Brian and I started our Hawaii 2014 adventure with a stop-over on Oahu. It was an extra special treat as Brian's brother, Kerry and Sister-In-Law, Julie moved to Oahu several years ago (Julie grew up on Oahu) and we finally got the chance to take a bit of extra time and come to Oahu.
We stayed just steps off Waikiki Beach at the Hale Koa Hotel (thanks to Kerry for military discount) and just minutes off the plane, we were headed for a hike on Diamond Head.
The Diamond Head (Le'ahi) State Monument Trail was built in 1908 as part of the US Army Coastal Artillery defense system. With it's panoramic view from Koko Head to Wai'anae, the summit of Diamond Head was an idea sight for coastal defense. In 1904 it was purchased by the Federal government and designed for military use.
It is said that Hi'iaka, sister of the fire goddess Pele, gave Le'ahi its name because the summit resembles the forehead (lae) of the 'ahi fish. Another translation is "fire headland" and refers to the navigational fires that were lit at the summit to assist the canoes traveling along the shoreline. The heiau (temple) built on the summit was dedicated to the god of wind as protection against strong updrafts that could put out these navigational fires. Today, the Diamond Head Light, built in 1917, provides a visual aid for navigation.
From the trail-head to the summit we hiked 0.8 mile one way and climbed 560 feet from the crater floor. The trail follows an uneven and steep terrain (it takes about 2 hours for the round trip hike). From the top are sweeping views of southeastern Oahu coastline towards Koko Head and the offshore islands of Molokai, Lanai'i and Maui.
After our walk and a cool shower, we took a stroll down Waikiki Beach and ate dinner with Kerry and Julie at Mariposa at Nieman Marcus.
The menu was heavily influenced with Hawaiian fish and seafood.
Oahu is such a big change from the quiet calm and serenity you feel on Maui. It's extremely busy, but offers an entirely different and a unique view of Hawaii.
On Saturday, we got the opportunity to tour Pearl Harbor. I've been before, but I knew that it was a bucket list adventure for Brian.
The opportunity to pay respects to the fallen sailors and brave heroes from December 7, 1941, while feeling first hand the emotions of the Pearl Harbor attacks is something that all visitors to Hawaii should experience.
The "date of infamy" that launched an epic conflicts with Japan took place in Pearl Harbor. The tranquil waters were forever disrupted by the tides of war.
The USS Arizona and 1,177 of her crew were among the first casualties of the Pacific War. The Arizona Memorial stands above the sunken vessel and her fallen soldiers, serving as a reminder of their sacrifices and commitment.
After Pearl Harbor, Kerry and Julie drove us up to Pail Lookout.
One of the best views in Oahu, the Pali lookout is a 985 foot cliff of the Koolau Mountain Range.
It is here in 1795 that King Kamehameha and his warriors defeated Oahu armies by sending them over the steep, forested cliffs and claiming his victory and uniting the Hawaiian islands.
The breathtaking sight and the gruesome history of the battle fought here is enough to cause shivers up your spine!. The winds also blow quite heavily and are so strong, they just about knock you off our feet!
We finished up our tour with a drive around the windward side of Oahu in search of the Makapu'u lighthouse.
Built in 1909 and automated in 1974, this spot is well known to locals for body surfing beaches and parasailing.
Our time was short, but we saw so much! Thanks to Kerry and Julie for showing us Oahu with a limited amount of time. We enjoyed our visit and hope to come back again soon!