Yay! Diamond Head!
Should you go? Most definitely. For sure. Please do.
If you’re really, really, really in shape, then this will be no biggie for you. And if you go on hikes a lot, you may even feel that it’s a bit crowded. But is Diamond Head worth it? Totally.
There’s a reason why this is Hawaii’s most famous hike. That view is spectacular!
With an awesome panoramic view of the ocean, mountains and the famous Waikiki in the background, Diamond Head is probably the most popular hike in Hawaii. Hiking to the top of this world-famous landmark is almost like a rite of passage for all Hawaii visitors. Once you get to the top, the gorgeous sight will keep you there for at least a half hour as you take plenty of pictures, enjoy the view and welcome the cool wind to your skin.
I consider this to be a relatively easy hike because of its well-maintained switchback trails, easy pace and generally steady incline. It’s a great hike if you have young kids as there is very little to trip on and they’ll find the upcoming challenges exciting. The sun can get pretty harsh here so I definitely recommend starting this hike early unless it’s a cloudy day. Entrance is $1 if you walk in and $5 per vehicle (get there early to get a spot), which goes toward the upkeep of this state monument. After parking your car, there is a bathroom facility right before the trailhead and several shady areas should you decide to eat or rest upon your return.
Be prepared for dust and dirt on your shoes and a large crowd especially later in the day. You’ll know you’re getting close when you see a long stairway going up and wonder how many steps you’ll take. You’ll know you’re even closer when you go through a very dark tunnel and can’t see your hand in front of your face for a few moments. With a rich history involving the military, you’ll see bunkers and hints of history as you work your way up. Generally, the hike up takes a little less than an hour.
Diamond Head’s Hawaiian name is Leahi, which commonly translates to “brow of the tuna.” Ancient Hawaiians thought this crater closely resembled the dorsal fin of an ahi (tuna), hence its name. The name Diamond Head can be traced back to British sailors in the 1800s who mistakenly believed calcite crystals were diamonds. What a disappointment that must have been!
If you’re here on a Saturday, try out KCC farmers’ market right outside the crater on your way out where you can get some ono local munchies and get a look at what’s fresh for the day. If it isn’t Saturday, I almost always head over the Rainbow Drive-In to get my plate lunch and slushie fix.
Find official Diamond Head information at the state park’s website here. Diamond Head was important for us during World War II so you’ll find a lot of historical information – check out the new audio tours they have available, too!
Diamond Head can be hiked by yourself, but if you want a tour guide who will explain the history Leahi had with the ancient Hawaiians through World War II, then a tour guide is something you’ll want to look into. Or, if you’re interested in seeing a waterfall, the Manoa Falls Tour is also a great choice.