If you have ever seen pictures of the beaches in Honolulu, you have probably noticed a striking mountain in the background by the name of Diamond Head. It’s an impressive backdrop to one of the most popular beach in the world. While lying on the beach, the first thought I had upon seeing it was “Wow, the views from up there must be amazing.” There was only one way of finding out, so we took on the challenge of climbing to the top.
The good news is that it only costs a dollar to get into the Diamond Head State Monument.
This is fantastic as at times in Hawaii it can feel like everyone is trying to pry your money away from you, and here is a beautiful place that only wants a single dollar so that you can enjoy Diamond Head and all its splendor.
That’s a good start!
After you pay the entrance fee, you start your journey up Diamond Head. The total walk is about 0.75 miles and all uphill. There are places to rest along the way, so don’t feel like you have to do it all without a break. The majority of the walk is pretty steep, and there are sections of stairs (almost 200 steps in total). There is also one section through a tunnel, which is actually a relief as it gets you out of the sun.
Climbing Diamond Head is a popular activity for everyone visiting Honolulu. You won’t need to worry about climbing the mountain by yourself. You will be one of many, many tourists making the climb, and at times it will feel like you are in a very long queue.
While the climb is not a difficult one, it is also not an easy one, particularly if you want to attack it in summer or during the heat of the day. It is a walk that can be completed by people of most ages, and we were somewhat surprised by some of the “older” people we met at the top. They made us feel very unfit!
Once you get to the top, you will be standing 762 feet above sea level (550 feet above the car park where you started your walk) and will be able to look out at the beautiful coastline stretched out below. Waikiki Beach and all its hotels sit in the distance for you to take a photo or seven.
We found the best views were of the beach and water directly below Diamond Head. Palm trees line the beach with aqua blue water lapping at the sand. The water is so clear you can easily make out the rocks and reefs below the water surface.
It does get very crowded at the top with everyone trying to get a good view and an even better photo. Be patient, and you will get your turn. There are a few spots to get great views from so pick and choose the quieter ones for a more enjoyable time.
The trip up Diamond Head is well worth the effort. We highly recommend it to anyone visiting Waikiki as a must-do while you are there.
A few tips before you go…
Firstly, you will want to pick a day with good visibility. You don’t want to get all the way up there to not get the stunning views. Secondly, take water with you. If you don’t take water to Diamond Head with you, they sell it at the bottom of the climb. Don’t even think about trying to climb without keeping your hydration up as access up the hill is difficult for emergency services, so you don’t want to have any problems while climbing.
Also ensure you wear good shoes. We made the mistake of wearing flip-flops. While we made it to the top wearing them, properly enclosed walking shoes are definitely the way to go. Long sections of the walk are on uneven, rocky surfaces, and it wouldn’t be unforeseeable for people to slip while not wearing the correct shoes. And finally, don’t forget the sunscreen as a lot of the walk is in direct sunlight. It’s no different than if you were lying on the beach.
There are a few ways you get there:
- For the fit people, you can walk all the way from Waikiki hotel area to the Diamond Head State Monument. You are looking at a 2- to 3-mile walk (depending on where your hotel is located) just to get to the park. Then you actually have to walk up Diamond Head. The 2- to 3-mile walk is actually fairly challenging in itself, and there isn’t that much to see along the way.
- You can catch the local bus. There are a couple of local buses that pass by the park but will only drop you outside the park. From there, it is about a half mile walk to the start of the Diamond Head trail. The ride will cost you a few dollars.
- You can use one of the numerous hop-on hop-off buses that are offered around the city. Most of the different services offer a ride to Diamond Head. They will drop you off right at the gate saving you any of the additional walking other than the climb itself. You wouldn’t want to buy a ticket for this bus just to get to Diamond Head as they are generally sold as day/week passes, and it would be too expensive. However, if you wanted to use the hop-on hop-off buses to see the whole Honolulu area, then this might be a good option.
- Last option is to get a taxi. Cost will vary between $10 and $20 (depending on your hotel location), and they will drop you off right at the gate. Taxis are easy to find, and this is the easiest option if you don’t mind paying for the convenience.
Have you tried climbing to the top of Diamond Head in Honolulu? Or do you want to?