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General Information

Description - Diamond Head State Monument protects and preserves the tuff cone formed by subterranean explosions thousands of years ago. This site has been designated significant by many cultures on the island. The Hawaiians used the summit for human sacrifices. The United States used it as a strategic arms position. Today the site offers recreational attractions.

The Hawai'ian name for Diamond Head is Le'ahi. In Hawai'ian legend, it is said that Hi'iaka, sister of the fire goddess Pele, gave Le'ahi its name because the summit resembles the forehead (lea) of the 'ahi fish. Another translation is fire headland and refers to the navigational fires that were lit at the summit to assist canoes travelling along the shoreline. Today, the Diamond Head Light, built in 1917, provides a visual aid for navigation. In the late 1700's, Western explorers and traders visited Le'ahi and mistook the calcite crystals in the rocks on the slope of the crater for diamonds. Thus the name Diamond Head came into common useage.

The pronounced seaward summit, deeply eroded ridges, and ovoid-shaped crater are evidence of Le'ahi's very dynamic geological history. The creation of O'ahu began around 2.5 to 3 million years ago with volcanic eruptions from 2 shield volcanoes. Le'ahi is believed to have been created about 500,000 years ago during a single, brief eruption. The broad, saucer-shaped crater covers 350 acres with its width being greater than its height. The southwestern rim is highest because winds were blowing ash in this direction during the eruption.

Today, Le'ahi is the most recognized landmark in Hawai'i. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1968 as an excellent example of a tuff cone.

Attractions - Today the site supports facilities for picnicking and hiking. The trail to the summit of Le'ahi was built in 1908 as part of the U.S. Army Coastal Aritllery defense system. Entering the crater from Fort Ruger, through the Kapahulu Tunnel, the trail scaled the steep interior western slopes of the crater to the summit. The dirt trail with numerous switchbacks was designed for mule and foot traffic. The mules hauled materials on this trail for the construction of Fire Control Station Diamond Head, located at the summit. Other materials were hoisted from the crater floor by a winch and cable to a point along the trail. The Kahala Tunnel was built in the 1940's and is the public entrance to the crater.

Recreation - This state monument maintains a steep, 0.8 mile hiking trail to the summit of Diamond Head. Picnicking and viewing scenery are also popular activities to enjoy here.

Climate - The climate is pleasantly mild on O'ahu throughout the year. Temperatures vary annually between 60 and 90 degrees F. Summer temperatures range from 68 to 82 degrees F with the water usually near 80 degrees. Winter temperatures vary from 61 to 80 degrees F with the water temperature close to 77 degrees. More rainfall occurs during the winter than other seasons of the year and most of it falls on the northeastern or windward portion of the island.

Location - This state park is located immediately east of Honolulu along Diamond Head Road. It is possible to take a bus from the city to this site.


Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Barbara (Honolulu, HI)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Well, I tried to go see the top of Diamond Head, but I am handicapped and cannot climb stairs. If this is a STATE park, why is it not accessible to handicapp people? I do believe it is against the law. My husband climbed it WITHOUT me even though I was the one who wanted to see it. I think there needs to be an alternative site or method for those who cannot climb the stairs.

Filed By: Rick Larsh Barlow
Number of People Encountered: 50+ ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: There is an admission/parking fee (5$ I think) for parking in the lower/closer lot versus walking in thru the tunnel mentioned in the description. Walk in's are free. take a drink for each person, water is good! Cold water is better! It can get VERY HOT inside Le'ahi crater! Humid too! I did this hike two weeks ago with my 16 yr old son, he was wearing beach/sports slippers and wished he'd worn tennis shoes at a minimum. Trail was pretty crowded, this is the most popular landmark in Hawaii after all! But flowed pretty smoothly, narrow trail has a few spots to "pull over" and out of the way of the speeders looking for a coronary :-) some parts may not be do-able for the completely out of shape, there are numerous STEEP and LONG concrete stairs and a 30' metal circular stairs in the dark at top bunkers (take a cheap flashlight and give it to someone else coming up as you exit the tunnels enterance,that's the ALOHA spirit!) Take a camera, you'll want a photo at the top! check hours of use, they lock you in at night!

Filed By: Jonathan Chandler (Hilliard, OH)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Great, easy, hike... although the elevation rises quickly, the switchbacks make the ascent seem negligible. A flashlight and plenty of water are necessary (some unlighted tunnels, and very hot/dry trail areas). Both are available at the trailhead (pricey). On sunny days, the trail is similar to many found in the deserts of Arizona. The views at the summit are spectacular, and well worth the hike/walk. At the summit, one is provided a 360 view of Honolulu, Waikiki, inland Oahu, ocean views, and great views of the old Diamond Head Lighthouse. Boots are not necessary, and we always just wear our hiking/walking sandals.


Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Viewing Historic Sites This site has been designated significant by many cultures on the island.
Yes
ICON Viewing Scenery Diamond Head Summit Trail provides panoramic views.
Yes


More Information

Contact Information:
Oahu District, Hawaii State Parks, P.O. Box 621, 1151 Punchbowl Street, 131 , Honolulu, HI, 96809, Phone: 808-587-0300

Additional Information:
Hawaii State Parks - Hawai'i's State Park System is comprised of 52 state parks encompassing nearly 25,000 acres on the 5 major islands.
Hawaii,s Historic Sites -
O'ahu - O'ahu lies in the middle of the Hawaiian archipelago as the third largest island within the chain. Much of the eastern portion of the island is state forest reserve land and open for public use.
O'ahu State Parks - O'ahu's state parks protect a variety of natural and historic features that support many different activities. This island maintains more state-run facilities than any of the neighboring islands.

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