Diamond Head hike – a must do experience in Honolulu
When you visit Honolulu, one of the must visit sites to start off your vacation to Oahu is going up to Diamond Head crater and check out the amazing views from the top. This iconic cinder cone with a crater on the edge of Waikiki always seems to be on everyone’s photo capture of the Waikiki skyline and is a fantastic experience to see Honolulu from above. Check out why this Diamond Head hike should be on the top of your list in visiting Honolulu soon.
Visiting Diamond Head State Monument
The state park entrance is open seven days a week and with parking available at $5 per car and entry to hike the trails at $1 per person. You pay at the gate entrance and drive directly to park entrance or park if you are driving. There is a visitor center with souvenir stand, restrooms and even a food truck for cool drinks and fresh pineapples that you can visit and relax before you begin your Diamond Head hike.
How to get to Diamond Head Crater
There are a few key ways to get to Diamond Head and the main entrance area which is on the northeast end of the park entrance. Here’s the main options on easily getting to the park and doing the Diamond Head hike.
- Take an Uber – easy access on your phone app to book a trip to Diamond Head, it’s hassle free to book directly with Uber. The difficulty tends to be the return trip and price increases due to less availability when you are waiting for a return trip.
2. Go by bus – taking the bus to and from Diamond Head is definitely the affordable option at $2.75 per direction. You just need to check the schedules on when the bus goes in either direction to the bus stop right at the entrance to the park grounds.
3. Drive yourself – if you have access to a car then driving to the park is fast and easy and parking per car is only $5 for the whole day.
4. Walk to the entrance – A very long walk from Waikiki, it is doable but definitely takes a bit of time and you have a lot of walking to do right from the start of the park entrance
5. Take the cable car buses – these regular trolley buses plying through the Honolulu and Waikiki areas stop directly at the park entrance. You can book a day pass directly with the Waikiki trolley lines for trips to most attractions in the Honolulu area.
Start of hike up Diamond Head Crater
There is a trail head marker past the restrooms that shares the history of Diamond Head and how it was used in the past to present day. The trails are paved and easy from the start and then change into gravel and sand when the trail starts uphill. It gets narrow at this point and traffic does get busy for both uphill and downhill climbers.
The average time to do the hike is about two hours round trip, more if you take more time for pictures and time frame that you are busy. The best time to visit is earlier in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds and excessive heat going to the top.
Look out points at Diamond Head
Along the way to the top are many lookout points to the crater floor and views to the east side and coastal views. At the the mid point, you’ll hit your first set up stairs which then leads to a long dark tunnel and eventually a circular staircase that is a real work out so take your time. Those that are physically challenged should take plenty of rests with benches located throughout the trail areas.
Tip – if you don’t want to enter the tunnel and circular climb, you have an option to do the route from the left side to nice views and a slower climb to the top without doing the circular stair case.
Entering the long dark tunnel at Diamond Head below
After the tunnel area, you enter another climb with a circular stair case to the top. (You can choose to go on the left side option after the first stairs if you choose not to go up the circular stairs). Take your time going up the stairs because it is used for climbing and also descending.
Reaching the top of Diamond Head Crater
After you pass through the staircase you finally get to the opening with nice views of the areas below, but there is another short staircase with a viewing platform that is very busy so can your time enjoying the views and doing your selfies of gorgeous Waikiki and Honolulu.
Check out this video of Diamond Head for inspiration to visiting below.
Descending Diamond Head
You have an option of climbing back down the circular staircase but the best route back is to take the slow declining route on the left side with nice views of the east side coatline, beaches and the ritzy areas of Diamond Head, Lanikai, Portlock and Kahala.
Check out this beautiful light house below
The trails connects back to the main trail and stairs down to the crater floor and in no time you get back to the restrooms and visitor center.
Tips on visiting Diamond Head Crater
- Bring plenty of water or you can purchase at the vending machines when you enter the park.
- It is very hot and busy mid day so if you want to avoid both go early or later in the morning
- You can take various transportation modes and the cheapest is the bus coming from Waikiki and costs $2.75 one way
- Wear good shoes, the climb is over 560 feet over mixed terrain
- Bring sunscreen, the sun is harsh mid morning to later afternoon
- Diamond Head is not ADA compliant and a challenge for non active visitors
- There are no bathrooms at the top of the lookout areas.
Love photography – check out these tours
If you love to capture some of the best photographs of Honolulu and Oahu consider some of these cool tours to take.
Check out these other posts on visiting Oahu
Visit the Hawaii Kai district in Eastern Oahu
Road trip to Haleiwa town in the North Shore
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