Photo Friday: Honolulu, Oahu

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Are you sick of reading about Hawaii yet? I sure hope not, as I still have to tell you all about our brush with Pele on the Big Island and the crazy dancer-like spa treatment I had inside a pool INSIDE A LAVA TUBE. But first, let’s mix it up a bit and hop on over to Oahu, shall we?

Because after nearly a week on Hawaii, we did just that: We caught a flight to Honolulu. I had only ever been to the Big Island, and while SVV had spent a lot of time traveling among the Big Island, Maui and Kauai, he had also never been to Oahu. So we aimed to remedy that on this trip and add another Hawaiian isle to our list of travels.

To be honest, I wasn’t that jazzed about seeing Honolulu. Just another big city—I thought. Or not. I’m often wrong about a lot of things (Hear that, SVV? Yes, occasionally I can be wrong.), as was the case here. Because the city, it was beautiful. It was lovely from sea level, but it was also lovely from above. It had a great energy, was not lacking for things to do, and everywhere we drove, there were spectacular vistas that beckoned for us to pull over and photograph.

We only spent four nights on Oahu—two on the North Shore, two in the city—and so the final morning before our red eye flight that night, we got up early and headed to Diamond Head to tackle one of Honolulu’s most popular hikes. Conveniently, the state park was located just about a mile from our hotel in Waikiki.

We had only arrived in the parking lot when I realized why people told us to go early (as in before 9am, which is when we got there). It’s not because it’s hot—I found the temperature on the Big Island and Oahu absolutely perfect and lacking in the Southern humidity to which I’m accustomed when in warm locales—but rather to avoid the crowds. Even at the relatively early hour at which we went, we were constantly moving off the path to let other people pass us as they headed back in the opposite direction that we were walking.

The trail is just about a mile from the parking lot to the observation deck up top. We were told to give ourselves two to three hours, but realistically you just need an hour round trip if you’re in reasonably good shape. The top is so crowded, you probably won’t want to stick around after you’ve had time to snap a few pictures.

The hike itself wasn’t bad—if you manage to block out the one hundred-something stairs you must climb up near the top. But the effort is worth it for the panorama.

We got back to our car just after 10am, with plenty of time remaining for a leisurely drive along the Windward Side. Leaving this tropical perfection to return to cold, blustery San Francisco was downright painful.

Have you hiked Diamond Head? What did you think? What was your overall impression of Honolulu?

*All photos taken with a Canon T1i and Canon 17-85mm lens and Sigma 10-20mm lens housed in a LowePro SlingShot.

**For more Photo Friday fun, visit Delicious Baby.

COMMENTS
  • April 29, 2011

    Wow, that’s super crowded. But what a view!

    • April 30, 2011
      Kristin

      It’s amazing how you don’t get that feel from the aerial shots, though, right? It seems a bit like we might have the city to ourselves. The miracle of zoom lenses (and the cropping function!).

  • April 29, 2011

    What awesome pics! I love Honolulu. Like all big cities if you can get away from the tourist areas there are some incredible treasures to be found. I recommend renting a car and getting away from Waikiki.

    • April 29, 2011
      Kristin

      We did have a rental car and drove all over in our five days there. I love that the island is so small you could theoretically cover the whole thing in a day!

  • April 29, 2011
    Tara

    We went on our honeymoon and stayed in Wakiki. I loved it! We also hiked Diamond Head. The view is awesome. Funny, we were talking to a couple for Arizona. She said it was super humid! i looked at her like she was crazy? Not being able to hold in my shock, i proceeded to inform her she has no idea what is really humid until she visits the south especially during the summer.

    I would recommend going during the off season. We went in November. It is still warm and lovely and never rained once on us. But there are way less crowds.

    • April 30, 2011
      Kristin

      Man, do you remember that summer we spent in Memphis? I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a more humid few months….maybe it was because we were walking everywhere, but I remember being one sweaty, frizzy heap that entire month! And yes, nothing holds a candle to the South from June through September, humidity wise…except maybe Borneo, where we spent our honeymoon. I’m a pretty dedicated sunbather and I couldn’t stay out for longer than a half an hour at a time!

  • April 29, 2011

    What a spectacular view!

  • April 29, 2011

    The first time I went to Hawaii it was to Honolulu, and I absolutely loved it. Granted, a lot of that had to do with the hilarious company I was with, but certainly a large part was also the beauty of the island. I think the snorkeling in Hanauma Bay was my favorite part, it was just so, so gorgeous.

    We also did the hike at Diamond Head, and you’re right, it’s great to get to the top, snap some pictures, but then head on out of there–there are just as interesting views from the trail going up and down!

  • April 29, 2011
    Amy

    I want to go there. That looks gorgeous.

  • April 29, 2011

    So lovely! I, too, would have guessed that Honolulu would be like any other large city, but I’m looking around and I’m seeing no spectacular ocean views. Breathtaking!

  • April 29, 2011

    Great shots! I haven’t made it to Hawaii yet, but I imagine it is a lot like a North Americanized version of Costa Rica. I’ll find out one day 🙂

    • April 30, 2011
      Kristin

      I haven’t been to Costa Rica, so I can’t compare, but I kept saying to Scott, “it’s funny how I keep thinking we’re in a foreign country here when in actuality, it is the US!” I guess because I think tropical island, I think foreign territory!

  • April 29, 2011

    I also have not been to Honolulu because I have the same impression: just another big, crowded city. Will just have to do it one day though.

  • April 29, 2011

    I’m so glad you went and loved it! We didn’t spend much time in Honolulu when we were there, but we did hike Diamond Head. It wasn’t nearly as crowded when we went, though! There are SO many gorgeous hikes on Oahu. There’s not many places you can get stunning views of the ocean and city like that.

    What did you think of the North Shore? That is where we have stayed before. I love that the water looked like cotton, but it may have been calmer when you were there.

    • April 30, 2011
      Kristin

      LOVED IT. We stayed at Turtle Bay two nights and then Hotel Renew on Waikiki two nights. The only thing I didn’t love was the traffic–it took more than an hour every time we drove from Hailewa to Kawela Bay, which isn’t that far distance-wise.

  • April 29, 2011

    I love how I often feel right there when I look at your travel photographs. Got any pics of the sunsets there?

    • May 1, 2011
      Kristin

      Sadly, no! They kept us so busy much of the time that we were meeting with hospitality folk around dinnertime/sunset each night. However, I’ve got a lot of other great long exposure shots from Waikiki coming up… (And thanks for the compliment! Such nice words coming from a professional photographer as yourself!)

  • April 29, 2011
    Jen

    Looking at your pictures makes me want to pack my bags and go back to Hawaii! Even though it is one of the most popular and busy hikes it has such lovely views that I always recommend it.

  • April 29, 2011
    Abby

    I loved climbing Diamond Head, but sadly, the only two things I remember is the heat and the large crowds. Did you do any diving while in Hawaii?

    • May 1, 2011
      Kristin

      We had a really packed itinerary on both islands, and with our flight schedules and the 24-hour flight restrictions, there was actually only one day when we had the chance to dive! We did a two-tank dive with Aquazone out of the Marriott on Waikiki. The first one was a really cool wreck, but sadly I had my very first dive freakout after 100-something dives where I shot to the surface and only completed about half of the dive.

      The second dive was pretty murky and low vis but we saw a lot of turtles, and those guys were MASSIVE.

      (Will blog in full about the diving soon!)

  • April 30, 2011

    Great pictures – my sister just got back from Hawaii and had an awesome time. I think she was more than a little sad to return to gloomy Sydney. Can’t blame her if it looked like your photos while she was there!

    • May 1, 2011
      Kristin

      Funny, I never think of Sydney as “gloomy”–it’s always bright and sunny in my mind. Then again, my only time there was last July and it was totally overcast and cold during my visit! Much like San Francisco year round =)

      And the weather was just like it was in these photos all 11 days we were there–amazing. Honolulu gets 300+ days of sunshine annually.

  • May 1, 2011
    Meghan

    We hiked Diamond Head with our 6 year old and it was a fun experience, just in terms of the crater :). We also did other hikes in more jungle terrain which were fun.
    We went last year in June and the crowds on Diamond Head were not bad at all. We maybe saw…oh, 20 people? I think we were there around mid-day. And yes, I was taken aback by the 3-4 hour warning sign! With me in flip flops and a dress (I didn’t realize we were stopping to hike), my partner with an injured ankle, and a relatively adventurous six-year-old, it took us about an hour just like you.

    And it is 122 steps on that stupid staircase. We counted!

    • May 1, 2011
      Kristin

      Ha, I love that you counted! And I love that your SIX year old completed the hike in a third of the time everyone kept telling me to set aside for it…with all those people (and a small observation deck), it’s not like there’s much to do once you get up there and take a couple pictures while admiring the view!

  • May 1, 2011
    Alexa

    I went last year to Kauai and absolutely fell in love with Hawaii. But looking for flights this year is a wreck… so expensive! Do you have any recommendations on flying to Hawaii? Any tricks or trips!?

    • May 1, 2011
      Kristin

      Supposedly, it’s cheapest to book around 3pm EST on Tuesday afternoons. That’s the rumor at least that I read in the Economist.

      I’ve never had much luck myself, as I’ve been searching for cheap Hawaii fares for four years now (we used Alaska Airlines miles this time), but my dentist went at the same time we did (April) and said she booked her tickets last October and got them for $302 round trip a person…direct from SFO to Honolulu. Seems the “trick” to booking flights to Hawaii isn’t really a trick at all, but booking far enough in advance, flying into Honolulu (we flew into Kona, which is pricier) and then booking an inter-island flight if you want to travel around a bit and, on top of that, you can also attempt to make your reservations on a Tuesday, which is when the deals are to be had (allegedly). Also, set up fare alerts on FareCompare.com, Yapta.com or whatever you want to use, with your desired route so you’ll be alerted when there are deals on sale.

  • May 1, 2011

    love the matching colour of the water and the sky 🙂 we need sunshine here in toronto NOW!!! it’s still like winter over here…

  • May 2, 2011

    Love the pictures! Have just done a volcano post mentioning Hawaii, then found your post here – dream of visiting one day!

    • May 2, 2011
      Kristin

      Thanks, Clare! I have a feeling you’ll get there one day yourself =)

  • May 2, 2011

    They are some crazy crowds – we’re planning on hiking Diamond Head in late July so we’re definitely gonna have to go early!

    We’re still undecided about which islands to visit (we’ve got 16 nights in Hawaii) – if you had a choice between The Big Island and Kauai, which would you choose?

    • May 2, 2011
      Kristin

      Good question. I’ve only ever been to the Big Island or Oahu–both of which I like equally for different reasons–so I can’t say about Kauai. My husband has spent time on all three of the islands, and he’s a big fan of Kauai for the camping and natural beauty but says there’s a lot less to do there as it’s so small. So I’d say if you’re looking for action and activities, head to the Big Island. If you want to be remote and disconnected, opt for Kauai.

  • May 4, 2011

    Damn ninja, those are some VIEWS!

    • May 6, 2011
      Kristin

      Ninja, I like it. =)

  • May 6, 2011

    After a 10 day trip to Kauai a few years ago, we had a 5 hour layover in Honolulu & went to Pearl Harbor only to be completely overwhelmed by the crowds. It was such a stark difference from our time on the Garden Island. But, if we’d gotten up and over the city it might have been an easier transition!

    • May 6, 2011
      Kristin

      Funny, that was one of the big attractions we did NOT do! Doesn’t surprise me it would be so crowded; with as close to the airport as it is, it’s easy to run over there during a layover.

  • May 7, 2011

    wow! what a nice photos!!! i want to be there too….

    the secret of being beautiful

  • November 8, 2011

    Gat damn. That water. Gat damn. Those views. Now I see why you raved about it!

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