Diamond Head State Monument#6 in Best Things To Do in Honolulu - Oahu
Hawaiians call it Le'ahi, geologists call it a tuff cone (consolidated volcanic ash), 19th-century British sailors called it Diamond Head. Whatever you call it, this unique crater was created 300,000 years ago during a single volcanic eruption that spewed ash into the air. That ash settled over thousands of years, and today, Diamond Head State Monument's ridgeline is one of the most recognizable features of Oahu's skyline, not to mention home to one of the island's most scenic hiking trails.
Though the 760-foot hike up this tuff cone is somewhat taxing if you're out of shape, travelers say you'll be rewarded with a surreal view of Waikiki Beach and the Pacific Ocean once you reach the summit. But keep in mind that this natural wonder is one of Honolulu's most popular attractions, so consider arriving early to avoid the crowds and beat the heat. Also, remember to bring plenty of water, since no water fountains are available on the trail. For a different perspective, consider opting for a helicopter tour. Many of the island's air tour outfitters fly directly over the crater.
On the crater floor of Diamond Head (by the trailhead), you will find restrooms, vending machines and an interactive kiosk with merchandise and monument information. You can also purchase a self-guided audio tour (available on the Pacific Historic Parks website) for $4.
The crater is located about halfway between Waikiki Beach and Shangri La in the Kahala neighborhood of Honolulu. It is accessible via Waikiki Trolley's Green Line and multiple bus routes. Or, you can drive and park in the on-site lot for $5 per vehicle. Pedestrians are charged a $1 per person entry fee. Only cash is accepted for admissions. The park is open every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; last entrance is at 4:30 p.m. Visit the State of Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources website to learn more.
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#1 Waikiki Beach
Nineteenth-century Hawaiian royalty used to come to the Honolulu neighborhood of Waikiki to relax and surf, just as scores of tourists do today. That's because this area's famous beach (which is a string of several beaches dotting the island's southwest coastline) is the go-to spot for its soft, honey-colored sand and the high waves that lap the shores during the winter months. But you don't have to be a surfer to appreciate Waikiki Beach; just lie back on a beach towel, relax and gaze up at the majestic Diamond Head State Monument in the distance.
When you need a break from the beach itself, there are scores of shops and restaurants lining the adjacent Kalakaua Avenue. The street is home to some of the world's most exclusive (read: expensive) designer boutiques, including Cartier, Coach, Hermès and Louis Vuitton. Many of the best Oahu hotels also overlook Waikiki Beach.
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