Diamond Head is a volcanic tuff cone situated on the island of Oahu. Overlooking the sprawling metropolis of Honolulu, the landmark was named by British sailors who mistook calcite crystals on its summit for diamonds. Hawaiians refer to the mountain as Le’ahi, as the ridgeline is said to resemble the dorsal fin of a tuna.
In the early 1900s, the Diamond Head crater was used as a strategic military lookout and today, the military pillbox remains. In 1968 the volcano was officially made a National Natural Landmark.
Today Diamond Head is one of Honolulu’s primary tourist attractions, drawing hundreds of climbers every day. Sporting an exceptional 360-degree view across the bustling city and wild Oahu south coast, this is a moderate 1.3km hike from the ground to summit. From the top, hikers regularly recount sightings of humpback wales passing in winter. The (former military) track is uneven and ascends steeply with a number of switchbacks criss-crossing the interior slope of the crater wall. With a good rest at the crater summit, the return journey can be completed in a comfortable 2 hours. The initial section of the path is paved, but quickly becomes uneven track. Stairways have been fitted to guide walkers through the steeper ascent.
A small entry fee applies to vehicles and walkers entering the park and it’s suggested hikers arrive early to avoid crowding on the track and overheating later in the day. We also strongly recommend wearing appropriate footwear, this is not a simple track.
Diamond Head is regularly regarded as a must-do for those visiting Honolulu. We strongly suggest visitors fit this inspiring hike into their itinerary, finishing off with a swim down on Waikiki Beach below. Locals also call for a traditional Shave Ice dessert as a post hike treat and we have to agree (we love Waiola Shave Ice)!