This makes a really good morning hike, and even though it’ll be strenuous for casual hikers, it’ll only take a couple of hours. You’ll follow a twisty mountain path carved into the rock that will lead you through tunnels and up staircases to abandoned WWII installations and bunkers and lookouts. Since it’s a crater, there are great views at the top that both look out over the ocean and down into the crater. It’s absolutely a must-do in Honolulu.
“the stunning remains of an ancient explosion”
The unique profile of Diamond Head (Lē‘ahi) sits prominently near the eastern edge of Waikiki’s coastline. Hawaii’s most recognized landmark is known for its historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views, and military history. Diamond Head State Monument encompasses over 475 acres, including the interior and outer slopes of the crater.
This broad, saucer-shaped crater was formed about 300,000 years ago during a single, explosive eruption that sent ash and fine particles in the air. As these materials settled, they cemented together into a rock called tuff, creating the crater, and which is visible from the trail in the park. Most of the vegetation and birds were introduced in the late 1800s to early 1900s.
The trail to the summit of Lē‘ahi was built in 1908 as part of O‘ahu’s coastal defense system. The 0.8 mile hike from trailhead to the summit is steep and strenuous, gaining 560 feet as it ascends from the crater floor. The walk is a glimpse into the geological and military history of Diamond Head. A concrete walkway built to reduce erosion shifts to a natural tuff surface about 0.2 mile up the trail with many switchbacks traversing the steep slope of the crater interior. The ascent continues up steep stairs and through a lighted 225-foot tunnel to enter the Fire Control Station completed in 1911. Built on the summit, the station directed artillery fire from batteries in Waikiki and Fort Ruger outside Diamond Head crater. At the summit, you’ll see bunkers and a huge navigational lighthouse built in 1917. The postcard view of the shoreline from Koko Head to Wai‘anae is stunning, and during winter, may include passing humpback whales.
Special Tips The last entrance to hike the trail is at 4:30 pm. The gates are locked at 6:00 pm daily and all visitors must be out of the park by this time.
NO PETS ARE ALLOWED IN THE PARK EXCEPT SERVICE ANIMALS.
The park facilities on the crater floor of Diamond Head are fully accessible to those with disabilities. The hiking trail to the summit is not ADA accessible, it is very steep and uneven in some areas. The last 1/10 of a mile is all stairs and especially steep. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours for your hike. Wear good walking shoes, bring water, and wear a hat and sunscreen.
Diamond Head Interpretive Kiosk & Gift Shop Audio Tours Now Available! Click here to learn about our self-guided audio tour which focuses on the history, culture, geography, plant and animal life, and scenery at Diamond Head.
The Division of State Parks constructed the Diamond Head interpretive kiosk in 2000 to provide visitor services and house exhibits about the history and resources of the crater. With visitors to the park exceeding 3,000 people per day, Diamond Head is one of the most popular and heavily visited destinations in the state. Visitors have been interested for years in purchasing souvenirs and memorabilia of their experience at the park. Through a collaboration with Pacific Historic Parks, the kiosk was renovated in 2014 to not only provide visitor services but offer a venue for purchasing items related to Diamond head.
Diamond Head is one of the most distinct landmarks in Hawaii, and visitors can explore it up close and personal by hiking to the top of the crater.
It’s about a 1.5-mile walk round trip, and much of it is up rough steps in the bright sun. But the challenge is worth it when you reach the summit, which boasts endless views of the Pacific Ocean.
Make a reservation in advance and plan to spend two hours at the park. After your adventure, relax and cool off at Kuhio Beach Park nearby.
A day spent here is one of the best things to do in Honolulu!
This is a great hike with outstanding views of Waikiki.
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Diamond Head State Monument
- Sun - Sat: 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
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Good for hiking.
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