Great Hikes: Diamond Head Summit Trail

Diamond Head Summit Trail

View of Waikiki from the top

View of Waikiki from the top

Built in 1908 as part of Oahu’s coastal defense system, the trail to the summit of Diamond Head Crater (Le’ahi in Hawaiian) is one of the most popular hikes on the island. The 360-degree view from the top is breathtaking no matter how many times you see it and in the winter months (Dec – April) there’s a good chance that you’ll spot whales swimming by.

Details:

Trail Length: 1.6 mi. (round trip)
Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Open: 6 AM – 6 PM (last entry 4:30 PM)
Elevation Gain: 560 ft
Restrictions: No dogs. No mountain biking. No open fires.
Entrance Fee:
$5 per vehicle or $1 per walk-in visitor

Route:

From the parking lot on the crater floor, the trail to the summit is 0.8 mile (1.3 km) each way and climbs 560 feet (171 m) in elevation. At the beginning, for about 0.2 miles the path is paved but it then turns into a more uneven trail that winds its way up the inside of the crater. During this portion it is not terribly steep, but the irregular terrain and the narrowness of the path will slow you down. Once you get closer to the summit, the trail will include some steep stairways and a long, narrow tunnel. While there used to only be one way to reach the top, there are now 2 options – one will take you around the side and up a long staircase with scenic views along the way while the other takes you through the old bunker where there is a spiral staircase. You could go up one way and come back down the other.

Directions:

The trailhead is adjacent to the parking lot within Diamond Head State Monument. The entrance is off Diamond Head Road between Makapu’u Avenue and 18th Avenue, Honolulu. If you are driving out of Waikiki, get onto Kalakaua Ave and at the fork keep left to go onto Monsarrat Ave. Follow the signs to Diamond Head. If you are taking the bus out of Waikiki, you can either take the #23 to the Diamond Head Rd & 18th Ave stop or take the #2 to Kapiolani Community College. From either location, you’ll end up walking about 0.7 miles to the base of the hike inside the crater. If you find yourself walking through a tunnel, you are going the right way. The parking lot is at the end of that tunnel.

When to Go:

Although the trail is open from 6 AM – 6 PM, it is best to do this hike first thing in the morning if at all possible. There is very little shade on the trail. If you are taking the bus and it’s a Saturday, Kapiolani Community College has a Farmers Market from 7:30 AM – 11:00 AM. A great way to schedule your morning would be to do the hike, walk down to the market for a bit and then catch Bus #2 back to Waikiki. Whether you’re taking the bus or driving, stop at Diamond Head Market & Grill at the corner of Monsarrat Ave & Campbell Ave on your way back to Waikiki and treat yourself to a blueberry cream cheese scone!

Interested in a guided tour of Diamond Head? Have questions about Diamond Head or other Oahu hikes? Contact Elite Concierge at 808-971-1943 or web@eliteconciergehawaii.com

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One thought on “Great Hikes: Diamond Head Summit Trail

  1. Pingback: Getting Around Oahu: Waikiki Trolley | EliteConciergeHawaii

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