Oahu’s Diamond Head trail is one of the most popular trails nearby Honolulu in Hawaii. It is generally considered a moderate trail and can get quite busy at times but offers breathtaking views of Waikiki and the surrounding region. Hawaii has many stunning trails that unlock the forests and other-worldly volcanic landscapes of the islands, suitable for all age groups and abilities.
Diamond Head (or Lē‘ahi), is one of Hawaii's most recognized landmarks and is situated prominently near the eastern edge of the Waikiki coastline. It is a volcanic tuff cone and is believed to be between 300,000 and 500,000 years old. Waikiki is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Hawaii and is famous, among other things, for superb parasailing.
Hiking Oahu’s Famed Diamond Head Trail
The Diamond Head trail is an out-and-back trail and takes around an hour to complete. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful throughout the year. The trail extends around 0.8 one way up the crater and gains 560 feet from the crater floor. Expect many switchbacks traversing the steep slope going up the crater's walls.
- Distance: 2.9 km or 1.8 miles (Out and Back)
- Time To Complete: Approx. One Hour
- Pets: Not Permitted (Except Service Animals)
- Accessible: It Is Not Wheelchair Accessible
It takes around one hour to hike the trail, but visitors should allow 1.5 to 2 hours to complete the hike.
While the trail is short, it is also steep, so visitors are recommended to wear good walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and bring water along.
Planning One's Hike Of Diamond Head
There are a number of regulations to keep in mind - no pets are allowed on the trail, and the trail has a strict opening and closing hours (the gates are locked after a certain time). The opening hours for the trail are from 6.00 am to 4.00 pm (last entry) - all visitors must be out of the park by 6.00 pm when the gates are locked.
- Opening Hours: 6.00 am to 4.00 pm (Gates Locked At 6.00 pm
- Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
- Entrance: Parking Lot Between Makapuu Avenue and 18th Avenue
- Per Person: $5.00 (Non-Hawaii Residents)
- Per Vehicle: $10.00 (Non-Hawaii Residents)
Note that as of the time of writing (August 2022), reservations are required.
The Diamond Head State Monument - An Icon Of Hawaii
The trail is in the Diamond Head State Monument, which spans over 475 acres of this remarkable volcanic tuff. It includes both the interior and the outer slopes of the crater. The crater was from hundreds of thousands of years ago in a single explosive eruption.
- Size: 475 Acres
Diamond Head gets its name from the calcite crystals in the tuff cone exterior that sparkle like diamonds. The Native Hawaiian name, Lē‘ahi, means "brow of the ahi" or yellowfin tuna (as they thought the ridge line resembled a tuna's dorsal fin).
It is possible to take a self-guided audio tour of Diamond Head, focusing on its geography, culture, history, flora, and fauna. The Division of State Parks also provides an interpretive kiosk with visitor services and house exhibits about the crater. Diamond Head-themed merchandise is also available for purchase.
Diamond Head Has A Rich Military History
The trail up to the summit of Diamond Head or Lē‘ahi was first built by the military as part of the island's coastal defense system in 1908. See how Diamond Head was an important part of the defense of the islands over 100 years ago.
As one hikes the trail, one will be amazed not only by the geological history and beauty of the crater but also by its military history. See the station that directed artillery fire from batteries in Waikiki and Fort Ruger a short distance away.
- A 225-Foot Tunnel
- Fire Control Station
- A Huge Navigational Lighthouse
The trail also leads up some steep stairs and even through a lighted 225-foot tunnel (to enter the Fire Control Station built in 1911).
- Built: In 1908 For Coastal Defense
Go in the winter, and one may even be able to see passing humpback whales swimming and frolicking offshore. Hikers should be prepared for crowds, but the stunning beauty and historical significance of Diamond Head undoubtedly make it worth it.