The island of Oahu which contains the capital city of Honolulu is an amazing combination of urban amenities, nature hikes, and beautiful beaches. If you are doing only one island out of the four major islands Of Hawai’i then this is the one I would recommend. I did it during Thanksgiving which is the last week of November. While this island is not as big as the “big island”, public infrastructure outside of the city of Honolulu is not great. Therefore, I would recommend taking a moped rental(30-40$ a day) for a solo trip. Roads are narrow and the moped turns out to be a better choice than a car, both for driving and parking. The only time a moped gave me trouble was when it rained. Outside of the city of Honolulu, there is nothing much to do after the sunset, so, plan your trip accordingly. Do check out local food items, like Shave Ice cream and Banana bread from local markets. But don’t carry any of it for the return journey.
I reached in the afternoon and started my journey with an easy but picturesque hike to the Diamond Head crater which overlooks the city of Honolulu.
The city of Honolulu in the background from the top of diamond head crater
I checked out the Waikiki beach afterward. Since its next to the city of Honolulu, you are not going to miss it.
My plan for the second day was to spend a few hours at the Pearl Harbor Memorial. But I underestimated the number of things to see there. I spent the whole day till the evening checking out the various warships. There are always guided tours going on, so definitely check them out.
The rainfall slowed me down a bit. I started with Buddhist Temple and then spent my time connecting with a few locals to plan my “Stairway to Heaven” trip. After that, I headed to Kuhio beach for a traditional Hawaiian dance “Hula” ceremony. It’s a free, open to the public event every Saturday. Don’t pay anyone for Hula shows till you have watched this public ceremony.
One dance during the ceremony
“Stairway to Heaven” or “Haiku stairs” is closed to the public. A guard comes at about 4 AM at the entrance. And therefore, you have to enter before he reaches there. I, along with, a few locals started at 2:30 AM at night. The entrance goes through private property and a cut fence. It is very hard to find it out without the help of the locals. And don’t try it unless you are an experienced hiker. Once you cross all that hurdles, you will be rewarded with a strenuous hike on metal stairs which of course will hurt your shins every time you slip on them. There isn’t much to see during the journey but views are beautiful from the top. It takes about 4 hours to reach the top.
I continued my journey to Hanauma Bay which got destroyed by heavy rains. I did Makapuu Lighthouse trail while it was drizzling, it wasn’t a great hike. I would actually recommend Maunawii Trail which I had to skip since rains slowed me down heavily.
I started the day with a straight hike up the Koko crater trail. Amazing views from the top. Carry lunch there and have it while you are watching natural slopes on one side and urban Honolulu on the other.
Koko crater trail
Top of the Koko head crater
I headed to Chinaman’s hat from there. It was a bit late and being solo, I decided to skip swimming to it. It was already evening and I was close to Polynesian Cultural Center, so, I decided to watch a two-hour musical show of “Ha” there. It’s a bit expensive. I made a mistake of reaching almost on time for the show, arrive at least an hour in advance to check out the center there. I found the show to be OK but not great.
I started the day with Shark Cage diving but the amount of time and money one ends up spending on it is a total rip-off. I found the tour in Belize to be much more worthwhile. I continued my anti-clockwise tour of the island with Shark Cove, followed by World’s largest maze.
The best shave ice I had in Hawai’i