Hike The Diamond Head Trail
Diamond Head is one of Oahu’s most recognizable landmarks—a 760-foot tall volcanic cone poised on the eastern edge of Honolulu. Thousands of people hike Diamond Head to experience the unforgettable view at the top of the crater’s summit.
Why Diamond Head?
Diamond Head got its English name in the 1800s, when British sailors mistook glitter stones in the crater for diamonds.
The Hawaiians call Diamond Head Le-ahi, or “ahi forehead” for the way the crater resembles the forehead of an ahi tuna. Ancient Hawaiians lit navigation fires on the summit to guide canoes, and built a heiau, or temple, to the god of wind to protect the fires from strong updrafts that could extinguish them.
The crater itself dates back 300,000 years, to a time when O’ahu was still volcanically active. A massive single eruption hurled ash and rock into the air. When the debris fell back to earth it cemented into a type of volcanic rock called tuff and created the crater.
Hike Diamond Head
We can hike Diamond Head thanks to the U.S. army, which created the trail to the summit in 1908. At the time, the crater was part of the Fort Ruger Military base, and artillery, cement bunkers, and an observation deck were built on the summit.
Today, Diamond Head is a state national park. the trail is a moderately strenuous hike switchbacking up the inside of the crater until it reaches a 200-foot-long tunnel leading to a lookout on the summit. There you can enjoy 360-degree views of Honolulu, the Ko’olau Mountains, and the eastern side of the island all the way up to Koko Head Crater.
Advice for Hiking Diamond Head
- Out-of-state visitors must have an advanced reservation to enter Diamond Head State Monument. Visit the Division of State Parks website to make a reservation.
- The hike ascends 560-feet to the summit and is considered moderately strenuous. Most people in reasonable health can make the trip.
- The park is open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The trial entrance closes at 4:30 p.m., and visitors much be out of the park by 6:00 p.m.
- Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and a water bottle.
- Hike Diamond Head in the morning if you don’t want to be out in the sun too much. The trail gets hot in the afternoon and there’s little available shade.
- The summit isn’t the end of the trail, although most people stop there. You can hike down the side of the crater to Diamond Head Beach
- Wear running or hiking shoes and leave your slippahs for the beach.
- Watch your footing—it’s a dirt trail with loose gravel and occasional potholes.
- Remember Diamond Head trail is not ADA-compliant.
Admission to the park is $5.00* per person (free for Hawaii residents). Out-of-state visitors must have an advanced reservation to enter Diamond Head State Monument.
*Subject to change; parking fees apply
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How to Get to Diamond Head
If you don’t mind adding an hour to your hike, you can walk to the park entrance from Waikiki, or you can hop on the Waikiki Trolley, which visits many of Honolulu’s most popular destinations.
If you’re driving, take Kalakaua Boulevard through Kapiolani Park. The Boulevard turns into Poni Moi Road, after which you’ll turn right on Diamond Head Road. Stay in the left lane to stay on Diamond Head Road when it merges with Kahala Avenue.
After you pass 18th Avenue on your right, take the next left towards the crater. The road will go through a tunnel taking you to the center of the crater, where you’ll find restrooms, lunch trucks, picnic areas, and water fountains.