Diamond Head Crater on Oahu
May 27, 2022
| by
Christy Davies

Oahu Things to do: Guide to Hiking Diamond Head – Updated 2022

Diamond Head Crater is perhaps the most iconic landmark related to the island of Oahu. Hiking to the top of this amazing natural wonder is one of the most popular things to do on Oahu. This article, ‘Guide to Hiking Diamond Head’ will provide you with tips and updates to help make the most of this exciting activity.

One of the most popular things to do on Oahu is to hike Diamond Head to enjoy unobstructed views of the beautiful ocean, Waikiki, Honolulu, Waikiki Beach and other parts of Oahu.  The views at sunrise and sunset are particularly breathtaking.

The following Oahu Travel Blog article, a ‘Guide to Hiking Diamond Head - 2022’ will help you make the most of enjoying this amazing Oahu landmark.

Please make note of this update from the Official Diamond Head State Park Website:

DIAMOND HEAD STATE MONUMENT - As of May 12th, 2022, all out-of-state visitors must have an advanced reservation to enter Diamond Head State Monument. The reservation system will activate on April 28th, 2022, allowing for reservations to be made 14 days in advance. Hawaii residents continue to enjoy free access without reservations, but entry may depend on parking availability. Commercial tour and trolley patrons must have a reservation. Registered PUC carriers will have access to a PUC-only reservation portal.

Questions, Answers and Facts about Hiking Diamond Head Crater:

About Diamond Head Crater Hike: Diamond Head Visitor Center is operated in partnership with the State Park Division and the Pacific Historic Parks.  The Visitor Center is open each day of the year from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. The office for Diamond Head State Park is situated within the Diamond Head Crater at the start of the hiking trail. Visit the Official Website for the latest news and updates.

Phone: 808-954-8759 or Toll Free: 1-866-332-1941

Views of Waikiki from Diamond Head
Spectacular views of Waikiki and Honolulu from the top of Diamond Head Crater.

Location: Diamond Head Crater is located off Diamond Head Rd. between Makapu'u and 18th Avenue on the south shore of Oahu.

Why hike Diamond Head? Diamond Head, or as it is also known, Diamond Head Crater is called, ‘Le’ahi’ in Hawaiian, meaning “Brow (lea) of the Yellowfin Tuna (ahi).”  In the late 1700s British seamen gave the English name because of the sparkling calcite crystals that shine in the sun – they thought they had found a large collection of diamonds.

The shape of the crater is formed by a series of explosive eruptions that took place over 150,000 years ago.

Tours: Official tours are available, official State of Hawaii Diamond Head Tours, in English and Japanese. You need reservations for these tours which can be made on this Website - or by calling 1-866-332-1491.

How much does it cost to Hike Diamond Head? If you drive into the park, the fee for Non-Commercial Vehicles is $10 per vehicle, and no charge for Hawaii resident vehicles with ID. The fee for Commercial Vehicles is $25.00 per vehicle with 1 – 7 passengers, $50 for vehicles with 8 – 25 passengers and $90 for 26+ passenger vehicles. If you walk into the park, the cost for Hawaii residents is free with ID. For non-residents the fee is $5 per person and only Credit Cards are accepted. Children under 3 years of age are free.

Can you walk to Diamond Head Park from Waikiki? Yes, of course. For example, you can walk from Duke’s Restaurant in Waikiki to the entrance to the tunnel at Diamond Head, through the tunnel to the trailhead & up Diamond Head. You are adding an additional 2 1/2 or more miles each way to your hike. So, this option makes a 1.4-mile hike into a 6.4-mile hike, still very doable and you will see some interesting sights along the way.

Hiking ‘around’ Diamond Head Crater: Of course, hiking to the top of Diamond Head is the best goal, but once you have conquered the hike to the top, perhaps consider a hike around the base of Diamond Head, through the residential area and then along the beautiful Diamond Head Drive for amazing views of the surf, surfers and others enjoying the view. This hike takes you around the base of Diamond Head and back to Waikiki.

Park Facilities: The only restroom is located at the beginning of the trail in the parking lot. There is no visitor center, only a stand where you will pay and pick up a brochure.

What to bring and wear for your Hike up Diamond Head? Be sure the bring at least one bottle of water per person. There is no water available to purchase once you are in the park. Be sure to wear a hat and sunblock. Of course, bring your camera or binoculars.

How long does it take to get to the top? About 30 minutes depending on your fitness and if you stop along the way. Some people take longer because they stop. If the trail is crowded (like during the high season) that can slow, you down too. There are steep sections, including the stairs, which can be dark, so pace yourself.

About the hike: From the parking lot on the floor of the crater, the trail to the summit is 0.8-mile one way and ascends 560 feet in elevation. At the beginning of the trial there is a paved concrete walkway for a distance of 0.2 miles, but then the trail becomes uneven and steep, requiring caution and good hiking footwear. There are seating areas and benches to take a break if you need. Depending on your level of fitness you can walk the trail, and some even run up the trail. There are 2 tunnels you will walk through to get to the top of Diamond Head, which is why it is recommended that you bring a flashlight. There are lights in the tunnels, but a flashlight is a good back up.

You start your ascent from the bottom of this 761-foot crater. The pathway is a bit steep, so wear good tennis shoes or hiking boots. You will then need to climb exactly 99 stairs. You will then pass through the second tunnel and then you are at the lower level of the top of Diamond Head.

There are a few levels to climb to the very top. Once you reach the first level, a few more stairs won't matter. You will see a spectacular 360-degree view of Oahu. 

If you are visiting during Whale Season (November – March) you may be lucky enough to see Whales swimming along the coastline – look for the blasts of water and even Whales breaching the water’s surface.

Once you are at the top of Diamond Head trail, you will see the World War I and II pillboxes and former gun emplacements that were used during the wars.

This is where you will experience amazing views of Oahu, the beaches below, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu and the lush mountains behind Diamond Head. This is a great place to have binoculars if you have them and, of course, a camera or your phone for the ultimate view of the coast and Waikiki below.

Some articles indicate that the hike can take up to 2 hours, but if you are limited on your time, you can complete the hike and have a good time a little over an hour easily. 

There are many things to do on Oahu, but when you are looking for some of the best views of Waikiki, Waikiki Beach and the surrounding area, refer to this article, ‘Guide to Hiking Diamond Head - Updated 2022’ and make the most of this fun activity.

As always, if you have any questions about the information included in this article or any questions about what to do and see while visiting Oahu, please feel free to ask our Concierge for more information or additional suggestions. 

Visit our Oahu Visitors Guide for more recommendations for all there is to do, see and experience when visiting Oahu.

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