Hiking Diamond Head had been on my bucket list for years, ever since my brother’s honeymoon and the countless photos I saw of him and his new wife climbing to the top. Facebook was littered with their photos, the views of Waikiki and Honolulu below them to one side and endless, gorgeous ocean to the other side. When I planned my trip to Honolulu, the first thing I researched was when and how I could hike this famous volcano. 

The truth is the hike was easier than I expected. Not to say that the hike wasn’t difficult or that I flew up in record speed, but I wasn’t totally beat like I thought I’d be. 

Waking up early in the morning, I knew I had to climb out of my plush down comforter and memory foam bed and put on my hiking shoes. The sun gets brutal if you wait to climb in the afternoon, or so I read, and I didn’t want to be one of those suckers who waited too late. 

After calling a taxi from the hotel concierge, I waited patiently as the taxi arrived and drove me up towards the entrance of the park. My hotel was only 2 miles from the entrance, but it is all up hill. I figured if I took a taxi to the entrance, I could walk all the way back down the volcano to my hotel and end up at the pool for a quick, refreshing reward. 

Hiking by yourself is always an interesting experience. Since you aren’t talking to a friend or partner, you have all that time to really take in your surroundings. The hike crosses back and forth several times before you end up at a fork. You have to decide it you want to take the steep stairs to get to the top faster or continue winding around the volcano. I choose the stairs and about half way up started rethinking that approach. My thighs were burning; like a deep work out burn that you’ve only ever heard people talk about on the Biggest Loser. Sweat drips off you in record speeds and even though you can see the top of the stairs, you don’t actually believe that they are that close. 

It’s all worth it though once you reach the top and have a few minutes to catch your breath. Your legs slowly stop shaking and that gives you a chance to look out over Waikiki. 

I noticed that there were many more people at the top than I expected. There were families, couples, teenagers, and kids. The kids seemed to have skipped up the mountain and several of them were even screaming ‘let’s do it again!’ Most people around me just started laughing.  Some older hikers were perched up on the rock, looking out into the endless horizon. I’m not sure if they were taking a spiritual moment or reflecting on the hike, but they seemed very much at peace. 

After having a stranger take a photo of me on my iPhone, so I too could update my status on Facebook as my brother had many months ago, I started walking back down towards the hotel. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment as I climbed back down, looking at how far I had actually climbed up. Even more satisfying than the Facebook status, I was so impressed that I had hiked Diamond Head by myself.   

Do it yourself: 

Entrance to Diamond Head State Monument is located near the eastern side of Waikiki. There is a $5 dollar entrance fee for cars or a $1 dollar entrance fee for each pedestrian and is cash only. The park is open year around from 6am- 6pm.