Hawaii's most recognisable natural landmark, the wide saucer-like crater of the Diamond Head State Monument was created by a single volcanic eruption around 300,000 years ago that sent ash and fine particles into the air. The distinctive Diamond Head (Le'ahi) volcano is known for its historic hiking trail, stunning views and military history.
Diamond Head State Monument and Park encompasses an area of over 192 hectares including the interior and exterior slopes of the extinct crater. The Diamond Head Summit Trail was built in 1908 as a coastal defense. The steep and strenuous hike is 1.3km and up 171m from the trailhead kiosk to the summit and observation station. On the way you'll pass steep stairways, lookouts, bunkers and lit tunnels with numerous switchbacks. These turns were designed to allow mules to carry materials over the difficult terrain for the building of the Fire Control Station Diamond Head at the summit of the crater which was completed in 1911. The Diamond Head Lighthouse was built in 1917.
At the top, the observation station offers stunning views of the Oahu coastline and outlying islands of Moloka'i, Lana'i and Maui. Back down the trail, a rest stop affords a closer look at the crater. If it's been raining, the crater seems to glow an amazing emerald green hue due to the rare Hawaiian marsh plants growing on the surface. The hike takes around 90 minutes to two hours and appropriate footwear, a hat, sunscreen and water is recommended for the trail.
Entry to Diamond Head State Monument is US$5 per car or US$1 per pedestrian with the last hike at 4.30pm daily. To visit Diamond Head volcano, take the 22 or 58 bus from Waikiki to the bus stops located just outside the Kahala Tunnel and the entrance to the Diamond Head Summit Trail.