The native Hawaiians call it Le’ahi but its official name is Diamond Head State Monument and it has become the most recognized state landmark since tourists began flocking to Waikiki a hundred years ago. Diamond Head is a circular volcanic crater that gets its name from the calcite crystals found on nearby beaches by sailors in the 1800s who thought they were diamonds.
Waikiki is a rather small portion of Honolulu that is separated from the rest of the city by the Ala Wai Canal on the north and west, by the Pacific Ocean on the south and by the Honolulu Zoo and Kapiolani Park at the foot of Diamond Head on the east. There were two hotels on Waikiki Beach in the early 1900s — The Moana and The Honolulu Seaside Hotel which was demolished and replaced by The Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1927. The Moana and the Royal Hawaiian are still there but are now surrounded by a thousand shops (On one mile-long walk one day I counted 27 ABC stores!) and at least a hundred high rise hotels. You see a lot of familiar names like Sheraton, Westin, Surfrider and Outrigger. But most of the big hotels today are Japanese-owned. Sheraton sold the Moana in 1963 and the Royal Hawaiian in 1974 to the Osano brothers, Japanese entrepreneurs.
We walked along the beach and Kelakaua Avenue — Waikiki’s main street that parallels the beach — several times during our eight-day stay and I took many photos. The best of them all have Diamond Head as their scenic backdrops.
In tomorrow’s posting we’ll see Diamond Head in Monochrome.