Another day, another summit reached

Aloha all! Today was a wonderful final full day in the beautiful city of Honolulu, Hawaii. I woke up today and decided to take a drive around once again, feeling sure I would find something cool, and I was not disappointed. While driving I noticed a sign for the Diamond Head State Monument… I felt sure I had heard of this before, so decided to venture in a bit further and see what it was.

I admit, I almost turned around when I found out it cost $5 to get in (none of the other lookout points etc cost money), but I reasoned if it costs money it’s GOT to be worth it (right?). So in I ventured, instantly taken back by the beautiful scenery.

Let’s do context here.. you drive into Diamond Head, a Volcanic Crater, through a tunnel in the side of the crater (how cool is that to start with, right?). It’s estimated to be approx. 150,000 years old. It all used to be a part of a military base (Fort Ruger) and an FAA Air Traffic Control, however those were cleared out and all that remains is the tourist area, and a National Guard installment.

So you walk in (well I drove in, but you get the idea) and you’re greeted with the image on the left – expansive views of the inside of this crater. It’s a little breath taking. Up ahead is a trail… basically a 1.1km hike that leads to the edge of the craters rim. Stealing an explanation from Wikipedia to save time…

“Diamond Head is a defining feature of the view known to residents and tourists of Waikiki alike. The volcanic tuff cone is a United States State Monument. While part of it serves as a platform for antennas used by the U.S. government and is closed to the public, the crater’s proximity to Honolulu’s resort hotels and beaches makes the rest of it a popular destination.

A 0.75-mile (1.1-km) hike leads to the edge of the crater’s rim. Signs at the trailhead say that the hike takes 1.5–2 hours round-trip, and recommends that hikers bring water. Although not difficult, the signs also say that the hike is not a casual one: the mostly unpaved trail winds over uneven rock, ascends 74 steps, then through a tunnel and up another steep 99 steps. Next is a small lighted tunnel to a narrow spiral staircase (43 steps) inside a coastal artillery observation platform built in 1908. From the summit above the observation platform both Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean can be seen in detail.”

Anyway, armed with sandals (I wasn’t planning on a hike), my camera (fully charged, thankfully) and that invincible feeling of youth, I decided “let’s do it!” (after all, I paid $5 to get in, right?). It was a terrific hike! Not difficult at all, they estimate between 1.5 – 2 hours, the whole thing, including lookout time, took me a little under an hour. I got some a m a z i n g pictures from the entire thing, and even better still I just took the time going up (and down) to stop, and look for a while. It was one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen in my life – I cannot recommend this hike enough if you come to Hawaii. Just beautiful.

The hike down was a pleasure, the people along the trail were very nice (and offered to take pictures for me, and of course I offered in return – thank you trail people!), and overall it was just a lot of fun. The sandals held up very well despite the rocky terrain, the camera was terrific and I wasn’t even gasping for water at the end of it. :p Really, really, terrific.

After the hike I took a quick look at my list of things still to do, and remembered I wanted to visit a Pearl Harbor memorial. Unfortunately I didn’t have too much time for it today – it was quite an extensive (and expensive!) tour, but I was able to go to the USS Arizona memorial site, tour around there a bit, read about the attack, and see the memories of the brave men and women involved.

It’s a wonderful memorial, full of lots of information as well as preserved battle ships and subs. Though I didn’t have a chance to get into too much detail, again, I would highly recommend you spending a day there the next time you’re in town.

After that I decided to head back to my home base and wrap things up, spend a bit more “beach time” – so I promptly got back into my room, got changed and ran out to the beach.

OMG what a beautiful day to be on the beach. Pretty much bath water temperature, I caught the sunset while in the water, and went on both the “wavy” and “non-wavy” side. It was a terrific way to wrap up a very nice day in Hawaii.

For my last dinner in town I decided to grab another sandwich from Wolfgang Puck’s Express, amazing once again, and AGAIN – had tomatoes, onions and CHEESE on it! For those of you who don’t know my eating habits well, let me assure you, this is unusual for me, and a bit of a stretch. It was highly enjoyable.

Annnnd I think that’s about it! While I was driving around I did stop in at the Hawaii Port – Pier 2, where the beautiful Radiance of the Seas was docked. She’s departing today, and will be replaced by my beautiful Rhapsody of the Seas tomorrow morning. I did return the rental car today to Avis, it was very worth the money spent – the freedom to drive around and explore the island was an absolute necessity.

Tomorrow I’ll be waking up, doing any last minute shopping (might pickup a couple of post cards!) and heading down to the Pier, I’m hoping that I am able to board the Rhapsody then depart and spend some more time in town, since it doesn’t actually take off until Midnight (though I’m sure there will be an “all aboard” time well before that).

The MacBook Air is lovely, and working very well. I sent the poor MacBook Pro home to be repaired, and then I can decide what to do with it when I get home. I think that the Air will serve me very well during the trip though – I notice the backpack being much lighter as a result of the switch over, and I don’t feel bad moving around with it! (poor hard drive on the pro… :().

So I think that’s it… tomorrow I’ll be boarding the Rhapsody, then the following day I will be in Maui, so I do expect to be able to update the blog tomorrow and the day after as well, but we’ll see how the day goes and what kind of access to internet I wind up with. If you don’t hear from me for a couple days… sorry! But I will keep writing up the entries, and then post them when I’m back in range of the ‘net.

Aloha, and again, Mahalo for reading!