Discover the awe-inspiring Diamond Head Crater hike! Find out what to expect from the hike, parking facts, history of the Crater, and other helpful information to make your hike the best it can be. Don’t miss out on exploring Diamond Head State Monument!

Diamond Head Crater is an impressive force that rises out of Oahu’s natural and dominating landscape. Surrounding the crater is pristine blue ocean, lush vegetation, and the busy city of Waikiki. Diamond Head Crater hike is consider one of the most popular things to do when visiting either O’ahu and especially when you are staying in Honolulu. Planning on seeing another island, then check out our guide on How To Spend 36 Hours On The Big Island

After hiking the trail, I have put together the top 10 things you should know about Diamond Head Crater Hike. So here is your list to help you plan for the best adventure!

Table of Contents

Diamond Head Is Estimated To Be About 150,000 Years Old

Diamond Head Crater is part of the Ko’olau Range. This range was created from a Volcano, which was under water, over 1.8 to 2.6 million years ago. After so much work, the Volcano went dormant for over a million years. When it woke back up, it helped to create the island that you see before you today. 

Next came the Honolulu Volcanic Series, where a multitude of volcano eruptions ended up creating many of the famous landmarks on O’ahu. Examples of these are Diamond Head Crater, Punchbowl Crater, Hanauma Bay, Mãnana Island, and Koko Head. 

The exact date of when Diamond Head was formed is something that no one has determined yet. Enough evidence has not been collected to figure out the correct time frame for it. So Diamond Head Crater is estimated to be between 150,00 to 500,000 years old. 

Use To Be A Military Installation

In 1905, the federal government bought 720 acres, that included Diamond Head Crater, for $3,300. Right away work began on building Fort Ruger and then a total of 5 cannon batteries over the next few decades. In addition to the battery posts, there were bunkers and pillboxes stationed next to them. 

This along with Fort DeRussy helped to make up the U.S. Army Coastal Artillery Defense System for a number of years. During the 1940’s and 1950’s the guns were taken down and scraped, since they were outdated. It wasn’t until 1968 that Diamond Head State Monument was created. 


At the top you can see where a few other batteries and bunkers are. Not to mention the great view of Waikiki!

There Is A Fee To Enter And It Is Cash Only

The fee to get in is honestly really low, at only $1 per person or $5 per car. For most monuments or parks, this is an amazing deal. So the bad news is that they only take cash. Make sure to grab cash before you head towards the parking lot, since you won’t find a ATM machine close by. 

Parking Lot Fills Up So Go Early

Parking can be difficult during the more popular times. The lot is smaller and for us was already filled up, with a waiting line when we came down from the hike, around 10:20 a.m.. In fact, when we arrived, the lot was close to getting full and that was at 9 a.m..Don’t forget that it is $5 per car and they only take cash. 

If you do not have a car or want to wait for the lot to open then there are other alternatives to try. The Bus, is a great way to go from your hotel to right outside Diamond Head hike. It will not cost you very much when compared to a taxi. In addition to a bus, you can always go on your phone and order a Uber or Lyft ride. Have a family or a few people, then this might be the best option for price.

Last and I think a great deal is the Waikiki Trolley. Planning of seeing a few other sites and attractions, then grab a trolley pass. Only need to go one way then it will run you only $2 per person for adults and children. Have other things you want to see, then check out if getting a trolley day pass or multi day pass will work better for you. 

Starting at $25 for 1 day for 2 lines or $45 for all 6 lines. Each line has certain destination spots or hotels that you can stop to enjoy the sights for a bit and then get back on a trolley to continue on.

Some examples of stops is the Diamond Head Crater, the Waikiki Aquarium, and the Duke Kahanamoku Statue to name a few. Other packages can be bought like the Battleship Missouri bundle, Bishop Museum, or the Sea Life Park Hawaii for example. 


View of the parking lot as you come into Diamond Head State Monument. 

First Hike At 6 A.M. AND Last Hike Allowed Up Is At 4:30 P.M.

The Diamond Head Crater Hike is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Any time after 4:30 p.m. and you will not be allowed to hike it, not matter how fast you are. This makes catching the sunset impossible. For the sunrise, it can be done when the sun rises later in the fall and winter days. Just check beforehand and if you do try to make the sunrise, take a headlamp. 

10 Airport Travel Tips To Follow Before Your Next Flight

Airports and flying can be stressful so make sure to check out our guide before you make your flight to Hawaii.

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Not ADA Accessible For Most Of The Hike

Unfortunately, Diamond Head Hike is not ADA accessible due to the uneven and steep areas. For some, the first 3/4 of the hike can be done if you hold the rails and can navigate uneven, or in some cases, slippery rock. It is the last portion of the hike that can stop you.

To get to the top, you have to climb stairs that have 99 steps. In my opinion, it felt like the stairs wouldn’t end! Was I huffing some? Yes, even I had to take a few minutes to rest at the top of the stairs, before you enter the tunnel.

I personally recommend to do this because once you start walking up the inclined tunnel, you will get hot fast, with really no air flow. Also, take a minute to enjoy the view if you don’t have a big line of people behind you. 

Were Good Shoes Since The Path Is Rocky And Uneven

Remember how I said the hike was full of stairs and uneven, rocky terrain? Well this is where good shoes can really come in handy. The hike up follows the original 1908 military route they made to get to the top. 

 My wife and I had hiking boots on and even then we took our time because it was drizzling some. With a little bit of water, the rocks become more slippery. On the way down, we both noticed how many water puddles accumulated in such a short time. 

The rest of the hike up involves metal stairs, concert tunnels, spiral stairs, and then ducking to crawl through the opening of the bunker you are in. This is if you go right after trekking up a long and hot tunnel. Go left to view the scenic landscape from the man made lookout.

Need a rest, then this is the time to do it since there are benches present to sit on. It is your choice if you want to take the easy way and go up the 76 steps to the left or tackle the 99 steps with a little bit of bending down to get to the top. Just make sure to have good shoes with a good grip!


Make sure to have shoes with a good grip since the path is rocky, uneven in parts, and can be slippery when wet. 

Little Shade With Hot Weather

Do not be fooled with the beginning of the hike that takes you on a paved path through some trees. This will not last long. Instead, you will be hiking the trail in the sun for most of the time. There is very little shade present on the trail. 

Take advantage of the few lookouts they have to rest or take a drink of water. It is always wise for each person to have at least one bottle of water on them. The tunnel will offer all the shade you want, but it dose lack a good airflow to help you cool off. Lastly, the top can be not only hot, but windy too. So take off your hat if you do not want to loose it.

There Are Lookouts As You Hike Up

Make sure you do not skip the lookouts on the way up. Each one will show you a view of each side of the Island as you make your way up the crater. Take a chance to take pictures if you want or rest for those that need it. 


Enjoy the views at each lookout or use the time to rest for a minute.

Be Prepared To Climb Up Stairs With 99 Steps And Then Another 76

The dreaded stairs is what will keep some from the top after exiting the main tunnel. A few older people around us and a few with children only decided to go to the lookout before the stairs. It can be a lot for some to continue, but no matter what the views are worth it.

 After exiting the 225-foot tunnel, if you want to see it all then go right up the 99 steps, then up the spiral stairs, and then straight where you will end up in a bunker.You can climb out through the opening to see Diamond Head Beach and Waikiki.  

Afraid of heights, then maybe reconsider going all of the way up or just don’t look down. It is not fun being with someone who is crying and scared of the heights because they wanted to go with you. You end up feeling really bad. Trust me, I had a similar experience and all I can say is, I truly am sorry Mom. 


Turn right when you come out of the first tunnel for the more strenuous, yet more direct route with 99 steps. Or turn left to find the easier route with 76 steps. 

Extra Tip: Only Facilities Are Located By Parking Lot

All of the facilities are located between the parking lot and the start of the trail. Here you will find the information kiosk, bathrooms, and concession stands. Use the restrooms before you hike or buy some water here if you forgot to bring any.

Prices are reasonable and of course they have some pineapple products. They also offer hot dogs and cut up pineapple slices. Try the pineapple smoothie, it was really good. 

Don’t Forget To Pin For Later!

Top 10 Things To Know About Diamond Head Crater Hike





Have you visited Diamond Head Crater hike in Hawaii? Did you enjoy yourself and is there anything you would recommend?  Have any other activities or places we should see, let us know in the comments section. From Phoenix? Hi neighbor! Thanks for taking a look at our site and don’t forget to subscribe for future articles and tips. 

The information on this website has come from research and by experiencing it ourselves. Opening hours, closures, prices, etc. are always subject to change. We try to keep up to date on any new information, or tips to help make your adventure more enjoyable. 

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