My Family’s Visit to Oahu • March 2018 • Part 5
I’m pretty sure that on our first venture to the Southeastern part of Oahu (hiking the Makapu’u Trail) that my dad said it was his favorite part of the island — and I totally agree. The rugged cliffs of the Ko’olaus, the dry, desert plants, and the rocky coastline are mesmerizing, and there’s no shortage of scenic places to take it all in. Because of this, we spent several other days hiking in this area, starting with Diamond Head.
Facing East over Diamond Head towards Makapu’u
Diamond Head is possibly the most visited, most hiked trail on all of Oahu. Its proximity to Waikiki, easiness of a hike, and views of the city all contribute to its popularity. Curtis and I had avoided it because of the crowd it draws, but since I had my family here and was already hitting the top touristy highlights, I decided it could be worth a shot. We showed up on a Wednesday morning, and sure enough, there were people everywhere. We first drove into the crater to try parking there, but the lot was full so we turned around and managed to find free parking not too far from the park entrance. People were walking in from all directions, cars and buses going in and out of the park. The trails had a constant stream of people heading up and down.
Facing West towards Waikiki
But don’t be mistaken — just because it’s so popular doesn’t mean that it’s fool proof. In fact, just days before, the local newspaper featured an article on the front page about the number of helicopter rescues that happened in the months of January and February 2018 — and Diamond Head ranked #1 with 59 people airlifted from the park. I want to say that it was hard to believe, but after living in such a popular and touristy area and seeing the type of people that frequent these hikes, I can see how it’s possible. We saw all types of people on this hike — people of all ages, ones who were prepared with water and proper footwear, ones that looked like they were locals that hiked it frequently, ones that carried little to no water, and even people in dressy attire and fashionable shoes, clearly scheming a photoshoot at the top. I’m fairly certain that most people could do it with adequate water and proper attire, taking the time they need to walk up…but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone should do it.
The trail from the parking lot within the crater to the lookout is 1.5 miles round-trip, with 500 feet elevation gain. Be prepared to walk further than that if the lot on the inside is full. It costs $5 to park on the inside, and $1 per person to enter by foot. The trail starts off being wide and paved, then turns to a dirt path and becomes more narrow as you start switchbacking up the crater. There are a few staircases towards the end, as well as a short stretch of a tunnel. We were pretty proud of ourselves for hiking up the entire trail without taking a break, though that could be on account of being behind slower hikers the entire way up and not pushing ourselves too hard. The end is crowded, naturally, but offers fantastic up-close views of Honolulu and Waikiki. That was about as close as I was willing to go into the city while playing tour guide! Also, this hike is the Southernmost hike on the island, so my family can now say they’ve hiked the Northernmost, Easternmost, and Southernmost trails of Oahu. Next time, I’ll have to take them to Kaena Point. 🙂
We made our way back down and reached the car right as it began to rain. We were a little tired from the hike, and the perfect solution for that is food! There was one local place nearby that I wanted to try, so we drove North to Leonard’s Bakery. I had heard many rave over their malasadas, or Portuguese doughnuts, and just had to try — luckily they didn’t disappoint! Well, I should note that one of my sisters claimed that they “weren’t worth the calories” but if you’re looking for the perfect ratio of airy, doughy center to fried and sweetened coating, this is one you don’t want to miss. They serve them hot, and it’s best to enjoy them immediately!
On our drive back, we stopped again at Halona Blowhole and the small cove nearby. It was overcast and too chilly to swim that day, but this stop proved to be a hit once again.
The next day was hot and sunny, the perfect beach day, so we spent all morning at Kailua Beach. We took a break for lunch, then decided to try out another beach for the afternoon. Lanikai had high bacteria levels and Bellows was closed, so we decided to head back to the South shore and try Sandy Beach. I had driven by many times but never stopped, so I wasn’t aware that this is more of a surfing and experienced boogie-boarding beach with big waves. The lifeguards spotted us looking unprepared for these waves and didn’t hesitate to educate us by yelling through a megaphone so the whole beach could hear…needless to say, we didn’t stay long. Nothing against them, they’re just doing their jobs — if we were to go in unprepared, they’d be the ones to have to save us. Now I know, and now I can tell you to save you from being yelled at. 😉
Left to right: me, Joanna, Joel, Sarah, Gina
Friday, 3/16 was my family’s last full day on the island, and it also happened to be my sister Sarah’s 17th birthday! What better way to celebrate than vacationing in Hawaii? We went out for brunch at Over Easy in Kailua, then drove down to Koko Crater Botanical Garden for another walk around the loop trail. I’m excited to take Curtis back in a few months when the plumerias are in season because I’m sure the plumeria grove will be gorgeous then — right now, the flowers are just beginning to bloom, and you can see some good ones here or there. I’ve heard that they flourish the most in the summer.
We wrapped up Sarah’s Hawaiian birthday celebration with another trip to the beach and a pizza party at my house.