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Things To Do On Oahu: Hike the Diamond Head State Monument Trail

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The more articles that I write about Oahu the more I realize how lucky I am to be in such a beautiful place.  There’s plenty to do and the weather is prime for doing any of it 99% of the time.  If you’re lucky enough to live here or take a Hawaiian vacation then I hope you appreciate and enjoy the time you spend on the island as much as I do.

Diamond Head Monument State Park

Diamond Head History

Diamond Head is called “Le’Ahi” in the Hawaiian native tongue, which means “brow of the tuna”.  Diamond Head sits on the eastern part of the Waikiki coast.  In fact, once you’re at the peak you can look down upon most of Waikiki.

Diamond Head is a wide, saucer-shaped crater that was formed a long time ago.  I mean, like, 300,000 years ago!  The cool thing is that it was formed from a single volcanic explosion that threw out ash and particles.  Once it all started to settle it became what is known as “tuff”, a kind of rock, and formed the crater. 

Diamond Head Statee Monument Aerial View

The actual hiking trail was built in 1908 as part of the Island of Oahu’s coastal defense system.

The Diamond Head Hiking Trail

You don’t really have to worry about the hiking trail.  I knew right off the bat that it was going to be a pretty easy hike.  I had one daughter that was really anxious to do this hike and she had been talking about it since we arrived on the island.  My other daughter was more like “that’s one of the weakest hikes in world”.  Well, it’s right in the middle, actually.

While not the easiest “hike” I’ve ever been on, Diamond Head is most definitely a beginner’s hiking trail.  I saw elderly and young all enjoying the hike.  (Although, in all honesty, I was worried about some of the older people that I saw on the hike and the way they were struggling.)

The entire trek is slightly more than 1.5 miles round trip.  I’ve seen distances on websites that say .75 and .80 miles one way. 

Diamond Head Hiking summit views

So, while the distance isn’t a challenge or even the height (it is only about 568ft. up) the steep inclines, the stairs and the tunnel can be a challenge to some.  The steps are steep, the tunnel can make you mildly claustrophobic and once you’re off the concrete path at the beginning of the hike the switch backs can become uneven ground at times. 

I think that if you’re an active person then the hike will be really manageable.  In fact, I look at the hike at Diamond Head as a way to be active on a non-workout day.  It can stretch the legs, get the heart rate up and stay up for a little bit.  

The Jewel is the View

So far, I haven’t been to a place in Oahu that can beat the view of parts of the island, especially Waikiki.  I have heard that the views from the Koko Head trail and the “Stairway to Heaven” (which is actually illegal) to be far better views.  I’ll find out all in good time, I guess.

So, yeah, in this soldier’s opinion; the view from Diamond Head is spectacular.  I’ve added a few pictures to give some idea of what I’m talking about.  Trust me, though, they images don’t do it any justice.

Things to Remember and Tips for the Diamond Head Hike

  • Bring sunscreen and water.  It’s an open hike with little shade and no water points once you start.
  • In fact, I did the hike on an overcast day and it was almost perfect conditions.
  • Wear hiking clothes!  I saw one young lady walk by me when I was on the way down and she was on the way up who was wearing a sun dress and heels!  I snickered a little bit.
  • Diamond Head is a popular tourist attraction and hiking trail for fitness.  It gets crowded.  At the peak it was difficult to take a picture without someone else in it.  (I even photo-bombed a few pictures, myself.)
  • No Pets
  • The last entrance is at 4:30PM and the park is locked at 6:00PM
  • Entrance to the park is $5 parking OR $1 to walk through.  Depending on the size of your party it may be more frugal to drive in and park.
  • If it’s a nice or hot day, stopping by the Waikiki beach afterwards is an especially rewarding dip in the Hawaiian waters.
  • Bring a camera to take photos of you, your family and all of those beautiful views!
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My Family and I on the Diamond Head Peak

My family and I atop Diamond Head in Oahu
Credit: Ken Muise

Conclusion

Like I said at the beginning of this article, there is plenty to do on Oahu to keep you and/or the family entertained and amazed.  Whether you’re snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, visiting the Dole Plantation, or lounging and floating around in of the lagoons at Ko’Olina, you’ll have a lot to do.  Diamond Head State Monument and the hike up the trail is just another thing to drop into your vacation itinerary or enjoy a workout while on Oahu.

You can visit my InfoBarrel Author Profile to read more of my "Things to do on Oahu" articles or any of my other works!

A Young Couple's Video of the Diamond Head Hike

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