The Diamond Head hike in Oahu, Hawaii offers some of the best views of Honolulu along with a chance to check out an incredible ancient crater!
It was my first day in Hawaii. I’d arrived in Honolulu the night before after a 20+ hour journey from the UK. I was lapping up the winter sun while wandering around in a haze of jet lag. I was dying to explore but my body was pretty wiped out. With hindsight, I probably wasn’t in the best state for a long hike… but let’s forget that part!
One of my new travel buddies had asked a few locals for tips on where to go, and Diamond Head had been mentioned several times. From our current location overlooking the white sands of Waikiki Beach, we were told we could walk to the trailhead.
So off we went. Around 45 minutes later we still hadn’t reached the start of the trail, but we’d had a good chat, taken in some lovely views of the beach, surrounding mountains and stunning banyan trees…
Eventually we made it to the trail entrance via a tunnel, and looking around, realised we were right in the middle of the crater. It was pretty incredible! Steep grass-covered mountains surrounded us and we knew that although we’d been walking for well over an hour, the real hike was only just beginning.
What is Diamond Head?
The saucer-shaped crater was formed round 300,000 years ago. In the 1800’s, British sailors saw the glittering stones towards the top of the crater, and soon enough it had the name Diamond Head.
The US Army built the trail at the start of the 20th Century, and as you head up to the summit you’ll catch a glimpse of its military history.
With panoramic views from Koko Head to Wai‘anae, the summit of Diamond Head was an ideal site for the coastal defence of Oahu. Batteries were built to house the coastal artillery and guns were placed ready to defend.
The trail is under a mile in length but is strenuous for many due to the steep gradient – in fact you’ll hike to a height of 560 ft to reach the summit.
What’s It Like To Hike To Diamond Head
The Diamond Head Trail is an interesting one. At the start it’s not too steep, and the ground is easy to walk on.
Gradually it becomes not only steeper, but also the ground rougher with lots of loose stones. It’s also slippery in places.
There are a few sections with incredibly steep stairs, one of which is very narrow.
There’s a wonderful lookout around half way, with a couple of viewpoints that lean right out over the incredible terrain.
There’s a tunnel, which has no lighting! It was pitch black and eerie but we used our phone torches to guide the way.
There’s also a spiral staircase through the old Fire House.
Finally, to reach the summit there is another set of narrow stairs then you clamber out through a gap in the bunker to an open path with incredible sea views.
From there you can reach the highest point by taking one more set of stairs for the best panoramic views of Honolulu.
I found the hike tiring as it was pretty warm and the terrain was steep. Once at the top, the weather changed and we had a patch of rain which made the path slippery for our descent.
Tips For Hiking Diamond Head
Bring plenty of water, a few snacks and pack sunscreen.
Dress in light, athletic clothing and be sure to wear closed toe shoes or trainers. You could probably manage in sandals but they’re not ideal! A hat may be handy if the sun is out.
Don’t attempt the hike with small children! We saw a few people with prams or carrying small kids. I’d just wait until they’re a bit older or it won’t be fun for any of you.
Take it at your own pace. It’s not a race and the gradient is challenging, even for the fittest of people.
Take lots of photos! The views really are stunning.
Diamond Head Times And Prices (2017)
The trail opens at 6am and closes at 6pm. Last entry is at 4.30pm.
Entry costs $1 per person for pedestrians or you can take a car for $5. They only accept cash.
Allow approximately one hour to get to the summit.
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