Diamond Head Trail is one of
the most rewarding Oahu hikes,
offering amazing 360-degree views when you reach the top.
Hiking Diamond Head might first appear to be a challenging all day
climb, but this Oahu hiking trail can look deceiving, as it
really only takes about 40 to 60 minutes to reach the 760-foot summit. There are some steep sections including narrow stairs, and the number of hikers ahead of you might slow you down, but just imagine the panoramic views you will be rewarded with once you reach the top of this Diamond Head hike. Keep reading to see everything you need to know before you go!
Diamond Head Crater is a stunning volcanic landmark that has captured the attention of visitors from the beginning of time.
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
diamonds were discovered, but Le’Ahi received its new name “Diamond
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 ascent.
Hiking Diamond Head is suitable for most, including children,
golden agers, and the average person who does not exercise daily or participate
in many hikes for recreation. However, please know your own health condition and wear the appropriate gear for this moderate hike.
You will find the beginning of the Diamond Head trail on the west side of the crater, where you start your ascent slowly up a sidewalk path that turns into a switchback rock pathway.
There are lots of loose gravel and potholes on the trail, so take caution with your footing to prevent
slipping and falling.
I have seen a few hikers on this Oahu hiking trail wearing 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 hiking or trail running 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 narrow long stairs –lots of stairs! This will lead you to a lit tunnel that you will need to pass through.
As you exit the 50-yard tunnel, you will see a double headed painted arrow on the wall pointing 2 ways to the top. Turn left and it's a long path with a series of stairs leading to the top platform. Turn right and it's a straight shot up.
99 steps will lead you straight up to an old military bunker room with a spiral staircase leading up to the top. That's right, more stairs that will finally lead you to the top of the pillbox lookout.
Not too long ago, you had an opportunity to purchase a Certificate of Achievement for doing the Diamond Head hike for a small donation of $2.00! You will have to settle for a souvenir once you reach the bottom.
The spiral staircase adds another layer, mystery, and sense of adventure to this amazing Oahu hike! And while this signifies the end of the climb, there are more stairs and platforms up top to explore.
The backside stairs gives you an amazing view of the Diamond Head Crater, and the coastline leading down to the Koko Crater. Most climbers take this route back down to the bottom. You can climb up 1100 steps next at the Koko Crater if you're up for it!
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 an hour...depending how far back you start from.
The Waikiki Trolley visits many Honolulu Attractions including Diamond Head. There are 4 different routes to explore including: Scenic Tour, Historic Tour, Shopping Tour, and the Island Tour. The Green Line will get you there. Tickets start around $9 for a child day pass, and go up to $25 - $49 for an Adult 7 day pass.
Simply take the number 23 bus from Kuhio Avenue 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 hang out a while, 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 on loose gravel and uneven walkways.
Hike from the summit back down to the Pacific Ocean.
Diamond Head Beach Park is a marvel to see and
explore…just as much as the
Most visitors only make it as far as the three, scenic view lookout points located near the Diamond Head Lighthouse, but never down to the beach itself.
If you happen to hike on Tuesday or Saturday, consider swinging by the KCC Farmers Market, as its located just across the street from the entrance. Sometimes referred to as the Diamond Head Farmers Market for its location, is one of the best on the island.
You find lots of tempting eats, along with lots of local fruits, flowers, dried fruits and nuts, and creations for sale.
If you’re lucky, Pig and the Lady (rated as one of the best Oahu restaurants) will be on site. Don’t pass up on an Ono Pop, which are unique local fruit Popsicles…they are delicious!
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 is at the
edge of San Souci Beach.
Celebrate your hike with a mimosa
and some ono island-style eats, while enjoying the relaxing beachfront 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
breakfasts and plate-lunch meals. Their homemade cornbread and
brown fried-rice are a treat!
There are lots of tide pools to explore and gorgeous beach homes to gawk at.