Diamond Head Summit Trail

Phone (808) 587-4175
5 stars from 20 reviews
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

Full Description
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.

Rebecca R
Joined: Jan 2018
Reviews: 15
Likes Received: 2
This wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and the views at the top (and even along the way) are amazing.
Kerrie R
Joined: Sep 2016
Reviews: 44
Likes Received: 0
This hike is not for faint hearted, this is such a hard hike, we got up really early and headed up for sunrise. We thought we were fit, however, this was not a walk in the park, I was ok, however, we did have to take a couple of stops. A word or advice, take it one step at a time. It is worth it when you get to the top. Time Lapse the sunrise/sunset - something that you just have to do - The Views are absolutely sensational! Definitely worth it!
Joined: Jul 2016
Reviews: 29
Likes Received: 8
Spectacular view over Southern Oahu..Waikiki, Honolulu. Take the downtown trolley to the entrance and walk in from there. The last section is all upwards cement steps. Bring lots of water and a few energy bars. Take lots of pictures. Identify plants and birds.
Joined: Jul 2016
Reviews: 146
Likes Received: 2
Like the description says, the best time to get here is early. I came with friends in the afternoon and it was very crowded with tourists. The good thing is, they control parking and only let a certain amount of cars in at a time. The views are amazing and the hike is super easy. Great hike for beginners.
crystal l
Joined: Jul 2016
Reviews: 7
Likes Received: 2
Great views! Everyone kept saying don't go during the day because of the heat, but being from Texas the heat wasn't anything. Loved the hike and view of downtown Honolulu. Take water though!
Mary K
Joined: Jul 2016
Reviews: 2
Likes Received: 0
I have visited Oahu twice, the last time in August 2014. One of the excursions was climbing the trail at Diamond Head. It was hot that day but the trail itself wasn't too difficult to climb and allowed you to get some exercise while enjoying your surroundings. I will say take a bottle of water with you to keep you hydrated. You could stop along the way if you needed to, and one of the tunnels allowed you to get out of the sun for a bit. I remember it was so windy at the top, but the views looking down and around were breathtaking. The ocean was a beautiful turquoise blue, and you could see some of the beaches and of course the gorgeous tropical terrain. Although my hair was a little worse for wear because of the wind, it was well worth the trip to the top.
Joined: Jul 2016
Reviews: 8
Likes Received: 0
Great exercise. Make sure you bring plenty of water and view from top is AMAZING!!!!
Matt A
Joined: Feb 2013
Reviews: 803
Likes Received: 111
If you only do one hike on Oahu, I'd make it this one. Sure, there aren't any waterfalls here but the views can't be beat. On top of that, it's actually a very easy hike. Now, easy is relative but if you're at all able to hike this should be easy. It's paved part way up and the rest is rocky, firm ground.

You can walk up, take photos, and walk back down in an hour easily. If you spend a lot of time at the top then plan for 1.5 hours. At one point, when you're near the top you'll encounter a fork in the road. Both ways will take you to the top. The one with the seemingly never-ending, vertical stairs is faster but ever so slightly more difficult. That one also brings you right into the lookout bunker where you'll need to duck down to be able to get out of. Claustrophobic types may not like this route. I suggest going up one way and coming back the other to experience it all.

At the top are some amazing vistas so you'll want to bring that camera and grab some selfies to show the folks back home. It's touristy for sure, but still a must do thing at the top. If you have a kid that is at all active they'll do this in their sleep so encourage them to give it a try. There are railings pretty much everywhere along the way so it's quite safe. Keep eyes open and on the ground while walking, there are plenty of tripping hazards.
Lisa C
Joined: Jun 2016
Reviews: 2
Likes Received: 2
MUST hike! Your Hawaii experience isn't complete without a trek up Diamond Head. It's a fairly easy trail and you are rewarded with incredible views of Honolulu, the ocean, mountains, and the massive crater. I recommend you go early in the morning, take water and snacks. We chose to hang a left on the path up coming out of the tunnel rather than taking the stairs to the right. Views of the crater are amazing, plus my husband just had surgery. Diamond Head was top of my "must do" list and it was totally worth the hike!
debra g
Joined: Jun 2016
Reviews: 3
Likes Received: 0
Worth the hike.
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