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Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu (Where Gumbo Was #230)

 

With this week's series of clues, I tried to establish the theme of an uphill walk, and from the final few I hoped people would recognize that we were in Hawaii, specifically Honolulu.  Congratulations to GeorgeG and Professor Abe, both of whom solved that we were in Diamond Head State Monument.  

01 Walk to Diamond Head (115)
(classic profile of Diamond Head viewed form Waikiki)

1024px-Diamond_Head_Hawaii_From_Round_Top_Rd. Courtesy mar1865 and wikimedia
(This perspective of Diamond Head shows it's volcanic cone shape very nicely.  Viewed from Round Top Rd.  Courtesy mar1865 and Wikimedia)

Framing the skyscrapers of Honolulu, the outline of Diamond Head is a readily identifiable landmark, recognized as a U.S. National Natural Monument in 1968.  It's a volcanic tuft cone know to the locals as Le'ahi; the name "Diamond Head" was bestowed by 19th century British sailors who thought the calcite crystals on the adjoining beach were diamonds.  

02 Walk to Diamond Head (6)

Diamond Head State Monument encompasses over 475 acres, including the interior and outer slopes of the crater.  An average of 3,000 people visit the crater every day, making it one of the most visited sites in Hawaii.

Walk to Diamond Head

The Hawaiian Islands were formed by volcanic eruptions and on all of the islands you'll find cones, vents, and eruption flows within the lava rock.  These are all dormant except on the Big Island.  Diamond Head is among the younger volcanic structures on the island, estimated to be about 400,000 years old (in contrast, Oahu's Ko'olau Mountain Range is estimated at 2.6 million years old).

05 Walk to Diamond Head (32)

The interior of Diamond Head's crater was home to Fort Ruger, the first US military reservation on Hawaii.  The crater was used as a strategic military lookout in the early 1900s because it provided great views of the south shore of Oahu.   A trail to the summit was built in 1908 as part of the coastal defense system, which has now become a popular hiking trail. An active National Guard facility and Hawaii State Civil Defense remain within Diamond Head crater to this day.

17 Walk to Diamond Head (51)

18 Walk to Diamond Head (69)

19a Walk to Diamond Head (89)
(remnants of Diamond Head's military past can be explored on your hike)

We walked to Diamond Head from our hotel in Waikiki several miles away, but you can also take a bus or car to the trailhead within the crater.  I'd recommend the walk from Waikiki if you have the time and energy.  Our walk lead us uphill and through the wall of the crater via a tunnel,

03 Walk to Diamond Head (22)

The journey from the trailhead to the edge of the crater's rim is just 0.75-mile (1.1-km), but it's far from a boring trip, as you can see from the route map below:

06 Walk to Diamond Head (37)

07 Walk to Diamond Head (36)The walk is a hot one unless you do it in the early morning, so be sure you carry a bottle of water.  While it is short, it's steep so the round trip will likely take a few hours, depending on how long you want to linger and enjoy the amazing views from the rim. 

09 Walk to Diamond Head (45)

10 Walk to Diamond Head (49)





11 Walk to Diamond Head (48)To reach the rim you need to climb several flights of stairs, the longest containing 99 steps, and you also walk through a tunnel (now lighted -- years ago you needed to bring your own flashlight).   You gain 170 m (560 ft) in elevation during your hike.  Obviously the hike is not intended for people with difficulty walking or climbing. 

12 Walk to Diamond Head (110)13 Walk to Diamond Head (107)14 Walk to Diamond Head (62)

Besides the natural beauty of the area, you'll see evidence of a number of military observation sites and bunkers along the way, testimony to the site's role in defense of the Hawaiian Islands.



19b Walk to Diamond Head (106)

19c Walk to Diamond Head (87)

As with all uphill hikes, you do the climb for the views.  Those from the crater rim are extremely memorable and beautiful!  If you need the further positive reinforcement for your hard work, you can download a certificate of achievement when your hike is completed.

22 Walk to Diamond Head (79)

23 Walk to Diamond Head (76)

25 Walk to Diamond Head (82)

Don 't forget to look all around you, including to the north....


15 Walk to Diamond Head (61)

....and back into the crater to see from whence you came!

16 Walk to Diamond Head (56)

The Diamond Head Lighthouse, built in 1917, is directly adjacent to the crater's slopes.  If you're there in the winter months, you might be lucky enough to see migrating humpback whales.

24 Walk to Diamond Head (94)

IF YOU GO:

There is a modest admission charge, $1/person when we did the hike.  The park closes promptly (gates locked) at 6:00 p.m., so the last hiker allowed up the trail is at 4:30 pm.

04 Walk to Diamond Head (31)

No pets are allowed except for service animals.

There are washrooms, a water fountain and gift shop located near the trailhead.  Interpretative signs are found at the trailhead. Often there are food trucks where you can get a snack or cold drink.  We enjoyed this tasty Hawaiian ice.

26 Walk to Diamond Head (114)

Be sure you have good shoes, a bottle of water and patience as you are not alone on the trail and some people move slowly.   If you're fair-skinned, wear a hat and use sunscreen.   And enjoy the hike!

Attachments

Images (28)
  • Diamond Head State Monument
  • Diamond Head State Monument viewed from Waikikik
  • Diamond Head State Monument
  • Tunnel entrance to Diamond Head State Monument
  • Admission gate to Diamond Head State Monument
  • Interior of the Diamond Head Crater
  • Map route of the Diamond Head Trail
  • Diamond Head State Monument trail
  • Diamond Head State Monument trail
  • Diamond Head State Monument trail
  • Diamond Head State Monument trail winding its way up
  • Diamond Head State Monument trail tunnel
  • Diamond Head State Monument stairs
  • Diamond Head State Monument stairs
  • Views to the north from Diamond Head crater rim
  • View back into the Crater from its rim
  • Military history, Diamond Head State Monument
  • Military history, Diamond Head State Monument
  • Military history, Diamond Head State Monument
  • Military history, Diamond Head State Monument
  • Military history, Diamond Head State Monument
  • Views of Honolulu from Diamond Head State Monument
  • Views of Honolulu from Diamond Head State Monument
  • Views of Honolulu from Diamond Head State Monument
  • Diamond Head Lighthouse
  • Diamond Head view of the Pacific
  • Hawaiian Ice treat at the end of the hot trail!
  • 1024px-Diamond_Head_Hawaii_From_Round_Top_Rd.  Courtesy mar1865 and wikimedia

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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Comments (1)

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On my last visit to Diamond Head we left near to the closing time.

A large Limousine was waiting to take us back to Waikiki.

I hadn't ordered one but the driver insisted we used him to take us back.

"I will charge you the same as the Taxi fare you paid to get here"

Sounded like an offer too good to refuse !

Before we arrived back in Waikiki another 4 couples had joined our Taxi ride.

Had to admire the driver for ingenuity. Very good earner !

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