Oahu hiking trails provide access to some of the best views and adventures on the island. Whether you climbing to peaks surrounded by beauty like the Lanikai Pillbox, Diamond Head Trail or up to the grand Waimea Falls, you’ll have an opportunity to explore the indigenous tropical plants and landscape on the island. Oahu adventures like Kaena Point and the Judd Trail remove you from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, and into the natural wild island beauty.
I’m always up for hiking around Oahu because so many trails provide a sense of adventure and appreciation for the nature of Hawaii.
Join me as I walk you through some of the best Oahu hiking trails. There are some great strolls and hikes surrounding Waikiki, and others near the far tips of the island. Climb to the top of the iconic Diamond Head Trail, wonder through a bamboo forest to reach towering Manoa Falls, and explore the rugged Kaena Point coast.
In fact there are close to 50 popular Oahu hiking trails located through out the island. But with limited time, let’s explore a few Oahu hikes you’re going to definitely want to trek!
Hiking Diamond Head is not only one of the best hikes on Oahu, but also happens to be my personal favorite! The views you'll take in from the top viewing platform are not only beautiful, but are also recorded as the longest land views you'll see in the world.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that it only took a half hour to Hike Diamond Head to the top. You'll find everyone from children to senior vets climbing up to the crater ridge top.
The Makapuu Lighthouse hike is a fairly easy one-mile hike to the 500 ft peak, with a small degree of difficulty towards the Makapu’u Point.
The prize that the end of this hike are stunning views of the Makapu’u Lighthouse & beach (one of my favorite body boarding beaches in all of Oahu!), the Windward coast, local Rabbit island & Kaohi’ka’ipu island, and also an impressive outline of neighboring islands, Molokai and Lanai.
Looking to conquer the big hill? Climb the Koko Crater Trail and the hill just might conquer you! The Koko Head Steps can be a lot of fun, but present a big challenge at the same time as you’ll be climbing 1050 long steps up to the top!
The “steps” are actually
old military railroad ties for a train that once ran supplies to the
top ridge. Make it to the top of this Oahu hiking trail, and you
will be rewarded with incredible panoramic views of the surrounding
area, including Hanauma
Bay, the Koko Marina, and Sandy
The Lanikai Pillbox Hike is a fun little hike that starts at the end of a residential street, and escalates quickly a quarter mile up to the first pillbox.
There are no better views of the pristine Lanikai Beach than on this hiking trail, aside from standing on the sand itself of course (depending on your preference).
If you are intrigued with your hike to the first bunker, then continue up the Kaiwa Ridge Trail onto the second pillbox, which will extend your hike and views to just under a half hour each way.
Simply stunning views throughout the entire hike! This is one of my wife's favorite hikes.
While the Lanikai Pillbox’s is one of the most popular hikes on the island, there is an Ehukai Pillbox Hike on the North Shore that still remains mostly quiet.
It is sometimes referred to as the Sunset Pillbox Hike, as it resides behind the Sunset Elementary School.
The climb will take you about 30 minutes or so to reach the first of
two military pillboxes. The second pillbox that’s just 5
additional minutes away has the best views of the North Shore!
The Maili Pillbox Trail is best known for the Pink Pillbox, which is actually just 1 of 4 pillboxes along this sea coast ridge was painted pink in breast cancer awareness.
The Lanikai Pillboxes gets all the prestige, but I love this 1 mile hike (one way) for the ease of the switchback trails to get you to the top.
The views of the Waianae coast, valley and surrounding mountains are breathtaking.
And you have not 1 but 4 different Maili pillboxes along this ridge that are still intact and neat to explore. Each offering different characteristics, unique views, fun graffiti artwork to take a picture with.
I'm not sure if there is anything more satisfying than trekking Oahu hiking trails that come with a reward waiting for you at the end -- a stunning Oahu waterfall!
3 Oahu hikes I would like to recommend are fairly easy trekking and family friendly. Waimea Falls Park is the easiest of the three, with facilities on site. The Manoa Waterfall & Mauanwili Falls offers a little more sense of adventure, as you’ll be hiking up jungle trails.
This is one of the great Oahu hikes/strolls for the whole family! You mainly walk along a flat road that is surrounded with clean botanical gardens, that will keep you entertained until you reach a bold 50 ft Oahu waterfall.
There is a small entrance fee to enter the Waimea Falls Park, but well worth the bang for the buck. It will take you about 30 minutes to reach the waterfall.
This Waterfall trail is located above Waikiki in the Manoa Valley mountainside. The Manoa Falls Trail is a somewhat easy but still an adventurous hike through a lush bamboo and guava tree forest.
The prize at the end of this hour hike is a towering 150 ft Oahu waterfall.
Set your expectations high for this Oahu hike!
The Pali features a handful of beautiful waterfalls, including the Jackass Ginger Pool that is surrounding with cascading water into a natural neighborhood swimming pool.
The Judd Trail is an easy and fun hike and will get you there.
This Oahu hiking trail is just over a mile long loop that leads you through the lush Old Pali Road jungle. The trail is maintained, but can be muddy in some spots.
Look up in awe when you reach the notch pine trees that are captivating when you see them.
Maunawili Falls is a fairly easy amongst Oahu hiking trails, with breathtaking views of the valley, and a fun 20 ft Oahu waterfall to jump into at the end. Take caution while jumping in and swim at your own risk!
It will take you about an hour to hike this mile and a half trail. It can get a little wet at times since the Maunawili Falls trail backs up into the Koolau Mountains, so be prepared to trek through some muddy areas.
Discover more fun waterfall hikes on Oahu! There are many other great hikes with different levels of difficulty leading to waterfalls around the island.
"Untouched Oahu" best describes Kaena Point! Except for an old railroad track and a couple of old abandoned cars lying around, this is one of the Oahu hiking trails that are pretty much isolated from all signs of civilization.
You get an opportunity to explore Oahu hiking trails in its raw state. Enjoy the natural beauty, plant, and animal life as you trek over the sand dunes.
To avoid the extreme heat
that takes place on this side of the island, this is a moderate hike
that should be started
in the early morning.
Located in Nu'uanu Valley off the Pali Hwy are the remains of King Kamehameha III's summer home, originally built in 1847.
Today you can take a short stroll through a bamboo forest and visit the Kaniakapupu Ruins, one of the oldest standing structures on Oahu!
This is a short but sweet 1 mile round trip hike on the Windward side that is fun for the whole family, and provides some amazing views of the Kahana Bay.
It’s also a great alternative to hiking Crouching Lion that is much harder and advanced to hike, and its just 5 minutes down the road.
The Kapa’ele’ele Trail resides in Ahupua’a O Kahana State Park, which also features an ancient fishing pond in the area.
Find the viewing bench as you get towards the top, and take in the vast views, the Huilua Pond, and the beautiful aqua blue ocean below.
Aiea Loop Trail is a fantastic hike worth exploring. It's less popular than other Oahu hiking trails, but well-kept and has plenty of signage along the way. It's the ideal hike if you are looking to get away from the crowds but don't want to drive too far out of the city.
Along the hike, you will see loads of colorful and floral vegetation, such as eucalyptus and guava trees. Keep on the lookout as you could encounter a wild boar. There is a World War II plane crash site, it's not well-marked and covered in branches making it easy to miss.
Although the trail opens around 7 AM, you can actually arrive a little earlier to catch the sunrise, but you definitely don't want to be on this trail when the sun has set and starts to get dark, as you could get stuck up there for the night. When you get to the top, you'll be rewarded with incredible views of the valley and a fantastic sight of H-3 Highway going into the mountainside.
This 5-mile hike will take about 2.5 to 3 hours and is considered beginner-friendly, But be prepared for a continuous but relatively moderate climb uphill in one section. There will be spots to take small breaks and appreciate the trail's beauty before continuing on.
The Aiea Loop Trail is located about 25 minutes north of Waikiki. There is a parking lot at the beginning of the trail with a public restroom.
The Kuliouou Ridge Trail is a moderate to an intermediate hike that not recommended for beginners. The hike starts off with steep steps, before turning into a dusty windy trail, and finishing with another set of hilly stairs to the ridge. Reach the top and you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean.
The trail is sounded with beautiful exotic flowers, towering trees, and native plants. There are picnic tables about halfway up where you can take a quick rest and admire the scenery.
Coming down is a lot more challenging than going up due to sometimes slippery grounds and vertical steps. The hike takes between 3 and 4 hours, hiking a total of 4.5 miles. There is good signage on the trail, but be mindful to hike down well before sunset hour.
Parking should be available in the neighborhood on Kalaau Rd. Be mindful of neighbors and posted signs.
Hiking Gear Picks including Compact Hiking Poles, Mosquito Repellent, and GPS Mapping Tracker
4000 steps will get you pretty close to heaven on this journey up the Ko’olau mountain ridge. There is nothing easy about this hike, as you will be counting each step you take! The US Coast Guard originally put a wooden stairway path into place back in the 1940’s, to allow construction and access to a radio tower.
Stairway to Heaven, also known as the Haiku Stairs, is unfortunately closed at this time. It originally closed in 1987 for restoration of the stairway, but remains so today due to property land access issues.
In recent developments the state has agreed to take over the estate, and looking into possibilities to restore the stairs once again with hopes of opening it up to the public again one day.
I cannot recommend this hike at this time because it is officially closed, but it seems that people are still making the journey up the newly renovated path although "No Trespassing" signs are visibly posted.
For now see if you can concur the Koko Head Steps!
There are a couple good hiking organizations on Oahu that promote scheduled hikes throughout the island. It’s a great way to experience scenic hikes in a group setting, with folks who are more likely familiar with these Oahu trails, and can educate you along the way.
You do not need to be a member of either group, but reservations are required. The Sierra Club Oahu Group posts a calendar of upcoming hikes on their website. I would recommend calling them to learn more details.
The Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Corporation also promotes hikes on Sundays, and asks for a $3.00 donation or more to join them on their weekend adventures.
Okay, a stroll on Waikiki, whether on the lively sidewalk promenade or on Waikiki Beach doesn’t quite count as one of the Oahu hiking trails but you can turn this into a fun 5-mile walk around this city, discovering a pure sense of adventure and excitement to your surroundings right outside your hotel.
The reason I like
this Self-Guided Waikiki Walking Tour is because the landscape
continues to change and will amaze you the farther you go.
I recommend starting off at the Duke Kahanamoku statue and head south along the beachside towards Diamond Head.
You can either turn around a mile down the road, when you reach San Souci Beach, or continue on as the road starts to slowly climb up Diamond Head. Check out more for this walking tour around Waikiki...
Join the locals for an island favorite stroll along the beachside park. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to capture Ala Moana Beach Park in its true beauty.
This stroll starts off on the Magic Island strip, which gives you some fantastic perspective views of Waikiki and the Kewalo Basin.
Your stroll continues a half-mile down a
stretch of sand, where the surrounding activity continues to grow as
the day goes on.