I know it’s only my second day in Hawaii but it’s going to take a lot to overthrow this day for the best one on my trip.
I stuck with the hotel restaurant again for breakfast. Still wanting to venture into the Hawaiian realm of food, I decided on the “Honey Gurl Toast” option because it mentioned Polynesian bread. That bread? Yup, just your run of the mill french toast. Nothing special to write home about here.
The first stop on the day was my highest priority – the World War II Valor in the Pacific Monument. I was worried after hearing horror stories about the tour tickets running out for the day and people missing out, so I made made sure to be there early. While waiting in line, the family of four was in front of me was told by the ranger that the earliest tour available was the 10:00am tour. I was disappointed but was determined to wait it out. But when I got to the window, he snuck me the last 8:45am ticket! The perks to traveling alone.
The tour starts with a 20 minute video reliving the details leading up to the bombing, the morning of December 7th, 1941, and some of the events that followed the fallout. The whole presentation was extremely moving. Very 9/11-esque in the emotions. It’s interesting seeing the mistakes and assumptions made that day, knowing they would never happen today given how meticulous our military is.
After the film, two Navy sailors take you to the USS Arizona Memorial. It’s eerie knowing you’re walking above a sunken ship that still contains many of its sailors and seeing oil still leak into the ocean. It’s a very humbling memorial. I highly recommend it if you’re ever in the area.
With this being my last day in Oahu before island hopping, I wanted to get some hiking in. Diamond Head State Monument is what everyone kept suggesting, so it was on the list, as well as the Koko Crater Railway Trail from TripAdvisor (#9 on the list of things to do in Honolulu!). Since Koko was further out on the Southeastern tip of Oahu, I figured I’d try that first and work my way back to town.
The trail is an old World War II-era tram line going up the mountain that was used to transport troops and gear. The hike from parking lot to summit is 1.5 miles one way. The actual trail though is roughly 1,050 steps/railway ties and climbs 1,200 feet. So every step averages more than a foot up.
It kicked my ass.
It’s the hardest hike I’ve ever done. But the views from the top were among the best I’ve ever seen in any part of the country. It was absolutely worth the work put in to get there.
Once I lumbered my way back down, it was Diamond Head’s turn. Known as Hawaii’s “most iconic natural landmark,” there’s a 1.6 mile round trip hike that goes up the inside of the crater, through the interior of the outside wall, up to the top to overlook the city, then circles back over the ridge to meet up with the trail on the inside of the wall. Since the monument boasts over 1 million annual visitors, the trail is paved from the parking lot to the summit and back.
Making it much, much easier than Koko.
Fun side note: I didn’t pay a fee since the company that manages the parking lot went bankrupt over the weekend. So all fees were waived into the park on Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday, the state had found another company and the fees were back in place.
The view was still gorgeous. Just less sweet, without all of the work.
After a quick shower, my hotel’s front desk made the suggestion for Nico’s at Pier 38 for dinner. It was close by and they run a fish market, so everything they fix is caught daily and locally. I went with the Furikake pan seared Ahi:
Fresh tuna Ahi steak coated with Japanese dried seaweed and sesame seeds then cooked to order, from rare to well done. Served with our famous ginger garlic cilantro dip
With another full belly, day 2’s a wrap!