This article is a part of series of articles about my 2017 trip to Hawaii. Please see the table of contents that contains links to other chapters.
Diamond Head Trail
The shopping areas of Waikiki are great for anyone who is looking to burn money or enjoy culture through strategic window shopping. However it would be wrong to say touristy shopping is the only thing to enjoy in Hawaii. While I hear the other islands (like Maui) are even more abundant with natural beauty, even Honolulu/Oahu has its share of natural areas where you can get away from the bustle of shopping and dining.
Because we were travelling with our young son, we decided to stay away from some of the popular nature attractions like Manoa falls (though, in retrospect, we probably could have managed that). We did decide to take a ride to the famous Diamond Head Trail which leads up around 700 feet to the top of a mountain–technically a volcanic tuff cone. I’ve heard quoted an average of 30 minutes to reach the peak, but while the trail was relatively well maintained, there was still some rough terrain and a few steep climbs (some with stairs, including a rusty spiral staircase), so one way I think it took us something like 45-60 minutes in the heat, including breaks.
Our effort was handsomely rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of the sea, coastline below, and surrounding area. Once you reach the top you continue along the path to the left and eventually double back to the path you came in on.
As you would expect, there were many Japanese/Asian people there, in my rough estimation even more than in the Waikiki shopping areas. Despite the number steps and rough areas, there was a good amount of older folks climbing the trail, most of those Asian as well. I guess some of them have gotten their practice on the numerous steps in Japan, which is known as the country with the most steps in the world, typified by shrines which can have over a thousand steps.
The park is pretty inexpensive to get in, only $1 a person or $5 a automobile, and there is a few options for food, drinks, shaved ice, and a gift shop near the entrance to the park. As far as I know there is no (functional) bathrooms once you start the trail proper, so be sure to use the bathroom near the gift shop before you begin the ascent. Also, be sure to bring water with you in a bottle.
While we did see a few people taking young kids up the mountain trail, even babies, I personally wouldn’t recommend taking kids until they are at least 7-8 years of age. Near the top there is a place that leads out onto an unprotected cliff, and despite the “Do Not Enter” warning many people cross over the fence. I highly recommend not entering that area, especially if you have children. Also, we had taken a taxi to a point outside of the Diamond Head park and walked in through a tunnel that was very dangerous due to extremely limited clearance on the sides. If you go, I recommend taking a taxi right up to the entrance gate.
We also visited a market right outside the park which was held every Saturday (KCC market), but to be honest I wasn’t too impressed, having seen similar markets in Oregon recently. If you are into local markets you still may enjoy it, however. That place seemed to have the most Japanese people of anywhere we went, I would guess around 70-80%.