Hiking Diamond Head on Waikiki
7 months ago / in Travel
You can’t go to Waikiki without spending an hour or two hiking Diamond Head.
It’s the classic peak that rises out of the sea. You can see it from any hotel along Waikiki beach, and on our last full day in paradise, we grabbed an uber and headed to the park.
Diamond Head is a state park that features a 3,000 year old crater with a well-marked hiking path and unrivaled views of the white sand of Waikiki. It’s just a few minutes’ drive from the hotel district — I don’t recommend walking — and there’s a visitor center at the base of the trail. Make sure you arrive before 4:30: after that, they stop letting people in to ensure visitors have enough time to get all the way up and all the way back down.
You’d think I’d take my own advice, right? We barely arrived in time to start the ascent, and I was sure we’d end up alone, in the dark at the top, and that we’d have to make our way down using our phones as flashlights. As a result, I made Joe practically jog all the way up the trail.
The hike itself is no Kalalau Trail, but it is not for the faint of heart. You start with a relatively easy uphill walk, but the the angle only becomes steeper as you make your way. Eventually, the dirt path gives way to a staircase. And then another, and another, and suddenly you’re in a dark cave, slowly making your way toward a pinpoint of light at the other end. Turns out we really did use our phones as flashlights!
After another few sets of narrow stairs — really, ladders — you pop out onto a viewing deck with all of Waikiki at your feet.
Even at sunset the top of Diamond Head is completely packed. And don’t underestimate the wind! I was sure I’d lose my phone up there in that breeze!
Waikiki looked practically peaceful from that height, but I was more taken by the waves, and a little white speck of a lighthouse on another point on Oahu.
From the top, there are plenty of look out points and ridges to totter along. Fortunately, they’re all carefully marked!
And that isn’t the way down! Be sure to wear athletic shoes if you make the trip; you’re going to want the grip, and your feet will want to be comfortable.
After soaking up the sunset, we made our way back down. The round trip took us about an hour, but that includes our frenzied pace on the way up. You couldn’t go quite as fast on the way down because, well…
If you’re spending any time on Waikiki beach, hiking Diamond Head really is not be missed. The views, the exercise, the sea air — it’s all worth the trip.