Diamond head is probably the most popular landmark in Hawaii and perhaps just as famous as Pearl Harbor, if not more. This extinct seaside volcano is easily seen from Waikiki beach, the most popular in the island, and has always appeared in all the beach’s postcards and pictures.
Known in Polynesian as Le’ahi, Diamond Head last erupted about 150,000 years ago and is thus safe to hike, and perhaps, almost mandatory.
Luckily, walking to Diamond Head from Waikiki is fun, and fairly easy. Diamond Head hike hours are pretty broad, allowing for visits from early morning to late afternoon.
Plus…it’s almost free! How many world famous attractions do you know of that are free?
It is safe, family friendly, and offers a unique overview of this part of the island above water, unlike so many of the underwater activities there are to enjoy too.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How difficult is the Diamond Head hike?
Both routes are fairly moderate, with some steep climbs up the stairs near the end. Anyone of average health and fitness should have no problem reaching the top, though bring more water than you think you’ll need.
How much does it cost to hike Diamond Head?
If you’re visiting Diamond head on foot, you’ll only need to pay the $1 park contribution to enter. If you’ve got a vehicle to park, however, you’ll need to fork over $10.
How long does Diamond Head hike take?
From the main northern entrance, it’s around 30 minutes to the peak, and 30 back at a reasonable pace for the entire Diamond Head crater walk.
How long does it take to walk from Waikiki to Diamond Head?
Expect to spend up to four to five hours getting to the peak and back at a slow pace, while enjoying the views. We took our time and were done after around five hours, though anyone in good shape could definitely do the hike in as little as two hours.
So how long does Diamond Head hike take? Basically as long as you want it to.
How far is Diamond Head from Waikiki? How much would I walk?
Expect to spend around an hour walking from Waikiki to Diamond Head, excluding sightseeing stops mentioned above.
From Ainahau Triangle it’s around 3 miles to Diamond Head. The walk itself is mostly flat.
So in terms of hiking in Waikiki, this one is easy and accessible.
What is the best time to visit Diamond Head?
Diamond Head can be climbed throughout the year, though the unpredictable weather between July and December can unexpectedly put a dampener on any hike at the drop of a hat.
Whatever time of year you come you come, try to show up as close to the 6am opening time as possible. By mid-morning the trail can get pretty packed, especially during peak season.
The best time to Hike Diamond head is early morning.
So, the best time to Hike Diamond head is early morning. Take note the Diamond Head hours are from 6am to 6pm, with the last hikers being admitted at 4.30pm. Coming late is a good option for anyone interested in a Diamond Head sunset hike.
Take note the Diamond Head hours are from 6am to 6pm, with the last hikers being admitted at 4.30pm.
Coming late is a good option for anyone interested in a Diamond Head sunset hike.
Can you hike Diamond Head Waikiki in flip flops?
In the Hawaiian heat, flip flops might seem like a great idea for keeping fresh on the hike.
Diamond Head, however, does include some notable inclines, not to mention more than enough steep steps to guarantee that sooner or later, somebody is going to stub their toe, trip or lose a flip flop.
With exception of actual hiking sandals, you’re best sticking with closed-in shoes such as a decent pair of well-worn sneakers during the hike to Diamond Head.
In other words, you should definitely walk Diamond Head in sneakers or hiking boots.
What is the exact address of Diamond Head?
The park is located at Diamond Head State Monument, Honolulu, HI 96815, United States. For taxi drivers, the name should be enough.
Can you see Diamond Head from Waikiki Beach?
As a major landmark just 3 miles from Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head can easily be seen from the beach.
Likewise, from Diamond Head you have some commanding views of Honolulu.
Waikiki to Diamond Head Routes
There are two possible routes to Diamond Head from Waikiki. Either route can be made into a half day trip, combining the Diamond Head hike from Waikiki with a visit to the zoo or aquarium.
The shorter, more popular route which takes you along the inland side of Diamond Head, and a longer, but definitely more appealing route along the ocean, which is the one we took.
Very few people take this latter route, but we are very happy we did. The well paved road meanders comfortably up the slopes of the hill reaching the base of the crater, time at which a short tunnel will lead you into the park.
Diamond Head Hike Directions
Contrary to what we thought- and most people think- the trail that leads to the top of Diamond Head is not on the side that faces Honolulu, but on the back.
We learned this as we were getting closer to it when walking from Waikiki Beach while passing all sorts of Oahu beach rentals and hotels, and despite the heat decided to continue on our own and enjoy the nice walk.
Waikiki Beach to the Aquarium
Whichever route you take, the first half of the Diamond Head walk will be the same. The Fort Derussy Beach Park is as good a place as any to start your walk.
Take note of the Hawaii Army Museum Society, which is located in the park itself. Assuming you’re starting out early, you’re better off hitting up the museum on the return trip if possible.
It’s definitely worth it for the preserved beach-side artillery pieces, along with other WWII relics stored in the museum – especially given that entry is free.
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Honolulu is not a big city, but you'll be better off if you stay somewhere close to Waikiki Beach
From the park, walk down to the pier just off the Fort Derussy Boardwalk, and begin following the beach southwards.
You should be on the Halekulani Boardwalk, following it as it winds along the beachfront past Waikiki Beach-proper. If you’ve gotten that much-desired early start, then you’ll probably be enjoying some pretty decent views of the early morning sea.
However, the views are much better on the return trip when the sun sets over Waikiki Bay.
Just past the bay, keep your eyes peeled for the Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Statue. This bronze statue is a tribute to legendary native Hawaiian Olympic swimmer Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku.
Kahanamoku is best remembered for popularizing surfing outside Hawaii.
Further down, you’ll run into St. Augustine by the Sea, a Catholic church with some rather distinct mid-20th Century architecture.
Not much further down, you’ll eventually run into LuLu's Waikiki, which does a pretty good breakfast that comes with a beach view.
Honolulu Zoo to Diamond Head Walk Waikiki
You’ll know you’re about half way there when you get to the public art piece "Makua and Kila".
Anyone who grew up in Hawaii knows the children's book Makua Lives on the Beach, a cute story about respect and love.
Overlooking the southern end of Kuhio Beach, a bronze tribute to the story features the surfer, Makua, and the monk seal, Kila. It makes for some good photos, and is just opposite the Waikiki Wall, which has more great views at sunset.
Otherwise, cross the road and consider paying a visit to the Honolulu Zoo, which has over 900 animals for the kids to gawk at.
Once you’re finished, you’ll finally have to make the decision of whether to take the shorter inland route to Diamond Head, or enjoy the coastal views.
Either way, the distance from Waikiki to Diamond Head is around 3-4 miles.
How to get to diamond head from here will depend on which route you take, inland or coastal. In any case, the walk to diamond head from Waikiki is very doable.
Waikiki to Diamond Head Via the Inland Route
After the zoo, steer left down Monsarrat Avenue, which runs between the flank of the zoo and the pleasant Kapi'olani Regional Park.
Look out on the left for the informal gathering of artists who string their works up from the zoo fence. This is a good place to come on weekends if you’re interested in some alt-of-the-earth local art.
A little further up on the right, you’ll pass the Waikiki Shell, a popular spot for live music and cultural events.
There’s a good chance you’ll be coming back here at some point during your trip for evening entertainment, so don’t forget to check what’s on as you’re going past.
The rest of the inland route continues to follow Monsarrat Avenue, which eventually turns into Diamond Head road.
When you see the KCC Farmers’ Market on your left, you’ll know you’re just a few meters from the northern entrance to the Diamond Head Monument, which takes a sharp turn on your right.
After the hike, consider visiting a few of the attractions near the northern gate, such as the pretty Lēʻahi Millennium Peace Garden and Diamond Head Memorial Park.
The latter is a peaceful place to pay tribute to the fallen, so bring some flowers.
Waikiki to Diamond Head Via the Coastal Route
Just past the Honolulu Zoo, you’ll see Monsarrat Avenue arching to your left, while Kalakaua Avenue dips directly south. You’ll know you’re going the right way if you pass the statue of Queen Kapiʻolani, the second last monarch of Hawaii.
The road continues all the way to the southern-most tip of Diamond Head. Along the way, you’ll pass the Waikiki Aquarium and some nearby public art.
Just past the aquarium on the right, you’ll see a distinctly early 20th Century open-air beach-side pool, the War Memorial Natatorium.
Somewhat neglected, there are efforts among the local community to restore this historic building. For now, makes for some good photography.
Afterwards, don’t forget to take a left on either Poni Moi Road or Coconut Avenue. Each will intersect with Diamond Head Road, which will take you the rest of the way to the entrance.Around 15 minutes later, you’ll pass the Diamond Head Lighthouse, which marks the last leg of the walk. Diamond Head Road will take you on a walk around Diamond Head to the main entrance.
In total, by this route you can expect your total Diamond Head hike time to be a maximum of four hours.
The Diamond Head Hike
Did you know that the U.S. government purchased Diamond Head Crater for military use in 1904?
Fortification of the crater began four years later with the construction of gun emplacements and an entry tunnel through the north wall of the crater from Fort Ruger known as the Kapahulu Tunnel.
Five batteries were built on Diamond Head Crater to house military weapons and artillery, and additional defense was provided by long range guns installed on the outer slopes of the crater rim around 1915.
Yet despite all the engineering and costs no artillery was ever fired from Diamond Head crater during a war.
Entering the park costs 1 USD if walking or 10 USD if getting there by car or van. It is open from 6am to 6 pm, there are public toilets, vending machines and a lunch wagon with food if you want to eat something.
I highly recommend you bring some water with you.
While the crater is only 232m high, once you reach the park the slopes to the top of the crater become steep and tiring, perhaps due more to the lack of a breeze than the terrain itself, and it is when the Diamond Head hike actually becomes a hike. Luckily, the Diamond Head hike distance is fairly short
The last 160 m are all stairs and especially steep, but the site is accessible to those with disabilities near the visitor booth. It’s definitely one of the easiest to reach hikes near Waikiki.
The trail is well marked and you’ll find of tourists walking up and down while there so it will be impossible for you to get lost. The Diamond Head trail length is only around 1.6 miles.
Reaching the top is an accomplishment one anxiously is waiting for during the last ten minutes, as the stairs become steep and finding your way through the concrete structure inadvertently mean you’re about to reach the top.
The air becomes cooler, the path becomes narrower and once you walk outside the views are second to none.
On your left you will distinctly spot Diamond Head lighthouse with its red roof, on peak of the crater a machine gun appears to be safeguarding Honolulu without- oddly- being out of place and the surf roles gently toward Waikiki beach in the distance.
Spend at least 20 minutes here before heading back, and make sure you take plenty of pictures!
It takes about 2 to 3 hours to walk from Waikiki to the top of Diamond Head at a comfortable pace and stopping to take pictures along way.
If you don’t feel like walking there are a few options as well:
- You can grab a taxi to the Diamond Head park entrance.
- Grab a public bus to Diamond Head that will stop at the base of the volcano.
- Buy a hop on/ hop off bus ticket (valid for several days) that will take you here and to many other attractions at a very affordable rate.
A Diamond Head crater hike with shuttle service is also possible to arrange from most major hotels in Waikiki.
Diamond Head from Waikiki: Conclusion
- Walking from Waikiki to Diamond head is actually very doable as it’s just about a 5 km walk (3 miles).
- Taking it at a slow pace you should be able to cover it in under four hours.
- The Diamond Head hike difficulty level is likewise fairly moderate, and can be attempted by anyone in average physical condition.
Diamond Head should definitely be part of your Oahu itinerary, whether it's walking or using transportation.
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