Update September 8, 2018
If you’re looking for some peace and tranquility while visiting the island of Oahu, then you might want to check out Valley of the Temples. This is a memorial park found just below the majestic Ko’olau mountains, featuring the statue of the Amida Buddha inside the temple.
Valley of the Temples is located on the Windward (east) coast of the island and is accessible by bus if you don’t have a car. However, it takes about 1 1/2 hours to get there by bus.
First, take the #2 bus from Waikiki to Hotel and Alakea. Then, walk around the corner so that you’re on Alakea side and transfer to the #65 which will take you to the Windward side of the island. After being on #65 for a good 40 minutes or so, you will start looking for the stop Hui Iwa and Hui Alaiaha. There’s a McDonalds on the corner and the entrance to the memorial park is right across the highway.
If you’re traveling by car, just take the Pali Highway to Kamehameha Highway and turn left onto Kamehameha. Then, you’ll be turning right onto Kehkili Highway. After another couple of miles, you’ll see the entrance on your left. Turn left at Hui Iwa Street.
Before reaching the temple, you will come upon the Bell House which contains a huge brass bell with a long wooden log that is used to strike it. This bell is called the bon-sho, which means “sacred bell.” It’s customary to ring the bell before entering the temple. Its long resonant sound is said to create an atmosphere of tranquility and is supposed to rid your mind of negative and evil thoughts and will create happiness among you.
After ringing the bell, you will now come to the temple which is home to the famous Amida Buddha. The golden statue towering over nine feet tall is housed inside the temple. You’re welcome to go inside, but you must remove your shoes out of respect for the local Buddhist population. The temple is a place of worship. So there will be a sense of calm and quietness throughout. Some people may be sitting on the benches inside in prayer and meditation. There are even candles you can light if you wish.
The Rest of the Grounds
Outside of the temple, there are plenty of places to walk around. There’s a pond which surrounds the temple that has a huge amount of koi fish swimming around. And there are a few black swans too. A small gift shop is nearby that has snacks and souvenirs. A meditation pavilion sits on a hill just behind the temple.
As you walk around in the stillness of the park, you will experience the beauty of nature that surrounds you. Listen to the wind as it blows through the trees. The bell is rung once again and its deep sound travels through the air. See the swans as they swim away. Take a look at the temple from a different angle noticing the huge mountains behind it. No distractions. Your mind is clear. Peace. Tranquility. Relaxing.
A few notes and tips
At the time of this writing, the entrance fee was
$3 [$5] per person. They take cash only. Be sure that you’re prepared for changes in weather. The Windward coast seems to get more rain than the rest of the island. There could be a downpour in a matter of minutes. Also, take bug spray with you. There are tons of mosquitoes at this place.