I: Diamond Head and Southeastern Beaches


Welcome to the first of several day trips on Oahu! After spending a fantastic week on the Big Island, Kim and I showed up on Oahu without a plan. We ended up taking the advice of our waiter on where to go and what to see. For this day trip, we mainly stuck around the southeastern portion of the island, visiting several beaches and hiking Diamond Head Crater. Just like the Big Island day trips, a map is shown below with blue lines indicating the roads we drove and teal boxes showing where we stopped off.

Itinerary

8:00 – 11:00: Climb Diamond Head (#127, I guess you get bonus items on the list when you view it online?)

11:00 – 12:30: Head to Hanauma Bay (#25) and Halona Blowhole/Sandy Beach Park

12:30 – 1:30: Break for lunch and drive north

1:30 – 4:00: Visit Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach Park, Go Beach Hopping (#38), Spend the Day at Kailua Beach (#22)

4:00 – 5:00: Drive back to Waikiki and prepare for some nightlife, or City Nights (#60)

Without even planning it we managed to check off a multitude of items on the list!

Climb Diamond Head

Diamond Head is about a five minute drive outside of Waikiki (if you’re staying on the East side like we did).  Diamond Head is a crater formed about 300,000 years ago, and it is almost perfectly circular in shape. The hike itself is less than a mile, but mostly unpaved and climbing to the summit is pretty grueling under the hot sun. It ascends over five hundred feet in that short distance, and the reward is beautiful views of Waikiki, Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean looking toward Maui.

In the early 1900s, Diamond Head was used as a strategic military post that offered unparalleled views of the surrounding waters. When you make the ascent today, you can still walk through the old bunkers that have since fallen to shambles. For more information on the military history of Diamond Head, visit this website.

Another classic example of a stormy Hawaiian landscape juxtaposed against sunny coastlines. (We were in the stormy part, getting drizzled on as we hiked. But the cool rain was a welcome relief to the hot Sun we started out under!)

Another classic example of a stormy Hawaiian landscape juxtaposed against sunny coastlines. (We were in the stormy part, getting drizzled on as we hiked. But the cool rain was a welcome relief to the hot Sun we started out under!)

A slightly different view of the pristine cerulean waters seen from the summit.

A slightly different view of the pristine cerulean waters seen from the summit.

Overlooking Honolulu and Waikiki from Diamond Head.

Overlooking Honolulu and Waikiki from Diamond Head.

The final climb to the summit of Diamond Head is all on stairs. On the way up we took the outside set of stairs that seemed a little less steep than the other option. On the way down, we took the steeper set that began in one of the old military bunkers.

The final climb to the summit of Diamond Head is all on stairs. On the way up we took the outside set of stairs that seemed a little less steep than the other option. On the way down, we took the other set that began in one of the old military bunkers.

Needless to say, the hike down was much quicker than the hike up, and we were quickly on our way to stop off at Hanauma Bay Beach Park.

Head to Hanauma Bay and Halona Blowhole/Sandy Beach Park

As we left Diamond Head, we continued northeast until we hit Hanauma Bay Beach Park. Another example of crystal clear waters, Hanauma Bay is also the first “Marine Life Conservation District in the state” (souce).  Back in the early 90s, the state of Hawaii began to concentrate efforts on preserving the unique ecosystem here, and has since turned the site into an educational experience for visitors. You can tell it would provide phenomenal snorkeling, but to get to the beach, visitors must pay a small fee and watch a short video about respecting the marine life.

HanaumaBay1

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve – where you can learn about protecting the local marine life and fit in some fantastic snorkeling

As we had many more beaches to see, we did not go snorkeling or watch the informational video. We only took a peek at the overlook for less than fifteen minutes (because if you’re out of the park within fifteen minutes, they refund you your $1 parking fee).

A short while later, we came upon Halona Blowhole and Sandy Beach Park. I must say right off the bat, I have no idea where the blowhole was supposed to be because I wasn’t lucky enough to see anything of the sort. (Update! The link I gave to Halona Blowhole shows a video of it in action. We must have been there on too calm of a day to see anything as impressive as that!) I vaguely remember visiting a different, more secluded blowhole when my dad and I were here several years ago. Perhaps I will try to find that again in the future. While the main attraction turned out to be a fluke, it was still a nice overlook.

Overlooking the waters from the Halona Blowhole parking lot. We never saw how to get down there, but there are obviously people enjoying the swimming!

Overlooking the waters from the Halona Blowhole parking lot. We never saw how to get down there, but there are obviously people enjoying the swimming!

Also seen from the Halona Blowhole parking lot is Sandy Beach Park, apparently a popular place for the younger crowd (although I don't remember who told us that).

Also seen from the Halona Blowhole parking lot is Sandy Beach Park, apparently a popular place for the younger crowd (although I don’t remember who told us that).

Don't forget to look for Molokai if you ever visit this lookout and have clear skies!

Don’t forget to look for Molokai if you ever visit this lookout and have clear skies!

By this point, we were fairly hungry and exhausted. We hadn’t eaten lunch yet or really relaxed at all, so that was next on the agenda. We originally planned on doing the Pill Boxes hike (recommended to us by the waiter, and aptly named because of the bunker remnants seen along the hike), but we skipped it in favor of some quality beach time. After a short and extremely sketchy lunch (more plate lunches!), we drove a little bit further north to check out Lanakai Beach, which received a very enthusiastic “must see!” from the waiter.

Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach Park

Lanikai Beach seemed to live up to the waiter’s enthusiastic recommendation. It was very quiet and secluded when we peeked in, but we did not stay there because there were no facilities. To get to this beach you really have to take one of a couple pathways leading between beach houses, and you have to park on the side of the road in a neighborhood. This beach obviously isn’t a huge local secret (it was written in large font on our map), but there are no signs or parking lots helping visitors to locate it, so in that regard, it probably is less crowded than most other beaches. We walked onto the beach for a short time and looked around, and it was in fact very peaceful and quiet. However, we decided to go back to the larger, more populated Kailua Beach Park which was just a few minutes drive away. I’m sorry to say that we were so ready for some rest at this point that neither of us took any pictures. Maybe I’ll visit again in the future.

City Nights

After a long day of hiking and stopping for photo ops along the coast, we returned to Waikiki and got ready for our first night out on the town. This was very exciting for me after living in Hilo for the past three months, where the nightlife starts at 6pm and everything closes at 8pm.

Starting the night out at Duke's Waikiki! Food was delicious!

Starting the night out at Duke’s Waikiki! Food was delicious!

Next Up: North Shore

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