Oahu, Hawaii Hiking – A Trip Report

While Oahu does not evoke visions of being a hiker’s paradise, several hiking options exist even for those vacationing with young kids. Hiking goes a long way in connecting with a terrain; moreover, in Oahu it adds variety to an otherwise beach-based sea of sameness vacation. Our hikes on the first day consisted of the Diamond Head Park, the Manoa Falls, and the University of Hawaii Manoa campus, the latter more of a walk than a trek.

Visitors to Oahu mostly tend to flock at one of the hotels around the Waikiki beach area. Diamond Head State Monument is less than 3 miles away from most of these hotels (Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI – Kalakaua Ave to Monsarrat to Diamond Head Road) making an early morning excursion effortless. The approach to the crater floor is through the Kahala Tunnel built in the 1940s. The toll booth, the information booth, and the parking area are located right there. The tunnel gate is open from 6 AM to 6 PM. Summer can be punishing so earlier the better. Entrance fee is $5 per vehicle or $1 to walk in. The trail is a very manageable distance 1.6 miles (both ways) but it is more than a leisurely stroll in the park – the climb which is over 550 feet from the crater floor involves steep stairways and an illuminated tunnel. Upwards of two hours should be ample for this adventure. Built in 1908 as part of the U.S. Army Artillery Defense System, this trail consists of the following:
  1. A nicely paved wide concrete walk way with a gentle slope gets you off to a great start (this is a recent addition to combat soil erosion),
  2. A dirt trail which winds up the steep interior slope and offers a lookout point near the end of the section – the concrete structure held a winch and cable to lift materials from the crater floor in the early days,
  3. A stairway of 74 concrete steps leading up to the first tunnel,
  4. A narrow 225-feet long tunnel,
  5. A spiral stairway of 99 steep steps whose peculiar construction design, with concrete structures on both sides supporting cross-beams, was intended to support camouflaging during military use. The entry to the Fire Control Station is from the top of the stairs,
  6. The Fire Control Station has four levels and is accessible through the spiral staircase. The approach to the summit was through a ladder which was replaced in the 1970s by a metal staircase of 54 steps.
At the summit, a pleasant breeze is the silent accompaniment to the outstanding views of the crater, the Waikiki beach, and the ocean. What better way to acknowledge this great hike than with Shave Ice, made the rage in 2009 by President Obama (him enjoying shaved ice while vacationing in Oahu is iconic). Vendors touting this delectable treat abound including one right by the parking lot. A short-drive away is the understated but famous Waiola Store (2135 Waiola Street) store where the classic rainbow and several other variations are on offer.

Manoa Falls provides a very varied rugged hiking route. As for getting there from the Waikiki area – from Kapiolani Boulevard, make a left on University Avenue through the campus, and right onto Manoa road. The campus of UH Manoa is a good detour and provides for a very fulfilling leisurely walk. Parking could be a problem when school is in session but all and sundry will love the beautiful Koi pond area behind the East-West Center across from the main campus area.

Manoa road dead-ends at the trail head – straight ahead for the trail and left for the arboretum. The trail, which is through a rainforest, can be slippery and wet while all is sunny and bright in nearby Waikiki. The path is steep and challenging at places but it was interesting to see some little ones taming the trail with ease. Lending credibility to the classic rainforest feel is a small stream alongside the trail coming from the falls – depending on the season, the stream can be just a trickle or more like a regular stream. The view of the falls is outstanding – again, the amount of water is highly seasonal – the water collects in a pool below with large boulders which though inviting is closed for swimming – it was closed to the public in the late 90s following a mudslide, for safety reasons. Proper footwear is an absolute must - a well-used one is ideal as by the time the hike is done, the shoe ceases to be anything but a sorry sight. At the entrance of the trail is what is called an environmentally friendly green bathroom – think reeking rather than nice and clean.

Near the Manoa Falls is the Tree Tops restaurant (formerly Paradise Park site) which doubles as an option for lunch and parking ($14 lunch buffet, $3 discount for kids). The Manoa Falls parking lot was not in operation when we visited. Moderate options for lunch are aplenty around the campus area. Ala Moana Shopping Center’s giant food court is another option.

Related Posts:


1. Oahu, Hawaii - Flora and Fauna - A Trip Report.
2. Oahu, Hawaii - Hiking - A Trip Report.
3. Oahu, Hawaii - Attractions - A Trip Report.


Last Updated: 02/2011.

1 comment :

Oahu Fam said...

Your blog is great! It gave me some ideas for more things to do with my toddler. Thanks and keep up the good work!

http://www.oahufamilyactivities.com/

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