The sound of garbage trucks woke us well before our alarms so after lying in bed cursing the early morning workers, we got up and got organised to climb Diamond Head. It was a right of passage to climb the crater if you are visiting Honolulu so we felt as we were ditching Waikiki for less touristy areas, that we had to climb it.
It was about 6am once we got out the door and the sky was still pitch black. Sunrise wasn’t until about 7:30am which was still hard to fathom seeing as though it rose at around 5:30am back home.
We caught a bus near to the official entrance of Diamond Head. Walking through the chilly tunnel, we made it to the end where we paid our $1 entrance fee to walk up to the top. Despite the darkness, people were milling around the place. Dodging a busload of Asian tourists we began our ascent to the top.
Diamond Head Crater is one of Hawaii’s most recognised landmarks. Known for its historic hiking trail, incredible views and military history, the crater is also infamous for delivering amazing sunrise views of Waikiki and surroundings. The saucer-shaped crater was formed about 300,000 years ago during a single, explosive eruption that sent ash and fine particles in the air. As these materials settled, they cemented together into a rock called tuff, creating the crater, and which is visible from the trail in the park. It was pretty cool to think we were walking over a volcano, though with the well worn path and the masses of tourists all puffing and panting to get to the top it didn’t feel like it.
We made it to the top and found a viewing spot on an old concrete structure. The hike itself was short and not very difficult. The worst part was probably the flight of stairs right near the top which bypassed us past most people and took us straight to the top. As we settled into our spot, the sun just started to rise above the ocean. The crowd cheered and the photo-taking commenced. I took my flurry of photos and videos and rested back, enjoying the glow of the new days sun. We could see all of Waikiki and the busy concrete jungle and beyond it, the beaches and mountain ranges that created the diversity of Hawaii. It really was a magical way to start the day.
Of course with the sunrise, came the heat so as the sweat started to drip down our backs we jumped off our viewing platform (gracefully of course) and made our way back down the crater and caught the bus back to town. Picking up our bikes from yesterday, we rode to the nearest ABC store for another picnic breakfast by the beach. The novelty of foreign supermarkets will never get old. There is always something new to find. We grabbed a bunch of random things and had a feast by the water.
We still had time before checking out so L and I tried to do some snorkelling while K sunbaked. The waves were crashing down hard making visibility near impossible. We gave up after awhile and dropped our bikes off and checked out of the hostel, ready for the next leg of the trip.
This was actually the thing I was most excited about. WE WERE GETTING A JEEP! An open top jeep to cruise around the island with! Anyone who knows me well enough knows that a Jeep Wrangler is my dream car, so this was a pretty big deal for me. The complimentary shuttle picked us up from our hostel and took us to Jeep heaven (aka Discount Car Rental Hawaii – the cheapest, best rental company to go with) and we were presented with our new baby. Steel grey and almost brand new, this girl was ours for the rest of the time on the island. I was stoked! Because K is over 25 she was designated the driver for insurance reasons, so while she prepared herself to drive on the wrong side of the road, L and I packed the back with all our junk.
We launched out into Waikiki traffic with all intentions of going old school and using a road map, but this was quickly replaced with Google Maps as the highways were a little more hectic and confusing than we thought. We made it out of the city and within 15 minutes we were pulling over at our first stop, the Halona Blow Hole.
While not technically a swimming area, there was a little secluded bay that looked way to tempted to pass by. We climbed down the rocks and walked onto the soft white sand. There were only a few other people there so it almost felt like we had the bay to ourselves. After a quick dip, we jumped back in the Jeep and continued along the coastline towards Manapu’u. It was absolutely beautiful to drive in this area, the turquoise coloured water shimmered under the bright sun and each corner brought along a new set of ‘oh wow!’s.
We pulled over at a food truck just past Manapu’u and ordered some garlic shrimp and BBQ chicken. Just beyond the food trucks was the beautiful beaches we had been driving past so we found an entrance and ate our delicious lunch by the water. Continuing on we drove to Kailua for an explore and a sugar hit from the vintage McDonalds. They were a little behind the Aussie Maccas, there was no Create Your Own burgers in sight!
Driving on, we reached the North Shore by later after, passing lush rainforest moutons and more blue water. Stopping in at Banzai Pipeline to check the swell, we were disappointed to see the ocean look more like a dishwasher than the home of 40foot waves. Continuing on, we found our hostel at Sharks Cover and checked in. We were staying at Backpackers Hawaii, which had a very laid-back and simple vibe. Our dorms were down the road at Plantation Village so we dumped our bags in the room, meet some of the other guests and walked down to the food trucks for dinner. My dinner was from the Galley Food truck and I had garlic shrimp, quinoa and salad. I’ve never eat so much shrimp as I have in Hawaii, but it tasted so damn good!
Heading back to our hostel for a few drinks with other people from the hostel, we swapped stories and plans for the coming days. It wasn’t long before I was hitting the sack for some serious shut eye!
Tomrrow we plan to snorkel and perve on some surfers.. I mean, watch the surfers :p