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Hiking Diamond Head Crater

Hiking Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head Crater was always going to be the first stop on our schedule once we made arrangements to zip around Hawaii on mopeds. One, because it’s a major tourist attraction with an excellent vantage point (meaning great photos!) and two, because of its proximity to where we were staying in Honolulu.

After the short ride from Waikiki, we parked our mopeds in the parking lot and stood together at the base of the crater before the “are you ready to climb?” sign. With little beads of sweat already starting to form on our foreheads under the blazing Hawaiian sun, the sign told us to prepare for:

  • The hot sun.
  • A winding trail with steep stairways and dark tunnels.
  • A 1.5 mile (2.2 kilometer) hike round trip.

The sign also said that most people take 1.5 – 2 hours to hike to the summit and back. “Let’s do this!”, we said, as we took the first steps forward on our climb to the top. As the burn started to penetrate our calves around 10 minutes later, we started to wonder whether we had made the right decision.

But there was no turning back now so onwards we kept going!

The Diamond Head Trail

The Diamond Head Trail

A few more minutes later we were greeted by a worker, “welcome to the halfway to halfway point!”. Fortunately he was only half-serious and we continued our ascension to the top including a 74-step climb followed by these very steep 99 steps.

The 99 Steps at Diamond Head Monument

The very steep 99 steps at Diamond Head Monument

Once we climbed the steps and made our way through another tunnel and up a staircase, the summit was in sight and the ocean breeze was a welcoming change from the scorching sun. But there was still some more excitement to come – workers on the side of the crater had accidentally started a small brush fire and the local fire department was called in to put it out.

There’s only one way for the firemen to get up to the top of Diamond Head quickly and that’s by helicopter! We watched on as two crews of firemen were transported to the top and proceeded to put out the fire using their shovels and other tools. Not something you see every day!

Fire Rescue at Diamond Head

Fire Rescue at Diamond Head

With that episode of our adventure out of the way, there was only one more thing to be done and that was reach the top of Diamond Head! We’ll let the photos show you the picturesque views we were rewarded with from the top of the crater.

Diamond Head Hike

Right before the final climb to the top of Diamond Head

View from the top of Diamond Head - Inside the Crater

View from the top of Diamond Head - Inside the Crater

View from the top of Diamond Head - Honolulu and Waikiki

View from the top of Diamond Head - Honolulu and Waikiki

As you can see, the hike to the top of one of Hawaii’s most recognized icons was definitely worth the effort!

The trek back down the crater was a lot easier than the climb to the top and we were back in the parking lot before you knew it! Exhausted, we had to reward ourselves and the only option was the Magoo’s Burgers food truck.

Magoos Burgers

The reward at the bottom - hot dogs and cold drinks from a food truck.

Magoo’s turned out to be delicious and exactly the hit we needed after a nice workout. We grabbed ourselves a pair hot dogs, a cold water (we should have got the shave ice!) and sat under some nearby trees for lunch and to allow our legs to return to their normal state.

The climb to the top of Diamond Head was not a hardcore hike and there were plenty of kids, older people and out-of-shape folks who made the trek to the top. However, we learnt some valuable lessons on our hike that we want to share with those who are planning on hiking Diamond Head.

Tips for hiking Diamond Head Crater

1. Go early! We hiked Diamond Head under the midday sun, which was definitely not the smartest idea. If you’re an early riser, go as early as you can to avoid the heat of the sun and the crowds (the park opens at 6am). You might even want to catch the sunrise at the top of the crater.

2. Wear good walking shoes. The track is uneven and steep and the last thing you want to do is twist your ankle on the way to the top. Not only should you wear good walking shoes, but always pay attention to where you’re stepping.

3. Bring plenty of water. There’s little shade on the way to the top and for those who are unaware, the sun in Hawaii is like nowhere else in the world. It’s scorching! Keep those fluids up and bring plenty of water on your hike.

4. Wear a hat and sunscreen. Following up from the last point, wear a hat and sunscreen unless you want to come down looking a little more like a lobster. The sun here is like no other we’ve experienced and sunburn happens in no time.

5. Go to the bathroom before you start your hike. There are no rest stops along the way. You don’t want to have to rush back down the crater just because you have to use the bathroom!

Have you hiked Diamond Head before? What would you tell someone wanting to hike it for the first time?