One of the most popular trails to hike is to the top of Hawaii’s most famous landmark, Diamond Head. The Hawaiian people called it Leahi and considered it sacred, but in the 19th century a couple of sailors found what they mistakenly thought were diamonds. Even though they were wrong, the name Diamond Head became its common moniker. This one and a half mile hike takes you 750 feet up and gives you a fantastic 360 degree view from the top of the extinct volcanic cone. In fact, the view from the top platform is the longest view in the world! The hike can be steep in places and you go through some dark tunnels (bring a flashlight!) that were made by the military when they used this as a fortification during World War I and II. It is best to go early before it gets too hot and be sure to bring water and wear sunscreen. While steep, there are stairs and rails to help you along in most places and you will see people of all ages going up and down as you hike. When you reach the top there are viewing platforms It may be a bit crowded and you may need to wait your turn, but, as we said, the views are breathtaking! There is a fee and the hike generally takes around two hours. The hours it is open are 6am to 6pm. You will take Kalakaua to Monsarrat, which turns into Diamond Head Road, and follow the signs to Diamond Head State Monument, where parking is available. Remember, hat and sunscreen, hiking shoes, flashlight, and water will all be needed on this hike. If you have a fear of dark, enclosed spaces or a fear of heights, then this is probably not the hike for you, but it is a hike full of history with the reward of an unforgettable view!
This one is an easy hike of about two miles and takes about an hour, but you will still need good hiking shoes as the trail can be slippery at times. You will hike through a tropical rainforest of vine-draped trees, bamboo, kukui and African tulip trees, and, if you go in the spring, will be treated to fragrant blossoms of the mountain apple tree! Of course you will have to be careful of roots and rocks and low hanging branches, and traverse cautiously through muddy sections next to the stream bed, but your reward is a beautiful view of the 150 ft Manoa Falls, one of the most spectacular waterfalls on the island! The trail ends just before you reach the falls. Due to a landslide, it is unsafe to proceed further and the pools at the foot of the falls are also off limits. Please respect the signs posted for your protection! To get there you will take Punahou to Manoa Rd as if heading for Lyon Arboretum. You will continue straight, past Paradise Park, to a small parking lot which is the trailhead. Do not take the sharp left in the road which takes you on to the Arboretum. If the lot is full you may have to park along the road but please be sure not to block any driveways in this residential area. Again, bring water, and you might need a little bug repellant too!
Makapu‘u Lighthouse Trail
This hike, which is just over 2 miles, is moderately demanding due to the steep climb, but will reward you with incomparable views! An abandoned road leads up to a trail that wraps up and around Makapu‘u Point. Taking Hwy 72, Kalaniana‘ole Hwy., past Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach towards Makapu‘u, you will see the Hawaii Kai Executive Golf Course on your left and just past there, a sign on a gate to your right saying “No Vehicles Allowed”. Park your car along the Highways shoulder but do not block the gate. Walk around the gate and follow the road as it curves up the slope. As you go higher, the path gets steeper, winding up and around the 646 foot high bluff to the lighthouse lookout point. Along with the fantastic ocean view of the Windward coast, you will also be able to see Rabbit Island, a seabird sanctuary, and sometimes, in the summer, a couple of awesome blowholes! You will probably recognize the lighthouse from TV shows like Magnum PI and Hawaii-Five-O. Once you are done enjoying the scenic view, retrace your steps to where you began.
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