All About Diamond Head

Diamond Head

Leahi, also known as Diamond Head

Rising to more than 700 feet, Diamond Head Crater is a stunning backdrop for the luau that shares its name. Diamond Head Luau is an entertaining evening affair complete with delicious farm-to-table cuisine, family-friendly entertainment and activities, and the true spirit of the Hawaiian Islands. The crater for which it’s named has a story that’s a little more complex, a history that dates back to a time long before humans are even thought to have existed.

Knowing the history of the place isn’t strictly necessary to enjoying the luau, but it does add another level of interest. That’s why we’re going to give you a crash course on the history of the Diamond Head Crater, from its creation to its modern uses.

Oahu’s Iconic Crater

Diamond Head in the 1800s

Diamond Head in the 1800s

It’s not the only crater on the island of Oahu, but it’s certainly one of the most distinctive. Located on the southeastern coast of the island, Diamond Head Crater was formed during what’s known as the Honolulu Volcanic Series, which occurred between 30,000 to 800,000 years ago. The eruption that ultimately formed the 762’ tall, 3,520’ wide crater is thought to have come from the 2.6 million year old Ko’olau Volcano. The crater is considerably younger at somewhere between 300,000 to 400,000 years old.

Since the first humans arrived on Oahu, Diamond Head has been a cultural fixture, starting long before the skyscrapers of Honolulu were ever erected. To the Hawaiians, Diamond Head was known as Leahi—owing to to its resemblance to the dorsal fin of the ahi tuna—and was a revered part of the island culture. Local lore claims that the crater was the site of ancient rituals, with luakini heiau, or temples dedicated to Ku, the god of war, built at the summit.

It wasn’t until the early 1800s that Leahi got the name “Diamond Head,” thanks to British sailors who landed on Oahu and started exploring the area around the crater. At the base of Leahi were deposits of calcite crystals that the sailors at first thought were diamonds. Imagine their disappointment.

Diamond Head Through the Years

Diamond Head lighthouse

Diamond Head lighthouse

Before becoming the tourist attraction it is today (and the namesake of the Diamond Head Luau), the crater was used to help spot vessels out at sea and warn them of the dangerous reefs they were approaching. In 1899, the first lighthouse was constructed 250 yards west of the lookout. For many years the lighthouse served its purpose, preventing ships from running aground.

In 1906, the US military established a base in the crater, later renamed Fort Ruger. Today, a National Guard emergency operations center and the Hawaii State Civil Defense Headquarters are the only remnants of Diamond Head’s military past.


Diamond Head Today

A spectacular show caps off the Diamond Head Luau

A spectacular show caps off the Diamond Head Luau

Diamond Head Crater is a state park, in addition to being a US National Natural Monument. It has become a very popular destination for visitors and locals alike, who come to hike up the towering natural formation. Guests can even combine a Diamond Head hike with Oahu’s only farm-to-table luau. It’s a lovely setting for a luau, where you can enjoy a feast of fresh Hawaiian cuisine and great Polynesian entertainment under the starry Oahu skies.