|Please help keep the Park clean and attractive. Don't litter. If you see something like a bottle cap that someone else dropped and you can pick it up, please do so.
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Home Apr 13, 2009
Military History Sep 24, 2009
FAQ Sep 7, 2009
Photo Gallery Sep 7, 2009
Links Apr 21, 2009
You may now access this site by going to diamondheadpark.org or diamondheadpark.com, which will redirect here. The site remains at diamondheadhike.org, and that's the best address to use.
My Military History of Diamond Head page is mostly finished pending new information. I'm still working on getting the last photos organized and cleaning up some things, but it's usable as is. If anyone has material to share, or sees something needing correction or clarification, please let me know.
Diamond Head Park is just a small part of Diamond Head Crater, east of Waikiki. Diamond Head Crater is one of the most recognized images of the State of Hawaii and possibly in the world. The crater itself is about 300,000 years old, which is much younger than most of the rest of the island which is in the 3 million year old range. It was used by the pre-contact Hawaiians as a navigational beacon and as a site for several heiaus [temples]. It is not a typical volcanic crater created by lava flows during eruptions. Instead it is made of ash and other fine particles thrown into the air by a large, explosive eruption. The material settled into the ring formation we see today, and eventually cemented itself together to form the current rock material, called tuff. It erodes easily though, and that is very obvious in spots.
In 1904 the US Government purchased the crater and started making preparations to use it for military purposes. By 1908 construction had started on gun emplacements and an entrance tunnel. By 1910 the 4 level Fire Control Station was completed. A few other changes were made during World War I, and again around the time of World War II. Most of the man made facilities you'll see beyond the parking lot are about 100 years old.
The trail itself is under 1 mile long, but steep and uneven. After the initial concrete walkway it's carved out of the tuff rock of the crater. The footing is uneven, in places there may be 6 inches or more between high and low spots. In areas it's partially covered with loose dirt, gravel or rocks. And it can be slippery when wet. Watch your footing. The last half of the trail is mostly steep stairs, a tunnel [with a steep upward slope] and a short rough pathway after you climb out an observation port in the Fire Control Station. There is an iron pipe railing along most of the trail. However it's also old, and it's rusty. So in the right conditions it can turn your hands and/or clothes brown. Sturdy foot gear is recommended, but I've seen people hiking in flip flops. It can be hot, so unless you make the hike in the early morning, it's a good idea to carry water. Please don't throw the plastic caps or other litter on the trail. There are garbage cans at the bottom of the trail, plus one at the top, which someone has to carry out by hand, so try to take your garbage to the bottom. There are also garbage cans at the two overlooks and one at the end of the concrete pathway. The litter I pick up most often is plastic water bottle caps, straws and paper gate tickets. The litter I most often don't pickup are used tissues. If you need to blow your nose or wipe your face, please don't leave it for the rest of us, carry it out.
The only restroom and water source is at the start of the trail, so be prepared.
Finding the best time to hike the trail can be a challenge. With as many as 2,000 hikers per day, there's always someone on the trail. Some people try to be the first on the trail and get to the top as quickly as possible. Some of them hike it every day for exercise, sometimes doing repeated stair climbs once they get up there. There's always a line at the gate waiting for it to open at 6 AM. Then in addition to the people who are walking in, riding bicycles, or driving cars, a number of vans and buses deliver up to 200 tourists to the beginning of the trail first thing in the morning. This can result in long lines of people on the trail, and eventually they move at the pace of their slowest hikers. If you can get in front of them you'll have the top to yourself for a little while. If you wait half an hour to start you might have the trail to yourself until you catch up to them, or until you start running into people coming down. Once the big group gets to the top it's very crowded for a while. Later in the day the traffic seems steadier, but not so crowded, at least the few times I've checked. However, the parking lot can fill up so that you have to wait in line for a space to park or even be sent away to come back later, there are only 5 overflow spots.
A couple of short sections of trail near the top are one way traffic only, so if someone's coming the other way, you have to wait. If it's a line of people you have to wait longer. Climbing out through the observation port is one person at a time. Please move clear of the exit area once you're out, otherwise it backs up traffic. The spiral staircase is just wide enough for people to pass if one turns sideways, the tunnel and the big stairs are a little wider. Barely.
A runner in good shape and with good eye/foot coordination can do the round trip in under 30 minutes if it's not crowded. Most people will get to the top in about 30 minutes if they don't stop to admire the view. Some people with health issues and determination may need an hour or more. But it's worth it. There are a number of wide spots to rest and let people pass including several with benches where you can sit for a while if needed. Add in some time for looking around and the trip back, and the average person will need a little less than an hour and a half. But don't over do it, when the weather gets hot and humid with no wind it's not uncommon for several people a day to have to be rescued due to heat stroke and/or exhaustion. Carry plenty of water and rest along the way if you need to.
To get to the Crater you can walk, ride a bike, drive or take The Bus. The road into the Park starts at Diamond Head Road just west of 18th Ave. and there is a bus stop right next to it. Here's a Google Satellite Image.
For more information please see the FAQ and Photo Gallery pages. I'm adding photos as I get time, currently there are 90 photos of the trail and stairs and 83 sunrise photos linked from the Photo Gallery. Sometime I'll force myself to thin those out, but obviously I'm not very good at that or there'd be less pictures there now.
The Park is occasionally closed for maintenance. They post a notice on the Park website as far in advance as possible.
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Content Updated July 27, 2009
Minor update Feb 8, 2010