Hawaii’s Landmarks - Diamond Head Crater
Arriving to Hawaii is always exciting. As soon as the pilot announces that the plane has started its descent, the anticipation builds, you may get butterflies in your stomach, and you’ll be starting out the window for the first sites of the islands. If you’re flying into Oahu, one of the most recognizable sites is Diamond Head Crater; seen from all over the island’s south and west shores, and an iconic landmark that will be your guiding light back to Waikiki. Whether you’re at the beach with Diamond Head close by, or you're way up on the west side, you can see Diamond Head, and it’s representation of the island is found everywhere you go.
Dating all the way back to the earliest days of the island’s inhabitance, Diamond Head has a special place in Hawaiian history. An extinct volcanic crater, the eruption that created the iconic shape of the crater is thought to have been violent, with an explosion essentially blowing the crater apart. There were no inhabitants of the island when this took place millions of years ago, so the Diamond Head that we see today is the same shape as it was when the first arrivals to the islands occurred.
The recorded history of Diamond Head dates to ancient Hawaii and even back then was the island’s most recognized site. Its Hawaiian name is Le’ahi, taken from the shape of a tuna’s head, and the English name comes from a misconception from the 19th century. British sailors mistook calcite crystals for diamonds, and thinking these were of great value, they began collecting the rocks to give as gifts, though they were worthless. The Diamond portion of the name stuck, and was combined with the Hawaii name (roughly tuna head), creating Diamond Head, and it has been known as that ever since.
Diamond Head been in use since the early 1900s , and was the site of the FAA air traffic control center from 1963-2001. Today, the National Guard facility and the Hawaii State Civil Defense operate from within the crater, and you can see the facilities from the top of the crater, following a hike up. Visitors from around the world enjoy hiking Diamond Head, an easy hike that doesn't take too long to complete. From the summit, you’ll have amazing views of Waikiki, downtown Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and the island’s deep valleys, plus the neighborhoods that have been built around the crater.
The crater is one of the most iconic landmarks on Oahu and you will have plenty of great views throughout your vacation. You can find souvenirs with Diamond Head, a reminder of your trip to Oahu with one of its most visible sites.
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