Known by Hawaiians as "Leahi" (meaning promontory +tuna because the summit reminded them of the dorsal fin of a tuna), Diamondhead is one of the most recognized landmarks in the state. Nineteenth century English sailors named it "Diamondhead" after mistakenly thinking calcite crystals on the beach were diamonds. Scientists believe that the volcano was originally created some 400,000 to 500,000 years ago. Because of its strategic location, in 1908, it became home to Fort Ruger, the first U.S. Military reservation on Hawaii. At 762 feet above sea level, the summit has a fantastic view of the coastline and out to sea. However, getting to the top can be a challenge. Without any roads to the summit, you have to use "shanks mare" (i.e. Walk, for the uninitiated) up quite steep and winding trails (which themselves are rocky and uneven). To say the hike up the hill is not for the faint of heart, is an understatement. If you're fortunate enough to make it to the three-quarter point, then you get to make a choice (that is if your brain is still capable of making choices because of the depletion of oxygen from the climb so far), (A) To the right are two sets of very steep stairs -numbering 74 and 93 steps respectively -leading to a spiral staircase that takes you to the inside of the observation bunker; (B) or go left, up a more gentle sloping trail to the outside of the observation platform. Being of a sound mind, but not necessarily of a sound body after the strenuous climb, we chose the more sensible, easier (but not necessarily "easy") sloping trail. Park Service employees told us that they have to make two rescues per week, on average, for folks who had difficulties on the trail. In any event, the whole effort was worth it. The views were fantastic, especially looking down the side to see the whole crater from the last time the volcano erupted (approximately 300,000 years ago). Wow!!!! Definitely add this to your itinerary when visiting Oahu.
View of Diamondhead from across Waikiki beach.
The lighthouse was built in 1917.
In order to access the trail to the summit, you first have to use this tunnel that goes through the outer rim of the crater.
Posing at the base of Diamondhead, we've no idea what is awaiting us ("Do you really want to do this?").
"That doesn't look too bad."
Evidence of previous volcanic activity (although 300,000 years ago).
"OMG! We've got to go that way?"
While not exactly "easy" this route seemed better than those stairs.
We made it!
There really was not a lot of room inside the bunker....
...but the views are spectacular!
We especially enjoyed the view down into the volcano crater.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.