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Diamond Head Crater
What You Need To Know About Diamond Head
Perhaps the most important thing to know about Diamond Head is that if you’re in Oahu, Hawaii, you have to visit it. Many hiking enthusiasts already know this, and it’s actually one of the main reasons why they went to Oahu in the first place. It’s one of the most popular attractions in the whole state, with more than a million visitors hiking the trail.
Diamond Head is actually a crater created more than 300,000 years ago after a volcanic eruption. It’s located on a high summit, which makes the hike challenging for those who are out of shape despite the seemingly short distance. Still, you’ll find the whole journey worth your while. Once you get to the top, the view is breathtaking. No postcard can match the sheer thrill of the sight around you that you see with your own eyes when you’re 760 feet high up the crater with the eastern edge of Oahu all around you.
You can go up the trail on your own, and in fact there aren’t really any guides for the tour. The Diamond Head State Monument park built around crater is open 365 days a year, from 6AM to 6PM. The last entrance to hike the trail is at 4:30PM.
You can go to the Visitor Center at the beginning of the trail, which is open from 7AM to 3:30PM. The entrance fee is just $1 for each pedestrian, and you can get there by bus or by the Waikiki Trolley’s Green Line.
You can come in with your car, and that will cost you $5. It’s $10 if you come in on a commercial car or van, $20 on a minibus, and $40 on a regular bus.
Narrated Tours are available as well for a fee. The standard self-guided audio tour is available in various languages (English, Spanish, French, German, along with Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean). You also get a handy map to the Diamond Head summit, and an official “I Hiked Diamond Head” certificate. Optional disposable earbuds are available for $1.50.
The Monument Head tour costs $10 (or $9.95 if you want the exact cost) and you get several freebies, including a tote bag and a souvenir tag. The $20 Deluxe Tour includes a T-shirt as well, and with the I Hiked Diamond Head proclamation printed on it.
The fees for these tours don’t include coverage of the entrance fees. They don’t take credit cards, so be ready with cash. Of course, you can always visit the concession stands and buy additional Diamond Head logo merchandise that you can’t buy anywhere else.
Another option is to just take a helicopter tour to fly over the crater. This can be fun in its own way, but then you don’t get the satisfaction of completing a mildly challenging hike.
If you’re coming from Waikiki, it’s best that you don’t walk to the park. You may as well conserve your energy for the real hike to come. You can ride a rental car, a taxi, an Uber ride, a Diamond Head shuttle, or the Waikiki Trolley- Green line. If you’re bringing a car, keep in mind that the parking spaces are limited. So you better come in early from 7 to 8AM or try to get here after 11AM when there are fewer people (relatively speaking).
Dress casually, as this is moderate 1.6-mile hike back and forth. Wear shorts and comfy shoes, along with a hat and sunscreen. Hopefully you’re in good shape, as the 0.8 mile-hike involves climbing 99 steep stairs and walking over uneven ground. You may want to have some extra money on hand for bottled water available at the start of the trail. Once you get going, you won’t find water fountains along the way.
The climb to the summit should take about 45 to 60 minutes, and it’s a fun journey along the way. If you get the audio narration, you’ll find out about how the ancient Hawaiians regarded Diamond Head as sacred. The US military also valued this place, since it offered a great vantage point to watch out for attacks during WWII.
However, when you climb the summit, the sight all around you will definitely feel dreamlike. You’ll get a fantastic view of Waikiki Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Take photos if you want, and in fact you really should. But don’t forget to savor the sight with your own eyes—no picture can top that feeling.
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