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Diamond Head Volcano Tour (Self Guided), Honolulu

Diamond Head Volcano is perhaps one of the best-known attractions on the island of Oahu. The volcano's rugged cone is seen from almost every part of the island. However, at its base, along the coastal line, are situated a couple of other spectacular sights. Take this walking tour to admire one of the most ancient treasures of Hawaii - Diamond Head.
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Diamond Head Volcano Tour Map

Guide Name: Diamond Head Volcano Tour
Guide Location: USA » Honolulu (See other walking tours in Honolulu)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.0 Km or 3.7 Miles
Author: helenp
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Diamond Head Lighthouse
  • Diamond Head Lookout
  • Shangri La
  • Salt pool
  • Diamond Head Park
  • Diamond Head State Monument
  • Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market
Diamond Head Lighthouse

1) Diamond Head Lighthouse (must see)

The Diamond Head Lighthouse is located on Oahu, at the end of Diamond Head Road. The original lighthouse was built in 1899, but the current one was constructed nearly 20 years later, in 1918. Despite being reconstructed, the current lighthouse still uses the ironwork and Fresnel lens from the original lighthouse.

The lighthouse was built to help warn ships away from the reefs near Waikiki beach. In 1893, the steamship Miowera ran aground on the reef. All of the passengers and cargo were saved, but it took several weeks for the ship itself to be freed. Shortly afterward, in 1897, the China ran aground near the same area. At this point, it was decided that a lighthouse was needed to help prevent damage to more ships.

The original lighthouse was made of an open iron framework. This created some concerns for the stability of the structure, so the builders chose to reinforce it by enclosing it in native coral rock. Unfortunately, the rock began to show signs of structural damage in 1917. When it was rebuilt a year later, the original ironwork was preserved, while the coral rock was replaced with reinforced concrete for added stability.

While the lighthouse is not open to the public, you can get great photos even without going down to the beach.
Diamond Head Lookout

2) Diamond Head Lookout (must see)

Diamond Head Lookout is a wildly popular destination for tourists and hikers. Located on Oahu beach, this area offers panoramic views of the southern shore of Oahu and Waikiki. Since the lookout offers such clear views of the surrounding area, it was used as a military post from the turn of the century onward. Notable sites along the way include World War II-era bunkers and underground tunnels. At the summit, hikers can view a compass rose that points out all of the notable sites visible from the top of Diamond Head Lookout.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Shangri La

3) Shangri La (must see)

Shangri La got its start when art collector Doris Duke, heiress to the Duke tobacco and electricity fortune, decided to build a vacation home in Hawaii in the 1930s. One of Duke's favorite pastimes was travel, and she spent a lot of her time visiting countries like Egypt, Syria, Morocco, and Iran. Whilst on a trip to several Muslim countries during her honeymoon with actor James Cromwell, she became enamored with the art and architecture of these countries, which, in part, provided inspiration for her home in Honolulu, as well as her large collection of Islamic art.

Today, Shangri La houses Doris Duke’s collection of Islamic art and is nationally recognized for its high artistic value and as one of Hawai'i’s most architecturally significant homes. Duke collected over 3,500 objets d'art over a period of sixty years. Her collection is notable because she didn't just collect items that had a high monetary value, but the objects she enjoyed. As a result, many objects at the Museum are decorative things like hand-carved furniture, richly adorned doors, painted ceilings, and other touches embedded into the building itself.

Of the many homes that Duke inhabited, Shangri La is the only one that she built from the ground up and filled from the inside out. As such, the museum is worth visiting to see the immense amount of care that Duke took to curate the objects in her home, as well as to enjoy the museum itself.

Why You Should Visit:
This is one of the world’s best small collections of a wide range of Islamic art (pottery, glass, wood, furniture, ceramics) from Iran, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, India, etc.
An added bonus are the grounds which afford views of the east side of Diamond Head along the ocean's edge.

Every beach in Hawaii is public so you may swim outside the property (not on the tour, come another time and swim here). The water looks very inviting!
Get to the Honolulu Museum of Art at least 2 hrs before the guided tour to experience works by Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh that are really exquisite as well.

Guided Tours:
Wed-Sat: 9am / 10:30am / 1:30pm
Tickets must be reserved in advance
Tours last approx 2.5 hrs with 1.5 hrs on site at Shangri La
Salt pool

4) Salt pool

A salt pool is a small pool that contains a large quantity of salt dissolved in the water. However, this salt pool is not an ordinary one - it is situated near the Pacific coastal line. It's not only a place to relax, but also a perfect spot to admire the sunset or sunrise. Salt has always been recognized for its curative effects, so why not dip in it for a little while during your tour?
Diamond Head Park

5) Diamond Head Park

Diamond Head is a state monument located on Oahu. Native Hawaiians call it Leahi, but it got its European name from the English sailors that thought diamonds could be found there. The volcanic cone is 150,000 years old. Also, the interior of the cone was home to Fort Ruger - the first US military reservation on the island. Diamond Head Park is a perfect place for long lasting hike trips.
Diamond Head State Monument

6) Diamond Head State Monument (must see)

Diamond Head Volcano is one of Oahu's most famous and striking attractions. This feature, technically a volcanic “tuff cone,” was formed over 150,000 years ago from a very brief, explosive volcanic eruption. This resulted in the formation of millions of white calcite crystals that gave Diamond Head its modern name. Originally called Laeahi, or “Brow of the tuna,” Diamond Head was christened as such when 19th-century British sailors mistook the common, valueless calcite formations for diamonds. Though the original eruption that formed Diamond Head was quick and violent, experts say that the volcano is extremely unlikely to ever erupt again, since the kind of eruptions that create tuff cones generally only occur once. As a result, it is considered extinct.

The volcanic formation is a United States monument. A 0.7-mile hike follows the side of the cone and leads to the summit. At this point, called Diamond Head Lookout, visitors can see the southern shore of Oahu, as well as Waikiki. Because of the view that the summit of Diamond Head Volcano offers, it has been used as a military lookout point since the 1900s. One of the most interesting features of the trail, leading up Diamond Head Volcano, is the abandoned WWII military bunkers and underground.

Go early in the day – before the crowds and sun really kick in – and bring a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated.
On the way up, you get to an intersection and you go left or right. Right takes you up stairs; instead, you can take the left, which is a bit more scenic and not as grueling.
There is a food truck of sorts at the base of the path in the parking lot - a great place to get a pineapple slush or mango smoothie to help re-charge after your arduous climb.
Remember: they close at 6pm and are serious about that. Besides, you really do want to have enough time to take in the many excellent views and get all the pics you want. Not a visit to be rushed.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-6pm
Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market

7) Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market

What to buy here: Tropical Fruit Preserves and Butters. 

The Hawaiian Island is such a fabulous place when it comes to fresh fruits. Islanders have a steady seasonal supply of fresh mangos, bananas, papaya, oranges and pineapple that thrill taste buds, are low in fat and full of vitamins. Today, many have taken to their kitchens to jar these fabulous fruits into jams and jellies that have become the favorite of new and returning Hawaii visitors. Some of the preserves are simple and straightforward including strawberry and mango while others are irresistible combinations including pineapple and papaya, mango orange and the especially popular passion fruit or lilikoi butter. A jar of this tasteful bounty is in the range of $7-$10 and must be placed in check baggage for travel, no exceptions.

These jars of preserves can be easily found at local stores including Long’s Drug Stores, ABC stores and even Wal-Mart, however, the very best place to make that treasured purchase for friends and family back home is at the weekly Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market at 4303 Diamond Head Road. Open between the hours of 4:00 pm- 7:00 pm on Wednesdays, this collection of stalls is where some of the best of Hawaii’s food and farm trends are born. Although one can find several vendors selling preserves, there is no doubt that the folks at Honomu Jams and Jellies from the Big Island offer the widest variety and creative combinations.

Walking Tours in Honolulu, Hawaii

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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