The tuff cone and crater of
The Hawaiian name for the highest
In ancient Hawai‘i, Lē‘ahi was the site of he‘e hōlua (hōlua sledding), which involved using papa hōlua (wooden sleds) to slide down steep hills or specially constructed stone ramps. Also located atop Lē‘ahi was a luakini heiau, a sacred place of worship where human sacrifices were performed.
A Hawaiian proverb states, “Nani Lē‘ahi, he maka no Kahiki,” (“Beautiful Lē‘ahi, object of the eyes from Kahiki,” said to refer to, “
The site’s common name,
The construction of
The Fort was reinforced during World War II, though the guns were never fired. Today the Hawai‘i National Guard has a base within
The Diamond Head Trail leading to the summit climbs 560 feet (171 m) over 1½ miles (2.4 m). A tunnel along the trail leads to a 99-step stairway, and then another shorter tunnel and more stairs.
At 760 feet (232 m) above sea level, the summit’s panoramic views include Koko Head and Koko Crater on the southeast coast as well as Barbers Point and the Wai‘anae Mountains on the leeward coast. Also visible just beneath
[Diamond Head National Natural Landmark,
[Diamond Head Beach—Directions: Take Wakīkī’s
Also included in the
Koko Crater / Koko Head
Koko Head and Koko Crater are geologic tuff cones. Koko Head forms the southwest side of
The 642-foot (196-m) summit of Koko Head includes two craters. Radar facilities are located atop the summit, and there is a road but it is not open to the public. A small botanical garden within Koko Crater is run by the county and features a variety of dryland plants including cacti.
In the summit’s ‘Ihi‘ihilauākea Crater(the bigger of Koko Head’s two summit craters), the unique native ecosystem includes a vernal pool as well as the rare Marsilea villosa fern. ‘Ihi‘ihilauākea means “Wide-leafed ‘ihi‘ihi (an extinct or unknown plant said to have grown at this site).”[ii] A preserve in the crater is managed by the Nature Conservancy (808-537-5408), which provides access for volunteers.
[Koko Crater, open 9-4 daily. Directions: Take Kalaniana‘ole Highway (Hwy. 72) to Kealahou Street (at the north side of Sandy Beach); go ½-mile (.8 km); turn left at one-lane road leading to Koko Crater stables; go 1/3 mile (.5 km) to botanical garden.]
More than one million visitors come to
Both sides of
Walking along the lava ledge to the east leads to the spot known as Toilet Bowl, a pool in the lava that is connected to the bay’s waters by an underground tube in the lava. Some adventurous (if foolhardy) people enjoy the sudden change in water level as the water surges in and drains out, but this may be dangerous and is not recommended.
Always check with lifeguards about water conditions. At the mouth of the bay is a potentially dangerous current known as the Moloka‘i Express.
[Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, 808-396-4229, 7455 Kalaniana‘ole Highway (Hwy. 72),
The pounding shorebreak at Sandy Beach can be extremely dangerous, and many injuries have occurred there, including broken necks. This same dangerous shorebreak, however, also makes the beach popular among experienced body boarders as well as surfers. Sandy Beach is also a popular sunbathing beach with a wide stretch of golden sand.
Less than 2 miles (3.2 km) past Hanauma Bay is Hālona Blowhole, where water rushes into an underwater tunnel in the lava rock, sending seawater spouting up through a hole above. With each surge of the ocean waves against the shoreline, the air compressed into the tunnel lets out a roaring sound to accompany the erupting geyser of water. Hālona means “Peering place.”[iv]
Below and to the right of the blowhole area is Hālona Cove, seen in the 1950s movie From Here to Eternity. Waves surge over Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr (as Sgt. Warden and his commanding officer’s wife) as the embracing lovers have an affair on the secluded beach.
Makapu‘u Point is located just over 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Sandy Beach (see above). The point reaches an elevation of about 647 feet (197 m) and is accessed parking off Kalaniana‘ole Highway (Hwy. 72) near the service road for the Makapu‘u Lighthouse. The walk in is about a 1 mile (1.6 km). Makapu‘u is O‘ahu’s easternmost point.
Just past the lighthouse access road is a roadside lookout over Makapu‘u Beach. This is a popular hang-gliding site. Offshore is an islet called Kāohikaipu(“Hold back the container”), which gained its name “because the rock blocked sea-swept matter”[v]).
Behind Kāohikaipu is the larger Manana Island, also called
Makapu‘u Beach, located across from
Sea Life Park is located just north of Makapu‘u Point, and features an 18-foot (5.5-m) deep, 300,000 gallon (1.1 million liter) aquarium full of a whole panoply of marine creatures, including reef fish, sharks, eels, and even sea turtles. A spiral ramp provides optimal viewing from different levels. The park also features dolphin performances, and has separate pools housing harbor seals and
A bird sanctuary area at
[Sea Life Park, 808-259-7933, 41-202 Kalaniana‘ole Highway (Hwy. 72), Waimānalo, open -5 daily (Friday until , www.sealifeparkhawaii.com.]
From Makapu‘u Point to Wailea Point,
At the northern end of
Toward the middle of the shoreline of Waimanalo Bay is Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, and about 1 mile (1.6 km) south is Waimanalo Beach Park, a nice swimming area with a good view of the deeply furrowed Ko‘olau mountain range.
[i]p. 248, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings.
[ii]Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of
[iii]Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of
[iv]Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of
[v]p. 86, Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of