Oahu Spotlight: Diamond Head

By Laura Jemetta

view from diamond head
The view from Diamond Head

If you have seen a tourism photo for Hawaii, then you’ve already seen the Diamond Head State Monument; that lush, green mountain to the left of Waikiki Beach. Diamond Head is actually a volcanic tuff cone, formed over 300,000 years ago by a single and brief volcanic eruption. This created a 350 acre wide crater, and the crater is actually wider than it is high.

Diamond Head is actually climbable, and it is a fantastic way to see Oahu. The Diamond Head trail was built in 1908 as part of a defense system of the US Army. While people climb Diamond Head every day, the trail is uneven and hard going, and includes some very steep stairs. Proper, enclosed walking shoes are a must; don’t make the same mistake as me and wear birkenstocks!

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Diamond Head from above

1.3 kilometers long and a 171 meter climb from the crater floor, the trail is difficult, (unless you are super fit!), but it is highly rewarding to get to the summit and see the ocean and the city below you. You’ll get some fantastic photos from up there, and you might even get a rain shower to cool you down from your climb, like I did.

Take your time at the summit, and then have a much easier downward climb back to the bottom. My tip is to grab a huge Shave Ice to enjoy on the way home, from the truck just before the car park. Shave Ice is the Hawaiian version of a snow-cone, and yours will taste all the sweeter for just having scaled Diamond Head.

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