From my previous travel, I was in the land down under, Australia. After my trip in Sydney, I had a 5-hour layover in the most visited state of the United States. I made sure to take advantage of this quick layover. I was in the state of Hawaii and I said, Mahalo O’ahu!
O’ahu is one of the islands of the state of Hawaii. It is a US island in the Central Pacific and is the location of the state capital, Honolulu. O’ahu is known as ‘The Gathering Place’ and is the home to the largest population of people roughly one million, as well as the best nightlife in Hawaii. It is the third largest island of the Hawaiian islands.
I arrived in Honolulu around 1030H and finished US Customs and Border Protection around 1100H. I really didn’t think of going out at the first place due to the recent failed relationship I had but if I’ll just stay in the airport terminal, I will be a pathetic loser not able to enjoy my vacation. So, I grabbed my phone and booked a trip out of the airport thru Uber. I met Cole in the ride share pick-up zone in the HNL airport. I actually booked just one trip from the airport to Nu’uanu Pali Lookout but while we were on the road, I told her that I only have 5 hours layover and wanted to see some tourist spots. She, then, offered to drive me around the island and see some highlights of the place. It was a generous and kind gesture she offered and since it was proposed to me who is a traveler, of course, I grabbed it without second thought. Here is the itinerary we had:
First stop was at the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. It was about a 20-min ride from the airport passing thru lush green mountains. Nu’uanu Pali Lookout is a section of the windward cliff of the Ko’olau mountain located at the head of the Nu’uanu Valley. It has a panoramic view of the windward coast of the O’ahu. It showed the natural beauty of the island. It gave a most important lesson to tourists and locals that it is everyone’s kuleana (responsibility) to malama (care for) our natural and cultural resources from mauka (mountain) to makai (ocean). The community was making a program to restore the native plants and explained how a healthy forest captures water.
I stayed for about 10 minutes in Nu’uanu Pali Lookout and moved along. The next destination was the Pillbox Hiking Trail. The drive from the lookout to the hiking trail was about 20 minutes. On our way to the hiking trail, I’ve seen the Kailua downtown, the traffic, and the view of the Pacific Ocean.
Pillbox Hiking Trail is a short, sometimes narrow trail featuring 2 military bunkers and a panoramic view of Lanikai Beach. It has the best and most breathtaking vantage point. It is located in 265 Kaelepulu Dr, Kailua, HI 96734. Good thing, my Uber friend, Cole knew where to park and get to the nearest spot of the hiking trail. It was kinda hard to find the location and a parking spot since it was near the Lanikai Beach and when you mentioned the word, ‘beach’ of course, it is fully packed with tourists.
I started my hike at 1210H Hawaiian time. It was indeed a steep climb with narrow path. I got to grab some dead tree roots or I’ll fall. My first stop was about halfway to the top of the pillbox. Even though, I was halfway, the view was amazing already. My second stop was 10 minutes from the time I started climbing. The mountains on the other side was just mesmerizing. I also got a wider view of the Pacific Ocean at that current location. Another 10-20 minutes, then, I’ll be able to get to the Pillbox but I was kinda worried about my time and safety as well. It was noon time, I have no water with me, the sun was glaring hot. The climb/ hike was getting steeper and steeper and my foot wear was not appropriate for that situation so, I have decided to go back down instead.
I got reunited with Cole around 20 minutes. Next on our list was the Lanikai Beach. Lanikai Beach was just approximately 5-10 minutes drive from the Pillbox Hiking Trail. We got in Lanikai Beach at 1240H.
Lanikai Beach is located of course in Lanikai which is a community still in the town of Kailua. The name ‘Lanikai’ means a heavenly sea. It is a half-mile strip of beach and is consistently ranked among the best beaches in the world. I would really love to take a dip but my time was counted. It was a great time also since they were few tourists and travelers on the beach.
It was already 1300H. The trip back to the airport from our location was about 30 minutes while we had some stops to take photos on the side of the road. My flight was back to continental US was at 1700H but I still followed the 2-hour rule before departure time. I just don’t want to be late and be the reason of a flight being delayed LOL. So, we were on our way back to the airport and took some shots while en route. It was a disappointment since I didn’t get the stairway to heaven captured on my phone. They called it in the Ha’iku stairs or ladders which was a steep hiking trail with a total of 3,922 steps to get to O’ahu’s Ko’olau mountain range. The area was named ‘Ha’iku’ after the Kahili flower.
The whole 5-hour layover in Honolulu was short but it was awesome. It was actually just a 3-hour tour not including the hours waiting in the airport for my departure back to mainland US. If I’ll be given another chance to see Hawaiian islands, I’ll definitely pack my bags and head back over there. I even wanted to have my wedding celebrated over there in the future. It was a great trip coz I was able to escape the problems I had at that time.
If you want to see the O’ahu island with a very limited time, you can do what I did. Just leave a message for Cole’s contact information since she really wants to do it again with other tourists and travelers like you and me.
Here is my vlog during my Hawaiian trip: