If you read my post about our first day in Oahu, you know our adventure was off to a great start! The second day brought lots of rain, but we didn’t let that put a damper on our fun.
Tropical storms had been hitting Oahu the week before our visit, which had made the normally-dry side of the island very humid. The rain did make everything even more lush and bright green, or at least it felt that way to a couple of desert dwellers! On our second day, we had plans to go snorkeling with but due to thunderstorms, we had to reschedule for later in the week.
Because of unpredictable weather, I would always schedule snorkeling and sailing excursions early in your stay.
We decided to not let the rain keep us from having a good time, so we hopped in our rental car, and headed out to explore.
Heading to the opposite side of the island, we went through the Tetsuo Harano Tunnel and the scenery as we emerged from the other side was breath taking.
Our first stop was Cinnamon’s Restaurant in Kailua. The parking lot was full, but we were able to find street parking a block or so away. It’s very busy, so expect to have a little bit of a wait…it’s worth it, I promise, and there are some little shops you can poke around in while you wait. I had been drooling over their famous Guava Chiffon pancakes for months, after seeing them online, so of course I got a small order (we also got a cinnamon-macadamia nut roll that was drenched in warm macadamia nut syrup.)
I liked that you had the option to get 1/2 orders of their eggs benedict, we got 1/2 a crab cake and 1/2 a Kaula pork, both with potatoes. It was way too much food, but we had been awake for a while by this point, and didn’t have plans to eat lunch…all this fuel would come in handy later.
As we made our way around Oahu’s eastern shoreline, we stopped randomly wherever suited our fancy (and where we could find a parking space.) One of these stops was to Makapu’u Beach. There was a section of sand, but we mostly explored the areas of dramatic lava rock and the tidal pools.
Next stop was at the Halona Blowhole. The surf was pretty turbulent that day, so we were treated to an exciting display as the water shot up in through the lava tube.
Just past the Halona Blowhole was another parking lot, to see it from a different view point. You can’t go wrong just stopping at any of these pull-outs, the views are all going to be spectacular. We really wanted to stop at Hanauma Bay State Park, but the parking lot was completely full and we couldn’t even drive down the road to the park.
Our next trip to Oahu, I will book the Hanauma Bay shuttle, as it’s supposed to be an excellent spot for snorkeling and viewing sea turtles.
We made our way to Diamond Head State Monument, and not having done any prior research, we assumed there was a scenic overlook we could drive to. We were wrong.
It was still raining, so we left our real camera in the car, and set off on the deceitful paved trail. The pavement ends after approximately 1/4 mile, and then the trail surface becomes more uneven and slippery…as it’s dirt.
I had on sandals which weren’t the best option, nor were the denim shorts (hello thigh chaffing), and I forgot my sunglasses in the car, but despite all that, this turned out to be one of my most favorite experiences during the trip.
The climb to the summit is what I would consider fairly strenuous, it’s steep and there are some portions where I had to use the hand rail (pro tip: it’s covered in rust, wear something dark so you don’t ruin your shirt like I did.)
After traversing several steep switchbacks, stairs, and a tunnel (it’s lit, but narrow, and steep) you come out at an overlook, and can go on up to the summit, or turn around…but at that point, you’ve come this far…go on up!
At the time we assumed the bunkers at the top were WWII era, but were actually part of the Fort Ruger US Army base, built in 1908.
Reaching the summit was a personal achievement for me, and representative of the new life I have created for myself after being unhappy and sedentary for a very long time. Had you told me I would have gone hiking in unfavorable conditions – or let’s be honest, hiking at all, while on vacation (or anytime), I would have thought you were insane.
Beyond the emotional reward, the 360 degree views from the top of Diamond Head are stunning. Well worth the effort it took to get there! I recommend this website, which has lots of great information about the hike.
Make sure you take water, wear better shoes than I had on, take a camera you don’t mind getting wet, and wear your sunscreen.
We stopped for a picture on the way back to the car, and the rain started to pour as we made our way back to Ko’Olina. This was really the worst traffic we experienced, it was rush hour, raining really hard, and there was a football game at Aloha Stadium.
The rain cleared up, and we were able to grab some drinks at Longboards and catch another stunning sunset.
After a long day of exploring, we got cleaned up, and ended the day with our first conveyor belt sushi experience, at Kazoku Sushi, in Kapolei.
So far we have had an amazing time in Oahu, and we’ve only covered day 2! So much more to follow, very soon!