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: 4
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 Km or 2.5 Miles
Author: helenp
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Diamond Head Lighthouse
  • Diamond Head Lookout
  • Shangri La
  • Diamond Head State Monument
1
Diamond Head Lighthouse

1) Diamond Head Lighthouse

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.

Tip:
While the lighthouse is not open to the public, you can get great photos even without going down to the beach.
2
Diamond Head Lookout

2) Diamond Head Lookout

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
3
Shangri La

3) Shangri La

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.

Tip:
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
4
Diamond Head State Monument

4) Diamond Head State Monument (must see)

Diamond Head State Monument is a volcanic cone known locally as Leahi. The monument is located near Waikiki Beach. It is a must-see for tourists of Honolulu as hiking up the cone offers a beautiful, panoramic view.

The monument was named Diamond Head by British sailors who thought they had found diamonds but were disappointed to learn that the brilliant sparkle came from calcite crystals. The native name means "brow of the tuna."

It is thought that the crater was formed about 300,000 years ago from volcanic activity. It is 761 feet tall and covers a span of 350 acres.

The trail going up the cone can be a challenge, but those who make it to the top know it is worth the effort. There are two sets of stairs that are a total of 175 steps.

It is open to visitors from 6 AM to 4 PM, Thursday through Sunday.

Tip:
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.

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