Outrigger Canoe Paddling in Pearl Harbor

Canoeing has been a part of Hawaii’s history and culture since ancient times; and in my opinion, there is truly no better way to experience Hawaii than from the seat of an outrigger canoe.  I had the privilege of getting my oars wet for the first time when I, along with a team of my coworkers, recently met at Rainbow Bay Marina in Honolulu. The Rainbow Bay Marina is a Morale, Wefare, and Recreation (MWR) facility for military members and their familes stationed on the island of Oahu. The marina, located just outside the Arizona Memorial on Pearl Harbor, offers a variety of boats and other activities for fun times on the water.

These canoes weigh roughly 900 pounds each!

I think one of the most challenging things about outrigger canoes is just getting them launched into the water. We were lucky that we had a pretty large paddling crew to all lend a hand. These canoes weigh roughly 900 pounds each!

Our paddling instructor, who was also our Na Ho’okele (steerer) kept our team operating like a well-oiled machine… Well she tried her best, considering what it was that she had to work with!

The key to outrigger canoe paddling is that every stroke be made in perfect unison. Yeah, that wasn’t always the situation inside of our canoe.

 A beautiful sunrise over Pearl Harbor

We won the race easily… seeing how there was nobody else in the water.

We probably would have paddled a whole lot better but that guy in the black shirt actually forgot to grab an oar.

…not to mention the guy in the lead seat on the port side was snapping selfies the entire time.

All in all we did pretty well and most would say I rowed the best… regardless if I paid them to say that.

There’s that guy in the black shirt again. We are all finished rowing now and he’s still looking for an oar.

I think we’re all about ready for the big leagues now!

Outrigger canoe paddling is not only fun, it is a fantastic way to get some quality exercise with family and friends. If you like water sports and enjoy working as part of a team, than this is definitely a sport that I would highly recommend!

Happy travels,

Big John

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The Hike Up Koko Head Crater

Out of all the amazing hikes I have done during my stay on Oahu, Koko Head is my absolute favorite. Koko Head is located on the southeastern side of the island in an area known as Manalua Bay. Although it is a relatively short hike, the 1,048 railway stairs to the top can definitely test one’s endurance! One of the most fascinating things about Koko Head, aside from the breathtaking views, is its military history.

During World War II, the U.S. Army erected several bunkers at the summit of the crater with a railway tram that carried up troops and supplies. After the Air Force was formed in 1947, the installation at Koko Head Crater became the Koko Crater Air Force Station.

Koko Crater Air Force Station atop Koko Head

For years, Koko Head Crater was a fully functional radar station. Eventually the Air Force turned the property over to the Hawaii Air National Guard. I sure hope those weekend flyboys didn’t mind the occasional hike!

Her tracks can be perilous in places.

The tracks that remain are now referred to as “railway stairs”. A climb to the summit on the Koko Head Railway stairs will take you up 990 feet in just over .7 miles. It is a grueling hike, but the view from atop is definitely worth every bit of the struggle along the way!

Koko Crater Air Force Station Mess Hall

The building was long gone by the time I began making my way up the summit; but the morning of my hike, I could almost still smell the bacon and eggs! I skipped breakfast that morning, so I was probably just hungry.

Start your hike early enough to catch one of these gorgeous sunrises on the summit!

Parking is free at the Koko Head District Park and the gates open at 6:00 am sharp. I highly recommend that if it is your first time going, start early so you can still catch a sunrise at the top. Just be mindful, it will likely still be dark when you arrive so bring a headlamp.


The trail can get muddy just after a thorough soaking.


U.S. Air Force Radar Station – July, 28, 1949

Koko Crater Radar Station during her prime.


Hanauma Bay in the background

In 1966, the radar station became obsolete and the property was passed on to the City of Honolulu.


For many, the way down can actually prove more difficult than climbing to the top.


American Airman hard at work manning his station.

I know what he is probably thinking. “Those slackers have been gone for hours. They better have brought me back a sandwich!”

It is still quite a trek before reaching the bottom.

This is the part of the trail where I like to sit on the rails and just contemplate life… life is difficult… walking is difficult… sitting is difficult… lying down on tracks is really difficult…. getting back up is even more difficult than that…. people are altogether way too difficult… why won’t they just go around?


With the aid of a gas-powered winch, a military tram slowly makes its way back down up the tracks.

I sure hope the guy photographing this has another ride coming soon. It’s a long walk getting back to the hooch!


It’s a pretty common occurrence to get stuck on the tracks during rush-hour traffic.

Koko Head is a very popular hiking destination for both tourists and the locals. It is estimated that over 500 people visit Koko Head trail on any given day.

Rebecca and Jonah throw up a “shaka” on the trail.


You can’t see Hawaii without seeing at least one of her spectacular rainbows!

I hope you enjoyed my post. If you are ever in Oahu, this is one hike that you really must do. Please feel free to explore more of my site, Big John’s Adventures in Travel, post a comment, and maybe even show me some love on social media.


Happy travels,

Big John

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The Trail to the Summit of Diamond Head Crater

Aloha from Waikiki!

Rebecca was already five months pregnant when we landed in Oahu on that warm and sunny day in April. That being said, all of our recreational opportunities on the island have been far more tame than what we would typically do when exploring a new place. With things like surfing, parasailing, and getting eaten by sharks out of the question, we have still been able to find some pretty amazing hikes to do as a couple.  One such hike, that’s definitely worth mentioning, is no other than the trail leading to the summit of Diamond Head Crater.


An aerial view of Diamond Head Crater (Image courtesy of hawaiiparks.org)

Diamond Head Crater, known as Le’ahi by the Hawaiians, was believed to have formed some 30,000 years ago during a single, brief eruption. The crater covers 350 acres of land and it is easily the most recognized landmark in all of Hawaii.


The trail to the summit was built in 1908 by the US Army Coastal Artillery defense system.  With its panoramic view from the Koko Head to Wai’anae, the summit of Diamond Head was a choice site for defending the coast of Oahu. Beginning in 1910, Diamond Head Crater was home to several seaward facing batteries. During WWII, an additional battery was placed on the crater; however, no guns were ever fired from the site during the course of the war.


From the trailhead to the summit, visitors will hike 0.8 miles one way and climb 560 feet from the crater’s floor.


Diamond Head Crater is a perfect hike for couples!


A steep set of 74 concrete steps leads hikers to a fun narrow tunnel along the path.


This dimly lit tunnel leading to the top of Diamond Head Crater is 225 feet long.



The trail to the summit had no shortage of stairs!


The view along the way is magnificent!


The many pillboxes still perched atop Diamond Head Crater’s summit were once a major part of Oahu’s coastal defense.



The Diamond Head Lighthouse, built in 1899, is a US Coast Guard facility.


The summit is a great place to get a glimpse of the Honolulu skyline.


Another amazing view of the blue Pacific waters!


Well look who made it to the top…. and she did it carrying two!


The inland view of Oahu from Diamond Head Crater’s summit.



Next to the beautiful scenery, this tiki hut was the best thing about Diamond Head Crater!


After our exhausting hike, Rebecca found the chilled coconut to be a refreshing treat!


My sweet tooth got the best of me and I couldn’t pass on the rainbow shave ice!

Rebecca and I had a wonderful time hiking to the summit of Diamond Head Crater. I hope you enjoyed the pictures we captured along the way. Please visit Big John’s Adventures in Travel again soon to see more of our travels and adventures in the Aloha State.


This vintage postcard from Waikiki shows the famous Diamond Head Crater in the backdrop.

I hope this post inspired you to get off the couch and go explore somewhere new! Before you go, please feel free to explore more of my site, subscribe, or show me some love on social media.

Mahalo and happy travels,

Big John

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