DIAMOND HEAD STATE MONUMENT
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
NOTE: The park is open from 6am to 6pm with the last time to go up the hike at 4:30pm. The hike costs $1 per pedestrian to walk into the park, and $5 per vehicle (CASH Only), also pets are not allowed in the park unless they are service animals!
It’s pretty surprising that I’ve been in Hawaii for 6 months now and still hadn’t hiked Diamond Head until this past Saturday. Honestly, I’ve avoided doing a majority of the “touristy” things until I have my family and friends visit. However, Meyer’s family was here visiting for a few weeks so I guess that constitutes hiking one of the most popular and heavily visited destinations in the state, averaging around 3,000 people per day. It didn’t actually seem like there were that many people there, but maybe we just got lucky.
If you’ve ever been down to Waikiki or even the Honolulu area you’ve seen this giant. The unique profile of Diamond Head sits near the eastern edge of Waikiki’s coastline and is known as Hawaii’s most recognized landmark. The state monument encompasses over 475 acres, including the interior and outer slopes of the crater. We didn’t really do too much research (no surprise there) before going, so we parked in “Parking Lot C” next to Kapi’olani Community College. Parking there would have been even more awesome if we had arrived like an hour earlier because they had a what looked to be a pretty sweet farmers market (maybe next time!). We had to walk an extra mile to get to the center of the crater where the trail actually starts. The pro’s to this: saved $3, didn’t have to search for a parking spot, and got a few extra steps in. The con’s: had to get extra exercise by walking to and from the trail…
We got there around 1pm and it seemed like a majority of the visitors were actually walking down as we were walking up. All of the signs suggest wearing good walking shoes, but you could definitely get by with sandals. They also suggest bringing water, a hat, and sunscreen – all of which I support (especially sunscreen) + your most stylish sunglasses of course! The start of the trail resembles a sidewalk, paved for approximately 0.2 miles before turning into a slightly thinner and somewhat uneven gravel-paved pathway of railed switchbacks to the top of the crater. The 1.6 mile round trip hike (I’d consider it more of a stroll), ascends from the crater floor to the lookout point at approximately 560 feet above sea level.
I’m not going to lie, even though the trail was relatively flat, it was a decent workout and the lack of shade along the way made me wish I had listened to the signs reminding me to bring a bottle of water. Make sure to watch your step along the way as the trail does have some erosion. However, if you do happen to trip for some extremely unfortunate reason, there are railings along the entire walk to grab onto. Toward the top, you’ll enter a 225 foot long tunnel that gives off major amusement park vibes. It feels like you’re walking to the line for Space Mountain – except that you’re moving a lot faster than the roller coaster line and you don’t even have to purchase a fast pass. At the end of the tunnel you have a choice: straight up the stairs to the right, or walk a few steps to the left and then take the stairs straight up. You really can’t go wrong either way, but we went left on the way up, and then down the steep stairs after enjoying the view.
At the summit you’ll be able to walk to the pillbox bunkers, enjoy the view of Waikiki to the West and Kokohead a bit further to the North-East. The ocean was the most beautiful blue I think I’d ever seen (which isn’t entirely true considering I see the deep blue at a minimum of every weekend and the color hardly deviates), but still…
We walked around the observation point for a few minutes taking in the beautiful view before us. For those few minutes, it seemed as if all 3,000 people were there with us, so don’t be disappointed if you have someone else’s left elbow in every single one of your photos. We then decided to climb up onto the top of the observation point (after waiting patiently for our turn), because why not. Surprisingly, standing on-top of a concrete block that says “DANGER, KEEP OFF!” didn’t give me quite the same adrenaline rush as a Disney World roller coaster might, but we still got a pretty great view regardless.
On the way back down, we crawled into one of the bunkers and then walked down a spiral staircase that used to be part of the Fire Control Station built in 1911. If you had some extra time, enjoy spiderwebs and ghosts (probably), there were a few openings in some of the old gates and hallways that are just waiting to be explored (adding that to the bucket-list). The hike was a lot easier on the way down and I found myself wanting to jog (which wouldn’t be the best idea if you chose to wear sandals).
If you’re feeling super duper touristy (and you’re not visiting Diamond Head with me) you can do the Audio Tour! The self-guided tour focuses on the history, culture, geography, plant and animal life, and the scenery at Diamond Head. They also had a food truck with your typical food truck items, but it’s cash only and since its 2017 and people (me) hardly carry cash anymore, I didn’t check out the menu.
Overall, it was a pretty cool hike. We stopped by Maui Brewing Company in Waikiki afterward for an early dinner, good beer, great food, and the opportunity to be smashed by Meyer in Foosball! #OhanaGoals