Honolulu is the largest city and the capital of the state of Hawaii.
Diamond Head is the premier exclusive residential area epitomizing the tropical elegance that has established Hawai’i’s renown as the paradise of the Pacific. On the ocean (makai) side of the crater, single-family residences on the slopes down to the waterfront and oceanside high-rise condominiums are generally the most expensive homes in the area. More lovely, large homes on spacious lots are on the lower slopes of the western side of the crater, bordering Kapi’olani Park, while closer to the park are low-rise condos.
The Diamond Head neighborhood below the iconic state monument borders Kahala to the east and Waikiki to the west. Luxury houses are nestled among lush tropical vegetation, often behind stately gates. Most homes have beautiful coastal and ocean views. A few narrow beaches line the coast, especially the surf beach below the historic, still operating Diamond Head lighthouse. On the west end are the oceanfront mid twentieth century high-rise condos on the quiet end of Kalākaua Ave. and across from Kapi’olani Park.
The Diamond Head area is probably best known for the lovely single-family homes on spacious, lavishly landscaped grounds. On the lower slopes of the Diamond Head volcanic cone, winding down to the sparkling coral resting in shallow ocean waters, the homes, many behind stately gates, reflect the most popular luxury styles in various decades from the 1920s to today’s contemporary blending-with-the-natural surroundings styles. The amenities may include pools, spas, tennis courts, exercise rooms, guesthouses, koi ponds, lush fruit trees and manicured landscaping, beach access, and more. From oceanfront to homes at higher elevations, the views are stunning, and the lifestyle embraces the abundance offered here.
Diamond Head single-family homes generally start around $3,000,0000. However, townhouses, low-rise condos, duplexes, and the famous oceanfront high-rise condos known as the Gold Coast are also within the Diamond Head area.
The luxurious high-rise condos on the west end were built in the late 1950s and the 1960s. Though buffered by three beaches from the bustling tourist mecca of Waikiki, spacious Kapi’olani Park seems to have much to do with keeping this area quiet and serene.
These Gold Coast condos are along a seawall with limited beach area but large lanais and gorgeous views of the ocean, Diamond Head coastline, and Waikiki’s bustle. Of the 16 condos, 14 are fee simple with units from studio to spacious 3BR residences. Studios facing the park begin around $450,000, and prices rise to several $million for large oceanside units.
Of the approximately 6,500 homes in the Diamond Head area, including condo units, over 700 beautifully preserved single-family homes built before 1950 are situated throughout the area. A small enclave of charming homes on tree-lined streets, many the original bungalows from an era well before the high-rises, is nestled between the Gold Coast condos and the attractive Diamond Head area below the western side of the crater. Diamond Head Road begins in this lovely enclave where one has to be vigilant to find one of these vintage homes on sale.
The Diamond Head area between Kapi’olani Park and the western side of the crater has luxury estates situated on gently rising slopes with exquisite views of the ocean, Waikiki, urban areas, and the mountains. Closer to the park are more affordable tropical-style low-rise condos.
Diamond Head Road becomes a beautiful scenic drive past lushly landscaped homes behind enclosed gated walls. Winding roadways above and below the road lead to luxury neighborhoods. Diamond Head Road slowly rises as housing ends, heading to Diamond Head lighthouse, on grounds at the edge of a cliff. Past Diamond Head Lookout, residential housing begins again on both sides of the road. The fashionable Black Point peninsula and the stylish Diamond Head View residences above Diamond Head Road border Kahala neighborhoods. On the eastern end of the Diamond Head district, these neighborhoods have scenic views of the ocean and the coastline to Hawai’i Kai and Koko Head crater.
HOMES NEXT DOOR
Diamond Head is situated between Waikiki and Kahala, so if you love the area but there's no homes for sale that match your criteria, check out the homes for sale in Kahala.
Because the Diamond Head district has unique zoning regulations, some single-family homes, townhouses, and other small residential projects are designated a Condominium Property Regime (CPR) or a Planned Unit Development (PUD). Often, this is done because a property cannot be subdivided. More than one residence can be built on the property by creating a CPR or PUB development. While specific zoning regulations must be adhered to in a build, generally, all zoning regulations have been met for a new CPR or PUD property or one previously owned.
The primary factor in these designations is ownership of the land beneath the homeowner’s residence. A CPR has common elements with shared ownership. For a single-family home, a common element may be a driveway, a small park, or a pool. But common ownership also applies to the land under the home. While the amenities are commonly owned in a PUD, the homeowner owns the land beneath the home.
There are almost 20 CPR or PUD developments throughout Diamond Head. La Pietra Townhomes on Poni Moi Rd. and the Isles at Diamond Head on the Black Point peninsula are two CPR developments.
Since CPRs and PUDs are peculiar to Hawai’i, a buyer should have a realtor familiar with these local regulations. Please contact us if you have any questions.
The Diamond Head crater was extinct long before Hawaiian royalty settled the area. The topography created by Diamond Head’s eruption and lava flow formations down to the ocean made it valued by the Hawaiians as a sacred place. Rituals and sacrifices were performed on slopes now arrayed with luxury residences. Royal surfers and their entourages also often rode the waves below the crater.
The Hawaiians called the crater Lē’ahi, but it became more commonly known as the Diamond Headland when British sailors mistook calcite crystals for diamonds on the beaches below. The name was later shortened to Diamond Head.
Less commonly known is the 1895 battle that took place around the present-day Gold Coast. The battle was between the royalists wanting to reinstate the kingdom and Sanford Dole and others wanting to maintain the provisional government while hoping for U.S. annexation. A key royalist lived in the Diamond Head area, and the attack began at his home, but the outnumbered royalists were defeated three days later. In 1904, six years after annexation, the U.S. government purchased Diamond Head crater for a military base. Fifty years later, the crater was returned to the state.
As a result of ships misjudging the rocky Diamond Head coastline to Honolulu Harbor, a lighthouse was built on the cliff’s edge in 1899. However, in 1917, the present-day photogenic Diamond Head lighthouse replaced the crumbling first lighthouse. The charming cottage on the grounds is the living quarters for the Coast Guard district commander.
In the early years of the 20th century, a new subdivision of 73 lots was planned by extending Kalākaua Ave. farther east. The Diamond Head Terrace Tract was begun in 1921 with four styles of popular bungalows and middle- and upper-class buyers in mind. Many original residences still exist today as the lovely enclave adjacent to Kapi’olani Park and nestled between the east end of the Gold Coast condos and the lower slopes of the western side of the crater. Diamond Head Road begins at the park and runs through the center of the tract.
At the same time, on a border road of the tract leading up to the lower slopes of Diamond Head, prominent Hawaiian industrialist Walter F. Dillingham was building his palatial Italian Villa, which would host many notable political and entertainment people in the following years. Today, it is La Pietra – Hawai’i School for Girls. And just a bit farther east was the oceanfront home of the controversial statesman Sanford Dole.
Farther east, wealthy kama’āina also built the popular bungalows of the 1920s on the Black Point peninsula. However, these residents had spacious lots, ocean views, and for some, prime oceanfront locations. In the mid-1930s, Doris Duke, an American heiress, was building her spectacular Islamic-influenced estate, Shangri-La, on the Black Point oceanfront. Duke’s residence was said to be the impetus for further residential estates at Black Point and other areas of Diamond Head.
The population of Diamond Head in 2020 was around 11,000; this number is not likely to grow much owing to regulations and limited land. Most residents are affluent and primarily executives and entrepreneurs. Some notable past residents not already mentioned were the “Ambassador of Aloha” Duke Kahanamoku, Jean Charlot, Clare Booth Luce, Arthur and Kathryn Murray, Tom Selleck, Liza Minelli, and Jim Nabors.
While the Diamond Head area single-family homes are generally spacious with three or more bedrooms, less than 20% of all households have children. Also, almost half of the residents are renters; this may be mainly in the condo population.
From most areas in Diamond Head, the more direct commute to the downtown central business district (CBD) is through Waikiki to get on Ala Moana Blvd. to the CBD. Though there are a lot of traffic lights, this route might take less time to commute during rush hour than driving north to access the H-1 Freeway. Depending on the Diamond Head location and the route to the CBD, it is 6 to 9 miles and will take 30 to 50 minutes. Many people use a smartphone app for timely traffic information and route advice.
The average annual high temperatures are between 80°F (27°C) and 89°F (32°C). The average annual low temperatures are between 64°F (18°C) and 75°F (24°C). These averages are lower at higher elevations. Annual ocean temperatures are between 75°F (24°C) and 80°F (27°C).
The state and national monument provides the moderate Diamond Head Summit Trail to the overlook, with breathtaking panoramic ocean and city views. Far below, on Diamond Head Road, another trail leads down to Diamond Head Beach Park and Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park for sunning, surfing, and windsurfing, but not too great for swimming.
Doris Duke’s Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art is on the Black Point peninsula. The architecturally interesting house and lawns, as well as the many furnishings from Duke’s Eastern travels, are well worth the visit.
While there are lovely shaded beach parks along the Diamond Head coastline, most are limited in swimming areas that become rockier traveling further east along the coastline. However, the famous beaches of Waikiki are within biking and walking distance.
Historic Kapi’olani Park offers many opportunities for recreational activities on its 200 acres. During mornings and afternoons, it hosts dozens of runners around its perimeter and people out for a leisurely walk. The park has a tennis center, soccer and rugby fields, picnic tables under banyan and ironwood trees, a bandstand, a memorial fountain, public restrooms, and the delightful Waikiki Shell with moonlight concerts on the lawn.
Across the street from the northern end of the park is the Honolulu Zoo. And to the west of the park, next to Kaimana Beach, is the historic, oft-debated Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial, the only ocean water natatorium in the United States. The façade, lifeguard offices, and other areas have been restored, but the natatorium saltwater pool is still deteriorating as plans to repair it are on hold. Just a 100 feet further west is the Waikiki Aquarium, for viewing and conserving Pacific marine life.
For those who like to walk, walking to Waikiki is fun to do touristy things or some serious shopping at the many fashionable designer shops that have overtaken Kalākaua Ave. Maybe, it’s just to sit on Waikiki Beach and watch the tourists enjoying their dream vacations.
Diamond Head is not far from the many and diverse sights and attractions that Honolulu has to offer.
Two notable race events involve the Diamond Head area. Annually, the Honolulu Marathon runners wend their way along Diamond Head Road and out to Hawai’i Kai and back, ending at Kapi’olani Park. Every two years, the Transpacific Yacht Race, started in 1906, begins in Los Angeles and crosses the finish line at Diamond Head Lighthouse with spinnakers flying.
Three public schools serve Diamond Head, though none are located within the Diamond Head area. Waikiki Elementary School (PK-5) is rated above average at 9 out of 10 according to Great Schools criteria. Kaimuki Middle School (6-8) is also above average, with a score of 9 out of 10. Test Scores are 10 of 10 in both schools.
It is somewhat surprising that Kaimuki High School (9-12) rates so poorly considering the high achievements of the elementary and middle schools. Test scores for Kaimuki High School are 3 out of 10, and college readiness is 2 out of 10.
La-Pietra – Hawai’i School for Girls (6-12) is a private school located on Poni Moi Rd. on the lower slopes of the Diamond Head crater.
Several highly rated private and religious schools (PK-12) are within 5 miles of the area.
University of Hawai’i Kapi’olani Community College is two miles or less from all areas of Diamond Head. University of Hawai’i at Manoa and Chaminade University are within 5 miles of Diamond Head. Hawai’i Pacific University is beside the Aloha Tower in the CBD.
Straub Medical Center, The Queen’s Medical Center, Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children, and Shriners Children’s Hospital are all 6 miles or less from Diamond Head.
Straub received the America’s 250 Best Hospital Award in 2020 and 2021 and the Outstanding Patient Experience Award for the past 12 years. Straub is working on the first phase of a new state-of-the-art hospital facility in the same area as its present facility. Kapi’olani Medical Center is a member of the Hawai’i Pacific Health system, which includes Straub.
The Queen’s Medical Center is recognized as a Magnet hospital, the highest national honor for nursing excellence.
On the western boundaries of Honolulu, Kaiser Permanente’s Moanalua Medical Center and Tripler Army Medical Center for military personnel, their dependents, and retirees are accessible via the H-1 Freeway and are less than 12 miles away.
Straub has urgent care clinics in Waikiki, Kahala, and Kakaako.
Queen’s has urgent care clinics in Kahala, Kapahulu, and Kakaako. Kaiser Permanente has an urgent care clinic at King and Pensacola Streets.
Because the Diamond Head area has unique restrictions, there are no commercial and retail businesses in the area. However, everything is nearby.
At one time the largest shopping center in the U.S., Ala Moana Center is just beyond Waikiki, offering every kind of store to meet consumer needs. Extending just beyond the center is Kakaako’s new shopping area anchored by a vast, two-story Whole Foods store.
On Kalākaua Ave. in Waikiki is the haute couture shopping area of Luxury Row. In Kahala, the Kahala Mall is a smaller, less crowded shopping mall anchored by Macy’s.
The Diamond Head zoning restrictions also apply to restaurants, but restaurant options are close enough to be just a few minutes drive or within walking distance. For casual, local, and ethnic dining, eateries on Waialae Ave. in Kaimuki can result in return visits. I had dinner one evening at casual Hale Vietnam; it was quite delicious.
For fine dining, Waikiki offers many restaurants with the most delectable cuisine in variations of tropical ambiance. However, a restaurant on the Diamond Head Gold Coast has for many years maintained its reputation for delicious food in a lovely romantic atmosphere - Michel’s at the Colony Surf.
How about Hawaiian Coffee Rubbed Lamb Chops or Portobello Crusted Pacific Salmon? I wish I were there now, waiting for my food while looking at a beautiful Pacific sunset. Oh, and the appetizers and desserts are out of this world! Many of Michel’s ingredients are from Hawaiian purveyors. In 2021, Michel’s got its third Hale Aina Award in the ‘most romantic’ category from Honolulu Magazine. Customer reviews continue to rate Michel’s top-notch.
Honolulu is the largest city and the capital of the state of Hawaii.
A whopping 27 neighborhoods makes up the city of Hawaii Kai.
Kailua is best known for its natural beauty & outdoor activities.
A mom-and-pop neighborhood evolving from historic to hip.
Newly built condos, microbreweries, hidden speakeasies, and more.
An iconic neighborhood known for its luxury oceanfront homes.
An older, charming neighborhood known for its quality schools.
Living in Waikiki is like being on vacation year-round.