Diamond Head Hike and Kailua Beach

I’m very glad Ryan and I enjoy vacationing the same way. We both prefer adventurous vacations jam-packed with activity. Sure, we love a day of relaxation peppered into the mix here and there, but we both enjoy exploring new areas far too much to kick back for too long.

You better believe our first full day in Hawaii was full of fun!

After a quick grab-n-go breakfast at a local coffee shop, we drove to Diamond Head to hike the 0.8 miles to the summit of the crater.

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Diamond Head is believed to have been formed 300,000 years ago during a single, brief eruption and the width of the crater is even greater than the impressive height.

We parked just outside of the state park and walked about a mile to get to the entrance. We were glad we opted to walk because the parking lot was already full at 8 a.m. Labor Day crowds! 

Check out all the teeny people!

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The hike itself wasn’t overly strenuous and we made sure to stop and enjoy the incredible views on our way to the top.

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The only part of the hike that made me uneasy was the time spent in a dark tunnel.

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As a claustrophobic person, I freaked out a bit at the tunnel entrance. Fortunately a nice man coming out of the tunnel sensed my apprehension and did a great job of assuring me I would be in and out of the tunnel in less than two minutes.

He said I wouldn’t be able to see the exit at first which was my main fear, so I held onto Ryan’s back and looked down at his shoes and only looked up when Ryan told me he could see the way out. I made it, but I emerged from the tunnel drenched in a nervous sweat. Eek.

While the views on the way up were impressive, the view from the top reigned supreme.

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I cannot get over the beautiful color of the water. Simply gorgeous.

The walk back down to the base of the crater flew by and we hopped back into our car, bound for the beach!

On our way, we made a pit stop to check out the Halona Blowhole, a rock formation with an impressive blowhole that shoots seawater high into the air.

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The blowhole itself was really neat, but I was even more enamored by the water crashing into the jagged rocks nearby.

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As we continued on our drive, we ended up getting a little lost. We were hoping to arrive at Lanikai Beach, but somehow ended up missing it and arriving at Kailua Beach.

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Ryan and I were pretty hungry at this point, so before walking out to the water, we popped into Buzz’s, located directly across from Kailua Beach Park.

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I knew I was hungry when everything on the menu sounded fantastic.

I ended up ordering the fresh fish burger, which came out looking more like a grilled ahi tuna sandwich which was fine by me!

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The burger came with a side of hot and sour soup and I also ordered a side salad for some greens.

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It was delicious! I could not stop raving about the fish and ate every last bite.

After lunch, we changed into our bathing suits and walked out to Kailua Beach to spend some time in the water and sun. diamond head hike 061

We loved how many people brought their dogs to the beach and had a good time watching dogs play in the surf. Our favorite dogs to watch were the ones who really wanted to get in the water, but were a little too scared to bite the bullet and dive in. They were so sweet and made us miss Sadie!

Now we’re back at the hotel room and it’s time to shower and clean up before dinner. We’re hoping to find a restaurant that overlooks the water for our evening meal tonight and are loving all of the suggestions you guys sent our way. Thank you!!


  1. Amy Brich says

    My parents met in Hawaii almost 40 years ago and Buzz’s was their favorite restaurant. I had the chance to eat there in 2000 with them…..great memories!


  2. says

    I am so jealous! All that beautiful scenery!! I would just gaze and gaze at it all day<3
    Active vacations are the way to go.
    I can't stand it when no one wants to go do anything fun. Exploring first and making yourself tired enough to want to sit and relax is what people should do…or at least, thats what I think.


  3. Anne @strawberryjampackedlife says

    We were on a mission on our way up Diamond Head, and just trucked up those steps. The worst part for us (well my 6′-3″ husband) was crawling out of what felt like a bunker to get to the top. I also love that we’ve been to that same beach park. That one was so tiny and cute.


  4. lani says

    ahhh you’re making me miss home so much. makapu’u lighthouse.. you won’t regret it! on the right day you get to see whales 🙂 waimea falls has a pretty waterfall at the end of the walk and you see peacocks roaming around. stairway to heaven is a crazy hike.. haven’t done it but my husband did for work and said it is insane.. have fun!!!!


  5. says

    I hate dark spaces where I can’t see the exit too! Especially in the subway, when the train randomly stops in between two walls and there is no cell phone servie OR in a tunnel when there is traffic!

    And you look GREAT by the way! Hope you are having a BLAST in Hawaii 🙂


  6. Coco says

    You could try Tiki’s for dinner! Overlooking the water, not on the waterfront. GREAT cocktails,American fare. Its closer down towards the ZOO! Great people watching, but up off the thoroughfare so to speak so its quieter. Live music starts later and its outside so it’s so Hawaii!


  7. Jess says

    You should try the hanohano room. Its at the top of the Sheraton in Waikiki! Such good food and it has great views! My hubby and I ate there on our honeymoon 6 years ago….hope u have fun!!


  8. says

    Your pics are absolutely breathtaking! My husband and I just returned from Williamsburg (with a little adventure of our own!), and I think Hawaii will have to be our next trip!


  9. Lisa says

    Oh man, you guys were soooo close to Lanikai!!! If you had kept driving past Kailua beach park and turned left at the four way stop, you would have made it to Lanikai (really just the name of the neighborhood. As someone above said, there isn’t a formal beach park but you park in the neighborhood and walk down to the beach acces path. An old law passed by one of the Queens makes all beaches public access, so there has to be at least one or more public access paths, even among swanky neighborhoods like Lanikai. The best place to park is near the “beach club” which is really a big grass field, playground and outrigger canoe club. Walk down the street to the right of the field (if you were facing toward the ocean) and the main path way is directly across the street. The road in and out of Lanikai is a one way loop, so if you miss it the first time around, you can always keep going ’round! But, don’t despair, the views from Kailua are nearly the same as Lanikai (although Lanikai has more beach as Kailua has eroded over the years and there isn’t as “beachy” as it used to be)


  10. Marjorie says

    AHH!! You were like 1/2 a mile from where I live at Kailua beach! I run along that all the time. If you kept going past Buzz’s (on the right) and Kailua beach on the left, you hit a stop sign, go left and then you go up a hill (you’ll see like a lighthouse tower kinda statue at the top) then down the hill then you are are lanikai! You just have to find parking on the street and there are a bunch of beach accesses on your left! If you are in Kailua again go to Cinnamon’s in Kailua for breakfast/brunch and have the guava chiffon pancakes. AMAZing!!!!!!


  11. Kanoe says

    I miss Hawaii!! I love it there and that water is always great feeling & looking! You guys look great & so happy! Enjoy your Hawaii time! Aloha guys :-D!


  12. says

    I absolutely loved Hawaii when I was in Maui with my family this April! The blowholes and beaches were just amazing.

    Bo and I are the same way when it comes to being active. We never stopped moving on our trip to Seattle this weekend! So fun!


  13. says

    so gorgeous!! I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I’ve heard nothing but great things. I’m glad you guys are exploring the islands – that’s what I would want to do too! Gotta earn those relaxing beach days 🙂


  14. says

    We live Maui, but every time we are on Oahu we make sure to stop at Bubbies (the best homemade mochi ice cream in the world with a bazillion flavors!) and Diamond Head Market/Grill for the most amazing bluberry cream cheese scone. omg. Have so much fun!! 😀


  15. says

    My fiance and I visited Maui in June and LOVED it. I know what you mean about the color of the water. I couldn’t stop staring! We decided to have our wedding there next year and I absolutely cannot WAIT to go back! I am so glad you are having a great time and thanks for sharing with us!


  16. heather says

    some really fantastic photos in there, julie!! what a great vacation. i have soft spot for hawaii, though i’m a maui girl. continue enjoying 🙂 (oh, and glad i’m not the only one who doesn’t like the idea of tomato soup. i love tomatoes in just about every other form.)


  17. says

    Your photos are making me home sick! I went to elementary school right by Diamond Head and I used to love hanging out by the blow hole! You should definitely head over to the Pali lookout, Polynesian Cultural Center, Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice on the north shore (celebs frequent this place! Azuki beans and ice cream are a must!!), and you cannot leave Hawaii without getting at least one spam musubi, malasada (must be eaten fresh), and li hing mui covered sour gummy worms or sour patch kids! Ahhhh !! Yum!!!

    Oh! And don’t forget to go to the Windward side and check out the upside down waterfalls!


  18. says

    Oh how I miss Kailua Beach! Lanikai is kind of tucked behind Kailua Beach. You need to drive through the residential area and park in front of one of the houses and walk to it. Glad y’all are enjoying yourselves.



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