This is what a category 3 tropical hurricane (cyclone) in the Pacific looks like from the air. Pictures taken onboard a Boeing 717-200 (twin-jet) between 10000 and 20000 ft altitude.
Diamond head is one of the most recognized landmarks on the island of Oahu. It is believed to have been created about 300,000 years ago during a volcanic event in the southeastern area of the island. Diamond Head received its name in the 1700s when Westerners saw crystals in the rocks on the slopes and mistook them for diamonds. Its Hawaiian name is Le’ahi, possibly meaning the top shape of an ahi, or fire headland for the fires lit to guide those on the water.
In the early 1900s Diamond Head was bought by the federal government for military use, and shortly after several tunnels and batteries were added, creating a place for artillery fire. The site was readied to defend Oahu, but no shots were ever fired from this place during war time. These lookout spots are now maintained as a state monument.
If you like hiking, you may enjoy a wonderful view from the top of Diamond Head. This is a popular hike that includes stairs as well as tunnels and many switchbacks to reach the summit at 761 ft. It’s recommended that you bring plenty of water as well as a hat and sunscreen for this hike.
At the front of Diamond Head, you will likely have a good view of surfers in the water below.
One of the lookout points on the front of Diamond Head are included in the stops for our Oahu Circle Island Tour.
Located near the North shore of Oahu, Dole Plantation is a popular visitor destination that welcomes more than one million people per year. What started as a simple fruit stand blossomed into a pineapple experience in 1989. There is now a whole day worth of activities and exploration at the Dole Plantation, including a train ride, maze, gardens, and tasty treats.
The Pineapple Express can take you on a train tour around the plantation so that you can enjoy the beautiful scenery as well as a narrated story about Hawaii’s pineapples and the Dole empire. The cute miniature vintage style trains are sure to be a big hit with the kids, but fun for all.
Or you can wander the maze for a while, but prepare to spend some time there, as it has been declared the world’s largest maze. The maze is made up of tropical plants and covers more than three acres. Average time through the maze is about an hour. Challenge yourself to beat the record time, currently less than 25 minutes.
The gardens here are also a nice way to spend some time, with many beautiful tropical plants and even a narrated information system so that you may learn more about the plants around you.
Inside the large shop you will find all sorts of souvenirs, from locally grown pineapples to koa wood figures and just about anything pineapple themed. For a tasty treat you can stop by the grill and enjoy choices from a varied menu, many with pineapple flair. A popular choice would be Dole Whip, which is like pineapple soft serve ice cream!
Dole Plantation is one of the stops on our Oahu Circle Island tour.
Kualoa Ranch is a working cattle operation and nature preserve on the Windward (East) side of Oahu. The ranch is about 4000 acres and has something to interest most. Kualoa has sites of interest for movie enthusiasts, history buffs, animal lovers, and anyone else who enjoys a beautiful setting here on Oahu.
Kualoa Ranch is a popular filming location, especially in the beautiful Ka’a’awa Valley. You might recognize it from shows or movies such as Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, LOST, 50 First Dates, Godzilla, Hawaii Five-0, Mighty Joe Young, Windtalkers, and many more.
There are many things of historical interest around the ranch, from the old sugar mill near the entrance, to World War II bunkers and even places of native Hawaiian significance. There is also a small museum near the gift shop which has some great old pictures and artifacts from the ranch, which was founded in 1850.
If you can’t wait to see the horses, like me, there are plenty willing to come get some attention as they rest in the corral. There is also a petting zoo with a variety of animals to visit, including Tank the tortoise, some goats, a pig, donkey and most recently a cow and calf pair. You may even see a barn cat or two and some free roaming hens.
The view of the Ko’Olau mountains here is absolutely amazing, and there are also some nice views out over the beach and ocean. Nearby Kualoa Beach Park has a great view of Chinaman’s Hat and is a good place to spend some relaxing time on the beach.
If you’re hungry, there’s a cafe in the main building where you can sample some of the Kualoa Ranch grass fed beef with their burgers.
Kualoa Ranch and Beach Park is a wonderful place to spend some time on Oahu. It is one of the stops on our Oahu Circle Island Tour.
Matsumoto’s Shave Ice
Matsumoto’s is a famous family owned shave ice destination located in the North shore town of Haleiwa. The shop began as a general grocery store in 1951 and after introducing shave ice, eventually made the switch to mainly shave ice and related souvenirs. On a nice day now, Matsumoto’s might serve more than one thousand shave ice.
Shave Ice is a treat popular in Hawaii, similar to a snow cone but with a finer, shaved, ice that makes all the difference. At Matsumoto’s you’ll find nearly 40 flavor options and you get to pick up to three of them, plus toppings! My personal favorite is the Tropical, which includes Lilikoi (passion fruit), Guava, and Papaya.
Toppings include mochi, azuki beans, ice cream, or condensed milk. Mochi is a rice flour treat and adds a chewy texture. Azuki beans are red beans cooked with sugar. If you want to be a bit adventurous and try something new, get the Ichiban special which includes shave ice, ice cream, azuki beans, mochi and condensed milk in an edible bowl. Yum!
Though the line may be long, it moves quickly and you will soon be enjoying a cool treat in the shaded courtyard. Often there is live music or a hula group performing for your entertainment. Add this to the charming feel of the town of Haleiwa and you’re in for a wonderful relaxing afternoon.
Matsumoto’s is one of the stops on our Oahu Circle Island Tour.