On our recent visit to Honolulu, Eric and I made it out on two hikes. One I’d done before, and one was new!
The one I’d done before – actually, now that I think about it, probably the only hike I’d done in Honolulu in the past – was up Diamond Head. Which is iconic, so of course super touristy. The trail is also pretty exposed, but we went early, so were in the shade much of the time, and it wasn’t too crazy busy – although on our way down it was pretty obvious from the groups going up that several busses had arrived.
When I’d been the last time I visited in 2012 the trail had been concreted at the start, which I’m pretty sure was a change from when I was a kid, it is now hard-surfaced all the way up, and there is an alternate route of stairs and trail outside so you don’t have to go through the bunker at the top. There is also lighting in the bunker so you don’t need a flashlight or good night vision and a bit of faith.
The 360 degree views from the top – one of the reasons why it is so popular – are worth braving the crowds, and at least at the time we were there we were able to find a quiet spot just down from the tippee-top where we were able to hang out and enjoy watching the ocean. The colors were beautiful, and the wave patterns formed in the water from the wind and underwater topography were mesmerizing. That sort of view from above is not one I get too often. Anyway, it’s a bit cliché, verging on theme-parkish, but still worth doing.
The second hike, Wa’ahila Ridge, was also listed in the tourist magazine I picked up, but it was MUCH less touristy. (Well, not that it’s hard to be less touristy than Diamond Head.) In fact, although there were a number of cars in the parking lot, we didn’t see anyone else on the trail until we turned around! Which – our turnaround – wasn’t quite to the “end” of the trail as described here, but it was at the point we’d had about half as much fun as we wanted, and since it was an out-and-back (although other places online I did see mention of being able to link up to other trails, but then you end up in a different place than your car, but I digress) I didn’t feel any particular compulsion to continue on.
There was a variety of vegetation, including a forest of semi-Suessian trees at the beginning. Parts were under tree cover, others were more open, with views over Honolulu toward Diamond Head and the other direcion toward the airport. There was also a bit of rock scrambling, and some spots where it looked like it could get really messy muddy. It wouldn’t be the place to go during or after a big rain. I hadn’t thought of that, but the trail was in good condition the day we went.
It was nice to get out and see a new place. In some spots under the trees it felt almost like you were back in old Hawaii – or at least not quite like you were just minutes from the largest city in Hawaii. I also really enjoyed that we had it almost to ourselves!