Hawaii Day 1 – Waikiki and Diamond Head

Idyll

A lifeguard’s hut on Waikiki Beach, surrounded by palm trees and blue water. Having lovely time; wish you were here.

I landed in Hawaii at 7:30am on Monday, with only one hour’s sleep in the last 36, and three hours of jetlag waiting to knock me over the head. I had to keep myself awake somehow, so I took a hike along Waikiki Beach to Diamond Head. Here’s the route I walked; flickr photoset is here, or read on for more.

As a bonus: here are some dramatic photos of sunset (from 35,000 feet) and sunrise (from 39,000 feet) over the Pacific Ocean.

Waikiki Beach itself is not actually anything special. It’s a nice beach, granted, but I was told – correctly – that it’s nothing you wouldn’t find at Surfers Paradise. The really interesting bits of Hawaii are away from the usual tourist traps – the 25-foot waves on the North Shore, the little towns along the west and east coasts, the enormous mountains that provide the backdrop for Oahu… that sort of thing.

Just a couple of kilometres along the road from Waikiki is Diamond Head, an ancient volcano cone. The native Hawaiians used to light fires on its slopes, using it as a lighthouse, and a lighthouse was subsequently built on its slopes in 1899. It was rebuilt in 1917, and still operates today.

If you look closely at that photo of Diamond Head linked above, you can see someone paragliding at the top right – presumably he jumped off one of the cliffs. I saw him flying around lower down:

Do Not Go Beyond This Point...

(As a side note, the Oahu surf report for today:

Surf along west facing shores will be 2 to 4 feet through early afternoon, then rise rapidly to 18 to 25 feet late this afternoon through this evening, with surf occasionally reaching 30 feet on the outer reefs. Surf will remain high through Wednesday, with only a very slight decrease expected.

It’s apparently being caused by a hurricane-force storm over near the international date line. Lots of enjoyably geeky oceanographic discussion is available here. I’m sorely tempted to buy The Lens, rent a car, and drive out there to shoot some photos. I mean, how often do you get to see 30-foot waves in Australia?)

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