Saturday, May 2, 2009

Honolulu - Diamond Head trail

Date of Hike: May 2, 2009

Hike Route: Diamond Head trail - up and back

If you are visiting Honolulu, this is a great quick hike to take. Its close and provides some of the best views in the Island. I decided to book Viator's Diamond Head Crater Sunrise Small Group Adventure for this hike, since they provide the transportation, guide, water and any gear you might want. The hike is accessible by other means, but really its just easier to book the tour and relax.

We started at 6am and the sun was already up, but that's ok since it provides for some very spectacular views on the way up. Note: depending on the time of the year, you may or may not see the sunrise. But don't worry -- the hike is a great morning experience anyway.

The hike starts from the parking lot of the State Monument park. The area is open 6am to 6pm -- and there is a vehicle/walk in fee -- again if you book the tour this is all taken care of.

The trailhead area consists of a parking lot and restroom area. The trail starts as a very bland cement walkway.

About 1/4 the way up, the cement trail ends and it starts to get interesting! Its all dirt and rock trail until you reach the old military bunker at the top. This is a very arid area, so there isnt much to see -- other than the views.

About halfway up the trail, the views start. There are a couple places to stop along the way and take photos. The trail is wide enough for two way traffic and there are handrails provided along steep inclines.

At about 3/4ths up - there is a great photo-op area. This is very easy to miss, its located off the left near a hairpin turn. If you are looking for it you will see it. If you miss it, just hit it on the way down. The "planks" jetting out from the area make for some great photos.

Near the top, there is a tunnel on the way into the old bunker built in the early 1900's. This used to be a UN-lighted tunnel so you had to bring a flashlight. But they installed some low lights so you can see where you are walking.

There is a steep staircase up on the final leg of the hike. After the stairs you wind up in the old bunker. Its very cool and fun for kids. There is a very shallow opening at the top of the bunker where you pop out to views of the lighthouse. Most folks will have to duck or crawl out of the bunker -- its really that shallow.

Another final set of stairs lead to the summit of Diamond Head. The views on a good day are incredible.

To get back down, you turn around and re-trace your steps down the trail. I would suggest doing the 6am Tour Option for this hike. You avoid most of the crowds -- and you can get back to your hotel in time for a big breakfast. Plus you still have the whole day to relax.

If you are visiting Honolulu, I would highly suggest this book: Oahu Revealed: The Ultimate Guide to Honolulu, Waikiki & Beyond. Its the best guide book and has lots of "local" favorites that other books ignore.

View Diamond Head State Monument in a larger map

Area - Diamond Head State Monument (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Trails - Just one -- the Diamond Head trail.
Length - 1.6 miles out and back - Easy Hike (but some steep stairs near the end)
Trail - Out and back route. Well traveled and maintained trail. Trail is a combination of cement, very compact dirt, rock and stairs. Summit is 762 feet above sea level.
Bikes - Not allowed on this hike
View - Yes, basically the whole hike is view
Getting There - Google Map or book a hike tour
Fee- Yes for parking and walk-ins
Weather - Can get hot, bring water and sunglasses
Other Trails - nope - just this one