Check out these Oahu links for more about our trip to Hawaii.
Our hike at Diamond Head was facilitated by Kaimana Tours. Diamond Head trail starts at the bottom of an extinct volcano and delivers views of Waikiki and other parts of Oahu. Walk with us.
Yes, and it depends. As with any discount card, you have to take into account what type of vacation you want to have and how much time you have. If you choose to just sit at the beach and relax in the sun. Don’t get the Go Oahu Card. It’s not for that type of vacation. Relaxing in the sun on the beach is free, still. That’s about the best discount you can get.
However, if you know that you want to experience some of the culture of Hawaii, a Go Oahu Card can help you do that. For example, we knew that we wanted to do a luau. They run north of $100 per person, and the best-rated Luau is at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is about $120. We also knew that we wanted to visit Pearl Harbor. Its place in history makes it an important spot to visit for anyone who wants to think about warfare and understand human nature better. The activities there run about $40, but the Arizona Memorial and its related movie is free. The two combined activities add up to $160, which meant we would need to find an activity or two that would add up to about $40.
Not knowing that Pearl Harbor was a full day tour, I was still concerned that we wouldn’t be able to do enough activities to make the Go Oahu Card worthwhile. A lot of the activities take place in the morning because it gets too hot in the afternoon to do anything. We decided to do the 8 am Diamond Head Hike ($18) and the afternoon tour with Makani Catamaran (about $100). We didn’t have a car, so I wasn’t sure that we could make the catamaran, but we signed up for it anyway. There was plenty of time, so we got our money’s worth.
Going into the Pacific with Makani Tours is a pleasurable,relaxing experience. The catamaran is bigger than it looks from the dock, and many of the smaller tourists (children) will take a seat on the netting at the front of the boat. Smart adults who don’t experience motion sickness will also sit on the netting, but use the bean bags as back rests. (Those who experience motion sickness may want to head toward the back of the boat where the least amount of motion is, or look at a fixed point just above the horizon in an attempt to trick the brain into believing that you aren’t moving.)
Don’t worry about the number of people on the dock; your boat will fit them all and still give you enough room to move around comfortably. You’ll be able to go from the front to the back and from side to side with little problem – unless wildlife is spotted. When everyone moves to the right side to see the whales, the shorter guests may have a hard time seeing them if they aren’t at the rail (guests or whales). Sea turtles are easier to see because they don’t move as quickly as whales. Trigger fish and tangs will be enticed to surface with an offering from the first mate. Sitting at the front of the boat will give you the best opportunity to see flying fish,too.
The cruise took us out past Diamond Head, which we hiked in the morning. It was cool to see the other side of it and look at the size of it from a vantage where it actually looked like a crater. The trip comes with a free drink, and the first mate talks about and points out the wildlife and will happily take your picture.
Kaimana Tours provides transportation from your hotel to the Diamond Head trail head. As part of the deal, you get a bottle of water and a printed guide for the trail. On the way to the crater floor, the driver will tell you interesting facts about the area, including the way it got its name. (Explorers mistook calcite for diamonds.)
The hike itself is relatively easy. At .8 miles up, it’s not as daunting or difficult as the hike to the sixth floor in my condo complex. Or at least, it didn’t seem as difficult – maybe because I wasn’t carrying grocery bags, maybe it’s because the scenery is amazing. Bring sunscreen and take your time, the two hours allotted by Kaimana is enough to get up, take photos all along the way, get down and still buy souvenirs while waiting for the bus. Some older people found the hike more difficult, but some toddlers were happy on the way down.
At one point in the hike, you can choose the easy way to the left or the hard way, a bunch of stairs, to the right. Someone might think of that as a church metaphor with the difficulty of choosing the right to head towards heaven, but in this case, both choices lead to the same destination, which others might also see as an afterlife metaphor. If you’re literally minded, you don’t have to think of it either way. We went left and didn’t regret a thing. I see enough stairs at home.