Beautiful beach on Oahu with Diamond Head crater in the background
April 25, 2019
| by
Maria Mancuso

Oahu Things to do: Guide to Hiking Diamond Head

A hike up to the top of Diamond Head Crater rewards you with the best views of the Oahu coastline, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu and the surrounding area, this article, ‘Guide to Hiking Diamond Head’ will help you make the most of this fun activity.

Diamond Head is the most iconic landmark on Oahu.  The beautiful, former volcano is seen in the background, dotting the skyline of almost every high-profile photo of Waikiki Beach.

One of the most popular Oahu Things to do 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.

Waikiki Beach on Oahu
From the top position of the hike, you will experience amazing views of Oahu, the beaches below, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu and the lush mountains behind Diamond Head.

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

Questions, Answers and Facts about Hiking Diamond Head:

About: Diamond Head Visitor Center is operated in partnership with the State Park Division and the Pacific Historic Parks.  The Visitor Center is open 365 days a year from 7:00 a.m. to3:30 p.m. and the office is situated within the Diamond Head Crater at the start of the hiking trail.

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

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

Why 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.

Aerial view of Diamond Head Crater on Oahu
The shape of the crater is formed by a series of explosive eruptions that took place over 150,000 years ago.

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 at: www.PacificHistoricParks.org, or email at: Tours@PacificHistoricParks.org or call: 1-866-332-1491.

How much does it cost to Hike Diamond Head? If you drive into the park, the fee is $5.00 per carload of people. If you walk in to the park, the cost is only $1.00 per person. You can take The Bus from Honolulu to Diamond Head Crater for $2.50 per person each way but you'll have to hike into the crater and pay the $1.00 entrance fee.  

Can you walk to Diamond Head from Waikiki? Yes, of course. You can walk from Duke’s Restaurant in Waikiki to the entrance to the tunnel, 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.

What to bring and wear for our 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 in the high season) that can slow you down too. There are steep sections, including the stairs, which can be dark, so pace yourself.

How high is 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.

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.

Trail leading to Diamond Head Crater on Oahu
The hike up Diamond Head is well maintained. The trail up is not too difficult. There are handrails and steps along the entire 1.4-mile roundtrip hike.

The Hike: The hike up Diamond Head is well maintained. The trail up is not too difficult. There are handrails and steps along the entire 1.4-mile roundtrip hike. 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. This is a great place to have binoculars and, of course, a camera.

Once you are at the top, you will see the World War I and II pillboxes and 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.

You may read that it will take up to 2 hours to complete the hike. 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’ and make the most of this fun activity.

Be sure to visit our Oahu Visitors Blog and Oahu Visitors Guide for more articles about things to do, see and experience during your next visit to the island.

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