A year ago, I would laugh at the thought of being on an 11 hour non-stop flight to Hawaii. Life always seems to surprise me. A year later, it becomes something to post. The strategy plan was to visit the 4 major islands (Oahu, Maui, Big Island [Hawaii], and Kauai), summit 2 crater peaks (Diamond head and Koko head), swim in all islands, and run in at least one of them. Well, mission accomplished.
Oahu (Day 1 and 2):
Arrived at the Waikiki beach hotel with my wife after being awake for 18 hours. We just took a walk down Waikiki beach (tourist avenue), ate a slammin seafood dinner then crashed.
Day 2 was Hanuama Bay; perhaps the best snorkeling I’ve ever done. I recommend. Fish in order (Angel, Parrot, Unicorn, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, and Box fishes).
After a few hours, there was just enough time to just get back to the hotel, wash the sand out, and eat a Hawaiian burger at the Cheesecake factory. The Luau awaits. You can’t go to Hawaii without going to one of these. Germaine’s Luau was a great choice. Great food, great show, and learned so much about Hawaii.
Oahu (Day 3):
The day has come! Koko head crater peak shall be mine! 1,048 steps and over 1200 ft ascent. I’m a runner, how hard could it be? Some say it takes 30 minutes to an hour, but should take 17.5 minutes if you’re doing a 1 step per second pace. My time goal was 15-20 minutes. Here is my story.
Koko Head Crater Peak (The Empire State building stair climb):
The cab didn’t make the left turn at Koko head park road and continued on Kalanianaole highway until we ended up at the Koko head Rifle Range. I asked someone for directions to the Crater trailhead, but they said its miles away… or I could climb the equivalent of an apartment building for a shortcut. Sometimes in life you just do things without thinking about the possibility of death. In running sneakers, off I went climbing this 60 degree incline of rock, trees, and spikes everywhere. If I trip, I’m toast. Indoor rock climbing sure came in handy. A few long minutes pass, I reach the top and see the path with people walking. I’m too impressed with myself to notice that my leg is bleeding, and just start jogging to the trailhead.
I’m at the bottom of the “stairway to the top”, feeling awesome and gazing at the goal in the sky. The steps are actually old railway tracks which get steeper and steeper with every step. The sun had just risen and not many people clogging up the steps yet. One by one I pass people by; no problem mon. But then, the unexpected surprise. There is this bridge at the halfway point; railway tracks with nothing under it. Again, just had to ignore the bad possibilities (of death). My confidence started to diminish as the steps became steeper and the peak became visible.
After step 600, you have to start lifting your leg knee high to get to the next step. It all of a sudden feels like I’m at mile 16 or something, what the hell. I start taking breaks every 20 steps (which are like 2-3 normal steps high). Then a few guys pass me by. Nooooo. I get the rage, and just continue on like Sam on Mount Doom. It feels like my weight has doubled. Can’t turn back, must go forward. Cmonnn, almost there… Victory! After 20 minutes, the Googlemaps view of Oahu is mine, wow.
But sooner or later you have to go back down. After getting through the steep steps, I just ran the rest. And for the first time in my life, going downstairs tired me out. I was sore for days after this but it was worth it. Without much time to rest my legs, I went back to the hotel to meet my wife for another crater summit; Diamond head.
Diamond Head Crater Peak:
Almost everyone does this one, but still, it’s not a walk in the park (and I’m all messed up from Koko head). The cab dropped me and my wife at the right place for once so there was no need for climbing spiky things. We proceeded to walk the uphill path for 20-30 minutes until we see steps (not again). After 100-200 steps, we arrived at the peak. Although we didn’t find any diamonds up there, the Googlemaps view of Waikiki beach and downtown Honolulu was just as awesome. Both crater peaks offer different views since they are 10 miles apart and I recommend both.
With 3 other islands to cover and 7 days left, there is only one way to proceed. Cruise ship. Stay tuned for part 2.