. The sensation is one of movement frozen in rock. Sometimes, I think the peaks look as though someone has thrown a green tablecloth across a point. The ridges are folds in fabric – graceful and fluid.

When shadows deepen the crevices between ridges, the mountains appear mysterious or even foreboding. Each time we sail Kaneohe Bay, the line of mountains reminds me of the scene in King Kong when those aboard the ship first catch sight of the forbidden island. In the 1976 version of the movie, three locations on Kauai served as Skull Island: Honopu Beach, the Na Pali Coast, and one just listed as “Kauai, Hawaii.” The mountains in this photo frame the Valley of the Temples Park in Kaneohe on Oahu. They are likely to show up in the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, as the movie pirate ship docked in Kaneohe Bay for several weeks of shooting recently.

The combination of sheer faces and lush vegetation makes it important to stay on trails when hiking. Often, there are steep drop-offs camouflaged by plants so that you don’t see that the ground is suddenly very far below. It is also possible to drive up into the mountains on most of the islands to enjoy their beauty if you do not wish to hike.

The beaches are often what come to mind when thinking of Hawaii, but the mountains of these islands are equally stunning.


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