Lē’ahi, the summit that resembles the forehead/lae of the ‘ahi fish as named by Hi’iaka the sister of the fire goddess Pele. Another Lē’ahi meaning is ‘fire headland’ from fires lit high on the summit to guide canoes safely back. The Western name, Diamond Head comes Western explorers thinking the calcite crystals found on the slopes were diamonds. Perfect names for a volcano on an island born of volcanic fire.
If I wasn’t feeling already a little uneasy that I was on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean without any more solid mainland behind me, walking around a now extinct volcanic crater may have added to a little more freak out if I gave it more thought. Lē’ahi/ Diamond Head Monument’s crater is believed to have been created from a single eruption 300,000 years ago. The highest ledge along the south-western side was created as the wind blew the ash at the time of eruption making it look like the now ‘ahi fish forehead. The seaward slopes are protected by a coral reef, which is why coral reefs are so important. Aside from the marine life they shelter they also protect land from coastal storms. Another thing cool thing about the crater is in winter, rainwater collects in mini lake in the centre! Most of the plants and animals along paths were introduced in the 1800’s. There’s one native plant still standing, ‘ilima!
The main focus now is the observation station built into the ocean facing slopes. Perfect location and camouflage. Most of the walk is easy, same way up and down sharing the path both ways until the station. Or in 2020 the path went the way. If steps aren’t your thing, be prepared for steep steps up into the bunker if taking a right after the tunnel. Don’t be put off by them, the views are the top are amazing! You can easily reach the views from the gentler steps to the left out the tunnel, however taking the steep steps you get to feel a little how soldiers stationed there lived. There’s also a tiny gap to squeeze through to reach one lookout point which links to the gentler steps.
Lē’ah, Diamond Head has a long military history and I appreciate its history being kept alive and letting nature do this thing as reminder, that countries are still going through with the same deal with bunkers and look out points. When visiting 2 years ago nobody was thinking much about war. The after effects of the Syrian civil war, yes. Covid was only just starting to take over the world and nobody would have guessed the next 2 years of lockdowns, restrictions, war in Ukraine or rising energy costs that make you use a little less. I always say so much and so little can change in just a week. Sometimes you don’t notice it until looking back. When living memory travels onto their next journeys and adventures, humans forget the lesson/s learned and take the classes again. I wonder if in another 100 years or even 500 years people will still be exploring the observation station as we do old ruins of castles now without much thought as to why as they’ve alway just been there.
Pigeons will be pigeons! Coming from Spain where things are open late I was always caught out by opening times 06.00-16.00. Last hike entry is at 16.00, the park closes at 18.00. It takes about 1.5-2 hours to hike and it got busy quickly so go first thing or last hiking hour. At the time of writing all Hawaiian residents have free access with all out of state visitors aka tourists must book in advance at least 14 days prior. Entry’s $5 per person and $10 per car.
Thank you for stopping by! More Hawaiian travels under the Travel tab!