Today we rose early to do some hiking. We were headed for Diamond Head, perhaps the most iconic symbol of Oahu and the defining eastern endpoint of famed Waikiki.
The trail is not particularly challenging other than it is uphill. It is just under a mile of gentle hiking, however it is crowded including many who are unfit to walk a mile uphill! More on that below.
If you look at the picture above you can see rows of hikers all the way up from bottom to top. Numerous switchbacks make the trail as viewed from the bottom look like an ant colony!
Near the top the trail enters a dark narrow tunnel that runs about 500 feet. It was filled with people walking in both directions and bends at the upper end so you cannot see when it ends. My wife, who is mildly claustrophobic, was not fond of this portion but soon we were out of that and ascending 100 steps to an interior spiral staircase that rises through the peak of the trail.
All of this was well worth it because the view at the top is glorious!
All week long I have heard people refer to Diamond Head as a crater. I think of a crater as a hole, like when a meteor strikes the earth and makes a crater. This was a mountain; what was I missing?
The picture above shows what you can’t see from sea level. Centuries ago the volcano collapsed in on itself making a crater at the top. A crater is a hole!
Down below were spectacular views of blue water, a lighthouse, the city, and suddenly…a helicopter!
Somewhere on the trail a hiker was in distress. It didn’t surprise me because there were people of all ages including parents carrying babies, really old people, and a lot of people huffing and puffing!
The view of the Windward Coast of Oahu was pristine and beautiful. The view of Waikiki, on the other hand, shows a more commercial side of Hawaii.
Here I would like to point out a bit of irony. The story goes that Joni Mitchell was staying in Hawaii when she wrote the song Big Yellow Taxi. In the song she sings of a “pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot”. She goes on to decry the commercialism of Waikiki saying they “paved paradise and put up a parking lot”.
Well that pink hotel is in the center of the picture above. It is the Royal Hawaiian and I’m pretty sure that since Joni wrote that song the parking lot has been removed!
After hiking down the mountain we spent some time on the beach and ate lunch at a Waikiki institution, Dukes Barefoot Bar. This, to me, was one of those moments when you try to lock it in because everything at that moment is the essence of where you are. We had cold Longboard Lagers and local fish that was so fresh I thought I would weep.
The Pupu Sampler at Duke’s, Clockwise from twelve o’clock, Ahi sashimi, sesame poke, and smoked marlin.
Most notable was the Ahi sashimi. Raw strips of tuna that melted on the tongue like a pat of butter. There was poke, a raw tuna that is tossed with soy sauce, sesame oil and green onions, and paper-thin slices of smoked marlin.
We spent a couple hours on the beach swimming and watching surfers–the real deal!
From there we left to hit the Honolulu Farmers’ Market. It was remarkably like the farmers’ market at home except the products were exotic and tropical. There were coffee growers, cacao growers, and all sorts of tropical fruit.
There were pineapples, bananas, mangos, and papayas, all grown here on the island.
One cool thing I tried was abalone. This is a shell fish somewhere between a clam and a snail. They only have one shell, like the bottom half of a clam. The open side sucks onto rocks. Alive they look like large snails. Cooked they look like clams and taste delicious!
We bought a number of goodies from the market and headed back to the resort to make some dinner. Covered in sand and exhausted from sun, a dip in the pool was at the top of the list!