Sign Up for Our Monthly Hawaii Newsletter
“Diamond Head.” That’s often my response when newbies ask me what they should do first on Oahu.
Granted, the island’s signature natural landmark — whose profile dominates the south shore — may seem old hat. However, it never fails to give travelers a meaningful overview of the destination.
From the crater’s 761-foot-high summit, visitors get a mind-bending overall introduction to Oahu, which can help them plan their vacation days ahead.
Clients have a variety of ways to experience Diamond Head, as the following options illustrate.
Bike Tour With Bikeadelic HawaiiThis guided two-wheel tour examines Diamond Head from the outside in. Starting in Waikiki, guests pedal toward the entrance of the crater while spinning past area highlights such as a zoo, an aquarium and Diamond Head Lighthouse.
After riding through the tunnel that leads inside Diamond Head, energetic clients can choose to hike to the summit.
Next, the group rolls around the rest of Diamond Head’s exterior, checking out its adjacent neighborhoods and cafes, then riding back to the start.
The tour presents a few slightly challenging hills, but e-bikes are available for clients who need a little boost (from $79 per adult and $49 per youth).
Diamond Head Crater Hike With Oahu Nature ToursVisitors can walk up Diamond Head independently, or they can do it with guides who really know their stuff.
The latter option awaits with Oahu Nature Tours, whose three-hour itinerary regales groups with the fascinating geology, history and legends of the crater, from its fierce eruptive beginnings to the present.
During the .8-mile climb to the top — which includes stairways — the guides pick just the right places to stop for photo ops.
The big payoff comes at the crest, where guests see all the way from Koko Head in the east to the Waianae Mountains in the west ($36 per person).
Diamond Head Scenic Tour With Paradise HelicoptersThanks to this air tour, clients staying in west Oahu don’t need to sacrifice a trip to Diamond Head just because it’s on another part of the island.
The 30-minute flight departs from Kalaeloa Airport, a short drive from the west side’s Ko Olina Resort, home of the Four Seasons and Aulani Disney hotels.
Flightseeing passengers reach bird’s-eye perspectives of Oahu attractions such as Pearl Harbor, Ala Moana, Waikiki and Punchbowl Cemetery.
But perhaps most memorable are the aerial views of Diamond Head. From on high, clients get a unique sense of how the dormant volcano was formed, hundreds of thousands of years ago ($199 per person).
Honolulu Heights Tour With Hawaii Forest & TrailLike all programs created by Hawaii Forest & Trail, this six-hour excursion offers a thoughtful look at the destination from all angles.
It begins with an invigorating strut up Diamond Head, while a savvy naturalist guide brings the crater’s stories to life.
The tour continues to rise above the norm with a drive up 2,000-foot-high Mt. Tantalus. The van stops at a scenic lookout for jaw-dropping Honolulu panoramas, including a dramatic shot of Diamond Head in the distance.
The itinerary wraps up with a visit to Lyon Arboretum, set in a valley above Waikiki and known for its lofty collection of exotic tropical plants ($155 per adult, $130 per child).
Narrated Audio Tour With Pacific Historic ParksHere’s a great choice for clients who want to do Diamond Head the old-fashioned way — on their own.
Pacific Historic Parks augments the solo adventure with its audio tour, whose insightful narration corresponds to numbered markers along the crater trail.
Clients hear specialists share a range of Diamond Head details, from its origins, vegetation, wildlife, legends and lore to its key role as a strategic military lookout during World War II.
Participants can pick up an audio tour player at the visitor center near the crater entrance. The tour itself costs $4, but guests can upgrade to packages that include extras such as a certificate and a T-shirt.