Tourists at Home: We Finally Went Up Diamond Head

You know when you live somewhere and there are landmarks that everyone wants to see when they visit, and you live there, and you never go? Or you don’t go unless someone comes to visit, and you say you were saving it to visit with them, but really, you just never wanted to deal with the crowds and the parking?

That’s Diamond Head if you live in Honolulu.

Diamond Head is a mountain and a crater, I guess? There is a crater you can see when you go up. You’ll see it in pictures in a sec.

It’s also in the middle of Honolulu. It’s walking distance from Waikiki, and gives you great views of the southeast of Oahu. As you’ll see in my mediocre pictures, the views are quite beautiful.

Now, Diamond Head is a VERY popular hike. So you have to time it right to avoid crowds and find parking. In fact, most people just park at the bottom, walk, or take a bus/Uber. It’s also paved, so it’s very, very accessible, which makes it even more crowded. There is also no shade, so it’s not a hike everyone (ahem, Cam) can do at just any hour because it would be way too much sun exposure. Our firefighter friend told us it’s common to have to airlift people out of Diamond Head – people underestimate the risk of heat exhaustion often.

In between all that caution and hoping we could just do it when one of the throngs of visitors we would have living in Hawaii came, we had lived here for two years and still hadn’t gone up Diamond Head.

And then COVID happened.

As a result, parks, beaches, and trails in Oahu were closed on and off for the better part of 2020. This put a major damper on our hiking and general outdoor time. Not all of these outdoor spaces are managed the same way though – so even when the state reopened parks, trails, and beaches, Diamond Head stayed closed, because it’s a federally managed monument.

By the time Diamond Head opened again last month, it had been closed for almost nine months.

One Saturday, we decided we were just going to suck it up, and do it.

The first fun part: it was free because we’re Hawaii residents. Everyone else has to pay for entrance AND parking. So saving on that was fun.

Second fun part: already mentioned, but Diamond Head is all paved. Okay, not all paved. There are some sections of the trail that have rocks and gave us major Hallasan deja vu, but not terrible. So it’s a trail that is doable even if your gear isn’t great. We wore very worn down, old training shoes and it was fine.

Third fun part: there is a truck at the bottom that will sell Dole Whip, like what you get at Disneyland. Is it sad that the best part of the hike was finishing it and getting Dole Whip?

Fourth fun part: We actually finished it in about the time prescribed – approximately two hours round trip.

Is it a must if you come to Oahu? No. We think the Makapu’u viewpoint is MUCH better, and a less crowded hike, even for sunrise, which is it’s most popular time. If you go back on the blog, you’ll find our thoughts on it.

Is it worth the money? Also probably no, but we didn’t pay, so I can’t really judge that.

Are there worse things you could be doing on a weekend afternoon? Absolutely.

The views are nice, but again, not views you can’t see from other points in Oahu. Nevertheless, good views.

These were tricky to take without having a bunch of people in them. NOBODY WAS SOCIALLY DISTANCING IN THAT SUMMIT!

Coming up: We are finally going to spend a few days up north for spring break. I might bring the big guns and use our DSLR while we are there. I’m looking forward to pictures of turtles, sunrises, and sunsets. I’m an old geezer now that wakes up before the sun most days of her life, so the least I can do is picture the sunrise, right?

We’ll also be talking about some of our favorite places to eat in upcoming posts. Love to all,


Published by Team McGregor

Living and teaching in the Middle East - previously in China, South Korea, and Hawaii (US). This is our blog dedicated to our travels and life living well as some other fun stuff!

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