Diamond Head Trail is one of the most rewarding Oahu hikes, offering amazing 360 degrees views when you reach the top. Hiking Diamond Head might first appear to be a challenging all day climb, but these Oahu hiking trails can sometimes be deceiving, as it really only takes about 40 to 60 minutes to reach the 760-foot summit of the Diamond Head hike.
Diamond Head Crater is a
stunning volcanic landmark that has
captured the attention of visitors from the beginning of
Ancient Hawaiians first named the extinct volcano Le’Ahi for its strong Ahi-Tuna-fish brow like appearance.
Later in the 1800’s, British sailors were fooled by the glittering stones that are embedded at the top of the crater. No diamonds were discovered, but Le’Ahi received its new name “Diamond Head”.
The Diamond Head trail itself was originally built in 1908 by the US Army, and used for many decades as part of the Fort Rugur military base. Artillery cannons, cement bunkers and an observation deck were built on the summit of the Diamond Head Crater.
Today Diamond Head has been turned into a state national park. You will need to enter the Diamond Head park from the eastern side, through a short tunnel that will bring you into the center of the crater, where you will start your 560 foot climb.
Hiking Diamond Head is suitable for most, including children, golden age, and the average person who does not exercise or participate in many hikes for recreation.
You will find the beginning of the Diamond Head trail on the westside of the crater, where you start your ascent up a switchback dirt pathway. There are lots of loose gravel and dirt potholes on the trail, so take caution with your footing to prevent slipping and falling.
I have seen a few hikers on the trail wearing uncovered flip-flops that are meant more for the beach. Although they might get away with it, I would recommend wearing something with stronger support and grip, such as running or hiking shoes.
The switchback trails will take you quickly up to the first lookout, where I recommend taking a moment to catch your breath and enjoy some beautiful ocean views.
The next section of this Diamond Head hike involves stairs
–lots of stairs! 99 steps will lead you straight up to a
dimly lit 200 foot long tunnel that you will lead you to the Pacific
Once you arrive at the end of the tunnel, you will have a chance to purchase a Certificate of Achievement for doing the Diamond Head hike for a small donation of $2.00.
Next…you get to climb out of the “bunker” and continue up more stairs until you finally reach the top viewing platform.
The gorgeous 360 degree views from the viewing decks are breathtaking! Not because you’re out of breath from climbing all the stairs, but because of the panoramic views of Waikiki to Waianae, the vast Pacific Ocean, the Ko’olau Mountains and eastern views reaching out to the Koko Head Crater.
Diamond Head Crater also holds the record for the longest recorded land views in the world. On a clear day, I think I would have to agree!
Diamond Head trail is one of my favorite Oahu hikes…I hope you get to discover it too!
You could literally walk to the Diamond Head trail from Waikiki, if you don’t mind extending your hike a couple of hours, depending how far back you start from.
Simply take the number 23 bus from Kuhio Ave towards Diamond Head, and get off once you reach the Diamond Head State Monument bus stop. Ask your bus driver to notify you once you have reached your destination. You will have to walk up through the crater tunnel to reach the Diamond Head Trail.
Trail entrance closes at 4:30pm
Start early! Gates open at 6am…I wouldn’t start to hike Diamond Head at midday since it gets a little hot in this area. The crater and much of the trail are bare with little signs of shade or a breeze.
Also consider catching a sunset on the summit! You would need to park outside the crater grounds, and start your hike before 4:30pm. Your patience could pay off with a beautiful sunset if you’re willing to hanging out awhile, once you reach the top.
Bring a hat, sun glasses and a bottle of water for each hiker. And don’t forget to wear appropriate shoes to trek loose gravel and uneven walkways.
Hike Diamond Head early, and save an appetite for breakfast at the Hau Tree after your trek. This Waikiki Restaurant is located in the New Otani Hotel at the base of Diamond Head, and the edge of San Souci Beach.
Celebrate your hike with a mimosa and some ono island-style eats, while enjoying the relaxing open air setting, under the Hau tree.
Continue northwest on Diamond Head Rd that turns into Monsarrat Ave, and you will run into the Diamond Head Market & Grill on your way back to Waikiki. This is a popular spot to grab some food items to go.
They make some wholesome breakfast and plate-lunch meals. Their homemade cornbread and brown fried-rice are a treat!
Hike from the summit back down to the Pacific Ocean. Diamond Head Beach is a marvel to see and explore…just as much as the summit!
Most visitors only make it as far as the 3 scenic
view lookouts located near the Diamond Head Lighthouse, but never down
to the beach itself.
There are lots of tide pools to explore and rich-and-famous beach homes to gock at.