Its silhouette is as synonymous with Waikiki as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris and the mountains of Machu Picchu are to Peru. Diamond Head, arguably the most photographed volcanic crater in the world, was once the site of an ancient Hawaiian heiau (temple) dedicated to the god of wind in order to receive protection against updrafts that would put out navigational fires. Western explorers in the late 1700s mistook the calcite crystals in the rocks on the crater slope for diamonds, thus “Diamond Head,” became popular.
In 1904 the site was purchased by the federal government for military use due to its prime location. Though prepared to defend Oahu from attack, it never once fired artillery during the war.
Today over one million visitors hike to the summit of Diamond Head making it the third largest visitor attraction on O‘ahu.
The view from the summit is worth every drop of sweat. Allow 1.5-two hours for the roundtrip 1.6-mile hike. Bring water, shades, a hat, snacks and wear covered shoes, and don’t forget the camera!
The Diamond Head Visitor Center is open 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and sells exclusive Diamond Head logo merchandise; proceeds go to the park’s education funds.
The new Diamond Head Hiking Audio Tour is available at the visitor center for a fee. It features narration on the history and legends, plus music, geography and scenery of the Diamond Head State Monument.
Restrooms, vending machines and water are available. The site is accessible by bus. The park is open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. year round; latest time to start hiking is 4:30 p.m. $5 per vehicle or $1 per person walking in; cash only.