1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Baby Boomers Hike Diamond Head in Honolulu, Hawaii

by Suzanne Fluhr on March 23, 2016 · 35 comments

Aerial view of the Diamond Head crater on Oahu, Hawaii

The Diamond Head crater looming over Honolulu

The Diamond Head crater looms over the city of Honolulu

We live in the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection), Rocky’s hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am positive that in this city of over 1,500,000 souls, quite a few of them have never visited our most iconic landmark, the Liberty Bell. When you live somewhere, you figure you’ll get around to visiting the important places eventually—no hurry. That’s how Mr. Excitement and I managed to visit Honoulu, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, three times and live there for three months without climbing the omnipresent extinct volcano that is a symbol of that city, Diamond Head.

Aerial view of the Diamond Head crater on Oahu, Hawaii

From the air, it’s pretty obvious what happened here. I’d like to pretend I took this aerial photo of the impressive Diamond Head crater, but I’m a lawyer and we always tell the truth. (Photo credit: Brian Snelson, CC lic. 2.0)

When we lived in Honolulu in 2014, we always figured we could climb Diamond Head next weekend, and then I got sick, and then we had a family tragedy, and then it was time to leave, so it just never happened. Consequently, on our most recent visit to Honolulu, climbing Diamond Head was at the top of our list of things we planned to do. After all, we’re geezers, baby boomers not getting any younger.

Diamond Head from Waikiki Beach

Looking back at Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach from Ala Moana Park.

Walking is our favorite way to explore new places, but we live on a coastal plain, so in our daily lives we don’t walk up any hills worth mentioning. In 2002, we managed to go on a 4 day hike in New Zealand that involved climbing over a mountain and we survived, but we were younger then, so we approached Diamond Head with at least a little trepidation.

We took an approximately $10 taxi ride from our hotel on the far end of Waikiki Beach to the trail head which is actually within the Diamond Head crater. You can also arrive by public bus. (BTW, the Honolulu public bus system is unimaginatively descriptively known as “The Bus”.) However, the bus will leave you on the public street, adding a substantial uphill walk to the trail head before you even start hiking. Part of that walk is through a narrow, car and bus exhaust filled tunnel, so I would recommend driving or getting a ride to the main visitors’ parking lot of the Diamond Head State Monument within the crater.

We read that it is best to tackle an ascent of Diamond Head in the early morning before it is too hot because there is very little shade on the trail. We arrived at about 9:00 a.m. I wore my hiking pants with zip off legs (don’t judge me), and converted them to shorts at our first rest stop. There are some scenic overlook places where one can get off the trail and if it’s not too crowded, find a place to sit. We also prudently brought water, sunblock, sunglasses and hats.

The tuff surface of the Diamond Head trail

Some of the uneven tuff surface on the Diamond Head Trail.  [Photo credit: Daniel Ramirez, CC lic. 2.0]


The Diamond Head hike is only 1.6 miles round trip. First constructed in 1908 by the military, the trail is inside the crater and climbs 560 feet to an altitude of 761 feet. The very first two tenths of a mile of the trail is paved; however, it soon becomes the uneven tuff rock composed of the ash and other particles deposited during the single explosive eruption that formed the crater some 300,000 years ago. I was able to walk comfortably in sneakers.

Switchbacks on the Diamond Head trail

Switchbacks on the Diamond Head trail. [Photo credit: Daniel Ramirez, CC lic. 2.0]

Diamond Head trail stairs

One of the flights of narrow stairs on the trail. These can become crowded with people going both up and down. [Photo credit: Daniel Ramirez, CC lic. 2.0)

There are switchbacks that lessen the steepness of the grade, but there are also flights of stairs. I was too busy concentrating on breathing to count, but according to one source, the four sets of stairs have the following numbers of steps: 99, 76, 43 and 54. The third set is a metal spiral staircase.

Unfortunately, if you’re more than slightly claustrophobic, this hike is not for you. There are two narrow tunnels, one of which is 225 feet long. I didn’t enjoy that part. I kept flashing back to how I felt in an MRI machine. There is also a place near the top where you have to bend under a low overhang to exit what was a gun emplacement bunker that could prove challenging for people with balance problems.

Spiral Staircase Diamond Head trail

The spiral staircase on the trail is inside and can also be claustrophobic. [Photo: Daniel Ramirez, CC lic. 2.0]

Including rest stops and scenery viewing, we did the round trip in about 70 minutes. Some people run up and down every day in less than half an hour for exercise and some take over two hours. A few of our fellow hikers were “WTH?” notable: some very ancient Japanese tourists who seemed to be teetering, but at least some of whom made it to the top; people with young toddlers who inexplicably seemed to think the little ones would be walking; the people with an inconsolable baby in a stroller (not sure how far they got); and teenagers in short skirts and flip flops.

View from the top of Diamond Head looking down on Waikiki Beach

The view from the top of Diamond Head, looking back onto Waikiki Beach.

Between the parking lot and the trail head, there are restrooms and picnic tables, but we returned to the park entrance where there was a line of waiting taxis. For old times sake and because we figured we deserved a reward for getting our old bones up and down Diamond Head, we returned to our favorite ocean-side frozen yogurt place.

Our reward for climbing Diamond Head.

Our reward for climbing Diamond Head.

In addition to the frozen yogurt, our rewards for climbing Diamond Head were the lovely views from the top and the satisfaction of having made it.

Before you go, consult the Diamond Head State Monument website for up to date information about conditions, the entrance schedule and fees. At present, the area is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; however, the latest you are permitted to access the Diamond Head Summit Trail is at 4:30 p.m. There is an entrance fee of $5.00 for cars and $1.00 for pedestrians.

WWLust_NewGraphic(This post is now part of a link up on the A Brit and a Southerner blog.)

Have you experienced climbing Diamond Head? Have you embraced any physical challenges during your travels?


{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny March 23, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Very cool! May have to delete that trip off of my bucket list. I am only getting older and no trip to Hawaii is on the foreseeable horizon.


Jacqueline Gum March 24, 2016 at 7:49 am

I dud this hike years ago, when my mother lived in Honolulu. Didn’t seem so hard hen, when I was in my 20’s! But thanks for taking me back. Appears that the beauty is still astounding:)


Suzanne Fluhr March 24, 2016 at 1:02 pm

Definitely would have been easier in my 20’s—or even my 50’s, but I’m glad we finally did it.


roz warren March 24, 2016 at 12:04 pm

My favorite way to explore is walking too, but I grew up in the very flat midwest and have never learned to enjoy hills, so in this case I’d be very tempted to skip the claustophoic climb and go right to the frozen yogurt.


Nancy Fox March 25, 2016 at 9:58 am

Love, beautiful Diamond Head, Honolulu and Yogurtland!


Lois Alter Mark March 25, 2016 at 11:20 am

I’m actually going to be in Honolulu next month. Maybe I’ll have time to fit this in! It looks beautiful.


Suzanne Fluhr March 25, 2016 at 1:13 pm

If you like to “hike”, it’s fun and bucket list worthy.


Patti March 27, 2016 at 12:34 pm

We were married in Honolulu and lived just outside of the city in Hawaii Kai. We were there for just about 1 year and somehow never once managed to visit Diamond Head. Go figure.

I don’t have to tell you what my biggest physical challenge while traveling was… I did embrace it though!


Suzanne Fluhr March 28, 2016 at 1:04 am

You suffered from the “Oh, we can do that anytime mindset” that kept us from climbing Diamond Head the first 4 times we were there. And I still have to visit the Rodin and Barnes Museums in Philadelphia which are about a 15 minute walk from where we live!


Marcia@MenopausalMother March 28, 2016 at 11:08 pm

What a beautiful place—hope I get to see it someday!


Lyn aka The Travelling Lindfields April 3, 2016 at 5:38 pm

We have been to Hawaii a few times but never hiked Diamond Head. I didn’t know you could, although I am sure it is mentioned in one or two of the guide books we use. It is now on our list for our next visit – thanks.


Donna Janke April 3, 2016 at 10:50 pm

The scenery on Diamond Head hike looks absolutely stunning and 1.6 miles sounds manageable but I too would have some trepidation. There are no hills on the prairies and I certainly feel my leg muscles anytime I walk somewhere with even the slightest bit of incline. It looks worth a try.


Betsy Wuebker April 3, 2016 at 11:28 pm

Oh good, I’m claustrophobic and will heed your advice on not to do this hike. I’m perfectly comfortable living vicariously through you and Mr. Excitement on this. I would have loved the frozen yogurt, but that’s not a big enough carrot to dangle in front of me. 😀


Suzanne Fluhr April 9, 2016 at 1:02 pm

You can get the frozen yogurt, sit on a bench and see Diamond Head from Waikiki Beach. That works too.


noel April 4, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Wow, excellent job, this looks like a fun experience especially the end when you get some of that delicious yogurt ice cream. I’ve done both and the ending is one of the best parts.


Janice Chung April 4, 2016 at 5:43 pm

As I am (slowly) getting into hiking I was intrigued about your hike on the famous Diamond Head. It’s always amazing when you meet “hikers” not properly dressed for the strenuous hike. One wonders if they even make it to the top. Good for you for rewarding yourself at the end! You deserved it!


The GypsyNesters April 4, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Looks like we could handle that. Keep trying to get to Hawaii but things keep thwarting us. Last state in the union for me (David has already been to all 50), so I have to get there sometime.


Carole Terwilliger Meyers April 4, 2016 at 7:55 pm

I have been to Hawaii many times but never climbed Diamond Head, but now I feel like I have. And I probably will leave it at that! When I think of Hawaii at this point, all I want to do is recline on a shaded beach lounge chair with a mai tai.


Susan Moore April 7, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Congratulations on hiking Diamond Head! The views look spectacular. I haven’t traveled to Hawaii yet but hiking will definitely be on the agenda when I do visit the islands.


Tom Bartel April 7, 2016 at 2:15 pm

That’s a serious hike. We did it a couple years ago on a hot day. A Japanese woman who hadn’t brought any water collapsed of heat exhaustion and had to be helicoptered off the mountain by a very skilled EMT team. That was a lot of fun to watch.


Suzanne Fluhr April 8, 2016 at 1:20 pm

We saw a few people we were worried about, but we didn’t see any rescue helicopters when we were there.


Amanda EatWorkTravel April 7, 2016 at 7:09 pm

No judgement here, we are guilty of wearing zip off pants for activities like this when we travel! Completely agree, walking is one of the best ways to see a new place. Kudos for finishing that hike, the stairs and tunnels sound/look challenging.


Grey World Nomads April 8, 2016 at 9:06 am

Wow – that looks strikingly beautiful and adventurous! Amazing picture from the air. #WeekendWanderlust


Kerri April 9, 2016 at 2:58 am

Love how you rewarded yourself with healthy yoghurt and we rewarded ourselves with a malasada from Leonard’s Bakery 🙂 It was an incredible hike to do wasn’t it. #weekendwanderlust


Connie Reed April 9, 2016 at 10:10 am

Sounds like a great hike. When I get back to Hawaii, I want to do this. It surprises me, though, that the trail includes enclosed staircases. The staircases do seem awfully narrow for two-way traffic.


Suzanne Fluhr April 10, 2016 at 1:54 pm

The staircases are quite narrow and there is a considerable amount of 2 way traffic although the spiral staircase is one way. It really isn’t a good hike for people who are claustrophobic. I’m a little claustrophobic, but I handled it.


David Eskin April 9, 2016 at 11:21 am

Fascinating, Suzanne! I had no idea that Diamond Head was a volcanic crater, and assumed it was just the high peak near the ocean. I’ll bet you could see your old apartment from up there.


Suzanne Fluhr April 9, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Last night’s Hawaii Five-Oh was filmed in the coffee shop in the apartment building where we lived. We watch that show mostly for the B roll of Honolulu and Oahu.


alison abbott April 10, 2016 at 1:02 pm

Great to include the aerial of the Diamond Head crater. It gives such a terrific perspective for the post. I hope one day to be able to follow in your footsteps and climb this great symbol of Hawaii.


Suzanne Fluhr April 10, 2016 at 8:08 pm

That’s a contribution I found on Wikimedia Creative Commons. I eschew gratuitous airplane rides. However, I’m happy to look at other people’s aerial photos. Maybe there’s a drone in my future—but I guess I need to get the Go Pro first.


RobRob ( April 12, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Our first trip to Waikiki was tooo short (aren’t they all?) to get around to Diamond Head, so that’s been on our To Do List ever since. Now even more so – as they say in our parts, we ain’t skeered! Especially if there’s frozen yogurt afterwards. Or before. Or both. I mean, we’re not getting any younger, right? #WeekendWanderlust


Mike April 18, 2016 at 11:00 pm

This is so cool that you did that hike! The times I was in Honolulu or flying/in out of there for a connecting flight I always wondered what it was like! You are honestly (friends of lawyers tell the truth) the first person I’ve read a post from about it! Good one, Suzanne 🙂


Leslie in Oregon June 9, 2016 at 4:50 pm

Thank you for this very informative post. Although I have been to Oahu over 50 times, I’ve never hiked the Diamond Head crater because I spent all of my waking hours in the glorious water offshore. Your shot from the Ala Moana Park brings back memories, as we often stayed very close to it. Although I hope to return to Hawaii soon, I suspect I will not linger on Oahu but make a beeline for Lanai or Kauai, my favorite of the major Hawaiian islands. As far as embracing any physical challenges during my travels: I do open-water challenges. When I flew for Pan Am, just working the long-haul flights (5.5-19 hours in the air), especially in the days when smoking was allowed on passenger aircraft, was a physical challenge, and I always undertook something physically arduous during our sometimes-long layovers, if only to be in shape for the next flight. (When I stopped flying, I learned that working those long flights was much easier than sitting through them as a passenger.) At the cooler destinations, that always involved walking or hiking.


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