Diamond Head Trail Oahu
Honolulu from Diamond Head Trail

Diamond Head Trail Oahu is well worth the hike with the most amazing views of Honolulu.

Diamond Head trail

The most famous volcanic crater in the world is Diamond Head, located on the South-east Coast of O’ahu at the end of Waikiki overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was originally named Laeahi by the ancient Hawaiians. The name meant “brow of the tuna” and looking at the silhouette from Waikiki, you can see the resemblance. The current name was given to the crater by British sailors in the 1800’s.

When they first saw the crater at a great distance, the calcite crystals in the lava rock appeared to glimmer in the sunlight. The sailors mistakenly thought there must be diamonds in the soil. Diamond Head crater has been extinct for 150,000 years. It’s 3,520 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit. When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, harbor defense became a main responsibility. One of the major defense forts, Fort Ruger, occupied the Diamond Head Crater.

A battery of canons was located within the crater providing complete concealment and protection from invading enemies. An observation deck was constructed at the summit in 1910 to provide target sighting and a four level underground complex was built within the walls of the crater as a command post. A 580-foot tunnel was dug through the crater wall to provide easier access to the Fort.

The Climb

It isn’t too bad, but the heat can get you if you aren’t careful. The observation deck and underground complex is now abandoned with the advent of radar. However, evidence of the command post is still present along Diamond Head Trail. The trail is paved almost the entire way, but can be steep in spots.

There are two sets of stairs, one with 99 steps and the other, 76 steps. There is also a 225-foot unlit tunnel. The hike is classified as easy to moderate in exertion but is certainly worth the breathtaking view of Waikiki to Koki Head.

Useful Information:

• Diamond Head Trail is 1 ¾ miles to the rim and takes about 1 ½ hours
• There is NO shade – schedule an early hike
• Bring water
• Bathrooms available at the trailhead (none up top)

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