Diamond head hike is one on the must-do activities while on vacation in Oahu, Hawaii. Today is day 3 of our Hawaii family vacation. A favorite tourist destination on the island of Oahu in Waikiki. It is also known as a National Monument.
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Here is what you need to know about going on a hike to Diamond Head.
History of Diamond Head Crater:
A little bit of history on this national landmark. In the early 1900s, the crater is used as a strategic military lookout, spanning over 475 acres. It served as a forceful defense of watchtower because it provides views of Waikiki and the south shore of Oahu.
The Broad saucer-shaped crater was said to have been formed about 300,000 years ago during a single explosive eruption. The steep trails and switchbacks were designed to be traveled by mules and by foot.
Most of the vegetation and birds were introduced in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Today’s public entrance was built in the 1940’s is known as the Kahala Tunnel.
Hiking Diamond Head
We started at a slow incline through trees and pavement. The hike is 0.8 miles from the trailhead into the summit.
It is steep and strenuous as you gain 560 feet is it ascends from the crater floor. There is a concrete walkway built to reduce erosion shifts to a natural turf surface about 0.2 miles up the trail, there are many switchbacks that traverses to the uneven and steep slope of the crater interior.
The ascent is also very steep, and too rough in some areas.
There are railings that one can hold onto and to protect you from falling. You will come across individuals walking up and down the narrow, steep switchbacks.
Some steep stairways are also part of the trail, so be careful and take your time if you need to. Likewise, there are other portions of the path that will lead you through a long lighted tunnel.
After we exited the 225 feet long tunnel (which was somewhat scary upon initial entry), we turned right and took the 99 steps. This then led to the lowest level of the fire control station.
We then moved onward to the lighted spiral staircase which accessed the 4 levels of the fire station.
Fact: This fire control station was completed in 1911.
Part of it is closed to the public and serves as a platform for antennas used by the US government.
There are 52 stairs to the third level, eventually up to the summit.
However, before reaching the peak, you will exit to the crater’s exterior through slits that were once covered by metal shutters (although the outside is camouflaged by concrete).
Fact: The 99 steps are a small set of narrow stairs. Oh, and yes, I felt the burn!
At the summit, you’ll see bunkers and a huge navigational lighthouse which is built in 1917.
Tips on hiking in Hawaii
Plan for 1.5 to 2 hours for a safe and relaxed roundtrip hike. The last 1/10 of a mile is very steep and are all stairs. To note my 10-year-old and I made it up in 35 minutes and ran some parts down. So our round trip time was under an hour. But that was our choice because we had to be somewhere else soon.
With that said we made it a point to wear good running/trail shoes were dressed appropriately.
We wore wool shirts and shorts as well. Us Alaskans are not used to this hot weather. Additionally, we also had an insulated water bottle (must-have for cold water) that is strapped around my waist, so my hands are free while I navigate the steep trails.
The hours are 6 AM to 6 PM daily every day including holidays.
Last entrance to hike the trail is at 4:30 PM. They lock the gates at 6 PM daily, and visitors must be out of the park by this time.
They do not allow pets are except for service animals. The entrance fee is five dollars per car or one dollar per person for pedestrians. They only take cash.
We got there at 8:25 just to arrive in a full parking lot. My husband had to turn around and take her younger child somewhere else while we in my 10-year-old attempt the summit.
We did get to see a spectacular view of Waikiki as we reach the summit. Thank goodness for my inhaler (I had pre-medicated before the hike). We came to top with my 10-year-old was worth it. I can tell that he was especially proud of himself for reaching the summit in a short amount of time.
He actually enjoyed the steep 99 stairs and was actually asking to climb it again, of course, I said no. My little hiking buddy and I, as tired and hungry as we were, were especially proud of ourselves for making it to the summit and half the usual time, and for making memories as mother and son. Yeay for family vacation and bonding!
More details here: Diamond Head State Monument.