If you can get there, Hawaii is a fun Escape from PNW Winter Blues

Oahu image by Kevin DwyerWant to get away? This time of the year, Bainbridge Islanders are known to escape the gloom, doom and frigid weather of Mid-Winter and seek warmer climes elsewhere.

If you have the inclination, the means and the time – and we count ourselves among the lucky few – there are many opportunities that await you the world over as the chill and rain in Central Puget Sound continue to bite us to the bone throughout January, and the sun remains a stubborn, peekaboo friend.

As studies by the City bear out, Bainbridge Islanders like to travel – and travel afar. That’s one reason our carbon footprint is higher than you might otherwise expect, especially when you consider all the electric cars, hybrids and e-bikes that traverse island roads. It’s all those plane trips! But that’s a discussion for another day.

The cheery destinations we warm-weather seekers in the Pacific Northwest end up at are well known. Arizona, Florida, Palm Springs (when it’s not flooding), any number of places in Mexico, such as Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas. Then there are more exotic spots and ones that are a half a world away. We’re talking Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, the Galapagos, and Cancun, and the Yucatan Peninsula thrown in for good measure.

Waikiki Beach image by Kevin DwyerOne place we really enjoy visiting – as do many of our fellow islanders and Kitsap County residents – is Hawaii. There is much to do and see both inside and outside in our nation’s 50th state. Hawaii has a fascinating history and culture, and if you’re interested in learning how these wonderful archipelagos emerged, and the culture that grew up around them, there are any number of great museums to wander through.

Some that you probably wouldn’t want to miss include the Hawaii State Art Museum, the Bishop Museum, ʻIolani Palace, the Honolulu Museum of Art and, of course, the Pearl Harbor U.S. National Memorial, where visitors learn about the beginning of World War II and honor the thousands of sailors who died while aboard the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941.

Oahu image by Kevin DwyerIf you’re an adventuresome sort and want to balance your thirst for knowledge, culture and art with some fun physical activity, Hawaii’s out of doors beckons and doesn’t disappoint. Whether it’s swimming laps in the ocean off Waikiki Beach, or playing a round of golf at Waialae Country Club – one of the state’s top public courses – Hawaii is an outdoor paradise. Oh, did I forget to mention snorkeling, biking, fishing, hiking, surfing, luaus, paddle-boarding, beach-combing, and, if you make it to the Big Island, driving to Kilauea, the volcano that continues to erupt and throw out colorful layer of orange lava.

Its sister volcano – Moana Loa – erupted late last year after a 40-year silence. It made a splash and has apparently gone back to sleep, nary a whimper has been heard!

Diamond Head State Monument image by Kevin DwyerWe like to hike – on Bainbridge, Kitsap County and in the Olympics – but especially in a location where the sky is blue, the sun is warm and you can see for miles. While we were visiting a friend in Oahu recently, we decided to climb Diamond Head, one of Hawaii’s most iconic geological features and a significant natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resource. It’s located just outside of Honolulu, and is the most popular tourist attraction in all of the Aloha State.

Diamond Head – essentially an old caldera – measures 3,520 feet (1,073 m) across and 560 feet (171 m) in height from the crater floor. This moderately challenging trail includes two sets of stairs that lead you to the summit, one has 99 steps, and a second one has 76! The round-trip trek to the top and back is just 1.6 miles.

Oahu image by Kevin DwyerWe made a reservation (highly recommended) to enter the state monument – just $5 each – and paid for parking, another $5. The hike is a relatively modest assent until you get to the stairs that take you to several different vista points. Be aware, you are not hiking this path alone, there are hundreds of people joining you on the climb. The Hawaiian parks people have done a nice job of crowd control by designating certain times on their web site, so there are not too many people on the Monument at one time.

Waikiki image by Kevin DwyerOnce at the top, the views are outstanding. You see the beaches of Waikiki and the dozens of high-rise hotels in the distance. Below you are some well-appointed homes that sit upon the ocean’s shore. On one side is the vast Pacific Ocean stretching out in front of you. On another is the caldera and the remains of a volcano that helped shaped Diamond Head.

Before we left Oahu for another island, we also visited the Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden, an oasis of lush tropical forests, exotic plants and some unusual looking Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden image by Kevin Dwyerfish. There are nice hiking trails and a beautiful lake…Hawaii is many things to many people, but we have found that is a great escape from the winter blues in the Pacific Northwest.

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