Diamond Head State Monument
The original name is Le'ahi, which means "forehead of the 'ahi fish" in Hawaiian. Legends say the name came from Hi'iaka, sister of the fire goddess Pele, who thought the summit resembled the fish. The early Hawaiians lit navigational fires at the summit to guide canoes traveling along the shoreline. In the late 1700s, Western traders visiting Le'ahi saw the calcite crystals in the rocks on the slope and thought they were diamonds. They began calling Le'ahi "Diamond Head". Le'ahi was formed around 300,000 years ago. It is classified as a volcanic tuff cone. Diamond Head is the single most recognizable feature on the island of Oahu. It is used as a directional reference by local residents. Instead of saying "East", we say "Diamond Head".
If you spend any time in Waikiki, you will see Diamond Head. Wouldn't you like to see it on the inside? When I first moved here, I thought the whole point of the hike was to climb down to see the inside of the crater. I didn't know what to expect. The entrance road went uphill and through a tunnel. We continued along the road to the parking lot. The parking lot was located in the bottom of the crater! The whole crater area was just a big field of grass. I guess I was expecting hardened lava or something! That was when I found out that the hike actually goes from down in the crater area up to the summit for a spectacular view.
Ocean view of Diamond Head
Diamond Head State Monument entrance
Inside the Diamond Head crater
Hiking the Diamond Head trail
Getting closer to the top
225 foot long tunnel
Climbing these stairs takes 99 steps
52 steps up the spiral staircase to 3rd floor of Fire Control Station
You exit out of the Fire Control Station via this bunker
The skyline view is worth the hike!
Great view of the Waikiki hotels
Notice the bunker/gun emplacement on the right
Looking east toward Koko Head in Hawaii Kai
View of the entrance tunnel and parking lot
Diamond Head lighthouse was built in 1917
Stop for a snack before or after your hike
Official Website: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/oahu
To reach the summit, you will need to hike .8 mile along a winding unpaved path. The trail head is at an elevation of 200 feet; the summit is at 761 feet. Once you complete the several switchbacks, you need to climb 74 steps to reach the 225-foot long tunnel. This tunnel used to be unlit - pitch black! Back then, a flashlight was needed in order to see anything. Without one, people just held onto the side railing and walked in the dark. They recently installed lights along the bottom of the tunnel. No flashlight is required anymore. Personally, I preferred the dark tunnel; it seemed more adventurous.
There is a second set of stairs with 99 steps straight up. These steps lead to the Fire Control Station, which is the exit point at the summit. You need to climb the spiral staircase up to the third level (52 steps). Once there, you will be greeted by a guy trying to sell you an official looking document proclaiming your achievement for $2.00. It is surprising how many people buy this... Next, you will exit the Fire Control Station by climbing out the narrow slit (you need to stoop under the low overhang (about 3 1/2 feet clearance height). Then, enjoy the view ! And what a view! Just look at the photos above or the video below. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here is the official brochure in pdf format that describes the Diamond Head hike in detail.
Military history: The Federal government purchased Diamond Head in 1904 for military use. The location was an ideal place to build gun emplacements and batteries for coastal defense purposes. No artillery was ever fired from this location.
Open daily 6AM - 6PM. Allow at least 90 minutes to leisurely hike and enjoy the view. It costs $5.00
per car or $1.00 to walk in.
* Hold onto your hat - It is very windy at the summit.
* Wear sturdy walking shoes. The trail is rocky and unpaved. You wouldn't believe the number of tourists wearing slippers. Not a good idea.
* Go early before it gets too hot. Wear sunscreen and bring water. The parking lot tends to fill up later in the morning. Try to get there by 9:30 AM.
* There are no restrooms on the trail. Take advantage of the facilities before starting the hike.
* Definitely bring your camera. The scenery is spectacular.
Hike the Diamond Head trail using Google Street View
Position your mouse over the image below and click on the circles to hike on the Diamond Head trail. See how far you can go on the trail. Click on the upper right corner to view it in full-screen mode.
The entrance to the Diamond Head State Monument is located on Diamond Head Road Between Makapu'u Avenue and 18th Avenue. It's a short drive or cab ride from Waikiki.
Video of Diamond Head: