Hiking Diamond Head (the day of a flight out of Hawaii!)


I'm hoping that this post helps people wanting info about the Diamond Head hike because when I was looking for info online (including climb time) I found very little that provided the information that I needed.

I was in Hawaii on a time crunch, there for 2 days for a training for work then flying out. I wanted to get in some of the beauty before leaving the island. When considering Koko Head and Diamond Head, Diamond Head won because of the close proximity to where I was staying (Waikiki) and the time crunch of needing to catch a flight that day.

I took a Lyft to Diamond Head, they stop you at the tunnel until the park opens. Some people park there (very limited spots) and tour buses drop people off there as well. There is a park ranger who lines people up to try to make sure it's a smooth process and flow getting people into the ticket booth. From the tunnel you go down a small hill and around the corner and the ticket booth will be in front of you (it's along the road). I chose to jog the whole way there to get ahead of the large group of people. I suggest this if you're able and on a time crunch (or just want to get to the top and enjoy some peace up there before the masses arrive)

The tunnel before they let you in to head down to the ticket booth

The path starts as a very smooth (almost like a sidewalk) surface that starts winding up the crater. After a little bit it changes to uneven surface with rocks and ditches that you really can't see unless you have a light of some sort.

Further up the crater there are steep stairs and even winding staircases that you have to navigate. When you get to the winding staircases you're almost there!

This hike is 100% worth it if you're traveling to Hawaii and 100% doable if you are on a time crunch! I had plenty of time to do the hike, enjoy the top, get back down, back to my hotel, and even enjoy some additional time in Waikiki before having to leave for the airport.

At the bottom there is a small souvenir shop (not open when you first start hiking if you start at 6am) as well as some food stands. Especially wonderful was the fresh cut pineapple that I chose for my post hike snack! The food stands open when the park opens but they also can take a little while to get set up so it could delay your start. I would advise (if you want to get to the top before the crowd) eating before or just waiting until you get back to the bottom, it's not that long of a hike. Small sacrifice for serenity at the top (before all of the selfie sticks arrive!)
Happy Hiking!

  • Get there early. Park opens officially at 6am for hikers/runners, but they will let you through the tunnel leading down to the ticket window starting around 5:50am. I highly suggest getting there early, even running ahead of the tour bus crowd to get to the ticket window and start your hike
  • Use the bathroom at the bottom, there is nothing along the trail or at the top. No real place to do a quick "pee in the woods" along the trail either so consider that!
  • If you want to enjoy the top, book it, hike fast (and start immediately when the park opens). It gets VERY crowded.
  • Getting down can be a little tricky because there is a tiny staircase near the top where you almost climb out of a hole, it fits one person at a time, so if there is a crowd of people coming up to the top and you're trying to get down, this process can take a while...unless you're pushy!
  • There is a $1 entrance fee (bringing exact change is helpful as they don't have a cash drawer to break bigger bills. I had a $20 they couldn't break so I paid on my way out after they had more money)
  • There is a parking lot ($10 for cars) but it's very small and fills up very quickly. Much easier to take a Lyft/Uber there. Mine was about $25 from where I was staying in Waikiki (and because of the time of day)
  • Times to get up/down may vary. I was really moving to get up to the top and then stayed at the top until I started to see other hikers coming (the crowd) then I started back down. Total time up/down was 35 minutes for me
  • Distance (according to my Garmin) was approximately 1.5 miles. 
  • Bring a headlamp (if you're doing it right when they open!) Wish I had one for when the path surface changed to the uneven stuff, you really can't see unless you use your cell phone light or a small hand held flashlight, a headlamp would have been best
  • Dress in layers (it was a little chilly at the bottom but once I started I was very warm). I hiked most of it in a tank top and capri leggings. I also wore trail running shoes (hiking boots are not necessary for this hike)
  • Prepare to feel completely unfit. People literally run up this bitch. RUN. I was huffing and puffing at the "brisk walk" speed. I got lapped 3 times by one guy. Not sure if I was more impressed with his Matrix like abilities to get through the crowds, or that he was running up a mountain. For fun. Either way a million times fitter than I!


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