on August 24, 2012
The next stop on our Honolulu outing was Diamond Head State Monument. Diamond Head is the prominent mountain that often appears in advertisements for Waikiki Beach. Visitors can walk to the summit. This was our objective.We drove through a residential neighborhood to get to the entrance of Diamond Head State Monument. We paid $5 to park which turned out to be one of the least expensive activities we did during our stay on the island. I had been hyping up the hike to my family ever since we landed by pointing out the mountain whenever I saw it. Most of the reviews and trip reports I read before our vacation indicated the walk was not too difficult. I really hoped this was the case because as soon as we started on the trail, I saw a lady grimacing as she was being helped back to the parking lot by two young men. From the way they were supporting her, it looked as if maybe she had injured her leg. The sight of this had me wondering what I had gotten my family into.It is 0.8 miles from the parking lot to the summit. The trail starts off as pavement and then transitions to dirt and rocks. Although you are constantly ascending, no climbing, scrambling, or any other technical skills are needed. The biggest challenge for most of the walk is the intense sunlight. It is a good idea to be prepared with sunscreen, a hat, and cold water. If you did not bring water, you can purchase some from the vendor truck or from the vending machine in the parking lot before you begin your trek.We encountered people of all ages on the trail. We needed to exert more energy as we got higher into the mountain. There is a stairway of 74 steps followed by a dimly-lit tunnel. This took quite a bit out of us physically but it was what we saw after emerging from the tunnel that almost wiped us out psychologically. We emerged from the tunnel to see a stairway that seemed to go off into infinity. We actually had a choice at this point to either take the path to the left that was not as steep or to take the 99 steps to the right. We chose the steps which were cruelly followed by a spiral staircase. There were more steps to get to the summit but nowhere near as many as the stairs we had just conquered.We were told it normally takes about 45 minutes to reach the top from the parking lot. My brother-in-law, who is goal-oriented, made it to the summit in less than 20 minutes. My sister and my nephew joined him a little later. It took almost 45 minutes for my wife and me since we took our time occasionally stopping to take pictures.There is an observation deck at the top of Diamond Head that provides a great 360-degree view that includes Honolulu, the ocean, and even other Hawaiian islands. It was not until I arrived at the summit that I realized Diamond Head is not a single mountain. It is actually one of the peaks of a crater rim. The parking lot from where we started is located at the floor of the crater.It was starting to get crowded on the observation deck so we started our trek back to the car. We were pretty wiped out and sweaty when we reached the parking lot. Despite this, we were really happy with our accomplishment. Furthermore, it was a fun way to burn off some of the calories from lunch at Waikiki earlier. Diamond Head turned out to be one of our favorite activities during our stay on Oahu.
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