The Best Hikes On Oahu: 6 Amazing Options
Oahu, the vibrant and picturesque Hawaiian island, is not only known for its stunning beaches and vibrant culture but also for its breathtaking hiking trails. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or an adventure seeker, Oahu offers a plethora of options to explore its lush landscapes and discover hidden gems.
In this guide, we’ll show you six amazing hikes on Oahu that showcase the island’s natural beauty and provide unforgettable experiences. Lace up your hiking boots and get ready for an adventure like no other!
Diamond Head Summit Trail
Located on the southeastern coast of Oahu, Diamond Head is an iconic volcanic cone that offers panoramic views of Honolulu and the surrounding coastline. The Diamond Head Summit Trail is a moderate hike that takes you to the summit of this ancient crater. The trail spans approximately 1.6 miles round trip and includes steep sections and stairs, making it a rewarding challenge. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the sparkling Pacific Ocean and the city below.
The trail starts at the Diamond Head Visitor Center, where you’ll find informative exhibits about the volcanic formation and the area’s history. As you ascend, you’ll pass through tunnels, climb stairs, and walk along the crater’s rim. The final section involves a steep staircase leading to the summit, where a viewing platform awaits. From this vantage point, you can soak in the panoramic views of Waikiki, the turquoise waters, and the verdant mountains.
Manoa Falls Trail
Escape the bustling city life and venture into the enchanting Manoa Valley to discover the Manoa Falls Trail. This easy 1.7-mile hike winds through lush rainforests, immersing you in the island’s natural wonders. As you make your way to the enormous cascading waterfall, you’ll be surrounded by bamboo groves, colorful flora, and the soothing sounds of chirping birds. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the ethereal beauty of the falls.
The trailhead is located at the end of Manoa Road, and there is ample parking available. The well-marked trail takes you through a serene forest of towering trees, providing shade and coolness on warm days. Along the way, you’ll encounter scenic bridges, small streams, and vibrant tropical plants. As you approach the majestic Manoa Falls, take a moment to appreciate its powerful flow and the misty atmosphere it creates.
Koko Crater Railway Trail
For those seeking a more challenging adventure, the Koko Crater Railway Trail is a must-visit. This unique hike takes you up an abandoned railway track that was once used to transport supplies to the military bunkers atop Koko Crater. The trail consists of over 1,000 steps, offering a steep ascent with stunning views of the eastern coastline. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking panorama of Hanauma Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the neighboring islands.
The trailhead is located at Koko Head District Park, and there is limited parking available. The hike begins with a gradual incline, but as you progress, the slope becomes steeper, and the steps get taller. The challenging climb requires strength and endurance, but the rewarding views make it all worthwhile. Take breaks along the way to catch your breath and admire the changing scenery. Once you reach the summit, find a comfortable spot to sit and soak in the beauty that surrounds you.
Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
Situated on Oahu’s southeastern tip, the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is a popular choice for hikers of all skill levels. This well-maintained trail stretches approximately 2 miles round trip and rewards you with mesmerizing views of the coastline, turquoise waters, and the historic Makapuu Lighthouse. Keep an eye out for humpback whales during the winter months as they migrate through these waters. The trail’s gradual incline and paved path make it accessible to all, including families with children.
The trailhead is located at Makapuu Point State Wayside Park, and ample parking is available. As you begin the hike, you’ll be greeted by panoramic vistas of Makapuu Beach and the surrounding cliffs. The trail meanders along the ridge, offering unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean. On a clear day, you can see the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai in the distance. When you reach the lighthouse at the end of the trail, take a moment to appreciate its rich history and significance in guiding ships to safety.
Lanikai Pillbox Hike
If you’re looking for unparalleled vistas of Oahu’s pristine beaches, head to the Lanikai Pillbox Hike in Kailua. This intermediate-level hike takes you up to the old military pillboxes perched on the ridge, offering panoramic views of Lanikai Beach, the Mokulua Islands, and the surrounding turquoise waters. The trail is approximately 1.6 miles round trip and features some steep sections, so wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for an invigorating climb.
The trailhead is located in a residential neighborhood, so be mindful of parking and respectful of the residents. As you ascend the trail, you’ll encounter a mix of rocky terrain, exposed ridges, and shady sections. Along the way, take in the breathtaking views of the white sandy beaches and the vibrant blue waters of Lanikai. When you reach the pillboxes, climb up to the top for an unparalleled 360-degree view of the coastline and the picturesque Mokulua Islands.
Kaena Point Trail
For a truly off-the-beaten-path experience, explore the Kaena Point Trail on Oahu’s westernmost tip. This remote and rugged trail spans about 5 miles round trip, leading you to the isolated Kaena Point Nature Reserve. Along the way, you’ll witness dramatic coastal cliffs, pristine beaches, and abundant wildlife, including nesting seabirds and Hawaiian monk seals. The untouched beauty of Kaena Point is a nature lover’s paradise and a true escape from the crowds.
The trailhead can be accessed from either the Waianae or Mokuleia side of the island. Both routes offer scenic drives and limited parking options. As you embark on the hike, be prepared for a rough and uneven trail with little shade. The rugged coastline, crashing waves, and expansive ocean views make the journey worthwhile. Once you reach Kaena Point, take your time to explore the wildlife sanctuary and observe the unique flora and fauna that call this area home.
Enjoy an abundance of hiking on Oahu
Oahu’s diverse and awe-inspiring landscapes offer a wide range of hiking experiences for both beginners and seasoned hikers. From the iconic Diamond Head to the secluded Kaena Point, the island boasts a collection of trails that showcase its natural beauty and provide unforgettable adventures. Whether you’re seeking panoramic vistas, cascading waterfalls, or immersion in the lush rainforests, Oahu has it all. Lace up your hiking boots, grab your water bottle, and embark on a journey to discover the best hikes on this enchanting island. Get ready to create lasting memories and connect with the island’s captivating spirit. Happy hiking!