Friday, June 1, 2012

Diamond Head

Like I mentioned in the last post, one day, while we were in Waikiki, we rented bikes and decided to head to Diamond Head.

The unique profile of Diamond Head (Le'ahi) sits prominently near the eastern edge of Waikiki's coastline. Hawaii's most recognized landmark is known for its historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views, and military history. Diamond Head State Monument encompasses over 475 acres, including the interior and outer slopes of the crater.

This broad, 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. Most of the vegetation and birds were introduced in the late 1800s to early 1900s.
The trail to the summit of Le'ahi was built in 1908 as part of O'ahu's coastal defense system. The 0.8 mile hike from trailhead to the summit is steep and strenuous, gaining 560 feet as it ascends from the crater floor. The walk is a glimpse into the geological and military history of Diamond Head. A concrete walkway built to reduce erosion shifts to a natural tuff surface about 0.2 mile up the trail with many switchbacks traversing the steep slope of the crater interior. The ascent continues up steep stairs and through a lighted 225-foot tunnel to enter the Fire Control Station completed in 1911. Built on the summit, the station directed artillery fire from batteries in Waikiki and Fort Ruger outside Diamond Head crater. At the summit, you'll see bunkers and a huge navigational lighthouse built in 1917. The postcard view of the shoreline from Koko Head to Wai'anae is stunning, and during winter, may include passing humpback whales.
The hiking trail to the summit is very steep and uneven in some areas. The last 1/10 of a mile is all stairs and especially steep. The site is accessible to those with disabilities near the visitor booth. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours for your hike. Wear good walking shoes, bring water, and wear a hat and sunscreen.

It was a great morning, but quite tiring. We started off at our hotel and walked over to the bike rental place (which was maybe 3 blocks away). We grabbed our bikes and hit the pavement.

Us outside of the bike rental place. YES, there were scooters (and we really debated for a day or so on whether we wanted to bikes or the scooters) - but we decided that the bikes were better for the environment and that we would feel like we were 'cheating' by scooting there instead of peddling. 

I think it was about 3 miles to the park, but obviously it was HILLY (seeing as you are biking UP a crater) to get inside of it. We tried to leave as early as possibly (I think we were at the bike place around the time they opened at 8:30am), but it was still quite toasty riding around.

This was the second time we had been there, so we knew what we were getting ourselves into with the hike. We were actually able to hike in and out in about an hour - and still had time to stop, enjoy the scenery, and take plenty of pictures. (And as you can see from the little blurb above, we most have been cruising, since they say allot yourself 1.5-2 hours - WE KICKED DIAMOND HEAD'S BOOTY!)

On the way up (not too sweaty yet)

Yes, we are drenched with sweat!

At least it was breezy up there :)

Sign shot on the way back to our bikes from the crater

On the way back into town we stopped by some signs to document our trip (more on that in another blog post :) ) and then rode by the Diamond Head Lighthouse and took a few more pictures.

Me and my bike by the sign at the front of the park

Ryan and his bike by the sign at the front of the park

My artsy shot (focusing on the tree and having the lighthouse in the background)

Ryan's artsy shot (playing around with the color on the camera)
All-in-all I think we were biking and hiking a total of 4 hours (since that was how long we rented the bikes for). It wasn't too long, but it was definitely a work out. We both said how it felt like we really 'did' Diamond Head that time. (The last time we went, we drove in, so only really hiked it, this time we biked there and back, so we turned up the heat this time :) ).

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