Diamond Head Beach Park and Kuilei Cliffs Beach ParkSouth Shore (Honolulu)
Diamond Head Beach Park and Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park are two different names for the same stunning stretch of coastline off of the cliffs of Diamond Head. To get to the beach, you'll need to descend a steep paved walkway that takes you from a majestic view overlooking the ocean down to the water itself. While only a few minutes away from Waikiki, this beach is a little more off the beaten path. It's frequented by surfers, sunbathers, and people out for a stroll.
About Diamond Head Beach Park and Kuilei Cliffs
Diamond Head isn’t exactly a secret beach, but it’s just far away enough from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki that it’s usually not too crowded. The beachfront itself is hidden by the tall cliffs of Diamond Head that rise up from the shore to Diamond Head Road. The water is rocky, so it’s not my first choice for swimming, but there are scattered sandy inlets where you can wade into the water, or you can swim out deeper to avoid the rocks. During the day, the water is a stunning turquoise blue, with foamy whitecaps breaking out far from shore.
This beach is one of my favorite places for a sunset picnic: in the evening, the sun sets off to the right of the beach. While, depending on the season, you may not quite be able to see the sun as it sinks into the water, the clouds and light are always fantastic. Plus, you can watch all the sailboats circle around the coast going to and from the harbor.
Diamond Head Beach park is also a popular surf spot for more experienced surfers. The waves break way out on the reef, and you can often spot surfers paddling to and from, or surfing on, the waves. At the top of the park, there are several parking area pullouts that are a great place to watch surfers.
Location: South Shore (Honolulu)
Free parking: Yes, limited street parking
Recommended activities: Swimming, walking, surfing, picnicking
How to get to Diamond Head Beach Park
Diamond Head Beach Park is about a two mile walk or drive from the edge of Waikiki. It’s a pretty straight shot to get there by driving along Kalakaua Avenue and then continuing up Diamond Head Road until you get to the top of the cliffs, where you’ll come across street parking and viewing areas. You’ll know you’ve arrived once you pass the small lighthouse and see cars parked along the right hand side of the road.
Where to park at Diamond Head Beach Park
This beach features free street parking, including two small lots as well as painted spots adjacent to the street. During non-peak times, spots are usually easy to come by, but it can be more crowded on weekends and evenings. In this case, you may have to circle around once or twice to find a spot, or park on the gravel pullouts closer to Diamond Head.
Near the parking area in the middle section is a memorial to Amelia Earhart, the first person to fly alone from Hawaii to North America. There’s also Diamond Head Lighthouse, which is closed to the public but which visitors can view from the road or walk down closer to along a small path.
Activities and amenities at Diamond Head and Kuilei Cliffs
Diamond head doesn’t have any restrooms, and there’s no lifeguard at the beach. To get to the beach, you’ll need to walk down a winding path to the bottom of the cliffs by the shoreline. This path is paved, but pretty steep.
Once you reach the bottom of the path, you have two options. First, you can take a right to walk along the shoreline toward Waikiki. The beach extends for about a quarter of a mile, but gets increasingly rocky as you go on. If you’re looking to catch the sunset, heading right will give you better views of the sun as it sets.
Second, you can head left toward Cromwell Beach. There are plenty of sandy spots here to sunbathe, picnic, and watch the surfers. The coast is pretty rocky, but there are some sandy inlets where you can take a dip—you can often tell where the best spots are because the water will be a lighter bright turquoise where the bottom is sandy.
Things to do near Diamond Head Beach Park and Kuilei Cliffs
Diamond Head/Kuilei Cliffs is located just a short distance from Waikiki, which means there are plenty of great things to do in the area.
Other beaches nearby
If you walk from the Diamond Head Beach parking lot down toward Waikiki, you’ll pass two great little hidden gem beach parks, Leahi Beach Park and Makalei Beach Park. Both of these parks are right off the street, with no parking nearby. They each feature a grassy area with picnic tables and places to spread blankets or hang hammocks between trees, opening up onto a spectacular view of bright blue waters. Leahi Beach Park has no direct access to the water, but Makalei Beach Park features a small sandy area to the right of the grass. While the sandy part of the beach is sometimes obscured by high tide, it’s a great place to wade in and cool off.
On the other side of Diamond Head Beach Park to the east is Cromwell’s Beach. You can actually (mostly) walk to Cromwell’s Beach from Diamond Head Beach Park, but there are a few areas that can be tricky to traverse due to erosion and sea walls, especially when the tide is high. Alternatively, you can walk down Diamond Head Road until you reach the beach. It’s a secluded, sandy beach popular with locals, with some fantastic little swimming areas tucked into the rocky coast.
Looking to grab a bite to eat after a day at the beach? There are plenty of great places to stop nearby. Check out Barefoot Beach Cafe, located down near Waikiki, for delicious pineapple smoothies, local favorites like poke, loco moco, fresh fish, garlic shrimp, and more. They also serve a great breakfast. This venue is a snack shack-style restaurant with open-air tables, and is right along the water, so you can enjoy your food with a view.
On the other side of Diamond Head there are a string of tasty cafes and restaurants along Montserrat Ave. Check out Bogart’s cafe for great brunch and lunch, Hawaii Sushi for fresh, affordable sushi, and ARS cafe for delicious coffee, tea, and baked goods.
Diamond Head Beach is located right near Waikiki, where there are plenty of activities to keep you busy, from shopping to surf lessons to sitting on the beach. It’s also near the Waikiki Aquarium and the Honolulu Zoo.
FAQs about Diamond Head Beach Park and Kuilei Cliffs
Can you walk from Waikiki Beach to Diamond Head?
It’s possible to walk from Waikiki Beach to Diamond Head Beach, but, depending on where you start, it can be a bit of a hike. From Queen’s Beach in Waikiki to Diamond Head Beach Park, it’s a little under two miles, much of which is uphill.
Are Diamond Head Beach Park and Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park the same?
Diamond Head Beach Park and Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park are two different names for the same beach.
Is Diamond Head Beach Park good for surfing?
Diamond Head Beach Park is a popular surf spot, and you can see surfers riding the waves most days when the weather is good. That said, it may not be the best spot for beginner surfers—for one, you’ll need to bring your own board and carry it down to the bottom of the cliffs, and for another, there’s a long paddle out to where the waves break.
Can you swim at Diamond Head Beach Park and Kuilei Cliffs?
Yes, it’s possible to swim at Diamond Head Beach Park. Although it can be a little rocky, there are a few sandy areas where you can wade in and enjoy the water. It’s also a good idea to bring water shoes or sport sandals if you have them (I’m never without my chacos at Hawaii beaches for this reason!)