Visitors have been flocking to Waikiki Beach for years, and all the while Diamond Head State Monument stands guard and leads visitors to the shores of O’ahu, but long before this crater became Diamond Head this pronounced seaward summit with deeply eroded ridges was known as Le’ahi. Early history says that Hi’iaka the sister of the fire goddess Pele, gave Le’ahi its name because the summit resembled the forehead of the fish, it is also said that it is named for the navigational fires that were lit along the summit to assist canoes traveling along the shoreline. Today the Diamond Head light built in 1917, provides a visual aid for navigation. So where did the name Diamond Head come from ? Western explorers and traders visited in the late 1700’s and mistook the calcite crystals in the rocks on the slopes of the crater for diamonds, thus the nickname Diamond Head came to be the common name.
The broad, saucer shaped crater covers 350 acres with its width being greater than its height. It is believed the crater was created about 300,000 years ago during a single,brief eruption. Years of erosion and being weathered by rain, wind and pounding by the sea has caused a coral reef to form and protect the seaward slopes of the crater. One of the best ways to see Diamond Head is from the air , I took this shot from the air when I did the Island Seaplane Tour of O’ahu, a wonderful way to see the entire crater.
In addition to flight tours, another great way to experience Diamond Head is to take the historic trail to the summit that was built in 1908 as part of the U.S. Army Coastal Artillery defense system. From the trailhead to the summit of the crater you will cover 0.7 miles (1.1km) one way and climb 560 feet from the crater floor. The trail follows uneven and steep terraine so please be careful, and proper footwear is a must. Portions of the trail involve steep stairways, go through long, dark tunnels, so I suggest you take along a small flashlight, but most important pay attention and take your time along the trail. It is always hot so sunsreen and lots of water are recommended. Allow 1.5 – 2 hours for a safe and unrushed round-trip hike and take time to take in the surroundings.
Le’ahi is a fragile resource, by staying on the trails and not taking shortcuts you save plants and reduce erosion.
Le’ahi (Diamond Head) is the most recognized landmark in Hawai’i and was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1968.
For further information about Diamond Head State Monument :
Department of Land & Natural Resources / Diision of State Parks
1151 Punchbowl Street,Room 310,Honolulu, Hawai’i 96809
Phone: (808) 587-0300
For information about book your vacation to O’ahu :
Contact: Linda Dancer Direct Line: (931)337-0770 Toll Free: 1-888-811-1888 ext 331