One of the most well known landmarks on Oahu is Diamond Head Crater
. Located on the southeast coast of the island, Diamond Head Crater is an iconic background feature in view of Honolulu's Waikiki Beach.
Diamond Head was originally named Le'ahi, which means "brow of the tuna" in Hawaiian. In the late 1800s, British sailors renamed the crater Diamond Head after they mistook calcite crystals in the terrain for diamonds.
It is estimated that Diamond Head formed about 300,000 years ago in a short, very explosive eruption during the Honolulu Volcanic Series. Other familiar landmarks such as Punchbowl Crater, Hanauma Bay, Koko Head Crater
and Manana Island were also formed during this time of geologic action. After the explosion, volcanic debris settled down in a ring formation creating the tuff cone that it is today.
Geologists believe the volcano is extinct and the crater is now known for its pleasant hiking trail, gorgeous coastal views and military history.
In 1904 the United States purchased the crater for military use as a strategic lookout point. Some of the structures found on the trail are about 100 years old. In 1968 this geological attraction was recognized as a national landmark and the 475-acre crater remains an admired symbol of Honolulu.
Today the crater is a hiking trail as thousands of tourists and locals alike hike along the trail to the summit each day to enjoy the views of the southeastern coast from 760 feet up. The hike is so popular because it is a short, easy hike for most people and it is only about three miles from Waikiki, the main tourist destination on Oahu.
The hike to the summit is just under a mile from the parking lot in the center of the crater. There is a fee of $5 per car and $1 per pedestrian to enter the crater. For the most part the hike is a paved walkway, but also includes two sets of stairs and a 225-foot long tunnel. At the top of the crater are a military bunker and a lighthouse where visitors can see a range of coastal views including that of Waikiki Beach.
Diamond Head Crater will always remain an important representation of Honolulu. Its geologic and military history, and current national landmark status makes it an icon of Hawaii that visitors and residents associate with the natural beauty of the island.