Diamond Head Look-Out

by Justin

The Diamond Head Crater Hike is an approximately 1 mile hike up to the top of a crater formed about 300,000 years ago. This hike is a State Monument and is known for this hiking trail and the views of the coast, Waikīkī and Honolulu. This crater was used as part of the military defense system, but now is primarily used a tourist attraction. The hike up to lookout is not very photogenic, nor is it lush and green. The primary photography opportunity at this spot is the amazing view, which will be discussed below.

Diamond Head Look-Out

After your 1 mile hike up to the lookout, you will be rewarded with views of Waikīkī, Honolulu and the southern coastal line. Pictures of this view are captured by thousands and thousands of tourists and locals alike. However, you can still set yourself apart by first carrying a tripod. Your tripod will help to stabilize your shot. Second, shoot during the best lighting, which is as soon as the park opens and preferably in the winter. Third tie your viewer to the amazing view with a piece of foreground. There are a few bunkers and other historical pieces of equipment at the lookout, which can serve as an interesting foreground subject for your photograph.

Another idea is to use the bunker as a frame for your photograph. Finally, when shooting from the lookout, try out different lenses. Use your wide angle to take your landscape photograph with as much depth as possible, sweeping from the foreground to the furthest background. Then work on your skills with your telephoto lens. The telephoto lens can be used to isolate portions of the scene and create unique views.

Best Time to Shoot

The best time to shoot is near opening or closing. The park opens at 6 AM and closes at 6 PM. The early morning will provide gentle lighting, since the views from the lookout are primarily, east and north. If you go near closing, you will have to deal with side lighting, which can be beneficial and can properly light up your view. However, this type of shooting can be very difficult because you may have to deal with lens flare.

Local Tips

The Diamond Head Look-Out Lookout parking lot is often full, so it is best to get here early. If you do get here later, a spot should free up momentarily since many people only stay here for 15 minutes or less. Parking cost $3 for non-residents and is free for residents, just show your Hawai‘i Driver's license or State ID.

How do I get there?

Parking Address: 3483 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816

From the airport:

  • Head east on the H1 for 8.4 miles
  • Look for the 6th Avenue exit, Exit 25B
  • Stay to the right, Make a right onto 6th Avenue
  • Follow 6th Avenue for 1/2 mile.
  • 6th Avenue will turn into ALohea Avenue
  • Continue onto Alohea Avenue til it ends at Makapu‘u Road
  • Make a right onto Makapu‘u Road
  • Then make a left onto Diamond Head Road
  • This road circles around Diamond Head Crater, continue on this road until you see the entrance to the State Monument on your right
  • Proceed up and thru the tunnel. Pay $5 to park in the parking lot.