HAWAII - Diamond Head

19:35 Travel Bunny 0 Comments

DSCF2699Diamond Head is Oahu’s premier natural landmark and is recognise as a symbol of Hawaii around the world. This volcano is a United States State Monument and perhaps the world’s most recognised volcanic crater.

In the late 1700s, British explorer mistook the calcite crystal embedded in the rock for diamonds. Thus the name Diamond Head. There are no longer any calcite crystal but who knows, you might be lucky.

DSCF2844I didn’t hike up Diamond Head as I wanted to spend some quality time with my sis travelling to other parts of Oahu. I’ll just relate his experience while he hiked up this National Natural Landmark.

DSCF2921‘Waikiki became a popular retreat for the royal families, the merchants of Honolulu and visitors in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were attracted by the long white beach , the protective reef and the proximity to Honolulu. King Kalakua’s residence in Waikiki was a center for perpetuation of Hawaiian music and dance.’

DSCF3064Diamond Head forms the backdrop for Waikiki.

DSCF3046View of Diamond Dead from Kapiolani Park. From here, my beau begun his journey to Diamond Head.

DSCF2848You can always eat here at the Happy Valley Pasta & Pizza or…..

DSCF3045……..at the Diamond Head Market and Grill before your ascend to Diamond Head or descend from Diamond Head.

DSCF2849Walked thorough Diamond Head Hillside at Monsarrat Avenue leading up to Diamond Head Road.

DSCF2850Passed by Aloha gas station. Aloha Petroleum is a local petroleum operator.

DSCF2853A guy jogging in this beautiful morning.

DSCF2854Enjoying the trees and flowers while walking up the road.

DSCF2856The houses here are located on higher ground offering a commanding view of Waikiki.

DSCF2857Yep! You’ll know you’re on right path when you see this wall/post on Diamond Head Road.

DSCF2858You can see the walls of the crater while walking along the road.

DSCF2859Passed by the University of Hawaii Kapiolani Community College located on the slopes of Diamond Head.

DSCF2860Only bungalow houses can be seen at this area.

DSCF2861The price of properties located here are most probably high.

DSCF2862At last, the entrance to Diamond Head Crater can be seen.

DSCF2863Diamond Head is a popular hiking destination with a panoramic view of Waikiki, the ocean and the crater.

DSCF2865Diamond Head State Monument is a popular destination which receives over a million visitors annually.  

DSCF2866Diamond Head State Monument encompasses over 475 acres.

DSCF2867The Leahi Mlillennium Peace Garden at Diamond Head’s entrance. ‘Nothing is more precious than peace’

DSCF2868Diamond Head is open to public from 6am to 6pm and the fee is USD 1 per individual.

DSCF2877A panoramic view of east Oahu can be seen at the lookout point.

DSCF2885A tunnel known as Kahala Tunnel punching through the crater’s wall.

DSCF2889Both pedestrian and vehicles share this tunnel as the ingress and egress to Diamond Head.

DSCF2898The inside of the tunnel was actually very windy.

DSCF2914After making way through the tunnel, you’re actually now inside Diamond Head’s crater.

DSCF2918 (1)The map of Diamond Head.

DSCF2916The parking area, information center and other public facilities are located here at the crater.

DSCF2917There’s one food truck at Diamond Head where you can grab a burger or a smoothie. Many people can be seen having a smoothie after a long and hot hike.
You can buy bottled water here or fill your own bottle (for free) from the public water dispenser.

DSCF2918Welcome to Leahi. Diamond Head is known to Hawaiian as Leahi from the word lae which means brow plus ahi which means tuna. The name reflects the profile of the crater as seen from Waikiki which resembles a tuna’s dorsal fin.
The crater is recognised as an excellent example of a tuff cone with typical erosional pattern.

DSCF2924Are you ready for the climb? The hike to the summit is not as strenuous and challenging as suggested here. But its not a casual stroll in a park. ’Be prepared for the hot sun and a winding trail with steep stairways and dark tunnels. The trail is 1.5 miles (2.2 km) long – round trip. You will return the same way you go up.’

DSCF2927Hike into history. Here is a picture of the trail you will be taking while hiking up to the summit.

DSCF3042You will see men often walking without their shirt. Understandable since you will sweat a lot.

DSCF3039Use lots of sunscreen lotion especially if you decide to go topless. My beau decided to forego the sunblock and as a result he suffered sunburn.

DSCF2931‘Diamond Head is often hot, dry and brown. The crater gets less than 25 inches of rain a year. This is because the moisture-laden clouds cling to Koolau Mountains and only reach the crater during tradewind showers. Winter storms can make the crater temporary green’.

DSCF2932Along the way you can see trees and the crater walls.

DSCF2923Birds of the crater. ‘Many of them feed, roost and nest in the crater but they can leave when it becomes especially dry and hot’. I guess the weather is hot and dry since my beau didn't spot any birds around.

DSCF2933That must be the summit of Diamond Head. Seems really far away.

DSCF2935Some of the hikers wearing only slippers.

DSCF2943Preferable to wear comfortable shoes. Most of the trails are made of natural dirt surface and is narrow and steep with uneven surfaces and loose gravel.

DSCF2949‘Built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1908, this historic trail climbs up the steep crater wall to Fire Control Station Head at the summit.’

DSCF2961People now walk the same path used by mules and soldiers during that time.

DSCF2950Most people takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to hike to the summit and back. My beau took about 3 hours. It all depends on how long you want to enjoy the scenic views at the top.

DSCF2919‘There was once a dryland forest in the crater. But by the early 1800s, the trees were gone and the slopes and floor of the crater were covered by grass.

DSCF2951‘Today, introduced trees, shrubs and grasses dominate the landscape of the crater. These plants have adapted to the hot, dry climate, the steep rock slopes and the shallow soil in the crater’.

DSCF3037The Kiawe tree, introduced in 1853 from South America, can be seen at the crater.

DSCF2955The crater is more than 1 kilometre in diameter with a 231 metres summit. 

DSCF2964The 74 steps leading towards…..

DSCF2967………a 225 foot long narrow tunnel.

DSCF2973The exit of the tunnel.

DSCF2977The remnant of a volcanic explosion that occurred more than 100,000 years ago.

DSCF2920Diamond Head was formed as a result from the Koolau Volcano’s eruption. The nearly round shape of Diamond Head crater suggests that it was formed during a single, brief volcanic eruption.

DSCF2975Don’t worry, Diamond Head is extinct and geologist don’t believe Diamond Head will erupt again.

DSCF2974The Kahala Tunnel can be seen in a distance. My beau sighing as he has to walk all the way back to the tunnel later.

DSCF2987Panoramic view of Diamond Head Crater.

DSCF2976Stairway to Heaven. 99 steps heading towards the first level of the station.

DSCF2996Felt so good to be here at this glorious place, feeling the wind and hearing the waves crashing below.

DSCF2992The original lighthouse was built in 1899 but in 1916, the growing cracks in the structure were comprising the tower’s integrity. The current lighthouse strongly resembles the original tower and was built on the original foundation. Even the original 60,000 lumens Fresnel lens is still used till today.

The Diamond Head Lighthouse, built in 1917, has been in use ever since.

DSCF2993‘Diamond Head was a restricted military reservation from 1906 to 1976. A portion of the crater was opened for recreational use in 1976’. Most of Diamond Head are still restricted and are used by Civil Defence, FAA and Hawaii National Guard.

DSCF2925The crater was used as a strategic military lookout beginning in the early 1900’s.

DSCF3010The Fire Control Station was built between 1908 and 1911 as part of the coastal defence system.

DSCF2998The Fire Control Station Lookout overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

DSCF2922Diamond Head was selected as a fortification because its crater walls are a natural defence and from its summit, ships could be seen.

DSCF2999Target locations were plotted and transmitted from here.

DSCF3002The bunker served as an observation post for spotting enemy ships approaching Oahu.

DSCF3007With tunnels, underground command posts and camouflaging, it was an engineering marvel of its time.

DSCF3011A war bunker can still be seen. 12 inch mortars and anti-aircraft gun were placed around Fort Ruger, here in Diamond Head. All the artillery was dismantled in 1950 and none of the guns at Fort Ruger was ever fired. If I’m not mistaken, during the Attack on Pearl Harbour, Japanese ships and planes did not travel around this area.

DSCF3006The underground tunnel leading to the Fire Control Station Diamond Head.

DSCF3005Its best to hike up in the morning to enjoy the cool morning breeze.

DSCF3024At last arrived at the Observation Deck located at the summit of Diamond Head.

DSCF3021‘The concrete structure on which you are standing and the observation bunkers below were completed in 1910, prior to World War I and called Fire Control Station Diamond Head’.

DSCF3029From the summit, you have a commanding view of Waikiki and Honolulu with the Waianae Mountain Range in the distance.

DSCF3026A lady yawning, probably tired from the hike.

DSCF3018Just enjoy the panoramic view from the summit at 232 metres above sea level.

DSCF3023Luxurious houses located at the foot of Diamond Head.

DSCF3028The amazing view from the summit of Diamond Head is what really made it worth all the effort.

DSCF3034Panoramic view showing Waikiki and the crater walls.

DSCF3162View of Diamond Head from Punchbowl Crater. From here you can see the whole of Diamond Head’s crater wall. After descending from Diamond Head, my beau went to another well known crater in Oahu. Punchbowl Crater shall be on my next posting.


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