Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Field Trip Friday - Diamond Head

Diamond Head, also known as Le'ahi, is one of the more famous landmarks in Hawaii. It is a crater which resulted from one of the volcanic eruptions which formed Oahu.
You should visit Diamond Head on a Saturday morning and take the opportunity to visit the Waikiki Farmer's Market before beginning your hike up the mountain. The market is located in the parking lot of a community college right across from the entrance to the state park. It is so much fun to visit - all kinds of crazy flowers are available to purchase, along with LOTS of yummy food. Prices are quite high so don't stock up on groceries, but it's definitely a fun place to visit and snack. I have no pictures because I was too busy eating...
When you've finished at the Farmer's Market, cross the street and enter the park. You can park at the bottom of the hill and save a few dollars on the parking fee, but I wouldn't recommend it. It increases the length of the hike considerably and you will be sorry! Spend the money and park at the trailhead.
Take your smiling, happy picture at the beginning of your hike, because at the end, you'll be collapsed on the ground slurping a shave ice (snow cone).
Technically, this should be an easy hike. It's only 0.8miles each way. I'm learning that in Hawaii, the distance doesn't matter and you can easily be tricked into thinking you're out for a leisurely stroll, when really, you're going mountain climbing...
This is a HOT hike - there is no shade, and it's very dry up there. There is a curvy, narrow concrete trail up the mountain, and you will be squeezing past lots of exhausted people on their way down. When you get about half way up, you will encounter 74 steps headed up to a tunnel. After that, there are 99 more steps. And then, a 52 step spiral staircase up to the viewing area. The dark line in the middle of the picture below is the first set of steps.
It really doesn't look so bad, but try it while carrying a 40 pound four year old on your shoulders... My poor husband did most of the work, and I only carried Crumpet up the second set of steps. On the way down, we told him that if he walked the whole way, he could have his own giant shave ice. He walked! (My husband's whole side of the family has a weird obsession with snow cones - I really am not a huge fan...)
The view from the top of Diamond Head is truly worth the work. Stunning blue water,
All of Waikiki beach and Honolulu:
A beautiful light house that we still need to visit:
Diamond Head from the water. I hear that the mountain gets really green if it rains, but we're in the middle of a drought, so we've only seen it this way so far.
Despite all my whining, this really was a worthwhile hike, and now we can check it off our list of things that must be done while living in Hawaii! For more field trip posts, visit Live the Adventure.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dole Pineapple Plantation

We went to the Dole Plantation a while ago. It was a lot of fun!

Did anyone know that pineapples grow on the ground on plants that look like aloe? I had no idea. I always pictured big pineapple trees. But no, they grow on the ground in vast scrubby looking fields. Here are a few growing at the entrance to the plantations.
Did you know that some pineapples are pink?? And various other shades ranging from yellow to red...
There are 4 sections to the plantation tour. The first and most fun was the train ride through the fields on the Pineapple Express. They give a great history of Mr. Dole and the pineapple industry in Hawaii, as well as lots of interesting fruit facts! We learned that to plant a pineapple, you cut off the top of a ripe one and stick it in the ground. It takes about 18-24 months to grow another. You pick the pineapple when it is ripe, and it does not ripen further, so eat it quickly!
Then, there are some beautiful gardens to walk through. There are plants from all over the Hawaiian islands here.
Coffee (I almost stole a tree so I could grown my own at home):
The world's largest maze is located on the grounds of the Dole Plantation.
It is made entirely of hibiscus plants, which produce gorgeous flowers. Unfortunately, they keep it cut way back so you can actually walk through the maze, so we saw very few flowers. But we saw some!
They give you a card a the entrance, and as you work through the maze, you color in stencils at hidden stations to prove that you made it all the way around the maze. I have to admit, we gave up pretty quickly... but it was fun to try!
And the last thing you do at the Dole Plantation is EAT. They have a good variety of food, all of which includes pineapple. And they make the "world famous Dole Whip". I'd never heard of a Dole Whip, but oh, they are good! I have a recipe to try at home soon, and I'm hoping it's at least half as good. Every time I see this picture, I drool:
For more field trip fun, visit Live the Adventure!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Atlantis Submarine

A few weeks ago, we rode in a submarine to tour some of the reefs off the coast of Waikiki. It was such a great experience to be underwater, right up close to the fish, turtles, and rays. We even saw a couple of sharks.
The tour leaves from a pier on Waikiki beach. Here's Waikiki, Land of the Tourist:
The pier. A ferry boat pulls up here to take everyone out to the sub. The ferry boat has bathrooms, food, souvenirs; everything you will be missing for an hour when you are underwater.
Cool dragon boats at the pier:
A model of the submarine we were on:
The submarine waiting for us:
Hubby and Crumpet looking out the window. I have never been seasick, but while we were inside the sub, waiting to submerge, I was incredibly nauseous and thought I might just embarrass myself. Fortunately, the seasickness passes once you stop rocking around on the surface.
Fish! Underwater!
Many of the reefs around Hawaii are dying due to warming ocean waters. Scientists have created a variety of artificial reefs to provide homes for the fish and other sea creatures that live here. Some are shaped like this pyramid.
Some reefs are coils like this:
More fish!
There is also an airplane which they sank to create a reef:
And there are 2 old ships:

There is a sea turtle in the center of the picture below. These are truly beautiful to watch swimming. It's like they are flying through the water. The green sea turtle is endangered, but we have been lucky to see quite a few already.
And an interesting scientific fact. There is less light at the bottom of the ocean than there is at the top. As a result, colors fade the deeper you travel. It's hard to tell but here is my red shirt at the surface of the sea:
And my brown shirt at the bottom of the sea:
It was really cool to watch everyone's clothes change colors. And to ride in a submarine. My husband rode subs for the Navy for years, and now I can say I've done it too! This was a really fun trip.
For more field trip fun, visit Live the Adventure!