How to Hike Diamond Head, Oahu

Looks can be deceiving with the Diamond Head hike but the views from the top of Waikiki, surrounding beaches and the crater itself are well worth the effort. When I was doing my research into how to hike Diamond Head, I couldn't find much information on the topic, or much information that helped me I should say. If I wasn't a savvy traveller I would have struggled doing it on my own. I wanted to share my experience so you can learn how to hike Diamond Head without having to pay for an organised tour.

About Diamond Head

  • Diamond Head Crater is the remains of an extinct volcano.
  • The highest point of the hike is 760 feet.
  • If it is a clear day sometimes you can even see the neighbouring islands of Lanai and Molokai.
  • Diamond Head's Hawaiian name is Le'ahi.
  • After the Pearl Harbour attacks, the military used it as lookout installing pillboxes and foxholes to prevent Hawaii from future attacks.

Getting There

This is the thing I struggled with most but after negotiating Hawaii's bus system and asking a few strangers I figured it out in the end. Now, you have a few options:

The Bus

  • I caught bus number 2 which left from one of the main streets Kuhio Avenue.
  • You could also catch bus 22 or 23 which will also take you there.
  • The fare was only $2.50 each way which is a bargain!
  • You need to get off at the Community College stop which is the turn around point. Once you are off, walk from here through a tunnel in the side of the crater to get inside the crater where the hike begins.

The Waikiki Trolley

  • You can also pay for the Waikiki Trolley which is like a hop-on hop-off bus to take you up there but unless you have a pass, it is not really worth the money for the one route. Much cheaper to catch the bus!
  • The Green Line (Diamond Head) departs from the Duke Kahanamoku Statue amongst other major stops.
  • Depart every 35 minutes.
  • A one day pass for one line is $25.00 per adult.

By Car

  • This is probably the easiest option if you have a hire car at the time.
  • An easy 10 minute drive from Waikiki.
  • Drive through Kapiolani Park (located at the end of Waikiki) headed towards Diamond Head on Kalakaua Boulevard.
  • This road turns into Poni Moi Road.
  • Turn Right onto Diamond Head Road and follow this road around the crater.
  • After you pass 18th Ave, take the next left towards the Diamond Head Crater.
  • Follow this road up through a tunnel that leads to the center of the Diamond Head Crater where the hike begins.

Opening Hours and Fees

  • The trail is open from 6:00am until 6:00pm but they stop people commencing the trail after 4:30pm.
  • $5 per car and $1 per visitor.
  • The fees are very minimal, so worth doing it yourself rather than as part of a tour.

Diamond Head Trail

  • The trail itself is no more than 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) but it is a steep 2.5kms.
  • Beware of the stairs! There are almost 200 steps in total.
  • Be prepared for a steep uphill tunnel which is almost black. If you are claustrophobic, this is not the hike for you. Even I felt a little stuffy with so many people in the tunnel.
  • The view is well worth the struggle, I promise! You can see Waikiki Beach and all of the hotels, the Diamond Head lighthouse and surrounding beaches and look back on the Diamond Head Crater itself.

Tips

  • Wear sunscreen and a hat, it can get sweltering climbing the crater with the hot, dry climate of this area.
  • Try to go early in the morning when there are no tourist buses there. We went at around 9/10 and were swamped by tourists who were not serious hikers.
  • Be sure to wear appropriate runners or other closed footwear as the trail has loose gravel, uneven footing and lots of stairs.
  • Once you get back down to the base of the crater, reward yourself with a shave ice or hotdog from the food truck there.

Have you had your own experience hiking Diamond Head? Or are there other hikes you prefer on Oahu? Comment below! I would love to here your suggestions for next time I am in Hawaii.

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Sally Cochrane

Sally is a Brisvegas (Brisbane, Australia) born travel blogger and founder of Travel Blog Squad, an online community for travel bloggers. Among many other experiences, she has skied down the Austrian Alps on Christmas day, gone for a ride in an army tank through the mud in Slovakia, woken up before dawn to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat and attended university in Mexico. Hola! Her non-travel-related interests include tea (of any and every kind), TED Talks and running at her local Parkrun.