Thursday, March 11, 2010

Diamond Head

Aloha to everyone and anyone who reads this blog. In the few weeks that have passed since the last post I have spent my weekends searching for fun stuff to do around Oahu, and I have come across several gems. The first is Diamond Head Crater.

Located near Honolulu, a short distance east of Waikiki, Diamond Head Crater is a popular tourist spot on Oahu. According to an informational pamphlet from the state monument, this volcanic crater was formed about 300,000 years ago, and it is about 750 feet from sea level at its tallest point. Its Hawaiian name is Lēʻahi, "lae" meaning forehead, and "ahi" meaning tuna, as the ridge is said to resemble a tuna's forehead. Its English name comes from 18th century traders and explorers who mistook calcite crystal deposits in the crater for diamonds.

View of Waikiki & Downtown from the summit

I have hiked Diamond Head twice since I have been attending BYU-Hawaii, and I loved it both times. It costs five dollars to park inside the crater, or one dollar to enter on foot. The hike takes 45 minutes to and hour and a half, and there are several lookout points on the way to the top.

Myself at the first lookout point

The hike starts as a series of switchbacks snaking up the side of the crater. A few hundred feet or so up the mountainside, the trail goes through a 225-foot long tunnel and exits on the outside of the crater. From there, several sets of stairs (with a grand total of 227 steps) lead to the very highest lookout point, where hikers can take in the breathtaking view of nearby reefs, Waikiki, downtown Honolulu, and the houses on the hillsides. On a clear day the island of Molokai is visible in the distance.

The final set of stairs

As for preparation for the short hike, make sure to wear appropriate clothing. The trek can be done in casual non-hiking shoes, but I don't recommend wearing slippers (flip-flops for mainlanders). I would also suggest taking a bottle of water.

This hike makes an excellent activity for a Saturday afternoon. After the hike, enjoy cruising the Waikiki strip, or eating at one of Waikiki's many restaurants. More fun, cheap activities on Oahu still to come.