Diamond Head – a classic

Climbing Diamond Head

Our last day in Honolulu – and I hadn’t climbed up Diamond Head yet.

The hike is less than two miles round trip, but climbs over 550 feet – up, up, up. By now, my son, Neil, and family had arrived to join me on this Hawaii vacation.

We drove out to Diamond Head State Monument before 8:30, a late start for us. How naive! On Christmas Day, all the parking spaces closest to the trailhead were already taken.

We left my daughter-in-law with seven-year old Isa to study the exhibits at the visitor center and turned back down to find a parking space. We climbed an extra couple of hundred feet and reunited. The five of us started climbing.

The route starts as a paved path, then turn to a hard-pack trail – all continuously up. We’re marching like ants: frustrated runners, slow-poke women in sandals, sneakered families and couples carrying babies in their arms or backs.

Then the stairs, tunnel and more steep stairs. The crowd is so orderly and polite. People are constantly apologizing for passing or for being too slow. By the time we get toward the top, there are lookouts and picture-taking opportunities.

Finally the top where groups are taking pictures of each other and the view. And what a view! Downtown Honolulu, the ocean, and Koko Head, where I had been several days ago. Reluctantly, we all started down the same way we came up.

Where did this trail come from?

Diamond Head was an ideal site for coastal defense of O’ahu. The Federal Government started fortifications in 1908. They built the trail for men and mules to bring building supplies and access. Now it’s managed by the Hawaii State Parks and, unlike Koko Head, is maintained.

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