Travel Activities: Diamond Head State Monument in Hawaii
Diamond Head State Monument is one of Hawaii’s most recognized landmarks, known for its historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views and military history. Diamond Head State Monument encompasses over 475 acres, including the interior and outer slopes of the crater.
This broad, saucer-shaped crater was formed about 300,000 years ago during a single, explosive eruption that sent ash and fine particles in the air. As these materials settled, they cemented together into a rock called tuff, creating the crater, which is visible from the trail in the park. Most of the vegetation and birds were introduced in the late 1800s to early 1900s.
The trail to the summit of Lē‘ahi was built in 1908 as part of O‘ahu’s coastal defense system. The 0.8 mile hike from trailhead to the summit is steep and strenuous, gaining 560 feet as it ascends from the crater floor. The walk is a glimpse into the geological and military history of Diamond Head. A concrete walkway built to reduce erosion shifts to a natural tuff surface about 0.2 mile up the trail with many switchbacks traversing the steep slope of the crater interior. The ascent continues up steep stairs and through a lighted 225-foot tunnel to enter the Fire Control Station completed in 1911. Built on the summit, the station directed artillery fire from batteries in Waikiki and Fort Ruger outside Diamond Head crater. At the summit, you’ll see bunkers and a huge navigational lighthouse built in 1917. The postcard view of the shoreline from Koko Head to Wai‘anae is stunning, and during winter, may include passing humpback whales.
Hours of Operation:
- Daily 6 am to 6 pm, every day of the year including holidays. Last entrance to hike the trail is at 4:30 pm. The gates are locked at 6:00 pm daily and all visitors must be out of the park by this time.
Entrance Fee (CASH ONLY):
- Individual Fee:
- $5.00 per car or $1 per person for pedestrians (no car)
- Commercial Vehicle Fee:
- $10.00 cars/vans
- $20 mini-buses
- $40 buses
- Wear comfortable sneakers (no flip flops or heels), quick drying clothing, sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen
- Bring a hand towel to keep wipe off your sweat
- Bring water and snacks
- Bring a camera to capture your spectacular view at the top
We arrived before they opened to beat the rush. Trust me, you will want to arrive early.If you do not go early enough, expect a huge crowd.
Make sure to check out the restrooms and vending machine before you start hiking. We each brought a bottle of water and finished it by the time we walked back down. Keep hydrated!
Grab a snack before your start hiking or bring a snack along. We got ours from 7-Eleven which includes manapua, shrimp hash, musubi, etc.
What a beautiful rainbow! Love seeing rainbows in Hawaii… Makes me so happy!
The hike takes you to a breathtaking view of the top of what used to be an old US Army pillboxes from WWII. This was just the beginning of our hike…
Before the cave, the path zig zagged up the steep hill with rocky and muddy paths (depending on the season you go). Sorry! I did not capture any shots of this since there were people behind me. It would have been dangerous to stop for a photo. As you can see in the photo, this is a super long cave. P.S. It was very tight and super dark!
Without stopping, the hike was about 40 minutes up and 30 minutes down. Here we are going up the steep steps!
There were multiple points of interest along the hike, each with a great view of the island.
If you love hiking, you would love this trail!
It was only 7 am and it was starting to get crowded at the top…
You can see all of Waikiki and Honolulu to the west and the most eastern corner of the island from one spot. A spectacular view! It is a great way to view the city, beach and ocean all at the same time.
Spectacular view, history, hiking and fun… If you visit Oahu, this is a must! I recommend going right when they open so you can easily find parking, beat the crowd and hike in bearable weather.