Hawaii is a volcanic archipelago. Today one of the things that remind us of the activity of the volcano on Oahu is the Diamond Head crater. It is an amazing sight that outlines the background of the world-famous surfing spot Waikiki, in the eastern part of which lies the huge volcanic formation. The crater was formed in the southeastern part of Hawaii’s Oahu Island. Nowadays it is considered one of the emblems of Hawaii.
Among the locals Diamond Head is called Le Ahi. It literally means “tuna fin” because the silhouette of the caldera resembles its shape. The name Diamond Head was given by seafarers in the early 19th century. As they approached the Hawaiian shore, they saw a glimpse of the calcite of the volcanic crystals from a distant distance and decided that there should be diamonds on the crater. Today, one of the city’s greatest attractions is the hiking of this crater. It reaches 231 meters, but from the height of its peak you can see a full panorama of the Hawaiian beauty.
The crater formed about 300000 years ago and disappeared some 150000 years ago. According to geologists, there is no chance of it erupting again. In the early 1900s Diamond Head was used as a military observer. One of the largest fortresses here Fort Ruger was built in the crater. Around 1910, an underground complex of tunnels and galleries was built on 4 levels. Since 1968, it has been declared a Natural Landmark in Hawaii.
Part of it serves as a platform for antennas used by the US government and closed to the public. The proximity of the crater to Honolulu and in particular the unique Waikiki and its beach and hotels makes the rest of Diamond Head a popular destination. The walk to the edge of the crater is just over a kilometer away. If you want to get to there from Waikiki, there are buses you can take to the Diamond Head Tourist Center.
The entire Diamond Head crater covers 475 acres including the crater walls. The path to the top of the crater was built around 1908 as part of the military complex. Passing it takes about 2 hours of steep and tall climbing, so tourists are advised to bring water and flashlights if it gets dark.
During the climb you have to overcome two series of stairs – the first one is about 74, and the second part will make you sweat good enough before passing the next 99 steps. The next part of the Diamond Head climb is a small tunnel where you need to wear a flashlight followed by a small spiral staircase with another 30 steps.
The total number of steps to the top of Diamond Head is 175. The whole effort is worth when you reach its surface lined with greenery. From there you can see the Pacific ocean and the south bank of Honolulu. It is good to know that the last ascent to the summit is at 4:30pm. Diamond Head is actually the black mountain of the popular series “Lost”, which is entirely shot on Oahu Island.
If you decide to climb Diamond Head on Saturday, stop on the weekly Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market. The island’s largest farmers offer their produce there. The market is near Monsarrat Avenue, which has many restaurants and eating outlets.