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Diamond Head, the most well known icon for Oahu, is more attractive from a distance than up close. Diamond Head is a volcanic cone comprised of tuff, a volcanic rock formed of extremely small volcanic fragments that resulted from a volcanic eruption. The tuff settled, compacted and solidified surrounding its volcanic vent. Diamond Head is thought to have formed during an eruption approximately three hundred thousand years ago. The southwestern rim of Diamond Head is higher than the rest of the cone due to the prevailing winds redistributing the ejecta of the eruption. Since that time, erosion by wind and water has cut gullies into the cone, but it remains today looking much like it was in the past.
In the 18th century, explorers thought the reflection of the sun off the minerals embedded in the volcanic cone were diamonds and the area was given the name Diamond Head. Due to its strategic location, Diamond Head was purchased by the United States Department of Defense early in the 20th century and fortified over the following years.
The Kahala Tunnel runs through the south side of the cone and into the crater. There is a parking lot and a trail to the summit that rewards hikers with a panoramic view of Waikiki and the Pacific.
The hike to the rim from the floor of the cone is less than a mile long, but the majority of the hike is vertical. In addition, Diamond Head is a hot environment with little shade, so bring plenty of water for the ascent. Unless you are in good shape, you might want to skip the ascent, as it is quite a workout!. Also, take a flashlight, as you will pass through long, dark tunnels to overlooks that once served artillery fire control stations (spotters) on Diamond Head. If you do take the hike, please stay on the trail and help protect the fragile environment from further erosion.
For more Information about Diamond Head State Monument, see the official website at http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/oahu/index.cfm?park_id=15
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