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Diamond Head, one of the best-known volcanic craters in the world, is the iconic backdrop to Waikiki. The view from the summit of this 760-foot, extinct crater is well worth the climb. The steep trail to the top is mostly paved and defined by two sets of stairs - one, 99 steps, the other, 76 steps. It leads through a 225-foot tunnel and ends with a spectacular view of the island. Incredible 360 degree views of Waikiki and the turquoise blue Pacific Ocean await you. Try it at sunrise.

Known in Hawaiian as Le'ahi (brow of the ahi-yellowfin tuna). The current name came was given to the crater by British sailors in the 1800's. When they first saw the crater at a great distance, the calcite crystals in the lava rock appeared to glimmer in the sunlight. The sailors mistakenly thought there must be diamonds in the soil. The volcanic crater, a major Oahu landmark, has been extinct for 150,000 years.

The crater is 3,520 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit. When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, harbor defense became a main responsibility. One of the major defense forts, Fort Ruger, occupied the Diamond Head Crater. A battery of canons was located within the crater providing complete concealment and protection from invading enemies. An observation deck was constructed at the summit in 1910 to provide target sighting and a four level underground complex was built within the walls of the crater as a command post. A 580-foot tunnel was dug through the crater wall to provide easier access to the Fort. It became a National Natural Landmark in 1968. It only takes a short drive or bus ride to get to Diamond Head Crater from Waikiki. This moderately challenging trail includes two sets of stairs, totaling 175 steps, as well as dark, underground tunnels and old military bunkers that require a flashlight.

In the winter, Diamond Head's summit is an excellant spot to see humpback whales. The best way to catch sight of whales cruising around the ocean is to scan the horizon, looking for a blow. Once you've seen a blow, watch for the animal to breach.

Admission to the park, which is open from 6a.m. to 6p.m. is $1. Parking is $5. There's no shade on the trail so bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated.

Fitness Level: Moderate
Distance Walked: 1.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 525 feet


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