Diamond Head on Oahu in Hawaii is probably the most famous volcano crater on earth. We've all seen its image, on postcards, in travel magazines, and many a movie. Because it is so iconic, it can become just a part of the scenery. So, when you rent an Oahu timeshare, that's a good time to investigate Diamond Head further.
Rather than a crater, Diamond Head is actually part of a complex of cinder cones, vents, and their associated eruption flows from the Ko'olau Volcano, but that took place long after the volcano had formed and then gone dormant. Known as the Honolulu Volcanic series, these eruption events also created other well-known Oahu landmarks such as Punchbowl Crater and Hanauma Bay.
The ancient Hawaiians called it "Leʻah" meaning "head of the tuna." It became "Diamond Head" in the 1800's when British sailors thought calcite crystals embedded in the rock were sparkling diamonds. The interior of the cone was the home to Fort Ruger, the first United States military reservation on Hawaii. Currently the interior contains an FAA operations facility.
Today, besides its being the definitive image of Hawaii, Diamond Head also offers a great opportunity for visitors to get close to the land by hiking to the rim of the cone, and from there seeing Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, southern Oahu, and the Pacific Ocean all spread out in a glorious 360-degree panoramic view.
The hike is approximately 1.1 miles, can take up to two hours round-trip, and is not considered difficult. However, hikers are warned that the path is uneven and mostly unpaved. There are also large numbers of stairs to climb, and a 200-foot tunnel to walk through for which you will need to bring a flashlight. A final, narrow, spiral staircase takes you up onto a coastal artillery platform that was built in 1908. Along the winding trail are numerous benches, so you'll be able to stop and rest as often as necessary.
The hiking trail opens at 6:30 am, and the earlier you get started on your hike the better, since the tropic sun gets very warm very quickly. Be sure to take plenty of water with you. Once you are at the cone's rim, the cooling Pacific breezes are a wonderful reward.
Guided hiking tours by trained nature guides are available. You'll learn about Diamond Head's fascinating volcanic creation, Hawaiian history, and modern-day military uses of what is also known as the "Gibraltar of the Pacific." At the end of your hike the tour company will give you a "I Climbed Diamond Head" certificate suitable for framing.
Hiking Diamond Head is not only a fun accomplishment, but a once-in-a-lifetime adventure on your Hawaii timeshare vacation.
(Photo provided by oahuoceanactivities.com)