Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach
Today would be our last day on the island of Oahu, so we made sure to fill it with lots of fun. In the morning, we hiked Diamond Head, which was once an active volcano but is now a crater, and in the afternoon, we stopped by Aloha Tower and the famous statue of King Kamehameha. Then, for the first time all vacation, we relaxed on Waikiki Beach and went swimming in the ocean.
For those who have never heard of Diamond Head, Wikipedia describes it as a “volcanic tuff cone.” It used to be home to the military fort, Fort Ruger, and is still used for various military purposes. However, it is also a state monument and open for visitors, allowing them to climb to the top of the cone.
We had originally planned on getting to Diamond Head around 9:00am with the reasoning that we would be able to sleep in a little bit but still get there before it got super hot. However, at a friend’s suggestion, we decided to get to Diamond Head even earlier than that, and ended up being really grateful that we did. It was way busier than we had expected, and the parking lot is way too small for the number of people the visit Diamond Head every day.
The climb up Diamond Head is an intense one, but relatively short. The very beginning of the main path is cement, but very quickly changes to dirt. Once you start actually going up the side of the crater, you’ll find that the path gets quite steep, plus it isn’t very level. There are plenty of spots with deep cracks, meaning that you have to keep an eye on your footing. The path is also pretty narrow, only comfortably allowing two people to stand side-by-side, but even that can be hard sometimes depending on the unevenness of the path.
The very end of the path is pretty much entirely steps. Once stepping out of the tunnel, there is a crossroad. You can go right (like the signs on the path tell you to go) which take you up a very steep set up steps. You then have to go up a circular ladder and find yourself in an old war bunker. From there you can climb out of the bunker at be at the top of Diamond Head. If you go left at the crossroad, there are still steps, but they’re not quite as steep as you don’t have to worry about climbing out of a bunker. Overall, it’s the easier way to go.
The one saving grace of this path is that it is incredibly short. It is only 0.8 miles (one-way), which is way shorter than most hikes. While many websites recommends setting aside about 2 hours (round-trip), those who are in shape and don’t stop along the way can easily make it to the top in 30 minutes or less. Definitely bring some water for this hike though, because there is no place to fill up water bottles along the way.
From the top of Diamond Head, you can see down into the crater, which is mostly grass now, but parts of it are still used for military operations. You can also see out over the ocean and Waikiki Beach. The views over Waikiki Beach are absolutely incredible. It’s the same view you see on post cards and other iconic pictures of Hawaii. You just can’t help by smile when you look out and see the bright blue of the ocean, shining sand of the beach, and the towering buildings of Honolulu. It’s absolutely priceless.
When we had gotten our fill of Diamond Head, we made our way back down. Honestly, I can’t figure out which was harder: going up or going down. Going up was hard on the calves and thighs. Going down was hard on the feet and knees. However, going down didn’t take nearly as long as going up. Once we had made it to the bottom, we decided to take a look at the small gift shop, and my mom even bought an “I Hiked Diamond Head” pin.
After Diamond Head, we swung by Aloha Tower and Marketplace because I’d heard that you could go to the top of the tower and lookout of the ocean and nearby area. I had been excited at the thought of an observatory, especially one that didn’t cost anything to go up into, but after the view from atop Diamond Head, the Aloha Tower didn’t even stand a chance. I think the tower needed to be just a few floors higher in order to provide a better view. Unfortunately, the “Marketplace” of the “Aloha Tower and Marketplace” is also dead. There are a few shops, but the buildings that haven’t been taken over by the nearby university have all been closed. It was more of a ghost-town than a marketplace.
Lastly, we decided to stop by the famous King Kamehameha statue. King Kamehameha is greatly revered by the Hawaiian people, but that wasn’t the reason we decided to visit the statue. Both my mom and I are big fans of the TV show Hawaii Five-O, so we wanted to visit one of the filming locations. It’s a beautiful place, and I’m glad that, the next time I watch the TV show, I can say “I’ve been there.”
Since we finished our main activities pretty early in the day, we spent the rest of the day at Waikiki Beach. Despite the fact that we had been on Hawaii for several days now, we had yet to actually go swimming in the ocean, so I was super excited that we were finally able to do that. While I like the ocean, I have a limit. I love laying out on a beach towel and absorbing the sun, feeling the sand between my toes, and jumping into the waves. However, that feeling only lasts for so long. Eventually I get annoyed with the way that sand get everywhere and the salt water burns my eyes, but until I reach that point, the beach is absolutely fantastic. If anything, it was nice to just sit and relax and have no other plans for the day.
Overall, it was an enjoyable way to end our time on Oahu. Tomorrow, we set off for the island of Kauai!