Honolulu skyline from diamond head crater hawaii

Oahu’s Most Famous Hike: The Diamond Head Crater Hike

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The Diamond Head Crater Hike 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 Waikiki, Honolulu, and the surrounding area.  So, basically, this is totally worth it.  It’s one of the iconic hikes on Oahu.

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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.

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Next up is the stairs, 99 of them 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.

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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 Diamond Head crater you just climbed up to.  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?

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What to bring on your Diamond Head Crater hike:

Hat – You’ll want to bring a hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.  I like baseball style hats, but sun hats would be great, too.

Sunglasses – I just like cheap Target sunglasses but if you’re looking for good high-end sunglasses, the Ray-Ban Chromance glasses are so good!

Sunscreen – You’ll want a reef safe sunscreen since you are in Hawaii after all.  While you might not be in the water for this, you probably will be later.

Water – You know I love my Hydro Flask.  It will keep your water icy cold during this hot hike.  Just make sure you actually drink it.

Good walking shoesI don’t think hiking boots are necessary and that something like Chacos would be fine.  If you want actual hiking boots, I love my Forsake Patch boots.  But if you just have tennis shoes, those work, too.  I just wore tennis shoes when we went.

Snacks – While it isn’t a terribly long hike, snacks are always good to have on hand.  I love these EPIC Venison bars.  Like, I eat them all the time.  The maple bacon ones are also delicious.  I’m also a big fan of the Sahale nut mix things.

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How to get to the Diamond Head Crater hike from Waikiki:

Driving

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.

By Bus

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.

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Tips for the Diamond Head Crater hike:

  • 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 to the Diamond Head crater?  What was your favorite thing to do there?

11 thoughts on “Oahu’s Most Famous Hike: The Diamond Head Crater Hike

    1. well, if you’re a nature fan, I’d say you may disagree with that statement. the Big Island has so much more to see. but any island in Hawaii is beautiful and unique after all.

      1. I want to see the Big Island, Maui, and Kaui (I’m not sure how to spell that) to do a lot of hiking!

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