Dan's Hiking Pages: Hikes in the San Gabriels and Beyond
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Diamond Head
Le'ahi (762')
Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii       

Diamond Head Diamond Head is certainly the most famous landmark in Hawaii. Rising tall over Waikiki Beach and greater Honolulu, this volcanic cone stands as the icon of Hawaii landscape.

To be honest, I knew very little about the geography of Hawaii before beginning to prepare for our trip to Oahu for my son's wedding on December 29, 2006. But I had seen numerous images of Diamond Head over the years, so climbing this peak was on my must-do list for my visit to the island. And I learned that summiting this picturesque pinnacle was quite doable.

The hike to Diamond Head is well published: 1.6 miles round trip with 560 feet of elevation gain. The trial starts at the parking lot of Diamond Head State Monument Park, located on the crater floor. It's open 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. They charge $5.00 per car or $1.00 for walk-ins. The day I hiked it, I decided to save the five bucks and walk in. It's about one mile from the college parking lot to the toll gate in the crater. The road into the crater passes through a tunnel.

Looking east The first part of the trail is paved. There are handrails along the entire path. The trail winds and switchbacks up the south wall of the crater. Nearing the top, the route climbs 74 concrete steps (I started to count the steps but figured I'd just trust the numbers printed in the official brochure). This first flight of stairs leads to a 225-foot long tunnel that emerges to another stairway of 99 steps. Then you go through a short tunnel and climb a spiral staircase three floors to a fire control station — a concrete bunker with a thin slot providing views of the Pacific Ocean. From here you climb outside and finish following the short path and a 50-step stairway to the lookout platforms.

The views from the top are simply stunning. However you'll not be alone. The day I hiked it I shared the viewing platforms with dozens of tourists. The lady at the entry booth in the parking lot told me they average about 1,000 visitors a day.

Looking east The brochure states, "The whether here is always hot - a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water are recommend." That's good advise. Fortunately on the day I hiked it, the weather was pleasant — not hot at all. It was curious to me that the vegetation on Diamond Head more resembles the dry, brushy chaparral of my local Southern California mountains than it does the lush, green jungles on other parts of Oahu.

The trailhead provides restrooms (out of order on the day I hiked) and informative displays. The brochure that is given to each hiker is packed full of history and other interesting and helpful information. You can also download the brochure from the Hawaii State Parks website.

What a thoroughly enjoyable outing! It doesn't provide the solitude and sense of wilderness that most hikers seek, but the excursion certainly offers a rewarding experience. icon

Looking east from atop Diamond Head
Looking west toward Waikiki and Honolulu from the top of Diamond Head

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Last Hiked: January 5, 2007

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This page was last updated February 19, 2007.