Diamond Head Travel Guide, Updated 2021
Hours: 6 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Thursday - Sunday; closed Monday - Wednesday
Price: $10 for parking; $5 for pedestrians (cash only), Hawaii residents get in FREE
About Diamond Head
Diamond Head is one of Waikiki’s most iconic landmarks. If you’ve seen a picture of Waikiki, you’ve most likely seen Diamond Head in the backdrop. This dormant volcano was formed from a massive eruption thousands of years ago.
The popular spot is one of cultural significance here in Hawaii. In ancient times, navigational fires were lit on the mountain to guide canoes traveling along the coast. In turn, the crater was referred to as a “wreath of fire.” Now it’s home to a nearly two-mile hike with views looking out to Oahu’s eastern and southern shores.
The Hawaiian name for Diamond Head is Le’ahi, which means “brow of the tuna.” It wasn’t until the 1800’s that it got its current name when British sailors mistook calcite crystals in the lava rock to be diamonds. Unfortunately for them, these gems had absolutely no value. But, the name stuck and it’s still refer to this site as Diamond Head today!
Diamond Head State Monument | Photo by Christian Joudrey @cjoudrey
Diamond Head is classified as an easy to moderate hike, meaning it’s suitable for hikers of all skill levels. Roundtrip, the trek is just under two miles and takes about an hour and a half to complete. If you're on Shaka Guide's East Oahu Shoreline Drive, Diamond Head is the third stop on the tour and one of three hikes you can attempt during your road trip with Shaka Guide.
Throughout the hike, you’ll walk narrow pathways, climb two sets of stairs, and stop at a series of scenic lookout spots. Diamond Head is one of Oahu’s most popular attractions -- in fact, about 3,000 people hike the volcano daily. That means there’s a lot of foot traffic; be mindful of this as you’re navigating the route.
Just before you reach the top of Diamond Head, there’s a former military bunker. Go inside and see the lookout points that made this spot a strategic post for the U.S. Military, who purchased Diamond Head in the early 1900’s. Once you’re done, walk just a little further to reach the summit where you’ll find views of Waikiki and the island’s east coast beaches.
Parking at Diamond Head tends to fill up. That’s why we recommend you get there early or wait to hike this spot later in the day. If you arrive and the lots already full, you can wait in line for a spot, or try to find nearby street parking -- you might have to walk a bit to get to the start of the trail. There’s a $5, cash-only fee to park at this state monument.
Diamond Head Tunnel | Photo by Alexmar983, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tips For Your Visit
If you’re on Shaka Guide’s East Oahu Shoreline Drive and want to hike Diamond Head, prepare to pay the $5, cash-only parking fee. If you’re not parking on premises, taking public transportation or walking, there’s a $1, cash-only pedestrian fee (per person). If you park, you don’t have to pay an extra dollar per person -- the parking fee covers it!
As we mentioned, it’s estimated that over 3,000 people hike Diamond Head daily. With all these hikers, the parking lot tends to fill up and the hike’s pathways get crowded.
Although Diamond Head is considered an easy, family-friendly, hike, it can still be rigorous at times. Remember those stairs we told you about? Well, there’s 175 of them! Keep in mind, there’s no place to fill up your bottle along the route.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
We highly recommend wearing sneakers on this walk. Again, this hike is one of Oahu’s easier ones, but there are still points with steep inclines and uneven ground. You might also want to wear sunglasses and a hat. And of course, don’t forget to wear sunscreen. This hike is rarely shaded and the sun is very intense in Hawaii.
Treat Yourself to a Dole Whip
Once you’ve finished hiking, there’s a concession stand with dole whips, fresh pineapple juice, shave ice, and smoothies. They also have water bottles for $2 incase you forget yours at home.
Ocean View from Diamond Head | Photo by kirkandmimi via Pixabay
Pro tip! If you don’t feel like hiking, head to Diamond Head Lookout and Beach Park. Located on the coastal side of the crater, this beach is a popular surf spot. You can park at the lookout above the beach for an incredible view of Oahu’s southern coast. We'll guide you there on Shaka Guide's East Oahu Shoreline Drive.
To visit the beach, walk down the paved path carved into the cliffside. There are even showers at the top to rinse off the sand and salty sea water when you’re done swimming or surfing! It’s a great spot to have a beach picnic and watch the sunset. Look behind you and you’ll catch a glimpse of Diamond Head from a completely different perspective!
SHAKA GUIDE'S OAHU TOURS: Grand Circle Island Tour, East Oahu Shoreline Drive, Honolulu's Backyard Rainforest Tour, Legendary North Shore Loop, Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour, Historic Downtown Honolulu Walking Tour
This post was originally published on 10/28/2019. It has since been updated.