Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Aloha to Diamond Head State Monument

The state of Hawaii recently improved Diamond Head.  So we rose early on Saturday morning to hike the icon one more time!

From its website (link),

This broad, saucer-shaped crater was formed about 300,000 years ago during a single, explosive eruption that sent ash and fine particles in the air. As these materials settled, they cemented together into a rock called tuff, creating the crater, and which is visible from the trail in the park. 

The trail to the summit of Le'ahi was built in 1908 as part of O'ahu's coastal defense system.   The walk is a glimpse into the geological and military history of Diamond Head.   The ascent continues up steep stairs and through a lighted 225-foot tunnel to enter the Fire Control Station completed in 1911.   

At the summit, you'll see bunkers and a huge navigational lighthouse built in 1917. The postcard view of the shoreline from Koko Head to Wai'anae is stunning, and during winter, may include passing humpback whales.

I was not brave enough to venture onto this overlook.  Notice the winch to bring up supplies for the military bunkers.

Here's the last of the switchbacks before the dreaded stairs. 

77 stairs (above) brings hikers to the cave like tunnel (below) ... 

... to the next set of 99 stairs, emptying into the lower level of the fire control station.  Hikers climb three more levels via spiral staircases, with traffic both ways (up and down) to the exit onto the volcano tuff.

We opted for the new exterior pathway over the crater wall.

The state also added a lower observation deck directly above the historic Coast Guard lighthouse.

All paths lead to the observation deck atop the fire control station ... 

 ... that offers unparalleled views, including ...

... the crater ...

... abandoned bunker ...

... Waikiki landscape ... 

... and lighthouse.

Here's the entrance to the fire control station, leading to the spiral staircases.   Alas, we retreated down the exterior path to soak up the sun.


Kim in Hawaii


  1. Wow, those are awesome pictures.

  2. Great photos... looks like you got a great workout with all the hiking too!

  3. Breathtaking pictures. And my breath would be gone climbing all those steps!!

  4. Wow - I had no idea that they've made it so accessible - lovely.

  5. I've done this hike once and loved it. Such gorgeous views. Fun to get to see the lighthouse too. I'm glad you did it again before your move.

  6. Looks like a lot of steps

  7. I would love to go up to the lighthouse.