Oahu Pt 2: Hike-A-Palooza & Highway Beaches

How many of you enjoy vacations where you relax on the beach, cocktail in hand, no plans for the week & are happy as can be about it? I'm sure that's a lot of people’s feelings towards a vacation; except Mikey & I. Now don’t get me wrong, he and I both enjoy a good relaxing trip and a fancy cocktail on a beach somewhere but that is so not what Hawaii was for us. We came to conquer some killer hikes & do as much as out time allowed from both of our bucket lists. Last you read we had just tackled a terribly muddy trail out to some waterfalls before heading back to the North Shore. And that brought us here, to our last 3 days in Hawaii, one of which included what I will cutely name Hike-A-Palooza 2016 and a much needed relaxation day before our final touristy moments pre-flight back to Canada.

Anyone who knows my travel style knows that I’m not really one for making plans, I’m more of a ‘go with the flow’ kind of girl and I think I always will be. That is until you realize that 9 days is SO not long enough for a Hawaiian adventure & you thus need to make some kind of rough outline of schedule in order to see everything you want to see. Which is just what we did! Armed with maps & books we made a rough outline of our days on both Kauai and Oahu to ensure that the things we absolutely could not miss out on were seen with enough time to enjoy them and any other last minute stops along the way. We took into consideration locations of our destinations and drive times, especially on Oahu and that’s how we wound up with 2 back to back hikes on the same day. We hadn’t prepared ourselves for the day in question, but now that I’m currently sitting curled up on the couch writing this I can honestly say that no amount of hiking could have prepared our lungs or legs for the burn they were about to deal with – although as I’m sure you can imagine the views were well worth the pain & profanities.

First stop of the day was down on the Southern end of Oahu closer to Waikiki & Honolulu so ultimately we knew there was bound to be a lot more people than we were used to. And man did we ever figure that out first hand when it came to trying to find parking at Diamond Head State Monument, thus requiring us to hike up to the base of this hike (I’ll also mention it was easily 30 degrees Celsius this day). So off we trekked up to the trail head of this crater created nearly 300 000 years ago leaving dust & ash to create the upper portion of the crater that gives it its rugged look. The trail itself was built out in 1911 as a fire control station, and is a steep and rather strenuous climbs to about 560 ft elevation at the top. The trail itself isn’t a long one, not even a mile one way, but the heat, the insane amount of people & the steep climbs definitely took our breathe away, and then there was the view.

Once you get through the steepness and the heat you realize that you’re walking up through a little piece of war history as you ascend, walking through old tunnels and bunkers. Definitely not your average hike, and a world of difference between those we did on Kauai but still worth it all the same. From there it was back down the trail & off to refuel before taking on the “why the hell are we doing this” portion of the day aka Koko Head Trail.

Not a far drive from Diamond Head, Koko Head is easily seen from the main road up, and it’s then we started to question why in the name of all things good we had decided to bring this upon ourselves…see that straight shot up to the very top where you can almost see tiny people ,but who'd be crazy enough to do that you ask, that was soon to be us trekking up there? Yep that's what we had decided to spend the afternoon doing. Also I'd just like to make a note that the grey cloud in this photo disappeared as soon as we got goiong, thus resulting in some serious sunburns for Mikey & I at the end as well as jelly legs & burning lungs. But I digress, back to the hike itself.

Parking in a baseball diamond parking lot we geared up and set forward for the trail head & immediately Mikey looked at me and asked “Are you sure you want to do this?” Sure I could have said no, and every part of me screamed it, but where’s the adventure in that? So off we went, the trail itself is anything but that- it’s actually wooden railway ties put together in a ladder style all.the.way.to.the.top. Yep that’s right, a vertical ascension about 1100 ties, and with an elevation just about the same. You feel alright a few hundred ties in until you start to realize that the ties are about to get even more vertical and create a bridge with nothing underneath (thankfully we found a side path to avoid that situation entirely). It doesn’t matter how physically fit you believe you are, you’ll be tested up on those railway ties. You’re going to get passed (probably multiple times and by locals) by a 70 year old man who hasn’t even broken a sweat or a 7 year old kid who was celebrating his 90th run in 90 days (yep a 7 year old kid chose to do this trail 90 days in a row) meanwhile you’re sitting on the ground trying to pull our your will to make it to the top and you can still see the parking lot. But we did make it. Alive, barely breathing, but alive to take in the incredible views from the top & to recoop before making the trek back down which we were both dreading.

After regaining our breathe and letting our heartrates settle back to a reasonable number we took one last look out at the island and headed back down the trail. This is where I’ll be the first to admit I wanted to call it quits & just stay up there for the remainder of my life, that’s how much I didn’t want to attempt the ties again. But seeing as how I couldn’t just leave Mikey waiting for the rest of his life at the bottom I bucked up and slowly (very very slowly, Sorry B) got myself down. As much as I love hiking, this was probably the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time, and going down was far worse than going up. To anyone heading up to Koko Head, bring a decent amount of water, and make sure to go on a day where maybe the sun isn’t beating down on your skin wanting it to melt off (just a suggestion). But at last I made it down & tired as all hell we made our way back to the North Shore stopping for the most insane sunset at Waimea Bay & a little sunset surf watching.

Our final two days in Hawaii we're absoloutely the most relaxing we had the entire trip, and felt totally deserved after a week of hiking & trekking about both islands. We took a stroll around the infamous Turtle Bay Resort from the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall as well as a few other locations the movie was filmed in before making our way to the equally as well known Haunauma bay for a snorkel session.

After realizing we had to pay to be granted access to this beach (about 10$/each) we decided to save our wallet from an over crowded (it was saturday) situation and take a drive until we saw another beach & find another beach we most certainly did! Maybe one of the most beautifully clear beaches I've ever seen, exactly what we were looking for & we didn't have far to go. This beach was literally on the side of the highway, the shoulder was big enough to pull off & park, we hopped the steel barricasde & there we were happy as could be in the ocean. We tried our hands at snorkeling for a while, but the lovely white sand made things a bit cloudy, and snorkeling not so easy but cutting yourself on coral reef pretty much a given. With what I'm sure will turn into a wicked scar, yet another sunburn & sandy feet we called it a day in the late afternoon & headed back up to the condo one last time before our last full day on Sunday.

Which is where I'll leave off for this entry. One last day in paradise was definitely filled with lots of memories & laughs to say the least, and even a luau!

#oahu #hawaii