Diamond Head Summit Trail

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Phone (808) 587-4175
Address Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816
Easy, popular hiking trail with amazing island views and offers good exercise.

• General: Cost: Paid • General: Educational • General: Kid Activities • General: Photo Opportunity • Hiking: Hiking
• Hiking: Kid Friendly • Hiking: Length: 1-2 Miles • Hiking: Level: Easy • Hiking: Level: Moderate • Hiking: Major Elevation Changes
• Hiking: Nature Walk • Hiking: Out & Back Trail • Hiking: Paved • Sightseeing: Great Views • Tours: Self Guided

Diamond Head Summit Trail is located at Diamond Head State Monument in Honolulu and one of most popular hikes on O'ahu. Make it to the top and you'll be rewarded with some of the most amazing city, mountain, and ocean views the island has to offer.

Diamond Head crater is known as Le'ahi, which means brow of the tuna in Hawaiian. The name Diamond Head comes courtesy of 19th century British sailors who thought the slopes of the mountain contained diamonds. As it turns out, those shiny bits are actually calcite crystals that have no value and not priceless diamonds.

In 1908, as part of the U.S. Army Coastal Artillery defense system, a trail to the summit of Leahi was built. The trail was designed for mule and foot traffic only and contains many switchbacks. Mules carried supplies to the summit to build the Fire Control Station Diamond Head. The Kahala Tunnel, which is what you'll drive through to get inside the crater, was built in the 1940's. For more on the history of Diamond Head be sure to read Diamond Head State Monument.

This hike isn't free. Yes, it costs money to take a hike! If you drive into and park in the crater (where the trail head is) you'll pay $5 per car. If you walk in (or take a bus) then you'll pay $1 per person. It's cash only here. Commercial vehicles pay a bit more at $10 per car/van, $20 per mini bus, and $40 for a large bus.

The entire hike from the trailhead to the summit is 0.8 miles each way. It's an out and back trail so you'll come back the same way you go up with an overall 1.6 mile round trip hike. Total elevation gain is 560 feet from trailhead to summit.

The beginning portion of the hike is completely paved and very easy. Once the pavement ends you'll start into the real trail which will switchback its way up the mountain. The ground here is firm and rock so it's easy to walk on but also bumpy and easy to trip on. Handrails are provided the entire way up so there really isn't any danger of falling off the mountain though keep an eye on small kids.

All of the usual Hiking Safety & Essentials apply here so be sure to have good footwear, a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water. There are bathrooms and soda / water machines near the trailhead only. If somebody in your party can't make the hike there are shady area with picnic tables where they can wait.

The best time to go is early in the morning with latest hike time at 4:30pm. Though some of the trail is shady, it does get very hot here so going early is your best bet to avoid the heat. Plan on 1.5 to 2 hours if you go slow and spend a lot of time at the top. If you move faster you can be up and down in an hour easily.

We're always asked "Is hiking Diamond Head easy?" Yes. And no. As with any hike, it's an impossible question to answer because it's all up to your abilities. This hike certainly is easier than most island hikes. First off, it's only 1.6 miles round trip and the beginning of that is all paved.

No single part of this hike is difficult for most people and there are plenty of places you can stop and rest if needed. For many, the toughest part is the long section of stairs. When you see the long concrete steps, you can choose to go the other (slightly easier) route if needed. Or, just go slow and work your way up. The people behind you will be glad you're setting the slow pace!

If you simply can't make it to the top you'll see plenty of amazing views along the way and can always turn back at any time. This is a family friendly hike with small kids to grandparents and everything in between. With that said, you need to be in good walking condition to do any hike.

Diamond Head Hike Facts

Looking for Diamond Head FAQs and other factoid to impress your friends?

  • Starting at 201 feet, you'll hike up 560 feet to 761 feet above sea level.

  • You'll walk through 225 feet of (lighted) tunnel.

  • Curious about that concrete landing? It held a winch and cable to lift materials from the crater floor.

  • The steep stairway has 74 steps.

  • The spiral staircase has 52 steps.