Diamond Head is the most famous volcanic crater in the world. It is located on the South-east Coast of O’ahu, at the end of Waikiki, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was originally named Laeahi by the ancient Hawaiians. The name meant “brow of the tuna” and looking at the silhouette of the crater from Waikiki, you can see the resemblance. The current name 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.
Diamond Head is a crater that 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.
The observation deck and underground complex are now abandoned due to the advent of radar, but evidence of the command post is still present along Diamond Head Trail. The trail is paved almost the entire way but can be steep in spots. There are two sets of stairs, one with 99 steps and the other, 76 steps. There is also a 225-foot unlit tunnel. 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 Koki Head.
Diamond Head Trail walk is about 1¾ miles to the rim from inside the crater, and takes about 1½ hours. There is no shade, so it is best to start early in the day, and there is no refreshment stops along the way. Given Hawaii’s hot climate, it is essential to take plenty of water. A flashlight is also adviseable, for the tunnel. Bathrooms are available at the trailhead, but not along the trail itself, or at the observation deck.
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December 15 1874 Hawaiian King Kalakaua Visits USA
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http://www.worldtravelx.com/diamond-head-hawaii/ March 5th 2009 22:55