Two years ago my wife and I visited Hawaii for our honeymoon and spent part of our trip on the beaches of Waikiki, on the island of Oahu. We stayed on touristy Waikiki because we had just spent a week and a half in less tourist-heavy areas of Kauai and the Big Island and we thought a bit of tourism would help round out our Hawaii trip.
One of the benefits of staying at Waikiki was its proximity to the massive volcanic crater that is Diamond Head. Named Le’ahi by Hawaiians (meaning “brow of the tuna”), Diamond Head is located on the south east coast just at the end of Waikiki. You won’t have to worry about volcanic activity though, it’s been extinct for several hundreds of thousands of years. (300,000 to be exact)
The crater itself has been measured to be 3,520 feet across with a 760 foot summit. There’s an old fort there now, Fort Ruger, built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, use for naval defense. There was also an observation deck built around 1910 but with invention of radar it was made obsolete.
Hiking Diamond Head
The hike up to the summit, and the observation deck, is considered “moderate” in terms of exertion and it is a bit of a hike. We reached it late in the day and were already tired from doing something else, but it was a tiring walk. It’s listed as less than a mile and an ascension of about 560 feet, so do the math and figure out how difficult it would be for you (we saw plenty of people who looked like they were doing the hike as part of their daily exercise routine). They say it takes an hour and a half to two hours to make the hike and you should plan for that much time.
When you get near the top, there are two sets of really long stairs (99 steps and 76 steps) that take you into the fort itself. There’s also a 225-foot long tunnel, unlit, before you can get out to see the wonderful view. The shot above is of one of the long string of steps and the picture below is of the end of that 225′ unlit tunnel.
View from the Top
The view from the top is spectacular, as you can see in the shot above (it’s towards Waikiki Beach), and well worth the trip if you can manage it. When you visit Honolulu, and this applies to much of Oahu as well, it’s got a lot more of the mainland feel with a lot more urban living.
If you’re planning on making the trip, you can find more information on the Diamond Head Park, created by the Department of Land and Natural Resources of Hawaii.