Diamond Head Hike
Panoramic views of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach
Just beyond the urban appeal of Honolulu, with its cosmopolitan chic and luxury, sits majestic Diamond Head, the most famous volcanic crater in the whole world. The moderate yet steep 1.5-mile round trip Summit Trail starts off as a paved path and climbs to the top of the rim; highlights for hikers include two sets of stairs, World War II bunkers and dark, underground tunnels.
DIAMOND HEAD HISTORY
Eruptions of the Koolau Volcano that took place long after it laid dormant helped form the volcanic cinder cone nicknamed Diamond Head. In the 19th century, British sailors thought they'd found diamonds on the side of the crater; they were just priceless calcite crystals, but the name Diamond Head stuck. It's not often you get to hike up an extinct volcano, but it's well worth the effort when you've reached the top. Take a rest at the summit, with 360-degree views of emerald green mountains and sparkling aquamarine waters.
Couch potatoes, children and senior citizens alike can hike the moderate trail at Diamond Head. Just beware: There's not a lot of rain on Oahu, and the inside of Diamond Head Crater is particularly dry. The cinder cone crater has few shade trees and is cut off from much of the island's trade winds, so for hikers venturing up or down, the trek can be particular hot, dry and dusty. A concrete trail will lead you to a path, cut and blasted out of the steep rock walls. Switchback trails lead to your first lookout (and break) before continuing on to 99 steps up to a dimly lit tunnel. Your reward on the other end? A view of the Pacific Ocean.
IN THE AREA
Looking to conquer Diamond Head? You'll get a great workout on nature's step climber, but the summit isn't the only thing worth seeing. Hike all the way back down to the Pacific Ocean and check out Diamond Head Beach Park. With only a small shore break, you can cool down and wade out into the water, or admire the beautiful beach houses, surfers and stand-up paddle boarders.
- Address: Makapu'u Avenue and 18th Avenue, Honolulu
- Phone: (808) 587-0300
- Web Address: hawaiistateparks.org
- Distance/Drive: 3.8 miles time from THE MODERN HONOLULU: 13 minutes
- Brief directions from THE MODERN HONOLULU: Head southeast on Ala Moana Boulevard toward Kahanamoku Street. Turn right onto Kalakaua Avenue. Drive 1.2 miles and make a slight left onto Monsarrat Avenue. Drive for a mile and continue onto Diamond Head Road. Turn right toward Diamond Head Tunnel and follow signs for Diamond Head Summit Trail.