Our second port of call in Hawaii was the most populated island, Oahu. The ship docked close to the Aloha tower, just a few blocks from downtown Honolulu. Tom and I had two very busy days on Oahu. We took two shore excursions one one day and a long hike and shopping on another. The highlight of the day with the long hike was hiking up Diamond Head.
On the Big Island you see Mauna Loa from every angle. Oahu and the city of Honolulu are best known for the landmark Diamond Head State Monument. Tom and I decided to hike up Diamond Head. We took a taxi to get to the trailhead.
The trail to the summit of Diamond Head was built in 1908 as part of the US Army Coastal Artillery defense system. In order to get to the trailhead you drive past Fort Ruger then through the Kapahulu Tunnel in the wall of Diamond Head. The trail ascends the interior walls of the crater 560 feet to the summit.
Although we got to Diamond Head in good time in the morning, the trail was already crowded with people hiking up and down. There were even a few joggers running up and down! Mornings are the time to go because the trail has been closing at noon for maintenance. It took us about 45 minutes to hike up the one mile trail. I had to stop occasionally for breathing breaks! I called them “picture breaks.” It was a hot day, but we had plenty of water. Even so, you can see how red my face is by the time we got to the top.
The views from the top of Diamond Head were truly spectacular. We could see for miles in every direction. Honolulu spread out at our feet. The white sand beaches of Waikiki. The mountains that separate one side of Oahu from the other. We took a long time to enjoy the view before beginning our descent.
As is always the case, the descent was much easier than the crowded climb to the top. When we got back to the crater floor, we debated how we wanted to head back. It was still early and we wanted to walk, so we decided to walk back to Honolulu – about four miles. Walking back allowed us to walk along the beautiful beaches of Waikiki and watch the surfers. We walked past the big hotels on the beach and strolled along the storefronts as if we belonged in such a ritzy area.
Around 12:30 we reached our destination: the Ala Moana. The Ala Moana is the world’s largest open-air shopping center with over 340 stores. The stores were basically the same ones you will find at any large mall in the US. We wanted to go there because it has a huge food court (lunch-time!) and a free shuttle back to the ship. I planned on doing some souvenir shopping at Hilo Hattie’s.
By the time we got back to the ship, we were ready to relax the rest of the day. But we were glad we hiked up Diamond Head and through Waikiki. It gave us a feel for the city and its people. And the thousands of tourists who visit every year!