Located on the island of Oahu, Diamond Head is one of the most recognizable peaks in Hawaii. Overlooking Waikiki, it's drama makes for picturesque views. The 'peak' is now only the highest point of a dormant volcano that blew it's top thousands of years ago. The ancient Hawaiians called Diamond Head, "Le' Ahi", meaning "brow" or "back" since it looks like the dorsal fin of the Tuna. The common name of Diamond Head came from U.S. and British sailors mistaking the calcate crystals for diamonds. Before World War II, the U.S. dug out lookout bunkers because of the expansive view from Aiea and Hawaii Kai all the way to Pearl Harbor. On a clear day, you can see Maui and even Molokai.
The trail to the peak is often crowded because of its ease and distance from downtown Waikiki. It's a great trek for the whole family. The trail is about 0.8 mile long and can be done in just tennis shoes (if it's not wet). It's recommended to carry a flashlight to negotiate a tunnel walkway and a REALLY dark winding staircase. The majority of the trail is a natural pathway carved out by foot traffic. As you near the top, you begin making your way through the bunkers, but that's not before you hit the stairs. 100 of them to be exact! I didn't count them, but they're numbered in increments of 10. Oh yeah, that's after the first set of stairs of 60-70 stairs...
Heading East on highway I-H1, take the Koko Head Ave exit (Exit #26A). Turn right on Koko Head Ave and then left on Pahoa Ave, about a half mile down. Turn right at the four-way stop on 18th Ave. At the end of 18th Ave, make a quick right and a quick left (you will see the sign for Diamond Head) will take you to the Diamond Head Crater National Park.
If you don't have a car, the #58 or #22 bus should get you there, too.
Once you are in the parking lot, the trailhead starts on the left of the restrooms at the far end of the lot.
There isn't a fee to actually hike the trail, but there is a $5.00 parking fee. Also, the park is only open from 6 am to 6 pm. If you park, BE SURE TO BE OUT BY 6 PM, or your car will be stuck since they close the gate to the only entrance to the parking lot. I also heard that they either start towing cars in the lot at 7 pm or that you'd have to pay another day's parking the next day when you pick up your car. Either way, I didn't want to find out.
When To Climb
I believe that the trail is open year-round because of the mild Hawaiian climate. Even in the rain, I don't suspect that the trail would be much harder, just watch your step.
No camping allowed/available in the Diamond Head Crater National Park.
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