The traditional Diamond Head Summit Trail, really, isn’t a hiker’s hike. The Diamond Head trail is easy and it’s short. For those reasons alone, it is probably the most popular tourist hike on the island of Oahu. Oh, and let’s not forget the famous views of Waikiki Beach that you are awarded with once you reach the summit of Diamond Head.
Unlike 99% of the other hiking trails on Oahu, this one charges. I guess the state understands the popularity of this attraction. It’ll cost you $5 per car or $1 per person if you decide to walk into the park. From there, it should take you about 45 minutes or so to reach the top. If you’re an avid hiker – you could probably speed walk and reach the top in about 20 minutes. The only thing in your way will be the tourists. Expect a lot of tourists and a wide range of them on this trail. As I passed by the different tourists I could hear assorted mumblings regarding the difficulty of this trail, from it being “extremely tiring” to it be an “easy stroll in the park.”
If you’re out-of-shape then expect this to be a hike consisting of “extremely tiring” switchbacks with a long, steep, and endless set of stairs toward the end. If you’re moderately in shape, this hike will feel like a good novice hike. And if you’re an avid hiker, then, well, this won’t feel like much of a hike at all. If you’re an avid hiker, try running it to the top.
The terrain is actually quite mundane – it’s paved with safety railings. There’s no real danger involved unless, like me, you decide to hop over the railings to take a closer look at the ridge line and the various military bunkers. I’d however suggest that you stay within those railing boundaries as there are park personnel roaming the grounds.
Most people will consider the most difficult portion of the hike to be the two sets of yellow steps toward the end of the hike. The first set consists of 76 steps, while the second set consists of 99 steps. There are lookout points with benches prior to each of these sets of stairs so feel free to take you time and enjoy the view. When you’re ready, take in one last deep breath and work your way up.
Recent construction work at the monument has even made the second set of steps optional. At the end of the second set of stairs was a spiral staircase that would often times be overcrowded with people working their way both up and down. Now, you can bypass the second set of steps and the spiral staircase and take an alternate route with grandeur views. We opted to go up the stairs and spiral staircase and then go down the newly construction section of the monument. This new section will offer some nice views of the Diamond Head Lighthouse.
If this is your first time visiting Oahu then I would definitely suggest visiting the Diamond Head Summit Trail. After all, It’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s beautiful. And it’s what the tourists do. If, however, you’ve done Diamond Head before and/or are visiting Oahu again, and are looking to up your game then I would suggest a variety of other hikes across Oahu, including (but not limited to):
- Koko Crater (the one looking for a challenging cardio workout)
- Makapuu Lighthouse (the one with children or older parents)
- Makapuu TomTom (the avid hiker seeking stunning views)
You could also search our archives or dedicated hike page for more hikes that perk your interest. If you’re an avid hiker, try running down. It’s fun zig-zagging through all of the tourists as they huff and puff their way up!
Diamond Head Crater Tips:
- Open daily 6 am to 6 pm, every day of the year including holidays.
- Perfect for all age ranges: from children to grandparents.
- Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.There’s zero overhead coverage (read: trees) to protect you from the sun.
- Pack drinks and lunch and have a small picnic in the Diamond Head Kukui Nut Grove (see photo in the gallery below).
- If you’re an early bird, try visiting the park when it opens at 6am to view the sunrise.
Directions: From Waikiki, you will drive on Kalakaua Avenue toward the Honolulu Zoo. You’ll make a slight left onto Monsarrat Avenue and then continue on Diamond Head Road, follow the road and signs, you’ll make a right and then a left.