Diamond Head was named because sailors in the 1800’s thought the calcite crystals embedded in the rocks were diamonds. The local name for Diamond Head is “Le’ahi”.
If you only have time to do one hike on Oahu, this is the one! You’ll understand why when you get to the top. I have done this hike dozens of times and I find it difficult to leave the top every time. This is a great hike because it is close to Waikiki and relatively easy compared to the reward.
The entrance is through a tunnel on the side of Diamond Head opposite the ocean just off Monsarrat Ave. / Diamond Head Rd. There is a $5US fee for parking if you can find a spot or you can park nearby and walk through the tunnel. Mopeds and bicycles park for free. If you are really brave, you can walk from your Waikiki hotel.
Once there, you will pay a dollar ($1US) admission fee per person to get on the trail. If you have five or more in the car, you will be charged $5US per carload to hike. Not a bad deal considering the views at the top. While at the top, look for the Honolulu International Airport to see airplanes taking off and landing. Also, take a look at the Diamond Head lighthouse on the property of the current US Coast Guard District Fourteen Commander’s residence – one of the nicest properties on the island!
Some things to know before going:
- There are public restrooms at the trailhead
- BRING A CAMERA !
- There are “vendors” at the trailhead selling t-shirts, water, food, maps and flashlights. You won’t need any of this – it is a short but steep hike – it is a 560 ft. elevation gain for a total elevation of 762 ft. No survival gear needed, just sunscreen, a flashlight/cell phone light and good walking shoes. There is a water fountain near the bathrooms if you want to bring an empty bottle.
- Since the park closes at 6pm, you are not allowed to head up the trail after 4:30pm so plan accordingly. Actual hike time is 30-45 minutes going up and about 20 minutes coming back down. Be sure to spend plenty of time at the top – but be careful because there is not much shade other than in the bunkers and tunnels.
- Diamond Head is open every day of the year!
- Don’t leave anything of value in sight inside your vehicle
- If you are hiking this trail during humpback whale season (late October – May), you will want to bring a camera with a good zoom lens and a pair of binoculars.
- It gets windy at the top so hang on to your hat – there are plenty of hats on the side of the steep cliffs.