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Inside the Diamond Head Crater

By Claire MacDonald on 11/17/2009 1:17 PM

Have you ever wondered about Diamond Head crater? Diamond Head is a volcanic crater that has been extinct for 150,000 years. The name was given to the crater by British sailors in the 1800’s. When they first saw the calcite crystals in the lava rock glittering in the sunlight, the sailors mistakenly thought there must be diamonds in the soil. Of course, there were no diamonds.

Have you ever wondered about Diamond Head crater? Diamond Head is a volcanic crater that has been extinct for 150,000 years. The name was given to the crater by British sailors in the 1800’s. When they first saw the calcite crystals in the lava rock glittering in the sunlight, the sailors mistakenly thought there must be diamonds in the soil. Of course, there were no diamonds.

From Waikiki go east along Kalakaua to the intersection with Monsarrat Avenue at the Honolulu Zoo corner. Turn left onto Monsarrat and proceed 1 ¼ miles until the road becomes Diamond Head Road. Follow the road for ¼ mile to the access road to the crater. Go through the tunnel into the interior of the crater and proceed to the designated parking area. There is a $1.00 admission charge per person and a $5.00 parking fee per car.

Inside is a grassy meadow area and if you want to hike the rim, there is a .7 mile fairly steep trail to the summit, which offers a spectacular 360-degree view of Honolulu and the coast. To hike the entire rim, it is about 1 3/4 miles long and takes about an 1 1/2 hours. A flashlight is handy for the long, dark 225-foot unlit tunnel encountered partway up the trail. There are two sets of stairs, one with seventy-six steps and the other with ninety-nine steps. At the end of the ninety-nine steps is an abandoned World War II bunker.

The hike is classified as easy to moderate in exertion, but is certainly worth the breathtaking, unparalleled view of the entire west side of the island, from Waikiki to Koko Head. There are bathrooms available at the trailhead.

If you aren’t into hiking, picnicking in the landscaped meadow on the crater floor is a favorite family activity. There is no shade inside, so go early to avoid the heat, and remember to take water.

Attached photo shows view from the top of Diamond Head looking over Kapiolani Park and down Waikiki Beach.