The Best Time to Hike Diamond Head (+ How Long It Takes)

Dramatic view on top of the Diamond Head State Monument during a cloudy afternoon

Arriving at the gates to Diamond head at the wrong time, can spoil your Hawaii trip! So time your hike wisely! You can hike on Diamond Head all year round. The ideal time to start this easy hike would be during Summer on a weekday right after 6 am. But there are also other times you can consider. Beware that you need to commit to a certain time, as you need to make a reservation to hike Diamond Head as a Non-Hawaii resident.

The best time of the year

Diamond head is an easy, well-maintained hike. It is a fantastic casual hike with great viewpoints that you can enjoy all year round. Beware, that it tends to rain more in the winter. So if you hike diamond head in the winter, pack a raincoat and wear sturdy shoes with an anti-slip sole. If you hike it in the summer heat, bring plenty of water and sunscreen. When we hiked it, it was raining, which was refreshing and enjoyable.

Best time of the week

You can make a reservation to hike Diamond Head 365 days of the year, but ideally, you would want to visit on a weekday. It is much less crowded, which is so much more enjoyable on a hike with narrow paths. 

Wake up early!

Especially if you’re hiking in summer, you want to avoid the Hawaiian heat during noon. Beware that the only shady section is the tunnel near the summit. For the rest of the hike, you’ll be exposed to the sun.

Therefore, many hikers decide to hike Diamond Head either in the afternoon (after 3 pm) or in the early morning (before 9 am). Not everyone’s an early bird, but we recommend starting the hike right after 6 am during sunrise for three reasons:

  1. You’ll avoid the heat and enjoy the sunrise.
  2. The park opens at 6 am, so you won’t have to stop and wait for hikers descending.
  3. The official parking lot fills up quickly, so arriving this early means, you won’t have to park along Diamond Head Road and walk from there to the entrance.

Beware that you can’t begin your hike to Diamond Head before 6 am or after 4 pm. The gates to the hike open at 6 am and close at 6 am. If you come later than 4 pm, they won’t let you enter the park anymore.

How long does it take to hike Diamond Head?

The trail is around 1.6 miles in total, and you will ascend 560 feet. It’s an easy hike, and most of the path is covered in stairs. Most tourists take about 1.5 hours to hike Diamond Head. This includes plenty of pit spots to take photos and refresh. 

If you are decently fit, you will be able to finish the entire hike in less than 60 minutes: 30 minutes hiking up, 10 minutes at the top to rest and enjoy the view, and 20 minutes hiking back down. The hike is so short that many tourists head to the Moana Falls hike on the same day.

Exploring Diamond Head the easy way

When we visited, we booked this tour to take us to Diamond Head. This way we didn’t have to worry about transportation (we didn’t have our rental car yet), got lots of interesting background information and also visited a local Macadamia Nut farm. In addition, our guide also took great photos of us and also cracked some great jokes!

Additional useful info

  • Not Hawaiian? You need a reservation! As of spring 2022, all out-of-state ID holders need to make a reservation for their hike in advance. These reservations are free and can be made up to 14 days in advance on the park’s official website.
  • The entrance fee to the park is $5 per person. Kids under three enter for free. They only accept cash.
  • The small kiosk next to the parking lot sells sunscreen if you forgot yours.
  • You can get an audio hiking guide at the Visitor Center for a measly $4. The guide provides useful background information on the geology, history, and ecology of the Diamond Head State Monument.
  • If you hike on a Saturday, you can visit the KCC Farmers Market right afterward to enjoy a late, but well-deserved breakfast.
  • Once you’re at the very top, it suddenly gets windy, so hold on to your sunglasses and hats.
  • There are actually 2 ways to hike Diamond head. After you emerge from the dark tunnel, you can either:
    • Ascend the stairs to the right. This hike takes you through the Fire Control Station.
    • or head left for a slightly longer hike that’s not as steep.

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