Diamond Head; you can see it from the hotels on Waikiki and it beckons me from dinner when we eat downtown. When we visited the island with family in 2009 I skipped out on a hike up the crater in exchange for nursing and snuggling a 6 month old who refused to get on a reasonable schedule with the time change.
Now that we live here, there is no just excuse to keep avoiding it. Are the crowds nuts? Sometimes. Is it steep? There are much worse inclines. My friend Stephanie climbed it with a 2 year old strapped to her so really – you can do this! Are the stairs at the top terrible? Judge for yourself. I took pics to share and really, our group got over 20 kids to the top with zero issues so unless you are injured or have serious health concerns, they are doable in my totally unprofessional, somewhat obnoxious opinion.
What does this hike entail? Well, you either enter the crater through a narrow two lane tunnel and pay $5 for your carload to park or you park outside the crater, walk in and pay $1 for each person. Once you have that part settled you make a stop at the park potties because let’s not joke around…this is necessary. If you forgot to pack water, pick some up at the little gift shop. You will thank me later. There isn’t a ton of shade on this hike and you will get thirsty. We also packed granola bars, nuts and squeeze applesauce because kids only get hungry when it’s not mealtime and I don’t like when the cranks hit so snacks are a must for us on hikes. The rest I explain below but mostly involves walking, smiling, catching your breath and standing in awe; you get the picture.
We met up at the entrance to the hike and headed up. Whenever we hike with our homeschool group of parents and kids we try to spread out and regroup at points in the hike so we can make sure everyone is doing ok and feeling good about the experience. Another great aspect is that the adults tend to keep a particular pace and the kids can migrate from the front of the group to the back and then to the front again and someone is always keeping an eye on them. This is a really neat environment for kids to build stamina and confidence. I love this about our group.
We safely made it to the bottom of the steep set of stairs and all laughed about our knees and backs and getting older. As the resident worrier I spread out in case any kids ahead of me tumbled down. Of course this didn’t happen and of course I am insane. But that’s just how I am. And it’s ok. Note: this picture shows a momma wearing her toddler up the stairs. Proof that you can do this!
Once we were up the stairs there was a little bit of a backup in the tunnel leading to the final set of stairs that lead to the top. My girls loved the creepy feel of the tunnel and did their best to spook each other, mostly scaring themselves.
Once we got through the tunnel we came upon a set of spiral stairs. I am not a fan. Here’s a pic from the bottom to give you an idea what I’m talking about. I basically muttered things under my breath to the kids within earshot about holding on and not messing around the entire way up.
At the top we emerged from a cement bunker to find loads of tourists waiting to take pictures. Areas were surrounded in safety railings so of course I told the kids to stay put and climbed over to take a picture or seven. Typically I try to follow the “rules” with the kids because I want to set a good example. I’m not going to lie…I got a little caught up in this situation but from that point on I didn’t go beyond the railing. (Even though it made me die a little inside to miss some of the amazing shots.) The views from the top of this hike are hard to put into words. On a sunny day you can see down the beach of Waikiki and it’s amazing to think of all the things going on in the city. In another direction you can see far out into the ocean and I love the opportunity to try and process the vastness of the ocean. I stop when it starts to freak me out, but it’s too glorious not to attempt such thoughts and the waves of awe that come with them. Try it.
As we descended from the cement bunker area the views remained amazing and we could see many things from a perspective I’d never experienced, including this overhead view of the reef off Diamond Head. This was especially neat for my snorkel-loving kiddos who enjoy peaking around the reefs at sea level.
While I took pictures from the trail the kiddos took a little rest with some applesauce. This ensured their safety, my sanity and good moods the rest of the hike. Winning!
The trail that descends wraps around the other side of the point so there are beautiful views of southern Honolulu. I could totally live there.
The kids found hilarious ways to entertain themselves on the way down, too. Since there was no whining going down they had breath to somehow discuss who would be the pet and who would be the owner and by the time we got to the bottom I had one child and two puppies in my care. Luckily I was able to give at least one of said puppies back her rightful owner/mother and only had to take one home with me. Not that the weird dog sound they were all making was annoying or anything…
At the bottom we snacked on the rest of the survival goods since we had, in fact, already survived, and the kids climbed a tree which is pretty typical of any outing here in Hawaii. If we can’t find a tree to climb the kids decide the effort was wasted. Only one fell from a low branch this trip so between that, the beautiful views, great exercise and fabulous company I am calling our hike up Diamond Head a big win. I highly recommend it if you visit Oahu, but suggest doing it in the later afternoon. If you time it right you can avoid the crowds and see the start of our glorious sunsets. Low crowd level and sunset; a winning combination. And if you can find a tree to rest in post-hike, even better.