Diamond Head, An Iconic Symbol of Hawaii
Undoubtedly one of Hawaii’s most famous and state natural landmarks is Diamond Head. It’s been prominently featured on postcards, TV series and major motion pictures. The summit of Diamond Head offers great panoramas of Waikiki. And it’s also one of the best places in town to the beautiful Hawaiian sunrise. So it’s no surprise that hiking on Diamond Head has now become a very popular tourist activity in Hawaii.
History of Diamond Head
The extinct 760-foot volcanic tuff cone is on the east end of Waikiki. The ancient Hawaiians originally called it Leahi, meaning brow of the tuna. Some say its upwardly sloping profile toward its south peak is reflective of this name. The crater’s current name was given by British sailors in the 1800’s. They mistakenly believed the glimmer of valueless calcite crystals on its slopes were diamonds.
When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, Diamond Head played an important role in defending Honolulu’s harbors. Shortly after that, the US built Fort Ruger along and within the crater’s rims. During the early 1900’s, Diamond Head was the ideal location for defending Honolulu’s harbors. There were also fortified observation points as well as network of stairways and tunnels within crater. These provided commanding views for observing and targeting potential offshore targets. The crater also concealed and protected cannon batteries from any potential invading naval forces.
Hiking on Diamond Head Today
Today, these fortifications, tunnels and stairways offer visitors a relatively short but exhilarating hiking experience. There are two sets of long stairwells for hiking on Diamond Head. They featuring a total of 175 steps as well as a 225 feet dimly lit tunnel that hikers will have to traverse. Once you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with some of the most panoramic and picturesque view of Waikiki and Honolulu. Many especially enjoy hiking on Diamond Head to watch the sunrise from its summit.
Hikers can reach the trail through entering the Diamond Head State Monument Park inside the crater. You can access the inside of the crater through a tunnel on the north side. There is even a convenient bus stop nearby. Hikers arriving by car will have to pay a $5 fee. While those entering by foot will pay a $1 fee. The park has water fountains and bathrooms at the foot of the trail. The park closes at 6:00 pm with no one accessing the trail after 4:30 pm.