Diamond Head or better known as Le'ahi among the locals in Hawaii is a broad crater spanning over 475 acres, formed by a single explosive eruption some 300,000 years ago. It resulted in ash and particles in the air which formed a tuff cone once they settled and cemented together into a rock. Back in the 19th century, the rocks were embedded with calcite crystal which was mistaken as diamond, hence it got the name - Diamond Head.
View of Diamond Head from Halekulani Hotel, Source: Halekulani.com
This 762 ft crater creates a poster-like backdrop for Waikiki Beach. It has been a popular feature in souvenirs, movies and even commercial use, making it the most recognised landmark in Hawaii.
Diamond Head State Monument Entrance - Trailhead Kiosk
The hike from the trail head to the summit is about 0.8 miles. It takes about two hours (round trip) at a moderate pace. We arrived at the state monument around 10am, well-prepared with sunblock, cap, water, and hiking shoes.
Although it wasn't a difficult hike, neither was the hike easy. The hiking trail was mostly unpaved on uneven rocks. Some parts were quite steep and strenuous as you hike further up.
Trailhead concrete walkway
We started our hike from trailhead kiosk where we took the concrete walkway on the first part of the trail.
Can you see tiny hikers on switchbacks?
After a certain point, the concrete path ended and was replaced by natural unpaved trail. We followed the switchbacks in and out of small gullies on our ascent.
View from the platform of mid-trail
Halfway through the trail, we reached the winch and cable platform. Hikers can take a break here before the start of a more challenging trail which consists of steep stairways and long tunnel.
The 99-steps, Photo Credit: Wallyg
We continued to climb the 74-steps stairway which led us to a 225-foot long tunnel followed by another steep climb of 99-steps.
Fire Control Station, Photo Credit: Wallyg
Thereafter, we entered a tunnel on Level 1 of the Fire Control Station. The path to the station was the same path used by mules and soldiers during its construction and operation.
View from the Fire Control Station deck
We continued our climb to Level 3 using the spiral staircase. As we ascend the stairs and crawled out of the bunker into daylight, we were greeted by the beautiful ocean view from the Fire Station Observatory Deck.
Spectacular view from the summit of Diamond Head Crater
From there we walked up to the summit and was blown away by the spectacular view of the southern coast of O'ahu including Waikiki neighborhood. It's definitely a picturesque view for the camera. We heard that during the winter months, there may be possible sighting of passing humpback whales!
After enjoying the view, posing for camera and taking memorable photos of the stunning scenery, we finally made our way down. Although our feet were tired we all agreed that it's a well worth-it experience.
Have a bite after the hike
The hike is generally suitable for everyone including kids (they had the most fun actually). If you are hungry after the hike, fear not, there are vending machines, lunchwagon near the car park area complete with picnic tables and benches.
The Diamond Head State Monument is open daily from from 6am to 6pm including public holidays. Last entry to the park for hiking is at 4.30pm to complete the hike on time as the gate will be locked at 6pm. There is a small admission fee of $5 per car or $1 per person for pedestrian.