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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Getting to Know Hawaii: Mount Tantalus Drive

The Need to Knows:
  • Tantalus Drive is a road located north of Waikiki and the H1.  Here is the exact location of the road as well as the path we took on this drive (Tantalus Drive to Round Top Drive):
  • The drive starts off in a pretty residential area, and even though the houses get fewer in between as you progress, just keep this in mind and remain respectful.
  • Since there are so many curves and switchbacks to this drive, I would highly recommend motion sickness medicine if that's something you're prone to.
  • If you're renting a car, I'll go ahead and say that a convertible would be a great way to experience this drive ;)
  • There is a trail head along Tantalus Drive called the Tantalus-Arboretum Trail.  I didn't know it existed until later, but it could be a great way to stretch your legs a bit if you feel so inclined.  It's location and more information on it can be found here.

When my parents recently came to visit, I decided to do something that I've heard a bit about but I actually haven't done yet here on Oahu, which was take a mini-drive on Tantalus Drive.  I'd heard it was a beautiful little drive up into the mountains, and I was excited about seeing it.  I also decided to combine another stop I'd yet to see for myself with the drive, the Pu'u Ualaka'a State Park, which has a simply stunning view of Diamond Head and Honolulu all the way out to the western side of Oahu (and that I will get to in my next post!).

I'll go ahead and warn you right now -- this is definitely a winding, curvy road.  I'd pretty much forgotten about my mom's propensity for motion sickness in the car (sorry, Mom!), so she was feeling the effects of the turns a lot, even though she was in the front seat and even though I was literally going only 5 to 10 miles an hour the whole time.  So if you also tend to get motion sickness, take some medication before you start this drive!

We started our drive after we'd hiked Diamond Head one morning, and after navigating through residential streets with some help from Google Maps we finally ended up on Tantalus Drive.  Almost immediately, one of the first switchbacks in the road opened up to a beautiful view of the city below.  We of course had to stop and soak up the view.

Then we hopped back in the car and got back on the road.  I can definitely see why this drive is so pretty.  It feels like you're driving through total rain forest, even if there are some houses along the way.  And man, it took some talent to build some of the houses along here considering it's so high up and the cliffs can be incredibly steep!  We saw some driveways that had ridiculous slopes that I would be way too scared to drive up, haha.

This drive is more about the trip itself than the stops.  However, there are some pullouts along the way, especially at the beginning, and I would highly suggest you take advantage of them (especially if you or someone in your party is feeling ill!).

Unfortunately, I didn't take many pictures since we were mostly driving, but you can at least see from the few shots we did get that the drive is beautiful and is actually a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and all of its people.  And the Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Park, which I'll be talking about next week, is a wonderful way to end such a charming drive!

Do you have any favorite relaxing drives you like to take?

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