Sunday, December 25, 2011

Oahu, Hawaii - Day 3

On the third day, we hiked the Diamond Head and drove along the south east coast, stopping at several lookout places and beaches

View Day 3 in a larger map

Diamond Head State Monument (Leahi)

What: Iconic state monument with a moderately challenging hike to see a panoramic view of Honolulu
More Info: Park is open from 6am to 6pm; $1/person if you walk-in or $5/car parking fee (cash only). The parking lot is at an elevation of 200 feet and there is limited parking on a first-come, first-serve basis. Get there early, else you will have to park the car about a mile away from the park. There are restrooms and water fountains in the park and we also saw a roach coach selling shaved ice and some snacks.

View of the ocean

Here is the map of the trail that we received, after we purchased the tickets.

The trail to the rim is 1.6 miles roundtrip and took us 45min to climb up to the observation deck and 25min to climb down to the parking lot. The trail is paved for the most part and there are two sets of stairs; one with 74 steps and the other with 99 steps. There is also a 225-foot narrow tunnel. The hike is certainly worth the breathtaking, unparalleled view of the entire west side of the island. The observation deck is at the highest point of the crater.


There is no shade and it can get pretty hot up there. So get there early, at least before 9.00am. We started our hike at 9.00am and were back to the parking lot by 11.00am and spent about half an hour up at the observation deck. Wear your cap; take water bottles and perhaps some snacks.

Although it is said that the hike is moderately challenging, we found it to be a cake walk, perhaps after hiking the 2600feet pitons in St. Lucia in December 2010.

View of the Diamond Head Crater

The 760-foot crater was formed more than 100,000 years ago and was used as a strategic military lookout beginning in the early 1900s. The crater was named Diamond Head by the 19th century British sailors who mistook worthless shiny calcite crystals on the slopes of the crater for diamonds. Ancient Hawaiians originally named the crater as Leahi, which means “brow of the tuna” in Hawaiian.

Today, the Diamond Head is one of Hawaii's most famous landmarks and the most famous crater in the world. It is a popular hiking destination that offers panoramic views of Waikiki and Oahu's south shore. 


Zippy’s is a popular restaurant chain among the locals. It is not a fancy place and their beef stew and won ton noodle soup was decent. Chocolate lovers, please do not miss the Dobash cake here, it literally melts in your mouth.

Lanai Lookout

What: Scenic lookout point; one can see Lanai and Molokai islands on a clear sunny day
More Info: There is a parking lot and there is no fee to park the car.

View towards the parking lot from Lanai lookout

Lanai Lookout is the first scenic lookout point after the Hanauma Bay and is one of my favorite places. Although there were vivid signs that do not recommend going past the rock wall of the parking lot, we saw several people climb over the wall to get a closer view of the ocean. We followed suit, but would not recommend it to anyone because the waves are unpredictable. The day being unusually tempestuous, the sight of the strong ocean waves frothing, crashing upon the rocky shore and spraying water was stunning. 

Lanai Lookout

On a clear day, one can see the Lanai and Molokai islands, hence the name. We sat on the rocks for a long time, simply enjoying the heavenly view.

Halona Blowhole Lookout Point and Halona Beach Cove

What: Blowhole lookout point; Sandy beach lookout point; Whale watching
More Info: There is a parking lot and there is no fee to park the car.

Halona Beach Cove

Halona Blowhole lookout point is a few miles away from the Lanai lookout point. The blowhole is formed by the rock formation that spews water out of the blowhole, looking like a water fountain. Being a marvelous sight, it is a big tourist spot in Hawaii. Never climb down the rocks to go close to the Halona blowhole. It is said that Halona is one of the most dangerous currents in the world and there have been several deaths when people went close to the blowhole. 

During winter (Oct to March), this is a good spot to see humpback whales as they leave the North Pacific, but we did not see the whales. 

This place is also a look out of the gorgeous Sandy beach. 

On the right side of the Halona blowhole lookout point is the Halona Beach Cove. It became popular in the movie “From Here to Eternity,” hence it is also called the “Eternity Beach”. We hiked down the rocks to get there and saw people swimming, snorkeling and fishing in the Eternity beach.

Sandy Beach

What: Popular for water sports
More Info: There is a parking lot and there is no fee to park the car.

Sandy Beach

Although popular for water sports, Sandy beach can be treacherous due to shore breaks. Due to strong waves, the locals also call it the “break neck beach”.

Sandy Beach and Halona Blow Hole to the right

 To the right of the Sandy beach, we saw water spraying out of the Halona blowhole.

Makapu’u Beach Lookout Point

What: Scenic lookout point of Makapu’u beach and Rabbit island (or Manana Island)
More Info: There is a parking lot and there is no fee to park the car.

Makapu'u Beach Lookout

Makapu’u lookout point is a few feet away from the Makapu’u beach park that offers a sweeping view of the Makapu’u beach and the Rabbit Island (or Manana island).

Manana island is off of the Makapu’u beach and you cannot miss seeing this island. The Manana island also became popularly known as the Rabbit island because rabbits were raised in the island until 1994, after which they were removed because they destroyed the native ecosystem of the island. Today, it is a protected sea bird sanctuary and it is illegal to get to the island without permission from the Hawaii Department of Land Natural Resources.

Makapu’u Beach Park 

What: Water sports, Manana or Rabbit island, Makapu’u Light House
More Info: There is a parking lot and there is no fee to park the car.

Makapu'u Beach and Rabbit (Manana) Island

Makapu in Hawaiian means “Bulging Eyes” and it is the projection of land that marks the easternmost tip of Oahu. Similar to Sandy beach, the Makapu’u beach can be dangerous due to shore breaks, making it unfriendly especially to novice swimmers. We could see the Makapu’u light house from the beach. I read that there is a moderately challenging trail to the Makapu’u lighthouse that greets you to the spectacular view of the ocean and Molokai and Lanai islands, but we did not hike because we were dog-tired.
Driving along the south east coast of Oahu reminded us of driving along the CA-1 South.

Marukame Udon

Shrimp & Eggplant Tempura; Inari; Curry Udon

We accidently bumped into this place, though we were not in a mood to eat udon soup for dinner. There was a big line outside the restaurant (yes, on the sidewalk). Luckily, the line was moving pretty quick and in 20min, we were ordering our food at the counter. We shared a large portion of Curry Udon, shrimp tempura, eggplant tempura and inari and simply loved it so much that we came back again another day for dinner. They accept only cash and do not miss this place if you are in Waikiki area.

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