What I Learned on my Impromptu Jog to the Top of Diamond Head Crater
Seven key tips for amateurs running to the top of the iconic Honolulu peak
It was a beautiful morning today and I planned an early jog around the streets of Waikiki for a few miles before some business meetings. Then on a whim, after I had already started my run, I thought “what the heck, I’ll just run all the way up to the top of Diamond Head.”
Seven and half miles later I made it back to my hotel with just enough time to shower and get to my meetings. I should have prepared better, so I thought I’d pass on a few things I learned in case anyone else ever plans an impromptu run to the top of Diamond Head, from sea level to 762 feet/232 meters.
Tip 1: Bring Sunscreen
I left not long after sunrise. But the sun comes up fast and furious in Hawaii. In a matter of 45 minutes I went from not even seeing the sun — to it scorching my fair Pacific Northwest skin. Needless to say my face is pink now.
Tip 2: Bring Cash
I had a credit card with me, but no bills. It costs a dollar for a pedestrian to get into the state park in the crater leading to the top of Diamond Head. Cash only. No exceptions. I wasn’t deterred though. After asking a few tourists, a nice gentleman pitched in and got my admission to the park.
Tip 3: Bring Water (or at least follow Tip 2)
This seems obvious, but since I hadn’t planned on jogging that far or that much elevation, I had no water. There are vending machines and a food truck in the middle of the crater, but they are cash only. Luckily, the employs at the gift shop felt sorry for me and brought me a free bottle of water.
Tip 4: Stretch Those Quads & Hamstrings
There are many, many stairs near the top. Just when you think you are done, there are more. And what goes up must come down. Stop and stretch. I did stretch some, but not as much as I should have. I’m feeling it now. Better do my yoga soon. See my story: I Said I Would Never Do Yoga. Ever.
Tip 5: Bring a Camera
The top of Diamond Head is breathtakingly beautiful. To the south there are world famous beaches and blue ocean. To the east there is hilly coastline and the rising sun. To the north is the crater, remnants of a an ancient volcano, majestic and covered in beautiful green foliage. Finally to the west is skyline of Honolulu and the mountains leading to the center of the island. At least I had my phone to snap a few photos (see below). Well worth the climb.
Tip 6: Prepare to be a Celebrity
As I ran up the mountain, many tourists looked at me in amazement. In fact, one group of young men from Japan began to clap and cheer me on. The trails can be a bit crowded, but everyone was a good sport. I got lots of looks of respect and admiration that I was running up the hill. Others looked at me like I was crazy. On my way back down people I had passed on the way up gave me some love.
Tip 7: “Own it” Later On
I got to my business meeting later the morning (which brought me to Honolulu). When business partners asked how it was going today, I would say, “Good, I ran to the top of Diamond Head and back this morning.” Then they look at each other and back at you in amazement. Might as well bask in the glory of the achievement. And when you cramp up later during a meeting they’ll know why.
So next time you are in Waikiki, don’t just settle for running on the beach. Go to the top and check it off your bucket list. Aloha!