Running up a Volcano*

*actually running to a volcano, and then walking up the steep bits!

Diamond Head dominates the Waikiki skyline (well as much as possible given all the high rise hotels). We visited Hawaii in October 2016 after running in the Melbourne half (full for Mark) marathon  and crazily thought a jog out to the crater would be a good recovery run!

Duke Kahanamoku statue on Kuhio Beach.

Staying a few streets back from the main road in Waikiki, we firstly ran down Kalukana Ave past all the fancy shops and hotels, weaving through the throngs of tourists and a few Japanese wedding photo-shoots.

We continued down past Kuhio Beach and the famous statue of Duke Kahanamoku. He must have been a busy person – an Olympic gold medal winning swimmer, father of modern surfing, Hollywood actor, Hawaii’s first ambassador of goodwill and elected sheriff!

We opted to take the quick route to the crater, through the inland suburbs with a steady climb… It was just over 4.5km to get to the start of the walking trails in the State Monument park, with a few stops along the way for traffic lights and consulting on which way to go. Although there were other crazy people running inside the park up all the steep stairs, and through the tunnels, we opted to walk up the crater to enjoy the views (and save our legs). The walking trail is 1.3km long (one way), and climbs 171m.

Watch out for your hat blowing off!

It’s believed the crater formed about 300,000 years ago in an explosive eruption which produced a lot of ash and fine particles. These materials settled and cemented together into rock called tuff. So although this crater is volcanic in origin it is not created by the ‘classic’ steep sided lava volcano. The prevailing wind blew more of this ash towards the sea-ward side, hence why the walls are higher on this side. It was surprising once inside the crater just how big it is, being wider than it is tall.


Views of Waikiki from Diamond Head Crater.

The summit and seaward rim of the crater was previously part of the defence system for O’hau. There are the remains of bunkers, lookouts and there used to be gun batteries – none of which were fired during a war.

But really what I think most tourists are interested in is the great views from the summit! On clear days you can see some of the other Hawaiian islands and there is also the potential to spot whales. It is pretty windy up the top, and instead of whales we saw heaps of hats which had blown off heads and settled down the steep slopes of the crater –  it was too treacherous to retrieve them.

Run completed!

On the run home, we took the more leisurely route south around the rest of the crater and along the ocean road. As it was a straightforward route back home, and our ‘easy jog’ pace is pretty different, Mark got to stretch out a bit more and we met up back in tourist central. It was a lovely 6km downhill, watching all the water sports in the various bays and then back into Waikiki for sunset.

I’m not entirely sure my legs felt ‘refreshed’ from this recovery run, but at least we had earned our Mai Tais…


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