Diamond Head Trail is a hike that really pays off in the view department. There’s not many places in the world where you get to hike in a crater and up to its rim. The trail is a winding set of switch backs that takes you to the top of a 760 foot summit. It is considered a moderate climb, something most people can accomplish if you set a slow pace. It takes the average person between 40 to 60 minutes to reach the summit and half the time for the return trip down. There are uneven and rocky sections, so flip flops are probably not the best footwear.
As you make your way up the trail take time to enjoy the views from the rest stops. You can look back at the subdivisions of homes that are crawling up the mountainsides.
The trail has several sets of stairs and a two tunnels. The stairs are steep, take your time and hang onto the hand rail. One of the tunnels is over 200 feet long and not lit. A set of narrow spiral stairs will have you almost at the summit. The last obstacle is a World War II military bunker. The space is quite low, it can have you feeling rather claustrophobic. Once you come out of the other side of the bunker you will be rewarded with panoramic views that overlook the entire west side of the island from Waikiki to Koko Head. On a really clear day you can see the island of Molokai in the distance.
Other abandoned bunk houses a light house and a the leeward coast of Oahu are other views you will be treated to once at the crater rim.
You can understand why the military used this as a viewpoint to watch over the leeward side of the island. We couldn’t imagine anyone coming back from this hike and saying it wasn’t worth it.
Tips For Hiking Diamond Head
- Appropriate footwear, running shoe, hiking shoe or other sturdy shoe. We wore our closed toe Keen sandals.
- A flashlight comes in handy for some of the dark tunnels you have to go through. We didn’t have one with us, but there were enough other people to follow.
- There is no shade on the trail, to to avoid the heat and crowds start out by 7am. Or go later in the afternoon.
- Week days may be less busy.
- Bring a bottle of water for each person, and perhaps a snack, sunscreen, hat, and don’t forget your camera!
- The only washrooms are at the bottom.
- Allow at least 2 hours to enjoy the experience.
Walk – It is possible to walk to the Diamond Head trail from Waikiki Beach area. It can take an hour or more depending on where you are starting from. We walked all the way from the far end of Waikiki Beach near the Hilton hotel. It was quite a distance, but it was enjoyable. You can take your time walking through the beach area. You will walk past some residential areas on the way. We found it interesting to see the locals homes.
Head east on Kalakaua to Honolulu Zoo at the intersection with Monsarrat. Turn left onto Monsarrat and proceed for just over a mile until the road becomes Diamond Head Road. Follow this road for another quarter mile to the access road to the crater.
Bus – There are several buses from Waikiki to Diamond Head. The cost is $2.50 per person each way. Some of the buses that stop at Diamond Head along their route are #22, 23 and 24. Get off when you reach the Diamond Head monument bus stop. Then walk past the monument and on the other side of the parking the trail starts.
Taxi – A taxi from most areas of Waikiki Beach will run around $12 one way to the Diamond Head Crater. The taxi can drive you right into the parking area in the crater. From there it is just a short walk to the trail head.
Drive – Head east on Kalakaua until you get to the Honolulu Zoo. Take a left turn onto Monsarrat Avenue and continue for just over a mile until the road turns into Diamond Head Road. Another quarter mile and you will come across a tunnel with an entrance into the crater.
Tour – If you want someone to point out different plant and animals species you may see along the hike or talk about the history of Diamond Head and Oahu there are group tours available.
Cost And Hours
Entrance to the crater park is $1 to walk in or $5 per car. The park hours are 6am to 6pm everyday, the trail entrance closes at 4:30pm.