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URBAN HIKE

Honolulu and Then Some - Urban Hiking in Hawaii
updated: Apr 30, 2011, 10:00 AM

By Peter Hartmann & Stacey Wright

This week we took a break from our quest to walk all 256 miles of public streets within the city limits of Santa Barbara, and instead wandered off to O'ahu to enjoy a little aloha spirit.

We arrived in Honolulu in the late morning, and the views off the wing of the airliner were spectacular...but we didn't start snapping pictures until we got into the airport. The retro sign that greeted us on arrival said it all.

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After settling into our hotel near San Souci Beach, we made a plan to take a morning hike up to Diamond Head Park and back. Early the next morning, wearing hats and plenty of sunscreen, we were off on what would be our only Hawaiian urban hike. It was about a 4-mile round-trip jaunt that began near Queen's Beach in Waikiki, and ended at Black Point, just past Diamond Head. The black line on our map shows the route we took and these photos, in progressive order show scenes from our hike up...

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These photos are from the hike back to San Souci... for a little r & r Hawaiian style.

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Over the remaining six days of our get-away, we traversed the island documenting all things wonderful about O'ahu. We found downtown Honolulu full of present and historical wonders, including the Kamehameha I Statue, the Royal Coat of Arms, the Iolani Palace, and the graveyard adjacent to the Kawaiaha'O Church, which dates to the early 1800's. We even caught a bride and groom as they emerged from the Kawaiaha'O Church, ready, no doubt, to begin a happy life of urban hiking together...

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Indulge us now, as we share with you just two tidbits of interesting historical fact relating to our own Santa Barbara history; the first being that the last king of Hawaii, King Kalakua, came to Santa Barbara in the 1800‘s, during which time he stayed at the Arlington Hotel. And almost as interesting is the fact that the Royal Coat-of-Arms (as seen in one of the above photos) was designed by B.D. Howe, a Los Angeles area jeweler who, in the 1870‘s, was commissioned to create it. It turns out that Mr. Howe and his family were part-time Santa Barbarians, having owned a family summer cottage in Montecito during that time.

The last of our downtown Honolulu photos isn't pretty, but it's one we can't help but include. Given the current hot debate in Santa Barbara concerning the homeless in our downtown area, we think you might be interested in seeing what at least one apparently homeless woman travels with in Hawai-50.

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After visiting Chinatown and taking a spin through the Ala Moana Shopping Center, we decided we would strike out and head north. Our route took us past the Kukaniloko Birthstones, and then to Dillingham Field, where Peter fulfilled his obsession of flying airplanes without engines. Meanwhile, Stacey hung out at Moklela Beach Park, which is just across the street from the airport. While there, she was lucky enough to swim with several sea turtles who also happened to be just hanging out. They were in the surf just offshore, doing whatever it is that big sea turtles do...

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Heading east toward Hale'iwa, we stopped into M. Matsumoto Store for the best shave ice in the whole world. Wow! It was definitely all we had hoped for and more. We looked around town while we enjoyed our sweet little refreshment, and then took off for Waimea Valley Park. There we strolled through the fantastic botanic gardens and took a dip in the Waimea waterfall.

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Leaving Hale'iwa we headed north and found a stop sign that didn't look like any we've ever rolled though in the past...rather than being red, the darn thing was blue! And before long we found ourselves on the legendary North Shore...No big waves today, but so much beauty it was breathtaking.

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Heading back toward San Souci Beach (by way of Highways 83), we came to the Pali Highway, a pass that would take us right back to Honolulu. The Pali (the Hawaiian word for cliff), is the location of the final battle between King Kamehameha and the forces of the O'ahu chieftains. Ultimately, the defeated O'hauan warriors were forced over the edge of the Pali; about 400 of them. Today a road off the highway leads to a lookout with panoramic views of the valley and shore below. From the lookout, we hiked a ways down the old highway, which was carved out of the lava in the late 1800's, and is now part of a forest reserve.

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Our time in O'ahu was entirely too short, but it was also oh so sweet. We spent our days exploring, swimming, eating & drinking, and meeting up with old friends who we hadn't seen for decades. It was exactly the vacation we had hoped it would be. Despite being privileged to enjoy the beautiful sunsets and beaches of Santa Barbara, we were continually mesmerized by the tropical beauty of O'ahu. We share with you a few of our favorite flashes taken in and around Waikiki, which include a picture of the fireworks display held every Friday night in Honolulu.

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On the final day of our tropical get-away, we packed up and headed for the airport. En route we stopped at the Safeway on Kapahulu Avenue and were awestruck but how perfectly arranged every display and every shelf in the store was. So impressed were we, that we took a photo of the amazing bounty in the produce department.

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After picking up a little dinner for our flight, we were on our way to Honolulu International. There, as we waited to board the flight home, we wandered from one end of the airport to the other, impressed with what Honolulu has done to create a relaxing and interesting experience for travelers. We took enough photos to make an entire urban hike of the airport alone...but for now we share with you just a few pics showing the Japanese Gardens, the golden pagoda and a few magnificent koi.

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Home once again, we encourage you to go out on a hike of your own, to meet your neighbors and see first-hand the pride they take in their homes and neighborhoods. We also remind you to keep your eyes, ears and minds open to all that you encounter along the way, and to be on the lookout for us. We still have the Harry's gift certificate, and are anxious to give it to the first person on foot who sees us during one of our hikes and says, "Hey! Aren't you the Urban Hikers"?

 

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