ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Diamond Head Crater Hike | Oahu, Hawaii Hiking

Updated on October 27, 2014

Diamond Head State Monument

Diamond Head State Monument is one of the most popular hikes in Oahu, and the crater, itself, is touted as Hawaii's most recognizable landmark. The park has more than just a hike. If you visit, you'll be treated to spectacular views, history, and a visit to an early 20th-century fire control station and bunkers. The trail has a hard surface and is only .8 miles each way, but it is strenuous with switchbacks, lots of steep stairs, and a 225 foot tunnel. If you're planning a trip to Diamond Head, don't mistake developed for easy!

A markerDiamond Head Crater Monument -
Diamond Head Crater, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
get directions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Restrooms and water fountains are available near the parking lotA food truck sells concessions, including bottles of water
Restrooms and water fountains are available near the parking lot
Restrooms and water fountains are available near the parking lot | Source
A food truck sells concessions, including bottles of water
A food truck sells concessions, including bottles of water | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
The trail is steep and has many switchbacks Watch out for signs!You can catch your breath at overlooks and benches along the way
The trail is steep and has many switchbacks
The trail is steep and has many switchbacks | Source
Watch out for signs!
Watch out for signs! | Source
You can catch your breath at overlooks and benches along the way
You can catch your breath at overlooks and benches along the way | Source

Diamond Head Crater

According to geologists, Diamond Head Crater was formed in a single, violently explosive volcanic event about 300,000 years ago. However, most of the vegetation and wildlife was introduced to the crater within the last 150 years. The summit trail was constructed in 1908 and, with some later stabilization efforts to protect the site and hikers, it is still the trail you can hike today.

The trail is open from 6 am until 6 pm every single day, including holidays. It is not like a restaurant - closed at 6 doesn't mean letting people on the trail until 6. It means the gates are locked at 6. Hikers are only allowed to begin the trail until 4:30. There is an admission fee, but it is fairly negligible. You must pay $5 for a car, which includes all of the car's occupants, or $1 per pedestrian. Commercial vehicles and tour buses cost more.

When you're getting ready to hike, make sure to apply sunscreen. Depending on the time of day you hike, you may not receive much sun on your ascent. However, the crater's rim is basically always sunny. Before locking your car, make sure to stow valuables out of site, preferably in the trunk. If you forgot your own, stop by a vending machine or the food truck for a bottle of water. You can use the restroom or fill a bottle at the water fountain near the parking lot, but there are no water fountains or restrooms along the trail.

The first portion of the trail is easy. Wide, gently sloping, and smooth cement, it is not typical of the trail's length. Overall, the trail is filled with switchbacks. It is also narrow, but has two-way traffic, including recreational runners, so make sure to pay attention to your surroundings! The trail is .8 miles to the top, so 1.6 miles, overall. It is fairly strenuous, rises 560 feet, and includes several steep flights of stairs (actually, the trail's last 1/10 of a mile is entirely stairs!). It also includes a narrow, but lighted, 225-foot tunnel. This tunnel is also two-way, so be careful!

Once you emerge from the tunnel, you can climb stairs to your right and enter a 1911 fire control center. Part of the island's defense system, it directed fire from batteries located outside the crater at Waikiki and Fort Ruger. You can also visit bunkers and see a navigational lighthouse. The views are amazing, and there are several different observation spots, so make sure you see everything before beginning your descent.

Getting to the top of Diamond Head Crater

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tunnel to the topParts of the complex are not open to the public.Head up these stairsAnd then these stairs, too!To be rewarded with this view from the top of Diamond Head CraterView of the fire control centerOld bunkersOld bunkersNavigational lighthouseBunkersDawn view from the top back down into the crater
Tunnel to the top
Tunnel to the top | Source
Parts of the complex are not open to the public.
Parts of the complex are not open to the public. | Source
Head up these stairs
Head up these stairs | Source
And then these stairs, too!
And then these stairs, too! | Source
To be rewarded with this view from the top of Diamond Head Crater
To be rewarded with this view from the top of Diamond Head Crater | Source
View of the fire control center
View of the fire control center | Source
Old bunkers
Old bunkers | Source
Old bunkers
Old bunkers | Source
Navigational lighthouse
Navigational lighthouse | Source
Bunkers
Bunkers | Source
Dawn view from the top back down into the crater
Dawn view from the top back down into the crater | Source

What's your favorite time of day to hike?

See results

Diamond Head Crater Hike

This hike is fun, and particularly beautiful in the early morning hours. If you arrive shortly before gates open and walk quickly, you can watch the sun rising from behind the mountains. Beautiful at any time of day, watching the shifting morning sky is particularly stunning. It is officially recommended that you allow 1.5 to 2 hours to complete the hike, but a reasonably fit person who walks at a steady pace can make the hike in far less time. Of course, don't let yourself rush too much - the beautiful views of Oahu are worth slowing down for.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      This is a very interesting write on Diamond Head State Monument, plus you did a good job with the picture of the scenery.

      Great hub. Voted Up and beautiful.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you! It was difficult to get pictures without lots of other tourists in them. It really is a very popular spot. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to vote and comment.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      This looks beautiful and like so much fun. Now the problem for me is actually getting to Hawaii. Maybe one day!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sounds like a great adventure; for some reason the pictures did not come through.....sigh! Anyway, thanks for the tour ( minus pictures)

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Hmmm. I wonder what happened to the photos. Thanks for stopping by, even though there was a technology failure!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, Glimmer Twin Fan. Thanks for stopping by!

    • LauraGSpeaks profile image

      LauraGSpeaks 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      This looks like a great hike to take. I am leary of the tunnel, but other than that I would love to try it someday!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      The tunnel is a little small, but it does have some lights, at least. It wouldn't be good for anyone claustrophobic, though!

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 4 years ago from Scotland

      Looks like a wonderful location for walking the scenery in your photographs is stunning making me want to take a trip there myself.....jimmy

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Go for it! It isn't quite halfway around the world...it should only be -11 hours for you =)

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      Looks like a fantastic and very rewarding hike! Would my knees cope, I wonder?

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I dunno. The stairs are pretty steep. But, then, everything in Hawaii is steep to me!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Natasha, you are having way too much fun! Wish I were there too. Enjoying this tour with you.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, teaches. I'm glad to be able to share my photos =)

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      There is nothing like this in my country, but I enjoy hiking in Nepali mountains. Thanks for this wonderful travel article.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I'm sure the sights in Nepal are just as beaituful and stunning in their own way. Thanks for stopping by, Vinaya.

    Click to Rate This Article