One of the greatest means of discovering O’ahu’s stunning island is through hiking. The best O’ahu paths highlight the natural splendor of this island paradise, whether you’re seeking a stroll or a strenuous climb on your Hawaii vacation.
As you go by a variety of native and imported flowers, plants, and trees, treat yourself to breathtaking vistas of the enormous Pacific Ocean and famous landmarks. Best Hiking trails in Oahu? Continue reading for further information. Also, you’ll be able to hear the sounds of both uncommon and common birds as well as other creatures that inhabit the verdant valleys and woodland trails.
Oahu hikes give visitors access to some of the island’s best sights and thrills. You will get the chance to discover the native tropical plants and landscape on the island whether you hike to heights surrounded by grandeur like the Lanikai Pillbox, Diamond Head Trail, or up to the majestic Waimea Falls.
Hikers should always use caution and show respect when navigating the routes. Stay on the trails, follow the trail signs, pay attention to weather forecasts, pack extra water, put on closed-toe shoes, and sign in at trailhead stations.
Hikers should remember to pack out what they pack in and be respectful of the environment, other people, and wildlife. Adventures in Oahu like Kaena Point and the Judd Trail take you away from Waikiki’s bustle and into the unspoiled, raw beauty of the island.
1. Top 20 Hiking Trails in Oahu
Since there are so many excellent Oahu hiking trails, in Hawaii, making a list of the finest is challenging. Although Oahu is the busiest and most populous of the Hawaiian Islands, there are still some fantastic hikes and nature trails to escape the crowds and view some breathtaking mountains, beaches, and waterfalls.
Top hiking trails in Oahu? There are many family-friendly and easy walks on Oahu, including some that may be reached within a short drive of Honolulu. A couple of these routes are challenging or technically challenging.
1.1. Waimea Valley Trail
On the North Shore is Waimea Valley, which reaches from the mountains to the ocean. It is situated across from the renowned big wave surfing hotspot of Waimea Bay. Many botanical gardens with thriving flora and animals are located on this parcel of land.
Tourists are in awe of Waimea Valley’s natural splendor, and locals see it as a significant cultural and historic monument. You are welcome to explore the area on your own or as part of a free tour, however, you must pay to access Waimea Valley.
The less than 2-mile roundtrip Waimea Valley Trail is paved and winds through renowned botanical gardens and historic buildings before arriving at a 45-foot waterfall. Although it might be hilly, the majority of this well-known trail is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. Shuttle services are available to carry visitors to the waterfall turnaround location for a charge.
Swimming access depends on daily conditions, and some visitors advise that the cascade isn’t constantly running, so check ahead if you plan to take a dip. The waterfall’s pool is frequently open to guests as a true bucket list experience. Swimming requires life jackets, which are offered free of charge by the on-duty lifeguards.
1.2. Puu Ohia (Mount Tantalus) Trail
The Pu’u Ohia Trail, which is just over a mile long and mostly level, is generally regarded as simple. To reach the summit of Mount Tantalus, you must gradually gain elevation while passing through a tranquil bamboo grove; keep an eye out for the distinctive hibiscus flower.
Many hikers admire the trail’s shade, but they caution that after rain, it can become slippery. Several people also say that although the hike’s views are stunning, there isn’t always much to see at the summit due to overgrown plants and trees. The Ko’olau Range, downtown Honolulu, the volcano L’ahi (commonly known as Diamond Head), and other peaks can all be seen from the hike.
There is parking available at the top of Tantalus Drive, making it simple to reach the trailhead. The Honolulu-Mauka Trail Network, which consists of 18 interconnecting trails, includes this hike. If you want a longer hike, utilize connected trails like the Manoa Cliffs Trail or travel this path backward.
Trail running, bird watching, and hiking are all popular activities here. You can even bring a leashed pet with you but watch out for hunting on the path as hunting dogs may not be on leashes.
1.3. Diamond Head Summit Trail
Most people undoubtedly picture Hawaii when they think about Diamond Head, also known as L’ahi in Hawaiian. You can hike to the top of this extinct volcano crater, did you know that?
One of the most well-known hikes on the island is the steep Diamond Head Summit Path, which is slightly under two miles round way. Recent hikers advise that there are about 3,000 tourists here each day, so it can get busy. The 475-acre Diamond Head State Monument includes this trail. The summit offers breathtaking views of the famed Waikiki Beach and the vast Pacific Ocean.
You must climb roughly 200 steps and pass through a few poorly lit tunnels to reach the summit. You may see old military bunkers and a 1917 navigational lighthouse atop the crater, which was once part of O’ahu’s coastline defense system.
1.4. Kaiwa Ridge Trail
The WWII-era observation towers that may be seen on the Lanikai Pillbox trek are referred known as “Pillboxes.” The Kaiwa Ridge Trail is just around 1.7 miles long, but it has some difficult, steep sections. The prominent Lanikai neighborhood sits behind the trail, which ascends Kaiwa Ridge with an increase in elevation of more than 600 feet. Also known as Lanikai Pillbox Hike.
At Lanikai Beach, the vantage point provides views of the beautiful Mokulua Islands and the azure Pacific Ocean. The majority of hikers who have been here admired the trail for its stunning views.
Off Kaelepulu Drive, past Kailua Beach Park, is where the trail begins. To be kind to the locals, carpooling is advised due to the restricted parking. Use caution as the trail is not maintained. The hike is open to dog owners; just be sure you keep your four-legged companion on a leash and pack some extra water.
1.5. Kuliouou Ridge Trail
This moderately challenging hike winds through a variety of landscapes, featuring dense woodlands and steep ridges, and is great for active tourists. You may reach the summit of the Ko’olau Range by hiking the 4.7-mile roundtrip Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail, which climbs more than 1,600 feet in height. It is a difficult and steady ascent, as hikers do warn.
Wide-ranging views of the east side of O’ahu’s Kailua coastline, Kne’ohe peninsula, and Hawaii Kai neighborhood are your reward for your labor. On the way up, bring a snack and stop at one of the picnic tables for a break. On Kala’au Place, there is on-street parking accessible. Go to the conclusion of the roadway and past the cable gate to reach the trailhead.
When using this trail, be careful and remember to check in at the hunter/hiker check-in station. The need to rescue lost hikers has occurred. Also, since mountain bikers and hunters use the same trail, it is advised that you wear bright colors.
1.6. Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail
To reach the 1,600-foot Ko’olau summit, you must ascend a steep ridge using several plastic steps on the Wiliwilinui Ridge Path. The windward shore of O’ahu will reward your efforts with spectacular views, according to hikers, even though the steps can be difficult.
Be careful to keep an eye out for a variety of plants as you climb to the summit, such as Cook pines, native Koa and ohia trees, and guava trees. On your tour, you might even be fortunate enough to hear or see Japanese bush warblers or amakihi birds. Since there are no set campsites here, you can use an online reservation to set up camp anywhere along the trail.
Park in the lot before the cable gate, then walk about 1.5 km down the access road to the trailhead to access the Wiliwilinui trek. Although the state land is accessible through private property, please exercise caution and respect while trekking in this region.
1.7. Pali Notches Ridge
To get to the narrow Pali Notches ridge trip, you must first scramble up a short, steep incline. After that, you must rock climb over the notches. One of Hawaii’s renowned beautiful walks is this well-liked hike. To reach these artificial notches, the trail ascends steeply through mud and rock.
The Pali Lookout’s barely-fenced-off portion where it is marked that the area is closed is where the Pali Notches Trail begins. Once above the viewing area, the trail itself is clear. For one of Oahu’s best vantage points, follow the ridge up to the notches. It can be windy here, which makes the hike more challenging.
Take great precaution as Pali Notches is one of Oahu’s most hazardous hikes; numerous hikers have fallen on this trail. One of the shortest walks, it’s easy to get to for a sunset mission in Honolulu’s downtown. This hike’s trailhead begins by ascending straight up an unmarked trail to the right side of the Pali Lookout platform, a well-known tourist destination.
1.8. Moanalua Valley Trail
The Kulana’ahane Trail, also known as the Moanalua Valley Trail, is an out-and-back hiking trail in the Honolulu region of O’ahu that is 2.75 miles long (either way).
You must first travel to the location mentioned on our map and instructions page, which is the point at the end of Ala Aolani Street. Next to Moanalua Valley Neighborhood Park, there is a parking lot as well. Park, then proceed through the gate and up the dirt road.
Because you may get up to the location even if it’s forbidden to reach the steps or satellite top section, this method is a great alternative to the controversial and tightly limited Haiku Stairs (the front way).
1.9. Koko Crater Trail
A more challenging option for the Koko Head Crater Stairs is the Koko Crater Trail. The trail takes you up along the rim of the crater from the base to the top of the well-known Koko Head Summit.
Here, you can briefly mingle with the stair climbers while taking in the sights of Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay, and the island’s east coast. The trail then continues to meander around the crater rim’s coastline side before turning around and returning to the Koko Crater Botanical Gardens’ front gate.
1.10. Crouching Lion Hike
A short, steep trek called Crouching Lion Hike rewards hikers with beautiful views of Kahana Bay, the sleepy town of Kaaawa, and the foreboding Pu’u Manamana cliffs. This hike starts with a significant elevation. When you scramble over twisted tree roots and crouch under drooping branches, you will undoubtedly break a sweat.
The trail becomes increasingly noticeable as you ascend. But, for the most part, the dense foliage serves to support the trail. Some areas are quite slippery due to the dry crumbling dirt. During the Crouching Lion hike, there are several vantage locations with stunning views of Kahana Bay.
Because of the way the light catches the ridges on the opposite side of the harbor and the reef formation below the surface, this is possibly the most beautiful trek on Oahu. This trail is highly treacherous, so use caution.
1.11. Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is located on the easternmost point of Oahu. Because of how easily accessible it is and the breathtaking vistas it offers, the paved trail that leads there makes for a pleasant and simple stroll on Oahu. On Oahu, it’s most likely the simplest short hike.
The trail is easy to follow and is paved the entire way because it is so clearly designated (unlike many of the walks on Oahu). Looking out across Oahu’s whole east coast from the top, the view is still really magnificent. It is an excellent opportunity to see some amazing views of the east side and is pet- and family-friendly.
1.12. Makiki Valley Trail
The Hawaii Nature Center is where the out-and-back hike begins. The Honolulu-Mauka Trail Network includes the Makiki Valley Trail, which is regarded as an easy to moderate hike.
Banyan trees, native to (also known as ki) plants, which are used to produce skirts for hula, and kukui trees, whose nuts were used by early Hawaiians to make leis, are just a few of the different kinds of vegetation you’ll come across as you stroll along the trail.
Travelers will ascend the side of Sugarloaf (Pu’u Kakea), a volcanic black cinder cone, near the trail’s conclusion. Mind your step while hiking this trail because it crosses a stream and has slick rocks. Previous hikers have also cautioned that the trail can be muddy. On hiking paths, visitors’ pets must be restrained by a leash.
1.13. Nakoa Trail
If you enjoy hiking a lot, you’ll be excited to check out this easy loop at Ahupua’a ‘O Kahana State Park. The lushest and wettest valley on Oahu, Kahana Valley, is traversed by the Nkoa Trail. There are multiple stream crossings throughout the trail, and some previous hikers have advised caution because the torrents can be deep.
On the Nkoa Trail, exercise caution because it can be damp, muddy, slippery, and vulnerable to sudden floods. On the other side, the high levels of precipitation create ideal circumstances for native plants including guava, mango, Hau, Hala, and kukui trees to flourish.
1.14. Ehukai Pillbox Hike
One of the best short hikes for viewing the beaches on Oahu’s north shore at sunset is the Ehukai Pillbox Trek. Reaching the pillbox in time for sunset is a simple four-kilometer round-trip hike.
From there, you can observe sets of waves breaking at Pipeline Beach, Sunset Beach, and Keiki’s. One of the best easy treks on Oahu’s North Shore is this short, steep track, sometimes known as the “Peace Hike.”
1.15. Hanauma Bay Ridge Hike
Unquestionably, Hanauma Bay is the best snorkeling spot on the island for visitors. It is incredibly gorgeous, with a protected bay, a small reef, and crystal-clear water. The greatest way to observe Hanauma Bay is simply to put on your climbing shoes and up the ridge rather than snorkeling in the bay.
The Hanauma Bay Ridge Walk is a quick and simple trek that offers the best views of Hanauma Bay against the backdrop of Koko Head Crater. A natural rock bridge beside the sea and other intriguing sites can be found if you continue south along the bay, although most people simply use this trail.
The Hanauma Bay Ridge Path is best experienced early in the day when it’s cooler and better for photographs. By the Hanauma Bay entrance, there is a locked gate where the trail begins.
1.16. Olomana Hike (Three Peaks)
One of the hardest hikes in Oahu, Hawaii, is the Three Peaks hike, also known as Olomana. It may be the riskiest popular hike Oahu has to offer. On the second and third peaks, many visitors and locals have passed away, some as recently. If you’re capable of practicing Olomana you must be necessarily aware of the hazards.
You can simply trek to the first or second peak before turning around to make the hike safer and simpler. Both the first and second summits, in the opinion of the majority, provide the most beautiful views. The most dangerous area is on Olomana’s third peak. There are instances when you’ll be using your hands to climb vertically on the exposed ground (or with ropes) in situations where a lethal fall might take a long time to occur.
1.17. Lulumahu Falls
You may hike to this attractive 50-foot waterfall near the Pali Highway in about 45 minutes. All ages may do it but be prepared to deal with some mud, slick rocks, and bugs. It’s wise to wear shoes and carry bug spray. If you have time, you can visit a second waterfall and some Hawaiian ruins in the same location as Lulumahu Falls, which is a pleasant waterfall climb.
To reach Luakaha Falls and the Kaniakapupu Ruins (King Kamehameha III’s summer residence), take a detour via the bamboo grove. Although it doesn’t appear that this requirement is enforced, technically a permit is required for any portion of this climb. The majority of people disregard the permit, but if you want peace of mind, you can purchase one here for a fairly reasonable price.
1.18. Stairway to Heaven
On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, the Stairway to Heaven, commonly known as the Haiku Stairs, is arguably the most popular tourist destination. With only a railing to catch you, 3,922 stairs go up the intimidating mountain ridge, frequently at a steep angle.
Several places genuinely resemble ladders, but with common sense and in good weather, it isn’t as risky as it seems. The public was thereafter allowed to use the stairs until 1987 when they were judged dangerous due to neglect. The majority of newspaper outlets have written about this walk, which is arguably the most well-known of all the hikes on Oahu.
1.19. Ka’ena Point Pillbox
You can climb the adjoining ridge to see a historic military pillbox with breathtaking views of the surrounding area if you want to extend your trip to Ka’ena Point. This is a fantastic way to enhance one of the best hikes on Oahu!
Although short, the sidetrack to the pillbox at Kaena Point is rather difficult. Finding the path up the ridge, which is unmarked, rough, and a little overgrown, is one of the challenges. From here, the pillbox path begins. For this one, you’ll need shoes, not sandals. It’s similar to hiking two Oahu hikes back-to-back in that they’re both fairly easy on their own, but combined they become a little more taxing.
When you reach the top of the pillbox, you may look down on Ka’ena Point while enjoying a cool breeze, the sound of seabirds, stunning views of the setting sun, and distant whales breaching. One of Oahu’s best sunset treks, plus we were the only ones there, which made it even better. Most people simply climb to Ka’ena Point and return home.
1.20. Mauna Lahilahi
On the Makaha coast, Mauna Lahilahi is a modest, rocky mountain with stunning beaches on either side. On the west side of Oahu, this climb is a little bit of a hidden gem. Even though it takes only 15 minutes to get there, novice hikers may find the brief rock scrambling frightening. Be careful as you go.
Top hiking trails in Oahu? When you reach the summit, you can see the entire Makaha coastline in its entirety, with Papaoneone Beach and the Hawaiian Princess Resort dominating the scene.
2. What is the Best Time to Go to Hawaii?
Hawaii is a fantastic vacation destination all year long, but depending on what you want to do, particular seasons are better for you than others. We’ll explain this to you by going over the various variables that can affect your travel dates and the ideal seasons for each.
First, let’s talk about the weather. In Hawaii, there are just two seasons: winter from November to March and summer from April to October. Hurricane season runs from June through November as well. Nonetheless, July through September has historically seen a higher concentration of hurricanes, with August seeing a peak in activity. However direct hurricane strikes on the Hawaiian Islands are extremely uncommon.
On the seaside, the year-round average temperature ranges between 18°C and 32°C (65°F and 90°F), with no seasonal variation. From 79°F and 84°F, the average afternoon temperature ranges from 26°C to 29°C. Finally, based on the time of year and the islands, the average water temperature ranges between 22°C and 27°C (71°F and 81°F).
Let’s move on to discussing rain. Inevitably, the winter, which is also the time of year when floods are most likely to occur, will have higher humidity levels. Summer is drier; however, the local weather is primarily influenced by the relief of the islands. The majority of the islands have arid surfaces. This is evident in the islands as well; Kauai will have significantly more rainfall than Big Island.
Everyone can find something to enjoy on Oahu hiking paths. Manoa Falls Trail offers stunning views of the verdant Manoa Valley and is a great place for a stroll. Even swimming in the cascade at Waimea Falls is an option, and it will undoubtedly be the hike’s high point.
While hiking is available year-round in Hawaii, the driest season—when it’s least muddy—is the most enjoyable. Yet it’s challenging to forecast this. While it could be tempting to argue that summer is preferable because it rains less, we have discovered that even if summer showers are shorter, they are more intense, which results in muddy roadways. In the summer, there is also more humidity.
Top hiking trails in Oahu? Do you want to see some of the most breathtaking sights you’ve ever seen? Then set out on one of Oahu’s best walks, the trail near Diamond Head. The best hiking paths on Oahu may be experienced with just a pair of sturdy shoes and a sense of exploration.