Diamond Head Trail Hike In Hawaii: 10 tips to make the most of your visit

Switching gears this afternoon, to share a post on the PLANES side of the blog.

What brought this on you ask?

Well, I’m currently watching the snow/ice/wind storm from my window, desperately wishing I could be transported somewhere warm and sunny☀️☀️☀️

Why oh why can’t  that amazing teleportation machine from Star Trek be a real thing…


WHERE: Waikiki, Oahu in Hawaii
WHEN: beginning of October
WEATHER: hot, but not too humid, with temperatures in the mid 80s F or high 20s C

It’s another gorgeous day in Waikiki, and Diamond Head beckons…

I’m certainly not new to this adventure,
I have walked this path before.
More than once in fact,
I know what to expect.
But that was many years ago,
when I was significantly younger…
Lē’ahi please be kind to me.

And so we set out to conquer the volcano, and were well rewarded with a beautiful bird’s eye view of Waikiki.

Diamond Head trail hike summit potsandplanes.com


We are back, tis done and I survived.
Mistakes…I made a few
Forgot some key advice,
it’s just been too long since my last visit.
But it was all all worth it.
And yes, I’d do it again!

What a fantastic morning hike that was.

But, boy oh boy, we came across many folks out on the trail that were so ill equipped, and unprepared.

It got me thinking that there’s still a need to share good tips on how to make this outing a better and more memorable experience. Especially for those of us who are just occasional hikers, not too outdoorsy and perhaps not in tip top shape.

So here are my thoughts…

The Diamond Head Summit Trail is a very popular tourist attraction in Oahu. And for good reason.

Lē’ahi, as it is known by the people of Hawaii, is definitely the most recognized landmark here. Let’s face it, it’s hard to miss.

Beautiful, sweeping vistas of the ocean, the coast and neighboring islands, and of course the Waikiki beaches….it all awaits you once you reach the lookout at the top.

These scenic views, you can’t really get from anywhere else.

Close proximity to Waikiki makes it easily and quickly reachable by public transportation or by car.

Also…it’s a pretty cheap outing.
Entrance fee for those walking into the park is a buck. That’s right, $1 US dollar gets you in! That’s a steal for this most excellent adventure.

How to get there

If you have a rental car, go ahead and drive in, keeping in mind the parking lot is small and you may have to wait for a spot to open up (the cost per car entry is $5.00).

No car? No problem! You can easily reach this destination with local buses. Check the local transportion apps or google for the most current route numbers and stops from your hotel. A word of warning, the buses do not enter the crater. You will be dropped off fairly close but the walk to the ticket booth is approximately 20 minutes. Totally doable!

Now, lets get real…if you want to have that fantastic experience, you have to prepare.
Too often, we the tourists, get so caught up cramming in all we can on our trips, that we don’t take enough time to properly outfit ourselves with simple, basic necessities and a little extra knowledge.


We woke up and said to ourselves “let’s go”. Not ideal, even though we had done this hike in the past.

It was a great reminder that a bit of planning really does go a long way.


Diamond Head Trail Hike Tips

Here are my top 10 tips for making the most of this hike:

1. Go early!

Park opens at 6am, plan on getting there by 8am at the latest, for a cooler hike, after that it does get pretty hot out there, and busier too (otherwise plan on going at about 4pm when the sun is not as strong, keeping in mind that the last entry is at 430pm and you must exit the park by 6pm)

2. Wear running shoes or hiking shoes

(no flip flops, no wedges, definitely no heels! Even if you think they would look fabulous on you instagram or snapchat photos, it’s a  NO)

3. A tank top is ideal…sunglasses, a hat and don’t forget to put on the the sunscreen before you head out.

(you will be hot, you will sweat…there’s no other way!)

4. Bring a bottle of water

(Please people…each person needs their own!)

5. Pack a small snack

Optional but nice. A few cookies, some mixed nuts, a banana or an energy bar is the perfect nibble while taking in the view at the top, or once you come back down, but that is all you need (don’t pack a picnic, there’s nowhere to sit and enjoy it)

6. Bring your camera, or at least your cell phone!

The views are stunning, take lots of pictures. (all my photos were taken with my old iPhone 6 and I think they turned out quite well)

7. Got Binoculars? Bring them! This is the perfect place to use them!

I forgot mine this time and I really missed them.
(They do sell cheap little ones at the souvenir shop when you enter the park, I can’t vouch for how well they work, but in a pinch they might be ok)

8. Give yourself a good 1  1/2 to 2 hours to enjoy this special place without rushing through it.

I saw too many people so focused on getting to the top that there’s no way they had a chance to take in and appreciate their surroundings. There were moments when we too got caught up in the “race to the top” but thankfully our bodies reminded us that we were not built for it, lol lol. But seriously do yourself a favor, stop a few times along the way, catch your breath, turn yourself around and look…you are inside an ancient crater…it’s a fascinating thing!

9. Do grab that little green pamphlet they offer you at the entrance, when you pay for your admission…and actually read it!

For a small, unpretentious piece of paper, it really is packed full of interesting information about the trail, the crater, the history, what to expect and what to look for. If you don’t, you will miss stuff, simply because you don’t know it exists.

10. Use the washroom.

Before you start your hike! It’s located soon after the entrance, near the gift shop. Top up your water bottle at the water fountain while you’re there as well.

There you go, now you are ready.
Go on…take in this fantastic adventure.

diamond head trail potsandplanes.com

Pace yourself…this is not a race, so go ahead and let those fitness buffs pass you, they probably do this daily! Lol

You’re doing this on your own terms…leisurely is your style…you got this!

And…who’s chasing you anyways?

The walk/hike is classed as moderate in difficulty. And I have to agree. The path surface is nicely paved at the start, but becomes very uneven and rocky as you gradually climb the 560 feet up the side of the crater. It also becomes much steeper, and there aren’t many benches or great spots to sit at and rest along the way.

Then there’s the stairs to contend with…2 long flights of many many steps…the sun…the heat…not much shade…it ain’t easy…but it is absolutely worth it!

stairs at diamond head potsandplanes.com


Just when you think you’ll never get there…you finally get to the summit, either by crawling out of the bunker or via the new cheater path that my daughter and friend discovered (it allows you to avoid the second brutal stair climb and tunnel).

You have arrived!

Take it all in, the views are magnificent, on a clear day you can see quite far (I’m telling you, bring those binoculars!). Unfortunately there’s a serious lack of spots to sit at and relax here. So take your photos, enjoy the view, check your information pamphlet for those points of interest, catch your breath…and you are done.


There’s not much more to do at that point, but to make your way back down…that same trail…it’s amazing how fast you will reach the bottom…like anything else, when it’s over, it’s over!

And now that you’re back, right where you started, there’s a little gift store you might want to check out…no surprise of course, but it’s good to know that they are the only official Diamond Head souvenirs, and proceeds go right back into funding/upkeep of the park.



You may have spotted the smoothie and shaved ice truck on your way in…we sure did and we made a mental note to ourselves to indulge once we were done.


Fresh pineapple smoothies, served in hollowed out pineapples sure looked amazing and delicious, but they were a bit pricey at $10 a pop! (why are pineapples in Hawaii so expensive now??) I’m sure they were divine though, and I regret not splurging.

The shaved ice was more affordable at $5. It was huge and came in several fruity flavours…we indulged. Mine was a tad too sweet and syrupy for my taste buds, but it was still a refreshing and welcome treat.


To get back into Waikiki, take the path back through the road tunnel, out to the main road, cross the street and wait for your bus at the covered bus stop a few feet down the road.

I highly recommend doing this hike while on the island of Oahu. It’s something you can do on your own, without the need to book a tour or get a guide. It’s a great outing for single travelers, couples, groups of friends and families too, if your kids are willing to walk! Trust me, you definitely don’t want to end up carrying your children or push a stroller on this narrow, busy and rocky trail. Of course, if you are accustomed to hiking with your kiddies tucked into a carrier on your back, then you go right ahead, because you are amazing and you will do just fine.

So what are you waiting for?
Enjoy it.
Hawaii is beautiful, it’s one of my favourite places in the world, and…

I will be back!



diamond head hike tips potsandplanes.com

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