Aloha Honolulu, O’ahu!
Today was non-stop! I woke up at 5AM feeling spry and ready for the day. I forced myself to stay in bed until 6AM, but I never fell back to sleep. I sat on the balcony for a while watching the day begin. People were in the community garden below. It was raining, and instantly I could see umbrellas pop up in the streets. And then I saw a rainbow, floating above the city, a Hawai’i icon. It was the perfect start to my day.
Since I woke early, I was extremely hungry. Or maybe I woke up from hunger. Regardless, my first priority was to quest for breakfast. Thinking Google Maps was the way to go, I wandered away from the apartment toward the only area that had early breakfast. Unfortunately I was duped into the same trap every tourist likely stumbles into. I was led right to the heart of tourist capital and hotel land by Waikiki Beach. It was madness and bodies everywhere. I did eventually find a quiet place to stuff my face. It looked like an entrance to a surf board shop, but maybe that’s why they weren’t crowded. The food was delicious anyway.
After eating, I walked along Waikiki Beach toward Diamond Head Crater. Despite being morning, everywhere was packed with sunscreened beach goers. But it worked out because I am shockingly pale considering I live in Southern California. So I too was equally slathered with the highest of SPF’s. Despite the magnitude of bodies, I loved Waikiki Beach. There is a reason people come here, it is marvelous. The perfectly white sand feels soft as it squeezes between your toes, and on closer inspection it is predominantly made up of calcareous, reef-derived material. I loved how many perfect tiny skeletons of foraminifera, echinoderm spines, bryozoans, and mollusk fragments there were. Additionally, there were lesser amounts of medium sand-sized fragments of coral, coralline algae, and calcareous green algae. These well sorted, clean sandy beaches are my favorites too! It also afforded great people watching and the occasional dip into the warm Pacific waters. And to my delight, I was watching the tide build from low tide, so the waves were crashing around the swim barriers in the most spray-filled ways. Sometimes I think I should have been a water scientist because it is a mesmerizing compound.
At the far end of Waikiki Beach sits Diamond Head, or Le’ahi, a state monument. It sits prominently at the far edge of Waikiki’s coastline. It’s the full package for a tiny island; hiking trails, military history, and stunning views of the coastline. It is also super interesting geologically, obviously. Diamond Head is part of the cones, vents, and eruptive flows that make up the Honolulu Volcanic Series. These volcanic events occurred after the Ko’olau Volcano was already dormant.
I decided to hike to its summit as well as walk completely around the outside. About 8 miles in total. These are definitely some of the best views of the crater rim with Koko Crater and the Ko’olau range to one side and Honolulu and Waikiki Beach to the other. So worth the hike up! And back at the entrance gate I stopped at a “Shave Ice” cart for an ice cold blended pineapple drink. Ah! So tasty!
After that I was pretty tired and had been in the sun a long time. Jack was supposed to fly in so I tried to get back to meet him. I walked back up along the coast to Waikiki Beach. Then took a bus back to Jack and Libby’s.
After Jack arrived, he took me to Punchbowl Cemetery, or the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. This is a stunning cemetery to honor the women and men who have given their lives serving in the US Armed Forces, specifically dedicated to those who served in World War I, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War. Many gravestones represent veterans whose remains were retrieved from distant battle grounds and some that are unknown. There is a deep history resting at those grounds.
I would also argue it has just as great of views as Diamond Head but with no people around. It is a beautiful gardened area overlooking Honolulu, and while we were there at sunset, hardly anyone else was up there. Plus the memorial is awesome. The inlaid stone work provides historical context with detailed battle scenes of various islands where key WWII battles took place in the Pacific. Definitely one of the more engaging memorials I have ever visited.
By the time we walked around the memorial, Libby had returned from work. So we headed to the grocery for food supplies and cooked supper. They are in an apartment just below Punchbowl and have great views over Honolulu. We sat on the balcony for supper, enjoying the sun setting over the Waianae Range to the northwest. We finished supper with ice cream and catching up on the US Open before heading to bed.