The hike to Diamond Head is a must-do if you’re visiting Oahu. While it may look like a tough, long hike from afar, it really only takes about an hour to get to the top, rewarding you with 360-degree views of Honolulu and the surrounding area. So, basically, this is totally worth it. It’s one of the iconic landmarks on Oahu, like Waikiki Beach.
The trail starts on the west side of the crater and kicks off with a set of dirt switchbacks. It can be kind of potholey with loose gravel, so keep an eye out for that. At the end of the switchbacks, you’ll get to the first overlook, a good place to take a break and enjoy the view.
Next up is the stairs, 99 stairs to be exact. They’re in a tunnel, that’s not very big, so it gets cozy with people going up and down at the same time. I think I made it up without any issues, as a spritely 15-year-old. I’m sure now I would be huffing and puffing because I hate stairs, though I would still do it.
At the top of the stairs, you’ll come out of the bunker thing. This used to be used by the US Army as part of the Fort Ruger military base, hence the stairs and bunker.
Once you’re out of the bunker, you’ve pretty much made it! You can hang out at the top and admire the even better views over Waikiki Beach and the crater you just climbed up. It can be busy up here since pretty much everyone that visits Honolulu does this, so be prepared to know you probably won’t have it to yourself.
Of course, not everyone is here for the views, locals will come here to run up and down the trail for a little workout. Don’t feel bad if you get passed by runners. They probably do it all the time. This is also where you can, apparently, find the record for the longest recorded land views in the world. Who knew?
How to get to Diamond Head from Waikiki:
First, you’ll drive through Kapiolani Park (at the end of Waikiki) towards Diamond Head on Kalakaua Boulevard, which turns into Poni Moi Road. Then you’ll turn Right onto Diamond Head Road and follow it around the crater. To stay on Diamond Head Road, merge left when the road intersects with Kahala Avenue. After you pass 18th Avenue on the right side, turn left towards the Diamond Head Crater. There is no street name, but there is a big sign for Diamond Head State Monument. Follow this road through a tunnel to the center of the Diamond Head Crater.
Take bus 23 from Waikiki to Kuhio Avenue towards Diamond Head. You’ll just want to get off at the Diamond Head State Monument stop. You can let your driver know where you need to get off and they can let you know when you get there.
Tips for hiking to Diamond Head:
- There is a $5 parking fee for each vehicle, and possibly $1 per person in the car as well.
- The park is open from 6AM to 6PM every day, but the trail closes at 4:30PM, so make sure you get there before that.
- As always, wear sunscreen. The sun is intense in Hawaii.
- Wear good walking shoes. You should need anything super tough, I’m sure Chacos and tennis shoes are fine.
- You can find food, water, bathrooms, and picnic areas at the base of the crater.
- If you really want, you could walk here from Waikiki. It will just add a couple of hours to your hike.
Have you been to Waikiki? Did you hike Diamond Head? What was your favorite thing there?