Monday, June 20, 2011

Climbing Diamond Head


Nothing is as iconic of Honolulu as Diamond Head.  Looming over the southeastern part of the island of Oahu, Diamond Head is also popularly used by the locals as a reference point for giving or receiving directions. North, south, east, west are hardly mentioned, but "you go Diamond Head", or "you go Ewa (e-vah)",  meaning you go 'away from Diamond Head' are common. There are also the terms "mauka" for "towards the mountains" and "makai" for "towards the water".  Interesting ya? Read more about local directions here.

In all our years of traveling to Honolulu, I never once thought of going up the summit of the crater (although B did it a number of times during his solo walks). It was a good time to get the kids to do a trek and finally see what the view was like from up there.  I googled a bit to see what the trek was going to be like and came across "there are lots of steps", "there's a tunnel, bring a flashlight", and "go before 9, so it's not so hot"--enough little warnings to put me off a bit, until my niece Sam said--"What?! It's sooooo easy, the kids can easily do it. Even easier than Manoa Falls!" We did Manoa Falls last year.

With that encouragement, I was pumped and ready to go. We were there right before noon, we didn't have a flashlight and we even forgot our water bottles! So much for preparation.

It begins on a paved walkway which  turns into a dirt trail. Hardly any incline yet. This is no so bad...

The trail up is very gradual. It helps that the sun, mercifully, is not out. It's a nice breezy day--like all days in Honolulu, but there are clouds today. We hardly break a sweat.

There's lots of time to stop and smell these spiky whatever-they-ares, as well as take lots of pictures. We're all very thirsty at this point but there's nothing we can do.

No water and still smiling.  

We also encounter a few tourists coming down, some wearing leather shoes and sandals, although I definitely I wouldn't recommend that! We're even more  encouraged when we see a toddler walking down the trail.

Wonderful scenery from one of the vista stops, right before the really strenuous part of the hike.

Now the steep ascent begins. A couple of hundred steps I think. At least they are concrete and evenly spaced. When G complained about the steps, I told her "Hey, remember those slippery uneven boulder steps going to Kayangan lake in Coron? You did that, and that was a hard climb compared to this!"

Going to Kayangan lake in Coron, Palawan. This was tough. Good thing it was short.

Right after the first set of steps is the "dark tunnel".  Surprisingly it's even nicely lit up with walkway lights. (This is really the first world, what can say?) So much for needing a flashlight!

After the tunnel, there are more steep steps up. We managed them by stopping every now and then.

And finally, there's a spiral staircase that leads to the observation deck up above.

This is what the spiral staircase goes through. There are no openings to the other floors except to the third one on top leading to the observation deck.

In the topmost level before exiting to the observation deck, there's an enterprising dude is selling  "I survived" certificates for $2.00 each. You write your name on the blank line and he stamps it with a Hawaii State dry seal. It might really be legit, but what a great racket! He should've also been selling water and shave ice.

And finally, the summit of Diamond Head!

The view of Kahala

The view of the crater and the mountains

 And towards Waikiki

We stayed up there for about twenty minutes enjoying the fantastic view and the forceful wind. It was past one, and we were not only thirsty, we were also getting hungry.  Time to go down and get some nourishment!

It wasn't a very strenuous trek at all, perhaps because it was a perfectly cloudy and windy day. Maying told us that her long-time-ago-pregnant sister-in-law did this trek daily up until the day she gave birth!

water, water!!

At the end of the trail there's a water fountain and even a clean bathroom. Can't say we were suffering.

After gulping almost a liter of water each, we went to the Kapahulu branch of Waiola and rewarded ourselves with shave ice!

with ice cream at the bottom of course!

B also picked us up with this in the car. A dozen delicious cocoa puffs from Liliha Bakery! I think we didn't lose any weight on this trek.

And that ends our little hike for this trip. Which trail should we do next? (and what should we eat after?)

 "We climbed that!" The view from Mika's hotel balcony.


Barbara@HausDesign said...

Just found your blog via your kind comments - looks like we have two passions in common - travel and design! :) I'd love to help you with the flea market finds - yes, I'm in Munich! email me @!

Carla@DesignintheWoods said...

What a great hike! I used to do those with my kids years ago when we were traveling. You all definitely deserved those delicious cocoa puffs!


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