Photos: The heart of Hawaii

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  1. Honolulu daze

    The sun sets on Honolulu, Hawaii's largest city. (Robert Y. Ono / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Lei a Mai Tai on me

    Colorful umbrellas block out the sun for visitors to the beachside Mai Tai Bar at the popular Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Aerobic fun & sun

    Seniors exercise in the waters of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. National treasure

    The Ionlani Palace stands among banyan and palm tress behind guilded gates decorated with a royal seal in Honolulu. The Iolani palace is America's only official royal residence. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Bathing beauties

    Sunbathers on the beach. (Craig Aurness / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. To honor thy wife

    Waterfalls flow in the gardens of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. The museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in honor of his late wife Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Undersea awe

    Elani Mousos, 4, of Calgary, Canada, looks at the "Hunters of the Reef" at the Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu. The Aquarium is built along side the shoreline next to a living reef. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Remember Arizona

    A U.S. flag flies at half mast aboard the USS Arizona Memorial during the ceremony honoring the 64th anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 2005 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (Marco Garcia / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Manic manini

    A school of manini fish swim over the coral reef at Hanauma Bay, near Honolulu. (Donald Miralle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Paradise found

    The sun sets on Waikiki. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 7/19/2007 10:29:56 AM ET 2007-07-19T14:29:56

Diamond Head crater soon will start getting upgrades including stabilized trails, protection against rockfalls and potentially a new path to the summit with its spectacular view of urban Honolulu and the Pacific beyond.

The park, accessible by a tunnel through the landmark crater, is one of Hawaii's most popular attractions, with more than 2,000 visitors a day.

Work is expected to begin by the end of this year after lawmakers allocated $4.4 million and Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle released a previously allocated $700,000 for improvements to the trail and park area of the popular Diamond Head State Monument.

"This is the first of that kind of money for Diamond Head," said Dan Quinn, state parks administrator. "I think lawmakers have become aware of our needs to keep up with resources, particularly to those parks as heavily visited as Diamond Head."

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One of the first priorities will be stabilizing the rock face above the access tunnel, as well as other safety work throughout the state park and along Diamond Head Road.

Later, a one-way loop trail could be added at the summit to route people down the trail without creating gridlock in the bunker area and on the cramped spiral staircase inside the crater wall.

Diana Forte, a 48-year-old accountant visiting Hawaii for the first time, said she would like to see a new pathway after getting stuck in a backup of hikers near the top of the trail.

"There were a lot of people there," said Forte, of Long Island, N.Y. "We had to wait for everyone before we could get down."

The money should help prevent rockfalls similar to one in May that injured a woman picnicking at the base of the cliff near the Diamond Head lighthouse. She suffered head and back injuries.

The improvements may take several years to complete.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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