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07 Jun 2024
Things to Do
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Embassy Suites Waikiki

Hike Diamond Head: Helpful Hints to Get You to the Top


Leahi, or Diamond Head, is one of the most popular attractions on Oahu, and for good reason. The iconic silhouette of this volcanic tuff cone is inescapable from land and sea when in Waikiki. Admire the magnificent mount as you stroll down the beach, make it the backdrop for family photos, and purchase a postcard featuring the famous landmark. 


For a closer look, plan a hike from the inside of the crater to the summit, and you'll be rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views of Waikiki, Oahu's coastline, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean. The 0.8-mile trail climbs 560 feet above the crater floor via a series of switch backs, uneven terrain, steep stairways, and semi-dark tunnels. To make the most of your experience, follow our 10 tips for a successful climb:


Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson

1.    Make a Reservation
Visitors must purchase admission ($5/person) and parking ($10/car) online in advance. Tip: reservations can be made up to 30 days ahead, so book early to secure your spot. Admission for local Hawaii residents is free, and reservations are not needed. 


2.    Go Early or Late
The hike can be hot, so it's best to avoid the midday sun. The gates are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the latest you'd want to start the hike is 4 p.m. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours for a leisurely round-trip. 


3.    Pack the Essentials
You'll need a hat, sunscreen, good walking or hiking shoes, and water. The terrain is too rough for a stroller, so use a baby carrier if you have young children in your group. Heads-up: there are no bathrooms or concessions on the trail, so plan a rest stop at the base before you begin hiking. 



4.    Know your Limits
There are several benches and rest areas along the hike for you to take breaks and catch your breath. If you don't want to climb the 250 total steps to the summit, there are three lookouts at lower elevations which have great views as well. Also of note is a 225-feet long lighted tunnel, which may disturb hikers with claustrophobia. 


5.    Earn a Jr. Ranger Badge
If you are hiking with kids, make sure to stop at the information booth when you arrive to pick up a free Junior Ranger Adventure Book. Work on the activities during the hike and receive a Junior Ranger Badge when you finish.  


6.    Opt for the Audio Tour
If you are curious about the geological, cultural, and military history of Leahi, rent the self-guided audio tour ($12) from the information booth. There are designated points along the trail where you'll stop to listen to recordings.



7.    Snap the Best Photos
Arguably, the most prized photo op is at the top of the summit with the backdrop of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean. Another great snapshot is of the East Oahu shoreline looking toward another volcanic tuff cone, Koko Head. 
8.    Plan a Picnic
Fuel up for the hike at several shaded picnic tables near the information booth. While there are water and beverage vending machines on-site, you'll need to bring your own food. 


9.    Shop the Farmers' Market 
If you plan your hike for a Saturday morning, you'll also be able to enjoy the nearby farmers' market at Kapiolani Community College, just outside the entrance to the crater. Browse hundreds of local vendors selling tropical produce, prepared foods, and gifts.  



10.    Look for Birds
Birdwatchers will enjoy the informational signs at the base of the hike detailing the species often seen in the crater. You may spot the Java Sparrow, Myna, Japanese White Eye and the Red-Vented Bulbul.


Header Image Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Vincent Lim

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