We are happy to present detailed information to prepare you to hike Diamond Head in Honolulu, Hawaii. Yes, even out of shape travelers can hike this volcano. It's a great experience that is well worth the effort. You can even print out a "Certificate of Merit" to commemorate your achievement.
Diamond Head is an extinct volcanic crater located in Honolulu, Hawaii on the island of Oahu. It is located a short distance from Waikiki. A hike up the crater provides good exercise and spectacular 360-degree views of the island.
The map below has been modified slightly from the map provided by the Park Service. For your convenience, pictures and descriptions will reference specific points on this map.
While the park service suggests you allow 1.5-to-2 hours for a leisurely hike; the hike itself, round trip, takes less than 55 minutes for an out-of-shape 48-year-old male. (I speak from experience). This includes 8 minutes at the top for pictures, and 1 minute stops at 10 other locations for pictures.
If you are fit, you can easily do the hike in under 30 minutes. If you are in worse shape than me, allow an hour. If you are in terrible shape, wear open-toed shoes, are carting a backpack full of junk, and the park is busy, allow 1.5-to-2 hours.
Plan to arrive as early in the day as possible. Gates open at 6:00am (0600). It will be less crowded and much cooler if you begin your hike before 7:00am. For reference, the last entrance to hike the trail is 4:30pm (1650) and the gates close at 6:00pm (1800).
I recommend sneakers (tennis shoes) or hiking boots, a lightweight windbreaker (wrap it around your waist in case it is needed), a hat, a bottle of water (freeze it the night before if you can. It will be ready to drink when you get to the top), and a flashlight if you arrive early during the winter months.
You can easily do this on your own. If you drive in, the cost is $5 per carload. If you walk in, the cost is $1 per person. You can take The Bus to Diamond Head for $2.50 per person each way but you'll have to hike into the crater, pay your $1 fee, and walk through the small parking lot before you begin the actual trail hike.
Duck your head and exit the station to your left. If you look down to your right, you'll see the Diamond Head Lighthouse. You're almost there! It takes but a minute to walk the remaining 54 metal steps  to the summit of the crater.
Diamond Head Observation Station|
Now you can enjoy the brisk breeze and panoramic 360-degree views . You'll overlook all of Waikiki, catch planes landing at the airport, and can see as far as the Waianae Mountain range in the West. You can also see the eastern side of the island overlooking Kahala, Maunalua Bay, and two mountains beyond: Koko Head, and Koko Head Crater (which is home to Hanauma Bay on the other side). You'll see the sun rise from this side. To the North is the University of Hawaii, and the Pali Mountains. To the South is the Pacific Ocean. My picture of Waikiki on a early morning before sunrise doesn't do this view any justice.
The Return Trip|
In late 2011, the hiking trail was improved to alleviate congestion at choke points from #7 to #10. They built a new exit stairway  from the summit, and a path that will lead you back down to the tunnel . An outlook  was also added.
Palapala Ho`omaika`i Certificate|
Once you have completed the hike, feel free to award yourself with the Palapala Ho`omaika`i (Award of Merit) to commemorate your achievement. Download your certificate. It looks best printed in color. It's suitable for framing.
1. Allow about 25 minutes for your return trip.
2. If a snake jumps out at you while hiking, don't panic, it's only a stick. There are no snakes in Hawaii.
3. Strongly suggest close-toed shoes due to the rocky, pitted, uneven mountain trail. I have seen folks wearing slippahs (flip-flops), crocks, and high heals --- but I don't recommend it.
4. I once saw a couple pushing a baby carriage up the trail. I couldn't believe it. I don't recommend it.
5. You will likely see very fit folks jogging all the way up the trail and back down, perhaps even running up and down the flight of 99 steps. Pretty awesome. Due to my vertigo, I'm just happy to make it back to the bottom of the 99 steps without falling. (If you have vertigo, just take the steps slowly, hang on to the rail, and concentrate on each step).
6. In the winter, it is easy to arrive well before sunrise and watch from the summit. Just be sure to bring a flashlight as the trail can be very dark.
7. Of interest: just a half-block down 18th avenue is the Hawaii Film Studios lot and sound stages.
Have a great hike!
Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed. The information presented is an opinion intended to assist travelers who may have an interest in hiking Diamond Head crater in Honolulu, Hawaii.
© 2007 Topher
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