A Day Walking – Tips for Climbing Diamond Head, Honolulu, USA


One of Kauai Island’s most appealing scenic attractions is the Hawaiian Grand Canyon located inland in the Waimea Canyon State Park. The Waimea Canyon State Park offers a drive up the spine of Waimea Canyon, allowing for scenic and picturesque views across the canyon on a clear day. Join us while we check out the best view points on the Waimea Canyon drive.

This post is one chapter on our trip during the pandemic to Honolulu Oahu, Hawaii, United States. This trip was redeemed through Marriott Bonvoy and further enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: A Day Climbing – Tips for Climbing Diamond Head, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America.

One of the activities on our list to complete during our time in Honolulu was a day walk up to the top of Diamond Head. Diamond Head looms large over the horizon at Waikiki Beach and sparkles as a mountain against the horizon from almost everywhere in Waikiki Beach. Diamond Head is an easy objective to tackle on a multi day visit to Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

Getting to Diamond Head:

Diamond Head Crater Hike is located a short three miles from the shores of Waikiki Beach. If you chose to drive to the parking lot, it is a simple 15 minute drive that is less than three miles from the Waikiki Beach area.

In our case, we chose to walk from our hotel up to the Diamond Head Crater Hike. We prepared ourselves for the morning by packing lots of water and wearing sun protection. We also downloaded an offline google map to our smart phones to make sure we made all the correct turn and didn’t get lost along the way.

Setting out From Waikiki Beach:

Starting at about 10:30 AM, we started off from the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani hotel, and started walking south east ward on Kauakai Avenue. In hindsight, I would have liked to have left about 60 minutes earlier, and thirty minutes earlier (before 10 AM) at the latest, in order to avoid the heat of the day.

We had beautiful weather for a walk and the blue skies of Waikiki Beach certainly set the mood for a pretty day.

We arrived to the start of Kapi’olani Park along Monseratt Avenue. The park is a restful area near Waikiki Beach and contains a small zoo along with a lot of shade along Monseratt Avenue. In addition to being a restful area, it’s also the spot where I go to drop the rental car for free whenever I need an overnight parking spot in the Waikiki Beach zone.

We passed through the shade of the park and started our first elevation grade climb. While there was some shade in the park, the shade thinned out as we climbed up the slopes of the mountain. Make sure you bring some sun protection for your head, as it can get pretty warm starting at around this point as the sun from the day starts to beat down.

We eventually got to the Fort Ruger Pathway, the unofficial start of the pathway towards Diamond Head Crater park entrance. We continued along, having past the Kapiʻolani Community College Culinary School on the right hand side.

After a good forty five minutes of walking, we arrived to the park vehicle entrance. We turned right to head up into the park itself. The park entrance was reasonably well marked. With the sign posting, it was clear as to the direction to take to get into Diamond Head.

We continued uphill at a gradual grade as we navigated towards the Diamond Head Crater parking lot. The route had a proper side walk through the whole way and was broad enough at most areas for pedestrian traffic flow both ways.

We rounded the corner past the Kahala Lookout. The Kahala is the last spot for what appears to be limited free parking before the Diamond Head paid parking lot.

We passed through the tunnel of the Diamond Head wall. The tunnel itself was a single lane vehicle tunnel. It was very cool by comparison in the cool tunnel; a welcome respite from the heat of the walk so far.

After the tunnel, we arrived at the trail head for the Diamond Head Crater Hike. The Diamond Head Crater Hike had a visitor center with some amenities. It took us about 55 minutes and 2.59 miles to get to the park gate.

It was slightly warm with not a lot of shade on the way up. As a result, make sure you bring some water with you.

Entering into Diamond Head Crater Park:

There is a small fee to enter into Diamond Head Crater Park. We paid our $5 admission fee. There is a small souvenir stand at the park admission, in addition to an off campus juice bar. There were also several vending machines that accepted credit cards that could supply water.

The hike in Diamond Head Crater is unique on to its own. It encompasses a number of switchbacks and man made stairs. It is much more natural than the paved sidewalks we had on our city walk up to this point.

At the base of the trail head, there is a good quality sign that sets out the various features and view points of the hike.

Ascending Diamond Head Crater Hike:

Setting off from the parking lot trail head, we walked a thinner pathway into the park itself.

Before long, we started climbing up the mountain side even more with guided hand rails in certain areas to help with balance. Some of the footing was natural and cut out of the rock itself making it not suitable for walkers or wheel chairs. If you have difficulty maintaining balance, it would be a good idea to bring along a walking support.

After several switchbacks, we arrived to the first view point at the location of the former winch. The winch cable system loaded supplies up the Diamond Head facilities.

Past the cable car system, we arrived to the first steps of the day’s hike. We started up the first seventy four steps, leading to our first lighted tunnel.

Once at the top of the stairs, we entered into the first lit tunnel. The tunnel offered artificial illumination, in addition to a hand rail. The roof of the runnel was quite low, and I actually bumped my head on a few occasions I navigated through it.

Once we exited the tunnel, we had another series of stairs to climb. This time, we had a steep set of 99 stairs in order to get almost to the top of the Diamond Head trial system.

After a climb up the 99 stairs, we had one more set of stairs to go. This last time, was in the form of a circular stair case leading us to the very top of the third level of the Diamond Head Fire Control station.

Views from the Top of Diamond Head:

After this last set of circular stairs, we were at the top of Diamond Head. We had some spectacular views from the top. There was also a cooling breeze as a result of the altitude.

Looking in a northwesterly direction, we were able to see over Waikiki Beach. It is quite a concrete jungle when seen from the air.

Descending Diamond Head Crater Hike:

We continued our walk along the ridge of Diamond Head. This led us down the ridge surrounding the diamond head crater. The ridge views were likely the most picturesque of the day, with sea ocean views surrounding the whole Diamond Head Crater.

We eventually started making our way down inwards towards the inner centre of the crater. With the sun fully out, we had another scenic descent.

As we passed the trail head and visitor center, we stocked up on water. We had consumed all our water on the walk up, given that it was such a hot day.

Descending to Waikiki Beach:

There were a lot of taxis available from the parking lot. However, given that it was such a nice day, we ended up walking down on the same route that we came.

It was another fifty minutes and 2.6 miles back down to the hotel. Before we knew it, we were back in Waikiki Beach again with it’s imposing hotels just of Kalakua Ave.

We ended up back at the Sheraton Princess Kauilani for an evening of rest.

Logistics and Tips for Walking up Diamond Head:

While it isn’t impossible to walk up Diamond Head, you do have to be in reasonable physical shape. As two executives that spend way too much time in the office, and aged 47 and 44, without any preconditioning, we were able complete the walk without much challenge. We were certainly tired from having walked almost 8 miles by the end of the day, but it was far from impossible.

My top tips and recommendations for climbing Diamond Head are:

  • Start Early in the Day. The heat from the Hawaiian Sun can be hot. There is little to no shade along the route.
  • Bring Head and Sun Protection. Along with the heat, this is simply a wise recommendation. Not having heat protection could result in sun burn and sun stroke. Equally so, make sure you apply sun screen as there is limited shade along the route.
  • Bring Some Loose Cash. There are vending machines and other commercial sources of water. You may also decide to take a taxi home at the end of the day – payable in cash, assuming you are not using a ride sharing app.
  • Wear Proper Footwear: You’re going to be walking across uneven stone terrain, in tight stairwells and possibly walking all the way from Waikiki Beach. Don’t wear sandals or flip flops and wear shoes that will support walking across uneven terrain.
  • Stay Hydrated: Bring Water or other Fluids to Consume along the way. There are drink stands along the way in the park itself that you can also use to replenish fluids.

If you follow these tips, you should be in great shape for a day climbing Diamond Head.

My Thoughts on the Day Climbing Diamond Head:

A day hike to Diamond Head is a fun activity that is easy to do while visiting Hawaii. With a little common sense preparation, and arming yourselves with a supply of water and a map, it’s easy to get some exercise to take in a beautiful day for a hike up Diamond Head.

If you have hiked up Diamond Head, did you start from Waikiki Beach or did you visit by car ?

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