Past the Hat Graveyard and Up the Spiral Staircase

Diamond Head Monument is one of the natural highlights of Oahu. The crater isn’t a lava-flowing-over-the-edges type of volcano, or a shield volcano if you want to get technical. This is a tuff volcano, meaning that thousands of years ago there was an underwater explosion sending ash and particles into the air. These ashes settled into the crater that is there today! One of my favorite hikes on Oahu, Diamond Head Crater is a pretty easy hike up to the highest point and you can do the whole hike in about an hour and a half.

Because I was traveling on my own I decided to pay a little extra to go with a tour group. Now I know that the hike is very safe and there are people all along the way so you wouldn’t be alone if something bad happened. From inside the crater you begin your walk up the side of the crater along a paved path. After a while you move away from the pavement and onto rock. Along the way there are lookout points and military bunkers that were used during WWI and WWII.

I was surprised to find stairs all over the mountain! Climbing the stairs back down is a breeze, but on the way up…well let’s just say you don’t want to count them. There are two ways to get to the very top of the mountain. One staircase is new and allows you to stay outside for the last leg of the hike, the other takes you up a spiral staircase and through a military bunker where they would have seen the planes that attacked Pearl Harbor as they flew by. We hiked up the outside staircase on the way up and as we ascended the stairs the guide told us, “Look to your left. That’s the hat graveyard.” If you don’t want to lose your hat to the gusts of wind atop Diamond Head you should probably take it off right about now.

From the highest point of the crater you can see all of Honolulu and Waikiki underneath you. You can see the red and white of Diamond Head Light on the coast and the vast ocean beyond. On the way back down we went through the bunker and down the spiral staircase back to the base. A perfect morning hike.


  • Go after sunrise, but before high noon. It’s crowded around 6:30/7:00AM and really hot after noon.
  • Bring water and pace yourself! It will be sunny at any time of the day.
  • There’s a potion of the hike where you have to walk through a dark tunnel. You have to walk through it to get to the highest point. It’s about a 3 minute walk through the tunnel so if you don’t think you can handle that, maybe you should pick another adventure for the day.
  • Walk up the new staircase for the final leg and back down through the bunker and spiral staircase so you get to see everything!

Where: Diamond Head State Park, Honolulu, HI

When: 6AM-6PM daily, I suggest arriving around 7:15AM

Cost: $1 if you come on your own! (Or $5 per car if you drive there)

Did you lose your hat on Diamond Head?

Safe Travels!!

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