This nearly 200,000 year old (dormant) volcano is a State Monument and the most prominent feature of O‘ahu’s south shore. Both visitors and locals associate its majesty with the allure of Waikiki. Diamond Head was known to the Hawaiians as Le‘ahi, which literally translates as “prominent tuna” because they believed the crown of it looks like a tuna’s fin.
And although its birth and history could be an entire 5,000 word entry, the real reason I’m writing about Diamond Head is because of its trail. At the top of which rests one of O‘ahu’s greatest lookout points, proffering a complete view of Waikiki, Kapi‘olani Park, and the entire coastline east to Koko Head Crater.
For seasoned hikers or trail runners, Diamond Head will be a cake walk. Many locals run it regularly for a good workout. For those in really good shape, you can expect to spend 30-45 minutes running this (up and down) if you stop to take in the view. For people in moderate shape, this will prove to be an excellent, but not terrifying hiking experience. (There are handrails the entire way, if you need them!) This hike is suitable for athletic children, but I don’t recommend bringing them if they’re younger than 6 or 7 years old. If you want to take your time, allot at least two hours to make it up and down.
Additional tips from a local: 1) Towards the top, you’ll be met by two sets of stairs, and these are not just any sets of stairs: one has 99 steps and the other, 76. 2) Bring water and a small snack. 3) The best times for photographing Waikiki from the top are mid-morning (sun will rise behind you and provide good back light) or just before sunset. The latter is only possible during the winter from November to late December when the sun dips below the horizon just before 6pm. 4) The parking lot and entrance gate are on the back side of Diamond Head (not the Waikiki side). Just drive around its perimeter and you’ll find it.
*The phone number listed is for the State Parks Division.