James’ surf teacher recommended doing the Koko Head hike at sunrise. He said something along the lines of “you need a light at the end of the tunnel” which I shrugged off (spoiler alert, I shouldn’t have!). So this morning we woke up early, and headed over to the trail (just a couple of blocks from our AirBnb).
Koko Head might be one of the most difficult hikes I’ve ever been on. While the elevation isn’t as high as some other hikes I’ve done, the 1,200 feet in the air – or the 1,048 steps really is something. The trail follows an abandoned tram railway. But what was really terrifying was the section of railway that was essentially a bridge with no ground underneath, going up the side of this crater/mountain/hill. I hugged the tracks and rails as if my life depended on it (and it probably did!). But I made it successfully up and down, without a scratch or bruise… just plenty of mud and sweat!
The views on the top of Koko Head absolutely make up for the difficult hike – and I would advise that if you ever attempt this, to go very early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is not that strong.
Legs shaking like crazy at the bottom, we made our way back to the AirBnb and immediately changed into our swim suits to spend some time at Hanauma Bay. The bay is famous for its snorkeling and we made it in with just a few parking spots to spare. After watching a brief intro video, we headed down to the bay.
The water was so cold. The first 45 minutes or so I would dip my feet in, chicken out and return to my towel to read. Finally we decided to just go for it, and dove in. While most people snorkel here, I took the opportunity to just use my swim goggles and get in some swimming while the current wasn’t too horrible (James snorkeled). The bay is filled with coral reefs and amazing colorful fish (and maybe an octopus). I easily spent an hour swimming and diving down, enjoying every moment of it.
Once we dried off, we headed back to the apartment for a quick lunch of homemade poke bowls, before driving to the Byodo-In Temple. The temple was built in the 1960s to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Japanese arriving in Hawaii. It’s a replica of a temple in Japan that’s nearly 1,000 years old – and it is absolutely stunning.
Desperately needing a caffeine fix, we head to Morning Brew in Kailua, which we originally intended to hit up on our first day here (but was side tracked due to the day before interrupting our plans). This coffee shop did not disappoint! James had a chai shake and I ordered an iced latte. We strolled around this little beach town, stopping in shops and enjoying the afternoon sun.
On our way home, we stopped at the Blowhole, a hole in the lava by the coast. When the tide is high, water shoots up from the hole, imitating as you guessed it, a blowhole on a whale.
We finally made our way back to the apartment, and spent the remainder of the afternoon reading outside on the deck, and waiting for the sunset (which a cloud blocked at the very last minute!).