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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oahu Circle Tour - Diamond Head and North Shore


In the interest of full disclosure, Papa Bear and C-baby and I are back on the mainland. But there were a few more really cool things we did or saw on Oahu that I wanted to share with you all.  So I hope you will forgive the tardiness of this post.

{Truth be told, all my posts from Hawaii were posted at least a week after the fact!}

After our three days in the Waikiki area, we headed for the fabled North Shore by way of the eastern coastline.

Our first stop at Diamond Head State Monument was an obvious draw, being one of the most famous landmarks on Oahu, and having admired it from the water during our parasailing outing.

Finding the park is easy - follow Hwy 92 out from Waikiki until it ends on Kalakaua Ave., at which point you turn right which turns into Diamond Head Road, taking you around the outside of the crater and along the coastline and eventually around to the entrance of the park.

Parking inside the park will cost you $5.00/vehicle and parking fills up early - we opted to park inside and they allowed us to wait until a spot opened up, which did pretty quickly.  Otherwise you'd have to walk a considerable way up the park road.

The hike to the cone's summit from the crater floor is .8mile/1.3km with an ascent of 560'/170m from the crater floor. I would have considered this strenuous prior to our two months picking jungle coffee and mac nuts on the Big Island - as it turned out, it was actually quite a nice little hike up.

The trail to the summit of Le'ahi (Diamond Head) was built in 1908 as a part of the coastal defense system. At the summit you'll find bunkers and a navigational lighthouse.  Oh, and an astounding view encompassing the city of Honolulu and the shoreline from Koko Head to Wai'anea.

A must see if I do say so myself.

The rest of the drive to the north shore was cloudy with spits of rain from time to time, some of the only rain we had seen during our time in Hawaii.  It suited the long car ride well, the mists giving the mountains the look of a Japanese painting, and gave us good reason to stay in our VRBO that evening and watch movies, something that had been nearly impossible to do during our stay in Honaunau.

Rested up after our relaxing evening, we were ready to hit the beach again. Even pasty-white-Midwesterners like ourselves have heard or seen glimpses of the famous beaches of Oahu's North Shore, and we were eager to spend as much time on them as we could over the next few days.

Although not swimming beaches per se (most of these famous beaches have very dangerous rip tides), we were not disappointed.  Watching scads of eager body surfers, stand up paddle boarders and regular surfers navigate 12'-15' waves - sometimes successfully and sometimes gloriously unsuccessful - was more exciting than any sport I've ever watched on TV.

Those little black dots are not ants, they're surfers.

There wasn't much to do over the next few days but soak up the sun and watch the wild surfing, eat from roadside stands and feed the wild chickens.

Tough life, I know.

Aloha ~


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