Diamond Head Crater is an old volcanic cone located not too far from the Waikiki area on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. There’s a lot of history at Diamond Head dating back to its creation, its military involvement, and its current hiking trail attracting visitors from all over the world.
Diamond Head is part of the Ko’olau Range. Ko’olau was a volcano that began erupting below sea level some 2.6 million years ago. There was a brief dormancy of about a million years and then the volcano erupted again creating vents that became well-known landmarks like Punchbowl Crater, Koko Head, Hanauma Bay, and Diamond Head.
Diamond Head is the youngest of these landmarks dating itself at about 200,000 years old. The vents are now extinct and Diamond Head has been dormant for about 150,000 years. Diamond Head is believed to be monogenetic, meaning the eruption only occurs once. Therefore, geologists believe that Diamond Head will never erupt again.
In the 1820’s sailors began approaching the islands and saw something sparkling on the slopes of the crater. They believed there were diamonds in the rocks but later found out they were just calcite crystals. But the name Diamond Head stuck ever since.
Later in 1878 a lookout was established with a watchman to report incoming vessels. Then the Diamond Head Lighthouse was built in the early 1900’s to help guide these vessels loaded with commerce over to Honolulu Harbor.
In 1904 the U.S. Federal Government purchased Diamond Head Crater to be used for military purposes. A tunnel was carved out on the north side of the crater which gave access to the interior. The construction of the hiking trail and the Fire Control Station bunker began in 1908. Fire Control Station is the main bunker consisting of four levels located at the very top of the crater. In the years that followed, battery stations were built around the base of the crater which contained the artillery and other military weapons. From within the plotting rooms at Fire Control Station, men would be able to communicate with the battery stations to fire artillery exactly where it was needed.
Progression to Current Day
During the 1970’s the crater was used to hold festival concerts. The concerts were during the day and included a number of local bands as well as bands from the mainland U.S. Average attendance was around 12,000 but quickly grew to around 75,000 at each event. As its popularity grew it became more commercialized, and so the festivals were stopped at the end of the decade.
The trail which leads to Fire Control Station started becoming popular among tourists and locals alike. Up till now, anyone could access the crater during its normal opening hours and hike the trail for free. In the late 1990’s, Hawaii’s Division of State Parks started experiencing budget cuts. And so a one dollar charge per person began in January 2000. Later that year, a toll booth was built and a contractor was hired to collect the fees.
Improvements continued. The parking lot was re-paved. New sections of the trail were added. Lights were placed in the tunnel. And a new souvenir shop inside the crater recently opened. Now the crater is open 6am-6pm every day of the year. Approximately 2,000 people visit the crater each day. And you get a magnificent 360-degree view from the very top.