Diamond Head (Lēʻahi) is one of the most popular hikes in Hawaii — and for a good reason. It’s one of the best ways to get breathtaking, 360-degree views of Oahu.
Looking down, you can see the crater that was made 300,000 years ago from a single volcanic eruption. Looking out as the coastline becomes the ocean, you can see the colors change before your eyes, from green to turquoise to blue. And looking at the sweeping views of Honolulu, you might even be able to spot your hotel.
This hike really does have it all.
It’s so popular that you may not realize what is involved in this hike. Here are 7 things to know to get the most of your trip:
It gets hot, so go as early as possible.
Diamond Head opens at 6:00 am, and you want to get there as early as possible for a few reasons. First, the parking lot fills up quickly. Second, only a small part of the trail has shade. Hike early to beat the sun and the crowds.
You have to pay to get in, and only cash is accepted
If you take the bus, you can avoid the hassle of parking, but it will still cost you $1 per person to walk in. If you drive, each car cost $5.
Wear good walking shoes and sunscreen.
The trail is .8 miles each way and ascends 560 feet, with some uneven terrain and lot of stairs along the way. You don’t want to hike this trail in uncomfortable shoes And, since there is not much shade, you want to put on sunscreen before you make your way up. A hat helps, too.
If you forget sunscreen, there is a small kiosk near the parking lot that sells sunscreen and other souvenirs.
There are bathrooms and a water fountain at the entrance of the trail, but there aren’t any more accommodations along the trail. You will be glad you carried that bottle of water after you hike up that first set of stairs.
There are lookout points along the way.
As you climb higher and higher, don’t forget to take a moment to rest, drink some water, and look around at the views.
It’s not paved.
The beginning of the hike is deceiving, as you walk along a paved road to get to the main trail. After the first few feet, the terrain gets rocky and uneven. You follow some switchbacks until you get to your first set of stairs.
There are two different ways to go up.
After you go up your first set of stairs, you will walk through a dimly lighted tunnel. After you emerge from the tunnel, you can go up another set of stairs to the right, which takes you up to the top through the Fire Control Station which was built in 1911 to defend Oahu’s coast.
For a longer but less strenuous journey to the top, head left.
It doesn’t matter which way you go because once you get to the top, you are rewarded with some of the best views of the island. Don’t forget to notice the bunkers and the lighthouse, too. Take a while to relax, soak in the views, take lots of pictures, and sip some water as you enjoy one of Oahu’s most popular spots.
For more information about Diamond Head, click here.