The first time I traveled to Hawaii with my basketball team, the first thing to strike me was how Diamond Head was so close and prominent to our hotel in Waikiki. Like most first time visitors, my assistant coaches and I climbed to the top. The Hawaii Park Service maintains the trail to the top.

The Park Service has done a lot of good things to that trail since my first climb in the 1990’s. There are move paved walk-ways and a couple of different ways to get to the top. If you make this hike, you first come to a station employed by the Park Service. You are charged $1 per person to make this approximately one mile journey.

Believe me when I say it is more than worth the hard work it is to get to the top. The view from the top of Diamond Head is spectacular. Years later, when all teams had their own web site, I had a team picture taken at the top. It went immediately to the home page of our web site.

Later, when I retired from coaching and took over the Malika Sport Tours operation full-time, I met a man that changed my whole perception of Diamond Head. This man was a World War II veteran that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was in his nineties but his memory was sharp as a tack.

This veteran worked the stables near the base at Pearl Harbor. The sailors working the stables weren’t spared from the Japanese planes. He told me he lost several men who tried to run for shelter when the planes attack. He sought cover in the stables and escaped the strafing from the Japanese. All the mules in the stable survived, too.

Later, he used his mule teams from the stables to carry bodies from Pearl Harbor to a baseball diamond where caskets were being made for the dead. Soon, fear of another Japanese attack prompted quick action by the American military on Oahu.

This man and his mules played a key role. Mule teams hauled artillery to Diamond Head to add to the island’s defenses. One mule team could only make one trip up Diamond Head each day. The trails were much more primitive in 1941 and 1942. Using several teams of mules that the Japanese had ignored during their attack on December 7th, Honolulu and the military bases felt much safer from another Japanese attack.

After hearing this story from this man’s own mouth, I never looked at Diamond Head in the same way again. Make this hike to the top of Diamond Head a must during your stay on Oahu.