Dubbed as Lēʻahi by the locals, Diamond Head is one of the many tourist destinations present in the State of Hawaii. The volcanic tuff cone got its English name from British sailors, who when they came across the cone in the 19th century, mistook the calcite crystals that were embedded in the rock for diamonds. The cone gets its Hawaiian name, Lēʻahi that loosely translates to “brow-ridge tuna” due to the fact that the shape of the ridge line closely resembles the shape of a tuna’s dorsal fin.
Aside from being a United States Monument and having part of it serve as a platform for antennas that are used by the United States’ government, the volcanic tuff cone is considered the most famous volcanic crater in the world which attracts a number of visitors annually. Diamond Head is located on the south-east coast of O’ahu at the end of Waikiki and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The volcanic tuff cone beckons its visitors to a day of hiking, which will lead them through scenic, stunning coastal views as well as a trip down military history.
Standing as approximately 760 foot, the Diamond head is one of Hawaii’s most famous landmarks that was used as a strategic military lookout from the 1900’s. It was dubbed as the most famous volcanic crater in the world when a single explosive eruption sent fine particles and ash in the air about 300,000 years ago.
The trail, which was built as part of O’ahu’s coastal defense system, is steep and strenuous, making it an attraction to a number of hikers. While on the trail, the hikers will be subject to scenic views of the surrounding areas, as well as the geological and military history of the volcano tuff cone.
Around 1898, when Hawaii was annexed by the United States, harbor defense became a main responsibility; as a result, a numbers of forts were used on the crater, among then Fort Ruger, which was one of the significant defense forts. The crater also had a battery of cannons which provided complete concealment and protection from invading enemies. In addition, an observation deck was constructed at the summit in 1910 to provide target sighting. Although the deck and the underground complex have long since been abandoned, a hiker will be able to view evidence of it along the Diamond Head trail.
In order to gain access into the crater, whether on foot or in a vehicle, you will need to go through one of the two major tunnels, Kapahulu Tunnel and Kahala Tunnel. In addition, there are two separate trail systems that lead to the summit of Lēʻah and traverse the Mauka end of the monument respectively.
When you reach the summit, you will be able to see a huge navigational lighthouse that was built in 1917, as well as bunkers. You will also be able to enjoy the breathtaking view of the surrounding areas such as Koko Head, and Wai’anae.