Note: The Diamond Head ridge trail route described here is not a sanctioned hike. It is illegal to hike this trail and to do so would be cause for citation or arrest. There is also a risk of falling boulders and landslides. As such, all accounts here are fictional. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Adobe Photoshop is a wonderful piece of software that allows one to superimpose another into a photo making it seem as if they were somewhere when if fact they were not. Got it?
Some hikes, you just shouldn’t do. Climbing Diamond Head via a non-traditional route is one of them. It’s not because the trail is particularly hard, or dangerous, or excessively long like some of the hikes we’ve posted here, but rather because this hike is not lawfully kosher. That said, this non-traditional Diamond Head route is extremely fun, sometimes dangerous, and indeed offers stellar views of Honolulu and Waikiki. Like the Sacred Falls post, this post is pure fiction. We had fun with photoshop, all the while imagining what it would be like to climb Diamond Head Crater at night and then traverse her entire rim.
First, let’s discuss getting there. Climbing Diamond Head via the traditional route is no secret and thousands of tourists and locals visit the maintained trail on a daily basis. However, skipping this maintained route and climbing one of the many side ridges offers alternative means to the summit of Diamond Head. These routes are indeed secret. Or semi-secret. It’s more like people “in the know,” know of the different routes up, but don’t really like to share how to gain access to these routes. The truly sad thing is that the routes were passed down to them from another person that was willing to share the information. It’s kind of like when you’re in Kindergarten, and you have that one kid who has that big box of Crayola Crayons with 120 different crayons inside, and he doesn’t want to share. Yeah, ridge hiking Diamond Head is kind of like that. The few “in the know” keep it to themselves and don’t like to share how to get up. It’s bullshit, really, but I’ll comply. I wont describe the route explicitly here, but know that the Internet is a marvelous thing.
There’s some fence jumping involved.
Shortly after jumping a fence on the makai end of the Diamond Head, we passed a memorial for George Campbell Munro, an ornithologist who was born in New Zealand and immigrated to Hawaii in 1890. This section of Diamond Head is interesting and looks as if it used to be open to the public. The ground has unique tiles and offers a low scenic view of Waikiki looking makai. The memorial plaque, unfortunately, is covered in graffiti. It reads:
In Honor of George Campbell Munro. Pioneer in Hawaiian botany and ornithology. Whose vision and initiative led to the establishment of Na Laau Hawaii Arboretum -1962
A memorial for George Campbell.
Here’s an article on Munro that was published in the Honolulu Advertiser in 1997. I’d never previously heard of the Na Laau Hawaii Arboretum, however, from information found online it seems to be located located in the hills above Kaluahole Beach and Makalei Park, and within the perimeter of Diamond Head State Monument. This actually sounds like where the memorial for Munro is located. If it is, then no one has been looking after the arboretum because it is in disarray.
Observant hikers (and tourists) that do the traditional route up Diamond Head and then reach the summit, is likely to notice what looks like an old and emptied swimming pool covered in colorful graffiti. I’ve always wondered what this was and finally had a chance to see it up close. The pool-like structure has been adopted by taggers and graffiti artists to become a makeshift practice wall of sorts for the art of graffiti. This particular area was actually really cool and would probably make for a compelling photo shoot location. I actually tried to research what this structure used to be. Some said it was an abandoned basin, while other suggested it was remnants of an old lighthouse. I’ll have to dig a little deeper to find out.
Powered by Graffiti.
Not quite to the top yet. The tall peak to the right is the location of the bunker that marks the terminus and lookout point of the tradition Diamond Head route. Just to the left is a second bunker, that’s what we needed to climb to.
At the top you awarded with stunning nighttime views of Waikiki.
The trek up the side ridge leading to the summit of Diamond Head was 90% easy and 10% hard. That 10% consisted of the last segment of the climb up, which at times, felt as if we were climbing a vertical wall. It did not help that the non-existant trail consisted of loose rock, which made things a bit slippery. And don’t think that you can rely on shrubbery to grab on to, most of the plants up there are quite dry and therefore prone to snapping off very easily. By the time that we had to deal with the difficult, near-vertical sections, the sun had already gone down. We traversed this challenging section of Diamond Head in pure darkness. Let me tell you, there were a few WTF moments.
Once you reach the top, you end up at a bunker that is adjacent to the summit bunker that marks the end of the traditional maintained Diamond Head route. I seriously sighed a breath of relief once stepping on to that bunker. Thank fucking God, I thought to myself. And I don’t believe in God.
With the most dangerous parts out of the way, we had some fun with long exposure.
Another view of Honolulu at night.
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