Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Oahu, Hawaii: North Shore Whale Watching

Whale watching was always off season when we had visited Hawaii in the past.  But, during our February visit we had the opportunity to check it out.  We really had no clue what company to use but I did come across a Groupon for North Shore Catamaran Charters that seemed to make sense.  I liked that it was a catamaran because it was more wide open.   It seemed like we would have a better chance of seeing whales if we didn't have to maneuver around people and ship walls.

The catamaran.

Sunny day equals sleepy kiddos.
In the search for whales, the guides put a microphone in the water (hooked to speakers on the boat) so we could hear the whales singing to each other.  

The first sign that a whale is nearby.
We were told that it is horrible is you get the spray on you.
Apparently is smells nasty and takes forever to wash the stink off.


The perfect shot for a tail and I was a couple of seconds late...  At least I captured the end....

A little more reality of how far we were away.

A net to hang out on - felt good to get some air circulating under us.

Such a hot day and no place to go for shade.
This little one took another nap.
Whale watching was fun but we did stop at some point to just slowly float around until the scheduled time was up.  No whales to see and it was HOT.  So we were pretty miserable!  Riders were given the option to jump in for a couple of minutes to cool off.  We did not but a about 4 others did.

They did provide non-alcoholic drinks on the boat.

Lunch at Pizza Bob's!  There are a lot of options in North Shore.  We wanted to go with something "authentic" to the area yet safe (we are picky eaters).  We loved this so much that we ate here during both of our visits to North Shore.
Playing around at our favorite North Shore beach area.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Oahu, Hawaii: Diamond Head State Monument Hike

When we visited Oahu in 2013 we were told about the Diamond Head State Monument hike.  However, our daily schedule for that vacation was packed.  And, like I have said before, we aren't really into long hikes - especially up hill!  But, during our second visit, we decided to check it out.  A friend of mine told me that her 70 year old grandfather and her little niece and nephew did it.  So it couldn't be too bad - right?

Map showing where Diamond Head is on Oahu.

A view of Diamond Head from our resort in Waikiki.

The park is located in the center of the crater.

We paid a $5 entrance fee for our car (which included all the people inside).

The crater.

Visitors center with a little shop, information desk, and restrooms.
There are no restrooms on the hike!

Time to hike!

This gives you an idea of what you will experience on the hike.
At the end of the #6 tunnel you have the option to take the longer (less strenuous hike) via the #13 stairs or you can take the shorter (steeper) route via the #7 stairs.
They are tiny but you might be able to see portions of the path and people hiking it.
Toward the top you should see a set of stairs and a bunker.
The path at the beginning is nicely paved.

Some portions of the path get a little rougher but it never gets real bad.

Most of the path isn't wide so you have to move out of the way for faster hikers and those coming from the opposite direction.
Some stairs are narrow so it's hard to pass slow movers - or those that are going the opposite direction.
There are tunnels.
They have some lights but may be hard for those that are claustrophobic.
There is one tunnel (#6) that everyone goes through.  Additional tunnels are part of the short path (#7 stairs).
The #13 stairs (the longer route).
They provide a little more room for people to pass.

The short path (via the #7 stairs): very steep stairs with no real room to pass.  We took this route up.  I almost threw up.  My husband laughed but there was another guy that we met up with at the top.  He appeared to be in better shape than me and he almost lost it too - LOL!  There is a tunnel at the top so I was able to rest for a bit out of the sun.  However, it was dirty so I didn't sit down.

More stairs (#9) - these are winding.

We landed in a bunker (#10).  We most likely wouldn't have gone into this part if we would have taken the longer route.  I'm not sure if we would have even known it was there.  So, I was thankful for that.  It was nice to have the chance to explore bunkers.  

Small hole to crawl out.

Looking into the bunker.

Another look into the bunker.
There are plenty of great picture opportunities!

Looking into the crater while heading down the long route (#13 stairs).

View from the top.

Lots of bunkers.

View from the top.

View from the top.

View from the top.
A food option near the visitors center.  They had giant hot dogs.

Was it worth it?  YES!
Take a backpack with water, snacks, camera, ...  
Our total hike only took a couple of hours but you could spend a lot more there.  
We went early in the day for cooler temps and smaller crowds.