Climbing Diamond Head
My Personal Journey Up An Iconic Mountain
Diamond Head is recognized by people all over the world and one of the most iconic landmarks in Hawaii. You can see it from various places in Honolulu. Strolling down Waikiki beach, Diamond Head is always in sight. You can even see it from the airport! Surprisingly many first time visitors don't know that you can actually climb to the top of this extinct volcano.
The hike up is considered to be one of the easiest on the island with spectacular views of the city of Honolulu and beyond and only takes about an hour each way.
*Photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.
Diamond Head Hike
Have you climbed Diamond Head before?
Can I Make it to the Top?
The Best Guide and My Favorite Honolulu Pictorial
This is probably my favorite guidebook on Honolulu. Since I don't live there anymore, I bought this one for my trip this year. Even though I lived there for half my life, there were many things I discovered from this book.
The restaurant listing is spot on with all the local's favorites including information on off-the-beaten track places that are worth visiting.
About two years ago, I did the hike as I always do when I visit Honolulu. It's one of my favorite things to do especially when combined with a morning stop at the farmer's market across the street. But for me, this was no ordinary hike.
It had been just over a year since I recovered from Bell's Palsy as well as having some health issues and although I wasn't overweight or anything, I was embarrassingly out of shape. Still I didn't think much about it.
In the end I did make it to the summit but I don't remember much of it because the feelings of weakness, pain and panic overshadowed everything else. That was back then.
Now two years later and healthier, I attempted the climb once more just to prove to myself that I could do ti. I also was going with a friend who knows the health problems I've been trying to overcome this past year so that made me feel better.
However as soon as I arrived at the foot of Diamond Head, thoughts of failure and difficulty breathing made me panic and my palms started to sweat.
Starting the HikeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Honolulu of Yesteryear
Honolulu today is a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city. In fact, it has changed so much since I was a kid that I kind of miss the old things.
This book takes us down memory lane with photos of the now demolished movie theaters, the history of Chinatown and Japantown and other interesting things. In fact, the areas in Chinatown was completely different from what you see today just 30 years ago.
I bought a copy of this book on my trip and enjoyed it so much I finished it in one sitting!
Peace and Quiet Inside the Crater
Oahu Hike Resource
If you are an avid hiker, or just would like to know more about the options on the island of Oahu, this is the best resource you'll find. Complete with a list of 52 trails ranging from the easy Diamond Head hike to the more challenging Koko Head climb.
My friend and I started the climb up Diamond Head and I have to confess that I had to psyche myself up for this day. I was already having anxiety attacks everyday since I had arrived and although I had second thoughts of doing the hike, I knew I had to do it for the sake of breaking through this irrational fear I've been holding within me.
I concentrated on the fresh air, the blue sky and the beautiful views all around me. It was peaceful and quite inside the crater and I felt calm. The fresh air cleansed my soul.
When I became anxious, my friend tried to distract me with singing songs, making random jokes about unicorns and asking me to take pictures of him in front of the "falling rock" signs.
Halfway to the SummitClick thumbnail to view full-size
So Tell Me...
What do you think of the hike so far?
The Final Part of the Journey
The hike had been quite pleasant all the way up until this point. As soon as we turned around the last bend, we came to a set of stairs that seemed to go on forever. I suddenly remembered how breathless I had been the last time I was here. I've been ok up until this point but once again, my anxiety started to creep into my body.
However as quickly as my anxiety came, something in me immediately refused to give in to it. I've done it before and I knew I could do it again. I told myself that it was all in my mind-it was simply mind over matter and I just had to get over it. My irrational fears had no place in my life anymore and with that thought, I climbed up those stairs.
Oh no, stairs?
How does that picture of the stairs make you feel?
The Final HurdleClick thumbnail to view full-size
The View from the Top
Once we got to the top, I was ecstatic! Although I was a bit breathless from the claustrophobic cave, the spiral staircase and the excruciating stairs, I had made it to the top.
Directly in front of me was the city of Honolulu and beyond. My friend and I stayed there for as long as we could until I could no longer tolerate the strong winds that were making me shiver.
The Mountain that Taught Helped Me Become Stronger
After a good 30 minutes, we started to head on down to the base of the crater before the park closed. When we got back to the starting point at the base of the crater, I looked over my shoulder and noticed a single tree standing in a vast field of grass and dirt. My friend had noticed the same tree and we both were stunned at how beautiful it looked against the sky.
The sun was setting and the sky had changed into a multi-hued canvas. The place was peacefully quiet with only the sound of the wind and the rustling of the trees. If I could, I would've stayed there until nightfall.
To most people, Diamond Head is just a hike and it's definitely one of the easier ones. But for me, it was a personal journey of not giving up on life and of not giving into that ever-present fear that lurks behind the shadows. I am grateful to my friend for his jokes and singing that helped me reach the top.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And I will be eternally grateful to Diamond Head, the mountain that taught me how to be strong again.
Watch this Video Before You Go
Now What Do You Think?
After reading this lens, do you have a desire to climb up Diamond Head?
Learn More About Diamond Head
- Diamond Head State Monument
Everything about the iconic volcano as well as other useful information.