A delayed six hour flight with Hawaiian Airlines flies me from San Francisco to Honolulu airport. Leaving San Francisco also leaves behind the heavy blustery rain that seems to be following me on my trip. The planes lands and the door opens to the warm, dry air and the smell of heat. I note how dry it must be as I walk to collect my luggage. The walk ways have roofs but most are open to the side and the elements.
A taxi ride from the airport takes me to my hotel in Waikiki. Accommodation costs are a consideration and therefore sometimes I am unsure of exactly which room I may be in. The lady checking me in explains that I am on the 37th floor and is accessible by an elevator. After a discussion she says to return if it is too high. It takes a while for the lift to collect me and deliver me but the view outside is amazing. I feel a sense of achievement at: getting in the elevator, leaving the elevator and walking to the balcony to see the view to Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head.
After using the elevator to descend to street level I walk along the beach front to find something to eat. The busy sandy beaches lead to the green and blue ocean. In the distance I can see waves with surfers riding them. It feels chilled here, a real relaxing holiday feel and even the people working seems to be at ease. I eat at a beachfront hotel. Prices here are on par with California something I had been expecting however I do note that although there are a lot of people here, it is quieter than San Francisco. The food provides me with enough fuel to walk along the beach and to see a stunning sunset.
The next day I am invited to walk 5 miles around Diamond Head, a volcanic crater which I see from my hotel room. It’s warm around 24 degrees Celsius so sun cream and water is necessary. The walk is uphill from Waikiki Beach so any excuse to stop is welcomed. There is so much to see here including different trees, plants, flowers, birds and small bays with surfers paddling out to the waves. On the way round I take a detour at Fort Ruger Pathway which then changes my plans for the day. I follow a path which leads to another and then a tunnel. Walking out from the tunnel I see Diamond Head State Monument, 760 feet above me and along a one and a half mile track. There obviously is a fee but at $1 (80p) this isn’t enough to deter me.
The path at first seems easy, grassy, paved and a gentle slop. Then it becomes windy but it feels safe as there are verges and no fear of shear drops. The windy paths go on for some time, become steeper and the path turns into a rubble track. At the end of the windy path there is a tunnel. Long and pitch black with some people trying to light it with the torches on their phones. I can’t I am feeling scared of the height and need to hold on to the single rail. At the end of the 225 foot tunnel is a choice, the right turn takes you up about 99 steps or the left turn leads along another path. I choose the steps, easier to get to the top and in my head they are enclosed in the crater so there’s no fear of falling.
I’ve learnt during my trip to focus on the step in front, not to look up, not to look down. At the half way point I need air and my fear of heights kicks in. I count 1,1,2,3,1,1,2,3 to get me to the top and into another shorter but dark tunnel. I thought I’d reached the summit. How wrong I was. In the tunnel I look right. I turn my torch on and the light shows a spiral staircase. It is pitch black! At this point I froze. My next choice was to go up or back down the stairs. There was no contest. I couldn’t do the stairs I had to go up. Shaking I made it up the first set, then the second and realised I still wasn’t at the top. Another climb up the inside of a military bunker took me to fresh air. The view was amazing. I took a few photographs and have no idea how they were not blurred, my hand would not stop shaking. (The photographs below are curtesy of https://hawaiistateparks.org/parks/oahu/diamond-head-state-monument/?park_id=15.)
Again as I turned I was the pathway leading back to the tunnel but I also saw the path way leading to the Diamond Point summit. It took me a while to control my fear and climb the remaining 54 steps and then another set of 5 to the top. Well not quite the top, the last four steps eluded me. From here there is a 360 degree view of the Pacific Ocean and views across Honolulu and beyond. I hear a guide telling other tourists that they have to help 2-3 people down a week from here and I stop, just for a while to refocus control my breathing and reduce my shaking. I start the descent, easier than the climb up but still tough with the rocky pathways until I reach the open green ground below and reflect upon my high achievement.
Walking back takes me to Makalei Beach Park (a pretty quiet surfing area) for a cooling dip in the ocean before a eating a delicious plate of salmon and rice at Barefoot Beach Cafe. A great end to a 13 mile walk today.
Would I do the hike up Diamond Head again? On the way down I saw a sign the walk. If I’d had seen it on the way up, I would have sat down and enjoyed the view. Somethings are best the first and only time.