Looking to explore the beautiful hiking trails of Oahu? This guide is for you! In this post, we will cover everything from the best trails on the island to what to pack for your hike. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, there’s something for everyone in Oahu. So lace up your shoes and let’s get started!
First Things – Safety On The Trails
While Hawaii is a paradise, you still have to be careful before venturing out on long hikes. You should try to avoid hiking alone. If you do hike alone let someone know where you are hiking and how long you expect to be gone. Remember to research your route and learn about it. Be careful entering bodies of water with open cuts or wounds.
You can also read our complete guide to staying safe on Hawaii’s trails and beaches.
Always be prepared with a few essentials:
- Fully charged cellphone
- Backpack with plenty of water, lunch, and sunscreen depending on the length and intensity of your hike
- Good hiking shoes or boots that have a tread
- Light clothing to keep cool
- Mosquito/Insect repellent, especially if you are heading to the wet valleys or rainforests
If you are going on longer hikes you may also want to bring:
- First aid kit
- A map and compass
- Extra supplies like water and food
- Work gloves, which are especially useful if you are in thick jungles
The Best Hiking Trails On Oahu
Manoa Falls Trail
The Manoa Falls trail is a fun and easy 1.7-mile out and back trail. This is a busier trail that is frequently used for running and day hikes. It brings you to the base of the falls in the Manoa Valley.
It’s a winding trail filled with direct scenes from movies like Jurassic Park and LOST, making it an iconic hike. It can get muddy so remember to wear decent footwear to lower your chances of falling or slipping. This area of Oahu gets a lot of rain so be sure to keep an eye out for weather closures and changing conditions.
The trailhead is a short drive from Honolulu where there is a fee for parking.
Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail
This 2.5-mile out-and-back trail is near the town of Waimanalo. This is another easier hike that can be done in just over an hour. It’s fully paved making it kid-friendly and easy for families. Keep in mind there is close to no shade along this trail so it will be hot, bring sunscreen and try to cover up.
The trail follows sea cliffs where you have plenty of places to look out for whales. It’s a great place to go if you want great views without a long hike. If it’s a clear day you might catch some views of Molokai and Lanai. If you’re looking to see local wildlife like seabirds we recommend bringing binoculars for the best experience.
Once at the top you get a view of the famous Makapuu Lighthouse built in 1909, along with the gorgeous coast and offshore islets. Enjoy the hike!
Lanikai Pillbox Hike
Short and steep, the Lanikai Pillbox hike is a 1.7-mile out and back that can be challenging. This pillbox hike follows the Kaiwa Ridge and gives some amazing views of Lanikai and Kailua. While not very long it is generally for experienced hikers. The top parts of the route require some climbing/scrambling up rocks and boulders.
There are no guard rails and steep cliffs along the trail so you should wear good hiking footwear. As there is no dedicated trailhead be prepared to walk a little bit from your parking area. Sometimes people park near Kailua beach and walk to the trailhead on Kaelepulu across from the Country Club & Golf Course.
Another steep and short trail with great views, the Koko Crater is well worth the journey. It is a 1.6-mile out and back hike with no shade throughout it. The end of this trail gives you panoramic views of the East Honolulu shoreline, Hanauma Bay, and certain parts of Moloka’i
One part of the trail includes 1000+ steps over an abandoned railroad. The military used to use these during World War 2 as a tram to transport supplies. The trailhead is a short drive from Diamond Head and Waikiki. Remember to bring plenty of water! This hike is very exposed and located in the humid parts of the island.
Kuliouou Ridge Trail
This is a longer trail, with 4.7-miles of out-and-back hiking near Honolulu. This is considered a somewhat challenging route due to the distance, terrain, and elevation gain. You gain 1,800ft and peak at the top of the spine of Kuliouou Ridge. It can be steep, wet, and slippery so wear good shoes and come prepared.
The summit treats you with some amazing views of the surrounding area. The ridge overlooks the Kuliouou valley. Pay attention to the switchbacks on your way up and other trail markings. Parts of the trail can be hard to navigate. Start the journey at the end of Kalalau road, and read the signs to ensure you take the right path.
Enjoy The Hiking!
Now that you know some of the best trails in Oahu, you’re ready to start exploring! Remember to plan ahead and be safe out there. If you’re looking for more to do than hiking, check out other fun activities on Oahu!
We hope this article has helped point you in the right direction, and we look forward to seeing you on Oahu! Enjoy!