Hiking to the top of Diamond Head Crater is a must-do for anyone visiting Oahu! The top of Diamond Head Crater provides an amazing view of Oahu and especially Waikiki Beach. Read on for tips on hiking to the top of Diamond Head Crater.
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If you’re driving a rental car, there’s parking at the base of the crater. Or you can have a cab, Lyft, or Uber drop you off. We found these options to be inexpensive and readily available.
When you’re ready to leave, there’s a cab line waiting at the base of the crater. We used Uber and were able to get a ride within 10 minutes of sending the request.
There is a bus that runs to the area, but it’s not especially close to the base of the crater. Plus, you have to walk through a narrow vehicle tunnel to reach the crater from the bus stop.
Left: Cab line at the bottom of the crater. Right: Vehicle tunnel you have to walk through if you take the bus.
If you drive yourself and park in the state’s parking lot, you’ll pay $5 per car. If you get dropped off (by cab, Uber, Lyft, bus, etc.), it’s $1 per person to enter the state park.
The hike is slightly less than a mile each way. It’ll take about 1.5 to 2 hours round trip (or longer, if you’re like me and stop a lot for pictures).
The park rules say the latest you can start your hike is 4:30pm. And everyone has to be out by 6pm.
The hiking path is on the east side of the crater, so the crater itself blocks the light when the sun starts to set. The sun sets around 6 or 7pm, depending on the time of year you visit. This is a not a path you want to be on in the dark! Plan on sticking to the park rules and be out by 6pm.
There can be a lot of traffic in Honolulu on the way to the crater. Try to allow plenty of time to get there before the 4:30pm cut-off. You can use the “depart at” function on Google maps to estimate typical traffic delays around the time you plan to leave.
Wind & Sun
It is extremely windy on the crater. Oahu is windy in general. Expect it to be especially windy at the top of the crater.
Shade is limited, which makes for a hot climb. You’ll want to apply sunscreen and fill up your water bottle before you start the climb.
What to Wear
Because of the sun, it’s a good idea to wear a hat. And because of the wind, you’ll want to wear a hat that doesn’t blow away easily.
Comfortable, sturdy shoes are a must for the uneven, rocky path.
For clothing, I wore athletic gear – it’s my go-to when I’m going to be in the sun, hot, and moving around a lot. I recommend wearing a breathable, long-sleeved shirt that protects against the sun’s rays. Then you’re not too hot, but you’re still giving yourself extra coverage from the sun.
The path is really uneven and has a lot of loose rocks. The path can be pretty steep at times, too. But it’s very doable as long as you don’t have health problems. I got a hip replacement six months before I made this hike and felt comfortable on the climb (see my victory picture below!).
Towards the end of the hike, there was a green arrow pointing towards a set of 99 steep, concrete stairs. My friends and I are rule followers to a fault, so of course we followed the arrow. We took the 99 stairs, which led to a narrow, metal staircase. That staircase was blocked off half-way up, so we were forced to go through a narrow crawl space. From there we finally got back onto a path.
Back on the path, we ran into a couple who told us that we could have skipped all the stairs and the crawl space! Instead of going right (like the arrow told us to do) we could have gone left. That takes you on a scenic path with a gradual incline around the side of the crater. Don’t do what we did. When the green arrow points right, go left and take the more scenic, gradual incline to the top of the crater.
Left: Circle shows the evil green arrow; ignore the arrow and go left. Right: The evil green arrow leads to the evil spiral stairs.
Once you reach the top, take in the amazing view of Honolulu and Diamond Head Crater. It’s well worth the climb. You might even see a rainbow while you’re up there!
Hope you have an amazing hike and enjoy your vacation!