The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Diamond Head Crater

hiking Diamond Head Crater

Aloha, adventurers! Are you looking for the ultimate guide to hiking Diamond Head Crater? You’ve come to the right place. 

This volcanic tuff cone is one of Oahu’s most iconic landmarks, offering breathtaking views of the Waikiki coastline and the shimmering Pacific Ocean. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about hiking Diamond Head, including main sights, the length and location of the trail, wildlife, and other important details. So, grab your hiking boots, and let’s get started!


Diamond Head Crater, also known as Leahi, is located on the southeastern coast of the island of Oahu, just a short drive from the bustling Waikiki area. 

hiking Diamond Head Crater2

The trailhead is at the Diamond Head State Monument, which can be found at the following address: 4182 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816. Parking is available at the crater, but spaces are limited and can fill up quickly during peak hours.

Length and Difficulty:

The Diamond Head Summit Trail is approximately 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) round trip, with an elevation gain of about 560 feet (170 meters). 

hiking Diamond Head Crater 3

The hike is considered moderate in difficulty, with a combination of paved paths, stairs, and uneven rocky terrain. 

It typically takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete, depending on your fitness level and how long you spend at the summit enjoying the views.

Main Sights:

hiking Diamond Head Crater 4

As you make your way up the trail, you’ll encounter several key sights:

  1. The first 0.2 miles (0.3 kilometers) of the trail is paved and relatively flat, offering a gentle warm-up before the incline begins.
  2. At the 0.4-mile (0.6-kilometer) mark, you’ll reach the first set of switchbacks, which provide excellent views of the surrounding landscape, including Koko Head Crater and the nearby coastline.
  3. As you continue to ascend, you’ll pass through a 225-foot (68-meter) tunnel, carved through the volcanic rock. This tunnel is dimly lit, so be prepared with a flashlight or headlamp.
  4. After exiting the tunnel, you’ll face a steep set of stairs with 99 steps. Once you conquer this challenge, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the crater’s interior.
  5. A spiral staircase and a final steep climb lead to the Fire Control Station, a historic military structure built in 1911. This is the summit of the trail and offers 360-degree panoramic views of the entire island.


While hiking Diamond Head, you may encounter various native and introduced species of birds, such as the White-tailed Tropicbird, Red-crested Cardinal, and the Common Myna. 

hiking Diamond Head Crater Red crested Cardinal

Small mammals like the mongoose may also be spotted, along with a variety of insects and lizards. Please remember to observe these creatures from a distance and not disturb them or their habitats.

Important Details:

  • The Diamond Head State Monument is open daily from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM, with the last entrance to the hiking trail allowed at 4:30 PM.
  • Entry fees are $5 per vehicle or $1 per walk-in visitor (cash only).
  • Restroom facilities and a water fountain are available at the trailhead, but there are no facilities along the trail itself.
  • Wear appropriate footwear, sunscreen, and a hat, and bring plenty of water and snacks for your hike.
  • Stay on marked trails to help protect the fragile ecosystem and ensure your own safety.

The Diamond Head State Monument 

Diamond Head State Monument is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Oahu. This iconic volcanic tuff cone, also known as Leahi, is steeped in geological, historical, and cultural significance. 

hiking Diamond Head Crater Diamond Head State Monument

The State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources provides detailed information about the monument on their website. In this section, we’ll highlight key aspects of Diamond Head State Monument to help you make the most of your visit.

Geological Significance:

Diamond Head Crater was formed around 300,000 years ago during a single, brief volcanic eruption. 

The eruption sent ash and fine particles into the air, which eventually settled and cemented together, forming the tuff cone we see today. 

This unique geological formation offers a window into Oahu’s volcanic past and the natural forces that have shaped the island.

Historical and Cultural Significance:

The name “Diamond Head” can be traced back to the 19th century when British sailors mistakenly thought they had discovered diamonds on the slopes of the crater. In reality, the sparkling stones were calcite crystals. 

The Hawaiian name for the crater, Leahi, translates to “brow of the tuna,” as the crater’s ridgeline resembles the shape of a tuna’s dorsal fin.

Diamond Head also played a critical role in the island’s military history. In the early 1900s, the U.S. Army constructed a series of bunkers, tunnels, and observation posts within the crater to defend Oahu from potential enemy attacks. 

The Fire Control Station at the summit is a remnant of this military past.

Recreational Opportunities:

Diamond Head State Monument

Diamond Head State Monument is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, offering a variety of recreational activities. 

The most popular attraction is the Diamond Head Summit Trail, a 1.6-mile round trip hike that takes visitors to the summit for breathtaking panoramic views.

In addition to the summit trail, visitors can also explore the Kahala Lookout, which offers stunning views of the Kahala neighborhood and the Pacific Ocean. 

The area is equipped with picnic tables, making it an ideal spot for a relaxing outdoor meal.

Park Regulations and Safety:

To ensure the preservation of Diamond Head State Monument and the safety of all visitors, please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • The monument is open daily from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM, with the last entrance to the hiking trail allowed at 4:30 PM.
  • Entry fees are $5 per vehicle or $1 per walk-in visitor (cash only).
  • Smoking, alcoholic beverages, and pets are not allowed within the monument.
  • Do not climb or venture off the designated trails to protect the fragile environment and ensure your own safety.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing, use sunscreen, and bring water and snacks for your hike.

Diamond Head State Monument is a treasure trove of geological, historical, and cultural wonders that offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore Oahu’s past and present. 

By following park regulations and making the most of the recreational opportunities available, you’ll create unforgettable memories and gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty and significance of this iconic Hawaiian landmark.

Things to remember while planning your Diamond Head Crater Hike 

Things to remember while planning your Diamond Head Crater Hike
  1. Arrive Early: To avoid crowds and enjoy cooler temperatures, plan to arrive at Diamond Head State Monument early in the morning. This will also increase your chances of finding a parking spot, as spaces can fill up quickly during peak hours.
  2. Wear Appropriate Footwear: The trail consists of uneven terrain, so it’s essential to wear comfortable, sturdy shoes with good traction. Avoid flip-flops or sandals to prevent potential injuries.
  3. Bring Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated and maintain your energy levels by carrying sufficient water and snacks with you. There are no facilities along the trail, so it’s crucial to come prepared.
  4. Use Sun Protection: Oahu’s sun can be intense, especially during the hike. Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and consider using sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
  5. Carry Cash for Entry Fees: Entry fees are $5 per vehicle or $1 per walk-in visitor, and the park accepts cash only. Be prepared with the exact amount to avoid any inconvenience.
  6. Take Your Time: Enjoy the journey and take breaks when needed, especially if you’re not used to hiking or if you’re visiting from a different altitude. The hike is moderately challenging, so it’s essential to listen to your body.
  7. Respect the Environment: Stay on designated trails to protect the fragile ecosystem and preserve the beauty of the area for future generations. Do not litter and avoid picking plants or disturbing wildlife.
  8. Bring a Camera: The panoramic views from the summit are truly breathtaking, so don’t forget to bring a camera or smartphone to capture the moment. Be mindful of other hikers and take turns at popular photo spots.
  9. Prepare for the Tunnel: The trail includes a 225-foot (68-meter) dimly lit tunnel, so bring a flashlight or headlamp to help you navigate this section safely.
  10. Visit the Diamond Head Visitor Center: Before or after your hike, stop by the Diamond Head Visitor Center to learn more about the area’s history, geology, and cultural significance. The center also offers restrooms, a gift shop, and refreshments for purchase.

Where to Stay

To explore Diamond Head Crater and it’s surroundings we recommend you stay at Waikiki. You can use the below search bar to begin your journey.

Guided Tours to hike diamond head crater


Hiking Diamond Head Crater is an unforgettable experience that offers stunning views of Oahu’s spectacular scenery.

As you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and panoramic vistas that encompass Waikiki, the Pacific Ocean, and the island’s lush, green mountains. 

This iconic hike is a must-do for both visitors and locals alike, as it provides a unique perspective on the island’s natural beauty and rich history.

In addition to the remarkable views, hiking Diamond Head also offers an opportunity to connect with nature, enjoy some physical activity, and learn about the geological and cultural significance of the area. 

The journey to the summit will leave you with lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for the breathtaking beauty of Oahu.

So, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a memorable adventure during your visit to the island, don’t miss the chance to explore the Diamond Head Crater. 

With this ultimate guide in hand, you’ll be well-prepared for your journey to the summit and ready to experience one of Hawaii’s most cherished natural treasures. Aloha, and happy hiking!

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