Tuesday morning. My 3rd full day on the Hawaiian Islands. I got up early to call home; Hawai’i is nice and this tour has been great fun so far, but I do miss the folks back home. It’s funny, but by being away for only 2 weeks, I miss a little over 10% of our 4-month old daughter, Nora’s life. All was well back at the ranch, so I decided to head out for a run before the sun got too high in the sky.

The run was amazing. I took a loop route around Diamond Head, a large, ca. 200,000 year old tuff cone lying a few kilometres east of Waikiki (see photo below). Diamond Head, which is considerably younger than the ca. 2.6 Ma Koʻolau Range that forms the backbone of Oah’u, is amazing. It is a monogenetic structure, meaning it formed during a single eruptive episode that is estimated to have lasted only a few days. This is remarkable, given it is >200 m tall and a couple of kilometres in diameter. The eruption forming Diamond Head was very explosive due to interaction between rising magma, fresh groundwater, and seawater, with the main cinder cone punching up through and obliterating an overlying coral reef. Big geology that forms quickly and catastrophically is the absolute best.

Despite the sun sitting only slightly above the horizon, it was already quite hot. As I laboured up the southern flank of Diamond Head I saw a few other foolish hardy souls on foot and bike. Reaching the crest of the climb, I got a spectacular view out to sea, which was dotted with surfers catching some early-morning breaks. Surfers always look so cool (see video below). I tried surfing when I lived in Brazil. I sucked. Stupid sport. I pick up the pace, slowed, tried to run faster again, and failed, largely because my legs were still feeling rather dead from my windy cycle ride on Kilauea. Luckily, the last bit of the run was downhill back into Waikiki, so I could relax and take in the view. Just a word on Waikiki; it’s not that nice. It’s completely overrun with tourists, and has a Louis Vuitton and a Jimmy Choos. Nuff said. On the plus side, it does have a Cheesecake Factory and the Maui Brewing Company.

A breakfast coffee, served with a side order of emails, and it was time to do some more laundry. In my effort to avoid checking luggage, and to thus save a stack of time waiting for baggage at numerous airports, I brought only a roller-case for my 2-week tour. The downside being that I needed to do laundry a couple of times during my trip. This wasn’t too much of a hassle, but there’s something strange about walking around Waikiki in glorious sunshine looking for a launderette.

Post-laundry, to get my heart rate up and because the weather was so stellar, I spontaneously decided to rent a moped and explore the island. When I was younger young, I use to ride a trail bike (Yamaha DT50); I had forgotten how much fun motorcycles/mopeds are!!! For only $30 (c. £24) I got the moped for the whole day, so I set off towards the eastern point of Oah’u, looping around the base of Diamond Head, before heading out past multi-million dollar beach-front houses towards less populated terrain.

The first main stop was Lanai Lookout, which lies at the base of Koko Crater (see photo above), a 368 m tall monogenetic tuff  cone that is slightly older (30,000–35,000 Ma) than Diamond Head. Here, on a series of broad, sea-lashed platforms, an absolutely spectacular sequence of volcaniclastic deposits (see below), sourced from the Koko Crater, is beautifully exposed. The exposure quality was Un. Be. Lievable. Volcanic bombs, graded and massive beds, giant sigmoidal cross-beds, trough cross-beds, large erosional scours. This outcrop had it all, and it made me want to whip out my logging sheet. I’ll share some photos on a following blog-post. @volcanologist and @uib_rotevatn will be pissed if I don’t.

Feeling my tummy rumbling, I continued east to a Sandy Beach, where I found, somewhat randomly, a taco truck. Tacos on the beach in Hawai’i, whilst fending off an aggressive cockerel? Why the hell not (see below). Having inhaled the tacos and having suitably intimidated my glamorously feathered dining companion, I pushed on eastwards to Makapu’u Point. Here, so the very chatty moped-hiring dude said, humpback whales could be spotted in the channel between Oah’u and Moloka’i. These whales are most common around the Hawaiian Islands in November to March, as they make there way northwards to plankton-rich feeding grounds in the north Pacific. So I made the rather steep climb up towards the Makapu’u lighthouse at Makapu’u Point and sat and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And wondered why there was a cockerel on the beach. And waited. And then, BOOM! Just in front of the point a humpback breached, and then for the next 15 or so minutes, a group of around five put on quite the show, breaching and spouting a few hundred metres offshore. In the video below, keep an eye out for the spouting; it’s pretty clear. I have seen whales before in New Zealand, but they never fail to impress me with their acrobatic ability. To be honest, seeing any large animal in its natural habitat, and in a habitat so unnatural to us humans, is always awe-inspiring.

Having had my whale-fill for the next few years, it was time to head back to Waikiki and return the moped. I looped back around the north side, where I stopped at ARS Cafe, a small local coffee shop I had seen on my morning run. It was suitably hipster and, I believe, @big_ol_world would have approved. The evening passed by in a heart-racing blur of laundry, blogging, packing and emailing. Feeling brave, I decided to return to ‘Get Crackin’ to take on the snow crab, resplendent with rubber gloves and bone-cracker. It was awesome. And so ended my stay in Hawaii. It’s been awesome. I’m a very, very, very lucky boy.



Published by Christopher Aiden-Lee Jackson

I am Professor of Basin Analysis @imperialcollege. I ❤️ 🏃🏿, 🚴🏿 and @basinsIC (⛏). I obsess about the tectono-stratigraphic development of sedimentary basins. Why? Because I'm hopeless at everything else.

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