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Diamond Head is a dormant volcano crater. It provides the iconic backdrop to Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu.
Hawaiians called the crater ‘Le’ahi’ (Tuna Ridge, because it resembles the fin of a tuna.) Western explorers thought they saw diamonds sparkling on the crater walls as they approached from the sea which is how it got the name Diamond Head. There were no diamonds.
The military built the trail to the top in 1908 and defensive bunkers were built at the summit during World War II. There are still antennae up there in use by the government.
The hike to the summit is the most popular trail on the island, so we Ubered over to the trail head at the crack of dawn. The car dropped us off in the parking lot where there is a small visitors center kiosk and some restrooms.
The trail head begins from the parking lot, which is already halfway up the crater. It starts out as a steep sidewalk and then gives way to rocky, slippery switchbacks.
Near the end of the switchbacks is a side trail leading to an overlook. This is a good pace to take some photos, catch your breath and drink some water.
The trail is only 1.8 miles round trip, but it’s steep.
Further up the trail, the switchbacks lead to an even steeper staircase. After climbing the stairs, you get to huff and puff your way through a narrow tunnel blasted through the rock.
Once through the tunnel, there are more stairs to the bunkers on top. We climbed up there for breathtaking views of Honolulu, the Pacific and Diamond Head Lighthouse down below.
Once we got back down to the trail head, we continued walking past the park’s entrance to the farmer’s market, about a 1/2 mile down the road. There are dozens of food stalls with fresh fruit and specialties from many different countries. We snacked our way around the world and then were off to our next stop.
- Kahanamoku Beach
- Fort DeRussy Beach Park
- Green World Coffee Farm
- The Dole Plantation
- Anahulu River
- Waimea Falls
- Hau’ula Beach Park
- Tropical Macadamia Farm
- Byodo-In Temple
- Polynesian Cultural Center
- Aloha Tower
- Diamond Head
- Iolani Palace (coming soon)
- King Kamehameha Statue (coming soon)
- Aliʻiōlani Hale (coming soon)
- Pearl Harbor (coming soon)
Location: Diamond Head, Honolulu, HI 96815
Designation: National Natural Landmark, State Monument
Date established/designated: 1968
Date of my visit: April 13, 2019