on October 22, 2007
If you want to get a great view of the island of Oahu and the pristine blue waters surrounding it, try hiking to the top of Diamond Head State Monument. The monument is the most recognized landmark in Hawaii and has been designated a National Natural Landmark. Diamond Head was formed from a single eruption creating a saucer shaped crater that covers 350 acres. The width of the crater is greater than the height of the mountain. To this day, it is an excellent example of a tuff cone. Because of the panoramic view of the island, the federal government purchased it and designated it for military use. The military began to build tunnels and gun emplacements at the top of the crater to protect the island. When the military left the crater, it was converted to a state monument for the public to experience the natural wonder and absorb the beautiful views of Waikiki and the surrounding areas. Diamond Head is about a fifteen minute drive from Waikiki and Diamond Head Road leads you through the Kahala Tunnel to the parking area where your visit will begin. Before you start on the hike to the top of the summit, bring water, a flashlight for the unlit tunnels, and most importantly, comfortable shoes. My first visit to the top of Diamond Head was done in sandals which I learned very quickly never to do again. The information center is located at the start of the trail where bathrooms and drink machines are located for your convenience. The first part of the trail is on a concrete surface which was installed to reduce erosion and leads to the dirt portion of the trail. The dirt trail maintains the same alignment as in 1908 when the military formed the trail leading to the top of the summit. There are numerous switchbacks on the trail and do not attempt to take shortcuts or climb the side of the mountain as falling rocks are common. From the first lookout, you approach the first stairway which contains 74 steps that leads to the first tunnel. The tunnel is 225 feet long and unlit. At the end of the tunnel begins the second stairway consisting of 99 steps, which I nicknamed "Stairway to Heaven." After climbing the 99 steps, you enter the Fire Control Station which once housed the observation equipment for Fort DeRussy. There is a spiral staircase which leads to the exterior of the crater. There are 54 more steps which lead to the summit of the crater. From the summit of the crater, you can see all of Waikiki and Honolulu. The hike is 1.6 miles roundtrip and 560 feet in elevation from the parking lot to the summit. The weather here is always hot and humid so dress appropriately. The hike takes about 1 ½ to 2 hours. The gates open at 6am and close at 6pm. Make sure that you do not get locked in as you may be camping out.
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